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Shock and Awe: The Real Winners and Losers of the NBA Trade Deadline

Posted by RichieZ23 on February 24, 2010

I can’t remember a more exciting NBA trade-deadline in recent memory.  With it being almost a week since the deadline, I think enough time has passed to determine who has of now, come out ahead.

It was a pretty sweet deadline though.  What a barrage of trades that happened at or near the trade deadline this past Thursday, Feb. 18 at 3 p.m.  It felt like a shock-and-awe theory of war, with several teams pulling the trigger on league-changing deals, leaving many analysts and fans both in awe, unlike previous seasons with a quiet deadline with minimal trades.

Some teams added some missing pieces to a potential deep playoff run, others cleared cap-space for this summer’s free-agent bonanza, and others added a few picks to help them out later down the NBA road.

However, while all teams tried to get better, only a handful of teams actually did get better, whether it be now or down the road via draft or free agency.  While all of the trades didn’t happen right at the deadline, I’m including all trades that happened within five days of the deadline.

The Contenders:


  • Dallas may have benefited the most from any trade at the deadline.  The Mavericks landed Caron Butler, Brendon Haywood, and DeShawn Stevenson from the Wizards.   The knack against Dallas recently is that they were soft, and lacked an interior presence on the defensive and offensive end.  Erick Dampier did a decent job on the glass a few years ago, but besides that there has been a glaring hole at center for Dallas.  Bringing in Brendon Haywood helps them in rebounding (Dallas is 9th worst in rebounding differential) and gives them a presence inside to bang and alter shots.

    Caron Butler shoots over now-teammate Shawn Marion. Butler will help bolster an already dangerous Dallas team.

  • However, the best part of the trade was acquiring Caron Butler for Josh Howard.  Howard was clearly not the player he was just two years ago, and Butler is better in every aspect of the game.  Teaming Butler with Dirk Nowitzki, Shawn Marion, and Jason Kidd gives the Mavericks one of the best starting lineups in the league.  Butler will play a perfect complement to Nowitzki, and playing with Jason Kidd will only make his job easier.
  • With a starting unit of Haywood, Nowitzki, Marion, Butler, and Kidd the Mavericks have it all.  Rebounding, scoring, defense, the all-around player, and the floor general.  They will have to get through either the Lakers or Nuggets in the west, but it’s definitely possible.  The Mavericks did a great job of improving their current team, the best of any trading teams this season.


  • Cleveland bolstered their already league-best team by adding Antawn Jamison from the Wizards and Sebastian Telfair from the Clippers.  In doing so, they parted ways with long-time Cavalier Zyrdrunas Ilgauskas, their first round pick, and the rights to Emir Preldzic, the Cavs 2nd round pick this past season.
  • It is a great trade for Cleveland, as they get a forward who can shoot –which is needed playing alongside Lebron — and who has the ability to play outside or inside, while still contributing on the glass.  Cleveland had problems stopping Rashard Lewis in last years playoffs, and this is a move that is geared at matching up better against the Orlando Magic should they meet again.  Jamison has the ability to bang down low, while still move his feet well enough to be effective on the perimeter.

    Lebron will now have an extra weapon to pass to in Antawn Jamison.

  • They lose a first round pick, which would be a late one, and with a team that is in win now mode, a first round pick should not be valued too heavily.  They also temporarily lost Big Z, although he will most likely be bought out of his expiring contract, and will then be able to sign with any team, most likely returning to Cleveland with hopes of getting a ring.


  • Boston is just two years removed from winning their record 17th NBA Championship, and many of the core pieces still remain.  They immediately got better as they got Nate Robinson and throw-in player Marcus Landry from New York in exchange for Eddie House, J.R. Giddens, Bill Walker, and a future second-round pick.
  • Robinson gives the Celtics a dynamic guard who has the ability to not only shoot the deep ball like House did, but also get to the rim and create offense off the bench — something Boston desperately needs.  Robinson is a perfect fit in Boston where he will come off the bench, and his energy and highlight plays will suit Boston well.
  • Boston now has two excellent players in Nate Robinson and Rasheed Wallace coming in off the bench and solid role player in Glen Davis, complementing their star-loaded starting five.   Boston has as good of a chance as anybody to get a ring.

