The 2014 NBA trade deadline was a mostly uneventful affair. There were very few trades and even fewer trades that featured contenders or big name players. The one exception was the trade between the Indiana Pacers and the Philadelphia 76ers. The Pacers, who have had the best record in the Eastern Conference the entire season traded away Danny Granger to the 76ers for Evan Turner. Granger, who is a former All-Star, was averaging 8.3 PPG in 22.5 minutes this season while Turner averaged 17.4 PPG and 6 RPG in 34.9 minutes for the 15-41 76ers.
Its hard to say whether this trade was a positive or negative one for the Pacers. While Granger was in an obvious decline due to injuries, he was still an experienced player in the playoffs. Turner, who was the 2nd pick of the 2010 draft, has not lived up to expectations and has limited playoff experience. Another thing to consider is the chemistry of the Pacers team. While Turner’s youth, health and production points to a better player this season, it is hard to judge how he would fit with a Pacers team that has made the playoffs in three consecutive seasons. Why would a team who have had the best record in the conference all season trade their longest tenured player for a relatively unproven player who does not really address their weakness? The Pacers main weakness is their penchant for turning the ball over. Even though Turner handles the ball considerably he is not a point guard and averages three turnovers a game.
Making a trade mid-season is a risky proposition for playoff teams. On the one hand, it can improve the team and catapult them into serious title contenders. In 2004, the Detroit Pistons traded for Rasheed Wallace and subsequently won the 2004 NBA title and made the Eastern Conference Finals consecutively until 2008. The 2008 trade that landed Pau Gasol in Los Angeles catapulted the Lakers from a low playoff seed to three time Western Conference champions and two time NBA champions. Last season, the Memphis Grizzlies traded away Rudy Gay and received Tayshaun Prince and had their most successful season as a franchise, reaching the Western Conference Finals.
However, not every mid-season trade improves a team. Some trades may improve rosters from a talent perspective, but may negatively impact a team’s chemistry or cohesiveness. Other times, a player who is traded may have difficulty adjusting to his new coaching staff or the expectations at a new team. This list includes five deadline day trades that made playoff teams and contenders worse. Some of these trades worked out in the long run but impacted a team negatively during the season of the trade.
5. 2003 Trade deadline – Milwaukee Traded Ray Allen to Seattle for Gary Payton
Prior to this trade, the Milwaukee Bucks had made the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2000/2001 season. Since the trade, the Bucks have never advanced past the first round of the playoffs. Gary Payton played just 28 games with the Bucks before leaving via free agency and joining the Los Angeles Lakers after a first round playoff loss to the New Jersey Nets. The Sonics, who in Payton traded away the face of their franchise, had an eleven year streak of winning at least half their regular season games before the trade. Their record during the 2002/2003 season was 40-42. The team made the playoffs once in Ray Allen’s four year tenure with the team, during the 2004/2005 season where they advanced to the second round of the playoffs. Allen was eventually traded to the Boston Celtics in 2007 and the Sonics relocated to Oklahoma City prior to the 2008/2009 season. This trade had minimal, if any positive impact on the play of the teams in question but resulted in Seattle’s most recognizable player leaving the team that drafted him. The Bucks thought they were acquiring an All-Star point guard but they ended up acquiring Payton for just a short period of time.
4. 2005 Trade deadline – Chris Webber Traded to Philadelphia
On February 23rd, 2005, Chris Webber, along with Michael Bradley and Matt Barnes, were traded to the Philadelphia 76ers for power forward Kenny Thomas, forward/center Brian Skinner, and former King Corliss Williamson.
When the 76ers acquired the 6 ft 10 forward, they thought they were acquiring the perfect complement to their star guard Allen Iverson. Webber’s presence helped the 76ers reach the 2005 playoffs, where they were eliminated by the eventual Eastern Conference Champion Detroit Pistons. The next season, the 76ers missed the playoffs despite good statistics from Webber. Webber was recovering from knee surgery, so he did not have the ability to move like he once did and was a major liability on the defensive end of the court, resulting in him sitting on the bench regularly in the fourth quarter of games. During the 2006–07 season, Webber only played 18 of 35 games for the 76ers before he was bought out by the team for a reported $25 million.
