Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Dust Settles: Making Sense of the Trade Deadline Rubble

In what many are calling the biggest trade deadline since the last big trade deadline, the NBA landscape has changed dramatically. In fact if you're reading this, there's a 50 percent chance you were just traded and should be expecting a buyout this evening. Unbelievably, Mark Cuban and Donnie Nelson stood pat, surprising with Caron Buter and DeShawn Stevenson's expiring contracts and the young talent in Rodrigue Beaubois. Since there were 405 trades completed this afternoon, here's a quick look at the two big ones that can impact the Mavericks.

The stunner: BOS C Kendrick Perkins and G Nate Robinson to the Thunder for OKC C Nenad Kristic and F Jeff Green

I'm stunned, shocked, flabbergasted and a little stunockgasted. Doc Rivers was famously quoted last June say his starting five of Rondo, Allen, Pierce, Garnett and Perkins has never lost a playoff series (Perkins was hurt in the Finals last year and in 2009 Garnett had a bum knee and missed the playoffs.) It confuses me as to why Boston would move what many consider the best defensive center in the NBA this side of Dwight Howard and Tim Duncan. While we don't have much to worry about on the Celtics side (except for the fact that they are much easier to beat this year if they somehow make the finals) the Thunder suddenly become the "perfect" team. Getting rid of their worst two defensive players for a big man that OKC has been wanting (remember they originally traded for Tyson Chandler) sounds scary on paper and a lineup of Westbrook, James Harden, Durant, Serge Ibaka and Perkins should be terrific. I judge it by this: Last year the Thunder guarded the Lakers Gasol and Bynum with Kristic and Green to start out games. Now? That'll be Perkins and Ibaka. A HUGE game changer to say the least and the Thunder shouldn't be bullied around in the paint by the Lakers, Spurs or Mavericks. Anytime you can get Ibaka and underrated power forward Nick Collison more minutes, it's a win.

On the other side, Perkins knees are made of some combination of glass and drywall and after coming back from knee surgery on his right knee this season, he's been hampered by some strain in his left. Perkins also comes from Boston, which runs a fairly specific defensive set and he his offensively challenged. But still, you can't help but fear the Thunder a bit more after this one, especially since Jeff Green provided Dirk Nowitzki with so many nice practice sessions *rimshot!*

Portland C Joel Przybilla and F Dante Cunningham to the Bobcats for CHA F Gerald Wallace

If the NBA playoffs started right now, the Mavericks would be matched up with the Blazers, so it is worth to take a look at this deal that doesn't quite have the same pizzaz as Melo to NYC or Deron Williams to New Jersey.

First off, Portland sims to love collecting as many perimeter guys as humanly possible. Wallace and Nicolas Batum now anchor the forward spots with LaMarcus Aldridge maning the middle and Andre Miller and Wesley Matthews in the backcourt. It is an interesting moves, with Portland having to pick up Wallace's large contract to play some small-ball. Interesting that the Blazers go smaller as division rival Thunder get bigger. Wallace is a nice defender and rebounder but has never and will never be a good jump shooter. His 43.3 percentage from the field is his lowest since become a full-time starter and his 5.9 free throw attempts per game is his lowest from 2005-2006. A change of scenery could refresh Wallace's drive to get to the rim, but the Blazers are banking a lot of Wallace changing his ways. As far as facing the Mavs, Dallas just has to make sure to not adjust to Portland's small-ball. Sure, Wallace or Batum being guarded by Dirk is a mismatch but the Mavericks should more than make up for it by dominating the glass and if need be, putting Shawn Marion out there to even things out. It would certainly make me sweat a bit, seeing Dirk guarding the perimeter, but as we've seen with Dallas handling Oklahoma City, Dirk is smart enough to know what to do when guarding a smaller player and going against one offensively.

I understand that more deals have been made, with Shane Battier heading back to Memphis and Baron Davis shipped off to Cleveland, but they don't really make much of an impact on how the Mavericks will handle things going forward. Now, the Mavericks not making a move is a topic I will save for later and will tie it into the ramifications of Deron Williams heading to New Jersey. For now, the NBA landscape has drastically changed and some Western playoff teams definitely shored up their rosters. Both will provide Dallas with some interesting problems, but with the way they are playing right now, the Mavs have to feel confident going forward.


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