Every year, the NBA trade deadline seems to produce one of two outcomes. Either it ends up being exciting, eventful and unpredictable, or it proves to be one of the more anticlimactic days of the NBA season. This year definitely belonged in the latter category. It is fair to say, however, that there was minimal buzz around the league. The Knicks were shopping players like Iman Shumpert, there had been rumors about Rajon Rondo’s future, and the Lakers perhaps wanted to move Gasol, yet his injury made those rumors a little less realistic. Perhaps some contending teams were poised to make some minor moves to bolster their bench, but otherwise, talk seemed quiet. When 3 p.m. rolled around last Thursday, there were no earth shattering moves, and only a few minor surprises.
Perhaps the most intriguing deal of the season took place between Indiana and Philadelphia. The Pacers chose to ship Danny Granger, a former All-Star and the team’s leading scorer in past years, to the Sixers with a second round pick in return for Evan Turner and Lavoy Allen. Turner, originally seen as a potential bust, has slowly improved each year, bringing averages of 17.4 ppg, 3.7 apg, and 6.0 rpg to the table. Yet he will most likely still have to compete for a starting spot in Indiana as All-Star Paul George and the electrifying Lance Stephenson have been integral to the Pacers’ success. On the flip side, Danny Granger is pissed. Once seen as the future of the Pacers, Granger has had to fight his way back from injuries over the past few seasons, finally playing meaningful minutes off the bench this season. Although he still hasn’t looked like his former self, Granger had at least been somewhat productive for Indiana. Now, he has been separated from the only NBA team he’s ever played on. Granger had always been loved by not only Pacer fans, but the front office (including GM Larry Bird), fellow players like Paul George, and head coach Frank Vogel as well. He appeared at team practice last Friday to say his final teary goodbyes to teammates before moving on. Now, Granger will most probably be bought out by the Sixers and look to sign with a team like the Heat, making them even scarier than they already are. Still, a deal to obtain Turner made the Pacers even deeper and tougher, showcasing Larry Bird’s determined attitude and will to win.
Apart from the Pacers Sixers trade, not much happened around the league. The Lakers shipped point guard Steve Blake to the competitive Warriors, who could have definitely used a seasoned veteran presence off the bench. In return, Los Angeles picked up Kent Bazemore and Marshon Brooks. Their potential was evident in the game against the Celtics last Friday, as the two combined for 29 points and helped lead LA to victory with a huge fourth quarter comeback, proving that this trade may work out quite well for both teams.
The deals don’t get any more exciting than that. Veteran Andre Miller was inevitably traded from the Nuggets after disagreements with new coach Brian Shaw led to him being separated from the team. Miller went to the Wizards in exchange for the so-far-disappointing, but still young Jan Vesely, and the Sixers again got in the mix as they received guard Eric Maynor and a couple second-round draft picks. The Nets also got rid of a few of their old men as the now sad Jason Terry and the rebounding, free-throw shanking Reggie Evans were shipped to the Kings in exchange for the younger Marcus Thornton.
The Cavs got Spencer Hawes for Earl Clark, Henry Sims and a pick, hoping that a veteran presence will help their young team that is supposedly full of potential yet has been drastically underachieving this season. And here the deals begin to go from “meh” to “would I have even noticed?” Roger Mason went to the Kings for a pick, the Bobcats got Luke Ridnour and Gary Neal (he can still shoot, right?), as Ramon Sessions was reunited with his former team (the Bucks) along with Jeff Adrien. Nando De Colo will be moving up north to Toronto in exchange for the seemingly obsolete Austin Daye, however, Greg Popovich will probably mold him into an effective role player. The Nuggets acquired Aaron Brooks to bolster their fragile back-court, the Hawks received Antawn Jamison for rights to a future pick, and in a move no one saw coming, Byron Mullens was “snagged” (in the words of NBA.com) by the Sixers for a pick. Thrilling.
Again, the Granger-Turner trade probably has the biggest impact on the league and may prove extremely entertaining if Granger does indeed sign with Miami, and the Heat and Pacers face off in the conference finals (both quite likely). Not every season will produce mind-blowing moves that reshape the league. While it is easy to fall into the pattern of getting really excited for the NBA trade deadline just because it’s the NBA trade deadline, it is safe to say that this year, there were minimal expectations at best. The offseason, on the other hand: well, that’s a different story.