The NBA trade deadline has come and gone and the league has been rocked by a large number of deadline trades. Many teams made deals, with several of them making more than one. The league landscape has now changed with some contenders improving, and plenty of teams getting worse. A record 11 trades and 39 players were traded. In order to make sense of all the chaos that occurred yesterday, let’s go over some of the winners and losers of the NBA trade deadline.
Oklahoma City Thunder
In a three-team deal with the Detroit Pistons and Utah Jazz, the Oklahoma City Thunder traded Reggie Jackson to the Pistons and Kendrick Perkins to the Jazz in return for D.J. Augustin, Kyle Singler, and Enes Kanter. The Thunder upgrade their interior scoring with the addition of Kanter. At 22-years-old, Kanter still has room to improve but immediately gives the Thunder a big man who can score with his back to the basket. Kanter will form a formidable frontcourt alongside Serge Ibaka and Steven Adams. Oklahoma City was unlikely to resign Jackson this summer so the Thunder sent him to the Pistons for two solid rotation players. D.J. Augustin is an above average point guard who has thrived the past two seasons with the Bulls and Pistons. He can shoot and score when he needs to. He is also a decent distributor. He should fit in seamlessly with the Thunder. Singler is a solid player who will add depth to the Thunder bench. He is a solid shooter and can provide insurance if a player goes down with an injury. Oklahoma City has two of the best players in the world on their roster, and the team just got even better with these trades. The West better watch out.
The Blazers were in dire need of scoring from the wing. They seem to have solved that problem with the acquisition of Arron Afflalo. Portland sent Will Barton, Thomas Robinson, Victor Claver, and a lottery-protected first-round pick in return for Afflalo and Alonzo Gee. The pick will become two second round picks if it is not used in 2016. The Blazers now increase their chances of getting through the treacherous Western Conference playoffs. Afflalo is a physical player who can score in a variety of ways. Although not an outstanding athlete, Afflalo uses his physicality to score and defend. He is a capable shooter from beyond the arc. Portland did not give up much for a player that will fit nicely alongside superstars Damien Lillard and Lamarcus Aldridge.
Every Player Who Demanded to Get Traded
Goran Dragic, Enes Kanter, and Reggie Jackson were all players looking to have a fresh start with a new team. Threatening to leave in free agency this upcoming summer, their former teams decided to trade them instead of losing them for nothing. Jackson can now be the main guard in Detroit for the remainder of the season. It will interesting to see how the Pistons handle him and Brandon Jennings once Jennings returns from injury next season. Dragic goes to the Heat and can now be a true point guard. He often played off the ball this season for the Suns. Kanter goes to a contender and immediately solidifies the Thunder as one of the top contenders in the West.
Presti has received criticism the past couple of seasons since the trade that sent James Harden to Houston. Relying on players like Derek Fisher to make up for Harden’s production the following seasons would make the criticisms grow. Yesterday, Presti did his best to quiet the critics by pulling off a very smart trade. Presti instantly made the Thunder a better team and may have solved some of the chemistry issues the Thunder have. Only time will tell if Presti’s move will end with the Thunder holding the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy this June.
Any Player Who Went to a Contender
The clearest winners of the NBA trade deadline each year are always those players who go from lousy teams to playoff contenders. This year, players like Arron Afflalo, K.J. McDaniels, and Enes Kanter will now have a chance to contribute and play in meaningful games. That is something they have not been able to do in their careers.
Stories of triumphant returns are always great to see. Kevin Garnett’s return to Minnesota will be no different. Garnett began his career and became an all-star while wearing a Timberwolves jersey. Nevertheless, the circumstances of his return will anger most Minnesota fans. The Timberwolves sent Thaddeus Young to Brooklyn for Garnett. As part of the Kevin Love trade, Minnesota gave up a first round pick in order to acquire Young. That investment will now be wasted on Garnett, who is way past his prime and was fighting for any playing time for the Nets. Perhaps the move will distract fans from paying attention to another lost season for the Wolves, but I am guessing that won’t be the case.
The Philadelphia 76ers have been blatantly tanking for the past couple of seasons. Still, the trades made by Philadelphia have taken tanking to another level. Michael Carter-Williams has been one of the top contributors for the 76ers since his NBA debut in 2013. Carter-Williams is a good point guard but is given too much credit at times. Still, the trade leaves the Sixers with yet another hole in their roster. If that was not enough, General Manager Sam Hinkie traded rookie K.J. McDaniels to the Houston Rockets. McDaniels was one of the major surprises of this year’s draft class and one of the lone bright spots in the Sixers’ season so far. Philadelphia has accumulated a plethora of draft picks but will they ultimately succeed to create a championship team anytime in the near future? Perhaps Hinkie will have the last laugh after all.
The Denver Nuggets have been in disarray this season and will likely clean house after the season is over. They are getting a head start by trading away Arron Afflalo and JaVale McGee. Afflalo was likely to leave in free agency this summer, so the Nuggets tried to get something in return. Denver received three marginal rotation players and a lottery-protected 2016 first-round pick. If the pick is not used in 2016, the pick will turn into two second round picks. If that happens, the trade will be even more lopsided. JaVale McGee was also traded, and Denver had to give up a first round pick for a team to take him. The situation in Denver does not seem to be getting better any time soon.
The Suns traded two of their top three leading scorers when they traded Goran Dragic to the Miami Heat and Isaiah Thomas to the Boston Celtics. They also traded Miles Plumlee, Tyler Ennis, and a first round pick in order to get Brandon Knight. It gets worse when you add the fact that Knight will be a free agent in about two months. The Suns were still in playoff contention, but that looks to be over. The team’s future is now filled with more questions than answers.