NBA Trade Deadline: From Antawn to Zydrunas
There's a new answer to an NBA trivia question: Who's the active player to have been around the longest while never being traded?
It's not Kobe Bryant, who was drafted in 1996 but was dealt that night from the Charlotte Hornets to Lakers. It was Zydrunas Ilgauskas, who was drafted in 1996 by Cleveland and never traded until this week.
Now, it's Tim Duncan, who never has been traded since being drafted by San Antonio in 1997 and never will be. He'll probably retire never having his name even mentioned in a trade rumor.
But, in a salute to Ilgauskas finally being traded, we offer here an A to Z look at what transpired leading up to Thursday's NBA trade deadline. In reality, Big Z, who went to Washington for Antawn Jamison but might have his contract bought out, provided a Z.
Now, let's try to think up something for the other 25 letters:
A is for, well, A. That's the grade all executives making deals by the deadline are giving themselves. It's like college football recruiting signing day, which also is in February. I'm still waiting to hear somebody say on one of these days, "Actually, we're disappointed we couldn't get somebody better than this guy.''
B is for brothers. Both Carl and Marcus Landry were traded on the same day, Carl from Houston to Sacramento and Marcus from New York to Boston. It would have been fun if they had been moved in the same deal.
C is for cap room. There's an NBA executive who often grumbles about teams coveting cap room, saying, "Where's cap room in the box score? I've never seen cap room score a basket.'' Well, cap room had 20 and 10 Thursday for New York, which has shed enough money to now likely hand out two maximum contracts next season to free agents.
D is for Duke. Is that what Jamison is now that he's joined King James' court in Cleveland?
E is for extinct. Chris Bosh still wears an extinct beast on his jersey. That he has remained a Raptor is good news for the fans in Toronto, whose team no longer looks extinct, having won 18 of 25 to climb to 29-24.
F is for first. Here's the first trade rumor for next year's trade deadline. The prediction here is Phoenix's Amare Stoudemire will not opt out of his contract next summer and will not sign an extension by next February, leaving the Suns, fearful of losing him for nothing in the summer of 2011, dangling him for the third straight year.
G is for Gulag. It's also known as the Izod Center, where New Jersey has played. But the Nets, soon to be owned by a Russian, got set free in a deal that was announced Thursday. They'll play the next two years at Newark's modern Prudential Center before moving to Brooklyn. At least the woeful Nets had some sort of move to announce Thursday.
H is for hockey. A reporter from Canada asked during All-Star Weekend in Dallas the date of the NBA trade deadline. Let's just say the reporter knew when the NHL trade deadline is to the minute.
I is for Internet. Phoenix general manager Steve Kerr, regarding all the Internet rumors he'd read about the Suns leading up to the deadline, called many of them "crap.'' Wait a minute. This is an Internet site. Maybe offense should have been taken.
J is for Joe. But he's not an average Joe. Below-average Joe Alexander, who was one of the earliest players this season to hit the trading block after Milwaukee didn't pick up his option last October, got dealt to Chicago.
K is for Kings. There were a lot of them Thursday as 19 guys could say at one time during the day they were a King. Sacramento started the day with 15 players and ended up ridding themselves of four, including high-scoring guard Kevin Martin, while acquiring Carl Landry, Joey Dorsey, Larry Hughes and Dominic McGuire from three different teams.
L is for library. The Los Angeles Public Library was as quiet Thursday as the Lakers' offices. No deal was made at the deadline as the defending champions apparently are not worried that Cleveland is 2-0 this season against them and picked up Jamison.
M is for minutes. Maybe Tracy McGrady, who has played just 46 all season, actually will get some now after being dealt from Houston to New York. To put McGrady's seasonal work in perspective, Golden State's Monta Ellis has logged 46 or more minutes in a game 17 times this season.
N is for next. By trading center Marcus Camby for mostly monetary benefits (what is it with Camby when it comes to getting dumped for money reasons?), the Clippers pretty much conceded it's wait until next year. That should be their team motto.
O is for Ollie. No, Kevin Ollie wasn't traded by Oklahoma City. So Ollie, who has been with 11, will have to wait to possibly tie the NBA record of playing for the most teams, which Chucky Brown, Jim Jackson and Tony Massenburg hold at 12.
P is for Pat. Pat Riley lived up to his name by standing pat in Miami. He better do something in a hurry next summer with all the cap room the Heat will have in order to appease impending free agent Dwyane Wade.
Q is for Quentin. Miami's Quentin Richardson is really slipping. After being traded four times last summer, he hasn't been dealt a single time since joining the Heat before the season.
R is for Red Roof. A more appropriate name for Hilton Armstrong, who is now with his third team this season (New Orleans, Sacramento, Houston) as it continues to show he's not exactly a luxury brand.
S is for slammer shipped. Nate Robinson, going from New York to Boston, became the first slam-dunk champion traded in the same season after winning the contest.
T is for Thursday. The trade deadline is always on a Thursday, giving much publicity to a day that has had no songs written about it and usually gets overlooked because everyone is eyeing the weekend. But one question is: With TNT having such a presence on the day, why hasn't it requested exclusive rights from the NBA that all trade deadline deals have to be formally announced Thursday night on TNT?
U is for un-Happy. That might be the new name for Stoudemire's agent, Happy Walters, who proudly declared Wednesday that his client would be traded by Thursday's deadline only to see it not happen.
V is for Van Horn. Why not pay homage to this guy, who had cobwebs dusted off and got big money to be used in a trade two years ago for Dallas to pick up Jason Kidd even though Van Horn hadn't played in 1 ½ years? It should become an expression to be Van Horned. Cleveland's Wally Szczerbiak, who hasn't played all season, was a free-agent candidate this year to be signed to a contract just to be dealt, but he didn't end up being needed.
W is for waiver wire. Teams now will scan it to see who gets bought out in what sort of has become trade deadline Jr. Players, some arranging buyouts, must be waived by March 1 to be eligible for the playoffs with another team.
X is for X-Ray. There were none needed when Dallas and Washington got the wildness leading up to the trade deadline started with a seven-player deal last weekend. Physicals were waived due to neither team wanting the other to have a mind change. The Mavericks coveted Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood, who have moved into the starting lineup, and the Wizards wanted Josh Howard, who can create financial relief next summer with his $12.34 million contract a team option.
Y is yard sale. There was one in Washington. The Wizards were willing to part with whatever they had, and ended up dealing five players in the final week. Just as the sale shut down at 3 p.m. EST, a discount Dominic McGuire was the last item dispatched. He went to Sacramento, and the Wizards even picked up the postage.
Z is for Zydrunas -- The Big Z finally has been traded. And, if he ends up playing for the Wizards, maybe they again can roll out those retro Chicago Zephyrs jerseys. Then he'd be the Zephyrs' Z.
Chris Tomasson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @christomasson