I purposely left out the Eastern Conference in yesterday's analysis, waiting - and hoping - that they would perform a juke that would provide some sort of balance to a trading scene that has otherwise been dominated by the left region of the U.S. But Cleveland, Chicago, and Seattle engaged in a three-way trade right before the deadline to close things out. So again without further ado, let's get out the synthesizer for the Eastern Conference:
Well this is almost by default, but the unqualified winner is the Cleveland Cavaliers. They may not have acquired the biggest name - the Atlanta Hawks did - but they received the most helpful appliances without giving up a lot of production. In summary, they obtained Ben Wallace (who is declining, but has championship experience), Joe Smith (who is playing somewhat rejuvenated, averaging 17 points, 7 rebounds per while shooting 50% from the field this month), Delonte West and Wally Szczerbiak. Oh yeah, not to mention a 2nd round pick to boot.
All they had to give up was a dilapidated Larry Hughes, Drew Gooden, Donyell Marshall, Ira Newble, and Cedric Simmons. More dependable scorers and more rebounding comes in, bad contracts and injured players go out. Not bad. Not bad at all.
The overrated "winner" trade:
Miami Heat and their acquisition of Shawn Marion. As stated in the last blog, this trade baffled me at first in a major way, from Phoenix end. So one would assume that I felt that Miami got the better end of the trade. Not true. True, the Heat snatched from the Suns (ironic that the two teams involved in this trade are the Suns and Heat, the two elements seen and felt by the planets in their revolving in the solar system. Clearly the NBA doesn't revolve around these two teams. They have a combined one championship in their existence in the NBA) a player of athletic marvel, who will drop 17-19 points a night with 10-15 rebounds to go with it, who is still in his twenties.
But that's where it stops. Marion has a knack for disappearing in big games. His contempt for his role on the team was palpable, to the point that he would take every chance he got - it seems - to point out his worth. He was the highest paid player on the team, yet, he didn't see that as a placation for his insecurity. And all this while he was playing on a team with Steve Nash and Amare Stoudamire and on a team that utilized his greatest gifts - running and jumping.
It's likely that the Heat will see a different Marion, in the behavioral sense, as it is likely that those numbers will continue to sustain without Nash. But will it translate to a different win-loss record for the Heat? Yours truly is not convinced.
There wasn't any losers, not in the direct sense anyway. Most sat idly and watched while the top 8 teams in the West made moves. Does that make them losers? Well Boston is good...I digress. Chicago traded big-time talent within their division, always a no-no. For years, they could have used pieces to receive a big-name talent (Kobe and Pau, ironically the most notable names). But they dropped that beach ball. Thereby, this writer is declaring Chi-Town as the luckless guns this go around.
The Wait-and-See trade:
The Hawks procured the biggest name in the Eastern Conference, a name that was on the trading block for a couple of years. In Mike Bibby, the Birds now have a point who can run, shoot, pass, and step up when needed, something that they didn't have prior to last Saturday. But I am left feeling a bit incomplete, wholly because an already permissive middle has become more doughy. The Hawks need a viable big man to complete this deal and create the synergy needed to make the Billy Knight project work.
And on top of that, Bibby for all his skills, has a few glaring weaknesses of his own.
1) Not an Alpha dog, something the top teams have and need
2) Not a defensive stalwart himself
3) Injury prone over last few years
4) More of a shoot-first guard
Perhaps that is me nit-picking, but hey, somebody got to do it. Quality management is what it is called, and Six-Sigma standards are bred from nit-picking. The Hawks aren't there yet people. Sorry to burst it. But time will tell if you should take my word for it. That's why this is in the waiting room for the time being...