NBA Postseason proves midseason deals backfire
Front offices can lose respect when players don’t pan out. Championship contenders, though, can lose out on titles when good midseason deals go bad.
Several top NBA teams have pulled the trigger recently on midseason trades that have backfired in the postseason. General managers have corrupted chemistry on the chance that adding one missing cog will carry his team to a title. In all actuality, it’s subtraction by addition.
Take the Boston Celtics, for example. Boston was leading the Eastern Conference in late February when it traded Kendrick Perkins to Oklahoma City for Jeff Green. GM Danny Ainge figured he’d get at least some value for his rebounding machine, whose contract was set to expire after the season. Instead, Boston finished third in the East and gave up crucial boards in the semifinal loss to the Miami Heat. Jermaine O’Neal, who was supposed to replace Perkins’ production, grabbed just three rebounds in the series finale, while the Heat’s Chris Bosh ripped down 11.
“Yeah, I think they missed him,” Bosh said of Perkins. “He won a title with them.”
Boston’s not alone, the Orlando Magic marched to the 2009 NBA finals with the sharp shooting from Mickael Pietrus and a productive weakside rebounder in Marcin Gortat. Orlando traded those key role players last December for Jason Richardson and Hedo Turkoglu.
“It’s definitely put more pressure on Dwight,” Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said down the stretch of the regular season.
The pressure proved to be too much in the postseason, as Richardson averaged just 10 points per game on 10 shots, while Turkoglu shot a career-worst 23.3 percent from 3 as Orlando was ousted in the first round by Atlanta.
“There’s no guarantee deals will work,” Van Gundy said.
Lately, it seems the only thing deadline deal makers are guaranteed of is an early playoff exit.
A collection of recent midseason flops:
1 Cavaliers ship Zydrunas Ilgauskas for Antawn Jamison (2010) — LeBron’s final stand in Cleveland didn’t end in the Finals.
2 Suns ship Shawn Marion for Shaquille O’Neal (2008) — The window was closing for Mike D’Antoni and Steve Nash, but their run-and-gun offense ran smoother with the versatile Marion.
3 Mavericks send Devin Harris to the Nets for Jason Kidd (2008) — Harris’ youthful spark led Dallas to the 2006 Finals. Kidd, though, could lead it there in 2011.