In recent years, the NBA trade deadline has been the funnest to watch in sports. Traditionally, the NFL doesn’t really participate in trades unless there are severe injuries (Teddy Bridgewater) or a team is just in need of a culture change. The MLB and NHL both have an entreatingly large turnover rate, but normally the players are prospects of role players that don’t matter too much to the average fan. The NBA has started recently sending stars into new towns in an attempt to make a splash and this trade deadline didn’t let anyone down. We are going to dissect some trades starting on January 29th and see how the power of both teams shifted.
January 29th – In a move that most didn’t see coming, the LA Clippers decided to send All-Star forward Blake Griffin to the Detroit Pistons. The Clippers have been rumored to blow up their team since start point guard Chris Paul left for the Rockets in the offseason. Although clearing cap space is almost always a positive for a rebuilding team, many fans assumed that Lou Williams and DeAndre Jordan would be the first to go. The Clippers received Tobias Harris, Avery Bradley, Boban Marjanovic and two picks for the deal. Don’t get me wrong, Blake Griffin is a talented forward who can score from outside and in, but he hasn’t made an Allstar game in two seasons and has been plagued with knee injuries as of late. The trade works our for both teams here with the Pistons remaining undefeated since getting Griffin and the Clippers adding some outside shooting talent with Bradley and Harris. Well done all around considering almost no star would go to Detroit by their own will. Trade in those shorts for some snow pants Blake.
February 1st – Although this may seem like a small trade in hindsight, the Chicago Bulls sent forward Nikola Mirotic to the New Orleans Pelicans for center Omer Asik, guards Tony Allen and Jameer Nelson, and a protected 2018 first round pick. The trade was a necessary one for the Pelicans with center Demarcus Cousins out for the rest of the season. NOLA has been a disaster lately and have been unable to create a team around superstar Anthony Davis. This more will allow the Pelicans to be somewhat competitive now, giving Davis a sense of false comfort about the teams position. For the bulls, this trade adds needed pieces as well as clears the air in the locker room. If you remember, Mirotic was involved in an incident with teammate Bobby Portis when Portis clocked the forward in a practice, breaking his cheek bone and keeping him out of commission for weeks. A move that won’t matter in the grand scheme of things, but a solid move for both franchises.
February 8th – This is where things get interesting. At 12:42 P.M., the Cleveland Cavaliers traded guard Isaiah Thomas, forward Channing Frye and their 2018 first-round pick to the LA Lakers for guard Jordan Clarkson and forward Larry Nance Jr. The Cavs decided long before the trade deadline that their current roster wasn’t going to be close to good enough to win a championship and needed to add some younger talent to their locker room with the chance that Lebron James leaves in the offseason. The Cavs still have the Brooklyn Nets first round pick this season, so giving up their first round pick isn’t too much of a loss for the franchise. The Lakers on the other hand, give up two young and talented players but clear enough cap space to be able to offer two max contracts this offseason…possibly to Lebron James and Paul George.
The Cavs weren’t done after the trade with the Lakers. In a three team trade with the Sacramento Kings and the Utah Jazz, the Cavs got guards Rodney Hood and George Hill. The Kings acquired Joe Johnson, Iman Shumpert, and a 2020 second round pick from the Miami Heat, while the Jazz get Jae Crowder and Derrick Rose from the Cavs. Just typing that made my brain hurt. Basically, Lebron James didn’t want to be on a sinking ship and wanted to add guard help to the team. Shumpert, Rose and Thomas weren’t helping the Cavs win any games and Jae Crowder, although a solid defender, can’t put up enough points to contest with either the Warriors of the Rockets. As long as Lebron is on a team it’s tough to not give them a shot at the NBA finals, but even with this newly constructed roster I don’t believe they have enough firepower to overthrow the Celtics, the Raptors, or any team that has a shot in the Western Conference. I’ve been wrong before though.
Not so much a trade good for either franchise, I wouldn’t be doing Flash justice if I didn’t add that Dwyane Wade is back to the Miami Heat. Good for him.
The Denver Nuggets, New York Knicks, and Dallas Mavericks agreed on a three team deal that sent Devin Harris to Denver, Emmanuel Mudiay to New York, and Dougie “McBuckets” McDermott to Dallas. I almost left this trade out of the update because it doesn’t hold weight to what Cleveland did, but personally I think the Mudiay trade is a big one if Kristaps doesn’t get hurt this past week. The best Knick’s guard of recent memory? Jeremy Lin for three weeks. The team never has quality guards, and Mudiay has a way to find the rim when he needs to score.
I won’t get into every single team trade because as every fan knows, most of these trades won’t amount to anything positive past ticket sales and three more wins (see Detroit for example). The Cavs made moves, and for that franchise I think that’s a win. I don’t see this Cleveland roster competing for a Championship, but they did enough to secure that if and when Lebron leaves they have enough young talent to still compete. This is also a large staple point into the greatness that is Lebron James. Although personally I cant stand the guy, there is something to be said for a player so sought after that he can trade and cut players while other teams send their best players away to prepare for the chance to have him. That in itself lends to his greatness. No allegiance, but greatness is greatness.
The Lakers cleared enough cap space and kept Ball, Kouzma, Ingram and Randle to entice two big name free agents this offseason to max deals. The Clippers cleared house for a run at the Lebron James Sweepstakes, and the Utah Jazz got…Derrick Rose. Everybody is a winner.