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The Eastern Conference At The Deadline

Thursday at the NBA trade deadline, we saw a total of 26 players, seven second round draft picks, and zero blockbuster trades. On Friday, we covered how the 10 players that ended up on West teams will shape the playoff race, and now we are looking at the 16 that were sent to the D-League…whoops, I meant the Eastern Conference.

While the Western teams made a few smart, calculated trades to improve depth (Steve Blake to the Warriors) and cut costs (possible buyout for Jason Terry from the Kings), the East had the biggest deals of the deadline. The East deals included the only two All-Stars dealt (Antawn Jamison and Danny Granger), the two best players (Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes), and the smartest player (Professor Andre Miller, PhD).

The Brooklyn Nets traded their disappointing – but playoff tested – guard, Jason Terry, for the Sacramento Kings' disappointing – and never played in a playoff game – guard, Marcus Thorton. Thorton, who once averaged 21.3 points per game, is a solid sixth man and capable of scoring in bunches when needed though he has struggled badly this season. He will likely provide relief for Paul Pierce and Joe Johnson down the stretch of the season. However, adding his extra $730,000 in salary means paying a ridiculous $3.3 million in tax, bringing their total to over $88 million on taxes alone…for a team that won’t get out of the first round.

The Cleveland Cavaliers traded for 76ers' center, Spencer Hawes. He will likely anchor their team right to where they were destined to be before they traded for him…the lottery. Hawes is a talented 7-footer who leads all centers in three-pointers made and percentage, is an elite passer for his position, a good scorer and rebounder, and a capable body on defense when he cares. Forced to play on a hapless Philadelphia team, Hawes had no reason to try over the past few months, but as he heads into free agency this offseason, expect his production to go back up for the Cavs. Despite the addition of Hawes and recently acquired Luol Deng, this team is unfortunately still coached by Mike Brown, suggesting they are likely doomed to miss the playoffs and then ultimately lose Hawes and Deng to free agency for nothing.

Professor Andre Miller, PhD left his classroom for winter break on December 30th and has been M.I.A. ever since. However, after being traded to the Washington Wizards, you can rest assured Professor Miller will be making a teaching once again. Miller, who was restless under indecisive rookie head coach Brian Shaw will be a capable backup behind John Wall, likely helping lead this Wizards team to homecourt advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

The Charlotte Bobcats made a good deal at the trade deadline. Say it with me: “The Bobcats did something right.” They traded valuable but redundant point guard, Ramon Sessions to the Milwaukee Bucks along with Jeff Adrian for Luke Ridnour and Gary Neal. Ridnour is a terrific backup point guard who can play behind or with Kemba Walker, while Neal is an outstanding shooter who won an NBA Finals game last season by scoring 24 points in 25 minutes!

In the only move that might affect the NBA Finals this season, the Pacers trading former All-Star forward, Danny Granger to the 76ers for Evan Turner and Lavoy Allen. Turner is a do-it-all forward who has fallen out of favor league-wide because he has failed to live up to the hype of a second overall pick. Turner should play with the first unit as well as anchor the second for the Pacers. His ball handling will allow George Hill, Paul George and CJ Watson to get free and take uncontested shots while giving them insurance –albeit expensive at an $8.7 million qualifying offer or whatever long-term offer he receives – in case Lance Stephenson leaves in free agency. Additionally, Allen started in the playoffs only two seasons ago and is a capable big man off the bench. Most importantly, Larry “The Legend” Bird signed off on this trade, thus, it must be great.

The last set of trades involved the Miami Heat, Philadelphia 76ers and the Atlanta Hawks. Each team gave up players that weren’t part of their future and received cash, second round draft picks, and laundry service for a year in exchange for helping another team out. The Heat traded Roger Mason Jr. and cash for a pick they will likely never see in order to open a roster spot for Caron Butler (Tuff Juice wants to go home!). The 76ers, who were involved in a league-high four deals during the trade deadline ended up with five second round draft picks and five players that won’t be buying property in Philadelphia. Finally, the Hawks acquired Antawn Jamison from the Clippers and enough cash to take him out to a nice dinner before buying out his contract.

Compared to the four West teams that made a deadline deal, eight of the top ten Eastern franchises made a deal with only Chicago and Detroit remaining inactive. Whether this reflects the fragility of the Eastern Conference standings (5th place through 11th is separated by just 5.5 games), or the strength of the mighty teams in the West (3rd place in the East would be 10th in the West) is anyone’s guess. With that said, all these moves outside of Indiana and Miami are moot because none of them are making the Eastern Conference Finals.

Indiana Pacers Vs. Miami Heat, Round III starts May 20th – Get ready, America!

