Grading the NBA Teams That Were Active at the NBA Trade Deadline
Take a deep breath and stop refreshing Twitter, the madness is over.
It is hard to recall a trade deadline so robust, not only with the overall number of trades, but with the amount of quality NBA players being moved. The mayhem included a little of everything: blockbusters, fire sales, salary dumps, puzzling ‘rip-offs’ and more.
Somewhat anticlimactically, Anthony Davis remains a New Orleans Pelican, however notable players such as Kristaps Porzingis, Tobias Harris and Marc Gasol will all be wearing different uniforms for the rest of the season.
Here, we will take a look and grade how teams did in their respective trades. The focus will be on the bigger, more notable swaps.
Toronto Raptors Receive: Marc Gasol
Memphis Grizzlies Receive: Jonas Valanciunas, Delon Wright, CJ Miles, 2024 second-round pick
Official: We’ve acquired Marc Gasol from the Memphis Grizzlies for Jonas Valanciunas, Delon Wright, CJ Miles and a 2024 2nd round pick.
— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) February 8, 2019
I am not as high on the deal as most Raptors fans right now. First the cons; Gasol is an aging, immobile center, owed $24 million this season, and a $25.6 million player option next season. It is a steep price to pay for a player well past his prime.
More importantly, I’m not sure that this trade (significantly) improves the Raptors. This team needed to upgrade their wing shooting and back-court playmaking. Gasol has trouble guarding the pick and roll and will struggle against more mobile bigs. Finally, Serge Ibaka is having the best season of his career, how will he react to a bench role?
As for the pros, Gasol is still a capable player and should give the Raptors a marginal boost on the offensive end. He is an above average passer and shoots a mediocre 34% from three. Also, even if he may not be what the Raptors needed, they still did not give up much to get him. Delon Wright is a useful player but the Raptors probably wouldn’t have been able to afford him this summer and the Raptors will be relieved to escape CJ Miles’ $8.7 million player option. Jonas Valanciunas is, in my mind, still a very valuable player yet to reach his full potential and I worry that the Raptors will regret letting him go.
Looking at the Grizzlies trade deadline moves in sum, it is very difficult to understand what this team is trying to do. You traded one franchise cornerstone but kept the other; you shed some cap space while simultaneously taking some on…is this team rebuilding, retooling, or just cluelessly going with the flow?
Either way, the haul for Gasol is a little underwhelming. Valanciunas, though younger and more cost effective, is an offensive downgrade from his predecessor. Delon Wright will a be a free agent this summer, and though the Grizzlies will have his bird rights, I’m not sure they’ll be willing to splash the cash for him. Worst of all, eating CJ Miles’ 2019-20 salary looks horrible.
Philadelphia 76ers Receive: Tobias Harris, Boban Marjanovic, Mike Scott
Los Angeles Clippers Receive: Landry Shamet, Wilson Chandler, Mike Muscala, 2020 first-round pick (lottery protected), 2021 first-round pick (unprotected from Miami), 2 2nd-round picks
— Tobias Harris (@tobias31) February 6, 2019
Tobias Harris is an excellent player, having the best year of his career and is still somehow only 26 years old. He can score off of the dribble and shoots over 40 percent on spot-up threes. Simply put, he gives the 76ers the best starting line-up in the East.
However, there are some risks. Though the 76ers have voiced their willingness to re-sign both him and Jimmy Butler this off-season, Harris is free to walk. Also, Harris will go from being ‘the-guy’ in LA to being a 3rdor 4thoption in Phili. Joel Embiid and Butler have already complained about not getting enough touches, how is it going to work now with another fringe all-star in the mix?
The 76ers gave up a promising young player in Landry Shamet and two first round picks including an incredibly valuable unprotected pick from Miami. As mentioned, it is a big risk, but the 76ers are in win-now mode and if they can figure it out, Tobias Harris may just make them championship contenders.
You wouldn’t know it at first glance, but the Clippers may just be the winners of the trade deadline. Major kudos to them for prioritizing the big picture over an eighth-place finish and Warriors sweep in the Western Conference playoffs.
