As the NBA trade deadline came to a close Thursday, teams all across the league made last second moves with the playoffs just around the corner. Here is a look at what deals were completed:
New Orleans Pelicans
In a wild turn of events the Pels were able to create possibly one of the greatest post combinations in NBA history. New Orleans unloaded injury prone SF Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway, Buddy Hield, a 2017 first round pick and a 2017 second round pick in order to acquire DeMarcus Cousins and Omri Casspi. The Pelicans lucked out with this trade at the loss of no major contributors and only a few picks. Cousins, who is arguably the league’s best center, is averaging 21 points and 10 rebounds on the season. Paired with All-Star stud Anthony Davis, this duo could be the kryptonite to the Warriors small-ball game plan. The way the West is shaping up, we could very well see a first round matchup between Golden State and New Orleans.
Overall Grade: A+
Portland Trail Blazers
After a highly anticipated season from Blazers fans, Portland struggled to find chemistry and finds itself behind the Kings in the Western Conference standings (ouch). Early in the trade deadline, however, Rip City was able to unload Mason Plumlee and a 2018 second round pick for Jusuf Nurkic and a top five protected first round pick. This deal works for the Blazers in every aspect. They acquire a 22 year old big man with huge upside potential and a first round pick that is likely to land in the low teens. While Portland may be out of the playoff race this year, they will look to bounce back in a major way next season. If they are able to finally get some chemistry, a mix of young talented players like Damian Lillard, C.J. McCullum, Allen Crabbe, and most recently Jusuf Nurkic, Rip City could finally live up to its name.
Overall Grade: A
The Raptors were busy early in the trade deadline negotiations, landing Serge Ibaka from the Magic and defensive wing, P.J. Tucker from the Suns. These two contributions were aimed at bolstering their defense, as they will likely have to face the Cavaliers come playoff time. While Ibaka is due to be a free agent in the summer, Toronto should have no problem resigning him after trading away Terrence Ross to Orlando. Ross’s contract was a hefty 21 million over the next two seasons and Tucker should fill his role nicely. However, the Raptors did take a hit over the course of these two trades, losing a few role players such as Jared Sullinger (Suns), Terrence Ross (Magic), a 2017 first round pick, along with two second round picks. This deal works on paper for Toronto, but their postseason success will be the determining factor in the true value of this trade.
Overall Grade: B
Los Angeles Lakers
Lakers fans’ last minute hopes of getting All Star, Paul George, will have to wait another year, as the Pacers opted to hold onto their playmaker. Instead, LA was able to add a few minor role players including Tyler Ennis, Corey Brewer, and a first round draft pick from the Rockets. These moves clearly point to the front office’s decision to build for the future. The Lakers roster is full of young talent and a first round draft pick will add even more depth and young potential. While George was not traded this season, he has clearly voiced that he would like to return home to LA and play for the Lakers when his contract expires. The possibility of George alongside players like D’Angelo Russell and Brandon Ingram points toward a bright future for the Lakers.
Overall Grade: A
The Wizards have been battling for the closely contested three seed in the East, but their inconsistency throughout the season has led to some worry in the DC front office. Washington, in need of a bench scorer, was able to add Bojan Bogdanovic and Chris McCullough for Andrew Nicholson, Marcus Thornton and a 2017 first round pick. Bogdanovic has proved a reliable bench scorer and he will fit well in the DC rotation. However, he will be a free agent this summer and the Wizards will most likely not be able to fit his contract in their already overextended budget. This deal works well for the Wizards in the short term but if they cannot compete with the Cavaliers this year there will be no long-term benefits.
Overall Grade: B-
Dallas went into the trade deadline with one goal, to rebuild. The Mavericks struggles were not unexpected, but it was clear that they needed to add young prospects to their roster. Dallas was able to acquire Nerlens Noel from the 76ers in return for Andrew Bogut, Justin Anderson, and a first round draft pick (1-18 protected). Both Bogut and Anderson were non-contributors in Dallas and Noel has a very high ceiling. While Noel’s contract expires this summer, Dallas will be able to match any offer that he receives. The Mavs front office also waived point guard Deron Williams after they were unable to find a suitor for him. The Dallas starting lineup will now be one of the youngest in the league (with the exception of Dirk of course) and if they can hold onto their assets, Dallas could be a threat a few years down the road.
Overall Grade: A+
The Nuggets made their moves early on in the trade deadline and their decisions were baffling. Denver traded a second round pick for Roy Hibbert; a player they hope can offer paint protection in their playoff push. The Nuggets also traded backup center, Jusuf Nurkic and a top five protected first round pick for Mason Plumlee, a second round pick and some cash. Plumlee had been efficient for the Blazers, but his expiring contract may have him departing Denver in this summer’s free agency. The Nuggets hope the addition of these two posts can strengthen their depth at the center position, but it is unlikely that this deal will pay off.
