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It was an uneventful trade deadline in the NBA as zero players with all-star level impact changed addresses. This is understandable given the stratification of the NBA this year. Only two teams in the Eastern Conference have serious championship aspirations and even though the Western Conference is loaded, there didn’t seem to be a move out there that could have changed the competitive landscape.
If Rajon Rondo had been traded to the Houston Rockets, as was rumored, it would have made headlines, but probably wouldn’t have altered the balance of power. Rondo is a ball-dominant guard that cannot shoot, making him a bit of an odd fit in Houston’s offense next to James Harden, who also needs the ball in his hands to make plays.
The Phoenix Suns could not complete a trade for Pau Gasol, but at his age, the Spaniard doesn’t seem to have the gas left in the tank to be the go-to player on a contender. Gasol can still contribute to a championship team with the right star power around him, but he probably wouldn’t vault the Suns to the top tier in the West.
It isn’t unprecedented that the biggest headline were the deals that didn’t happen, but it is a testament to the inactivity of the week. With that said, there are some clear cut winners and losers to come out of this year’s yawner.
This biggest winner of the deadline gets to abandon ship from the tanking 76’ers and join a championship run with the first place team in the East, the Indiana Pacers. Even though on the surface, the 76’ers seem to have some talent built up, they’re not going anywhere this season without Narlens Noel, and Turner was not in Philadelphia’s long term plans. Turner gets to compete for the title this year while Philadelphia gets to add a top lottery pick to put with Noel and Michael Carter-Williams.
The Pacers, who acquired Turner for Danny Granger, fortify their bench with this savvy deal. Granger used to be a franchise cornerstone, but he’s a shell of his former self. Indiana adds some offensive punch to their rotation, something they sorely needed off their bench. If Andrew Bynum turns things around, watch out for Indiana, which might be the first team to overthrown the reigning Heat since LeBron James came to town.
Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers made a pair of minor deals, shipping out Antawn Jamison and Byron Mullens for pennies. This was a savvy, forward-thinking move for the Clippers, which only loses players that were not contributing to their rotation while also maintaining flexibility going forward. The Clippers could have really used a slashing offensive wing, but it wasn’t a necessary acquisition for their championship aspirations.
Poor Omer just can’t catch a break. Asik is a fantastic player who is stuck in a less-than-ideal situation. He’s a dominant defensive force and an effective scorer as well, but unfortunately he’s still stuck behind Dwight Howard in Houston. It’s astounding to me that the Rockets couldn’t find a trade partner. It would have been in their best interest to get some value for him, preferably a stretch power forward. But hindsight is 20/20, and Asik is stuck being the most underutilized player in basketball.
The Blazers have emerged as contenders and a top eight team in basketball this season, but their defense and depth is still suspect. They really could have used a trade to strengthen their bench, preferably a wing/forward to take some pressure off Nic Batum and Wesley Matthews. Their foursome of the two wings with stars Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge is lethal, but to be considered serious threats to the top tier teams in the NBA, they’ll need to get some key stops in crucial moments. We’ll see if their current roster develops and lives up to the challenge.
The Cleveland Cavaliers seem to be trying to contend this season. They added Deng and center Spencer Hawes to build up for a playoff run, but to be frank, they’re still just bad. Kyrie Irving hasn’t taken that next step, Dion Waiters and Anthony Bennett have been busts so far and there’s no way Cleveland can hang with Indiana and Miami. Deng won’t be in the Cavs lon- term plans, so he’ll just have to suffer through this dysfunctional season and hit the free agent market looking for a fresh start.