The trade deadline approaches and while there typically is no more exciting time for NBA fans hoping to see roster changes than perhaps the beginning of July, this year it is certainly starting to look like we’ll be lucky to see even one remotely significant deal go down in the coming six days.
Historically, fun things do tend to happen this time year, as the following list proves. These are the most significant February deals to have gone down in modern NBA history:
#10 – Miami gets itself a killer crossover (1996) – When Rick Adelman brought Tim Hardaway, one of the best point guards in the league at that time, off of the bench, he grew understandably upset and that discord led to a deadline swap that sent him to South Beach in exchange for Kevin Willis and Bimbo Coles. Miami got two All-Star seasons out of Hardaway, who helped lead a really tough HEAT team that also featured Alonzo Mourning, while Willis and Coles did considerably less out in Oakland.
#9 – The point guard carousel spins round and round (1999) – The trade that sent Sam Cassell to Milwaukee, Stephon Marbury to New Jersey and Terrell Brandon to Minnesota ended up being one of the largest trades in league history, but the impact for Milwaukee and New Jersey was especially noteworthy. The Nets ended up with Marbury, who injected some (short-lived) energy into the franchise, while Milwaukee got some good miles out of Cassell. In the history of the league there, haven’t been many trades where three starters at the same position have been shifted around in a single transaction but this one accomplished that. Only Minnesota really “lost” on this three-way deal, as Brandon faced loads of injury issues the rest of his career.
#8 – Seattle removes The Glove (2003) – This was an instance where probably the greatest Sonic of all time was shipped out for a great scorer in Ray Allen to avoid watching Gary Payton potentially walk away from the franchise for nothing as a free agent that summer. Milwaukee, meanwhile, hoped Payton would walk away following the season so they could cash in on the cap space his expiring contract would create. It impacted both franchises in a major way and has to be considered one of the bigger deadline deals ever. At the very least, it was jarring to see a Seattle lifer like Payton sent off to a new employer.
#7 – Cleveland gives up on Kevin Johnson (1988) – At the time, this pick made a ton of sense for the Cavaliers because Mark Price was simply too good to afford K.J. much playing time and Larry Nance filled a different positional need. But Phoenix came out the big winners here, as Johnson would eventually prove to be every bit the player Price was and more. As an added bonus, the draft pick Cleveland threw Phoenix’s way in this deal turned into Dan Majerle the following summer.
#6 – Houston acquires Houston legend Clyde Drexler (1995) – Drexler did just barely get himself a championship ring immediately following the deadline deal that saw Portland ship him and Tracy Murray to Houston in exchange for Otis Thorpe, Marcelo Nicola and a 1995 first-round draft pick (Randolph Childress), but he’s not going to quibble about how he earns his jewelry. Drexler certainly put in his fair share of elite seasons over the course of his career, including two more All-Star appearances after the trade.
#5 – The Clippers trade away the pick that becomes Kyrie Irving (2011) – Even at the time, pundits scratched their heads over L.A. trading an unprotected first-round pick just to come away with an extra $11 million in cap room over two years, but that’s exactly what they did. The pick they traded away ended up being the top overall pick in the draft, which became Kyrie Irving, while all the extra cap space netted L.A. the talents of Ryan Gomes and Randy Foye. It ended up being a massive deadline deal and one of the worst trades of all time, period.
#4 – Philadelphia ups the defense with Dikembe Mutombo (2001) – Heading into the deadline as the Eastern Conference’s best team, the Sixers needed to make a deal for a big man to replace the injured Theo Ratliff. Somehow, they convinced Atlanta to take on Ratliff (as well as some other somewhat desirable pieces like Toni Kukoc and Nazr Mohammed) in exchange for Mutombo, who won Defensive Player of the Year that season and ended up playing an integral part in getting Philadelphia to the NBA Finals.
#3 – Detroit steals one-day Atlanta Hawk Rasheed Wallace (2004) – It’s hard for a deadline deal to result immediately in a championship because the team really only has about 30 games left in the season to jell well enough to make that a reality. However, the 2004 Pistons definitely made it work with Rasheed Wallace, who reinvigorated himself just in time to bring the team their first ring since Isiah Thomas was an all-world point guard for Detroit. When you consider the fact that all the Pistons gave up to get ‘Sheed was Zeljko Rebraca, Bob Sura and a first-round pick, this trade has proven to be one of all-time rip-offs in league history. Even weirder is that it was Atlanta who shipped Wallace off after having employed him for a single game.
