Amin Elhassan of ESPN.com (Insider) writes that the Portland Trail Blazers' trade of Gerald Wallace for the 2012 first-round pick used to select guard Damian Lillard was one of the five best trade deadline deals since 2008.
5. Year: 2012 | Teams: Portland Trail Blazers and New Jersey Nets
Nets received: Gerald Wallace
Blazers received: Mehmet Okur, Shawne Williams and a 2012 first-round pick (Damian Lillard)
Similar to the Cavs-Clippers deal [Baron Davis and a pick for Mo Williams and Jamario Moon], Portland was able to take advantage of another team's thirst to further its rebuilding efforts. By trading Wallace to the Nets (who were desperately seeking to appease Williams while trying to acquire Dwight Howard), the Blazers were able to acquire a top-three protected pick in a fairly deep draft, without jeopardizing future cap flexibility (although they had to absorb almost $3.5 million in additional salary obligations).
The resulting pick became Lillard, the current front-runner for rookie of the year. Lillard has replaced Brandon Roy as Portland's go-to perimeter star playing off LaMarcus Aldridge in the post, and with the maturation of Nicolas Batum, the Blazers have successfully been able to shorten their rebuild window, as they are currently in contention for a playoff berth.
-- Ben Golliver | email@example.com | Twitter