Recession takes its toll on trades

FRANK ZICARELLI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:52 AM ET

In a sign of today's depressed economic times, the NBA's trade deadline expired yesterday with no major player movement.

Despite all the rampant rumours and mounting speculation linking some high-profiled stars, the only trade with any substance featured the Orlando Magic obtaining Houston's Rafer Alston in a three-team deal involving Memphis.

Alston gives the Magic a much-needed point guard in the wake of Jameer Nelson's shoulder injury. It took Orlando about one game to figure out that Tyronn Lue wasn't the answer for a team that will continue to contend in the East.

Alston has matured a lot from his days as a Raptor and now will be entrusted in feeding Dwight Howard.

It was far from a marquee move, but a move that will help the Magic during its post-season push. Under no circumstance could Orlando go far with Lue and Anthony Johnson running the show.

Alston isn't the most defensively gifted player, but he'll get to learn Stan Van Gundy's system in a hurry. Van Gundy's brother, Jeff, coached Alston in Houston.

Alston certainly isn't shy in hoisting his shot and he'll get plenty of looks on a team with Howard, the game's most dominant big.

Orlando was about the only playoff-bound and championship-contending team to do something yesterday. With so much uncertainty looming over the economy, the realization of the NBA's salary cap decreasing next year and the much-dreaded tax threshold retreating, teams were reluctant to pull the trigger on acquiring high-salaried players.

Even with Manu Ginobili gone for the next few weeks because of a stress reaction to his right fibula, the Spurs resisted the temptation of acquiring Vince Carter from New Jersey because of V.C.'s hefty salary.

There was talk of Shaquille O'Neal leaving the desert to join LeBron James in Cleveland, but it never materialized. The Big Cactus also was mentioned in a rumoured deal with Portland.

There was talk the Lakers would want to acquire a big in the event Andrew Bynum doesn't recover from his latest knee surgery. But L.A. stood pat, unless one considers getting rid of Chris Mihm as impactful.

Marcus Camby was rumoured to be on the move as the Clippers entertained offers, as was Amare Stoudemire in Phoenix, Richard Jefferson and Charlie Villanueva in Milwaukee, Allen Iverson and Rasheed Wallace in Detroit.

It has often been said, and it bears repeating given yesterday's uneventful day, that for every 100 rumours that are floated, one turns into a trade. Toss in the bleak economic numbers and it's easy to see why so little action occurred.

NBA commissioner David Stern warned teams of the financial free-fall during all-star weekend in Phoenix. As early as yesterday morning, it was being reported that the league sent every team a memo detailing the staggering repercussions the economy will have on the salary cap. It was a buyer's market, but no team was willing to pony up.

In moves that did go down, the Sacramento Kings continued to reshape their roster by acquiring Minnesota's Rashad McCants for Shelden Williams, who is Anthony Parker's brother-in-law.

Larry Hughes was traded, again, this time to New York in a deal that landed Tim Thomas and Jerome James in Chicago.

The Knicks also acquired Chris Wilcox and his expiring contract from Oklahoma City, which originally shipped Wilcox to New Orleans in a package for Tyson Chandler until the deal was nixed.


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