Wow. That was crazy. After a few major trades earlier in the season, many experts predicted this trade deadline would be relatively quiet, with only a few minor deals.
Boy were they wrong.
A crazy day of trading involving 17 teams and 37 players has drastically changed the landscape of the NBA and changed the present and future outlook for multiple teams. With that said, here’s a rundown of all of the day’s trades and grades for each team in each trade.
Denver Trades Arron Afflalo and Alonzo Gee to Portland for Thomas Robinson, Will Barton, Victor Claver, and 2016 1st Round Pick
Portland: This trade was desperately needed for the Blazers. Their bench has been okay, but not great, and that’s mostly due to a lack of firepower on the wing. Wesley Matthews and Nic Batum have had to play a ton of minutes all season, mostly because their reserve options aren’t great. Afflalo is a nice 3-and-D player who will provide a great spark off the bench and, most importantly, spell Matthews and Batum. Gee is nothing more than insurance in case of an injury, but he won’t play heavy minutes. They didn’t give up much, trading spare parts and a first round pick that will likely be in the low 20s if LaMarcus Aldridge stays put this offseason (and there’s no reason to believe he won’t). Great deal for the Blazers.
Denver: I definitely understand the motive for Denver here: they are trying to sell, get younger, and get more ping pong balls in the draft lottery. Still, they definitely could have gotten more for Afflalo. Thomas Robinson is a nice piece, but he was already bought out by the Nuggets. Barton and Claver really don’t move the needle at all in a rebuild. And the pick they received from the Blazers will likely be a late first round pick, which doesn’t do much either. This trade accomplished the goal of getting Afflalo off the cap, but that’s about it. Not really impressed with this deal for Denver.
Denver Trades JaVale McGee and OKC 2015 First Round Pick (1-18 Protected) to Philadelphia for draft rights to Cenk Akyol
Philadelphia: This was a shrewd move by Sixers’ GM Sam Hinkie. In effect, they gave up absolutely nothing for a first round pick. There have been rumors that the Sixers will buyout the contract of McGee, and they should. If I’m 76ers coach Brett Brown, I don’t want McGee touching Nerlens Noel or Joel Embiid with a ten-foot pole. Even if they don’t buyout McGee, it doesn’t really affect their cap situation because they were far under the salary floor anyway. Denver sent Hinkie a gift basketball with a first round pick in it, which he happily accepted. Good deal for Philly.
Denver: This move, while still a bit disappointing for Denver, makes a little bit more sense. McGee had a huge contract and was a distraction to the team, and getting rid of him was important. They also did a good job not taking back any salary in return. Losing a first round pick may sting a bit, but if OKC ends up picking in the top 18, that pick will convey next year and be similar to the one they picked up in the Portland trade. Not too shabby for Denver.
Washington Trades Andre Miller to Sacramento for Ramon Sessions
Washington: While Miller hasn’t been great this year, he surely hasn’t been the Wizards’ biggest problem. They were in desperate need of a 3-and-D wing off the bench, and they didn’t get one. That will sting come playoff time. Meanwhile, they definitely upgraded by swapping Miller for Sessions, but by how much remains to be seen. Sessions is having a bad season, but you’d have to think playing in the dumpster fire that is Sacramento was contributing to that. In a better situation, Sessions should be better off. While this wasn’t a bad trade for the Wiz, they would have been better off spending their time elsewhere.
Sacramento: In a vacuum, this isn’t a very good trade for the Kings. Ramon Sessions is, at this point in each of their respective careers, a better player than Andre Miller. However, Sessions wasn’t a fit in Sacramento, and Miller provides something crucial that Sessions does not: veteran leadership. Miller has been around the block and will be the first step in changing the Kings’ culture under George Karl. They aren’t going anywhere this year, so downgrading in talent to upgrade tremendously in leadership was well worth it for the Kings.
