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Lakers, Clippers stand pat
The NBA's trading deadline passed today without the Lakers or Clippers making any last-minute moves.
There was speculation that Clippers point guard Sam Cassell, 38, and in the final year of his contract, would be swapped to a playoff contender, but he remains with the Clippers.
However, several teams made buzzer-beating deals just before today's deadline at noon Pacific time.
One blockbuster, three-way trade involved 11 players from Cleveland, Chicago and Seattle. The Cavaliers acquired center Ben Wallace from the Bulls and forward Wally Szczerbiak from the SuperSonics. The Cavaliers hope that Wallace and Szcerbiak will help LeBron James and the Cavs get through the Eastern Conference playoffs and back to the NBA Finals.
The Cavaliers sent guard Larry Hughes, forwards Drew Gooden and Cedric Simmons, and guard Shannon Brown to Chicago for Wallace, one of the game's top inside enforcers, and forward Joe Smith.
Cleveland acquired the sharpshooting Szczerbiak and guard Delonte West from Seattle for forwards Ira Newble and Donyell Marshall. The Cavaliers will also get Chicago's second-round pick in 2009. The SuperSonics will receive guard Adrian Griffin from the Bulls.
In the day's other big deal, the New Orleans Hornets made a trade to solidify their bench and protect their perch atop the Western Conference by acquiring swingman Bonzi Wells and guard Mike James in a package that sent veteran guard Bobby Jackson to Houston.
The deal involved three teams: The Hornets also sent rookie guard Adam Haluska and second-year forward Marcus Vinicius to Houston, then Houston sent Vinicius, the rights to Malick Badiane and cash to Memphis for the rights to Sergei Lishouk. New Orleans and Houston agreed to exchange second-round draft picks if the Hornets' second pick is higher than Houston's.
The Hornets (37-15) are in first place in the Western Conference, a game ahead of the Lakers and the Phoenix Suns, as the top nine teams in the west are separated by only 4 ½ games.
Today's deals cap a busy month of trades around the NBA as several stars, including Shaquille O'Neal, Jason Kidd, Shawn Marion and Pau Gasol all were dealt to new teams.
The Lakers' acquisition of Gasol in a trade with Memphis this month triggered an arms race of sorts among the West's top squads. The Suns landed O'Neal as part of a deal that sent Marion to Miami, and this week the Dallas Mavericks got nine-time All-Star point guard Jason Kidd in a deal with New Jersey.
The defending champion San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday also made a deal, trading for veteran power forward Kurt Thomas from Seattle.