Roundtable: Favourite & Least Favourite Moves Of The Trade Deadline
I love the Gasol trade. Even at 34, he's a former All-Star and a tested veteran. More importantly, the move checks two important boxes for Toronto. First, the best of the East all got better at the deadline. The Bucks earned key rotation players, the Sixers took a shot at building a Big 4, and the Celtics opened up a roster spot for future buy out player signings. Toronto needed to make some sort of upgrade just to keep pace. Gasol certainly qualifies, as he's just a few years removed from an All-NBA 1st team nod. I like this move for the Raptors because it more importantly shows impending free agent Kawhi Leonard that the team is proactive and bold when it comes to winning. Leonard may have just bought property in Southern California, but that doesn't mean Toronto shouldn't claw for every inch of Kawhi's respect and attention. And should he leave in free agency, Lowry and Gasol form a nice veteran duo to compliment the team's rising stars.
I’m all-in on the Milwaukee Bucks move for Nikola Mirotic. He’s a proven scorer, an underrated defender, and an all-around efficient player: only once sporting a below-league-average PER. Perhaps most importantly, he’s eminently familiar with the task of playing support staff to a superstar. He was awesome next to Anthony Davis, and will be next to Giannis as well. He’ll provide more spacing, can be switchier on D than Brook Lopez when the Bucks go a little smaller, and at the cost of Thon Maker and some 2nd round picks, is well worth the price for a team taking a swing at a title in Milwaukee.
The Fultz move by the Orlando Magic was a homerun swing and one that they should definitely take. They do not have a lot to be excited about and are in the middle of another season that will see them miss the playoffs. With no long term solutions at guard, why not take a chance on the undisputed number one pick from the 2017 NBA Draft. Regardless of how you may feel about Fultz right now, the dude was good enough to be the no brainer number one pick in that draft. If he can get his mind right and his body healed, this could be a foundational piece to add to Mo Bamba and Jonathan Isaac for a team that has not had one of those since Dwight Howard. In addition, Philadelphia was able to pick up Jonathon Simmons, the kind of player that is wasted on a bad team. He will have moments for the 76ers as this season comes to an end and the playoffs get underway. Philadelphia was also able to add some assets to their suddenly barren cupboard, thanks to the Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris trades.
Okay, I am cheating a little bit, but my favorite trades are all the moves the L.A Clippers made. They made three moves total, and all of them were home runs. It was a bit of shock when they sent their best player Tobias Harris to the Sixers while they were chasing the eight seed.
However, the return for Harris was enormous. L.A likely believed they weren't going to resign Harris in the offseason anyway, as they have their eyes on bigger game, so to get two first round picks, a good rookie in Landry Shamet and open up cap space is a huge win. Then they got rid of the worst starter in the league in Avery Bradley and his salary, by sending him to Memphis(still have no idea why they made this trade) for JaMachyael Green and Garrett Temple two expiring contracts, who can also help them stay in the playoff push now. That is if they want to, they would have to send their pick to Boston if they make the playoffs. Either way, they open up cap space for the offseason, and who knows maybe they can resign them both to smaller deals.
Then finally the Clippers got Ivica Zubac from the rival Lakers only for Mike Muscala. Zubac is already good, and he is young and will get better. He can grow with their young core, and the price of Muscala is nothing. The Clippers also got Michael Beasley, but he will likely be bought out. Now the Clippers have young players like Montrezl Harrell, Ivica Zubac, Landry Shamet, Jerome Robinson, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Sindarius Thornwell and Tyrone Wallace, plus a lot of future picks and enough cap space for two max players this offseason. The Clippers are poised to be contenders for years, shoutout Jerry West, dude is killing it!
Marc Gasol to the Raptors was perhaps the most shocking trade of the day, and the one that sent my eyebrows aquiver (a la the famed Anthony Davis GIF). Much of the scuttlebutt surrounding Gasol was that he would be sent to the Charlotte Hornets as the team looks to retool ahead of a hopeful lower-seed run in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Instead, Raptors General Manager Masai Ujiri once again outfoxed everyone and landed the excellent Gasol, who should be able to provide an interesting element to what is now an extremely stacked Raptors squad.
