The Winners & Losers of the NBA Trade deadline

We’re all Woj-bombed out here at the Atlantic Sports Press.

The trade deadline has passed and we’re taking a deep breath after a heavy few days of NBA transactions. It wasn’t the most exciting of deadlines, nor was it the quietest, but we had our fair share of teams change direction for the last third of the season.

But who are the winners of the trade deadline? Did anyone come out less favourable?

Let’s find out.


Major winner – Los Angeles Clippers

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Reason – Building for the future

The Clippers had a viable case for going gung-ho this trade deadline. A team that once led the Western Conference in 2018-2019, they looked deeper than some of the fringe playoff teams in the West. It would have been fun to see them make a run, with no real star at the helm. Instead, the Clippers were smart about the future.

They opted out of a an early Western Conference exit and decided to stock up on draft picks and clear more cap space. It’s the classic direction any rebuilding team steers towards. A big question was the impending free agency of Tobias Harris. Harris declined a contract in the range of 20m this off-season from the Clippers. It was likely he was going to ask for more, and the Clippers were wise not to do it.

They’ve landed themselves JaMychal Green who is a good trade asset or role player, however they use him. They got rid of a declining Avery Bradley. They picked up good young talent in 76ers rookie Landry Shamet (above) and Lakers centre Ivica Zubac. They picked up a few expiring deals such as Wilson Chandler, Garrett Temple etc. It might be hard to say goodbye to the beloved pairing of Harris and Boban, but it was for the best.

Major winner – Sacramento Kings

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Reason – Being generally smart (S-M-A-R-T)

It’s probably every teams goal to do what Sacramento did this trade deadline. They got rid of older players like Zach Randolph and Iman Shumpert, and brought in a better, younger piece in Harrison Barnes giving up very little. The Kings have a solid rotation at the moment, so adding Barnes to the mix only makes them stronger.

Some say Barnes contract is expensive, but they have just over a year to trial it out. That’s not a bad timeline if all goes wrong. Not parting ways with a draft pick is remarkable given how Barnes carried the Mavs offense last season, but shows how keen Dallas were to part ways with him. They gave up Randolph and Justin Jackson, who are both behind better players in the current Kings rotation.

In their other notable trade, they gave away a useful Iman Shumpert for a stat-similar Alec Burks. They also in that trade got rid of non-existent Skal Labissiere and got non-existent Caleb Swanigan and got a pick from Houston. Not bad, Sacramento. If Barnes can recreate his 2017-2018 efficiency, the Kings might be dangerous come playoff time.

Winner – Milwaukee Bucks

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Reason – Looking playoff ready

The Bucks may have had to give up four second rounders for this, but it’s unlikely a second rounder will have much of an impact on this team for the next few years. They basically got Nikola Mirotic for free. They parted with an unhappy Thon Maker and Jason Smith (who?) in the process, but it was worth it.

It’s unsure whether they move Giannis to the 5, or have Mirotic come off the bench, but it’s a big asset to have come playoff time. Mirotic is having a solid season, especially offensively. He’s averaging career highs in points and rebounds (16.7/8.3) while shooting 44.7 percent from the field. He’s a much needed offensive weapon for any contending team.

His contract does expire this off-season, so it will be interesting to see the rest of the season plays out. For the moment, we like his short term impact.

Winner – New Orleans Pelicans

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Reason – Staying patient on the Anthony Davis deal

Okay, New Orleans didn’t actually make many big trades this deadline. But they did act smart about Anthony Davis.

The Pelican’s franchise piece made noise by requesting a trade last week. Rumours swirled around the league as to what teams would offer. Lewd reports came out of the Pelicans requesting 4-6 first round draft picks from the Lakers, who pressed the trade hard according to Woj and the likes. Asking for too much this trade deadline allowed the Pelicans to field offers over the off-season. More teams will have assets to trade then, including the Boston Celtics. Out pricing the Lakers was also a funny trajectory over the course of the week.

Well done, New Orleans. Possibly for the first time.

Winner – Cleveland Cavaliers

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Reason – Getting draft picks and young talent

The Cleveland Cavaliers know how to tank. They did get LeBron and Kyrie, after all.

Basically, the most major transaction involved trading away Rodney Hood to the Trailblazers. Hood hasn’t live up to potential in Cleveland, even with a more elevated role post LeBron. The two players they received from that trade were traded away for draft picks. They also took on Brandon Knight’s (above) big contract (that is expiring) and got draft picks from Houston.

Cleveland should erect a mural outside their stadium and just have it say ‘we got all the draft picks’. That’s basically what they did. A good move for any rebuilding team.

Mostly a winner – Dallas Mavericks

Reason – Under-buying on Porzingis, under-selling on Barnes

The Mavericks shocked the world (or NBA die-hards) by trading for Kristaps Porzingis (above) earlier this week. It was a monumental trade that saw Dallas acquire a future superstar to pair up with ROTY frontrunner Luca Doncic.

