With a fairly impressive crop of potential players to be traded, combined with what is turning out to be one of the most competitive seasons in recent memory, the trade deadline promised to be more intriguing this season than in others. The NBA trade deadline was yesterday at 3:00pm eastern. After a relatively slow start to the day, things really heated up after noon. Several trades went down. Some that could have an immediate impact on the playoff picture. Others, possibly having more of an impact down the road. So, how did your favorite team fare? It’s time to break it all down. Right here in this edition of the Good, the Bad, the Intriguing.
THE GOOD: Blazers pick up Afflalo in trade with Nuggets
When, you break down the Portland TrailBlazers, there are two obvious weaknesses that jump out at you. Wing play, and depth. Arron Afflalo (14.5 points 3.4 rebounds), should provide immediate help for both. The steady, yet versatile wing-man from UCLA is just the type of player that could put the Blazers over the top in the ultra-competitive Western Conference. Nicolas Batum, is the starter for now. But, his stats (8.9 points 5.5 rebounds) have declined over the years. His health is also an issue at times. Batum, does average nearly 5 assists per game. Don’t be surprised if we see them both on the floor at times when Portland wants to go small. Just think about Dame, Matthews, Afflalo, Batum, and Aldridge. Very potent. Excellent pick up for the Blazers.
THE BAD: The Philadelphia 76ers!!!
I feel for Philly fans. The team, where the future never seems to come, saw a few more of the building blocks toward that ‘future’ float away. Arguably, the two most impressive young Sixers, to ever actually suit up ( we haven’t seen Embiid yet ) and play for them over the last year or so, have been dealt. In exchange for what you ask? You guessed it. More draft picks. Michael Carter-Williams (MCW), one of the better young point guards, who has been sidelined by injury was dealt to the Milwaukee Bucks. I guess the rumors of Philly wanting to deal MCW finally came to fruition. Crazy. Also KJ McDaniels, was shipped off to the Houston Rockets. The Sixers did receive two actual players in addition to those draft picks. JaVale McGee comes over from Denver, and Isaiah Canaan from Houston. To put it simply, ‘The Plan’ by Sixers GM, Sam Hinkie will need a little more time. If you know a Sixer fan, or if you don’t, find one and give them a hug. They need it…..
THE INTRIGUING: The Miami Heat get better with Dragic
Probably the biggest prize available at the deadline was former Phoenix Suns guard, Goran Dragic. The Suns needed to deal him, so they wouldn’t lose him for nothing in free agency. Dragic (16.2 points 4.1 assists), had already expressed his unhappiness with the Suns organization. So, they deal him to the Heat, who were in search of a dynamic lead guard. Dragic, can be just that. Teaming up with Dwyane Wade, if healthy, in the back court looks like a nice combo, and could be enough to get the Heat into the playoffs. With the emergence of Hasaan Whiteside, and the play from Chris Bosh and Luol Deng, the Heat have a formidable crew. However, questions about Bosh’s health have surfaced, as the veteran forward has been hospitalized for possible blood clots in his lungs. Very scary situation, especially after hearing about Jerome Kersey earlier this week. If, Bosh is ok to play again this season, the Heat could be a factor. Nice job by Pat Riley and company.
THE GOOD: Oklahoma City Thunder
This has been quite an up and down season for the Thunder. Injuries to their two best players, and more of a mediocre feel to the team as a whole, even when Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook have been in the lineup. That took a huge turn for the better yesterday. Bringing in Enes Kanter, and DJ Augustin should really help. Kanter, is a guy that can play with his back to the basket and be effective. Augustin, is that veteran that’s been around on some pretty good teams that will back up Westbrook nicely. They also picked up three-point specialist, Steve Novak and former Detroit Piston, Kyle Singler. Their best move, however was getting rid of Reggie Jackson. There was little question that Jackson had a different agenda from anyone else on that squad. He wanted his own team, and he wanted to get paid. Well, he has that now in Detroit. Question is; will he produce? I have my doubts. Rumors are beginning to surface saying that Jackson has been less than the model teammate.
THE BAD: The Knicks and the Lakers
The two-storied franchises own two of the worst records in the NBA this season, and things don’t seem to be getting better anytime soon. It was reported as late as Wednesday, that Dragic had the Knicks and Lakers on his short list of teams he wanted to be traded to. Apparently, the Suns liked what the Heat had to offer a lot more. So, neither team were able to make a move of any significance. Although, the Knicks did move guard, Pablo Prigioni to the Rockets in exchange for guard Alexey Shved, and a couple of draft picks. The crazy thing is; they probably received more for 37-year-old Prigioni than they did for Iman Shumpert, J.R. Smith, and Tyson Chandler combined. Incredible. The Lakers made no moves, and will continue to try to position themselves for a run at a top five lottery selection. Probably not a huge deal that the Lakers were quiet, but something needs to be done soon.
THE INTRIGUING: K.G. back to his NBA roots….
This move of course, has no significance on the playoff picture for this season. In fact, other than having a veteran presence in the locker room to show their young talent the ropes, there will probably be little to no significance down the road. But, what it does is give ‘The Big Ticket’ a chance to retire in the place where it all started. Which is a very good thing. Especially, since he has serious aspirations of becoming a part owner someday. There’s no one more deserving of that kind of opportunity than Garnett. While, he’s known for his occasional antics on the court, he’s also one of the most highly esteemed professionals in the sport. K.G., the executive. Nothing more intriguing than that.
Other Trade Deadline notables:
Brooklyn Nets: The Nets didn’t get rid of Brook Lopez like it was widely reported they wanted to. However, in exchange for Garnett, the Nets picked up Thaddeus Young, who is of course much younger than Garnett, and able to play a lot more minutes. He should also be more productive scoring wise, and could be the missing piece that gets them to the playoffs.
Milwaukee Bucks: After being one of the biggest surprises in the NBA so far this season, the Bucks weren’t expected to be active. But, out of nowhere they traded their best player, Brandon Knight to the Suns in a three-team deal where they landed Michael Carter-Williams from the Sixers. In the same deal, they also received Miles Plumlee and Tyler Ennis from the Suns. Interesting deal to say the least. Looks like a lateral move in my opinion, however. I’m a big fan of Knight’s, and I feel he should have been in last week’s All-Star game. But, for whatever reason, the team’s he’s played for (Pistons and Bucks) apparently haven’t felt the same. MCW, is also very talented and has a bright future. I’m just not sure he’s an upgrade over Knight at this point.
Boston Celtics: Danny Ainge, has no fear when it comes to making trades, or big time player acquisitions. For the most part, those decisions have been good ones. That is, until Thursday. Picking up Isaiah Thomas from the Suns doesn’t make sense on the surface. Especially, when you factor in the reported problems that went on in Sacramento and Phoenix. It also, could hinder the maturation of Marcus Smart, who looked to be the point guard of the future when Rajon Rondo was dealt to the Dallas Mavericks. Maybe, Ainge has something else up his sleeve. Only time will tell.
So, there you have it. The most active day in NBA Trade Deadline history, netted 39 players being moved. That’s an astonishing amount of movement. But, it’s also a huge testament to the level of parity in the NBA right now. Never have so many teams felt that they have a chance to win, and win big.