Another trade deadline has come and gone and the reaction is universally that most fans and journalists are underwhelmed and disappointed.
It happens every single year at the deadline. People work themselves up into a frenzy with the expectations are huge blockbusters are looming. This year names like Paul George and Jimmy Butler were being bandied about. The Boston Celtics were expected to make major noise and finally go at a Cleveland Cavaliers team that is without Kevin Love for the foreseeable future. The Knicks and Timberwolves were supposed to be working on swapping point guards in a Derrick Rose for Ricky Rubio blockbuster.
None of these things happened.
Somebody once told me that expectations were premeditated disappointments and when it comes to the NBA Trade Deadline that is certainly the case, but I think that’s because a lot of people view the deadline as just one day when really it’s usually the culmination of a flurry of activity over a week or two. It’s hard to call any period of time where a star the calibre of DeMarcus Cousins switches teams disappointing. That was as big a blockbuster as you will ever see.
But it happened almost five days before the deadline.
The other big move that sent Serge Ibaka to Toronto happened almost a week before that.
So today seemed to some like a huge letdown in the wake of such major shake-ups. I have to admit that even I got caught up in the hype this year so I was also hoping for more than what happened today especially with the big names rumoured to be changing teams, but unlike many others I am actually pretty intrigued by a lot of what went down over the past nine days.
I’ve already written about the Serge Ibaka trade and the DeMarcus Cousins blockbuster pretty extensively, but I still think it’s worth taking a look at everything that’s gone down since the two biggest trades of the season.
Los Angeles Lakers trade Lou Williams to the Houston Rockets for Corey Brewer and a 1st round pick in 2017
For the Rockets: Nobody loves gunners quite like Mike D’Antoni does. It’s been bombs away all season for the Rockets as D’Antoni has the most offensive weapons that he’d enjoyed at his disposal since his 7 seconds or less days coaching the Phoenix Suns. Right down to James Harden doing his best Steve Nash impression as he’s leading the league in assists and averaging a double-double.
Lou Williams fits right in with the Rockets run-and-gun as he’s been one of the league’s best scorers off the bench and is currently averaging a career best 18.6 points per game on a career high 44% shooting. Sweet Lou excels at hitting open threes and also gives the Rockets attack a new wrinkle as he excels in pick and rolls like few other players in the association.
Williams should dazzle when paired with Harden and this is a great move that will pay off high down the stretch for a team that really has no reason not to go for it now. One of the league’s highest powered offenses just now has yet another weapon.
For the Lakers: The first move of the Magic Johnson front office is a resounding success for the purple and gold. The Lakers are a team very much in rebuilding mode and can’t stockpile enough picks and assets as they go through that process. Even though the Rockets pick will be a late one, this draft class promises to be deep and the Lakers can add to their glut of young talent.
Corey Brewer is a solid veteran swingman who has seen his minutes and production drop in Houston as the Rockets continue to put a premium on three point shooting. Brewer should add a nice veteran presence to the Lakers and be a steady hand in the minutes he’s given. He also has only next season remaining on his contract and isn’t a burden to take on in order to get that first round pick.
Magic gets a nice return for his squad in the first trade made under his watch.
Brooklyn Nets trade Bojan Bogdanovic and Chris McCullough to the Washington Wizards for Andrew Nicholson, Marcus Thornton and a 2017 1st round pick (lottery protected)
For the Nets: For a team that doesn’t control its first round pick until 2020, the Nets were in desperate need of picks. Their selection this year is most definitely going to the Boston Celtics as the Nets continue to pay the price for renting Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry in a failed bid to unseat the then-big three of LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade in Miami back in 2013. That selection will likely be the first pick in the draft as the Nets are an absolute dumpster fire.
This trade doesn’t help the Nets get better in any way, shape or form but it does get them a much needed draft pick.
Marcus Thornton will likely be waived by the Nets and hopefully catch with a contending team looking for guard depth off the bench as Thornton is a solid shooter with good range from downtown.
Nicholson might be able to work his way into Brooklyn’s front-court rotation.
For the Wizards: Washington’s second unit got a major boost with the acquisition of Bogdanovic. The Croatian forward gives the Wizards much needed spacing and three point accuracy off the bench. For a team that has really needed depth beyond its starting five all season, this addition is major coup and could pay off huge down the stretch.
Bogdanovic is averaging a career high 14.2 points, 3.6 boards and 1.6 assists per game on 44% shooting including 35.7% from three point range. Those numbers should get even better with a second unit role as he should be able to feast on opposing second unit defenses.
Chris McCullough wasn’t seeing a lot of action in Brooklyn and will probably see even less than his five minutes per game in Washington.