3. 2008 Trade deadline – Shaquille O’Neal to Phoenix
When the Los Angeles Lakers acquired Pau Gasol from the Memphis Grizzlies in 2008, it sent shock waves throughout the Western Conference. The move led to two Western Conference contenders making big trades and radically altering their rosters. The first team was the Phoenix Suns. The Suns traded their 6 ft 7 forward Shawn Marion to the Miami Heat to acquire 7 ft 1 center Shaquille O’Neal. The Suns were renowned for their fast paced offense that featured only one big man on the court, Amar’e Stoudemire. The acquisition of O’Neal meant the Suns had to play with two big men on the court and O’Neal did not have the speed to run up and down the court. The second team will be mentioned next on the list, so we’ll keep the intrigue.
The Suns were eliminated in the first round of the 2008 Playoffs by the San Antonio Spurs and missed the playoffs altogether the following season, winning only 46 games. The Suns traded O’Neal before the 2009/2010 season to the Cleveland Cavaliers and returned to the Western Conference elite that season by making the Conference Finals, before losing in six games to the Los Angeles Lakers.
2. 2008 Trade deadline – Jason Kidd to Dallas
Dallas traded Devin Harris, DeSagana Diop, Trenton Hassell, Maurice Ager, Keith Van Horn and 2 1st round picks for Jason Kidd, Malik Allen and Antoine Wright
Another team to make a drastic change to its roster following the Gasol trade was the Dallas Mavericks. The Mavericks made the 2006 NBA Finals before losing to the Miami Heat in six games. They were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs in 2007, despite posting a 67-15 record during the regular season. On the 2008 trade deadline, the Mavericks traded starting point guard Devin Harris and two first round draft picks to the New Jersey Nets for All-Star point guard Jason Kidd. Kidd would be a key contributor on the Mavericks team that eventually won the NBA title in 2011, but that was after the roster was subsequently altered to add center Tyson Chandler.
Despite Kidd’s eventual contributions to the Mavericks title run in 2011, his presence in 2008 hurt the team. The Mavericks finished the season with a 51-31 record, which was only good enough for a seventh seed in the playoffs. They were eliminated in the first round by the New Orleans Hornets after just five games. After acquiring Kidd, the Mavericks were just 3-11 against teams with a winning record. In the first round series against the Hornets, Kidd struggled to guard Chris Paul who had 35 points in Game 1 of the series, set a franchise record of 17 assists in Game 2 and had a 24 points, 11 rebounds, and 15 assist triple double in Game 5 of the series.
1. 2011 Trade deadline – Kendrick Perkins Traded from Boston to Oklahoma City
Boston Celtics traded Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Jeff Green, Nenad Krstic, cash, and a 2012 1st Round Draft pick.
At the time of this trade, which was February 17th, 2011, the Boston Celtics had an Eastern Conference leading 41-14 regular season record. Once this trade occurred, rival players from the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat expressed surprise at the trade and said the trade made the Celtics weaker. Kendrick Perkins was injured during Game 6 of the 2010 NBA Finals and the Celtics had signed center Shaquille O’Neal at the start of the season. The Celtics were 33-10 in games that Perkins did not play in and were 19-3 when O’Neal played over 20 minutes in a game. In addition to their impressive record, the Celtics had beaten the Miami Heat in their first three regular season meetings. After the trade, the Celtics had a 15-12 record and finished third in the Eastern Conference and were eliminated by the Heat in five games during the second round of the playoffs.
What made the Celtics a dominant team was their tough defense and big imposing front line that included Perkins. While Perkins was not a great player, he was a valuable teammate in terms of chemistry and the Celtics had never lost a playoff series when all their starters were healthy between 2008-2010. In the 2009 playoffs, they were eliminated by the Orlando Magic without the injured Kevin Garnett and in 2010 by the Lakers after Perkins suffered a knee injury in Game 6 of the finals. Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic struggled to assimilate into the team and Shaquille O’Neal played only 5 minutes after the 1st of February. His injuries and the Perkins trade left a glaring hole at the center position for the Celtics. O’Neal played 12 minute in the playoffs against the Heat and retired after the season.
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