#2 – New York sells the farm for Carmelo Anthony (2011) – In the five years since this deal went down, we’ve seen varying degrees of success from the players that Denver acquired as well as various degrees of success from the Anthony-led Knicks themselves. But the point is that in 2011, this really felt like one of the most significant and exciting trades of all time – deadline deal or otherwise. Wilson Chandler, Ray Felton, Danilo Gallinari and Timofey Mozgov all left the Rockies for the Big Apple, as did three draft picks (none of which amounted to much for Denver) and some cash. In his prime, Anthony was a top-five player in the NBA. Those kinds of guys don’t get moved at the deadline often, which is what made 2011’s deadline so exciting.
#1 – L.A. lands Pau Gasol, wins championships (2008) – If Marc Gasol hadn’t transformed into an eventual All-Star and Defensive Player of the Year, this would have been one of the most lopsided deals in history. Considering that Marc was just a throw-in for this deal and that it could have been literally any “draft rights” guy in that spot, it may still be one of the dumbest deals ever from the Memphis perspective. Still, for the Lakers the acquisition of big brother Pau Gasol led to three consecutive NBA Finals appearances, two of which resulted in championships. The brother-for-brother narrative doesn’t hurt anything here either, especially considering how good Marc Gasol turned out to be too.
Wizards trade Antawn Jamison to Cavaliers (2010) – While it didn’t pay the sort of dividends Cleveland would have liked (like winning a championship and keeping LeBron James in his home state), there’s no understating that this was a pretty huge trade for the Cavs at the time. It was tough to give up Zydrunas Ilgauskas in the deal, but he was immediately bought out by the Wizards, waited 30 days, and then returned to the Cavs. Essentially, Cleveland ended up with an All-Star forward for virtually nothing.
Nuggets trade Mark Jackson back to the Pacers (1997) – Donnie Walsh made the decision in the winter of 1997 to bring Jackson back to Indianapolis after having traded him to Denver just the season before. Seeing how much Indy dropped off the Eastern Conference map, it only made sense to bring Jackson back, and sure enough the Pacers were in the NBA Finals only a few years later. All it cost them (the second time) was Vincent Askew, Eddie Johnson and a second-round pick.
Sixers trade Jeff Hornacek to the Jazz (1994) – As good as John Stockton and Karl Malone made the Utah Jazz, it wasn’t until they added sharp-shooter Jeff Hornacek that they really started to look like a championship team. Hornacek added a whole new dimension to that team, while Jeff Malone—who they traded for Hornacek—wasn’t quite as valuable over the rest of his career.
Hornets trade Baron Davis to the Warriors (2005) – It was a relatively risky move for Golden State at the time considering how many injuries Davis had faced in his short career with the Hornets, but they only had to give up Dale Davis and Speedy Claxton to make it happen. Considering that a couple seasons later Baron’s Warriors would best the top-seeded Dallas Mavericks in one of the most exciting first round series ever, it worked out fairly well for Golden State. That said, they never did get out of the second round with Davis at the helm—not that they had done much better before the trade.
Kings trade Chris Webber to the Sixers (2005) – Toward the end of his career, Webber still had enough gas in the tank to make a reasonable influence on his new team, but the Sixers were extremely disappointing with Webber on the roster. They lost in the first-round in 2005 and missed the 2006 playoffs completely.
Clippers trade Danny Manning to Hawks for Dominique Wilkins (1994) – It couldn’t have been easy to trade ‘Nique after 11 and a half seasons in Atlanta, but then-coach Lenny Wilkens felt that Manning would help the Hawks perform better during the playoff stretch. It didn’t work out though, as the top-seeded Hawks would lose in the second round to the Indiana Pacers. Those 26 games Manning played for the rest of the ’94 season were the only ones he’d ever play for Atlanta, but considering he’d never really be 100 percent healthy the rest of his professional career, that was probably a good thing.
