The 3 p.m., March 15 trade deadline has come and gone as fast as your brackets will be busted by this weekend’s end. Most cats around the league can now breathe easy, knowing they haven’t been dealt and can focus on the remaining part of the schedule. Others, however, must deal with the reality they were shipped out like yesterday’s garbage. Either way, this a time for them to regroup and stop commenting on every rumor that appears on blogs and Twitter.
Likewise, teams’ short-term and long-term fate shall be determined through their ability, or inability, to have gotten something done by the deadline. And picking up a bought-out free-agent in the coming days isn’t going to drastically change that. GMs had to come through in the clutch like Kobe. Some of these guys succeeded with their moves or non-moves, and some failed.
As we’ve covered the moves teams should make and which cats would be better off traded than staying put, there’s always winners and losers from the trade deadline activity. These next 10 players, hoopers and organizations are the ones who’ve won and lost the most at the conclusion of all the trade talk.
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5. The Milwaukee Bucks
Captain Jack didn’t know “What’s a Lockout?” in his mixtape. He apparently won’t know what the playoffs might taste like again as a Milwaukee Buck either.
The Bucks simply couldn’t bear his “mandatory” contract extension demands and inexistent relationship with Scott Skiles any longer, as The Journal Times detailed early in the season. He’s been delusional to believe he’s “underrated” (10.5 PPG, 36 percent from the field, 28 percent from deep, and 9.34 PER) and “underpaid” ($9 million plus this season and $10 million next) at 33 years old.
Jackson’s last three stops in Golden State, Charlotte and now Milwaukee have proven how much of a cancer he can be. No team in their right mind would tolerate his kind of unwarranted claims and lack of on-court production. Captain Jack can’t call all the shots, like when he was a part of Don Nelson‘s motley crew in the Bay. The Bucks hold the last playoff spot (19-24) while he’s been riding the pine. In these past 12 games, the Bucks have managed a .500 record and are currently on a three-game winning streak. So it was past the time for them to sing, “Hit the Road Jack.”
As for what the Bucks got in exchange for Jackson’s troubles, Monta Ellis and Ekpe Udoh certainly can fill immediate roles for them as they attempt to secure the 8th seed. While the backcourt of Brandon Jennings and Ellis is small, it’s instantly as dynamic as any in the league. Udoh is a nice pickup in this deal because he can play defensively at power forward right away and still hasn’t reached his ceiling quite yet. Both cats will be competitive from the outset and will give everything they got for Skiles.
Could the Bucks have waited until next year’s deadline to trade a healthy Andrew Bogut for a slightly better package? Possibly. But they got a pretty decent deal for a talented but oft-injured big that wasn’t going to play at all this season and got rid of Jackson’s baggage in the process. It’s hard to argue against their accomplished objectives from this trade.
4. Dwight Howard
The never-ending tale of superstars dictating their futures continues.
As our own Sean Sweeney referenced Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski’s recent report, the Orlando Magic are in no man’s land. There is virtually nothing they could’ve done by the deadline to sway Dwight Howard’s motive to land in Brooklyn on his terms, no less. Trading for Monta Ellis wouldn’t have helped their cause. And that deal came off the table early Tuesday morning when Golden State Warriors owner Joe Lacob expressed zero appeal to give the Magic a hand on their efforts to retain Howard, as CBS Sports’ Ken Berger reported. This deflating news surely left the Magic helpless and with their hands tied once the Monta Ellis for Andrew Bogut trade transpired.
While Dwight’s media-handling lays somewhere between ‘Melo‘s situation last year and LeBron‘s “The Decision,” this soap opera will result in the same ending as the previous two: franchises having no choice but to concede to their superstars’ attraction to live in the big city. Why wouldn’t he be drawn to hoop with D-Will, record tracks with Hov, and revive the sports scene in Brooklyn? Unlike ‘Melo, Dwight was apparently smart enough to recognize the Nets would be too depleted if they traded for him now. Why not trade the same assets of Brook Lopez, MarShon Brooks and others for a significant player that’ll help them out once he’s there instead? It didn’t make any sense for the Nets to have pushed a trade when they were confident and the favorites to attain Dwight over the summer.
“We’ve been talking, like I said, for a while. I told them I want to finish this season out and give our team, give our fans some for the future. But I feel they have to roll the dice. It might be tough, but I feel we’ve got a great opportunity. But they’ve got to roll with it,” Dwight said after the Magic’ overtime win versus the Heat earlier this week.
Dwight Howard has danced around this issue as “nicely” as his actual dancing skills. And, you know what? It doesn’t f@%^ing matter. NBA superstars control their own destiny better than any rapper on a given label. There is no denying this reality.
Mickey Mouse and his entire kingdom can’t convince him that Orlando is the happiest place on Earth for much longer. Dwight would much rather honor the late Biggie: “spread love, it’s the Brooklyn way.”
3. Golden State Warriors
Within the past week, there were rumors about the possibility of Monta Ellis getting traded and the Milwaukee Bucks were open to listening to offers for their former first pick overall Andrew Bogut. Who would’ve thought, though, that these two players would end up in exchange for one another?
The Golden Warriors received Captain Jack (later swapped for Richard Jefferson and a first rounder) along with Bogut, while the Bucks got Ekpe Udoh, Kwame Brown and Ellis. The cluttered front office of the Warriors was able to come to a consensus and assemble a deal that’ll make them better for the future. In spite of Stephen Curry‘s recent ankle problems, there was no way that backcourt combo was ever going to work out, especially with Klay Thompson waiting in the wings. All of Silicon Valley’s new gadgets weren’t going to change Dwight Howard’s mind that E-40‘s Bay Area is a better home than Jay-Z’s Brooklyn. The Warriors still had to address their lack of size, regardless. Thus, they’re taking a risk that the talented Bogut can regain his health starting next season. In a league where great bigs are at a premium, the Warriors jumped on the worthwhile gamble to get Bogut.
The Rockets hesitation to pull the trigger on their own Bogut deal definitely opened the doors for the Warriors, and the former may regret it. After missed opportunities to acquire Nene, Marc Gasol and DeAndre Jordan this past summer, the Warriors made sure this chance wasn’t going to pass them by.
Just as importantly, too, is the last wrinkle. The Warriors brass realized their chances to claim the last playoff spot were slim. Although they are currently three games out for the eight seed (18-21), they would’ve had to outpace five total squads by season’s end to reach the playoffs. That task is very unrealistic. So why not “tank” the rest of the year and keep their first-round pick in the loaded upcoming draft? As ESPN’s Chad Ford tweeted on Tuesday, the Warriors have a top-seven protected lottery pick, but if it winds up at eight or worse it would be property of the Utah Jazz, which was sent to them as part of the D-Will package. With Bogut out indefinitely and Ellis out of the picture, the Dubs have every incentive to add one more young piece to the puzzle.
A core of Curry, Thompson, Bogut, and a nice lottery pick is a wise course of action by the deadline. There is definitely sunshine now in Golden State’s future.