Winners in the Long-Run:

New York:

  • The Knicks have next to zero chance to make the playoffs this year, but that doesn’t mean that they weren’t winners at the trade deadline.  Regardless of how terrible the Knicks are on the court, they’re still the Knicks.  Playing at Madison Square Garden is a dream of every basketball player, and they’re in one of the biggest basketball markets in the world.  This means they’re not going to have a problem acquiring big-name free agents to sign in free agency.
  • That’s exactly what New York is gearing for, as they are putting all their chips into the free agent spending free that will ensue this summer.  They cleared cap space by trading for Tracy McGrady and his league-leading 23.3 million dollar expiring contract from Houston, via Sacramento.  The Knicks will undoubtedly have the most leeway under the salary cap this summer, and will push hard to sign two premiere players.
  • There is the talk of Lebron leaving Cleveland to play under the lights of Madison Square Garden, but I don’t think that happens, and it has nothing to do with the team trading for Antawn Jamison.  Lebron runs Cleveland, and if he runs now, he’s never going to be welcomed back.  I don’t think Dwayne Wade will be going anywhere besides Miami or Chicago either.
  • I think the likely scenario is for New York to sign Joe Johnson who played for Knicks coach Mike D’antoni in Pheonix, and then for New York to sign Chris Bosh away from Toronto.  In modern day NBA, a winner can be put together over night, as witnessed in Boston three years ago.  New York hopes a similar scenario plays out, although they have a few more holes to fill than Boston did in the summer of 2007.  Having David Lee, Chris Bosh, and Joe Johnson playing in D’Antoni’s wide-open offense would give opposing teams fits.  The question with D’Antoni coached teams is would they play defense?


  • The Bulls are a team that not only got better down the road, but did not lose much, if anything at all in the present.  They traded away the young and talented, but often troubled Tyrus Thomas to the Charlotte Bobcats in return for a first round draft pick, and expiring contracts Acie Law and Flip Murray, both of which will play key roles off the bench this season.  Law has the potential to stick with Chicago as a backup point guard if he impresses enough.  It was unlikely that Thomas would return to Chicago after this season anyway.
  • They also cleared cap space for this summer by getting expiring contracts Joe Alexander and Hakim Warrick from the Memphis Grizzlies for 2010 and 2011 second-round draft picks, and unloading the salary of under-performing John Salmons.

    Could Dwayne Wade be looking towards Chicago this offseason?

  • Warrick will provide the Bulls with essentially the same production as Tyrus Thomas, only with much more limited potential.  With Chicago also getting a first round pick, and expiring contracts to have more cap space to help lure Chicago native Dwayne Wade to come back home, the Bulls added depth for this season, and draft picks and cap space down the road.  As a somewhat Bulls fan, I can say that I’m thrilled with the moves they made.

Could be Great, Could be Bad


  • The Blazers could easily be a winner, but time will tell.  They traded away role players in Travis Outlaw and Steve Blake for defensive center Marcus Camby.  Camby is strong on the glass and a fierce weak-side shot blocker, and will help the team inside after another season-ending injury to Greg Oden.  The emergence of Jarryd Bayless at point guard made Blake expendable, and the team needs help inside more than outside.
  • The Blazers are trying to cling to the 8th and final playoff seed in the west, and are hoping Camby will help Brandon Roy and company get the job done.  It doesn’t help that Camby sprained his ankle Tuesday in a win over New Jersey, as the slow dinosaur Juwan Howard will most likely be inserted back into the lineup.  Blake and Outlaw were great role players though, and there absence could be missed.


  • As I previously mentioned, the Bobcats acquired Tyrus  Thomas from Chicago for a first round pick and expiring contracts.  While it was a definite win

    Marcus Camby could provide the Blazers with an interior presence after losing Greg Oden.

    for Chicago, it has the potential to be a huge win for Charlotte.  Thomas is still young with a ton of athleticism and potential, the question is has he matured enough and learned how to be a professional.  If so, the move allows Thomas to slide into the 4 position that was previously held by Gerald Wallace, who was playing out of position.  With Thomas, the Bobcats now have a lineup of Nazr Mohammed /Tyson Chandler, Tyrus Thomas, Gerald Wallace, Stephen Jackson and Raymond Felton.

