3 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. That’s when the final pieces of the puzzles are added to each team, vying for a playoff spot and the coveted title of World Champions. Already, there have been some shakeups to some teams. The first big trade after the All-Star game included seven players, two teams and a new lineup for everybody. The Dallas Mavericks acquired Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood and DeShawn Stevenson from the crippling Washington Wizards who are desperately trying to right their ship after a miserable season and a gun toting Gilbert Arenas. The Mavs sent the Wizards Josh Howard, who has had his off the court issues over shadow his talent, and journey man Drew Gooden as well as two other players to match salaries. This trade obviously puts the Mavs in a win-now mode who acquired another veteran scorer in Butler and another big man in Haywood to compete in the West as well as give the Lakers a run for their money. Right now, the Mavs are on top of their division but are 8.5 games behind the Lakers. If they were to meet in the play-offs, this team should give the Lakers some decent competition.
Right behind the, were the Clevland Cavaliers making a trade to win-now. Involving three teams, the Cavs acquired Antawn Jamison from the Wizards and Sebastian Telfair from the Clippers. The Clippers get Drew Gooden, who was just traded to the Clips by the Mavs and the Wizards get Zydrunas Isgauskas and his expiring contract, a first round pick from Cleveland, Brian Skinner, and former Clippers forward Al Thornton. After all the dust is settled, it would seem odd, that Cavs would acquire Jamison, when talks of acquiring Amar’e Stoudemire were still in the works. Though Jamison does bring another element to Cleveland and the potential match-up of guarding a bigger guard, his offense doesn’t seem to fit in well with the Cavs offense. Not only that but trading Big Z, was something I was not expecting, especially since Shaq can’t hit outside shots or make free throws, which Z does very well. But business is business and expiring contracts are only too tempting. It would seem that the Wizards are shipping out old goods, to save some money and rebuild their torrid franchise. However, news has come along saying the Wizards will buy-out Z, and he’ll be back with the Cavs in no time.
Last night on the brink of midnight (west coast), the Houston Rockets and Sacramento Kings struck a deal that found Tracy McGrady, Carl Landry, and Joey Dorsey headed to the sunshine state, while the Rockets acquired Kevin Martin, Sergio Rodriguez, Hilton Armstrong and Kenny Thomas. No surprise there, except for the fact that T-Mac has gone from franchise star to another player in this business. Relationships in Houston had come to a point of no return that the only way to defuse the situation was to get rid of T-Mac. This is a decent trade for each side, but I feel like the Rockets gave up too much in Carl Landry. I think he was a piece of the puzzle that needed to stay in Houston for them to contend. As for the Kings, they get an old, worn down, injury prone player. Word is, he and his agent want to head to NY anyways. I honestly don’t think T-Mac can play with rookie sensation Tyreke Evans. Even Martin had a hard time deferring time and ball with this rook, and Martin is in no way the same superstar status as T-Mac. The Kings are looking to rebuild and upgraded by getting Carl Landry. Are they there to compete with the best of the west? By far no, but it is the step in the right direction.**
The final “blockbuster trade” came at the expense of the Chicago Bulls and Milwaukee Bucks as they swapped three players. John Salmons and his offense goes to the Bucks while Hakim Warrick and Joe Alexander and their expiring contracts head to the Bulls. While the Bucks gain an offensive power they needed with the loss of Michael Redd, the Bulls gain some cap space, hoping to lure one of the big franchise names to their city and relive the Jordan-esq era.
Smaller deals included the Minnesota Timberwolves and the New York Knicks. The Knicks sent disappointing Darko Milicic to the Wolves for Brian Cardinal. A former first round, second pick, Darko never fulfilled scouts and the Detroit Pistons expectations. I’m sure he didn’t even fulfill his own expectation of himself. Nevertheless, he sank into no man’s land, where players almost never recover and landed with the god-awful Knicks. Now he gets to go to another god-awful place of Minnesota where they traded him for a dude I honestly never even heard of. Either way, I think this was more swapping of money and expiring contracts rather than talent.
Several trades appear to be lurking, but so far no other deal has been struck. The Boston Celtics and New York Knicks trade seems to be inevitable, with the Celtics getting Nate Robinson and the Knicks receiving Eddie House and J. R. Giddens.***
No dark horse has offered anything good for Amar’e Stoudemire. While some rumblings were made that the San Antonio Spurs were giving a quiet but decent trade, nothing has become substantial. As Amar’e puts it, it’s a 50-50 chance he’ll get traded before the deadline. Now after the season, that’s another story.
On the same page, no deal has been struck for Celtics guard Ray Allen. His name has been floating around for some time, especially since the C’s were struggling, but according to Danny Ainge, he is not going to get traded.
Again, expiring contracts are extremely attractive, especially for this off-season, when this will be one of the most interesting off-seasons in recent memory. This is an all-star free agents and the deadline was a preview of what teams are trying to do to land a franchise player.
The deadline is looming, with only an hour and half till each team has to settle for what they have. I will be surprised if any big trades come about, but do expect small packages to be made before the deadline is over.
**According to several sources a new deal has been struck, only this time it includes the New York Knicks. The Knicks would receive Tracy McGrady and Sergio Rodriguez formely of the Kings. The Kings would get Carl Landry, Joey Dorsey and Knicks guard, Larry Hughes. The Rockets would receive Kevin Martin, Jordan Hill, Jarred Jeffries and draft picks.
*** According to several sources, the deal has been finalized but details are still being hashed out.