The NBA trade deadline has finally passed, and unfortunately it might be the most exciting part of the season. I know, the playoffs, especially in the Western Conference, will be exciting, but did you ever notice people spend more time talking about the NBA than actually watching it?
Let's just hope there's as much enthusiasm following the moves made as there was keeping an eye on what happened. So let's take a look at the five winners and losers in the trade market.
Lakers: Getting Pau Gasol makes them the favorite in the Western Conference since they got him for spare parts. It also ensures even if they fail to win a title that Kobe Bryant will be excited about returning to Los Angeles next season.
Suns: Phoenix wasn't going to win a championship with Shawn Marion and their old style. They needed to get better in the half court, and Shaquille O'Neal will help that. Don't worry about the Suns slowing down. Remember the Showtime Lakers in the 80s? Their center was 40-year-old Kareer Abdul-Jabbar. Did he stop Magic Johnson from getting up and down the court? I don't think so.
Jazz: Maybe the most underrated trade was Utah getting Kyle Korver from Philadelphia. Korver provides another shooter to go with Carlos Boozer, Deron Williams, Mehmet Okur and Andrei Kirilenko. That's as good a closing lineup as any team in the Western Conference, and they have a great coach in Jerry Sloan.
Spurs: Subtlety is a lost quality, and the Spurs made a nice move in getting Kurt Thomas from Seattle. He's a solid defender to put on Shaq, and he also can be useful in guarding Gasol. And if the Spurs make it out of the Western Conference, he could guard Kevin Garnett or Rasheed Wallace and keep Tim Duncan from getting in foul trouble.
Mavericks: When you add Jason Kidd to a mix of Dirk Nowitzki, Josh Howard and Jason Terry, only good things will come of it. There will be an adjustment period because Dallas isn't used to a pass-happy offense, but Kidd will help the Mavericks get plenty of easy baskets and keep them in contention with the other top teams out West.
Nuggets: The only team in the Western Conference with two All-Star starters could be in trouble. At best, they will be the No. 7 seed in the playoffs, which means they will have to win on the road. I like the Nuggets roster, and they essentially added a player with the return of Kenyon Martin coming back from his knee injury. But Denver could miss the playoffs, which would be a travesty with a team featuring Allen Iverson, Carmelo Anthony and Marcus Camby.
Knicks: No team wants to take on the headaches of Zach Randolph and Eddy Curry. That means the Knicks are stuck with them, and the rebuiding process will continue for several more years in what should be the basketball mecca of New York.
Celtics: Boston has enough to win the Eastern Conference, even with Detroit and Cleveland making moves for the playoffs. But can the Celtics overcome a lack of depth to win the championship? I don't know if they can. Adding another point guard and/or another big man would have helped.
Bulls: Chicago takes on the contract of Larry Hughes, who along with the emergence of Thabo Sefolosha could mean Ben Gordon is gone soon. For as much as Ben Wallace was a terrible fit with the Bulls, I'd rather pay a big man who rebounds and defends then a guard like Hughes who is injury prone and a bad fit with this roster.
Hornets: When the trade deadline passed, New Orleans was the best team in the Western Conference. They added Bonzi Wells, but they could have made a move to get Wally Szczerbiak, Kurt Thomas or some other form of offense or size to make themselves a more formidable playoff contender. Let's just hope the Hornets have enough in place with Chris Paul, David West, Peja Stojakovic and Tyson Chandler to get through the Western Conference and make a run for a championship. Otherwise it was a nice regular season but it was all for nothing.