With just days to go before Thursday's trade deadline and everyone waiting for someone to fire the first salvo, let's take a look at the last-minute deals of 2011. The lockout pushed the deadline into March this season, but last year it took place on February 24, a more customary date. The action got started with just two trading days left, but once it did, the deals got done quickly. It’s still difficult to fully assess winners and losers one year out from a trade, but it is a time when immediate returns begin to give way to long-term considerations. Here's how last year's deadline deals stack up, in chronological order:
Feb. 22, 2011: New York acquired forward Carmelo Anthony, guard Chauncey Billups, guard Anthony Carter, forward Renaldo Balkman and forward Shelden Williams from Denver for forward Wilson Chandler, forward Danilo Gallinari, guard Raymond Felton, center Timofey Mozgov, a 2014 first-round draft pick and a 2012 and a 2013 second-round pick and cash. New York traded center Eddy Curry and forward Anthony Randolph to Minnesota for forward Corey Brewer. Denver acquired center Kosta Koufos from Minnesota. Much like GMs are waiting for the Magic to trade Dwight Howard before the dealing starts in earnest this year, this was the swap that got the action going in 2011. When New York waived Balkman last month, Anthony became the sole player from the transaction to remain in New York. Brewer, who went to the Knicks in this deal and was waived shortly thereafter, is now in Denver, too, after helping the Mavs to the title last year. Anthony’s 21.2 PPG is only four-tenths of a point higher than a career low as the Knicks have struggled to fit him together with Amare Stoudemire, Jeremy Lin and others. Gallinari, Mozgov and Koufos are the only players who’ve been Nuggets ever since this deal, but Denver GM Masai Ujiri flipped Felton for Andre Miller and rookie Jordan Hamilton, both of whom have contributed this year. The Wolves got rid of Curry’s $11.53MM salary this summer, and Randolph’s $2.91MM deal, which expires after this season, could be used as a trade chip as the team looks to be active again at the deadline. Amidst a renaissance, Minnesota could eventually emerge as a sneaky winner of this deal, but the winner, so far is Denver.
Feb. 22, 2011: Chicago traded forward James Johnson to Toronto for the 2011 first-round draft pick Toronto acquired from Miami. Though the Raptors went hard after Wilson Chandler last month to fill the small forward position, Johnson has filled role of the starter at the 3 capably, averaging 8.6 PPG and 4.9 RPG this year, similar to his numbers after the deal last year. Johnson wasn’t used much in Chicago, so the move was basically for roster and cap space on their end. That first round draft pick, Norris Cole, was traded twice more on draft night and, ironically, wound up back in Miami, where he’s been in the rotation all season long as the backup point guard. The winner, so far: Toronto.
Feb. 23, 2011: Utah traded guard Deron Williams to New Jersey for guard Devin Harris, forward Derrick Favors, a 2011 first-round pick, a 2012 first-round pick (via Golden State) and cash considerations. The second major blockbuster after the Anthony deal last year may hinge on the primary blockbuster this year. Williams, a free agent after this season, could bolt if the Nets fail to acquire Dwight Howard. As his 22.4 PPG, a career high bolstered by last week’s 57-point outburst, and 8.2 APG demonstrate, Williams is clearly one of the NBA’s elite point guards, even as the league boasts perhaps the most impressive collection of point guards in its history. The Nets have been dreadful this year, however, going just 13-27 while the Jazz are 19-19 and in hot pursuit of a playoff spot. Harris, is averaging just 9.6 points and 4.5 assists, his worst numbers in either category since 2006/07, but Favors and that first round pick, which turned out to be No. 3 overall selection Enes Kanter, are impressive young post players who could soon make Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap expendable. As long as the Jazz keep winning and building, and Williams’ fate is undecided, the winner, so far, is Utah.
Feb. 23, 2011: New Orleans traded forward Carl Landry to Sacramento for guard Marcus Thornton and cash considerations. This is the deal that had Mark Cuban up in arms, as the league owned Hornets took on salary to add Landry. The deal was indeed helpful for New Orleans last year, as Landry took over at starting power forward for an injured David West and averaged 15.8 points and 5.0 rebounds as the Hornets challenged the Lakers in six games. He has returned to the bench this year, however, his numbers falling back to 11.5 PPG and 4.4 RPG. Thornton has proven he can fill it up in Sacramento, averaging 21.3 PPG last year and 18.8 PPG this season as the starting shooting guard. Valuable as Landry might have been in the playoffs last year, it’s hard to call swapping a starter for a reserve a winning move, no matter what Cuban says. The winner, so far: Sacramento.
Feb. 24, 2011: Sacramento acquired guard-forward Marquis Daniels and cash considerations from Boston for a future draft pick. Daniels, who suffered a bruised spine in a nasty collision before the trade last year, was never able to contribute to the Kings before he became a free agent this past offseason. He signed again with Boston, making this deal something of a waste for the Kings. The pick, a 2017 second-rounder is a long way from paying anyone dividends. The winner, so far: Boston.