Brooklyn Trades Kevin Garnett to Minnesota for Thaddeus Young
Minnesota: Wow. Who would have thought that Kevin Garnett would be a member of the Timberwolves again? Just like when he left, the Timberwolves stink, but this team has hope for the future with Andrew Wiggins. This trade is all about trading for a veteran who can mentor the younger guys. Unlike Sacramento, however, Minnesota picked up a legend who will automatically command the respect of the kids in Minnesota’s locker room. Think Wiggins, Zach LaVine, Ricky Rubio and company will learn a thing or two about winning and playing the right way? Great, great trade for the Wolves.
Brooklyn: The Nets were not going anywhere with their current roster construction and needed to start fresh. While they still have a long way to go, this is a start. Young is much younger than Garnett (no pun intended) and provides a skill set that can fit next to a lot of centers in the NBA, including Brook Lopez if the Nets choose to keep him long term. Most importantly, Young is significantly cheaper than Garnett. While the Nets are still way over the cap and need to clear a lot more cap, this is a start.
Miami Acquires Goran and Zoran Dragic; Phoenix Acquires John Salmons, Danny Granger, and 2 Future First Round Picks; New Orleans Acquires Norris Cole, Justin Hamilton, and Shawne Williams
Miami: This was a very, very good trade for Pat Riley and the Heat. Goran Dragic was, just last season, on the All-NBA 3rd Team, so he can play. He is a terror to defend driving to the hoop and running pick-and-rolls, and will be able to run an incredibly strong offense with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Don’t look now, but Miami’s starting five of Dragic, Wade, Luol Deng, Bosh, and upstart Hassan Whiteside may be able to challenge some of the top teams in the East. They did have to give up a little bit of depth, but it’s not as if Cole, Williams, Hamilton, and Granger were all that productive. The only downside is the loss of first round picks in 2017 and 2021, because the Heat seemed to have given up the farm for Dragic. It’s a very short-sighted trade, but it should pay off.
Grade: A- [Note: Chris Bosh is likely to miss the remainder of the season with a blood clot in his lung. If true, this grade drops to a B+ due to the fact that the Heat would not be contenders this season].
Phoenix: On paper, this isn’t a real impressive haul for a guy who was an All-NBA 3rd Team player just last season. However, considering Dragic was already out of the door and publicly said he didn’t trust the Suns’ front office, the package they received wasn’t too bad. They received two veterans who won’t figure into their long term plans, but might be useful in mentoring some of the younger guys currently on the roster. However, this trade was really about the picks. Phoenix is banking on weak Miami team in the future, likely post-Wade and Bosh. The Heat have traded numerous first round picks over the years and don’t have much room to rebuild, so if they falter, these could be some high picks. But with Riley running the show, I wouldn’t bet too much money it. It’s a risk for Phoenix, but a risk they were forced to make.
New Orleans: This was a very minor trade for the Pelicans, shipping out a veteran at a glutted position in New Orleans for two younger guys where they needed depth at point guard with Norris Cole and center with Justin Hamilton (Shawne Williams will not play for the Pelicans after reaching a buyout agreement with the team). This trade doesn’t do much for the team other than give them a couple of role players that may or may not be useful role players for them going forward. Not much more to it than that from their perspective.
Milwaukee Acquires Michael Carter-Williams, Tyler Ennis, and Miles Plumlee; Phoenix Acquires Brandon Knight and Kendall Marshall; Philadelphia Acquires LAL 2015 1st Round Pick (Top 5 Protected)
Milwaukee: Umm.. this trade is really confusing to me. Milwaukee was having an excellent season (at least compared to last year), and Knight was their best player, even receiving some All-Star consideration. They seemed to have a solid base for the future centered around Knight, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Jabari Parker. Instead, they traded Knight away for Carter-Williams who has great potential, but can’t shoot. Maybe Jason Kidd sees a younger, longer version of himself in Carter-Williams, but who knows. Ennis also has potential but was stuck on the bench in Phoenix. He will get minutes in Milwaukee, so we will see how he develops. Plumlee doesn’t look to be more than a large human being who is an okay defender in the paint. Overall, though, I think Milwaukee took a step backward in the present and future.