Fix It: Atlanta Hawks

- “Fix It” is a series that shows how each NBA team has the potential to improve, focusing on how team success can be built over the long-term instead of simply year over year. The ultimate goal is to create a team capable of winning consistently for a decade. 

The Atlanta Hawks are possibly the worst nightmare for an NBA general manager; an average team with poor attendance – they have finished in the bottom 10 for attendance in 12 of the past 13 seasons – that goes to the playoffs but cannot elevate into contention. While the team is currently on a seven-year streak of making the playoffs, they’re also on a 54-year streak of not winning an NBA championship (second longest in the NBA). This has been due mostly to poor choices in the draft (Marvin Williams over Chris Paul, Shelden Williams in 2006) and an inability to break out of their cycle of mediocrity in the playoffs.

The Good: Danny Ferry. Having served as the Vice President of Basketball Operations for the San Antonio Spurs, Ferry has seen first-hand how signing previously incorrectly utilized players to fit your system can benefit a team. So rather than signing a bunch of players to one-year contracts like the Los Angeles Lakers, Ferry focused on signing players who will help out his team both as better fits for their system and as trade assets. Great examples are the contracts of Kyle Korver (four years, $24M) and Paul Millsap (two years, $19M). Each signed a reasonable contract that keeps them as a viable asset if a deal comes along. While for the time being this team will continue the trend of mediocrity, they have enough tradable assets that they could potentially be the Houston Rockets of the East, ready to pounce on a James Harden or Dwight Howard type of deal.

The Bad: Mediocrity doesn’t pay. This team has only drafted three All-Stars in franchise history…three. Without bottoming out, this probably won’t change anytime soon. So while late first-round pick Dennis Schroeder has an immense amount of promise, the likelihood that he becomes Rajon Rondo is slim, leaving this roster with only one real cornerstone in Al Horford. Without another star (or two) to pair Horford with, this team is going to continue to go nowhere. They also appear headed for another bottom 10 finish in attendance (currently 26th). 

The Fix: Stay the course. Continue handpicking players that fit your team in free agency, trades, and the draft. Ferry has stocked up his own picks, along with three extra second round picks from the Brooklyn Nets and Miami Heat as well as the right to swap first-round picks with Brooklyn in 2014. Additionally, the Hawks have six expiring contracts this season that could allow them to be a trade partner to a team trying to shed a salary, landing them a quality player prior to the trade deadline. 

30 Rapid-Fire Questions For Each Team's Front Office

The following 30 questions are the biggest issues facing each NBA front office as the 13-14 regular season begins.

Eastern Conference 

Atlanta Hawks: Are the Hawks going to try to bottom out and if not, what is their plan for the future?

Boston Celtics: What’s going to happen with Rajon Rondo's return from a torn ACL and how will the Celtics' front office go about their rebuilding process?

Brooklyn Nets: How will Jason Kidd lead a veteran roster filled with players he competed against for the last 15-20 years?

Charlotte Bobcats: Are Kemba Walker, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Cody Zeller legitimate young players to build around?

Chicago Bulls: Do the Bulls need another source of offense to prevent defenses from dialing in on Derrick Rose?

Cleveland Cavaliers: Who will emerge as Kyrie Irving’s sidekick if Andrew Bynum doesn’t return to full health?

Detroit Pistons: Will the Pistons be able to manage a functional offense with three non-shooting big men?

Indiana Pacers: How will the Pacers divide playing time between Danny Granger and Lance Stephenson, and who will be more effective with the starting group?

Miami Heat: Will Shane Battier and Ray Allen be able to remain productive as the key three-point threats in the Heat offense?

Milwaukee Bucks: Can the Bucks trade some of their young promising players for an All-Star?

New York Knicks: Will Andrea Bargnani provide another element to an offense that became stagnant in the postseason?

Orlando Magic: Will the Magic be active in trying to trade some of its young pieces, or will they be patient and hope for another high lottery pick?

Philadelphia 76ers: To what lengths will the 76ers go to make sure they have the worst record in the league?

Toronto Raptors: When will the Raptors trade Rudy Gay and what will they get in return?

Washington Wizards: Do the Wizards need to add a frontcourt offensive threat in order to score consistently?

Western Conference

Dallas Mavericks: If it becomes clear that the Mavericks aren’t going to be a contender, what will they do about Dirk Nowitzki?

Denver Nuggets: What will the Nuggets do about the highly paid trio of Ty Lawson, Danilo Gallinari and JaVale McGee if they do not make the playoffs?

Golden State Warriors: Will Andre Iguodala hurt the Warriors’ three-point attack that was so vital to their success in the postseason?

Houston Rockets: Will the Rockets keep Omer Asik and have the best backup center in the league while experimenting with coexisting with Dwight Howard, or will they trade him to bolster their rotation elsewhere?

