Now that’s the action we’re looking for! After a week filled with disappointment because of the Super Bowl, the NBA Trade Deadline gave sports fans all the news and action they needed. I’ll be touching on some of the biggest moves from the deadline along with the biggest post-deadline stories. Unless specified, any and all reports are courtesy of ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
The rich got richer down the stretch as the Milwaukee Bucks, Philadelphia 76ers, and Toronto Raptors added pieces to potential championship teams. Let’s start by looking at what the Bucks did. Milwaukee sent Jason Smith, Stanley Johnson, and multiple second-round picks to the New Orleans Pelicans in exchange for Nikola Mirotic. While this move doesn’t seem as impactful or exciting as the two others I’m going to talk about, the Mirotic trade was still a great move for the Bucks. They didn’t have to give up any major assets or key contributors to add Mirotic, who is having his best season yet. Mirotic is averaging 16.7 points, 1.1 assists, and 8.3 rebounds per game on .447 field goal percentage. At 6-10, he’s also a significant three-point shooter, making him a versatile offensive threat. This is my kind of deal because the Bucks only had to give a little, but they got a lot back in return.
The 76ers made a couple moves at the deadline. They traded for James Ennis from the Houston Rockets. Houston will receive draft considerations in return. That wasn’t the team’s big move though. They traded with the Los Angeles Clippers for Tobias Harris, sending Landry Shamet, Mike Muscala, Wilson Chandler, two second-round picks, and two first-round picks to LA. The move isn’t just to help the team make a one-year run at the Finals though. The team is working to find a way to keep Harris and Jimmy Butler this offseason in a move that would give them a Big Four (along with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid). The team already freed up some space by shipping former No. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz to the Orlando Magic in exchange for Jonathon Simmons, a second-round pick, and a first-round pick.
I think the 76ers are definitely winners at the deadline. The team’s starting lineup will be monstrous now that they’ve added Harris. I just hope the team can work together well. This wouldn’t be the first instance of a team of stars failing to gel. Regardless, Harris is a borderline All-Star level player. At this moment, he’s averaging 20.9 points, 2.7 assists, and 7.9 rebounds per game on .496 field goal percentage. I think his success has been highly underappreciated up to this point. The 76ers also got rid of Fultz, a selection that will haunt the team for the rest of its existence. Granted, Fultz was never healthy and he was great in college, but he got in his own head once he hit the pros and became his own worst enemy. Maybe in Orlando, where there will be less pressure, he’ll get his career back on track.
The Raptors also made a big splash, sending C.J. Miles, Delon Wright, Jonas Valanciunas, and a 2024 second-round pick to the Memphis Grizzlies for Marc Gasol. I like this deal in the short term. Valanciunas had already shifted to more of a bench role this year before he was injured 30 games into the season. Miles and Wright did get good minutes off the bench, but neither were exactly crucial players. Gasol is a versatile big man capable of putting up 15 points, five assists, and eight rebounds a night. He’s also one of the best defensive bigs in the game, can regularly contribute steals as well as blocks, and has the ability to score from range. The only issue is that he’s 34 and has a player option in his contract for next season. Valanciunas is 26 and also has a player option in his contract for next season. Whatever the future might hold, pairing Gasol with Kawhi Leonard and Kyle Lowry for the rest of the season was a great move.
Some of the biggest news that came out of the deadline, or rather news that didn’t come out, is that Anthony Davis is staying put in New Orleans. Davis has made it clear he ready to move on from the team that drafted him, but he’ll be there for at least the rest of the season. The Los Angeles Lakers pursued Davis heavily for the last week, but the Pelicans turned them down despite leaked potential deals involving Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Ivica Zubac, Josh Hart, Lonzo Ball, and multiple first-round picks. The Pelicans turning all of that down for a man they know wants out, is more than a little ridiculous. I actually think the Lakers dodged a bullet by not having that deal go through, I mean they would have lost close to half their roster!
The Pelicans actually might have never intended to trade Davis at all, despite saying he was on the market. According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, the Pelicans were still upset about LeBron James potentially tampering with Davis earlier this season. They never intended to trade with the Lakers, but rather left the Lakers out to dry by leaking trade packages and trying to disrupt the team’s chemistry. It’s rumored the Boston Celtics may try to move Jayson Tatum in a deal for Davis this offseason. Davis is under contract through the 2019 season and has a player option in 2020.
Even though the deadline has passed, teams can still improve. There will be a plethora of free agents on the market soon as some teams complete buyouts. Those players may include Carmelo Anthony, Enes Kanter, Marcin Gortat, Robin Lopez, Wayne Ellington, Wesley Matthews, and Zach Randolph. I’m not guaranteeing that all of these players will be available, but a lot of them will be free to sign with new teams as the NBA action keeps rolling on.
There were plenty of other deals not in this article that involved recognizable NBA players and talent. For a more complete look at all the moves, check out ESPN’s article covering the deadline.