The Mavs parted ways with Dennis Smith Jr, a struggling sophomore with upside, and DeAndre Jordan, a likely expiring former all-star. It was a trade many teams could have pulled off, and if I were a GM on an opposing team I would be disgruntled at the very least.

But with the positivity of the KP trade came a panic move to get rid of Harrison Barnes’ big contract. It was clear they needed more cap room, but Justin Jackson and Zach Randloph were far from a good move. The Mavs may have panicked here, and after underpaying for Porzingis, they definitely undersold for Barnes.

Mostly a winner – Memphis Grizzlies

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Reason – Blowing up half of their Big 2

It was the right move in Memphis. The future of ageing Mike Conley and Marc Gasol weighed on this season, and after a strong start the Grizzlies’ have dropped off since. It was a partnership that brought highs and lows in Memphis, but it was time to blow it up.

Many thought Conely was the more sought after asset, and we may see him move in the summer. The Grizzlies got an above-average centre, some role players and a 2nd round draft pick in exchange for Gasol. It wasn’t the best trade on earth, but a positive step towards rebuilding.

They get a win in my books for stepping towards a full rebuild, but until they make way for Mike Conley, and hopefully get rewarded with a good draft pick for it, a lot is left to be desired of the Grizzlies team management.

Loser – Philadelphia 76ers

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Reason – Being impatient and trading for Harris

Don’t get me wrong, the addition of Tobias Harris in Philadelphia is mostly a positive move. Arguably the L.A Clippers #1 option, Harris has proved himself to be a reliable offensive weapon. The issue here is the contracts, and the big risk the 76ers will be playing come the off-season.

Both Tobias Harris and Jimmy Butler have contracts that expire this summer, and can move on from Philly if they want to. What do the 76ers do then? It’s likely at least one of them will stay, but trading big for what could be a 3 month acquisition is risky. It’s uncharacteristic of the 76ers management given they’ve patiently built the team around Embiid and Simmons.

They’ve taken a bit of a hit to their bench in the meantime, and trading away Markelle Fultz too shows Philly are growing impatient. Let’s hope the risks pay off.

Loser – Toronto Raptors

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Reason – The Big 3 of Kawhi Leonard, Kyle Lowry and.. Marc Gasol?

The Grizzlies were keen to ship Gasol before the trade deadline coming off the back of a string of impressive performances. The Raptors were looking to build towards the off-season and possibly acquire a major asset come playoff time. Their choice was Marc Gasol, and I’m not convinced.

Gasol will turn 35 over the course of next season. Centre’s tend to play longer in to their career, there is no doubt about that. But an underlying theme of this trade was the Raptors showing their commitment towards Kawhi Leonard, who can become a free agent in the off-season. Is this enough to get Kawhi to stay in Toronto?

The Grizzlies stalwart should have an immediate impact on the scoring and distribution end of things in Toronto. He’ll be a step up from Valanciunas, who had seen his minutes diminish with a favoured lineup of Ibaka at the 5. It’s an experiment, but not an exciting one in my opinion.

Loser – Washington Wizards

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Reason – Underselling on Otto Porter Jr

The Bulls acquired Otto Porter Jr for Jabari Parker and Bobby Portis and a 2nd round draft pick. It’s easy to see how this is a lose-lose move or a win-win move. The negatives outweigh the positives.

The Bulls took on a huge contract for Porter who has declined statistically this year. The Wizards took on Jabari Parker, who is on an overblown contract, and hasn’t logged proper starting minutes in awhile. Portis is a good acquisition, but will be a free agent this summer.

Essentially, they might have traded Porter for a 2nd round draft pick, if Parker looks like he has in Chicago and Portis doesn’t resign. Not a great day at the office for Wizards staff. However, leaving Porter on the cards until the off-season may have made offers worse. So I’ll cut them some slack in this regard.

Major loser – Los Angeles Lakers

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Reason – Increasing the unsettled environment in L.A

What a nightmare trade deadline for the Lakers. They may have gained two bench pieces in Reggie Bullock and Mike Muscala, but they were hoping for a star. It’ll have to come this off-season, but it won’t come without it’s prices.

Arguably the most talked about angle of this year’s trade deadline was the Lakers pursuit of Anthony Davis. As time went on, the demands grew more and more absurd. The final ultimatum involved all of the Lakers young assets – Ingram, Ball, Kuzma and Hart. It has to be unsettling for their young core to know they could have been on the chopping block on any given day of the week.

LA have settled in to the LeBron era, but not without a cost. It’ll be interesting to see what they can salvage from this season given their current omission from the Western Conference playoff standings. Allowing A.D to field offers this summer brings some other teams into play, and lessens the Lakers chances of landing him. Throw in the unsettled nature of most of their other key players, it’s not a great situation in L.A.

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