Phoenix: Meh. Phoenix definitely upgraded in talent in this trade, but at what cost? Their other trades of the day say that they want to tear it down and rebuild for the future, but they traded away their best asset (the Lakers’ pick) to get a guy who might not even be the best point guard on their own team. Sure, Brandon Knight is a really good player, but give me Eric Bledsoe over Knight. I don’t think they both have a long-term future in Phoenix, so if they can swing Knight or Bledsoe for a better player in the future, this trade will look better. However, today, I don’t think it’s looking so great. Also, if they want to keep Knight for the future, they are going to have to shed out some big cash this summer to match some big offer sheets on him (Knight is a Restricted Free Agent this summer.)
Philadelphia: I might not be in the majority here, but I think Sam Hinkie made a great trade here. After the deadline, the Sixers own seventeen (!!!!!) picks in the next two drafts. That’s nearly 15% of the draft just for themselves. They have a ton of assets and some intriguing young prospects. They have so many assets that it’s nearly impossible for them to end this rebuilding project without superstars and great role players around them. Sure, Carter-Williams was a nice player, but he couldn’t shoot, and that doesn’t work in today’s NBA. That Lakers pick, whether it is conveyed this or next year, has far more value. Philadelphia will suck for the rest of this year and probably next year too, but in a few years… watch out.
Oklahoma City Acquires Enes Kanter, Kyle Singler, D.J. Augustin, and Steve Novak; Detroit Acquires Reggie Jackson; Utah Acquires Kendrick Perkins, Grant Jerrett, and Future 1st and 2nd Round Picks
Oklahoma City: This is unfair. Oklahoma City may now be the deepest team in the league and have two of the top five players in the league… and still be an 8 seed in the playoffs. With this trade coupled with Phoenix’s moves, I think Oklahoma City will easily get into the playoffs and give the Warriors or Grizzlies worlds of trouble in the playoffs. This trade was nothing short of incredible: they got rid of a high-volume, low efficiency guard who wanted out and a backup big who didn’t offer much in exchange for 3 rotation players that will be vital parts of their team in the playoffs. Kanter could start at center, but even if he comes off the bench behind Steven Adams, he will make an impact. Singler and Augustin will also play critical minutes behind Durant and Westbrook. Lastly, they are a team built to win now and in the future – Durant, Westbrook, Serge Ibaka, Kanter, Adams, Dion Waiters, and Mitch McGary all could be long term pieces and are all under 26. If there is any downside to this trade from Oklahoma City’s perspective, I can’t think of it. Great job Sam Presti.
Detroit: Stan Van Gundy is drastically changing the culture is Detroit – for the better. Even since Josh Smith was released, the Pistons have been playing some really good basketball and are in a great position to snag the 8th seed in the East. However, they have had a hole at point guard after Brandon Jennings went down for the season with a ruptured Achilles. Jackson will slide right into that hole and immediately become the dominant scorer he thought he should have been in Oklahoma City. If he plays well enough and ends up signing an extension in Detroit, he and Jennings could be a terror in the back court for a long time. Losing Singler and Augustin may hurt a little bit, but getting Jackson’s production will be well worth it. Detroit may still have a long road to go to get back to national prominence, but at least they are squarely on the road – something that could not be said a few months ago.
Utah: I absolutely understand why Utah traded Kanter – he was a misfit, and with Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert, Utah was unwilling to pay Kanter the money his wacky management team will want in the off season. With that said, I think they could have gotten more for Kanter. He is a skilled low post presence and could have commanded more than a low future first and a second round pick. Also, trading him in the division may haunt the Jazz in a few years when they are ready to compete. That’s not to say this was a bad trade, as they really had no choice and they got Steve Novak’s contract off the books as well. They just could have done a little better.
