On the final day NBA teams were allowed to make trades, the only news that truly rocked the league was that all-star guard Dwyane Wade of the defending champion Miami Heat was considering season-ending surgery to repair a dislocated shoulder.
The injury, which occurred in the fourth quarter of Miami's 112-102 loss in Houston on Wednesday, hampers the Heat's chances of making the playoffs, let alone repeating as champion. Wade flew home in a private plane to South Florida and was examined by the team physician.
"Wade is presently weighing his treatment options provided to him by the Heat medical staff," the Heat said in a statement. "Wade still needs to discuss these options with his family and Heat president and head coach Pat Riley, and will then decide what course of action to take."
No matter what Wade decides, the Heat (26-28)updated should struggle in his absence. Wade, the MVP of last season's NBA Finals, is third in the league in scoring with an average of 28.8 points and had carried the team in the absence of Shaquille O'Neal, who missed most of the season with a knee injury, and Riley, who had hip replacement and knee surgeries in January.
Heading into the all-star break, the Heat had won seven of eight games and surged to eighth in the Eastern Conference. With O'Neal and Riley back, the Heat finally appeared to have shaken the doldrums. Now it hopes to avoid joining the 1999 Chicago Bulls as the only team since 1970 that failed to make the playoffs after winning a championship.
Wade dislocated his shoulder while attempting to steal the ball from Houston's Shane Battier. His arm swung backward and the pain was obvious afterward, as he was forced to leave the court in a wheelchair.
"You don't know how this whole thing is going to play out," Riley told reporters in Miami. "We'll have to play with a sense of urgency."
The injury may have contributed to a lack of movement as the trade deadline approached. After days of speculation involving several of the league's biggest stars -- Jason Kidd and Vince Carter of the New Jersey Nets, Pau Gasol of the Memphis Grizzlies and Mike Bibby of the Sacramento Kings -- only three trades were consummated at the deadline. The most significant deal involved former Maryland standout Juan Dixon, who was shipped from Portland to Toronto for Fred Jones.
Nothing came close to the deal in December that sent Allen Iverson to Denver. The Dallas Mavericks sent Anthony Johnson to the Atlanta Hawks for a 2007 second-round pick, and the Utah Jazz acquired veteran forward-center Alan Henderson and cash considerations from the Philadelphia 76ers for the right to exchange second-round picks in the 2007 draft.
"We felt we were going to stand pat," Washington Wizards Coach Eddie Jordan said. "I'm sure [President of Basketball Operations Ernie Grunfeld] talked to some people, just listening mostly. We felt with the guys coming back, we wanted to see how effective we could be with our roster."
The Nets, who trail the Heat by just 1 1/2 games for the final playoff spot, had entertained offers for all-stars Kidd and Carter but decided to hold on to both.
"Without divulging names or cities, we had conversations with a whole bunch of people, particularly in the last three to four days, and I can't say we ever got close to doing anything," Nets President Rod Thorn told the Associated Press.
Bibby was prepared to leave. He was asked yesterday morning if it felt strange participating in the team's morning shoot-around at Verizon Center when there was a possibility that he could be moved in a matter of hours. "I've been traded before," said Bibby, whose name has circulated in trade rumors for several weeks, with the Cleveland Cavaliers considered the favorite. He sensed that his 5 1/2 -year run with the organization was close to an end and planned to eat lunch with a handful of his teammates. "We can talk a little bit because this might be the last time that we ever get to eat like that again for a while," he said.
But when the trade deadline passed yesterday, Bibby remained with his team, was starting against the Washington Wizards and was assured of a few more lunches with the Kings. Before the game, Bibby said he felt indifferent about staying put. He shrugged his shoulders and said, "It's good to be wanted."