Winners, Losers In Deadline’s Big Chill


The Big Chill.

If Thursday’s NBA trade deadline was a movie, the audience would have walked out in the middle from boredom. This freeze came straight from the script that is the league’s new collective bargaining agreement — with its harsher luxury tax penalties and diminished roster flexibility for tax offenders — it put the clamps on a stunningly uneventful deadline day.

The big names were on the opening credits: Josh Smith, Paul Millsap, Al Jefferson, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Eric Gordon, Eric Bledsoe, Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis.

Yet, when the curtain closed at 3 p.m. ET, Orlando Magic sharpshooter J.J. Redick stole the show as the lone player of significance to switch teams. The Milwaukee Bucks acquired the career 39.8 percent 3-point shooter in a six-player deal that involved five other relatively anonymous NBA names.

Only one potential blockbuster deal percolated, but ultimately died on the vine with the Atlanta Hawks going the distance in an attempt to strike a deal with the Bucks for Smith before pulling back. One reason so few big deals were discussed was simply because there wasn’t much talent realistically in play, a point that goes beyond any ramifications of the CBA.

The CBA that took effect in December 2011, and begins to smack tax-paying teams with stiffer fines next season, has clearly put franchises on the defensive. Teams that were once willing to add salary to consummate a deal no longer are. Teams that once didn’t think twice about sweetening a deal with a first-round pick, suddenly guard them with their lives.

“Cap room and draft picks, which are usually the currency of how these [big] deals get done, were at a huge premium and are something that everyone wants to have,” said Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey, who steered the most active club at the deadline with a couple of lower-tier deals.

There’s really no greater example of the effect of these changes than the Dallas Mavericks and their braintrust, owner Mark Cuban and president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson. Chronic and strategic over-spenders and tax payers under the old CBA, Cuban, who took on salary in deadline deals for Jason Kidd in 2008 and Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood and DeShawn Stevenson in 2010, analyzed the new rules and reversed field last year.

He dismantled the 2011 championship team, choosing to covet cap space and the roster flexibility granted to teams that remain under the tax threshold, as well as newfound valuing of first-round draft picks as low-priced labor and trade assets.

It’s a strategy that no longer has the Mavs on speed dial of teams looking to make a deal and dump salary.

“It’s definitely a factor,” Nelson said of the CBA’s chilling effect Thursday after the deadline expired. “There’s no question that folks have their eye on the inevitable, and there’s no question that people are getting their collective houses in order.

“There’s some teams that see that on the horizon and act early, and other teams that will procrastinate and pay a dear price. But I think we’re right in the middle of that. It’s not brand-new news and so, yeah, I think you’re going to see a lot of teams try to correct themselves financially.”

The so-called “repeater” tax really has teams scared. Several clubs tried to deal away lost-cost players to avoid the repeater tax, which will whack franchises with an additional fine if they go over the tax line in three of four seasons. Golden State was successful in this venture. Chicago was not and will pay a luxury tax for the first time since its implementation.

This “repeater” penalty deterred teams from making deals that would have pushed payroll even slightly over the tax line, deals they might have normally green-lighted in the old days. So, is this the way of the future under the current rules?

“I can’t predict the future,” Morey said, “but I think the trend is more this way.”


Rockets: Morey’s stockpiling of assets the last couple years has been questioned, but he’s turned it into quite a haul starting with James Harden prior to the start of the season. The day before the deadline, Morey acquired the No. 5 overall pick, Thomas Robinson, from Sacramento. Morey’s dealing didn’t damage an abundance of cap space next summer that will be used to pursue a top free agent such as Dwight Howard and Josh Smith.

Bucks: GM John Hammond didn’t get his big fish in Smith, but he pulled off the deal for Redick, who should really help a club that’s been skidding down the East standings and needs a boost. Hammond held onto Jennings and Ellis and will have room to maneuver in the summer to add more pieces.

