March 19, 2012
L.A. comes out ahead
The city of Los Angeles was the biggest winner at the trade deadline.
The Clippers and Lakers both made deals that moved them closer to competing with the Thunder. The Clippers acquired Nick Young from the Wizards for almost nothing (Brian Cook and a second-round pick). Young gives them another scorer in the backcourt to help offset the loss of Chauncey Billups.
The Lakers made similar progress with the acquisition of point guard Ramon Sessions. Sure, it was tough to say goodbye to Derek Fisher, but it was a needed move. Fisher wasn't getting any younger, and now the Lakers have someone who can defend in a conference that features Chris Paul, Tony Parker and Russell Westbrook at the point.
Add by not subtracting
Is this a trick question?
The team that improved the most, by far, was the Magic by keeping Dwight Howard.
Even if it was for just one more season.
The Magic were spared from trading Howard and deflating their franchise and fan base. Now they can gear up for the playoffs, where they have a puncher's chance if they make 3-pointers.
The Nets had it worse, banking their future on Howard.
The Lakers supposedly improved at point guard with Ramon Sessions, but can he hit clutch 3s like ancient Derek Fisher did? The Warriors finally got a center. But the Magic kept theirs to highlight the day.
Howard is the big prize
The Magic, for the deal they didn't have to do. Many expected them to be forced into dealing Dwight Howard. Instead, management held its ground and Howard, after as much back-and-forth as Brett Favre, decided to opt in for next season.
That instantly stamps the Magic as a team that has a chance to exit the Eastern Conference. (And then the Magic get to go through all this silliness again at next year's deadline!)
Another team that helped itself is the Clippers, who needed more perimeter scoring since Chauncey Billups went down. After missing out on J.R. Smith, the Clippers landed Nick Young, who can be immature at times but definitely can score. And the Clippers got him for very little as well.
Jackson can be difference
Los Angeles Times
Stephen Jackson can't stay still: eight teams in 12 seasons, and now a second stop in San Antonio after the Spurs swapped Richard Jefferson for him Thursday. Never an All-Star, the 6-8 Jackson thinks he is one and plays with attitude. He's averaged 16 points a game in his career. And one of the dirty secrets in the NBA is that most players actually don't want the ball at the end of a game — but Jackson does, and he can still put it in the hole.
At 33, Jackson is also desperate for another contract and he'll play his tail off for Gregg Popovich. Pop and Jax also won a title together in 2003. So look out Thunder and Lakers fans — the Spurs might be the last team standing in the Western Conference.
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