In this trade market there were buyers and there were salary-dumpers (sellers). For the right mix of young (cheap) players, draft picks and expiring contracts real talent could be had if the buyer was willing to take on a long, expensive contract.
Teams could be placed into three categories: those that are trying to win now, those that think they can win later, and those just hoping to make payroll next month.
All along, probably because of past history, a lot of people assumed the Clippers would be sellers as the trade deadline neared. Which meant, of course, that any player with talent and a hefty contract, heard his name pop up in trade talks.
In the end, it turns out that those assumptions were wrong. If anything, the Clippers have been buyers this season, acquiring Marcus Camby from luxury-tax strapped Denver over the summer; acquiring Zach Randolph from the Knicks for two contracts that expired before the Summer of LeBron; getting other teams to trade them players and cash for conditional future second-round draft picks (they’ll likely never see), thus getting free looks at some young players who might ultimately help them; and sitting back while other teams played their entire hand trying to get the Clips to part with valuable assets like Camby, Chris Kaman and Baron Davis.
That’s information that can be used later on, like this summer, when I wouldn’t be surprised to see some of the trade discussions that died in the last few days, resurface.
At that point, the Clippers will presumably have seen how Camby, Zach Randolph and Chris Kaman fit together. I say presumably because that assumes all three will be healthy at the same time, at some point in the next two months.
And, they’ll have more time to decide if the Baron Davis experiment is going to pan out. If it doesn’t improve by the end of the year, don’t be surprised if trade talks come back up over the summer.
In the final few days before this trade deadline passed, the Clippers entertained some intriguing offers for all three of their main assets (Baron, Camby and Kaman), all of which would’ve allowed them to dump money for the cocktail of choice for motivated sellers in the NBA: two shots of expiring deals, a couple shakes of draft picks, a dash young prospects.
They definitely listened, but never danced very long with anyone (to borrow a metaphor from GM Mike Dunleavy.)