NBA Trade Deadline Recap

Jack Meyer, News Editor

Every February, NBA fans stay glued to their phones anticipating an alert from ESPN. Sometimes, these alerts bring joy, while other times they bring confusion. However, it never fails to deliver a feeling of excitement. This essentially summarizes the NBA trade deadline, where teams typically move players in an attempt to either make a stronger playoff push or to prepare for a rebuild. This year’s NBA trade deadline did not fail to deliver, as multiple blockbuster trades were executed, shaking up the NBA landscape and changing the projected trajectories of multiple teams. Here is a look at some of the major deals that unfolded during this year’s trade deadline. 

* = Will not play for listed team

 

ROCKETS GET READY TO PLAY SMALL BALL (4 team trade)

Rockets receive: Robert Covington and Jordan Bell* (from Minnesota); Golden State’s 2024 second round pick (from Atlanta)

Hawks receive: Clint Capela and Nene Hilario (from Houston)

Timberwolves receive: Malik Beasley, Jarred Vanderbilt and Juan Hernangomez (from Denver); Evan Turner and Brooklyn’s 2020 first round pick (from Atlanta)

Nuggets receive: Shabazz Napier*, Noah Vonleh and Keita Bates-Diop (from Minnesota); Gerald Green* and 2020 first round pick (from Houston)

*- Jordan Bell was later traded to Minnesota and Shabazz Napier was later traded to Washington; Gerald Green is expected to be cut due to injury. 

In the weeks leading up to the deadline, Houston showed interest in Robert Covington, a young and talented forward who drew interest from multiple other teams as well. After a long and laborious effort to acquire Covington, the Rockets were able to trade for him, but at a steep cost: they had to let go of their starting center, Clint Capela, along with multiple other assets. In a strategy some have flagged as questionable, Houston has made it clear that they will attempt to make a playoff run with a “small-ball” lineup; most notably, their new starting “center”, PJ Tucker, stands at 6’5””. This strategy may backfire in the playoffs when the Rockets will likely square off against multiple elite big men, including Anthony Davis from the Lakers, Nikola Jokic from the Nuggets and Rudy Gobert from the Jazz. While the Timberwolves and Nuggets did moderately well in this deal in acquiring assets to solidify their bench, the biggest winner in this deal is the Atlanta Hawks. The Hawks acquired one of the better centers in the league while giving up very little to get him. Despite their struggles so far this season, the Hawks remain dedicated towards building a winning roster around All-Star point guard Trae Young. 

HEAT SHED WAITERS, ACQUIRE IGOUDALA

Heat receives: Andre Igoudala, Jae Crowder and Solomon Hill

Grizzlies receive: Justise Winslow, Dion Waiters* and James Johnson*

*- James Johnson was later traded to Minnesota, while Dion Waiters is expected to be cut. 

Out of all the trades made at the deadline, this is the closest to a win-win. Following their hot start that caught some fans off guard, the Heat have made the full transition into a title contender by acquiring Igoudala, who won Finals MVP with the Golden State Warriors in 2015 and is known for his staunch defense, and Crowder, who has proven himself to be a solid role player who will also help to counter Miami’s defensive concerns. The Heat also moved on from Dion Waiters without waiving him and holding on to his contract, which proved to be difficult for them earlier in the season. As for the Grizzlies, their strategy in acquiring Igoudala this past off-season seems to have paid off; they previously received a first rounder from the Golden State Warriors in exchange for taking on Igoudala’s contract, and now the Grizzlies have received Justise Winslow in exchange for Igoudala. Winslow, who turns 24 in March, was the tenth pick in the 2015 draft for the Heat and has potential to grow into a star with a new opportunity in Memphis. 

RUSSELL UNITES WITH TOWNS IN MINNESOTA

Timberwolves receive: D’Angelo Russell, Jacob Evans and Omari Spellman

Warriors receive: Andrew Wiggins, top 3 protected 2021 first round pick and 2021 second round pick

This trade caught most fans off guard, as it appeared that Russell would remain in Golden State after the Timberwolves failed to acquire him in the earlier four-team trade where they traded Covington. Minnesota has coveted Russell for a long time, including last off-season during free agency. This move will likely make Timberwolves superstar Karl Anthony-Towns happy, as he has verbalized his desire to play alongside Russell and Suns guard Devin Booker. Now that the Timberwolves have two of the three, they may look to build the next “Big Three” superteam. For the Warriors, this completes their original plan in signing Russell. Since the Warriors already have two superstar guards Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson who have both sat out most of the season due to injury, most analysts did not expect Russell to stay in Golden State for long. In executing this trade, they now have former top pick Andrew Wiggins, who will fit nicely into their starting lineup once Curry and Thompson returns, and also gained a potential first round pick from Minnesota in 2021 if the pick lands in the top three, it will return to Minnesota. While Golden State arguably could have received more in exchange for a highly touted talent like Russell, this trade fits nicely for the long-term plans of both teams. 