Atlanta Hawks trade Tiago Splitter and “draft considerations” to the Philadelphia 76ers for Ersan Ilyasova and a 2017 second round pick
For the Hawks: Atlanta gets a decent replacement for Kyle Korver’s three point shooting in Ilyasova. The Turkish power forward is a career 37% shooter from downtown and gives the Hawks a new ability to stretch the floor. He’s currently averaging a career high 14.8 points per game while generating a career high 23.7% usage percentage while on the floor this season. Ilyasova should definitely prove to be a great value to the Hawks down the stretch as they continue to jokey for positioning in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
There is very little risk to the Hawks as Ilyasova comes off the books at the end but the season, but hopefully for Ersan’s sake he catches in Atlanta as he’s been passed around the association like currency as of late. Since June 2015, he’s gone from Milwaukee to Detroit to Orlando to Oklahoma City to Philadelphia and now to Atlanta. He’s too good a player to have to deal with so much instability.
Given how excited Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer seemed about this transaction, hopefully nothing but good things are in store for Ilyasova in Atlanta.
For the 76ers: It’s pretty clear what the focus was for Philly was in this trade. The “draft considerations” allow them to pick up a 2017 second round pick while allowing them the right to swap a future Hawks second round pick. Two second round picks seemed like a fair price to trade a player that, while still very effective, clearly didn’t factor into the franchise’s long-term plans.
Tiago Splitter hasn’t played a whole lot in Atlanta this season and comes off the books for Philly as the end of the year, freeing up additional cap space as GM Bryan Colangelo appears to be kicking off The Process 2.0.
Philadelphia 76ers trade Nerlens Noel to the Dallas Mavericks for Andrew Bogut, Justin Anderson and a top 18 protected first round pick
For the 76ers: Something had to give. With Joel Embiid, Jahlil Okafor and Ben Simmons all on board, the Sixers had a glut of young big men and Nerlens Noel was the one shipped out today after rumours focused on either he or Okafor being dealt for weeks.
The obvious draw for the Sixers is the first round pick, but they made a puzzling compromise as the Mavericks are currently battling it out for the 8th seed in the Western Conference with a sub-.500 record and there is absolutely no way that they will finish in the top 12 in the NBA. So it looks that pick will wait until the 2018 draft.
Andrew Bogut doesn’t figure to be staying on board in Philly’s already crowded front court situation and most analysts believe he will be waived with the Cleveland Cavaliers, San Antonio Spurs and Houston Rockets all expressing interests in the former Warriors big man, not just for his interior presence but for all the dirt he has to offer on Golden State.
The key piece for the Sixers is definitely Justin Anderson who didn’t really get the chance to play a lot of big minutes in Dallas but has shown a lot of promise in his limited minutes and is still only 23 years old. It’s reasonable to assume that he’ll be able to share some time at the two spot with Gerald Henderson and Nik Stauskas.
For the Mavericks: Dallas gets a great front-court piece who can immediately be slotted in next to Dirk Nowitzki and I’m sure in the hopes of the Mavs eventually take over as the team’s number one big man.
Noel hasn’t had the chance to play many minutes this year as he’s been stuck behind Embiid and Okafor, but when he has, he’s been able to shoot an impressive 61% and establish himself as a strong interior presence on offense.
It’s Noel’s defense, however, that has really distinguished him at this point in just his third season in the NBA. Noel is such a stalwart defensively that his play has earned him the nickname the Nerlens wall. He had the best ever defensive box plus minus rating for a player 22 years of age or younger in his rookie season and set the fourth best mark last year as a sophomore. When the other two players are Tim Duncan and Andre Kirilenko, that is pretty impressive company.
Noel averaged 1.7 steals, 1.6 blocks and 7.6 boards during his time in the city of brotherly love and those numbers should only increase as he gets more minutes in Dallas.
The Mavs just got themselves a solid building block for the future today.
The Chicago Bulls trade Doug McDermott, Taj Gibson and a second round pick in 2018 to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Cameron Payne, Anthony Morrow and Joffrey Lauvergne
For the Bulls: Chicago really never wants to be a great three point shooting team. McDermott had really established himself as a long distance gunner for the Bulls and now he’s gone.
In his place is Cameron Payne, the Thunder’s first round pick in 2015, who has not gotten a lot of minutes in OKC but the 22 year old does offer a bit of versatility in his offensive range with an ability to drive to the basket, a decent mid-range game and some good court vision. He does struggle from downtown, though, but if the Bulls aren’t really interested in shooting many threes that shouldn’t be a problem.
Anthony Morrow is a nine year vet who worked his way into the Thunder’s back court rotation and offered some decent production and will probably do the same for the Bulls.
Joffrey Lauvergne is a 25 year old French centre who offers the Bulls the ability to stretch the floor and space off the bench.
For the Thunder: Taj Gibson is a major get for the Thunder. A former favourite of Tom Thibodeau in Chicago, he never really adjusted to new coach Fred Hoiberg but should thrive with renewed importance in Oklahoma City.
Gibson remains a force on the offensive glass and offers the Thunder a steady interior presence on both sides of the floor at the power forward position. He should really compliment centres Steven Adams and Enes Kanter as well as allow rookie Domantas Sabonis to return to a bench role and learn his position from a steady veteran presence.
In McDermott, the Thunder get another solid scoring option off the bench and a gunner for the second unit. He can catch and shoot from pretty much any position on the floor and one can only imagine the scoring barrage that will ensue whenever he’s sharing the floor with Russell Westbrook.