Removing Harris (and Bradley, in a separate deal) from the picture frees up a boatload of cap space, which could allow the Clippers to pursue 2 max-salary players this off-season. It seems as though their intention was never to re-sign Harris, so trading him at his peak value, and getting some very valuable pieces in return should set the Clippers up for a bright future.
Dallas Mavericks Receive: Kristaps Porzingis, Tim Hardaway Jr., Trey Burke, Courtney Lee
New York Knicks Receive: Dennis Smith Jr, DeAndre Jordan, Wesley Matthews, 2 1stRound Picks
— Zing Bars (@zingbars) February 4, 2019
This is what you call being opportunistic! I bow down to you Dallas Mavericks, what an absolute gem of a deal! Forget about the fact that the Mavericks didn’t even give the Knicks time to consider other trade packages, they traded three players who did not figure into their future plans and two draft picks which likely won’t be all that valuable for a young franchise player to pair with Luka Doncic! Believe me, get on the Mavericks bandwagon while it is still early, this team will be a contender sooner rather than later!
The slight concerns are a) Porzingis’ current injury, though all reports suggest that he should be 100% heading into the 2019-20 season and b) his impending free-agency, though all signs are pointing to him signing a long-term contract in Dallas. This is what a smart, well-run organization looks like. The Mavericks went from looking hopeless, just seven months ago to now having 2 young franchise corner-stones and a whole lot of flexibility to further manoeuvre with. Brilliant!
As much as I want to bash the New York Knicks and their incompetent front office, I recognize it would be short-sighted of me. Look, it isn’t rocket science. This move is about clearing all of the cap space possible to allow the Knicks to make a run at two max-salary players this off-season. Should they succeed, this trade will be an after-thought, as the Knicks will have two marquee names to go with a high lottery pick in this year’s draft.
Should they fail, well then you’ve set your franchise back another 5 years minimum. Wesley Matthews and DeAndre Jordan will not be New York Knicks next season, but Dennis Smith Jr. has shown plenty of potential and may just thrive at MSG. Still, even though this was a move towards the future, the Knicks definitely could have gotten a lot more in exchange for Porzingis.
Milwaukee Bucks Receive: Nikola Mirotic
New Orleans Pelicans Receive: Stanley Johnson, 4 second-round picks
Detroit Pistons Receive: Thon Maker
— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) February 8, 2019
This is my favourite deal of the day.
Can the Bucks do anything wrong this season? I mean, seriously, this team is lighting it up on the court and behind the scenes. They basically robbed the Pelicans of one of best 3 point shooters in the league and added him to a team already stacked with floor-spacers surrounding Giannis. Mirotic is a perfect fit in Milwaukee giving them a knockdown shooter and a go-to scorer for the bench unit.
So much for holding out and constantly repeating that you will not give Mirotic up for anything less than a first round pick.
Stanley Johnson is very limited offensively and will struggle to be a rotation player in the NBA until he develops a consistent jump shot.
Pretty nice move for the Pistons; Thon Maker fills a distinct need on their roster. The Pistons have zero floor spacing at the 5 (Drummond +Pachulia). He shoots a respectable 33.3 percent from deep. Also, he is still young and didn’t get much of a chance in Milwaukee. You figure, at the very least, he can get into Detroit’s rotation and be a productive role player.
Viewed in tandem with the Bullock trade, the Pistons gave themselves some breathing room and are now $2.5 million away from the luxury tax.
Dallas Mavericks Receive: Justin Jackson, Zach Randolph
Sacramento Kings Receive: Harrison Barnes
The first looks at the new members of the squad arriving in Sactown!
— Sacramento Kings (@SacramentoKings) February 8, 2019
This is one of the few deals that is a win-win for both teams. With this trade, the Mavericks managed to turn Harrison Barnes ($25.1 million contract) into an expiring contract and a rookie scale deal.
The fact is that Barnes never fit into the Mavericks future plans. Without his contract, they now have plenty of flexibility and can go free-agent shopping this summer to add to their exciting Doncic-Porzingis core. Also, Justin Jackson is an underrated player; don’t be surprised if he carves out a nice future in Dallas.
