Thursday, Feb. 24, 2011Posted: 5:50 PM
By Aggrey Sam
Now that the NBAs Thursday afternoon trade deadline has passed, its easy to conclude that the leagues landscape has changed. Rather than run down every single deal, however, its easier to focus on the moves that affect the Bulls.
The Bulls themselves made no additions at the deadline; Tuesdays deal that sent second-year forward James Johnson to Toronto landed them a first-round pick, which they reportedly dangled to the likes of Houston, but were rebuffed in their efforts to acquire shooting guard Courtney Lee. Unwilling to part with young reserve big men Omer Asik and Taj Gibson, Chicago couldnt wrangle Anthony Parker or Memphis O.J. Mayo either.
While multiple reports had the Bulls also interested in Denvers J.R. Smith and Mayo; the two-initialed young shooting guards, though talented, dont necessarily fit Chicagos current group on or off the court. Alternate explanations had their respective prices too high or the Bulls ultimately too skeptical to make the moves. With the flurry of activity that occurred Thursday, championship-starved fans in the Windy City are sure to question why the Bulls didnt seek an upgrade at the twoWednesdays disappointing loss at Toronto could have ramped up the sense of urgencybut with the entire team finally healthy and the teams chemistry at an extraordinary level, there was no reason for the organization to tinker, especially with a window that isnt closing any time soon.
As for their Eastern Conference competitors, many opted not to stand pat. New Yorks long-awaited blockbuster deal Tuesdayinvolving three teams and 13 playersfor superstar Carmelo Anthony set the tone.
Along with Anthony, the Knicks acquired former NBA Finals MVP Chauncey Billups, backup point guard Anthony Carter, journeyman post player Shelden Williams and reserve forward Renaldo Balkman from Denver, sending floor general Raymond Felton, emerging forward Wilson Chandler, Italian sharpshooter Danilo Gallinari, developing Russian center Timofey Mozgov, a first-round pick, two second-rounders and 3 million to the Nuggets. Additionally, New York dealt young forward Anthony Randolph and injured Chicago native Eddy Curry to Minnesota in exchange for swingman Corey Brewer.
Exhaustedif not from the content of the deal, the months of speculation that preceded ityet? Regardless of what observers may opine, the Knicks absolutely had to make this deal, pairing Anthony, one of the elite scorers in the league, with another dominant force in fellow All-Star starter Amare Stoudemire.
The real linchpin of the mega-swap, however, may be Billups, who is no longer one of the leagues cream-of-the-crop point guards, but gives New York a big three, something every team in the league seemingly covets these days. At the same time, the Mike DAntoni-coached squad will continue to be defensively challenged and have serious size issues, but their pure scoring power will make them a postseason threat.
Then theres New Jersey, which dealt point guard Devin Harris, rookie power forward Derrick Favors and two first-round picks to Utah for All-Star point guard Deron Williams. The surprise move wont make the lowly Nets an immediate contender, but the future ramifications of adding Williams, one of the leagues top distributors, are intriguing.
Obviously New Jersey gave up a lot for Williams, who has been a lightning rod for controversy since longtime Jazz head coach resigned earlier this month, reportedly because of differences with Williams. But after the Nets failed in their public pursuit(s) of Anthony, they saved face with the acquisition of not only one of the games special talents, but an upper-echelon member of the 2012 free-agent class.
With the organizations impending move to Brooklyn in 2012, Russian owner Mikhail Prohkorov desperately needed a star to be the face of the franchise and apparently a rebuilding Jazz team was unopposed to making their superstar available prior to him having the opportunity to leave them high and dry in a couple of summers. Combined with the move to a new arena, the former Illinois stars playmaking ability will, at the very least, make the Nets an option for small-market stars looking to relocate to the large-scale metropolis of New York City, despite the fact that even Williams wont turn around the teams fortunes right away.
Not to be topped, Boston moved center Kendrick Perkins and sparkplug guard Nate Robinson to Oklahoma City, in exchange for versatile forward Jeff Green and range-shooting center Nenad Kristic. In a less significant deal, they also sent rookies Semih Erden and Luke Harangody to Cleveland for a second-round pick.
Perkins, who was offered a contract extension earlier this season by the Celtics in anticipation of his free-agent status this upcoming summer, had diligently rehabbed the ACL injury he suffered in last seasons NBA Finals, an injury that was thought to have cost Boston a championship. Regarded as one of the leagues top post defenders, the tough-guy Texan will be a hot commodity this summer and with the young Thunder in dire need of an interior presence to complement young All-Stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City and savvy general manager Sam Presti jumped at the deal.
From Bostons standpoint, a potentially season-ending spinal injury to reserve swingman Marquis Daniels made Greenwho they initially drafted, then traded for Ray Allen in 2007a priority, especially with their aging core group. As part of their second unit with current sixth man Glen Big Baby Davis, Green will give the Celtics an added dimension of athleticism and with Kristic giving them another post player to mitigate the loss of Perkins (not to mention losing insurance policies in Erden and Harangody; the return of Delonte West from injury made Robinson expendable), it could be argued that the defending conference champs are even stronger.
However, heres the kicker: Troy Murphy, who was traded from New Jersey to Golden State for big men Brandan Wright and Dan Gadzuric, will reportedly seek a buyout. The ex-Warrior, who was at odds with the Nets, is telling folks he prefers the Celtics, which would give them yet another capable low-post threat, one who adds the added benefit of being able to stretch opposing defenses.
If that isnt enough, Atlanta didnt want to be left out of the trade madness and sent veterans Mike Bibby and Maurice Evans, rookie guard Jordan Crawford and a first-round pick to Atlanta for former Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich and reserve big man Hilton Armstrong. Captain Kirk is expected to fill the Hawks longtime void at point guard, giving them hope that their investment in Joe Johnson last summer and Al Horford before this season will lead to advancing past the first round of the playoffs.
Still, even with all of the moves that were made in the last 72 hours or so, the two teams taking the floor at the United Center Thursday nightthe Bulls and the visiting Miami Heatdont have much reason to be nervous, since Boston was already the team they were chasing. Neither team had much flexibility to begin with, but they should be commended for resisting the temptation to mess with a good thing.
Miami put all of their eggs in the star-power basket in July and as far as the Bulls, just having a completely healthy roster scares the heck out of their competition. Sometimes no move at all is the best move to make.
Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.com's Bulls Insider. Follow him @CSNBullsInsider on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bulls information and his take on the team, the NBA and much more.