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With the NBA’s trade deadline quickly approaching on February 21st, I want to take a look at what teams have done so far. The league has been criticized in the past for boring deadlines where franchises are afraid to make a big splash and look stupid if the deal doesn’t work out for them, but this year has been a little bit different, thanks to one big trade that I have already discussed, as well as some big name players signing contracts. Also, we have some time for (perhaps) Jason Kidd to find a new home, despite Mark Cuban saying he won’t be returning to where his career began, in Dallas.
So far, Shaquille O’Neal has become a Sun, Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks are in Heat, Pau Gasol is a Laker, Chris Webber back in Golden State, Damon Stoudamire plays for the Spurs, and Kyle Korver has joined the Jazz.
That’s a combined 24 All-Star selections changing uniforms during the season. Ok, 14 of those All-Star nods come from Shaq, but still, there’s some big names changing addresses. Toss out Marion going to the Eastern Conference, the worst team to boot, and you have 5 teams in the West making a move that they think can either get them over the top or solidify themselves as a championship contender. Let’s take them each one by one.
Shaq, although I still don’t agree with the move, gives Phoenix a low post threat and allows Amare Stoudemire to play his natural position. Can these guys make it work? How many games will Shaq play? In his first practice with Phoenix, he was exhausted. Will the games be different? It’s going to be interesting no matter what happens.
Pau Gasol has been a force with the Lakers, and they look great. Even with Andrew Bynum still sidelined, L.A. is 5-1 with Pau in the lineup, and the big Spaniard is averaging an even 20 points a game playing with Kobe Bryant. Do they now have a chance to win the whole thing? With Kobe, Gasol, Lamar Odom, Bynum, and whoever else they want to throw out there... yes, yes they do.
Chris Webber is back in the Bay Area, and playing for Don Nelson like he did when he won Rookie-of-the-Year back in ’93-’94. What kind of impact can he have? Well, in 2 games, C-Webb has only played an average of 13.5 minutes, so it’s hard to say. He doesn’t fit their style at this stage of his career, similar to Shaq, but he is an excellent passer who can maybe open it up finding Baron Davis, Stephen Jackson, and Monta Ellis for free threes.
Damon Stoudamire will split back up point guard duties once Tony Parker returns to the lineup. For now, he and Jacque Vaughn (yes Jacque Vaughn) are running the show for the Spurs. Stoudamire is looking for his first ring, and although he’s now a member of the defending champs, they could win it again... with or without him.
Kyle Korver was actually traded to the Jazz at the very end of 2007. This move has not been discussed as much, as Korver doesn’t even start in Utah, and some thought the fans needed another player to relate to. Take a look at the roster in the team’s most successful season in franchise history. You’ll find the likes of John Stockton, Jeff Hornacek, Greg Ostertag, Adam Keefe, and Greg Foster. That’s an all-American white wash. But as far as on the court is concerned, the Jazz are 17-3 with Korver and now lead the Northwest division. Probably the most underrated move so far. I love the Jazz’s chances in the West with Deron Williams, Carlos Boozer, Mehmet Okur, AK-47, Ronnie Brewer, Matt Harping, and now Korver.
The East should and will come down to the Detroit Pistons and the Boston Celtics, unless LeBron James gets a little more help and he just goes crazy for a series or two. The West is going to have a fantastic finish. The 10 teams who have hopes of winning the whole thing: Phoenix, New Orleans, Dallas, Utah, Lakers, San Antonio, Denver, Golden State, Houston, and Portland. Who needs to make a move and who can stand pat? Half of these teams have already added pieces that will factor in their playoff run. What will happen in the next week or so?