The 2012 trade deadline lived up to the hype.
Eight trades were completed on deadline day, March 15. Including the Warriors-Bucks trade two days earlier, 26 players switched places, including one -- Stephen Jackson -- who was swapped twice.
With the dust settled, it's time to hand out grades. Here are five winners, five losers, and a pair of teams that, for now, get an "incomplete":
The big winner of the deadline without even making a deal. Getting Dwight Howard to waive his early termination option means that the league's most dominant player -- in terms of what he does against other centers -- should remain in Orlando through the end of the 2012-13 season. While the Magic couldn't manage to add a piece next to Howard, they have proven this season that there is enough talent to make a run. Then, in the offseason, it'll be on Magic management to add a second stud, and hope Howard signs a long-term extension.
Milwaukee has shown it can win without both Andrew Bogut and Stephen Jackson. With those two seemingly expendable players, the Bucks picked up one of the league's best scorers in Monta Ellis, defensive specialist Kwame Brown, and a young Ekpe Udoh who could still develop. The chemistry between Ellis and Brandon Jennings will be something to keep an eye on, but the Bucks made the right deal to make a push for the No. 8 seed in the East.
Trading Derek Fisher might not be the popular move in the locker room, but look at what the Lakers had to part with to pick up a solid point guard in Ramon Sessions: Luke Walton (who is owed $6.1 million next year), Jason Kapono, Fisher and a pair of late first round draft picks. With Sessions, who is a plus passer and scorer, running the point, L.A. could make another run at a title.
Brian Cook and a second round draft pick for the scoring two-guard they've been waiting for? Chalk one up for the Clips. Nick Young has a tendency to shoot way too much, but with Chris Paul running the point, Los Angeles should be able to turn Young into a weapon.
Trading a first round pick that is only protected through No. 3 is a risky move. But the goal in New Jersey has been, since acquiring Deron Williams, to build around their star point guard and try to win now. Losing out on Dwight Howard increased the chances of Williams bolting at the end of the season. Adding Gerald Wallace should at least give Williams pause. Now, if the Nets can add an additional piece in the offseason and re-sign Brook Lopez, Williams may feel compelled to stay at least another year, and the Nets could make a run to the playoffs their first season in Brooklyn.
After the 42-point loss to the Knicks, it was clear that the Blazers needed to make a change. But dealing two starters for expiring contracts and draft busts? Maybe not the direction to go. Yes, Nate McMillan needed to go, but considering the tumult at the bottom of the Western playoff picture, Portland could have still made a run. With their current roster, the playoffs are out of the question. Plus, what is LaMarcus Aldridge thinking throughout all of this?
JaVale McGee and Nick Young weren't going to work. But you flip the two of them for Nene and his gigantic contract, Brian Cook and a second round pick? Yes, Nene will be a solid center when he's healthy. But with four years at $13 million/year left on his contract after this season, what happens if the historically injury prone Nene can't stay healthy?
Not trading Rajon Rondo was the right move. Despite the bad rap he gets, Rondo is one of the game's premier point guards, and the ideal facilitator. It's clear, though, that it's time for the Celts to rebuild. Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett are free agents in the offseason; is there much of a chance that Boston brings either of them back? Unlikely. So why not try to trade one or both of them for some young talent or draft picks? Boston was reportedly asking for too much, and instead, the old guard will go for one more playoff run. With at least six teams more talented than the Celts in the Eastern Conference alone, that's a pipe dream.
With Kyrie Irving's meteoric rise, the need for Ramon Sessions wasn't very high. And with draft picks at a premium for the rebuilding Cavs, picking up a first rounder in the upcoming draft is nice. But Cleveland was forced to take Luke Walton and his $6.1 million salary next year from the Lakers in the deal. Couldn't they have done better for Sessions?
Houston wanted to make a splash in order to catapult themselves toward the top of the West. Can we really define a pair of senior citizens, Derek Fisher and Marcus Camby, as a splash? The Rockets didn't give up much of anything, but all they managed to bring in were a pair of over-the-top veterans. Sure, Camby is great on the glass and on defense, and Fisher will help fill a gap while Kyle Lowry is out. These guys aren't playoff difference makers at this stage of their career, though, and that's what Houston needed.
Nene's health, combined with his big contract, must have scared Denver into taking the huge chance that is JaVale McGee. If McGee manages to develop his awareness, though, Denver all of the sudden has a younger, supremely talented, and more affordable center than they had in Nene.
The Warriors leave the deadline with an Andrew Bogut-David Lee-Richard Jefferson-Klay Thompson-Stephen Curry starting lineup. Not too bad. On top of that, they added a first round draft pick. Their depth is now gone, though, and health has to be a concern with Bogut and Curry in their. Maybe it works out and the Warriors make an improbable playoff run this year. But what will be the feeling in the long run, especially if Ekpe Udoh figures it out, and Monta Ellis continues to score at will?