This year hasn't just featured some huge trades but it's featured teams dumping major mistakes and somehow managing to get very good players in return. Danny Ainge started it by dumping mistakes like Wally Szczerbiak, and Sebastian Telfair in deals for Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett but he had to at least give up quality players or picks in return. At this trade deadline, apparently you don't need to do that anymore.
The Mistake: Kwame Brown for Caron Butler
The Mulligan:Kwame Brown for Pau Gasol
Now here's the thing: I think Javarris Crittenton could pan out to be a good player. He was worthy of being a high lotto pick. That being said, you don't deal an All-Star caliber big man who is under 30 for him and two late first round picks. I don't care if you are dumping salary, you HAVE to get something better back for Pau Gasol. This is a guy who, one year ago, the Grizz were demanding Luol Deng, Ben Gordon, and an expiring contract (PJ Brown). Gasol actually got healthy and his value became Javarris Crittenton and two first rounders that you'll probably be able to buy for cash come draft day? Caron Butler has blossomed into an All-Star but right now, the Kwame-Caron trade doesn't look so bad for the Lakers.
The Mistake: Shaq's Contract
The Mulligan: Shaq for The Matrix
Pat Riley sold his soul for one ring. When the Heat re-signed Shaq to his huge deal, everyone realized that they had to keep the core but they also knew that the odds of Shaq being a dominant player by the last few years of that deal were slim. On the bright side, Phoenix dumped one of their own mistakes, Marcus Banks, in the deal but still it doesn't make much sense. Shaq, if healthy, could help the Suns' half-court offense but it's not like they teams weakness was offense. They gave up a key cog in their half-court defense to get Shaq. This wasn't just a major gamble but the Suns, it was major gamble betting against long odds. On the bright side, if this fails, they'll have a huge mulligan contract to deal in a couple years.
The Mistake: Shelden Williams
The Mulligan: Shelden Williams and friends for Mike Bibby
Atlanta fans still can't be all that thrilled since they probably prefer Brandon Roy or Rudy Gay to Mike Bibby but cleaning up the inexplicable selection of Mr. Candace Parker at #5 and adding a top point guard is a nice move. Bibby isn't amazing but he's the better than the mediocre bunch Atlanta coaches have had to settle for since Knight thought dealing Jason Terry (and a first round pick) for Antoine Walker was a good idea. Even better, Bibby is an expiring deal so Knight could be able to use that contract to snare an even bigger prize. Perhaps Bibby and Marvin Williams could be an even bigger mulligan for ol' Billy.
So what are some other mulligans that may be on the horizon?
Ron Artest/Brad Miller:You have to think Sacramento is looking to dump these two. The quesion if there's anything out there. They likely won't want to take on a big deal so it's hard to move Miller. Artest's deal makes sense but his value is limited because of his past and his player option. Still, if they are desperate for a move, wouldn't something along the line of Raef, Travis Outlaw, Jarrett Jack work for Brad and Ron?
Andrei Kirilenko: The latest rumor was AK-47 for Lamar Odom. Personally, I think it's a great deal for L.A. With a Lakers/Celtics finals as a distinct possibility, I'd be more than happy to see the man that Paul Pierce made weep wearing purple and gold.
Jermaine O'Neal: With all the deals flying around, I can't imagine someone won't be willing to take on the corpse formerly known as Jermaine O'Neal. If the Kidd deal falls through, Rod Thorn might have to try to shake things up by moving Vince Carter and Jamaal Magloire for JO. It won't be a great move for either team but it will put a new face on the current mediocrity both teams are stuck in.
Andre Miller: This mulligan likely won't happen. If Mike Bibby is only worth Shelden Williams and scraps, what is 'Dre going to be worth. And with the Sixers knocking on the playoffs door, would they really want to dump their starting point guard?
Larry Hughes: Hughes has been playing amazingly well of late so there might actually be a market for him. Unfortunately, I'm not sure how great that market really is. Perhaps a dual mulligan with Denver: Hughes and Eric Snow for K-Mart, JR Smith, and Stevie Hunter? Could you swing a super-mulligan deal with the Knicks? Has Jermaine O'Neal's value dipped this low? The odds are that Larry and his contract are still a year away from being movable but stranger things have happened.
Isiah Thomas: When Zeke took over he talked like he was going to be the next Jerry West. As it turns out, he was just the Elgin Baylor of the East (or the Memphis-Era Jerry West). But Jerry Colangelo has just expressed interest so perhaps going through this debacle was worth it since they now have a true premiere NBA power personnel man interested in the gig.
Darius Miles: The bottom of the barrell is likely to stay there. I really don't get how this guy hasn't been bought out yet. Are the Blazers really going to sit on him for another year just so he can be a possibly movable expiring contract in the future?