The Raps were able to acquire Gasol without giving up any of their important young guns, and the haul going back to Memphis is rather uninspired from the Grizzlies’ perspective: Jonas Valanciunas, Delon Wright, C.J. Miles and a second-round pick.
While all of those guys can play and will likely be important rotation pieces for the Grizzlies going forward, only nabbing a second-round pick for one of the best players in the franchise’s history has to be disheartening.
Though the Raptors are down to only 10 players on the roster (minimum allowed is 14), the team is clearly going to be active in the buyout market. While this might not be a great return for the Grizz, this deal makes Toronto even more of a juggernaut in the East than it already was, which means the playoffs are going to be an absolute joy to behold come April.
The Clippers offloading Tobias Harris was a great deal for them. Harris has been good this season, but he isn’t a top tier player to build a franchise around. He’d be a great number three or four guy (which is he in Philly), but he’s not up there with this summer’s star-studded free agency class. The Clippers therefore weren’t going to re-sign him anyways, and instead flipped him for multiple picks and young talent in Shamet and Ivan Zubac (acquired in a subsequent Muscala for Zubac deal). The Clippers now are in prime position to land two max free agents this summer.
The Knicks/Mavs trade sets us what may be the most fun one-two punch in the NBA next year. Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis are both freaky good on their own, and now we have the privilege to see their unique talents paired up. Almost on a nightly basis, Doncic stuns us with a highlight play that we didn’t think was in the wheelhouse of a 19 year-old. Couple that with a 7’3” center who can fly above the rim and literally shoot over the defense, and the Mavericks just became must-see. On the Knicks side, it’s clear that they’re going for it in free agency this summer by making room for two max-slots. If the Knicks are able to pull it off, this trade may end up being a true win for both sides.
Mirotic is arguably one of the best stretch fours in the league. There’s not many better than him to fit in Budenholzer’s system. Giannis now has the ability to drive and kick it out to an absolute lethal shooter in the corner. Nikola is averaging a career high in points and shoots 37% from 3 on 7 attempts per game. The fact that the Bucks were able to get such a high caliber player for only 2 bench warmers and some second round picks, is amazing. Fans will look back on this trade if the Bucks get out of the East this season.
The 76ers have 4 months to convince Jimmy Butler to re-sign this offseason. Adding near All-Star Tobias Harris gives the Sixers a great pitch to Butler. The 76ers are going for it this season no question about it. Elton Brand has managed to improve the roster big time since the start of the season, and has created the best starting five in the Eastern Conference.
The best move of the deadline was the Milwaukee Bucks’ acquisition of Nikola Mirotic, especially when it only cost them essentially Thon Maker, Jason Smith and a collection of second-round picks. Mirotic’s 37 percent mark from 3-point range this season fits perfectly in coach Mike Budenholzer’s system, either partnering Brook Lopez or spelling him at the 5. While not certain to be kept next season as Mirotic goes into free agency, what the move does is cement the Bucks’ position as Eastern Conference favourites. If Milwaukee get to the NBA Finals this year, free agents will look even more favourably at the Bucks and really accelerate this team’s push for a championship.
As a Raptors fan, their all-in trade excites the living bejeezus out of me. Never before have Toronto fans been treated to the display of a front office pushing all of its chips into the table for a legitimate shot at the Finals. No, Marc Gasol isn’t the same player from 3 years ago, but that relatively simple realization doesn’t even begin to dent the new dimension he gives this roster; his snugness of fit is unimpeachable, and he without a doubt raises the Raptors ceiling on both ends of the floor. Memphis failed to extract a first rounder here, and that would have the makings of a coup for Toronto, if they didn’t have to lose Delon Wright in process. That being said, Memphis could’ve done a whole lot better if they had accepted this sobering reality two years ago. Ultimately, Ujiri took advantage of a sparse market for the star big man, and significantly boosted his rosters’ top-end talent via his only possible means (the Raps are capped out, especially if they re-sign Kawhi, and their war chest is not loaded with high draft picks).
