So much for a quiet NBA trade deadline. Thursday’s action around the Association was fast and furious as multiple blockbuster deals were pulled off.
The Golden State Warriors traded All-Star guard D’Angelo Russell to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Andre Wiggins and draft picks. They were blasted for it.
Meanwhile, the previously reported Andre Iguodala deal to the Miami Heat was expanded some on Thursday. Let’s not even mention the Cleveland Cavaliers’ shocking trade for All-Star center Andre Drummond.
It’s in this that we look at the biggest winners and losers from what was a crazy NBA trade deadline.
Winner: Atlanta Hawks
Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk knew he needed to add to the supporting cast for super sophomore Trae Young after a disastrous first half of the season. More than appeasing to Young, it was all about making sure this young squad was more competitive.
That started back in January with Atlanta re-acquiring former All-Star guard Jeff Teague to be Young’s backup. All it costed the Hawks was the bloated contract of Allen Crabbe.
Then, a few days before the deadline, Atlanta took part in one of the biggest mid-season deals in recent history. It acquired stud young center Clint Capela from the Houston Rockets in a deal that only cost the Hawks a 2020 first-round pick (from Brooklyn) and the expiring contract of Evan Turner, who was not even in the rotation.
The Hawks continued to improve their roster and future financial flexibility by acquiring Dewayne Dedmon as well as multiple second-round picks from the Sacramento Kings for under-performing and injury-plagued forward Jabari Parker. Job well done by Atlanta here.
Loser: Houston Rockets
Is Robert Covington a good player? Yes. He’s vastly underrated as a three-and-d wing. The issue here is that Houston gave up a whole lot to get him. That included a center in Clint Capela who has proven to be an elite-level rebounder and rim protector. With their eyes on the Western Conference title, the Rockets don’t match up well with teams like the Lakers and Nuggets, who boast tremendous bigs.
Houston attempted to land a big time center to replace Capela at the five. It ended up with a player in Jordan Bell who has not panned out since starting his career strong with the Golden State Warriors. Realistically, the Rockets just didn’t get better at the deadline.
Winner: Philadelphia 76ers
Even Sixers head coach Brett Brown knew that they needed help from the perimeter. Ben Simmons’ inability and unwillingness to expand his game from beyond the paint has continued to be a major issue for this under-performing squad.
In yielding a mere three second-round picks, Philadelphia was able to pick up veteran wings Alec Burks and Glenn Robinson III on the cheap. They come in at a combined $4.3 million against the cap. The two are also averaging a combined 29.0 points on roughly 39% shooting from three-point range on the season. Embattled general manager Elton Brand did some major work here.
Loser: Los Angeles Lakers
Even with Kyle Kuzma on the block and an ability to move Kentavious Caldwell-Pope’s contract, the Lakers were not able to pull off any move ahead of Thursday’s trade deadline.
In fact, they were beaten to the punch by the Clippers for Marcus Morris. that’s certainly a bitter pill to swallow. Sure these Lakers remain the best team in the Western Conference. They could add through the buyout market. Even then, letting the deadline pass without adding an upgrade has to be seen as a loss.
Winner: Miami Heat
Giving up Justise Winslow to get Andre Iguodala was a high price to pay. While Winslow is sidelined to injury, he’s just 23 years old and has proven to be a great long-term three-and-d option. With that said, Iggy has been in the NBA Finals the past five seasons and provides a wealth of experience. Let’s not even get into the fact that he remains one of the top perimeter defenders in the game.
The same deal enabled Miami to rid itself of the contracts of Dion Waiters and James Johnson while adding a valuable bench option in that of Jae Crowder. Miami didn’t even have to yield a draft pick in this six-player deal. Now looking like a legit contender, front office head Pat Riley has pulled off quite the coup in South Beach.
Loser: Golden State Warriors
Boasting the worst record in the Western Conference, it was not a surprise to see Golden State sell off three assets it acquired in the summer. The Warriors are building for next season, when Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry return from injury.
Even then, acquiring four second-round picks for the likes of Alec Burks, Glenn Robinson and Willie Cauley-Stein is not getting market value. Specifically, one has to believe that the Dubs could have gotten a late first rounder for Burks. He was averaging 16.1 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.1 assists on 38% from three-point range on the season. Robinson? He was averaging 12.9 points on 40% from distance. Ouch!
Then, on Thursday, Golden State moved 23-year-old All-Star guard D’Angelo Russell to the Minnesota Timberwolves for overpriced wing Andrew Wiggins and a 2021 protected first-round pick. While said selection could be of value on the trade market, Wiggins for Russell was a major downgrade. He’s overpriced, one dimensional and is seen as an enigma. Tanking is one thing. Taking on a contract like that in hopes of a career rebirth is another thing.
Winner: Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers beat their Southern California rivals to the punch for star Knicks forward Marcus Morris on Thursday. Los Angeles was aided by the ability to move this year’s first-round pick. Even then, dealing that pick to go with Mo Harkless and an expiring contract proved to be a coup for the Clippers.
Morris, 30, is in the midst of a career season that has seen him average nearly 20 points to go with 5.4 rebounds while shooting 44% from distance. He adds yet another scorer to a stacked group that already includes Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and Lou Williams. Let’s not even mention the fact that they were also able to land backup point guard Isaiah Thomas once this turned into a three-team deal. Just insane.
Loser: Detroit Pistons
We knew that the Pistons were looking to offload All-Star center Andre Drummond. We also knew that the market was not great for him. In no way does that justify Detroit acquiring cap fillers Brandon Knight and John Henson as well as a second-round pick years down the road for Drummond.
Even with Drummond likely to opt out of his contract this summer, the deal made absolutely no sense for Detroit. They might as well have simply let him play out the season and leave this summer. What was the actual point of this trade?
Loser: New York Knicks
When are the Knicks ever not seen as losers? It seems cold, but that’s been the case over the past half-decade. Firing president Steve Mills days ahead of the trade deadline magnified this further.
It’s not a surprise that New York was fleeced by the Clippers in the Marcus Morris trade. Acquiring Mo Harkless and a first-round pick that’s likely going to be in the bottom five is not fair-market value for what Morris brings to the table. This is yet another example of the ineptitude we’re seeing in the Big Apple.