Thunder: GM Sam Presti continues to make shrewd moves. The acquisition of Ronnie Brewer from the New York Knicks for a second-round pick gives OKC another strong perimeter defender to help Thabo Sefolosha.

Celtics: Jordan Crawford might not be Jamal Crawford, but he can score in bunches and Boston was desperate to bolster its injury-ravaged guard backcourt. Boston fans are the winners here, too, with the team’s heart and soul, Garnett and Pierce, staying put.

Mavericks: Sure, on the surface, picking up 3-point specialist Anthony Morrow for defensive-minded guard Dahntay Jones doesn’t sound like much. But then reminded us of this Dwight Howard interview in Russia when he named Morrow as one of a handful of players he’d like to have as a teammate.

Blazers: The team with the leanest bench in the NBA finally got some help in a minor deal that netted OKC guard Eric Maynor, who lost his job early on to Reggie Jackson. Maynor will help Rookie of the Year frontrunner Damian Lillard reduce his 38.5 mpg workload.


Hawks: They didn’t get the deal done to ship out Smith and now it seems they will lose him for nothing in free agency. On one level, however, it’s hard to say that this is a definitive loss. They’ll keep Smith (who might or might not come away from this experience deflated) for the rest of the season, and, with any luck, try to keep him while recruiting friend and fellow Atlantan Howard next summer. If GM Danny Ferry wasn’t pleased with the deals presented, it doesn’t always pay to take something, anything just because in the end you could be left with nothing. If Smith leaves, the Hawks will take the cap space and look to spin it in their favor.

Magic: They deal away a useful player and one they drafted in Redick and hand over his Bird Rights to the Bucks. There was no guarantee that Redick would re-sign with Orlando, but he at least had said the door was open to a return.  The Magic’s Josh McRoberts to Charlotte deal for Hakim Warrick is a head-scratcher.

Knicks: They didn’t upgrade at any position and gave away a solid defender in Brewer, who was starting for the club during their hot start out of the gates, but had slipped out of the rotation. New York did use the roster vacancy to sign veteran power forward Kenyon Martin.

Nets: They failed to land another high-priced player in Smith and failed to unload one of their own, Kris Humphries.


  1. SHAQKOBE says:

    HORNETS should waived ERIC GORDON…
    he is 100% certified BUM….

  2. antwoin says:

    the heat cleared space for gregg oden

  3. The Beard says:

    I cant wait to see Thomas Robinson blossom into an all-star under Coach Kevin McHale

  4. ray says:

    In that change the balance tips toward Orlando

  5. karoLT says:

    and @jsmoove has repeatedly said that he preferred his hometown team….

  6. karoLT says:

    please guys @jsmoove is a HAWK, he’s the face of the franchise… He could help add Dwight Howard in ATLANTA…. n CP3….

  7. Sonics 4 Life says:

    Moving an injury and a guy that fouls more then he scores for a young capable shooter? Seems to me like the Celtics made a great deal.

  8. vito says:

    Kenyon Martin and Hakeem Warrick might be old but they’re both very reliable veterans, who play solid defense.
    They might not change their teams much but so does no one else (of the traded guys).

  9. BHBMAN says:

    i really like Eric Maynor coming to Portland. Too bad the Blazers released Ronnie Price though.

  10. DrKen says:

    I hate to disagree, but I don’t feel the Nets were one of the 4 “big losers” this year. For all intents-&-purposes, they are an expansion team this year, they landed several solid players and now need to gel as a team… and seem to be doing quite well at that. Long gone are the revolving locker room doors which saw players come-&-go like tourists through O’Hare, and this year with the current cast of players, its time for the team to settle down a bit, allow the current group become experienced in playing with one another, and let the season ride out. The Nets will make the playoffs, which in and of itself should never be a goal, and will do well in the early rounds. They are NOT ready to take on Miami, but other than that, they can hold their own against their rivals in the Eastern Conference and, baring any injuries, should do well. Quite a turn-around from the previous few years.