SIXERS BUILD UP THEIR BENCH

Sixers receive: Alec Burks and Glenn Robinson III

Warriors receive: Dallas’s 2020 second round pick, Denver’s 2021 second round pick and Toronto’s 2022 second round pick

Due to recent struggles, the Philadelphia 76ers were expected to make a move before the deadline passed. While this will not dominate ESPN headlines like their acquisition of Tobias Harris at last year’s deadline, this may help to put Philly back in the conversation to win the East. Both Burks and Robinson can shoot well beyond the arc and have proven themselves as reliable scorers; Burks has shot 40% on his three-point attempts, while Robinson has made 37.5% of his long-range shots. Since both of Philadelphia’s best players Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons   are more known for their inside scoring, it will provide a big boost to get more help with three-point shooting off the bench. For Golden State, neither of these players were likely to return next season, so rather than letting them walk this offseason, the Warriors will now have three more second round picks, which can help in their attempts to rebuild their roster following the departure of Kevin Durant. 

DRUMMOND SHIPPED TO CLEVELAND

Cleveland receives: Andre Drummond

Detroit receives: Brandon Knight, John Henson and future second round pick

This trade confused several NBA analysts and fans alike The Cavaliers get one of the best centers in the league to complement their young core and create a dynamic big man duo alongside Kevin Love, but this trade does not exactly fit with Cleveland’s long-term plans; the Cavs currently sit in last place in the Eastern Conference and are in the middle of a rebuild. As for the Pistons, they gave up their franchise player who remained loyal to them for 7 1/2 seasons in exchange for two role players and a draft pick. While Detroit did free up cap space with this move, they could have received far more in this trade considering Drummond’s talent. On paper, Cleveland wins this deal by a landslide, but when considering the circumstances of each franchise, the deal becomes more even, albeit still a bit perplexing. 

MORRIS GOES FROM REBUILDING TO CONTENDER (3 team trade)

Clippers receive: Marcus Morris (from Clippers); Isaiah Thomas* (from Wizards)

Knicks receive: Maurice Harkless and 2020 first round pick (from Clippers)

Wizards receive: Jerome Robinson (from Clippers)

*- Isaiah Thomas is expected to be cut. 

With this trade, the Clippers add to their already stellar depth. While the Bucks stayed put with their roster and the Lakers defied rumors by not moving Kyle Kuzma. This means that while the Clippers biggest threats to win a title remained idle, they improved their roster at a low cost, putting them in an even more favorable position to lift the Larry O’Brien trophy in June. As for the Wizards and Knicks, this trade helps each team in their respective rebuilds, with the Knicks getting a first round pick for a player who was unlikely to resign with them this offseason (Morris), and the Wizards acquiring a young talent in Jerome Robinson for a player who will not even play for his new team (Thomas). 

DEDMON GETS HIS WISH, TRADED FROM SACRAMENTO

Hawks receive: Dewayne Dedmon and 2020 and 2021 second round picks

Kings receive: Jabari Parker and Alex Len

This trade will not shake up the NBA landscape like some of the other trades mentioned, but most analysts expected Dedmon to be dealt. During the 2019 off-season, Dewayne Dedmon signed a three-year, $40 million deal with the Sacramento Kings in hopes of helping them make a playoff push after barely missing it last season. However, things quickly deteriorated, as the Kings currently sit at 13th in the Western Conference, and Dedmon had publicly requested a trade early in 2020, which he received a $50,000 fine for. Considering the circumstances of Dedmon’s place on the roster, the Kings did well with their return assets, acquiring two young players who were drafted in the top five of their respective drafts but failed to live up to expectations; with a new home in Sacramento, who look to find a spark to help revive their season, Len and Parker could possibly break out and fulfill their potentials. As for Dedmon, he will likely serve as a backup center to newly-acquired Clint Capela. 

 

Other Trades: 

 

  • Timberwolves receive James Johnson; Grizzlies receive Gorgui Dieng
  • Wizards receive Shabazz Napier; Nuggets receive Jordan McRae
  • Hawks receive Skal Labissiere; Trail Blazers receive cash considerations
  • Grizzlies receive Jordan Bell and Rockets second round pick; Rockets receive Bruno Caboclo and Grizzlies second round pick
  • Hawks receive Derrick Walton Jr.; Clippers receive cash considerations
  • Magic receive James Ennis; 76ers receive future second round pick

 

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