In Miami, crickets. In Chicago, the gentle whoosh of wind on an eerie 80-degree day in mid-March (take that, Dwight Howard). In Oklahoma City, tumbleweeds.
While so many others throughout the league scrambled at the NBA trade deadline to plug holes or add pieces that might aid in getting after a championship three months from now, the very best teams did nothing. Given what little time remains to adapt to significant changes, the shortage of practice days to acclimate or road trips to bond, doing nothing seems like a wise non-maneuver for top contenders.
The Heat still need size but figure they can find someone on the scrap heap of buyouts now that deadline day has passed. The Bulls have most of the answers in-house, though unfortunately also in the trainers room. The Thunder have been set for a while and weren’t interested, either, in change for change’s or for headlines’ sake. Only San Antonio did anything, and they took the past-is-now route by trading for Stephen Jackson.
Then there was Philadelphia, which didn’t want to mess with a winning formula but managed to upgrade nonetheless, acquiring swingman Sam Young from Memphis for the rights to center Ricky Sanchez, a player it had no use for. Young, a career 6.9 ppg guy and 45.5 percent shooter whose numbers are down this season, was available primarily because Memphis had some salary-cap housekeeping to do. According to Marcus Hayes of the Philadelphia Daily News, the Sixers might have stumbled upon that rare occurrence when a deal that seems too good to be true actually is pretty darn good:
Young is a 6-6, 220-pound bulldog who weighs as much as Sanchez and who doesn’t care if you know his name. He will be a selfless bench player who can give Evan Turner and Andre Iguodala breaks. Occasionally, he will get all Joe Dumars on annoying hybrid players like, oh, LeBron James.
“Sam’s overall skill set can be a valuable asset to our team and he adds to our depth at two positions,” team president Rod Thorn said in a statement.
“We needed to add some toughness,” said Sixers coach and chemist Doug Collins, who clearly is wary of altering the delicate formula that has his young squad atop the Atlantic Division. “There was nothing out there that you would say you would change your team for.”
Will Young get the Sixers into the No. 1 or No. 2 spots in the Eastern Conference playoff bracket? Not likely. He probably won’t do much, if anything, to stop Miami’s dominance over Philadelphia in the short term; the Heat takes a nine-game winning streak in the series into Friday night’s game at the Wells Fargo Center and has won 11 of the past 13 meetings.
But Sam Young is addition without subtraction, a helpful piece now and for offseason planning, and the sort of things the less-desperate, more-serious teams prefer when a season is getting short and things mostly are going well.