Much has been written about the Celtics' move to acquire Isaiah Thomas before Thursday's trade deadline and how it will affect Boston and its odds of sneaking into the Eastern playoffs.
But the Celtics aren't the only playoff hopeful that made a last-minute trade - Indiana and Charlotte were the only East teams within two games of the seventh seed that didn't make a move. Which deals were most successful could play a major part in which squads will be playing into late April and which will find themselves back in the lottery.
23-31, currently No. 7 seed
The Heat undoubtedly made the most high-profile move, acquiring Goran Dragic, a third-team All-NBA pick last year, and his brother Zoran for a pair of future first-round picks and spare parts. The trade was widely panned as a success, and on paper combining Dragic with Chris Bosh, Dwayne Wade, Luol Deng and Hassan Whiteside gave the Heat arguably one of the best starting groups in the league.
But on Saturday Miami announced Bosh would miss the rest of the season with blood clots in his lungs, robbing the Heat of their best player (given Wade's health issues) and significantly affecting their already paper-thin depth. In their first game without Bosh, Miami was forced to start Udonis Haslem and play small ball far more often in a blowout loss to the Pelicans.
Bosh's absence removes all of the good feelings from the Dragic trade. Dragic is a crafty finished with a good stroke who should benefit from having the ball in his hands more than he did in Phoenix. But the Heat now incredibly dependent on the health of the creaky-kneed Wade, who has already missed 17 games this year, and Deng, a durable warrior but one with 725 career games on his odometer, and the continued dominance of Whiteside, who as recently as December was in the D-League.
The Heat's stars are probably still enough to get them back to the postseason, but if Wade misses major time or Dragic takes time to adjust to his new surroundings, it's not inconceivable that Miami misses out on the playoffs.
22-31, currently No. 8 seed
The Nets sent Kevin Garnett back to Minnesota for Thaddeus Young, a move that makes them better for the remainder of the season. Garnett will forever be remembered as a warrior and Brooklyn's defense took a dive whenever he left the floor. But his age and career wear and tear limited him to 20.3 minutes per game this season, and his 14.8 PER was lower than players such as Mike Scott, Carl Landry and J.J. Hickson.
Replacing Garnett with Young will hurt the Nets on defense, but the latter is fresher, more athletic and a better offensive threat than Garnett at this point in his career. Young's presence will keep Lionel Hollins from playing Brook Lopez and Mason Plumlee together, a lineup that hurt Brooklyn's spacing and got it murdered defensively. Young is at least a threat from deep (30 percent on 3-pointers) and can hit the midrange jumper or drive by his man. He's far from a perfect player and didn't play all that well for Minnesota this year, but he's an upgrade over the weary Garnett at this point.
But Brooklyn's spot in the playoffs is far from secure. The Nets are among the league's worst 3-point shooting teams and their fate is tied to the health of Lopez and Deron Williams, two injury-prone players. Adding Young helps, but it doesn't make Brooklyn a lock.
23-33, 0.5 games behind Brooklyn
Reggie Jackson has long pined to have his own team to run, and now he gets his chance to prove whether he's worth it. The Pistons traded away D.J. Augustin, who filled in admirably as a starter after Brandon Jennings ruptured his Achilles, and Kyle Singler, one of the team's few respected shooters (40.6 percent on 3-pointers).
Jackson is a splashy name who operated well as a combo guard in Oklahoma City but who was deemed expendable because of his frequent complaints about his role and the team's acquisition of Dion Waiters. His minutes dropped in each month of the season and the restricted free agent will likely be expensive to keep this offseason.
But when Russell Westbrook was out and Jackson started 14 games earlier this year, he averaged 20 points and 7.6 assists, though his shooting percentages were low. Jackson has never been a knock-down shooter, and Detroit's spacing will be cramped. Integrating a new floor general midseason is never easy, and Jackson's usage rate as a starter was higher than that of Jennings or Augustin.
Jackson had 17 points and five assists in his first game in Detroit, a victory over Washington. The Pistons are a more talented team with him in tow, but how long it takes him to adjust to his expanded role will determine where Detroit falls in this race.
Photo credit: Alan Diaz, AP ImagesDan Hoppen 2/23/2015 08:43:00 AM Tweet Edit