NBA Trade deadline: The grades are in

Pencils down and papers forward, please.

Here are my grades on how teams did at the trading deadline.

We aren’t going to evaluate whether Dallas was helped or hindered by Thursday’s wheeling and dealing. The Mavericks – and 13 other teams – didn’t make a deal, so consider their grade to be incomplete. Or a withdrawal, if you prefer.

No one got an F, although the Nets came awfully close. At the other end of the scale, the Rockets are officially the teacher’s pet, with the Lakers, Bucks and Spurs making the honor roll.

ATLANTA HAWKS: They couldn’t find a taker for Kirk Hinrich’s $8 million contract, which would have moved them considerably below the luxury tax line. Instead, they sent a 2012 second-round pick to Golden State for cash, which will help foot part of the tab but not all of it. GRADE: C

CLEVELAND CAVALIERS: Ramon Sessions wasn’t part of their future, and they netted a first-round pick by moving him to the Lakers. But they still need a backup point guard (D-Leaguer Donald Sloan probably isn’t the answer) and had to take back Luke Walton ($6.1 million), adding nearly $5 million to their cap number this summer. They also took back trillion machine Jason Kapono. GRADE: C

DENVER NUGGETS: Buyer’s remorse? They made a really big deal out of retaining offseason free agent prize Nene, then moved him three months later for shot-blocker/class clown JaVale McGee, who has a $3.5 million qualifying offer. Is the cap flexibility and rim protection worth what they will give up in pick-and-roll and low post offense? Injured Ronny Turiaf has an expiring deal and will be waived – and could be a nice addition for a playoff club. GRADE: C-plus

GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS: They broke up the Monta Ellis-Stephen Curry backcourt, which had to be done. They added Andrew Bogut, who is a top-five center when he is healthy – which has been a big “if” in recent years. And they rerouted Stephen Jackson, saving thenselves some PR double-talk, and picking up San Antonio’s first-round pick. But they gave up on emerging big man Ekpe Udoh, surrendered Kwame Brown’s expiring $7 million deal and took back the extra year on Richard Jefferson, who is now merely a spot-up shooter. When the dust settled, the cap number for 2013-14 – the first season of the new, steeper luxury tax – already is $48 million, and that doesn’t include an extension for Curry. This better be the right mix, and I’m not sure that it is. GRADE: D

HOUSTON ROCKETS: They took advantage Portland’s fire sale and landed Marcus Camby as a rental to spell Samuel Dalembert, who still doesn’t know how to manage his fouls. They also found a fill-in for Kyle Lowry in Derek Fisher, whose leadership and professionalism alone will be a plus. And they added Dallas’ first-round pick, giving them two or three this June. In return, they surrendered reserve big Jordan Hill and draft busts Hasheem Thabeet and Jonny Flynn, who weren’t even playing. No one did better than Daryl Morey. GRADE: A-plus

INDIANA PACERS: They were the only team that had the ability to absorb Chris Kaman’s $14 million expiring deal but chose to hold onto their first-round pick and beef up their backcourt depth instead with Leandro Barbosa and his $7.6 million expiring contract, surrendering only a second-rounder. Don’t know how much this helps for this season, but their flexibility is still in place for this summer. GRADE: B-minus

LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS: Unrestricted free agent Nick Young has maturity issues and won’t defend, which is their biggest problem right now. But he has size and can score, which makes him a much better option at the wing than Randy Foye. Brian Cook and a second-round pick doesn’t seem like much to surrender, but the number of picks the Clippers have dealt over the next five drafts is becoming alarming. GRADE: B-minus

LOS ANGELES LAKERS: They still need a small forward after failing to land Michael Beasley but filled two gaping holes well enough to remain of the fringes of the title contention conversation. Sessions is a clear upgrade at the point, where Fisher and Steve Blake were offering next to nothing on both ends. Parting with Fisher borders on sacreligious, but Hill – unlike the failed efforts of Josh McRoberts and Troy Murphy – may actually produce while spelling Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol. Yes, they surrendered their first-round pick, but they also kept their $8.9 million trade exception and cut some payroll by dumping Walton. A solid job by Mitch Kupchak: GRADE: A-minus

MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES: Moving benchwarmer Sam Young got them under $70 million in total salary, which is right under the luxury tax threshold. A shooter would have been nice, but they didn’t have to do anything big because they have stayed afloat without Zach Randolph, who returns tonight. This is a team to watch very closely going forward. GRADE: B

MILWAUKEE BUCKS: Ellis gives a fuel injection to a sputtering offense and alleviates the burden on the slender shoulders of Brandon Jennings. Udoh has come on of late and helps a smallish frontcourt; he may be nowhere near his ceiling. Brown reduces their summer cap number by $7 million and allows Milwaukee to be a player. All it cost them was Bogut and Jackson, who weren’t even playing. Prediction: They catch the Knicks for the eighth spot. GRADE: A

NEW JERSEY NETS: Dwight Howard’s decision left them in the lurch, so they tried to fill their chasm at small forward and convince Williams to stay with Gerald Wallace, who has an $11.4 million option for next season. They gave up a lot – a first-round pick that is only top-three protected. So here is an entirely possible bottom line: Wallace opts out, the ping-pong balls don’t move them up from their current position of sixth, Williams flies the coop and they head to Brooklyn with the emperor’s new clothes. Yowsah. GRADE: D-minus

PHILADELPHIA 76ERS: They gave up nothing (the rights to Ricky Sanchez) for Least Improved Player candidate Young, who will help their wing depth in the playoffs. But they really needed to bring in a big man, because rookies Nikola Vucevic and Lavoy Allen are not ready to play postseason defense. GRADE: C

PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS: Blowout clearance sale! Everything must go! Former franchise cornerstones! Big men! Coaches! Postseason hopes! Joking aside, interim GM Chad Buchanan did pretty well. Moving Wallace showed a commitment to Nicolas Batum and landed what should be a high pick in a deep draft, and Portland will still have some cap room this summer. Yes, Nate McMillan and Greg Oden are gone, and this offseason is crucial to the franchise’s future. The biggest surprise is that Jamal Crawford and Ray Felton are still here. GRADE: B-minus

SAN ANTONIO SPURS: Say whatever you want about Stephen Jackson, but he has been a much better teammate on winning clubs (2003 Spurs, 2004 Pacers, 2007 Warriors), and his mean streak and slashing ability makes him an upgrade over Jefferson. The swap also saved the Spurs $11 million on their 2013-14 cap, when the new luxury tax kicks in. Why do opposing GMs even take R.C. Buford’s calls? GRADE: A-minus

TORONTO RAPTORS: Moving Barbosa for an extra second-rounder (and waiving Anthony Carter) didn’t change the offseason picture much. They still have considerable cap room and one stud in a city where no superstar wants to play. GRADE: B

WASHINGTON WIZARDS: They’re rebuilding, again. They moved the knuckleheads they could move, dispatching “Spice Boys” McGee and Young and getting back a legitimate low-post center in Nene. They are still stuck with Andray Blatche, who may never get his head on straight and is blocking the development of Jan Vesely. They will have another high first-round pick and can be a huge player in free agency if they use the amnesty clause on Rashard Lewis, which almost has to be done. GRADE: B-minus



  1. Jim says

    I couldn’t agree more in regards to your comments on the Nuggets and Wizards. Nene’s numbers were not great this year, but Denver plays a deep rotation and many players lots of minutes, Nene produced when he played. Even with his injury problems this year I don’t believe he has a history of injury problems (I’m too lazy to do the research). And even if they did it to clear cap space for next year what big time free agent will they use that $ on that makes sense for them? Big steal for the Wizards.

    One thing is clear about the trade deadline though, there is little chance a team can improve from a 3-8 playoff seed to a legit contender. There were 3 elite teams before the deadline, and there are 3 elite teams after the deadline.


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