Although Trade Deadline Thursday opened with the very real possibility of Indiana’s Paul George, Chicago’s Jimmy Butler and to a lesser degree, New York’s Carmelo Anthony, joining DeMarcus Cousins as All-Stars finding new homes, none of those rumored moves transpired. The Knicks were reportedly willing to move Derrick Rose for Ricky Rubio straight up, but were ultimately rebuffed by the Timberwolves.
There were a handful of deals that were executed and should alter the aspirations of the teams involved. Here’s a scorecard analyzing the moves:
Kings send F/C DeMarcus Cousins and SF Omri Casspi to Pelicans for a top-three protected first-round pick in the 2017 Draft, SG Buddy Hield, SG Tyreke Evans and G Langston Galloway
The Pelicans failed to find a way to fortify their shooting by adding a Nick Young-type who was readily available and will be forced to buy out disgruntled forward Terrence Jones after being unable to find a trade partner for him. According to USA Today’s Sam Amick, the Kings fielded offers for guards Darren Collison, Arron Afflalo and Ben McLemore but decided to wait until the summer to bungle, er, execute their next move. Ty Lawson remains on the roster, too, and you would imagine someone is getting bought out since the need to get Hield experience will be the primary focus going forward.
Impact: The Kings may win a couple more games than they would’ve had they traded some of the veteran guards mentioned above, but it remains to be seen how Dave Joerger utilizes his rotation when there is clearly a need to expose their young players to major minutes. A 7.5-point home underdog against Denver in the first game following the break, it’s clear Vegas will view them as they have the tanking 76ers, Nets and Lakers going forward. The Pels are clearly the league’s flavor of the month, curiosity-wise, over the next few weeks. We’ll see if they’re able to upgrade the roster to give holdovers Solomon Hill, Dante Cunningham and E’Twaun Moore help on the wing. Casspi and Quincy Pondexter are injured.
Magic send PF Serge Ibaka to Raptors for SF/SG Terrence Ross and a first-round pick
The first mid-sized domino to fall prior to the deadline came when the Raptors addressed a major trouble spot in the lineup by giving up a streaky bench scorer and a pick in the 20s Ibaka will be a free-agent this offseason but has expressed an interest in staying put. He said the same about remaining in Central Florida when Orlando moved former No. 2 pick Victor Oladipo, Ersan Ilyasova and lottery selection Domantas Sabonis for Ibaka’s services.
It seemed excessive then and it looks even more foolish now despite the fact Oladipo didn’t immediately emerge as the franchise player the Magic hoped they were getting. They still gave up on him too soon, for too little. That was the early inclination then and is a certainty now. Oladipo has scored over 20 points in three of the last four games , shooting over 52 percent from the field. He’s still just 24 years old. In Ross, the Magic are getting the 2013 Slam Dunk contest winner who once scored 51 points in a game, but he’s averaged over 10 points a game only once in his first four seasons and is averaging 10.4 this season. Certainly, he’s a serviceable player who should immediately average 25-30 minutes in Frank Vogel’s rotation, but the former No. 8 pick isn’t likely to turn the corner and suddenly blossom into a gem.
Ibaka has everything to play for over the next few months to land one more juicy long-term deal from either the Raps or someone else. He’s scored 20 or more points in three of the final seven games he played for the Magic, but he’s a 27-year-old with suspect knees who has averaged his lowest rebounding clip (6.8) since his rookie season a second consecutive year and is averaging a career-high 15.1 points despite being afforded more offensive freedom than he ever had next to Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. He is versatile enough to play off the Raptors’ key cogs and has experience in the role he’ll be asked to play, but he’s no longer the feared shot-blocker he was in OKC. Diminishing returns will limit his ability to cash in on his next deal unless he saves his best for last.
Suns send SF P.J. Tucker to Raptors for PF Jared Sullinger and second-round picks in ’17 and ’18
Tucker was in demand due to his defensive prowess and figures to be on LeBron James duty if ever the need arises. He can guard multiple positions and should supply the stopper Toronto thought it was getting in DeMarre Carroll, who has been limited by injuries. Sullinger had no luck staying healthy either and could be bought out by the Suns, who collected a couple of seconds for Tucker after striking out on a first-rounder.
Impact: By only losing Ross from their rotation, the Raptors strengthened their chances of catching the Celtics in the Atlantic and ultimately challenging Cleveland in the Eastern Conference finals again. Considering how important homecourt advantage is to Toronto, I’d expect the Raps to start putting their foot on the gas, which could make them a strong finisher. Tucker and Ibaka will help pick up their defensive level, so if there isn’t a drop-off with their offensive prowess, they should make a run. The Magic insist they’re not tanking, but any potential boost will require Ross hitting the ground running and Mario Hezonja demonstrating the type of improvement that has eluded him thus far. The Suns moves, picking up Sullinger and buying Mike Scott’s rights from the Hawks were executed to help reach the salary cap floor.
