The one common trait that all NBA trade deadlines seem to share is a lot of hype and publicity leading up to the big event, and then very little in the way of brand name stars actually being moved. There are obvious exceptions (i.e. Pau Gasol), but the general rule of thumb as it applies to superstars rumored to get peddled elsewhere is: don’t buy the hype.
Still, even though there weren’t any superstars moved on Thursday, there were plenty of other consequential, telling transactions. Here is a quick rundown of the winners and losers from the trade deadline that was:
Winner: Los Angeles Lakers
The only thing that's been more hilarious than listening to Lakers fans bash Derek Fisher over the last two years is listening to Lakers fans cry about losing him in a great trade. Again: losing Fisher was great for this organization. Say what you will about his locker room influence and steadying impact on Kobe Bryant, but none of that stuff means anything when your locker room is turning against the head coach -- and scheduling players-only meetings -- because you’re getting limited production from the point guard position. Character is key on championship teams. Being a great guy on a middle-of-the-pack unit that isn't competing for a title means very, very little.
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Moving Fish a.) saved L.A. money (any production from Jordan Hill will just be a cherry on top) and b.) opened the door for Ramon Sessions (11 points and five assists as a reserve this year) to get legitimate playing time. Sessions is younger, more athletic and substantially more productive than Fisher has been in years. This is a major upgrade.
And just a quick reminder to all the sad Lakers fans out there: Fisher famously bolted from L.A. for the Golden State Warriors in what was a financial decision back in 2004-05. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.
Loser: Portland Trail Blazers
Before the firing of Nate McMillan cemented that the Blazers had completely and totally imploded, the powers that be opted to move pieces that they probably could have comfortably proceeded along with, and then retain pieces they desperately needed to move. Sending Marcus Camby to the Houston Rockets for Jonny Flynn and Hasheem Thabeet is a blatant money-saving throwaway transaction that didn’t need to be made. And swapping Gerald Wallace for Mehmet Okur and Shawne Williams (plus a first rounder) is equally puzzling.
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It would make sense if the Blazers’ endgame here ws getting rid of all assets and beginning the rebuilding process anew. That’s not what’s happening here, though. This rudderless franchise truly seems like it has no idea what path it wants to take in the foreseeable future.
Can you really blame players for revolting against a head coach when the top of the organization’s structure is this confused?
Winner: Orlando Magic
The Magic did something that felt like it was impossible in the post-Decision Era, they stared down a superstar and actually made him sign a bad deal out of seemingly some mishmash of guilt and confusion. Even if Howard were to stay with Orlando either way, by signing the ETO waiver that he ultimately signed, he cost himself money. Of course, to be fair, it was the Magic’s decision to offer him an ultimatum -- to waive the ETO or get traded -- that caused him to finally commit. Hence why they’re one of the winners of this trade period.
Now Orlando gets to possibly, maybe surround Howard with talent and avoid losing him. Or, you know, end up in the same exact position next season. It’s all about living to fight another day, though, right?
Mixed Verdict: Los Angeles Clippers
It’s tough to call the Clippers losers (just this one time, usually it’s easy) coming out of the trade deadline given how little they sacrificed to acquire Nick Young, but there were better options out there. According to multiple reports, L.A. was really close to picking up Ray Allen. Now that would have been a move could change the tone of the locker room post-Chauncey Billups’ injury. Acquiring Young, who is prone to pulling up for long jumpers in fast breaks a la Billups is but seemingly makes them at a lower rate, is not the same type of move as one for Allen would have been.
So to recap: while not giving up much make this an okay trade, the fact that the Clippers brought in a piece that won’t do much to address their problems means they can’t stand in the winner’s circle either.