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Ball Don't Lie

Was this trade deadline the worst ever?

Eric Freeman
Ball Don't Lie

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J.J. Redick chats with Anthony Johnson, patron saint of bad trade deadlines (Fernando Medina/ Getty).

The 2013 NBA trade deadline has passed, and it was not particularly exciting. After weeks of rumors and speculation, we have been left with a handful of deals unlikely to make much difference to the postseason.

Yes, the Milwaukee Bucks added J.J. Redick in the hopes of shoring up their spot near the end of the East playoffs, the Boston Celtics added a high-volume shooter in Jordan Crawford instead of standing pat, and a bunch of other teams rearranged their finances by swapping human beings for minor assets and "considerations." The big names, like Josh Smith, went nowhere.

The deadline was a little anticlimactic, then, and should go down as a relatively meaningless sequence of events in NBA history. But was it the worst ever? After the jump, check out the five dullest deadlines since 1987.

1987

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Larry Bird and Ben Poquette compare hair (Dick Raphael/ Getty).


1. The Cleveland Cavaliers trade big man Ben Poquette to the Chicago Bulls for a future second-round draft pick.

Over 10 NBA seasons, Poquette developed a career as a capable shot blocker and interior defender. After this trade, he played only 21 games for the Bulls, averaging 8.0 minutes per game and contributing absolutely nothing in the team's first-round sweep at the hands of the Boston Celtics. Poquette left for Italy the next offseason, thereby confirming the essential irrelevance of 1987's lone deadline deal.

1990

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Uwe Blab considers eating Jim Rowinski (Mike Powell/ Getty).


1. The Golden State Warriors trade center Uwe Blab to the San Antonio Spurs for center Christian Welp.

2. The Golden State Warriors trade guard Winston Garland to the Los Angeles Clippers for two future second-round picks.

3. The Charlotte Hornets trade center Stuart Gray to the New York Knicks for a 1991 second-round pick.

4. The Seattle SuperSonics trade forward Brad Sellers to the Minnesota Timberwolves for center Steve Johnson and a 1991 second-round pick.

5. The Cleveland Cavaliers trade wing Randolph Keys to the Charlotte Hornets for a future second-round pick.

Like this season's deadline, 1990 brought us a fair amount of deals that amount to very little in the way of meaningful movement. The names in these trades amount to notorious flops, goofy curiosities, and the sort of trading-card filler you forget about until your parents force you to throw out most of the clutter in your childhood room. As ever, the trade deadline is a hands-on lesson in not confusing activity for progress.

1995

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Scott Brooks earns his championship ring (Nathaniel S. Butler/ Getty).


1. The Houston Rockets trade guard Scott Brooks to the Dallas Mavericks for guard Morlon Wiley and a second-round pick.

While we now know him as the head coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder, Scott Brooks was once a well-respected and not-very-good reserve point guard. This trade — for the wonderfully named Wiley and a pick that became much-derided Duke center Erik Meek — is pretty much the definition of unimportant. Unless, of course, you believe in the butterfly effect, in which case the Rockets' decision to deal Brooks may have begun a succession of events culminating in their sweep of the Orlando Magic in that June's NBA Finals.

So maybe this trade is actually one of the most important in NBA history!

2000

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Anthony Johnson during one of his 46 stints with the Atlanta Hawks (Glenn James/ Getty).


1. The Atlanta Hawks trade point guard Anthony Johnson to the Orlando Magic for a conditional second-round pick.

On Thursday afternoon, our Kelly Dwyer told a story of this deadline. As a young college student, on his first trade deadline as an NBA writer for the dearly departed OnHoops website, Kelly hunkered down in his dorm room anticipating a long day of writing trade reactions and various hot takes on the future of a forever changed NBA.

Of course, all he got was this deal involving a journeyman guard and one of the least valuable assets a team can trade. Let this be a lesson to aspiring writers everywhere: the excitement you anticipate will rarely come.

2007

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Alan Henderson considers the meaninglessness of human existence (Brian Bahr/ Getty).


1. The Dallas Mavericks trade the very same Anthony Johnson to the Atlanta Hawks for a second-round pick.

2. The Philadelphia 76ers trade forward Alan Henderson, draft considerations, and cash to the Utah Jazz for the right to swap second-round picks.

3. The Portland Trail Blazers trade guard Juan Dixon to the Toronto Raptors for dunker Fred Jones and future considerations.

For me, this deadline is the funniest, because each deal has an element that proves how goofy NBA trades can be. The first deal includes a player who made 2000 one of the dullest deadlines ever, almost as if Johnson were a particularly boring version of Forrest Gump, always present for meaningless moments in basketball history. The second deal is straight out of a Samuel Beckett play, featuring the vaguely defined "draft considerations" being moved for the opportunity to make a trade in the future. Last, the third trade includes "future considerations," almost as if the two teams were too bored by their own moves to bother completing them at the time.

Ultimately, the great thing about a boring deadline is that we can stop pretending it matters pretty much immediately. In five years, we'll look back on this period in time and consider the trades that preceded it — the Raptors' deal for Rudy Gay, the Oklahoma City Thunder's decision to trade James Harden in October, even the Lakers' summer move for Dwight Howard. These deadline deals will be afterthoughts. As with these five deadlines of years past, we can look, laugh, and try to remember why we anticipated so many trades in the first place.

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