Phoenix Trades Isaiah Thomas to Boston for Marcus Thornton and CLE 2016 1st Round Pick
Phoenix: Another trade involving point guards for the Suns, and just like the first two, I’m not really a fan of this one either. Thomas has been a productive player all his career, and he only played half of a season before they gave up on him. Rumors are that he and Goran Dragic were not fans of each other… but Dragic was already traded earlier that day. If Thomas really was a locker room cancer, it’s understandable that the Suns would want out, but they didn’t get nearly enough in return. Marcus Thornton hasn’t been productive in years, and Cleveland’s first round pick expects to be late in the first round next year. Overall, would they be better off with Thomas and the Lakers’ 1st round pick this year, or Knight and the Cavaliers’ 1st round pick next year? I’d take option one. The Suns swapped Tyler Ennis and Miles Plumlee for Kendall Marshall and Marcus Thornton (a downgrade) to go with option two. Not a fan.
Boston: When one team practically gives a player away for nothing, it means another team was gifted a player for basically nothing. In this case, Boston received a gift from Phoenix. With Thomas, Marcus Smart, and Avery Bradley (if he remains in Boston long term), the Celtics have a great rotation of three guards who can really play. There is a lot of potential and versatility with potential pairings of those three. To get Thomas, they gave up Marcus Thornton (a guy who was never going to be in Boston long term anyway) and a first round pick that will likely be in the bottom 5 of the draft next year. Sure, point guard wasn’t the Celtics’ biggest need, but they traded for a good player without giving up much of anything important. This is why Danny Ainge is constantly hailed as one of the top executives in the league. Well done.
Detroit Trades Gigi Datome and Jonas Jerebko to Boston for Tayshaun Prince
Boston: This trade is not a major trade for either team, so it’s hard to justify giving either team an extreme grade either way. Personally, I don’t love the trade for Boston. Prince was playing well and I don’t think Datome and Jerebko can replicate what Prince provided in veteran leadership. That leadership is very important to a younger team. Either way though, the Celtics will be fine going forward, and this trade doesn’t really do much either way.
Detroit: It’s not like losing Datome and Jerebko will really hurt the Pistons long term, and it’s nice to bring Prince back to the place where everything started. He will bring the veteran leadership that Boston is losing to Detroit and will help some of the young guys learn how to win. This trade may reap more benefits in a few years when the Pistons are winning than it does now with Prince actually playing, but either way, Pistons fans shouldn’t overreact. It’s a minor move.
Houston Acquires K.J. McDaniels and Pablo Prigioni; Philadelphia Acquires Isaiah Canaan and a 2nd Round Pick; New York Acquires Alexey Shved and Two 2nd Round Picks
Houston: I like this deal for the Rockets. They really didn’t give up much, swapping second round picks and the unproductive Shved for sweet shooter Prigioni and McDaniels, a rookie drafted in the 2nd round who has really surprised some people. In actuality, this deal won’t really move the needle for Houston, but their biggest need is internal – a healthy Dwight Howard. Without him, they won’t win a championship, and with him and a James Harden, they will be right in contention anyway. Nonetheless, this was a good-but-not-great depth builder for the Rockets.
Philadelphia: I praised Hinkie’s first two moves of the day, and while I’d like to give this one equal praise, I just can’t. Sure, they picked up a second round pick, but at some point, you can’t keep trading young players for more picks (seems a bit hypocritical given I praised them for having so many picks over the next two drafts, but hear me out). With second round picks, you just hope for a productive NBA player, and McDaniels was well on his way to becoming just that. I really don’t think Philadelphia can expect much more from second round picks, so this seemed to just be a downgrade for now and later.
New York: The Knicks made a great deal here. Not something that Phil Jackson can really say about many of his other deals since taking over as the President of the Knickerbockers, but this one was great. They shed themselves of Prigioni’s contract for a couple second round picks. It’s not a major trade, but the Knicks are going to need to nail a lot of these smaller trades to help accelerate their rebuild. Fortunately for them, they nailed this one.