Los Angeles Clippers: Do the Clippers need to make a move for an effective third big man in order to become a legitimate contender?

Los Angeles Lakers: How angry will Kobe Bryant be if the Lakers find themselves on the verge of missing the playoffs?

Memphis Grizzlies: How will the Grizzlies maintain a good balance between shooting and perimeter defense at their wing positions?

Minnesota Timberwolves: Will Derrick Williams have an opportunity to live up to his potential as a former second overall pick despite not being an offensive priority?

New Orleans Pelicans: How will Jrue Holiday, Tyreke Evans and Eric Gordon mesh in the backcourt?

Oklahoma City Thunder: Who will emerge as the new third scoring option behind Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook?

Phoenix Suns: Is Eric Bledsoe capable of being the Suns’ point guard of the future?

Portland Trail Blazers: If the Trail Blazers struggle, will LaMarcus Aldridge’s name reemerge in trade rumors again?

Sacramento Kings: Is DeMarcus Cousins good enough for the Kings to put up with his immaturity?

San Antonio Spurs: Will Tiago Splitter develop enough to become a factor on both ends in the playoffs?

Utah Jazz: Will Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter work together in the frontcourt?

30-Team Offseason Rundown

Great drafts for the Rockets, 76ers, Nets, Warriors, Hawks and Grizzlies headline this complete rundown of the 2013 offseason.

2013 NBA Offseason Primer

With the 2013 NBA offseason underway, here is a primer on what all 30 teams are facing.

Leroux's 2013 NBA Draft Review

Breaking down all 30 teams by category of how they fared in the often surprising, never disappointing 2013 NBA Draft.

2013 NBA Amnesty Primer

One fun component of the Amnesty rule is that we know exactly which players are eligible for it and that number can only decrease over time since the players had to have been under contract with the same team before the new CBA.

Defense Clicks Late, But Pacers Canít Recover

The Pacers were locked in defensively in the second half on Monday night, but it was too little too late as the Atlanta Hawks won 102-91 and evened the first round best-of-seven series at two games apiece.

Woes In Atlanta Continue For Pacers In Game 3 Loss

The Hawks went with a bigger starting lineup in Game 3, which led the Pacers to have an abysmal performance on the offensive end of the floor.

George Powers Offense In Game 1 Win Over Hawks

Such a dominant triple-double performance to begin the playoffs is one thing, but the matter in which Paul George scored his 23 points bodes well for the Pacers going forward.

Al Horford Becoming Hawks' Centerpiece

After missing 55 games in an already abbreviated lockout season a year ago, Al Horford has rebounded with the best statistical season of his career.

How Many Players Teams Acquire At Each Trade Deadline On Average

The Kings, Knicks, Rockets, Thunder and Cavaliers have been the most active teams at the deadline over the past decade, while the Spurs, Pistons, Heat, Lakers and Pacers have made the fewest deals.

YOLO Trades That Make Sense

Win-win trades that also make sense financially will become even more rare in the NBA's post-lockout era. Here are trades for the Lakers, Mavericks, Hawks, Blazers, Celtics, Nuggets and Spurs that make sense for all parties.

RealGM Zaza Pachulia Interview

Pachulia sat down with RealGM to discuss his impact on the future generation of Republic of Georgia basketball players, Tornike Shengelia's game, the state of the Hawks and his future heading into free agency.

Leroux's 2012-13 NBA Tier Predcitions

While the drop-off from the Heat to the rest of the Eastern Conference is severe, the Lakers, Spurs and Thunder have quick company in the second and third tiers.

Wise End Of Bench Moves

This is the part of the offseason in which general managers fill out the very end of their roster. Would a name player at the very end of their career really make more sense than someone like Terrence Williams, DeAndre Liggins or Sundiata Gaines?

Leroux's 30-Team Offseason Review

The Nuggets, Lakers, Heat, 76ers and Nets were amongst the teams with great offseasons, while the Bucks, Magic, Suns, Knicks, Cavaliers and Bulls were in the bad column. Here's how all 30 teams have fared in the 2012 offseason.

Team-By-Team Gold Medal Winners

The Jazz and Thunder have had the most Gold Medalists since the USA began bringing NBA players in 1992, while Duke leads amongst colleges. How do the other 29 NBA teams rank?

Team-By-Team Top Position Needs

Center represents the position of greatest need for nearly half the NBA, while power forward isn't the top priority for a single team.

Notes From 2012 NBA Draft Media Day

Polling the Green Room candidates to determine who they think will be the second best player of the class, the rise of skinny guys, a new Harrison Barnes and which team workout was the toughest.

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