This year's trade deadline also essentially became the start of a small midseason free agency period. The Orlando Magic waived Glen Davis, who joined the Los Angeles Clippers. The Clippers will sign Danny Granger, who never suited up for the Philadelphia 76ers. The Sixers did the same waive-after-trade deal with Earl Clark, who went to the New York Knicks on a 10-day contract.
Those same Knicks waived Metta World Peace and Beno Udrih after fewer than 1,000 minutes of combined playing time. In other NYC news, Jason Collins, who had been waiting for a call all season long, recently made his historic Brooklyn Nets debut. The two-time defending champion Miami Heat traded away Roger Mason Jr. in order to open up a roster spot, and were interested in Caron Butler after the Milwaukee Bucks set him free ... but the Oklahoma City Thunder beat them to the punch. Jimmer Fredette is also available after being bought out by the Sacramento Kings.
The idea that there will be help available to contenders is nothing new. When the subject comes up, talk sometimes turns to P.J. Brown. Back in Feburary of 2008, the Boston Celtics signed the then-38-year-old free agent for their playoff run. Brown, like Collins this year, had been working out all season to stay ready. He'd played 14 years in the league and wanted a chance to win a championship. It turned out to be a perfect match, as the Celtics needed an extra big man and the power forward provided some stout defense and a few big baseline jumpers in the postseason. Without him, Boston might not have won its first title since 1986.
This is the exception to the rule, though. Let's look at the full list of late-season additions since 2008:
Feb. 27: Celtics sign free agent P.J. Brown.
March 3: Celtics sign Sam Cassell, who had been waived by the Clippers.
March 12: Clippers sign Smush Parker, who had been waived by the Heat.
March 28: Clippers sign free agent Marcus E. Williams.
While Brown and Cassell sopped up minutes in Boston on the way to a title before retirement, no one else had much of an impact. Goran Giricek seemed like a nice find for Phoenix at the time, but the floor-spacing backup headed back to Europe at the end of the season and never played in the NBA again. Neither did Parker or Stoudamire, the latter showing that, yes, you can get a former Rookie of the Year winner after a buyout, but his career is probably on its last legs at that point.
Feb. 24: Celtics sign free agent Mikki Moore.
Feb. 27: Celtics sign Stephon Marbury, who had been waived by the Knicks.
March 3: Nuggets sign Jason Hart, who had been waived by the Clippers.
March 4: Suns sign Stromile Swift, who had been waived by the Nets.
March 5: Spurs sign Drew Gooden, who had been waived by the Kings.
March 23: Magic sign Adonal Foyle, who had been waived by the Grizzlies (after being traded from Orlando to Memphis).
March 31: Thunder sign Shaun Livingston, who had been traded from the Heat to the Grizzlies and then waived.
Boston was unable to repeat its success when it again signed a point guard and a big man -- in the playoffs, Marbury shot 30 percent and Moore was relegated to end-of-the-bench duty. The only player on this list who was still on that team's roster the following training camp was Shaun Livingston. Oklahoma City ended up waiving him that December, though. Mensah-Bonsu did land up back in Toronto the next year, but only after being signed and then waived by the Rockets. Marbury, Swift and Foyle never played in the NBA beyond that 2008-2009 season.
Jan. 1: Heat sign Rafer Alston, who had been waived by the Nets.
Jan. 8: Grizzlies claim Lester Hudson, who had been waived by the Celtics.
March 5: Celtics sign Michael Finley, who had been waived by the Spurs.
March 23: Timberwolves sign Brian Cardinal, who had been waived by the Knicks (after being traded from Minnesota to New York).
March 25: Bucks sign Darnell Jackson, who had been waived by the Cavaliers.
March 29: Spurs sign Alonzo Gee, who had been waived by the Wizards.
April 4: Raptors sign Joey Dorsey, who had been waived by the Kings.
The biggest "signing" in 2010 was Ilgauskas, who returned to the Cavaliers 30 days after the Wizards waived him. Few remember that Cardinal and the Timberwolves pulled that same trick, which has since been since disallowed. You're also forgiven if you've completely forgotten that Finley ended his excellent career as a benchwarmer in Boston. Alston actually occasionally started at point guard for that Heat team that was constructed with offseason cap space in mind. That plan worked out okay.
