by Texas Pro Sports blogger, Jordan Gnipp
The NBA’s version of March madness has begun as the recent trade deadline ended, with the final mad dash to a secured playoff spot. Each team in Texas did its best to swing trades at the deadline to make the best possible run.
The San Antonio Spurs currently sit at the #2 seed in the Western Conference and have a great shot this year despite what looked to be a daunting task of keeping up with younger teams throughout the shortened season. The Spurs really helped themselves in their run by trading for Stephen Jackson from the Golden State Warriors in exchange for Forward Richard Jefferson.
Jackson, at age 33, is a little older than Jefferson, but with plenty of game left in him. Jackson was crucial in the 2007 playoffs, leading the Warriors to the 2nd round. However, Jackson is also a swing man and can play the Shooting Guard or Small Forward on the floor to help out in the clutch.
The Spurs should be feared in the playoffs this year. They have experience and depth, they should have the “Big Three” ready to go with Duncan, Parker, Ginobili, and the newly-added Jackson. Most importantly, they have coach Gregg Popovich, who has already lead them to multiple titles. Watch for the Spurs to make it to the Western Finals against Oklahoma City for a 1-2 seed match-up.
The Dallas Mavericks are at the #4 seed right now and acquired some new help in their final run, as well. Earlier in the season they acquired former Laker Lamar Odom, who did not look like himself at times this season. Rumors at the trade deadline had him moving to multiple teams, but none of this occurred. He is currently still with the Mavs, and despite a reported effort to request that the team buy out his contract like the Rockets did for Derek Fisher (more on that to come), the Mavs refused, forcing Odom to finish out the season for Dallas.
This could lead to an even more explosive chemistry issue in the locker room, if there was not one already. With the playoffs coming fast and a title defense at stake, all the Mavs – including Odom – need to be ready to possibly deal with the high-flying Clippers or Thunder, or the veteran and fundamentally sound Spurs. Yes, there are the Lakers, too, so as usual, the West is loaded from top to bottom.
The Houston Rockets, who are struggling to keep the #8 spot at this point and are currently in a half game race with the Jazz, acquired Marcus Camby from the Trail Blazers to help out at Center/Power Forward. The 38-year old Camby can still play but with his age, he’s not likely to be here long and is clearly not the long term answer for the Rockets.
The Rockets were able to unload some dead weight in the trade and also swung a trade with the Lakers for Point Guard Derek Fisher. But Fisher – the multi-champion former Laker – had no interest in donning a Rockets uniform and was promptly bought out by the team and released (he signed with the Thunder once released, and will try for a championship with Kevin Durant). While the Rockets needed his help at point, with emerging star Kyle Lowry out with a bacterial infection, Houston was an overall winner in the deal as they were also able to get rid of unproductive players from the roster.
Unfortunately for the Rockets, even with a healthy Lowry and the new additions this year of Camby and Samuel Dalembert – who was acquired earlier in the year to play at Center – the Rockets are still staring at an 8 – 1 seed matchup against the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round and on the road. While the Rockets did split the 4 game season series with the Thunder 2-2 this year, no one should bet on that to continue over the course of a 7 game playoff series.
At this point, it is debatable whether the Rockets would be better off not even making the playoffs so that they can get a lottery pick in the draft, and hopefully bring in that star that the team has been lacking for years.
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