By Matt Citak
The NBA trade deadline is behind us, and boy was it an exciting one. Several significant trades went down in the final few hours, including the Cleveland Cavaliers completely overhauling their roster. Six players were sent out while four new players were brought in, and based on their first two games together (wins in Boston and Oklahoma City), the Cavaliers must be happy with their outlook for the rest of the season.
While the trade deadline has passed, contenders aren’t necessarily done adding pieces to help improve their chances in the playoffs.
In fact, most playoff teams stood pat at the deadline, sticking with their main cores of players as the postseason approaches. The only reason Cleveland was so active last week was because of their obvious chemistry problems on the court over the last month and a half.
For the rest of the league’s contenders, the busy part of the season begins now, as veteran players are bought out and seek to sign for the minimum and the chance to chase a ring.
The buyout market began to unfold over a week ago, when Greg Monroe, after reaching a buyout agreement with the Phoenix Suns, signed with the Boston Celtics. Monroe is averaging 9.7 points and 7.1 rebounds in 20.9 minutes per game this season, appearing in 28 games between the Suns, Milwaukee Bucks, and Celtics.
While it’s been some time since Monroe looked like a dominant big man, his addition will likely boost Boston’s attempt to dethrone the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference. The Celtics this season have looked a lot worse on offense when Al Horford is off the court. Signing Monroe gives Boston a real front-court threat to run the offense through when Horford is getting a breather.
One of the favorites in the Western Conference also made some potentially big moves after the trade deadline. The Houston Rockets have been putting the heat on the Golden State Warriors recently, winning nine straight games and 13 of their last 14 to put themselves just half game behind the reigning champions for the number-one seed in the West.
Houston kept their foot on the pedal, adding two veterans that could contribute off the bench come playoff time. Joe Johnson, fresh off his buyout from the Sacramento Kings, and Brandan Wright, coming off his buyout with the Memphis Grizzlies, could both earn spots in Houston’s rotation with some improved play.
Johnson is a seven-time All-Star enduring his worst NBA season since his rookie campaign. In 32 games,…