The NBA trade deadline has passed, and now teams have made their moves to fight for a spot in the playoffs. Big moves were made and small moves were made to either clear up cap space or win a championship. Now that the moves have been made, it’s time to see who won this years trade deadline.
Fans were treated to a phenomenal trade deadline. This year had everything, with Kristaps Porzingis being traded to the Mavericks, Marc Gasol going to the Raptors and even Markelle Fultz landing in Orlando. There are plenty more where that came from, but one that will stick out in fans heads the longest, is the informational warfare that the Pelicans played on the Lakers. How diabolical. The Lakers were blown out by the Pacers in a 42 point loss and LeBron James sat as far away from his teammates as possible. It will be interesting to see how the Lakers chemistry is fixed, but as a fan I love NBA petty wars.
The Lakers are the biggest loser of the trade deadline for sure. They failed to make any big moves with Anthony Davis and in the process hurt the team’s chemistry. In retrospect the Pelicans made probably the smart choice not dealing Davis yet, but man this is a bad look for the Lakers. It was reported that they offered Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Rajon Rondo, Michael Beasley, Lance Stephenson and two first-round picks. The Lakers really wanted Davis and the Pelicans waiting out the season will probably draw a lot of attention this offseason.
Winner: Eastern Conference Contenders
The eastern conference stole the show in this trade deadline. The 76ers, Bucks and Raptors all made solid moves that help them in some way or another.
The 76ers got Tobias Harris in a huge trade with the Los Angeles Clippers. Along with Harris the team got Boban Marjanovic and Mike Scott in exchange for Wilson Chandler, Mike Muscala, Landry Shamet and four picks. The 76ers also traded away Markelle Fultz to the Orlando Magic for Jonathon Simmons and picked up James Ennis from the Rockets. The Sixer are not yet a finished product, but they are sure close. The potential starting five of Ben Simmons, Tobias Harris, Joel Embiid, Jimmy Butler and J.J. Redick is one that will cause some trouble in the league. The big question around Harris is if he will re-sign with the team. Jimmy Butler and Harris are potentially free agents this summer and the 76ers are going to try their best to re-sign them both.
The Bucks stole Nikola Mirotic from the Pelicans for Jason Smith, Stanley Johnson and four second-round picks. This was a steal because Smith and Johnson had just been acquired in a trade with Detroit for Thon Maker, so the Bucks gave up no role players. Maker had been requesting a trade and the Bucks basically turned him into Mirotic. Mirotic fits the offensive role the team needs and is a great backup for Brook Lopez. The Bucks really did not need to make a huge trade, and as the best team in the east they have just made themselves stronger.
I think the Raptors made one of the most important moves of the trade deadline. The team added Marc Gasol in exchange for Jonas Valanciunas, Delon Wright and C.J. Miles. Gasol is an upgrade offensively and defensively for the Raptors and adds an All-Star caliber player to an already deep team. I think this move propels the Raptors to the favorites in the east and with a team full of guys that know how to win.
These three teams made huge moves, and the east has become extremely competitive. Once the buyout guys are announced it will be interesting to see which one of these teams scoops up the game changing piece.
Loser: Mike Conley and Kemba Walker
The Memphis Grizzlies traded away Marc Gasol but could not find a landing spot for Mike Conley. Conley is one of the franchises all time players, but the team has gone into full rebuild mode. Conley is too good to be on a tanking team and the Grizzlies will probably continue to try to find a trade for him when the season is over.
The Charlotte Hornets have been in no man’s land for years and their franchise player Kemba Walker has wasted his talents there. The Hornets discussed trading him early in the season. That did not happen, and now the Hornets sit at seven in the east and one game ahead of the nine seed Detroit. The lack of moves for the Hornets shows that they are not trying to win now and will more than likely fall out of the playoff race. Walker lost out in this deadline because of his team’s inability to trade him or acquire pieces to help them win. Now the Hornets will lose Kemba this offseason and get nothing back in return.
The first big move of the deadline and arguably the biggest move was the Mavericks trading for All-Star center Kristaps Porzingis. The Mavs traded Dennis Smith Jr., Wesley Matthews, DeAndre Jordan and two first-round picks. Dallas landed Porzingis, Tim Hardaway Jr., Courtney Lee and Trey Burke. Dallas also traded away Harrison Barnes to the Kings for Zach Randolph and Justin Jackson. These moves have cleared cap space for another player and has put rising star Luka Doncic and Porzingis together for a while. If Porzingis comes back with no setbacks to his health, the Mavericks young core will be a scary sight.
Loser: Boston Celtics
Boston has struggled all season to find their rhythm and stayed uncomfortably quiet throughout the trade deadline. Boston undoubtedly has all the parts necessary to win now, but the youth of the team has been a point of frustration for their star player. It looks like Boston is still trying to learn their roles, and we are already halfway through the season. The only upside is that the Pelicans did not trade Davis to the Lakers, and they are very interested in what the Celtics have. If the Celtics fail to make it past the conference finals again, I would not be surprised if they trade for Davis this offseason.
The Clippers have had a great season given their circumstances. The team is riddled with role players who are performing above their market. Tobias Harris has shown out as an All-Star type player and the Clippers traded him away for some nice assets. They got Landry Shamet, Wilson Chandler, Mike Muscala and four picks from the 76ers. Then they traded Avery Bradley to the Grizzlies for Garrett Temple and JaMychal Green. These moves might have taken them out of the playoff race, but it gives them tons of cap space to sign a star this offseason and picks to use as trade leverage to acquire another. They also did not have to give up any of their promising young players. The Clippers have set themselves up nicely for this offseason, and in the west, planning for the future is better than winning right now.
The Wizards have gone sideways so quick. They traded Otto Porter Jr. for Bobby Portis, Jabari Parker and a 2023 second-round pick. A second-round pick five years from now seems unnecessary. The Wizards luck also vanished when it was reported that John Wall ruptured his Achilles by slipping in his house. They still have Bradley Beal though. This team has basically thrown themselves into rebuild and now they might need to prepare for John Wall to be gone for over a year. The only bright side for this organization is the cap space they will have, but I do not fully believe the Wizards will make the right choices when it comes to free agency.
Winner: Markelle Fultz
As individual winners goes, this was probably the best career move for Fultz. Fultz has had a terrible start to his NBA career and has been seen as one of the biggest first overall pick busts in history. Now, he is still young and his upside is definitely something I would take a chance on. Philadelphia already is set with their team and Fultz was no longer in their plans. With Orlando Fultz will be given room to grow without much criticism because… it’s Orlando. Whenever Fultz is back to full health he will be a huge part of what the Magic do going forward. With a young core and a team not used to winning, it will be easier for Fultz to find himself again and just have fun.
Loser: Harrison Barnes for now
I say for now because this has the potential to be huge for Barnes. Barnes loses because he was suited up and on the bench during a game when the trade happened. Now this is sad but also the business of the NBA. He was traded to the Kings for Zach Randolph and Justin Jackson. Barnes has the ability to be a huge pickup for the Kings, who are still fighting for a playoff spot. The Kings are at the nine seed, half a game behind the Clippers and a game ahead of the Lakers. The Clippers might start to fall off, but the Lakers will start rising with LeBron James healthy again. Barnes also is on his last year of his contract, unless he picks up his player option. So only time will tell if he is actually a loser or a winner in this trade deadline.