The Markelle Fultz trade ultimately bums me out. It's a rather uninspired haul for the Sixers, which bespeaks just how far Fultz has fallen. And unfortunately, I don't think Orlando is where struggling players go to reinvent themselves. The entire Fultz saga has been a perplexing one. Maybe the diminished expectations that come with a Magic uniform will help him find his rhythm. His departure from Philadelphia was inevitable, and I'm not sure what other team would take a flyer on Fultz. The move is probably the most disappointing of the day, even if it's been a long time coming.
I could be wrong, but I don’t think the Tobias Harris experiment is going to go well in Philly. While he well may be the most talented player moved at the deadline, I don’t think he’s going to a good situation. Jimmy Butler has already had his ups and downs being integrated in the City of Brotherly Love; was the best thing for the franchise to totally upset the apple cart AGAIN to bring in a player who -- while very good -- is another player who needs the ball in his hands to be successful? I’m simply not certain that there’s time to get everyone firing on all cylinders come playoff time, and if there’s more frustration than success, both Harris and Butler are on expiring contracts and could walk out the door for nothing come Free Agency. When the price was two 1st round picks -- including an unprotected one from potentially-terrible-in-2021 Miami -- that’s a huge gamble on a number of fronts.
The Wizards are a franchise that is seemingly ruined due to the bad luck that has befallen John Wall. His injury situation went from bad to worse and it looks like he will be out until next February at the earliest. The Wizards only active player at the moment from their awesome starting five of the last few years is Bradley Beal after this deal and the trade of Markieff Morris to the Pelicans. With that move and this one, the Wizards stand to save themselves a great deal of money in the luxury tax department and that is great news for a team that was going nowhere. While I liked the Wizards side of the deal, the Bulls have acquired Otto Porter to put alongside their prized young frontcourt of Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr. Porter is a glue guy and does things that can really help a team. That means that the Bulls, a team that is tanking, improved their roster. This move could cost them a chance at the number one pick. I hope it was worth it Chicago.
The move I hate is Memphis and all their deals and lack of deals. Not moving Mike Conley is a mistake to me. Especially since they continue to play him, that will allow them to win slightly more games, and there is a good chance he gets hurt and hurts his trade value for the offseason.
Then the Marc Gasol trade they got very little value. A second round pick for 2024? Delon Wright is nice, and Jonas Valanciunas is a nice placeholder next to Jaren Jackson Jr, but there were better offers on the table. Memphis held on too long until those offers went off the table got desperate, and moved him for a lesser offer.
Then as I mentioned above, they traded for Avery Bradley. The most perplexing part of this is, they could have traded Green and Temple to Houston and got a first round pick. Now they have to pay Bradley salary including his guarantee and got no picks out of it. Truly a mind-boggling deal. Memphis I think should have also looked to move Justin Holiday. On the bright side I did like Memphis moving Shelvin Mack to Atlanta to take a look at Tyler Dorsey, but overall this was a terrible deadline for Memphis.
The Philadelphia 76ers made perhaps the biggest trade of the deadline by dealing a cache of first and second round picks to the LA Clippers for Tobias Harris, Boban Marjanovic and Mike Scott. News of the trade broke overnight on Wednesday for most East-Coasters and sent ripples throughout the NBA at large.
While certainly a solid trade for the 76ers, who now have perhaps the most formidable starting lineup in the Eastern Conference (along with the Raptors and Bucks), the deal was also a coup for the Clips.
However, the 76ers were not finished as they still had a glaring need for a solid backup point guard who can reliably defend on the perimeter. As such, the team went out and traded a 2021 second round pick for… James Ennis.
