The Dallas Mavericks got better today. The Dallas Stars? Hmm.
With the trading of Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups to the New York Knicks, you can cross the Denver Nuggets off the list of NBA Western Conference powers in this spring's playoffs.
Raymond Felton is a decent point guard and Danilo Gallinari has some potential, but even with a 2014 first-round pick in the deal the Nuggets are gutted. Ask the Minnesota Timberwolves what happens when you trade a star like Kevin Garnett. It ain't good. I don't blame Denver, they had to get something before Anthony walked away in free agency with zero compensation. But for the time being, we can all forget about the Nuggets.
With one less foe to worry about, it's even more likely that the Mavs won't make a trade before Thursday's deadline. For the first time in a long time, standing pat seems to make sense. The Mavs in recent years have made splashes trading for Jason Kidd and Caron Butler, but with the additions of Peja Stojakovic and Roddy Beaubois and the tantalizing possible return of Butler for the playoffs, status quo seems OK.
As for the Knicks, they have amassed some impressive firepower with Anthony, Billups and Amare Stoudemire. They don't play enough defense to compete with the Heat or Celtics for the East, but it should be a fun spring in the Big Apple.
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Not sure I can say the same for the Stars, with the trading away of their third-leading goal scorer to the Penguins for two-way defenseman Alex Goligoski,
I'm not going to pretend to know even a tenth about hockey as I do about hoops, but last time I checked Neal played on Dallas' first line and was a consistent producer on an overachieving team. Guess I should check in more on the Stars, because it looks like he and his team - thanks to injuries - have been seriously slumping entering tonight's home game against the Devils.
Trading Neal and Matt Niskanen seems a hefty price, but I guess if you've free-fallen to eighth place in the NHL West desperate times call for drastic measures.