Another trading deadline past, another batch of winners and losers. The names may change, but the contrast stays the same: For every superstar who’s pleased that his team just improved his chances of winning a championship, there’s a role player facing the realization that his PT just went up in smoke. For every GM elated with pulling a fast one, one of his colleagues is feeling the sting of getting burned. (Unless he doesn’t know it yet.) And for every fan base who has grown to like their team a little more since last week, another fan base has lost another bit of their will.
Here are Dime’s NBA trade deadline winners:
1. Amar’e Stoudemire — So he’s not gonna win a ‘chip with LeBron or tear down rims with D-Wade. But by not going anywhere, Amar’e gets to keep playing in the system that best fits his game, with the point guard (Steve Nash) who makes him look his best. STAT has been eating up rebounds like Oreo Cakesters — pulling down 11.7 boards per game since that embarrassing 1-rebound effort on national TV last month — and is scoring 26.5 ppg in the same stretch. If he keeps playing like this, he can write his own ticket as one of the A-level free agents of the summer.
2. Kevin Martin — Just when his tenure as head of the pride in Sacramento was running out, K-Mart upgraded to a better team, a better supporting cast, and a bigger market. When he’s healthy, K-Mart should drop 18-24 points a night and will thrive playing alongside Aaron Brooks, Luis Scola, Shane Battier, Trevor Ariza and (maybe) Yao Ming. And even when he’s not healthy, Martin will challenge Kobe, Chris Paul and Nash for an All-Star starting spot every year he’s in Houston. Meet the new T-Mac.
3. Cleveland Cavaliers —Antawn Jamison makes them better, they’re most likely going to get Big Z back before the playoffs, and they’re that much closer to gaining LeBron’s trust that they’ll do right by him if he sticks around.
4. Tracy McGrady — Whether he sinks or swims in New York, at least T-Mac will get a chance to show what he can do. That wasn’t gonna happen in Houston, who had definitively moved on and had no use for their former franchise player.
5. Washington Wizards — It doesn’t look like it right now, but Washington did the right thing by gutting its roster and starting from scratch. Moving forward, they have a talented young foundation in Andray Blatche, JaVale McGee, Randy Foye, Al Thornton and Nick Young. All of them except Foye are signed through at least next season, and the Wizards didn’t give up their 2010 Lottery pick. The rest of this season will be marked by half-empty arenas and 25-point blowout losses, but it’s going to pay dividends in the future. Now if they can find a way out from under Gilbert Arenas’ contract …
6. Nate Robinson — Between now and whenever the Celtics’ postseason run ends, Nate has a chance to prove he isn’t just a product of Mike D’Antoni’s everybody-jacks system, and that he isn’t poison to a playoff team. Making a positive impact in Boston will erase the memory of his month-long benching and everything else that went wrong in New York and put Nate in position to get paid this summer.
7. Milwaukee Bucks — Brandon Jennings and Andrew Bogut are the foundation, but with Mike Redd down for the year, the Bucks needed a scorer on the wing especially as Jennings’ shooting percentages have steadily dropped since his hot start. John Salmons (12.7 ppg) has struggled with consistency this year with Chicago, but if he regains the form he had in the ’09 playoffs, he’ll take some of the defensive attention from Jennings. In exchange for Salmons, Milwaukee gave up Hakim Warrick, who became expendable as soon as Ersan Ilyasova decided to use this season as an audition for Universal Soldier 3, and Joe Alexander, whose NBA career highlight is that he almost made it into the dunk contest.
8. Charlotte Bobcats — Hitting rock-bottom during an ugly loss to the Nets coming off the All-Star break, the ‘Cats are one of those teams in danger of collapsing down the playoff stretch. They needed a shot in the arm, and Tyrus Thomas (who they got for Flip Murray, Acie Law and a pick) gives them that with his defense, dunks and energy. So long as he doesn’t sulk.
9. Drew Gooden — Going to his ninth team in eight seasons, Gooden is creeping up on two NBA records: Tony Massenburg, Jimmy Jackson and Chucky Brown’s record for having played on the most teams (12); and Chris Gatling’s record for being traded the most times (176). At this pace, Gooden has a chance to be remembered for something in an otherwise forgettable career.
You know your team better than we do. Tell us if your team was a trade deadline winner or loser (and why) and we’ll run some of the best analysis in a separate column.
COME BACK TO DIMEMAG.COM LATER THIS MORNING FOR PART 2, “THE LOSERS”