It’s that time of the year when the complicated albeit confusing changes are happening at a feverish pitch to get the best trades to come up with a sought-after team combo for the next round of games.
It is interesting and a valid reason to be able to get more details on this and a deep dive into what’s really going on. You may first ask who made a deal at the NBA’s trade deadline but the more critical query would be who didn’t make it?
First off, Cleveland and Chicago did not. The rest of the 28 teams have made trades from the small — (Dewayne Dedmon from Miami to San Antonio) to bigger waves of change (Kevin Durant from Brooklyn to Phoenix).
The move on Durant happened just after midnight early Thursday morning — the scant number of hours before the trade deadline were hammered with activity.
The Eastern Conference didn’t make major changes that can make a dent but the Western Conference definitely improved. The process of trades can take about a year the making but the buyout market is up next. There will be wanted players once they are bought out: Russell Westbrook, Patrick Beverley, John Wall, Danny Green, Will Barton, Serge Ibaka, and Terrence Ross.
Hang on and let’s step back a bit before the buyout market opens up. Let’s check the trade deadline winners, losers and those yet to be finalized:
Phoenix/new Suns owner Mat Ishbia
The new Phoenix Suns owner, Mat Ishbia — CEO and Chairman of the United Wholesale Mortgage — took only 36 hours after assuming controlling interest to decide to acquire Kevin Durant from Brooklyn for Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson, Jae Crowder and four first-round picks. In peak condition, the trio of Durant, Devin Booker and Chris Paul become a formidable offence for the team. The addition of Durant is will boost the Sun to title contender status.
Los Angeles Lakers
So far, the decisive changes improved the team composition of The Lakers. They acquired Rui Hachimura, D’Angelo Russell, Jarred Vanderbilt, Malik Beasley and Mo Bamba acquisitions with only one first-round draft pick given up. They almost fell into a to-be-determined category but the front office gets kudos for the moves while still keeping roster flexibility in the offseason.
The current first-place holders, the Celtics didn’t make major changes in this round of tradeoffs. The only one so far is with Mike Muscala. However, they did witness a soon-to-be playoff opponent (Brooklyn) trade its two top players, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, to teams in the West.
The oft-underrated player with one of the highest potential and value, Jae Crowder remained in the background the past season with the Suns. After the Nets acquired him in the Durant deal, they then traded him to Milwaukee where he hopefully will be able to get major court time to finally demonstrate his abilities in defence and 3-point shooting.
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Back at the start of the 2019 offseason, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving were signed on by the Nets. Got their coach, Steve Nash and traded for James Harden. When 2023 rolled along, Durant was sent to Phoenix, Irving to Dallas, and Harden to Philadelphia last season. Nash was fired seven games into the season — all the potential of forming a Big 3 with a Hall of Fame player as a coach — yielded only a second-round exit and created dysfunction in the team.
Reducing their luxury tax bill was met when the Warriors traded James Wiseman to Detroit despite Wiseman being the No. 2 pick in the 2020 draft. They also didn’t get the expected performance from Wiseman other than the tax savings. Other trades were five second-round picks to Portland for Gary Payton II, who the Warriors let walk in free agency in the summer after he played a key reserve role on the 2022 championship team.
They did make minor moves at the deadline. But the Nuggets and Grizzlies currently first and second-place teams in the West didn’t do anything to improve while other teams in the West saw to it that tier teams were optimized with the trades.
Currently, the Bulls are 26-28 and still grappling for a play-in spot. Considering this scenario comes in Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan and Nik Vucevic. At this time, Vucevic will be a free agent after this season, and the intention of the Bulls to build a contender on the fly hasn’t materialized.
To be determined
So far, the intention of Mavs has been searching for a star to give Luka Doncic some help. This made the move to get Kyrie Irving from Brooklyn to pair alongside MVP candidate Doncic. Dallas will be a formidable offensive team but this is still a wait-and-see trade.
There has been a flurry of trade speculation on the Raptors simply because teams were interested in their players. There are also players who will be free agents over the next two offseasons. They are Fred VanVleet, Gary Trent Jr., OG Anunoby, and Pascal Siakam. Scottie Barnes meanwhile will be in line for an extension on his rookie deal.
When a team isn’t bent on getting big-name players, they’ll focus more on draft picks. This has the second-rounders in a favourably in-demand position. Both Portland and Brooklyn now have five future second-round picks, and the Nets collected four first-rounders from Phoenix in the Durant trade. With Utah, they added another first-round pick in the Westbrook trade with the Lakers and currently accumulated 12 first-round draft picks since July.
Taking a gamble was how the Wizards chose Kyle Kuzma and Kristaps Porzingis who are both incidentally turned free agents after the season. It’s important to note that they didn’t trade either player with the intention to possibly re-sign both in the offseason. As free agents, they can also choose to leave placing the Wizards in a situation they may lose both with little in return.
There you have it! It’s quite a dance to get things right with the NBA team compositions. But the details do matter and the only hammer that can crack perceptions is an unexpected turn in each player’s performance. Do you share the same sentiments? Just comment below and let us know how things are on your side of things. After all, part of the fun in these discussions is throwing in your angle on the news. Hope to hear from you soon and cheers!