Bulls send PF Taj Gibson and SF Doug McDermott and ’18 second-round pick to Thunder for PG Cameron Payne, PF Joffrey Lauvergne and SG Anthony Morrow
After not moving Butler, the Bulls took a shot at Sam Presti’s eye for talent by moving Gibson and McDermott for promising pieces like Payne and Lauvergne, who are still developing and have shown flashes of being legitimate NBA players along the way. Of course, it should dampen spirits that McDermott never panned out for Chicago, who cost them the 16th and 19th picks in 2014 after being named college basketball’s Player of the Year at Creighton by virtually everyone. As they usually do, the Thunder wound up winners on deadline day, winding up with a veteran who can help fortify a front line set to also get Enes Kanter back sooner than later. Together with Stephen Adams, OKC’s bigs should be a nightly handful. McDermott’s addition to serve as a shooter off the bench should aid the cause considering how much the Thunder have struggled from the perimter.
Impact: Oklahoma City got Russell Westbrook immediate help. Even though it cost him his favorite dance partner, it should make his team more formidable down the stretch. It’s hard to decipher exactly how this move will affect the Bulls since they’ve been so difficult to pin down as it is. Bobby Portis becomes the starting power forward, supplying energy and athleticism to a first unit still relying on a veteran core led by Butler, Dwyane Wade, Rajon Rondo and Robin Lopez.
76ers send C Nerlens Noel to Mavericks for C Andrew Bogut, SG Justin Anderson and protected 1st round pick (19-30)
76ers send F Ersan Ilyasova to Hawks for C Tiago Splitter, a second-round pick and the right to swap places on a future second-rounder
People have been excited by the process yielding some success for the first time in years, but this is a step back for Philly, which struck a disappointing deal for a former No. 6 pick and one of the first supposed building blocks. Being unable to move disappointing Jahlil Okafor led to the 76ers moving Noel to alleviate the log jam of big men that they’ve stockpiled, but they could’ve waited until the offseason given the return. Anderson is a promising wing who should immediately be plugged into the rotation going forward, but the protection on the 2017 first-rounder means the Mavericks will keep the pick if it’s inside the top 18, turning the deal into second-rounders the bext two years. That’s simply not good enough despite Noel’s limited offensive games.
The Mavericks are taking a risk that they’ll have to match a sweet offer to keep Noel beyond this offseason since he’s a restricted free agent, but they’ll have nearly two months to take a close-up look at his work habits and how he meshes with the group. Noel and Joel Embiid played all of eight minutes together over the past season despite establishing a great friendship. “The Process” called Noel his best friend in Philly, and it would’ve been interesting to see if their chemistry would’ve translated to the court given more time. Anderson is a willing defender and plays with intensity, but he shouldn’t have been the biggest piece in a deal for a 22-year-old 7-footer. Moving Ilyasova for more picks was a solid move for Philly and a no-brainer for Atlanta, who haven’t gotten much from Splitter due to injuries
Impact: While the Sixers will stay on their rebuilding course, the Mavs made a move that should help them remain a contender to hang with the Pelicans in attempting to chase down Denver for the No. 8 spot. Between Rick Carlisle’s coaching and young legs fueling a revamped group that won’t include Deron Williams, who is being bought out, Dallas should remain relevant and shouldn’t be picked on over the last six weeks. If they strike the right balance and Yogi Ferrell and Seth Curry remain productive, the Mavs should be tough night in and night out. Ilyasova certainly helps Atlanta thanks to his versatility. He’s a willing rebounder and has remained healthy and engaged this season, serving as a mentor to Dario Saric in addition to a productive presence on the floor. Mike Budenholzer can utilize him in various ways with Paul Millsap and Dwight Howard, so the Hawks certainly improved.
Lakers send G Lou Williams to Houston for SF/SG Corey Brewer and a first-round pick. In a separate deal, they moved PG Marcelo Huertas to Rockets for PG Tyler Ennis
Magic Johnson’s first deals as Lakers president were both struck with the Rockets, who gave L.A. solid value for their leading scorer in Williams, one of the top sources of bench firepower in the league throughout his career. He’s flammable and gives Mike D’Antoni another weapon who was compromising L.A.’s tanking efforts.
Impact: This was a win for both, but obviously immediately favors Houston, who become all the more formidable as they look to prove their up-tempo system and ability to excel from 3-point range can ultimately derail Golden State. It’s up to D’Antoni to strike the right balance between Williams and defensive standout Patrick Beverley next to James Harden, but both high-energy players should remain productive. The Lakers are going to stay on course, playing their young guys and hoping to finish in the top-three so they can keep their pick in June’s draft.
Nets send SG/SF Bojan Bogdanovic and PF Chris McCullough to Wizards for PF Andrew Nicholson, SG Marcus Thornton and a 2017 first-round pick
Rockets send SG/SF KJ McDaniels to Brooklyn for a second-round pick
Impact: The Nets didn’t end up dealing center Brook Lopez, holding on to a franchise mainstay that they’ve dangled at the deadline for about five years now. They wanted two first-rounders, but couldn’t even get one. They did add a pick from the Wizards that will likely be in the low 20s, but it was a quiet deadline for a team that still needs one more win to reach double-digits in that category. Washington did well in acquiring Bogdanovic and McCullough for players who couldn’t crack Scott Brooks’ rotation and a pick worth sacrificing given their need for depth. Bogdanovic is the key, since he’s been inconsistent as a volume shooter for Brooklyn. He’ll be utilized as a scorer on the wing in D.C. and is versatile enough to make it work provided he doesn’t slump.