  • While that lineup isn’t going to be winning any rings this season, it has athleticism and potential, two ingredients that could spell upset in the playoffs.  Chandler is a beast on the glass and at swatting shots into the stands, and Wallace is a great defender with long arms and great athleticism.  Thomas will provide scoring from the four, and Felton is one of the quicker guards in the game.  Jackson is not the player he once was, but he still has the ability to hit the three-ball.  With a legendary coach in Larry Brown and soon-to-be owner Michael Jordan purchasing the team, Bobcat fans can like what they see moving foward.

Maybe Next Year:


  • Washington probably did the most trading of any teams, and that’s possibly a good thing.  Through various trades Washington got Josh Howard, James Singleton, Quiton Ross, Al Thornton, Kings 2nd rounder, Cleveland’s 1st round pick, and Sacramento’s 2nd round pick.  In order to do so the Wizards gave  up Antawn Jamison, Caron Butler, Brendon Heywood, DeShawn Stevenson, and Dominic McGuire.

    Newly acquired Tyrus Thomas gives the Bobcats a potential boom investment.

  • The Wizards are currently in the process of blowing the team up and starting from scratch — and that’s exactly what they should do.  That does NOT mean to simply give your players away, which is almost what Washington did.  They traded their two best players in Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison, and in return got a late first-round pick and some cap space.  Big Z will likely be bought out in Washington, and will return to Cleveland.  In the Caron Butler deal, they got Josh Howard, Drew Gooden, and journeymen James Singleton and Quinton Ross.  However they also gave up their only center in Brendon Haywood who has an expiring contract.    They later moved Gooden to the Clippers for Al Thornton and , which was a good move as Thornton is a talented young big man, but Gooden had a $7.2 million expiring contract, and it’s doubtful Thornton resigns with the team after the 2010-11 season.
  • Essentially, the Wizards traded Antawn Jamison for a late-first round pick, and Caron Butler for Josh Howard (who has since torn his hamstring and is out for the year) Singleton and Ross, and then Gooden for Thornton.
  • The team now has two first round picks, and two second round picks (both being fairly early) and also has six expiring contracts, not including Ilgauskas.  That’s fine, but for what they gave up, they could either have gotten more cap relief, or more talent.  Talent would be better, as there aren’t too many players itching to come play in D.C.  Not to mention they still have the worst contract in the league (Gilbert Arenas) for the next four seasons.

    Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas is in the midst of a team-rebuilding effort -- and he


3 Responses to “Shock and Awe: The Real Winners and Losers of the NBA Trade Deadline”

  1. Josh Q said

    I like your analysis. I’d put Portland higher on the list though. Blake isn’t needed because of Miller and Bayless and obviously Juwan is out of position at the 5. McMillian is a good defensive coach and he will find ways to get the most out of this line up.

    What was Washington thinking? They gave away their most stable personalities (Haywood and Jamison) and brought in a guy who doesn’t care about anyone else on the court (Josh Howard). They will be bad for the next 4 years because Howard and Arenas will be fighting for which one gets to dribble the ball up court. They will have all sorts of control issues. I’m all for cleaning house, but they cut out organs to make more room for the team cancer (attitude issues) to grow. Anyone going there now will just be doing it for a paycheck.

    • RichieZ23 said

      The Wizards should have followed my 2k9 model lol

      Trade Gilbert (pre-suspension) and two firsts for J Kidd.
      Trade Antawn Jamison for Sheed and a first. (maybe unrealistic)

      Then sign Okur this offseason, and you have Kidd, Nick Young, Caron Butler, and the combo of Sheed/Okur in the post, with Haywood coming off the bench.

      Or they could have just not overpaid before the 09 draft and given up a first to get Randy Foye and Mike Miller. Stephon Curry, Johnny Lee Flynn, or Brandon Jennings would all be good to pair with Butler.

      We’ll see what they do with this draft though. With four picks, if they draft well, they will leave themselves an opportunity to grab an elite free agent NEXT season, after they build a new nucleus. Not to mention all those rookies will be very cap-friendly.

      • Josh Q said

        I think you’re getting the bad deal if you’re only getting sheed and a 1st (likely late first, given it comes from playoff trade). I guess dumars probably wouldn’t have surrendered the cap space.

        What about Jamison and a first for David West? NO is trying to dump cap room anyway. He’s elite in the pick and roll game. You’d get a lot of versatility out of him and Butler. You could dump arenas to the Rockets for brooks and T-Mac. Brooks is quick, he’d be a good pairing.

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