What's notable about the 2014 NBA trade deadline is what didn't happen.
* The Knicks didn't get better, leaving it up to the 21-33 incumbents to fight their way into the playoffs.
* The Timberwolves couldn't get anything done and have a long slog to end their decade-long playoff drought.
* Omer Asik remains a total waste.
* The Suns still have up to four first-round picks to use this year.
* The Pelicans haven't eased the discomfort in their Rolls Royce backcourt.
All of these teams didn't like their options at the deadline, or worse, had no options. So the tough issues they face are deferred to the offseason, where we should expect some pretty wild trade machinations.
The Knicks' issues will come front and center on July 1 when a free agent named Carmelo Anthony surveys the scene. Will he really leave? Will he at least flirt with other teams? How many teams will chase him? What will the Knicks do -- what could they possibly do -- to convince him that this season, not 2012-13, was an aberration? What draft day maneuvers will GM Steve Mills work on to set the stage for July? Will the Knicks just blow it up and wave goodbye to their best player in 15 years?
Minnesota's lack of activity was as jarring. They were in the mix for Andre Miller, at the very least, but couldn't get a deal done. The 2015 free agency of Kevin Love, as I wrote Wednesday, looms large. He will almost certainly opt out for financial reasons. The question is whether the Wolves can convince him to re-sign in Minnesota for at least another three years given the incredible lack of success the team has had since drafting him in 2008. The Wolves are facing an uphill climb to end their long playoff drought this season. If they fail, Flip Saunders and the Minnesota front office will be pressing to guarantee a big jump in 2014-15 ... if they aren't conceding and offering up Love for draft pick packages.
The Pistons seemed to be open to losing Josh Smith at the deadline after perhaps realizing he wasn't the best use of all that free agent cash in July, given the poor fit and lack of team structure or identity. Needless to say, no one sacrificed to help Joe Dumars fix his mistake. So, Detroit enters the offseason with the odd Smith fit and restricted free agency for the sure-to-be-expensive Greg Monroe. It's there any clarity, it's that Dumars may not be around. A new GM might have the opportunity to remake the roster however he likes. If so, Monroe's future is in even more doubt. (Regardless, it will be lucrative.)
Pau Gasol is the ultimate February trade escape artist. Another deadline, another year of rumors, another March with Pau in purple and gold. Spin artists have heralded that L.A. maintains Gasol's Bird rights. The only ways in which Gasol's rights might actually be useful to the Lakers is if the team re-signs him (no) or if they work out a sign-and-trade. In the latter case, the team is unlikely to get much back. So Gasol is really auditioning for his next team, in the case he expects more than a minimum salary. It's a sad way for a once-great player to end a terrific run with the iconic franchise.
Omer Asik survived a second trade deadline this season. The well-paid Turkish center is on pace for a career low in minutes played. For example, he was on the court for only 15 minutes in the Rockets' overtime loss on Thursday. The Rockets, instead of moving him to clear up some salary space once the Dwight Howard gambit paid off, have held on while waiting for actual assets to come back. We'll see whether that was the right move over the next year ... or 18 months, if he stays in Houston past this offseason. But expect Asik to be front and center again in June and during every period in which player movement is heavy from now until the moment he leaves the Rockets. He's our new perennial rumor beast.
The Suns' situation gets mighty interesting in June. Phoenix has their own pick (late teens, likely), the Pacers' pick (late 20s) and almost assuredly the top-12 protected Wizards pick (late teens to early 20s, likely). They might also have the Timberwolves' pick, should Minnesota get into the playoffs or be the best non-playoff team in the league. Four first-round picks? While there are some intriguing international prospects GM Ryan McDonough could draft and stash late in the first, chances are Phoenix will look to package multiple picks and perhaps a player to get a better asset. Even if Minnesota keeps its pick, the Suns figure to be the most dangerous team in June. Many predicted they'd leverage those assets now to bolster their playoff run. They didn't, meaning their June will be wild.
More on the trade deadline
More on the trade deadline
Finally, we have the Pelicans, who spent oodles of cash in the offseason to make a playoff run. A really unfortunate injury to Ryan Anderson pretty much ended that. New Orleans is eight games out with three teams in front of it. Rumors suggested the team was trying to lose Tyreke Evans (who just signed a four-year, $44 million deal in July) or Eric Gordon ($30 million guaranteed over the next two seasons) at the deadline; neither were dealt. One assumes that GM Dell Demps will go back to that well in June and July with an eye on adding a small forward or center. The franchise seems impatient with wanting to contend, and who could blame them? The Pelicans have talent, but it's mismatched. They should be major players as they reshuffle the deck.
And we haven't even gotten into the fact that LeBron James and Chris Bosh can become free agents, that Brooklyn will be continuing its path toward a $300 million payroll, that the Mavericks will be looking to shake things up, that the Lakers will have cap space or that we're looking at perhaps the best NBA draft since 2003. The deadline sure was a dud, but we're almost certain to experience a wild, woolly offseason in just a few months.