Skip to content

Why no blockbusters at NBA trade deadline? Here are three reasons.

Feb 21, 2013, 10:01 PM EST

Boston Celtics v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

The narrative of the NBA Trade Deadline 2013 is going to be that it was a dud.

Fans seemed to think the Lakers were going to trade Dwight Howard. Or the Celtics were going to blow it up and trade Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. The fans expected blockbusters and some of the national media fanned that flame.

Instead, fans got J.J. Redick going to Milwaukee. And Dexter Pittman being traded. Can’t forget Pittman.

What happened? Here are three reasons

1) A lot of the trades being discussed never had any chance of happening. The Lakers were never going to trade Dwight Howard. Some people seemed to think the Lakers should trade Howard — from fans at the bar to breakdowns on SportsCenter. But if you asked the Lakers, or anyone around the Lakers, or any other team’s personnel that called the Lakers, the answer was always it was never going to happen. The Lakers did not waiver. Expectations always were way ahead of reality here.

It was the same with trading Kevin Garnett — he couldn’t have been more clear about not waiving his no trade clause. But nobody seemed to listen. And so it went on and on. Fans wanted to see the Bulls add talent when they would never take on more salary. We expected Josh Smith to get moved but Hawks GM Danny Ferry said all along he would hold on to Smith if no offer he really liked came along. And one didn’t.

We as basketball fans talked up expectations that got out of line with the reality of those trades happening.

2) The big trades we did get ended up happening earlier, not at the deadline. We like to think the NBA trade deadline is about big moves, one team trying to save money and another team trying to rebuild (or build up for a title run).

We had a big trade like that — James Harden was traded to the Houston Rockets before the start of the season so the Thunder could keep their finances in line. Rudy Gay was moved out of Memphis weeks ago to Toronto. Those are classic deadline deals, they just didn’t happen at the deadline this year.

If you start going father back you notice this is becoming a trend — Pau Gasol was moved to the Lakers in 2008 three weeks before the trade deadline. Teams aren’t really doing the big deals at the deadline nearly as often, they happen a little bit earlier. There are still big trades, but GMs are now doing them on their own terns and on their own timeframe, without the pressure that a hard deadline can bring.

3) The new luxury tax levels/repeater tax really does scare some teams off. This was the most commonly discussed reason and that’s because there is a lot of truth to it. In the past the Bobcats might have found someone to take on Ben Gordon — yes he’s overpaid but he can score and some team could live with that. But no teams want the tax consequences of that. Same with the much-shopped Brooklyn Nets combo of Kris Humphries, MarShon Brooks and a pick (the Nets offered that to every team save the Globetrotters).

This trend is not going away. The repeater tax will add $1 per every dollar you are over the tax line when you are over said line four out of five years. So there are going to be a lot of trade deadlines where you see teams do what the Warriors did — make a couple small moves to get under the tax line. The goal of the new tax rules was to stop teams from stockpiling talent, and that may happen. But it has worked on scaring teams for trading expensive contracts.

The real breakthrough will come if they stop giving Humphries $12 million a year in the first place.

Latest Posts
  1. Report: OKC front office backs Scott Brooks, may look to trade Reggie Jackson

    Jan 29, 2015, 4:39 PM EST

    Oklahoma City Thunder v Los Angeles Clippers - Game Six Getty Images

    Brooks may last the season, but may not if Thunder miss the playoffs. Jackson, meanwhile, has been marginalized ever since Dion Waiters was acquired.

  2. Dwyane Wade out indefinitely, says best case for his return is 2-3 weeks

    Jan 29, 2015, 3:56 PM EST

    Dwyane Wade AP

    Wade may be selected as an All-Star reserve Thursday night, but wouldn’t play in the midseason exhibition if the timeline holds true.

  3. Paul George, family discuss night of leg injury, recovery (VIDEO)

    Jan 29, 2015, 3:25 PM EST

    Indiana Pacers v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

    “I looked down to see my legs, and I saw my bone. The second I saw my bone, I just lost it.”

  4. Rising Stars Challenge jerseys have a twist (photos)

    Jan 29, 2015, 2:02 PM EST

    See Andrew Wiggins’, Shabazz Muhammad’s and Dante Exum’s

  5. Report: Knicks ‘in play’ for Kevin Durant

    Jan 29, 2015, 10:19 AM EST

    2014 Summer Classic Charity Basketball Game Getty Images

    ‘Person close to Durant’ cites Thunder star’s fondness of Carmelo Anthony

  6. Dwight Howard out at least two games with swelling in his knee

    Jan 29, 2015, 9:43 AM EST

    Trevor Ariza, Dwight Howard, Patrick Beverley AP

    Rockets center requires further testing

  7. LeBron James dances to Kyrie Irving’s game-winner (video)

    Jan 29, 2015, 9:06 AM EST

    LeBron James LeBron James

    Happy times for Cavaliers. How long will they continue?

  8. One time can’t miss prospect Renardo Sidney trying to make comeback, reach NBA

    Jan 29, 2015, 8:30 AM EST

    Mississippi State v Baylor Getty Images

    Sidney is the poster child for the can’t miss prospect that missed.

  9. Five Things We Learned in NBA Wednesday: Is this rock bottom for Oklahoma City?

    Jan 29, 2015, 1:29 AM EST

    Carmelo Anthony, Russell Westbrook AP

    The Sixers, Knicks and Timberwolves win on the same day? Isn’t that one of the signs of the apocalypse?

  10. Hornets’ Kemba Walker has successful knee surgery, expected to miss a minimum of 6 weeks

    Jan 29, 2015, 12:01 AM EST

    New Orleans Pelicans v Charlotte Hornets Getty Images

    The good news is that Walker may return in as little as six weeks, which means Charlotte’s playoff chances should remain intact.

  11. George Gervin on Klay Thompson’s 37-point quarter: ‘I don’t feel he broke my record’

    Jan 28, 2015, 11:15 PM EST

    NBA All-Star Jam Session 2014 Getty Images

    The Hall of Famer held the previous record with 33 points in a period, but did so before the three-point line was implemented.

Featured video

Who should be All-Star Game reserves?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. C. Anthony (7638)
  2. K. Bryant (7554)
  3. R. Rubio (7176)
  4. H. Whiteside (7109)
  5. D. Howard (7005)
  1. K. Martin (6973)
  2. N. Batum (6666)
  3. K. Walker (6474)
  4. T. Jones (6225)
  5. D. Wade (6018)