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Jan. 24: Mavericks claim Peja Stojakovic, who had been waived by the Raptors.
March 1: Knicks sign Jared Jeffries, who had been waived by the Rockets (after being traded from New York to Houston).
March 1: Knicks claim Derrick Brown, who had been waived by the Bobcats.
March 2: Heat sign Mike Bibby, who had been waived by the Wizards.
March 3: Bulls sign Rasual Butler, who had been waived by the Clippers.
March 3: Celtics sign free agent Sasha Pavlovic.
March 3: Mavericks sign Corey Brewer, who had been waived by the Knicks.
March 3: Warriors sign Al Thornton, who had been waived by the Wizards.
March 5: Celtics sign Carlos Arroyo, who had been waived by the Heat.
March 5: Grizzlies sign Leon Powe, who had been waived by the Cavaliers.
Brewer was the star of this buyout season, as he played the most efficient basketball of his career and won a championship in Dallas. Stojakovic also ended up there and won his first ring, retiring after the season. Bibby was on the other end of the court during those finals, having the worst playoff performance in NBA history. The Celtics tried again, but none of their three pickups played a minute against Miami.
Jan. 4: Warriors sign Nate Robinson, who had been waived by the Thunder.
Jan. 5: Mavericks sign free agent Yi Jianlian.
Feb. 2: Magic sign Ish Smith, who had been waived by the Warriors.
Feb. 3: Clippers sign free agent Kenyon Martin.
Feb. 17: Knicks sign free agent J.R. Smith.
Feb. 26: Blazers sign free agent Joel Przybilla.
March 19: Hornets claim Chris Johnson, who was waived by the Blazers.
March 20: Grizzlies sign free agent Gilbert Arenas, who was amnestied before the season.
March 21: Blazers claim J.J. Hickson, who was waived by the Kings.
March 21: Heat sign Ronny Turiaf, who was traded from the Wizards to the Nuggets and then waived.
March 22: Celtics sign Ryan Hollins, who was waived by the Cavaliers.
March 23: Spurs sign Boris Diaw, who was waived by the Bobcats.
March 23: Mavericks sign free agent Kelenna Azubuike.
March 23: Pacers sign free agent Kyrylo Fesenko.
The Diaw deal turned out to be a happy partnership, as he is still in San Antonio after escaping the worst team ever. Bobcats fans were a bit miffed, though, as Diaw's effort level appeared to immediately rise after arriving in Texas. Both Smith and Martin were postseason contributors, though the fact they were available was an aberration. The two had played in China for the first part of the lockout-shortened season. Fisher and Turiaf met in the NBA Finals, and Turiaf is now able to call himself an NBA champion. He only played in 12 of the Heat's 21 playoff games, though.
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Jan. 1: Rockets sign James Anderson, who was waived by the Spurs.
Jan. 6: Bulls sign Daequan Cook, who was waived by the Rockets.
Jan. 7: Rockets sign free agent Patrick Beverley.
Jan. 22: Spurs sign free agent Aron Baynes.
Feb. 20: Celtics sign free agent Terrence Williams, who they would eventually sign for the season, to a 10-day contract.
Feb. 23: Knicks sign free agent Kenyon Martin, who they would eventually sign for the season, to a 10-day contract.
Feb. 25: Thunder sign Derek Fisher, who was waived by the Mavericks.
March 12: Hornets sign Lou Amundson, who had been waived by the Wolves and had a 10-day stint in Chicago.
March 5: Aaron Brooks, who was waived by the Kings.
March 20: Cavaliers sign free agent Chris Quinn.
April 16: Knicks sign free agent Quentin Richardson.
April 16: Spurs sign free agent Tracy McGrady.
Fisher again wound up in Oklahoma City, and Dallas owner Mark Cuban booed him for the way he left the Mavericks. Beverley and Martin were both contributors for playoff teams last year, but neither was bought out. They were just free agents, with Houston brilliantly finding Beverley balling in Russia. Brooks was another nice value find for the Rockets as a buyout guy, but he never figured to be part of their future. They just flipped him for Jordan Hamilton, who could be.
It's certainly possible to address a need or add depth with a budget signing after a buyout, but it's proven difficult to acquire a difference-maker this way. For every P.J. Brown and Corey Brewer, there are several Drew Goodens.
What's that? The Wizards signed Gooden? Sounds about right.