Were you looking for fireworks at the NBA trade deadline? As things turned out, the pre-season James Harden deal and the trade that sent Rudy Gay north of the border, turned out to be the biggest deals across the Association. New, more stringent rules involving the luxury tax are trying to keep the NBA elite (Lakers, Knicks, Bulls, etc.) from dominating the transaction market and clubs are certainly more luxury tax sensitive. The biggest move ending up actually came on deadline eve, making for a very un-eventful Februuary 21st.
The NBA wraps up the season's first half in style with a great double header tonight on TNT. At 8pm Eastern, its the Thunder hosting the Miami Heat in Oklahoma City, followed by the battle of Los Angeles featuring the Clippers and Lakers. The "Grammy" break is over and both LA teams are road weary and ready for a return to the Staples Center. NBA fans won't be without the game as All-Star weekend in Houston tips off on Friday.
When we last spoke, we broke down the 2012-'13 rookie class in the Eastern Conference. At this early juncture, it appears that the first year players in the Western Conference are not only outperforming their counterparts, they also collectively possess great upside. It helps when you have the first overall pick (New Orleans), as well as multiple high picks (New Orleans and Portland). The Hornets and Blazers both following the quick "flash" rebuild, much like Utah did in the wake of the Deron Williams deal.
As we roll into the 2012-'13 NBA season, we're going to take you through an overview of each of the six divisions. Who are key newcomers? Who are notable for your fantasy team? Last season was brutal with a late and sudden December start to an abbreviated season. We wrap up our previews, staying in the Western Conference, with the Pacific Division. The Lakers have assembled the latest "Dream Team" with Steve Nash and Dwight Howard now running showtime alongside Kobe. The Clippers are now a force, with Chris Paul and Blake Griffin leading the way. Golden State finally landed a big man to help David Lee, now if only Andrew Bogut can stay healthy. Watch out for Sacramento and mercurial big man DeMarcus Cousins. Marcin Gortat was a nice find in the desert, but Phoenix just doesn't have the horses to compete.