Breaking down the NBA’s crazy day of trades
In the span of about an hour Thursday, the NBA world went insane. As the trade deadline loomed, team after team began moving big-name players so quickly it was nearly impossible to keep up.
Well, don’t worry basketball fans, that’s what we’re here for. As the dust has begun to settle on the majority of the deals that have been agreed upon, the effects on each team have started to come into focus. So how about we break down each of the day’s biggest deals, reveal who was involved and how things look moving forward?
• Heat receive: Goran Dragic, Zoran Dragic
• Suns receive: Danny Granger, two first-round picks (years unknown)
Goran Dragic has never been in the news more than he was this week. First there were reports that the Suns intended to try to re-sign him when he becomes a free agent this offseason; then came news he told the Suns’ front office he wouldn’t return and wanted a trade; and then came reports early Thursday that the Suns did not intend to trade him.
Well, after all the bluster and posturing, Dragic finally got his wish. The Heat addressed their biggest area of need, starting point guard, without having to give up any of their starters or vital role players. The Suns lost all leverage when Dragic publicly criticized the team’s front office, making it virtually impossible for them to get equal value for a player of Dragic’s talent.
With Dragic potentially becoming an extreme locker-room distraction, the Suns had to deal him despite the lack of return. Getting two first-round picks is not a bad consolation prize, though how far down the line these picks will fall and how much protection will be on them remains unknown.
The New Orleans Pelicans also were involved in the deal: They received Norris Cole, Shawne Williams and Justin Hamilton from Miami and sent John Salmons to Phoenix, which announced it would be waiving him.
The Heat have very little bench depth after this trade and likely will need to pursue a veteran who gets bought out, but a starting unit of Dragic, Dwyane Wade, Luol Deng, Chris Bosh and Hassan Whiteside, if completely healthy, is one of the best starting units in the Eastern Conference.
Meanwhile, the Suns were not done…
• Celtics receive: Isaiah Thomas
• Suns receive: Marcus Thornton, Cavaliers’ 2016 first-round pick
Dragic was unhappy in Phoenix largely because of the addition of Thomas, who cramped the Suns’ backcourt rotation and forced the ball out of Dragic’s hands. It was assumed heading into deadline day that either Dragic or Thomas would be on the move, but as it turned out, both headed out of town.
In Thomas, the Celtics acquired the kind of player they’ve been coveting: a quick, speedy point guard who can penetrate and create his own points. Boston has been lacking that all season, with the offense running through Evan Turner and Avery Bradley — neither of whom is a natural point guard — and rookie Marcus Smart.
Thomas will become the focal point of the Celtics’ offense, and in return the Celtics had to give up virtually nothing to get him. Thornton is nothing more than a sporadic contributor off the bench, and the Cavs’ first-round pick promises to be in the high 20s and is one of approximately a billion picks the Celtics own in the next few years. They had to start trading those picks eventually.
Boston also sent Tayshaun Prince back to Detroit for Jonas Jerebko and Gigi Datome.
For the Suns, this trade would not make a great deal of sense were it not for the third part of their trade trifecta. …
• Suns receive: Brandon Knight, Kendall Marshall (from Bucks)
• Bucks receive: Michael Carter-Williams (from 76ers), Tyler Ennis and Miles Plumlee (from Suns)
• 76ers receive: Lakers’ 2015 first-round pick (top-five protected, from Suns)
Rarely do you see so many players at the same position moved so close together, but Thursday was the Day of the Point Guard. With this deal, the Suns completed the nuking of their backcourt rotation but got a talented guard in Knight, who has become a lethal scorer and 3-point shooter, to help make up for the loss of Dragic. (Marshall, out for the season with an ACL injury, is expected to be waived.)
The only asset of value the Suns lost in this deal was the Lakers’ pick, which is nearly guaranteed not to be conveyed this season because of its top-five protection. Plumlee had been made virtually irrelevant by the emergence of Alex Len and the acquisition of Brandan Wright, and Ennis was buried on the depth chart (though he may have seen more playing time with Dragic and Thomas gone).
Meanwhile, the Bucks continued to acquire long players who can defend multiple positions, as the 6-foot-6 Carter-Williams will join 6-foot-11 Giannis Antetokounmpo and 6-foot-7 Khris Middleton to form an intimidating combination of defenders.
Plumlee will add some depth up front and could help the Bucks weather the potential loss of troubled big man Larry Sanders, whom Milwaukee reportedly is trying to buy out.