Barnes production may not match his monster contract, however the Kings have long sought a lengthy, athletic small-forward and feel as though their rebuild process has been expedited. The team wants to make the playoffs this season and Barnes fills a gaping hole for them. The Kings have even expressed a desire to re-sign Barnes long-term and hope to make him an important part of their future.
Orlando Magic Receive: Markelle Fultz
Philadelphia 76ers Receive: Jonathon Simmons, 2020 first-round pick (top-20 protected from OKC) and 2019 second-round pick.
This is a relatively low-cost, high-reward play for a former No.1 pick. It’s really the perfect opportunity for Fultz too, because the Magic have a glaring need at point-guard and if he can gain some confidence and rediscover himself, then he could be in Orlando for a long time.
The downside is that Fultz does not come cheap. He’s owed $22 million through 2020-21, and based on the fact that he hasn’t shown much on the court lately, two first round picks seems a little steep of a price to pay.
Look, this was inevitable. The 76ers gave Fultz multiple chances and it just didn’t work out. They are in win-now mode and have no time to wait for him to mature and grow up. By trading him away, not only do they unlock a lot of extra cap flexibility, but they also add a dependable guard in Simmons who adds much-needed depth to their team, and not one, but two first round picks!
Washington Wizards Receive:Jabari Parker, Bobby Portis, 2023 second-round pick
Chicago Bulls Receive: Otto Porter Jr
🚨 NBA TRADE ALERT 🚨
— A Few Good Mics (@AFewGoodMics) February 7, 2019
I think I quadruple-checked this trade to make sure I was seeing it correctly. This is all you could get for Otto Porter? Seriously? Bobby Portis has shown some flashes but I have no confidence in Jabari Parker having a career renaissance in Washington.
I understand the Wizards saved a lot of money, which may be the main priority now that Wall is out for the year and they won’t be competitive any time soon, but Porter is still a solid talent who fits perfectly into so many modern schemes. He is a proto-typical ‘3-and-D’ guy, who a lot of teams would love to have.
This is a very encouraging acquisition for the Bulls. The (only) bad news is that Porter’s production does not match his contract. He is owed $27.3 million in 2019-20 and has a player option for $28.5 million the following season.
Everything else about him and the deal is positive. First off, the Bulls have plenty of cap space and can afford an inflated salary for a high-end role player like Porter.
Second, his off-ball acumen should mesh perfectly with Zach Lavine and Lauri Markkanen, both of whom are ball dominant. Porter is also a shutdown wing defender and gives the Bulls a solid core trio to build around. Worst-case scenario, the Bulls chose to flip him next season and get a lot more in return than what they gave the Wizards.
Los Angeles Lakers Receive: Mike Muscala
Los Angelees Clippers Receive: Ivica Zubac, Michael Beasley
This is by no means an impact trade, the only reason I am including it is for how puzzling it is! Can someone please explain to me what the Lakers are trying to achieve with this trade?
Ivica Zubac has been their most reliable center, and has really come on strong as of late. He is only 22, on a rookie-scale contract, and was even rumoured to be included in a potential Anthony Davis package. And now you’re trading him away for Mike Muscala?
Making matters even worse is the fact that the Lakers are rumoured to have made this trade to create a roster spot for Carmelo Anthony. Yikes.
Yet another stroke of genius by the Clippers. Beasley will be waved, ignore him. However, they may just have acquired their center of the future in Ivica Zubac, and gave up next to nothing to get him.
Miami Heat Receive: Ryan Anderson
Phoenix Suns Receive: Wayne Ellington, Tyler Johnson
With the highest payroll in the league, and a very underwhelming roster, the Heat needed to do something. This trade will allow them to duck the luxury tax this season, though they still have more work to do in the future.
Typically, teams attach first round picks when they are desperate to shed bad contracts like this, so the fact that the Heat escaped that is a minor win, I guess?
This looks like one of those unique lose-lose trades. The Suns are effectively exchanging a bad contract for bad contracts. They are already working on waving Wayne Ellington, but I guess Tyler Johnson does fill an enormous playmaking void in the backcourt. He isn’t a true point guard but at least he will allow Devin Booker to spend more time off the ball.
The biggest loser in this trade may actually be LaVar Ball who did everything possible to talk a Lonzo-to-Phoenix trade into existence.