For once in this 2013-14 season in which the lay of the land in the NBA was more lopsided than ever, the Eastern Conference was better than the West.
At least when it came to the trade deadline.
The Indiana Pacers' deal that landed them Evan Turner and Lavoy Allen from the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for Danny Granger and a second round pick was as impactful a trade as there was, with the Washington Wizards' acquisition of veteran point guard Andre Miller from the Denver Nuggets potentially helpful too as they attempt to hold onto playoff position for the first time in John Wall's five seasons.
But that doesn't mean there was nothing of substance when it comes to the West, especially considering that all the parity on that side of the NBA means even the smallest competitive edge could be enough to help one team edge out another. Case in point, the Golden State Warriors.
Landing Steve Blake from the Los Angeles Lakers in exchange for youngsters (who weren't playing) in Kent Bazemore and MarShon Brooks was the kind of move -- orchestrated by Warriors general manager Bob Myers and his front-office cohorts Travis Schlenk and Kirk Lacob -- that could pay big dividends come playoff time. That's no small statement considering the context of their situation, as coach Mark Jackson has just one year left on his contract and the pressure is believed to be building around him and them.
Missing the playoffs completely would be disastrous for all involved, as owner Joe Lacob has no interest in regressing from last season's success when they were 47-35 during the regular season and fell to the San Antonio Spurs in the second round. Lacob is known to want a 50-plus win campaign, and his team's current pace would put them at 55 wins. Yet the tricky part, one that Lacob himself is well aware, is that the surprise seasons of teams like the Phoenix Suns and Dallas Mavericks have made those West waters so deep that Golden State is still in danger of being on the outside looking in when the postseason rolls around.
They're just two games ahead of the ninth place Memphis Grizzlies after an impressive overtime win vs. the Houston Rockets on Thursday night, and here comes Blake to help keep the momentum going in the right direction. The Warriors had yet to recover from the loss of Jarrett Jack via free agency last summer, and their Jan. 15 trade with the Boston Celtics for Jordan Crawford hadn't panned out like they'd hoped.
But the 33-year-old Blake is a pro's pro, and that's not one of those backhanded compliments that serves as code for "nice guy but his talent is toast." His career average of seven assists per game is evidence enough that he can play the part of playmaker (7.6 this season), and his long-range proficiency (39% from beyond the arc for his career; 39.7% this season) should give the Warriors yet another way to stretch the floor and help point guard Stephen Curry find his many hot spots on the floor with that much more ease.
The chemistry question is not to be overlooked, either, as this Warriors group is at its best when they get along like a well-run fraternity and Blake is widely known as a guy who has no trouble getting along with others. Just ask Kobe Bryant, whose inability to click with some teammates is no secret but who showed his deep disappointment in losing Blake via Twitter not long after the deal was done.
Bryant's endorsement is more than enough to get a sense of Blake's reputation, but there's this interesting insight too: before landing Miller in a three-team trade with the Nuggets and Philadelphia 76ers, the Wizards pursued Blake at great lengths and envisioned him as a more-than-capable backup for Wall.
The Warriors had interest in Miller as well, but stopped pursuing him after landing Crawford and after they also realized that another one of their targets, the Chicago Bulls' Kirk Hinrich, was not likely to be given up by the team's general manager, Gar Forman. The talks with the Lakers about Blake, meanwhile, had been going on for at least a week leading up to the deadline.