And the 76ers’ tank rolls on, continuing to pick up draft picks along the way.
• Thunder receive: Enes Kanter and Steve Novak (from Jazz), D.J. Augustin and Kyle Singler (from Pistons)
• Pistons receive: Reggie Jackson (from Thunder)
• Jazz receive: Kendrick Perkins (from Thunder), undisclosed draft picks
Oklahoma City Thunder general manager Sam Presti managed to pull the old bait-and-switch Thursday, with all reports indicating OKC would trade for Brooklyn Nets big man Brook Lopez. Instead, the Thunder pulled the rug out from under the Nets at the last minute and managed to address nearly every team need in one fell swoop.
The Thunder have been in dire need of a big man who can score, and Kanter fits that bill. He’ll immediately slide into the starting lineup with Steven Adams out at least two weeks with a hand injury, but once Adams returns, the two likely will split time.
Singler and Augustin will provide much-needed bench depth behind Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, especially with the loss of Jackson. The Thunder also sent Ish Smith to the Pelicans and waived Grant Jerrett in order to create room for their four acquisitions.
In Jackson, who had made it clear he no longer wanted to be part of the Thunder, the Pistons acquired a score-first point guard they badly need in the wake of the season-ending injury to Brandon Jennings. Augustin had filled in admirably in the starting lineup after Jennings went down, but Jackson can create his own shot and has proved to be capable of anchoring an offense.
With Westbrook and Durant out earlier this season, Jackson took over and averaged 20.2 points and 7.8 assist in 13 games as a starter. Those numbers are likely inflated since the injury-plagued Thunder relied on him so heavily, but the Pistons will be happy if Jackson can perform anywhere close to that level.
For their part, the Jazz picked up draft picks to help their rebuilding process — though where those picks fall is unknown — while also getting rid of locker room malcontent Kanter and clearing playing time for the development of Rudy Gobert. They also are expected to buy out Perkins, with the Clippers, Cavs and Bulls all interested in his services. In the long run, this trade may end up being a rare win-win-win.
• Nets receive: Thaddeus Young
• Timberwolves receive: Kevin Garnett
Well, the Nets didn’t go completely tradeless after striking out with the Thunder. In fact, they managed to secure a serviceable (if overpriced) frontcourt player in exchange for an aging veteran who is a shadow of his former self. Young hasn’t exactly been lighting the world on fire, but Garnett is averaging just 6.8 points in 20 minutes per game.
From the Timberwolves’ point of view, this trade really only makes sense as a ticket-selling ploy promoting Garnett’s "farewell tour" as he winds down his career with the team on which he made a name for himself and in the city where he is much beloved. There are also reports that he eventually would like to buy the Wolves.
But then comes word that the Wolves want to sign Garnett to a two-year contract extension, which cancels the "farewell tour" selling pitch and makes this deal go back to making no sense. This is a deal the Wolves made with the heart, not the head. For his part, Garnett waived his no-trade clause so he could return to Minnesota, so there’s some heartwarming love here.
• Blazers receive: Arron Afflalo, Alonzo Gee
• Nuggets receive: Thomas Robinson, Will Barton, Victor Claver, 2016 first-round pick (lottery protected)
This was the trade that started the day off, and little did we know what we were getting into at the time. For the second time in less a year, a team managed to trade for Afflalo without giving up anything significant in return.
The Blazers essentially gave up a pick and spare parts for a solid two-way wing to anchor their second unit. The Nuggets previously acquired Afflalo during the offseason for only a second-round pick and Evan Fournier.
This trade originally seemed like a preview of the Nuggets — possibly the most disappointing team in the league this season — blowing up their roster and starting over with young assets and draft picks. But this was one of only two trades they made, electing to keep Ty Lawson and Wilson Chandler, both of whom were popular names on the trading block.
• 76ers receive: JaVale McGee, Thunder’s 2015 first-round pick
• Nuggets receive: Nothing (except salary cap relief and a trade exception)
This is the ultimate 76ers move. They were rewarded with a first-round draft pick simply for taking McGee’s huge $11.2 million contract off the Nuggets’ hands. Denver needed salary cap relief, and the 76ers had plenty of cap space, so it was a match made in heaven.
The Nuggets received no tangible assets in return, though the cap relief next season should help their rebuilding efforts and they may be able to use the sizable trade exception created by this deal sometime in the offseason.
• Kings receive: Andre Miller
• Wizards receive: Ramon Sessions