3 reasons the 2016 NBA trade deadline absolutely sucked

The biggest name on the trade market stayed put, and so did basically everyone else. Why?
Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images

Well, that was uneventful.

There were some big names supposedly on the market headed into Thursday’s NBA trade deadline, led by Al Horford and Dwight Howard. Yet when 3 p.m. ET rolled around, the trade with the biggest impact was a Markieff Morris "blockbuster," along with the Clippers cutting bait with Lance Stephenson. It’s not exactly the kind of thing that gets you hot and bothered.

What happened? Why didn’t 2016’s deadline at least replicate last year’s, when a quiet day gave way to a storm of moves in the final hour? The answers are as simple as they are frustrating, but in the end, it all boils down to that behemoth by the Bay.

1. The teams that were supposed to make trades waited too long — or just didn’t

Twenty-eight teams across the NBA were waiting on the Atlanta Hawks and Phoenix Suns to do something. The Hawks were the more important team of the two; with Al Horford and Jeff Teague reportedly on the market, Atlanta had two All-Star-level players hanging in the balance who could have shifted the playoff picture in the East. Instead, the Hawks did the sensible thing by holding on to two of their best players, realizing that they have a pretty good squad put together.

As for the Suns, the one certainty heading into the trade deadline was Phoenix moving on from Markieff Morris. The Suns kept everyone waiting, though, not moving the mercurial and disgruntled forward until 15 minutes before the deadline. Anyone who was waiting for the Suns to do something had basically zero time left to make their own moves, which might have been part of Phoenix’s strategy.

2. It’s all about this coming summer, especially for Dwight Howard

The biggest name available Thursday was Howard, but there was zero market for the formerly elite big man because he’s going to be a free agent this summer. Why trade for a potential rental who’s going to demand a max contract from his new team when you can just sign him outright after this season, especially if he might not be that good anymore? Credit Daryl Morey for trying to turn Howard into anything meaningful for the Rockets’ future. Unfortunately for Houston’s GM, his colleagues aren’t as easily fooled as they might have been in the past.

3. The Golden State Warriors loom over everything, so why try?

Call it the Nihilist Basketball Association where nothing matters if you’d like, because league executives are quietly admitting what we all know: No one is going to be able to take on the Warriors, which means this season is already over. Even the San Antonio Spurs leave most teams questioning if they have a shot at making the Finals in the West should the Warriors somehow slip up. Only the Cavs acted as if they’re ready to take on Golden State once more with their acquisition of Channing Frye, and even that hardly moves the needle. Frye’s more insurance than missing piece in Cleveland.

The "championship or bust" mentality that’s playing out to its logical extreme in Philadelphia, where losing all of your games is the new winning, has taken root across the league. Like the Chicago Bulls of Michael Jordan’s time, Steph Curry’s Warriors have the entire NBA shaking in their boots — and wondering what the hell we’re even doing this season.

Trades? Trades are futile in Golden State’s world. All hail the Warriors.