Deadline day is unpredictable, and very often big-name players are swapped without any sort of warning in deals that completely blow our minds. These are the best of those deals, and for the sake of excitement, let’s hope this year’s deadline offers something just as thrilling.
Dejounte Murray: The Spurs’ Latest Steal
The Spurs have a history of drafting talented players late in the draft. Dejounte Murray is emerging as their most recent steal, writes David Yapkowitz.
It seems like almost every NBA season, the San Antonio Spurs end up selecting a player late in the draft who unexpectedly goes on to become a valuable contributor, sometimes even a star. The entire draft in itself can often be a crapshoot, but the lower the pick, the lower the chances of a team finding a solid rotation player. But with the Spurs, it’s as if they hit far more often than they miss.
Their pick from a year ago is shaping up to be no exception as the injury to starting point guard Tony Parker has opened up a huge opportunity for Dejounte Murray; one that he is taking advantage of.
There is a lot of preparation by analysts leading up to the NBA draft. Several mock drafts are created up until draft night itself. Murray was often projected to be a high first-round pick, possibly even a lottery pick. He had a solid freshman season at the University of Washington where he averaged 16.1 points per game, six rebounds, and 4.4 assists.
Draft night arrived and he ended up slipping to the bottom of the first round (29th overall), far later than he had anticipated. Following his selection, LeBron James himself, who is represented by the same sports agency as Murray, tweeted out some words of encouragement for the young rookie. He let Murray know that he may not have been drafted where he wanted to, but that he was with the best organization in the league.
Murray pretty much rode the bench last season as a rookie, which is not at all uncommon for a first-year player on a veteran team with championship aspirations. He was inactive for most of the final two months of the season. In the first round of the playoffs against the Memphis Grizzlies, and most of the second round against the Houston Rockets, he was relegated to garbage time duty. Perhaps if he’d been drafted as high as initially projected, he might have had a bigger opportunity at getting minutes right away.
That all changed, however, against Houston in Game 2 when Parker went down with the injury that he is still recuperating from. Murray was thrust into the starting lineup and he responded as well as an inexperienced rookie under the bright lights of the playoffs could. In Game 4, although the Spurs lost, he had eight points on 50 percent shooting along with three assists. He actually didn’t play in Game 5, but in the Spurs closeout Game 6 win, he poured in 11 points, ten rebounds, five assists and two steals while shooting 50 percent from the field.
Even though the Spurs were ultimately swept in the Western Conference Finals against the Golden State Warriors, Murray continued his steady play with 8.3 points, 3.8 assists, and three steals.
At the start of this season, Murray has taken his momentum from the end of last season and carried it over. He was given the starting point guard spot in place of Parker on opening night against the Minnesota Timberwolves. He responded on national television with 16 points on 7-8 shooting from the field, five rebounds, two assists and two steals.
It’s still too early to tell, but it’s highly possible that the Spurs have found their starting point guard of the future once Parker eventually decides to hang it up. At 6-foot-5, Murray is a tall point guard and his length gives him the potential to develop into an elite defensive player. He can score the basketball and he is improving his court vision and playmaking.
One area he could improve in is his outside shooting. Although he did shoot 39.1 percent from the three-point line last season, he only took 0.6 attempts. In his lone college season, he shot 28.8 percent from downtown. If he can improve his range and really begin to put together his entire package of skills, we’ll be talking yet again about how the Spurs bamboozled the rest of the league and found a draft-day gem.
NBA Saturday: Jabari Bird Experiences The NBA Whirlwind
Jabari Bird entered a hostile environment Friday night after being on his couch just three days before.
When Gordon Hayward suffered a season-ending injury six minutes into the Boston Celtics’ season on Wednesday, he wasn’t the only player who saw his season changed in the blink of an eye.
“I was at home in California watching the game as a fan,” Jabari Bird said.
Bird was the 56th overall pick in last June’s NBA Draft. After playing his college ball at the University of California, the Celtics gave the 6-foot-6 swingman a shot to continue his career. After impressing throughout the preseason, Bird was signed to a two-way contract with Boston and returned home to the west coast.
That didn’t last long.
