Another season’s NBA trade deadline has come and gone, and this particular season’s exemplifies exactly how most deadlines occur: a ton of – sometimes unfounded – rumors build up a fan’s hopes for action, only for almost all of the rumors to flame out and leave such a promising day unfulfilled. After last season’s crazy deadline, the dud of this season’s should have been expected. Nevertheless, several low-impact trades made have very subtly changed the landscape of the NBA.
All of the biggest names that were rumored to be possibly on the move – Houston’s Dwight Howard, the Clippers’ Blake Griffin, Cleveland’s Kevin Love, and the Hawks Al Horford and Jeff Teague – simply did not move at all, for better or worse. Blake Griffin and Kevin Love were not expected by most to actually be moved, but it was surprising that neither Dwight Howard or either of the Hawks’ duo were moved. Houston will most likely regret not trading Howard, as he will be an unrestricted free agent by the end of the season and will likely leave the Rockets due to his chemistry problems with James Harden both on and off the court. Atlanta might not regret keeping Al Horford, but keeping Jeff Teague when the team runs better with Dennis Schroder anyways was a questionable decision when this team could have really used additional talent on the wings.
But let’s stop focusing on the trades that did not happen and rather focus on the trades that did happen, beginning with the Orlando Magic’s Tobias Harris being traded to the Detroit Pistons for Brandon Jennings and Erson Ilyasova. The Pistons, currently one spot out of the playoff picture, added a very talented and versatile player in Tobias Harris to shore up the wing, while giving up their backup point guard Jennings, who is freshly recovered from last season’s season-ending injury, and Ilyasova, who is a decent floor-spacing and physical power forward.
Gaining a great young talent in Harris to round out their young core, while giving up very little in return, is a definite win for Detroit, who will be looking to claim a playoff spot of their own. For the Orlando Magic, it was a decent – albeit slightly confusing – deal, seeing as they just signed Harris to a team friendly deal last offseason. Jennings and Ilyasova should bolster Orlando’s current young core that has been struggling to compete, but Jennings will only further add to the guard logjam that the Magic are dealing with and the lack of Harris manning the wing will require Aaron Gordon to step up and claim the starting spot for his own.
While losing Ersan Ilyasova in the trade was certainly unfortunate for the Pistons, they later made another trade for Donatas Motiejunas and Marcus Thornton from the Houston Rockets, giving up Joel Anthony and a first-round pick in the upcoming 2016 draft. Motiejunas will make up entirely for the loss of Ilyasova, as he can come in and demonstrate his two-way ability as soon as he gets back to good health. The Pistons also gained a decent bench scorer in Thornton, who should provide some shooting and microwave scoring off of the pine. This, coupled with Detroit’s first trade, has had many people claim that the Pistons were the big winners of the deadline, as they made two trades that rounds out its young core and prepares them for a playoff run.
Detroit is not even giving up too much in return, as the first-round draft pick will not be a particularly high one – and for a weak draft class – and getting rid of a largely irrelevant bench player in Joel Anthony. While the Pistons did not give up much of anything, the deal is still a win-win for the Pistons and Rockets, as the Rockets have as many as five other capable power forwards demanding playing time.
The second trade made before the deadline was the three-team deal that saw Courtney Lee and cash considerations being sent to the Hornets from Memphis, P.J. Hairston from the Hornets and Chris Anderson from Miami, and four separate second-round draft picks to Memphis, and Brian Roberts from Charlotte to Miami. The move really signifies Memphis giving up on the season, as they are sending away a starter in Courtney Lee who is one of their only legitimate shooters in return for a young player with decent potential in Hairston and four second-round draft picks. Anderson is a throw-in that might not even see the court in Memphis. For the Charlotte Hornets, the trade was an attempt to bolster their lineup for a playoff run, gaining a player who can shoot and defend on the wings in Lee. Currently claiming the 7 seed in the Eastern Conference – which is right inside the playoff picture – the Hornets will try to recapture their early-season performance and make a run into the playoffs.
The Heat, who received Brian Roberts in the deal for Anderson’s $5 million salary, have already traded him to the Portland Trailblazers along with another second-round draft pick for cash considerations. The purpose of all of their moves is to use their low-valued second-round picks to move their unnecessary contracts to get below the luxury tax threshold, which they have accomplished, and to gain back a second-round pick after sending many of theirs away, the Heat also traded Jarnell Stokes and cash considerations to the Pelicans for a second-rounder in the 2018 draft.
The next trade was pretty significant. It provides a contender with another good role player with the Cleveland Cavaliers trading Anderson Varejao and a future first-round draft pick to the Portland Trailblazers, a 2020 second-round draft pick and Jared Cunningham to the Orlando Magic, all for sharp shooting 6’11” power forward Channing Frye from the Magic and a second-round draft pick from Portland. All in all, the meaningfulness of the trade is that the Cavaliers spend a few draft picks for a solid role player who could help their team by providing solid depth of the bench, and that Portland and Orlando are stocking up on draft picks to gain young talent. Classic win-win draft picks from a contender for a role player from a team that is rebuilding trade.
The next trade had the Denver Nuggets sending Randy Foye to Oklahoma City for DJ Augustin, Steve Novak, two second-round picks and cash considerations. The deal is understandable, as the Thunder need depth on the wing and Foye might be able to fill that role. However, he is having the worst year of his career and his shooting percentages have cratered, so the deal is not that spectacular for the Thunder. Receiving two second-round draft picks and two veteran – and waivable – players, the Nuggets got a pretty decent haul for a young player who is showing some decline.
The second-to-last trade made before the deadline had the Phoenix Suns finally sending Markieff Morris to Washington for DeJuan Blair and Kris Humphries – two solid role players – and a first-round pick in the 2016 draft. This was one of the most unsatisfying trades of the deadline, since Markieff Morris has been the most problematic player in the league since the Suns traded his brother away and will still no longer be on the same team as his brother. In addition, the Wizards giving up a first-round draft pick for an extremely problematic player who has been a detriment to his team for a while is questionable. Markieff Morris had to be moved for the sake of all involved, but after everything, was anyone satisfied with this trade?
The last major trade of the deadline saw the Memphis Grizzlies sending Jeff Green to the Los Angeles Clippers for Lance Stephenson and a future first-round pick. This might be another sign that the Grizzlies are giving up on the year. Lance Stephenson’s horrendous shooting will do nothing to help the Grizzlies’ floor spacing, and although the first-round draft pick is sweet, Jeff Green was on an upswing and was contributing to the Grizzlies. They are arguably weaker after this trade, but it will help their future. For the Clippers, this is a decent but flawed trade, since Jeff Green can rejoin Doc Rivers on the Clippers and start immediately on the wing and contribute, it accentuates their already-existing weakness of a lack of depth.
Although there were not any real big names heading to any different places, the deadline still had pretty relevant action. The Detroit Pistons have bolstered their youth movement with a solid wing in Tobias Harris, the Cavaliers and Clippers have boosted their playoff hopes with solid roles players, and draft picks went flying. Not the most exciting of years, but still something.