This year’s trade deadline saw many teams lean towards being active in the market. 19 of the NBA’s 30 teams participated in deadline deals, including the Bucks, Lakers, Rockets, 76ers, Suns, Hawks, and Raptors who participated multiple times. Even more teams are going to be signing the resultant waived players as a result of these trades and general misfits in the league as well. In every deal, a certain team goes on to find more success as a result of the deal than the other, and here are what will likely be the biggest winners and losers of every deal.
Toronto did exactly what they needed to do, and sacrificed as little as possible in the process. They acquired Serge Ibaka, a defensive star with a great off the ball skill set for a back up in Terrence Ross and a pick that is not likely to amount to a high caliber player given Toronto’s perennial status as one of the East’s top teams – a status that was further solidified by acquiring Ibaka and P.J. Tucker. Ibaka is averaging 15.1 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks per game on the season, and he is currently 10th in the league in total blocks. Tucker was another nice acquisition. The Raptors needed a player to solidify the wing position, and that is exactly what Tucker does. He has shot threes at a respectable 35.1% clip since 2013, and he rebounds the ball exceptionally well for a wing player too at 7.5 per 36 minutes since that 2013 season. All they gave up for Tucker was Jared Sullinger and two second round picks that are going to be in the high 50s, so Sullinger and two “international prospects” that will likely never touch an NBA court.
Brooklyn managed to buck its trend of bad moves to finally obtain some assets near the end of this 2017 season. They parted ways with Bojan Bogdanovic and Chris McCullough, but they did acquire Andrew Nicholson: a stretch four who averaged 16.8 points and 8.8 rebounds per 36 minutes for Orlando last year, and he also started 23 games for them in his four year Orlando tenure as well. They also acquired 24 year old K.J. McDaniels, a defensive wing who is only two seasons removed from averaging 7.9 points and 1.1 blocks per game for the 76ers off the bench. Most importantly, however, was that Brooklyn was able to acquire a 1st round pick that, while it is projected now to be in the mid to upper 20s, will become more valuable when Washington inevitably declines.
Acquired: Jusuf Nurkic, 2017 1st round pick (Memphis)
Gave: Mason Plumlee, 2018 2nd round pick, cash
After an off-season of largely questionable roster moves, the Trailblazers made a great trade near the deadline to acquire a first round pick and a defensively apt center for a second round pick and a defensively inapt big man. Plumlee was great on the offensive end – he averaged 11.1 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 4.0 assists in 28.0 minutes per game for Portland, but his 108 defensive rating is too high for the rim protector Portland needed him to be. Nurkic has a career 104 defensive rating, and since joining Portland, it has been an elite 98. Nurkic is also contributing 12.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 3.0 steals, and 1.5 blocks per game already for Portland. Getting that value and a complete upgrade in the draft position is huge for Portland.
New Orleans Pelicans
New Orleans did it. They finally got Anthony Davis some help, and they did it in one of the most savvy ways possible. DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis are arguably the two most skilled big men in the league, and they are now teammates. This season, their combined averages are 55.4 points, 22.7 rebounds, 7.0 assists, 3.9 blocks, and 2.8 steals per game. It is more than likely to translate into wins for New Orleans too because New Orleans gave up relatively little for such a dynamic superstar like Boogie Cousins. Omri Casspi only helps make this trade even better for New Orleans, the forward is a career 36.9% three point shooter, and he had 12 points in his Pelicans debut.
Acquired: Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway, 2017 1st round pick, 2017 2nd round pick
Gave: DeMarcus Cousins, Omri Casspi
On the other side of the trade, Sacramento set themselves back by making this trade. It is so hard to win games in the NBA, and it is exponentially harder to win when a team doesn’t have a franchise player. The Kings had one, and out of desperation they traded him for 1st and 2nd round picks from a team that could very well make the playoffs, Langston Galloway, a back up guard, Tyreke Evans, a washed up combo guard coming off injury and entering free agency this summer, and Buddy Hield, a rookie who was thought to be NBA ready after four years at Oklahoma, yet he is shooting below 40% from the field and scoring an uninspiring 8.8 points per game. This wouldn’t be so bad for the Kings, but they literally had a better offer for DeMarcus Cousins days before they decided to pull the trigger on this deal.
Earlier I wrote about this trade, and how Plumlee might have a role on this team, but with every game he’s played for Charlotte, Miles Plumlee’s minutes have decreased. He got 18 minutes in his first game for Charlotte, but in proceeding games his minutes have been: 15, 13, 12, 9, DNP, DNP. Andersen was waived by Charlotte the same day they traded for him, and they gave up a protected 2nd round pick to get him. Charlotte had no process of end goal they followed when making these trades, they simply gave up two higher quality big men and a protected pick for two lower quality ones, and it’s even worse because Plumlee is signed to good money for the long term, while Hibbert and Hawes come off the books this summer. Terrible.
Acquired: Bojan Bogdanovic, Chris McCullough
Gave: Andrew Nicholson, Marcus Thornton, 2017 1st round pick
There was one thing the Wizards needed to do at this trade deadline: Improve their bench without taking apart their starting lineup. Washington did this technically, but whether or not they actually did is debatable. They got rid of Nicholson, who was arguably underutilized on Washington, their bench’s leading scorer Marcus Thornton, and a 1st round pick, for Bojan Bogdanovic, a player who has yet to hit the league average in PER or win share rate. Washington could have gone after Lou Williams – their trade package was better than Corey Brewer and a late 1st round pick, but they landed instead the lesser Bogdanovic.
Usually when conferences powerhouses stay inactive at a trade deadline, it is for good reason. For the Celtics, it was the worst decision they could have made. Boston watched as all their rivals got better; Cleveland picked up Derrick Williams, Deron Williams, and Andrew Bogut, Toronto got Tucker and Ibaka, and Atlanta got Ersan Ilyasova. Meanwhile, they did nothing themselves even with arguably the highest quantity of valuable assets in terms of picks, overseas players, young prospects, and cap room during a trade deadline when stars like Jimmy Butler, Paul George, DeMarcus Cousins, Paul Millsap, and even Andre Drummond were available. For all the talk about Boston, they have yet to win a first round series with this core, and the Cavaliers have never had a stronger hold on the Eastern Conference as they do now.