    • michael says:

      So if you make some offseason moves you become an expansion team? Even though the team has existed for 46 years? epic failure on that comment DrKen

  11. dre says:

    Good move by okc getting ronnie brewer.

  12. nate says:

    im glad the celtics kept the heart and soul of our team intact…. garnett and pierces leadership skills are priceless…. go green

  13. Tim says:

    Notice how the article mentions Morley of the Rockets was a big winner for pulling in Harden and now Thomas Robinson, but fails to mention Jeremy Lin? What is with people and the “fear” of calling Jeremy Lin what he is. A STAR IMPACT PLAYER! Other players in the league don’t like to admit it, but, yes, Lin IS an impact player on the level of any top point guard. He’s proven time and again to hold his own against the best point guards in the game THIS YEAR (Westbrook, CP3 & Parker). Why should it be a “curse” for Lin to have busted out last year as a major star only to get “put in his place”? We all saw what happened in NY. Lin was basically punished for his success by the GM and ‘Melo for “daring to be great”. And to beat all, this year he’s had to be on a leash with the Rockets taking “hand signals” from Harden before he can drive to the hoop or try to score.

    • Henry says:

      Well Said Tim!

      • James says:

        The reason why they did not mention Jeremy Lin is because this blog is about trades. Lin was a free agent signing not a trade.

      • douglas says:

        totally agree.. i tihnk that lin is just trying his best to make the team win.. everyone know harden is the guy in rockets.. but j lin can ball… regarding rocketmans comment don’t think monta will be a good fit.. if anything it woudl jsut get worse…. u dont need to scoring guard. what the rocket really need is a good PF with lenght …

  14. KG says:

    The Celtics will be healthy next season and will be challenging Miami and Chicago.

    @dj rgm9 As for now, The Celtics are still going to make some noise in the playoffs unlike your “stacked” Lakers who will finish in 10th. And don’t say you’re missing Pau because you’d be worse with him…FACT!

    • michael says:

      Opinions are not fact fool

      • bigwes95 says:

        actually numbers have proven that pau and howard make the team worse when they play together, so it’s fact, not opinion. they’ve had a few blogs on here that say they play worse with pau and howard. unless one is coming off the bench, they actaully do do worse.

  15. dfgdfg says:

    Good move by OKC to get Ronnie Brewer. Good defender and alot of potential

  16. middale says:

    once again the magic have shown their baswketball ignorance. their best pure shooter, best free throw shooter, most hustling player on the team, they trade for nothing. unlike howard, i believe he was honest with them. then we keep guys who are out of shape and keep getting hurt like nelson and big baby. thats what you get when you hire a guy with no experience…gm and head coach

  17. dj rgm9 says:

    My excuses for uncorrect spelling,’baptised’.

    • celtics4life says:

      the “baptism” happened little earlier in boston… what was the score after 3rd again? oh , yeah, 40 points in favor of celtics 🙂

  18. dj rgm9 says:

    To all dellusional Boston fans!You c’ant compare 90’s Celtic’s with 2000 era,those from 2000 era has only 1 ring compared to the 80/90’s many rings.So basicly the so called “big four” from the 2000 era where just 1 day flie’s like the Dallas Mavericks from ’11.Boston era”big 3 now” is comming to an end for good batized by the Lakers few days ago!They better clean ship before starting the next season comming,that’s a fact!!!Confirmed Lakerfan since the 90’s!

    • BOSTON says:

      Dude! You are dellusional if you think the Lakers will even make the playoffs this year. Just because the Lakers got that win against Boston don’t mean JACK. The fact is Kobe will not be matching Jordan’s 6 rings before he retire and the Lakers will not be making the playoffs which is going to be one of the BIGGEST failures in the history of the NBA because they went out and got Howard & Nash. And you Lakers fan thought it was going to be this super team or something and realized that they are a bunch of bums. So take that……..POW POW!