Feb. 24, 2011: Houston traded guard Aaron Brooks to Phoenix for guard Goran Dragic and a future first-round draft pick. Brooks has spent all of this season in China, and as a restricted free agent in a position similar to Wilson Chandler’s, he might not play at all in the NBA this year. Houston wound up with Dragic, who is averaging a career-high 3.4 APG as the backup to point guard Kyle Lowry. On draft night, the Rockets acquired little-used third point Jonny Flynn for the pick. If Houston can get a useful player in another deal for Flynn, last year’s deadline transaction looks even better. The winner, so far: Houston.
Feb. 24, 2011: Houston traded forward Shane Battier and guard Ishmael Smith to Memphis for center Hasheem Thabeet, forward DeMarre Carroll and a future first-round draft pick. Thabeet is the only remaining player on either of these teams from the deal. Last week I looked at the effect Battier had in his short stint in Memphis last year before signing with Miami before this season. Battier’s clutch three-pointer that proved the difference in Game 1 against the Spurs last season could have made this deal worthwhile on its own. The winner, so far: Memphis.
Feb. 24, 2011: Cleveland traded guard Mo Williams and forward Jamario Moon to the L.A. Clippers for guard Baron Davis and a 2011 first-round draft pick. Initially a swap of point guards, this deal has come to have far-reaching consequences. That draft pick wound up being 2011 No. 1 overall selection Kyrie Irving. Had Irving been in L.A., the Clippers probably don’t make the Chris Paul deal. Davis, who was amnestied by Cleveland and wound up in New York, missed the first part of this season with back and elbow injuries, opening up an opportunity for Jeremy Lin to start. Arguably, this trade significantly altered the course of several teams, and it’s difficult to evaluate at the deal at face value, but let's give it a shot. While it’s hard to discount Williams’ value as a sixth man putting up 13.5 PPG for the vastly improved Clippers, Irving is en route to Rookie of the Year honors and promises even more in years to come for a Cleveland team that’s much better, too. The winner, so far: Cleveland.
Feb. 24, 2011: Charlotte traded forward Gerald Wallace to Portland for center Joel Przybilla, forward Dante Cunningham, forward-center Sean Marks and a conditional 2011 and a conditional 2013 first-round draft pick. This was a salary-shedding exercise for the Bobcats, as they moved into full-scale rebuilding mode. None of the players in this deal are with Charlotte now, and Przybilla recently signed back with Portland. The 2011 pick was used on Tobias Harris, who wound up with Milwaukee. Wallace and his $9.5MM-a-year contract could be on the move again as the Blazers look to retool as well. The Blazers don’t look like they’re headed anywhere remarkable this year, and Wallace’s 13.7 PPG is his lowest since 2004/05. At least the Bobcats, woeful though they may be this season, appear to have a semblance of a plan: The winner, so far: Charlotte.
Feb. 24, 2011: Boston traded forward Luke Harangody and center Semih Erden to Cleveland for a 2013 second-round draft pick. The Cavs picked up a couple of rookie big men on the cheap. Injury limited Erden to just four games for Cleveland last year, but he took over as starting center last month the absence of Anderson Varejao. Coach Byron Scott still played Erden sparingly, however, as he went for just 3.4 PPG and 3.3 RPG in February, and he has since fallen out of the rotation. Harangody averaged 6.2 PPG and 4.2 RPG in 19 minutes a night after the trade last year, but has been little used this year. For the Celtics, this move was essentially meant to clear roster space and out of fear that a homesick Erden would return to Europe. Erden’s still here, but Boston was able to use one of the open slots for Troy Murphy, who averaged 2.6 points and 2.2 rebounds in 10.5 minutes a night down the stretch before signing as a free agent with the Lakers before this season. The winner, so far: Cleveland
Feb. 24, 2011: Boston traded center Kendrick Perkins and guard Nate Robinson to Oklahoma City for forward Jeff Green, center Nenad Krstic, a 2012 first-round draft pick and cash. The Celtics broke up their championship starting five, ranked the most effective five-man unit of the last five years by Basketball Reference metrics, for what turned out to be a startlingly low return. Jeff Green’s heart trouble, which is keeping him out this year, was unforeseen, but even if he returns to the NBA, as expected, next year, it may not be with the Celtics. The team withdrew its qualifying offer when Green failed his preseason physical, which makes him an unrestricted free agent this summer. Meanwhile, Krstic is playing overseas this year and Perkins signed a four-year $32.56MM extension with the Thunder, a contract that pays him less this year than the $9MM the Celtics were set to pay Green. The Celtics gave up plenty for long-term flexibility and cap space. The Thunder continues to grow with Perkins firmly entrenched as the starting center. The winner, so far: Oklahoma City