The Thunder picked up two players that will help them tremendously down the stretch for a very low price. It’s another big win for Sam Presti.
Milwaukee Bucks trade Roy Hibbert to the Denver Nuggets for a heavily protected second round pick
For the Bucks: This was a salary dump plain and simple. Hibbert hadn’t played a minute for Milwaukee since coming over from Charlotte earlier this month in the Spencer Hawes trade. Getting him off the books helps the franchise.
For the Nuggets: This trade accomplishes the opposite for Denver as it gets them closer to the salary floor. It’s doubtful that Hibbert will play much, if at all, behind the young phenom Nikola Jokic and the recently acquired Mason Plumlee.
Pour one out for Roy Hibbert’s career.
Houston Rockets trade K.J McDaniels to the Brooklyn Nets for…cap space
For the Rockets: They get $3.3 million in cap space toward future acquisitions and lose a young player that they really didn’t have room for anyway.
For the Nets: There absolutely no risk here. McDaniels gets them $800,000 of salary floor and if he does anything of note for the Nets they can pick up his $3.4 million option or simply let him walk at no cost to them.
McDaniels hasn’t really caught on since coming to Houston and only played meaningful minutes as a member of the Philadelphia 76ers in his rookie campaign. Still the 24 year old swingman is extremely athletic and has shown commitment to becoming a better shooter. If the Nets give him a chance, good things can happen.
Houston Rockets trade Tyler Ennis to the Los Angeles Lakers for Marcelo Huertas
For the Rockets: They get another $1.7 million in cap space as they will promptly waive Huertas and lose a young player that they really didn’t have room for anyway
For the Lakers: Just like the Nets with K.J McDaniels, the Lakers have nothing to lose here. Huertas couldn’t really get off the bench with the Lakers and didn’t show much promise during his limited time on the court.
Ennis is still only 22 and hasn’t really been given a chance in stops in Phoenix, Milwaukee and Houston. If he turns into anything with the Lakers, it’s a bonus. Otherwise, he’s off the books next year.
Another good move under Magic Johnson’s management.
Atlanta Hawks trade Mike Scott to the Phoenix Suns for a protected second round pick and cash
For the Hawks: It’s a sad way to see a guy who has spent his entire five year career in Atlanta to go, but that’s the nature of the sports business. Scott is a solid power forward whose once solid shooting fell off a cliff this season which made him expendable for this kind of move.
For the Suns: It’s all gravy for Phoenix. If Scott can get his touch back from three point territory, they get an option off the bench who can stretch the floor and score off the bench. If he doesn’t, he’s off the books at the end of the year.
Phoenix Suns trade P.J Tucker to the Toronto Raptors for Jared Sullinger and second round picks in 2017 and 2018
For the Suns: Now I live in Toronto and I was driving around for work for most of the day with the radio firmly locked on sports talk. I had to listen to some obnoxious Toronto radio personalities talk about how the Suns got “nothing”.
That is such bullshit. I am really sick of second round picks being viewed as nothing. A lot of good players have come out of the second round. P.J Tucker, in fact, was as second round draft pick of none other than the Toronto Raptors.
Isaiah Thomas, who is having the absolute best season of anyone in the Eastern Conference, was taken last in the 2011 draft.
There is nothing wrong with a second round pick. Getting two of them is a good thing for the Suns.
Jared Sullinger never really got anything going in Toronto after off-season foot surgery. Appearing in only parts of 11 games and not really doing much in limited minutes.
If he can do anything meaningful in Phoenix, it’s a bonus. Otherwise, he’s off the books after this season.
For the Raptors: P.J Tucker was one of the players team president Masai Ujiri was rumoured to have had his eye on and, as always, Masai got his man.
Tucker adds so much to the the Raptors. He’s an elite-level defender and even though he’s only 6’6” has the athleticism and tenacity to often go at guys far larger than him. The Raptors have needed help with perimeter defense all season and they’ve now got it. His 1.5 steals per game is higher than any Raptor has achieved this season.
The veteran swingman is also a solid scorer, having mastered the art of the corner three and also has as decent mid-range game. The Raptors have acquired a guy who can help them on both sides of the floor at just the right time.
Combine the Tucker acquisition with the Ibaka trade and you have a way better team than you did 10 days ago. Suddenly, the Raptors are a threat in the East again and seem to be priming up to take it to a hurting Cavs team. Certainly one can envision P.J Tucker being utilized to cause as many problems as possible for LeBron James. I’d imagine that’s what the Raptors acquired him to do.
With the Celtics staying put, the Raptors might also be able to gain some ground on them in their new additions gel with the team as well as it seems they might.
On another level, it’s a nice redemption story to see Tucker back with the team that drafted him. After spending five years honing his craft in Israel, Ukraine, Greece, Italy and Germany, Tucker returned to the NBA with a chip on his shoulder on a lot to prove. He’s proved it and is now a major acquisition on trade deadline day.
The Raptors join the Thunder, Lakers and, of course, Pelicans as the teams who got significantly better through trade.
Bring on the stretch run of the season.