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NBA Sunday: Tricks of the trade

Published: Saturday, Feb. 26 2011 10:19 p.m. MST

The National Basketball Association resembled Major League Baseball at its trade deadline during the week, with unpredictable moves, teams dumping salaries, All-Stars changing teams and the rich getting richer in some cases.

No one knows for certain how the frenzied deals will work out for the astounding number of teams (20) that made deals for nearly 10 percent of the league's players. But what the players have done in their career so far helps us analyze which teams came out better or worse. We'll split them into winners, losers and time-will-tell categories.

WINNERS:

Utah Jazz: There are some Jazz fans who are irate after Utah dealt All-Star guard Deron Williams to New Jersey for Devin Harris, Derrick Favors, two first-round picks and $3 million.

What, you were willing to take the risk of Williams leaving after next season and getting nothing in return? You were OK with the possibility of ending up like the Cavaliers and Raptors after they lost their cornerstone players?

Kevin O'Connor and Greg Miller weren't going to sit around and take their chances after reports leaked during All-Star weekend that Williams is interested in joining the Knicks in 2012. With no guarantees offered by Williams that he was staying in Utah after he could opt out of his contract, the Jazz did the right thing for their franchise.

Plus, who wanted to go through what the Nuggets just did — endless speculation about which team their superstar player was going to end up with. The Jazz got rid of the potential distraction and made a gutsy move. It was the right move for the future.

Oklahoma City Thunder: They're no longer a team of the future after adding Kendrick Perkins from Boston and Nazr Mohammed from Charlotte. They're a team of the now. This is just what they needed. They added some size and toughness on the inside, and a better defensive presence. Oklahoma City had to give up Jeff Green to the Celtics, but it was worth it to get the players they did.

Denver Nuggets: They had no choice but to finally trade Carmelo Anthony, and got some good pieces back in Danilo Gallinari, Raymond Felton, Wilson Chandler and a first-round pick. It's only been two games, but they've been impressive in beating the Celtics and losing to the Trail Blazers in overtime. The remaining Nuggets and former Knicks have reason to be motivated — and are playing that way.

New Orleans Hornets: We'll let others decide if it's fair for the Hornets, currently owned by the NBA, to be making transactions. But they made a great one in adding Sacramento's Carl Landry, who will bring some depth and scoring to their frontline.

Los Angeles Clippers: They got rid of Baron Davis and his bad contract, trading him to Cleveland for Mo Williams. Davis was motivated at times this season, but is too unpredictable with his attitude and desire to play. Williams will make the Clippers tougher to defend.

LOSERS:

Charlotte Bobcats: The Jazz fans who don't like the Williams deal feel like the franchise is starting over. Well, look to Charlotte to see a team that really is. The Bobcats gave Portland Gerald Wallace for $3 and a copy machine (actually Joel Przybilla, Dante Cunningham, Sean Marks and two first-round picks). The Bobcats were in the playoff race in the East and basically gave up to save money. That's got to be disappointing for the few Charlotte fans out there.

Phoenix Suns: They traded Jazz killer Goran Dragic to Houston for Aaron Brooks. Does this mean Steve Nash is leaving in the offseason or playing fewer minutes? Either way, they are the only possible reasons for making this move.

Cleveland Cavaliers: They did get a first-round pick along with Davis. But shouldn't they be alarmed that the Clippers were so interested in dumping Davis? He'll be toxic for the organization.

Boston Celtics: The Celtics' players were so distraught about losing Perkins they could barely discuss it. It makes sense to add wing help in Green, but they've damaged their chemistry.

TIME WILL TELL:

New Jersey Nets: It all comes down to if Williams re-signs with them when his contract is up. If he stays, consider the Nets winners.

New York Knicks: They added a superstar in Anthony, but paid a steep price. They aren't winning a title with their current group. Perhaps adding a third star will put them over the top.

e-mail: aaragon@desnews.com

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