That’s right, the 76ers, who also traded away Markelle Fultz at the deadline after an ill-fated career in Philly, are now left with T.J. McConnell at the point guard position. Even though Jonathan Simmons (acquired in the Fultz trade) and the specter of rookie Zhaire Smith returning might help bolster the team’s guard rotation, adding Ennis – who has not played particularly well for the Rockets this season – did nothing to address the 76ers’ glaring weakness at the one. The 76ers are definitely stacked in terms of burly wing bodies and semi-switchable defenders, but the addition of Ennis did very little to move the needle in terms of the team’s viability at the top of what is now an eminently stacked Eastern Conference.
In typical Knicks fashion, their deal with Dallas was a horrible move. I understand the notion that Porzingis was upset and wanted out, and this was a move to create cap space this summer for KD and Kyrie. However, Porzingis’ contract only has a $17 million cap hold this summer (and much less if he takes the qualifying offer). The Knicks could have packaged Tim Hardaway Jr and a first-round pick for an expiring deal. If the Rockets could trade Brandon Knight’s contract, the Knicks could have found a team for Hardaway Jr. The Knicks would then have the cap space to pursue both KD and Kyrie and still have the Unicorn! Porzingis would then have a year playing alongside two stars to change his mind – winning changes everything.
Goodbye, Zu. Ivica Zubac was turning into a fan favorite (and personal favorite) on the Lakers, and had showed tremendous upside. He wasn’t much of a shooter, which is essentially what the Lakers flipped him for in the form of Mike Muscala. But why did the Lakers trade away one of their best young pieces for a stretch-5 like Muscala when they have Moritz Wagner, who is shooting 39.3% from three this year, just sitting on the bench? If the goal was to clear a roster spot by trading two players for one, I would have been fine trading away any two besides the core five (Ball, Ingram, Kuzma, Hart, Zubac) and LeBron.
It was a complete horror show for Magic Johnson this trade deadline. Not only did Magic not acquire Anthony Davis, but leaked trade proposals only exacerbated the problem. The Lakers offered Zubac, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart and two first-round picks in their final bid. The young core took these rumors to heart, with the Lakers losing by 42 to the Oladipo-less Pacers. Trading young and athletic Ivica Zubac for an older Mike Muscala wasn’t a great trade for the Lakers either. I’m sure Lebron will compete mightily in the Western Conference with the Lakers, but it won’t be this season.
the worst move of the deadline is the Lakers adding to Jerry West’s stellar deadline dealings, by trading Michael Beasley and Ivica Zubac to the Clippers for Mike Muscala. While adding Muscala’s frontcourt shooting does help the Lakers (career 36 percent from 3-point range, 34 percent this season), along with offloading Beasley to open up a roster spot for some buyout activity, Zubac is one of their more productive youngsters. Averaging 8.5 points, 4.9 rebounds and 0.8 blocks per night in only 15.6 minutes per night, Zubac is an unrestricted free agent in the summer and potentially would have been picked up by a team prepared to put forward a contract too expensive for the Lakers to get near. Despite that problem, Beasley could have simply been waived like the Clippers have now done with him, and the Lakers could have held onto Brook Lopez if they were wanting frontcourt shooting. Losing a young asset to their crosstown rivals for Muscala shows that the Lakers are still atoning for their offseason mistakes by not adding much-needed shooting. If Zubac continues to thrive either at the Clippers or another team next season, the Lakers will be regretting this move.
Nikola Cuvalo: The Suns move was just a blah trade. You generally like to see most trades make a real impact on the court, but this particular swap is purely book-keeping, as the only team that improves based on the player movement plays in Detroit – a team not even included in the transaction, but who will be employing the subsequently-waived Ellington. Tyler Johnson is not the answer to the unsolved point guard problem in Phoenix, and I think the front office knows it. Bad money on the books leaves a bad taste in all teams’ mouths, and it’s not a whole lot better for the NBA consumer, either.