The Lakers were widely praised for acquiring Gasol from Memphis without surrendering any major part of their regular playing rotation. And the results have followed: Los Angeles has been nearly unbeatable with Gasol in the lineup. In addition, one of the NBA's deepest teams will get even stronger with the late-season return of promising third-year center Andrew Bynum, who is expected to come back from a knee injury in the next month or so.
2 of 10Bob Rosato/SI
Owner Mark Cuban says the Kidd deal represents the biggest hit financially he's taken on a single trade -- not to mention that it cost the Mavericks an emerging young point guard in Devin Harris. So the task for Kidd is simple yet daunting: guide Dallas through three playoff series in the stacked West and then finish the deal in the NBA Finals.
3 of 10John W. McDonough/SI
The early returns haven't been great, but Shaq and the Suns are preaching patience while the Diesel gets acclimated. There won't be much room for patience in the playoffs, however, not after Phoenix opened itself up to criticism from all the Monday morning quarterbacks by swapping Shawn Marion for Shaq at a time when it led the Western Conference. With a starting lineup that includes Steve Nash, 34, Grant Hill, 35, and Shaq (who turns 36 on March 6), the Suns have an urgency to win now.
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Ben Wallace and Wally Szczerbiak
It's not every day that a defending conference champion acquires four new rotation players at midseason. But the Cavs, concerned about contending with the Pistons and Celtics in the East, did just that in a three-team, 11-player trade. For Cleveland, the success of the deal will hinge on whether the 33-year-old Wallace can rediscover his form as a rebounding and defensive ace, and whether Szczerbiak can knock down all the open jump shots LeBron James figures to create for him. The Cavs also picked up useful pieces in point guard Delonte West and power forward Joe Smith.
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The Hawks signaled their desire to end the NBA's longest-active playoff drought of eight years by adding Bibby to their nucleus of Josh Smith, Joe Johnson, Marvin Williams and Al Horford. Bibby slumped last season and is playing catch-up this season after missing 21/2 months with a thumb injury, but the 29-year-old point guard has the type of playoff experience and big-shot track record that Atlanta desperately needed.
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Utah struck long before the trade deadline, obtaining the sharpshooter from Philadelphia for the disgruntled Gordan Giricek on Dec. 29. The deal would be overshadowed by all the blockbusters that followed, but Korver was instrumental in helping the Jazz put together a 21-5 run following a 16-16 start. His deep shooting off the bench has added another dimension to an offense that ranks among the top five in points and shooting.
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Drew Gooden and Larry Hughes
The Bulls essentially traded their own free-agent mistake (Ben Wallace) for Cleveland's (Hughes) as part of that 11-player deal. A change of scenery could only help Hughes, who dealt with injuries and struggled to fit alongside LeBron James in his 21/2 seasons in Cleveland. With Hughes, Kirk Hinrich and Ben Gordon, the Bulls have some competition for minutes in the backcourt as they pursue a playoff spot. Gooden (far right), meanwhile, will give the Bulls a bit of the interior scoring they've been lacking, but his bread-and-butter is hitting the glass.
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While their rivals made splashy additions, the Spurs -- in their typically understated fashion -- picked up the 35-year-old power forward a day before the deadline. San Antonio values Thomas for his mid-range shooting and, more important, his ability to help Tim Duncan defend the league's premier big men. Thomas will earn his money in the playoffs when the Spurs' well-respected defense could be tested by the likes of Utah's Carlos Boozer, the Lakers' Pau Gasol and Phoenix's Amaré Stoudemire.
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While the Nets started building more toward the future in dealing Jason Kidd, their present still includes a playoff race. Harris, Kidd's replacement at point guard, will have the chance to lead New Jersey to a seventh consecutive postseason appearance once he's fully recovered from a sprained ankle.
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The veteran spark plug came from New Orleans in a deal for Bonzi Wells and Mike James, both of whom will get a chance to establish themselves in the Hornets' rotation. As for Jackson, perhaps being reunited with coach Rick Adelman -- under whom he thrived in Sacramento -- will help him rebound from a poor run of shooting in New Orleans.
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