“After the game was over my phone was going off that I had to get on the quickest flight to Boston,” Bird said about opening night. “Got in 7:30 the next morning, suited up against Milwaukee, now I’m here in Philly.”
With the massive hole Hayward left in Boston’s roster due to his injury, the Celtics are going to have to turn to some unlikely performers throughout the season to pick up the slack. Bird didn’t light up the scoreboard or stuff his stat sheet, posting just three points and one rebound in 13 minutes of play. But down the stretch in a close game against the Philadelphia 76ers Friday night, Bird came up big on defense.
As the Celtics trailed the Sixers 61-53 with six minutes remaining in the third quarter, Bird subbed in for Jaylen Brown and was tasked with guarding J.J. Redick, who was in the midst of carrying Philadelphia with his lights out shooting.
After wiping away the Sixers lead and gaining an 86-84 advantage in the fourth quarter, the Celtics still had Bird sticking Redick. The Sixers’ shooting guard — and highest paid player — rose up for another three-point attempt which would’ve given Philadelphia a late lead and a momentum shift at home with a raucous crowd behind them. Only this time, Bird’s hand was in his face and the shot attempt didn’t find the back of the net.
In a big-time moment on the road, for a team facing a potential three-game losing streak to start the season, the unlikely rookie answered the call.
“Like I said before, he’s one of the best shooters in the NBA, really good perimeter scorer,” Bird said of Redick. “For the team to trust me with that responsibility, with us being down on the road needing to get a win, I was hyped up and ready to go. I was ready for the challenge.”
Placing such a responsibility like guarding Redick on a night where it seemed like the Sixers marksman couldn’t miss on a player who was sitting on his couch three nights ago seems like a bold strategy. Head coach Brad Stevens, however, knew what he was doing.
“All the way through preseason and training camp I felt like he was one of our better perimeter defenders,” Stevens said. “I think he has huge upside. His rebounding spoke for itself in preseason practices. His ability to guard off the ball, especially shooters coming off screens is just really good. He’s not afraid, and you knew he’d step up.”
Going from the couch to a red-eye flight from California to Boston, to the bench in Milwaukee, to the court in Philadelphia is nothing short of a whirlwind experience. With such a series of events, it’s hard to be coached into that moment. As a player, sometimes you have to just go out and play.
“I wasn’t prepared at all for tonight. Mentally I just had to lock into the game,” Bird said. “Coach just looked at me and said ‘Bird get Jaylen.’ ‘Alright.’ So that’s what I did.”
After signing Hayward to $127 million contract this summer, the Celtics were expecting the small forward to provide an elite scoring 1-2 scoring punch with Kyrie Irving. Obviously, at least for this season, Boston will need to move forward without that possibility. An opening night loss, followed by another defeat to Milwaukee the following night, had the Celtics 0-2 heading into Philadelphia and searching for answers a lot sooner than they may have anticipated just a week ago.
Bird’s journey during his first week in professional basketball represents how quickly things can change, and how the ripple effects of injuries and other moves have far outreaching waves.
“I was already packed, I was ready to go to the G-League,” Bird said. “We had training camp coming up. My bags were already packed, I was ready to get out the house. Then I got the call to go to Boston and I was like alright I’m ready to go, just gimmie a flight. And that’s what happened.”
All-star point guard, and Bird’s new teammate, Kyrie Irving doesn’t foresee the rookie leaving the clubhouse anytime soon. With the adversity the Boston Celtics have felt in the first week of the 2017-18 season, Bird’s addition and impact are a prime example of being ready when your number is called, and the culture this team is looking to create.
“Jabari is now probably gonna be on every trip with us,” Irving said. “Guys are gonna be called up and called upon to be ready to play. We just have to have that expectation that when we come into the game we’re gonna be able to play, and we trust one another and have each other’s backs.”
Mavs Guard Devin Harris on Personal Leave from Team
Guard Devin Harris will take an indefinite leave from the Dallas Mavericks after the tragic death of his brother, Bruce.
“I was with him yesterday and just encouraged him that when he’s ready to come on back,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “I don’t know when that will be. He can take as long as he needs.”
Source: Tim MacMahon of ESPN