  19. Rocketman says:

    Rockets are building for the future.I can’t wait till the off season as they will have some cap money. I would like to see Rockets pick up 2 free agents Josh Smith and Monte Ellis. With Ellis and Harden you have 2 guys that are scoring machines and would
    open up the middle for Smith and Asik. I think Dwight Howard is good but doesn’t have the mental drive to go to the next level. Do you really want to pay a max contract for a player that doesn’t have the will to win! Rockets have a good core of role players so if they can make a move or 2 can be one of the top 4 teams in the west in the next year or 2. Hmmm Ellis and Harden that is some scoring power right there!

  20. Bersem says:

    Was almost convinced of the trade between Humphries and Ben Gordon…but did not occure.

    Good deal for Boston 😉

  21. Bstarr says:

    Celtics are a winner by getting Jordan Crawford?? Are you kidding me??? No offense but I don’t think that this was the deal that Boston fans were looking for. But ok the trade market is tough at the moment and the terms for getting Josh Smith were not negotiable. Getting Jordan Crawford is better then getting nothing.

    I really hope that Boston can add a player like Kyrie Irving, Dwight Howard or Demarcus Cousins to their roster when Paul Pierce & KG leaves. Or the Celtics are doomed again like in the 90’s after the Larry Bird era.

    • celtics4life says:

      what they need to do is get big al back this summer, forget josh smith and his huge salary demands, jeff green is not much worse (and in some aspects – better) for 1/10 of the money, but we do need a big guy, rebounding is killing us again.

  22. Karlo Garcia says:

    I like what OKC did with Ronnie Brewer.

  23. what a boring deadline…

    The biggest losers are the Jazz. They will lose Millsap and Jefferson for absolutely nothing.

  24. Nick says:

    Mcroberts for Warrick isn’t a head scratcher, do your homework man. It was a move that freed up cap room for Orlando who are building for the future by creating financial flexibility and acquiring young talent. They also received a TPE. Although summer league is to be taken with a grain of salt, Tobias Harris shined in Vegas and he has played 25 minutes or more in five games in his brief career. In those five games he’s averaged 16.2 ppg while shooting 50% or better in every game. Now he has an opportunity on a rebuilding team that’s going to give him a real chance. This kid has potential. Their other young acquisition, Doron Lamb, is a guy that some viewed as a 1st round talent. So, I definitely disagree Orlando is a loser here. They did what they could, the money Orlando was going to have to pay their two SG’s would simply be too steep and only hold back the franchise longer.

  25. 2k beats says:

    im saying that Houston and Portland got the best deals by getting a solid PF with Thomas Robinson and two talented SF’s with Francisco Garcia and Tyler Honeycutt, Portland got Eric Manyor in which will help Damian Lillard in a long shot and only gave up only a 2nd round pick which dosent hurt Portland which is why both teams got the best deals today

    • 2Scoops says:

      Actually, all Portland gave was a trade exception and the rights to a Greek player stashed in Europe somewhere named Georgios Printezis who was acquired in the trade last year that sent Raymond Felton to the Knicks. Basically the Blazers got Maynor for nothing. Brilliant GM work in Portland today.

      • El Undelador says:

        Yes, a very quiet move that could have much positive impact. A competent backup PG will mean a fresher, more spry Lillard, and that type of Lillard should be even better than the Lillard we’re seeing now.

    • Rocketman says:

      Peoople better watch out in the next 1 to 2 years because Rockets are going to be a major player in the west.The Rockets are coming the Rockets are coming !

  26. orlandjeff1972 says:

    I strongly disagree w Orlando being a loser in this deal!jj wasn’t going to be worth what he will get paid #1 and #2 we get some quality young players for the future and some more cap relief when urdoh and warrick are gone this summer if not before hand-GO MAGIC

  27. Gillsy says:

    I agree that the move by OKC is another smart move, which could pay dividends during the playoffs.