Overall Grade: C-
Oklahoma City Thunder
In the wake of Kevin Durant’s decision to leave OKC, the front office has been forced to pick up the pieces and form a winning team that is just the shell of what it once was. Russell Westbrook has been phenomenal this season, but it’s clear the Thunder are lacking valuable pieces. While they were unable to make any big moves before the deadline, OKC was able to acquire Taj Gibson, Doug McDermott and a second round pick from the Bulls for Cameron Payne, Joffrey Lauvergne and Anthony Morrow. The only player who will be missed by the Thunder is Cameron Payne, but playing behind Westbrook left Payne underutilized. Therefore, this trade works perfectly for Oklahoma City. They gained a valuable veteran who can instantly contribute in Taj Gibson and a risky player who has upside potential in Doug McDermott. While OKC has not yet developed a formula to become championship contenders, they have taken a step in the right direction.
Overall Grade: A
While the Nets currently have the worst record in the NBA they were able to make a few minor changes over the course of the trade deadline. Brooklyn received Andrew Nicholson, Marcus Thornton, K.J. McDaniels and a 2017 first round draft pick over the course of two trades. These deals clearly pointed to the future, as the first round pick was likely the only real incentive for Brooklyn. The Nets have a high likelihood of getting the first overall pick in the draft and another first round pick should help in their rebuild process.
Overall Grade: B
The Kings seemed to have lost their way as they headed into the final days of the NBA trade deadline. Owner Vivek Ranadivè turned down various offers for DeMarcus Cousins, including an offer that involved Pistons star Andre Drummond, only to accept a deal that included Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway, Buddy Hield, a 2017 first round pick and a 2017 second round pick. This puzzling trade filled the Kings roster with meager role players and an average first round draft pick. Ranadivè, however, believes that “Buddy [Hield] has Steph Curry potential,” according to ESPN. If this prediction were to come true this trade could make sense, but the odds of this coming to fruition are very slim.
Overall Grade: D-
The Hawks were in need of a player to add a spark to their secondary unit and they found just that in PF Ersan Ilyasova. Atlanta was able to dump Tiago Splitter for Ilyasova, and this looks to be a good deal (from the Hawks perspective at least). Ilyasova has averaged 14 points per game and 2 three’s. His ability to stretch the floor and hit the three ball should allow for a more balanced offensive attack for Atlanta. The Hawks were also able to make a deal with the Suns, giving away Mike Scott for cash considerations. It will be interesting to see how the second half of the season plays out, but the Hawks have potential to be a dark horse in this year’s playoffs.
Overall Grade: B+
The 76er’s seemed to be moving in the right direction this season, and with a treasure trove of young posts, they had an opportunity to add even more firepower to their up and coming team. Instead Philly, much like their football team, botched their opportunity and settled with Tiago Splitter from the Hawks, Andrew Bogut, Justin Anderson, and a heavily protected first round pick from the Mavs. The 76er’s, in turn, gave up Ersan Ilyasova and the 6th overall pick in the 2013 draft, Nerlens Noel. Noel hadn’t fully panned out for Philadelphia, as they had an array of young competing posts, but his star potential was completely overlooked in this deal. Philly is unlikely to actually get the first rounder from Dallas as it is 1-18 protected and this will lead to the pick turning into two second round picks. The 76er’s will have to make do with what they have this season and keep their fingers crossed that the Mavs miraculously get a pick outside of the top 18.
Overall Grade: D
The Magic took a step back trading away Serge Ibaka, as they got much less back than what they gave to acquire the power forward last season. Orlando added Terrence Ross and a 2017 first round pick in the deal, but this truly is an unexciting addition for Magic fans. The silver lining for Orlando is that Ibaka was unlikely to resign anyway, so at least they got some of their investment back.
Overall Grade: D+
The Rockets made two trades in the wake of the impending deadline, both with the Los Angeles Lakers. Houston was able to secure an offensive threat in Lou Williams and a run-of-the-mill guard, Marcelo Huertas. The Rockets gave up Corey Brewer, Tyler Ennis, and a 2017 first round pick over the course of these two trades. While Houston did have to give up a first round pick, the Rockets are in “win now” mode and hope to compete with the seemingly unstoppable Golden State Warriors. Their addition of Williams should add more explosiveness to their already dominant offense, but the Rockets defense may have taken a hit in the process.
Overall Grade: A
The Suns have struggled this season, but their array of youthful talent provides hope for a brighter future. Phoenix traded away P.J. Tucker along with cash considerations for Jared Sullinger (Toronto), two second round picks (Toronto) and Mike Scott (Atlanta). The Suns then proceeded to waive both Sullinger and Scott in an attempt to reach the salary cap floor and gain a few extra draft picks. These deadline maneuvers seem miniscule and two-second rounders may not be enough to truly see a payout for Phoenix. Either way, the Suns freed up some valuable cap space and are more than likely looking to sign a few contributors come free agency.
Overall Grade: B
As Chicago moves away from the Derrick Rose era, they have continued to struggle in the point guard position. (The Bulls made a rather foolish mistake in thinking Rajon Rondo could be the answer to their problems.) Over the course of the trade deadline it seemed as if Chicago was going to move star small forward Jimmy Butler, but a deal could not be made in time. Rather, the Bulls moved Taj Gibson, Doug McDermott and a second round pick for Cameron Payne, Joffrey Lauvergne and Anthony Morrow. Payne is the only exciting edition to the Bulls lineup but he has yet to prove himself in the league. However, increased minutes should allow him to truly showcase his abilities. If he can provide the spark that the Chicago front office believes he can, this trade could work in their favor.
Overall Grade: B