By: Bill Ingram
As expected, yesterday's trade deadline brought a flurry of deals between teams across the NBA. We didn't see the blockbusters that came out last year at this time, but we did see a significant number of teams take care of some business. In fact, a couple of teams helped themselves significantly. With that in mind, here are the big winners:
1) The Orlando Magic. As we saw last night in New Orleans, the Magic needed to address their point guard position in a much more serious way than by simply adding Ty Lue, and today they did that. Not only did they get a solid starting point guard in Houston's Rafer Alston, they did it by giving up a player they wanted to unload anyway in Brian Cook. Alston played some of his best basketball under Stan Van Gundy in Miami, so this could turn out to be a championship move for Orlando.
2) The Chicago Bulls. The Bulls took care of the present and the future in their multiple trades this week. The future is set with Brad Miller at center and John Salmons on the wing. Miller will provide invaluable veteran guidance for the Bulls' young big men and will likely start on Friday. Salmons is having a career year, is amazingly efficient, and will push the Bulls to the next level. Tim Thomas is a solid bench contributor - provided he agrees to show up in Chicago this time - and he and James both come off the books before 2010. The Bulls are now officially a playoff team, and have some room to work with in 2010, as well.
3) The New York Knicks. Larry Hughes has been chomping at the bit, waiting for a chance to play. Now, not only will he get to play, he'll play in a Mike D'Antoni system that could give him room to put up big numbers. At the same time, they landed the ending contract of Chris Wilcox, got rid of Jerome James and Malik Rose, who didn't play, and continued their push to get out from under the bad contracts Isiah Thomas saddled them with.
What Didn't Get Done
We were more than a little surprised that Kevin Pritchard didn't put Raef LaFrentz's ending contract to good use. Rumors had players like Richard Jefferson, Gerald Wallace, and even Vince Carter in the discussion for Portland, but as it stands the Blazers will keep the contract and let it expire.
The Phoenix Suns may be a little too excited about their wins over the hapless Los Angeles Clippers. New head coach Alvin Gentry convinced management to keep Amar'e Stoudemire in the mix, and subsequent rumors about trading Shaq evaporated, as well. The Suns will pay luxury tax this season and will lose money unless they get to the seventh game of the second round. Pretty optimistic on the Suns' part.
The Dallas Mavericks were hoping to land a playoff-ready piece in exchange for Jerry Stackhouse's ending deal, but will now have to stand pat and hope Stackhouse can actually get healthy and contribute before April.
And finally, great big kudos go out to a list of NBA general managers who said they weren't dealing and then didn't. Bryan Colangelo (Chris Bosh, Andrea Bargnani), Rod Thorn (Vince Carter), Danny Ferry (Wally Szczerbiak), and Rod Higgins (Raymond Felton) all told us they weren't making moves and they kept their words.
Ginobili Out 2-3 Weeks
The San Antonio Spurs released their medical findings with regard to Manu Ginobili's latest injury, and the diagnosis is not good. The Spurs, trying to cling to home court advantage in the Western Conference, will be without one of their big three for two-to-three weeks as he recovers from a stress reaction of his distal right fibula.