Now that the dust has settled and we have passed the NBA Trade Deadline, it’s time to digest what went down the past couple days.
Many contending teams were busy in some form or fashion, as were a few of the non-contenders. Obviously, the biggest news is that the New Orleans Pelicans held on to Anthony Davis, meaning teams will engage in a free-for-all to trade for the star big man once July 1 rolls around.
All told, more teams than not made out well for themselves, as plenty of deals were mutually beneficial. Still, some fared much better than others, so let’s look at three winners and three losers from a busy trade season.
The Bucks have been one of the best teams in the NBA all season, and they just improved in a big way by getting Nikola Mirotic. Milwaukee sent Jason Smith, Stanley Johnson (whom they acquired a day before in a trade for Thon Maker) and four second-round picks to the Pels to get the deal done.
Mirotic is one of the league’s best 3-point shooters, so putting him with fellow marksman Khris Middleton as well as Giannis Antetokounmpo makes that offense absolutely lethal. Mirotic and Middleton will be free agents this offseason, so if nothing else the Bucks are making a real push to win the Eastern Conference this season.
New Orleans Pelicans
They had the vision to hold on to Davis, and they likely will be rewarded heavily for it this summer. Giving up Mirotic hurts a bit, sure, but they probably were going to lose him this offseason anyways.
The real benefit is that they stuck it to the Los Angeles Lakers. If the reports are true, the Pelicans never were going to trade Davis to the Lakers but kept baiting the Lakers so that it would set Los Angeles’ locker room on fire.
New Orleans may be a dumpster fire for the next few seasons as they rebuild and Davis ultimately may end up signing with the Lakers in 2020 anyway, but the Pelicans should take satisfaction in the fact that they disrupted a locker room filled with young players.
Giving up Jonas Valanciunas couldn’t have been easy, but getting a much more versatile big in return should soften the blow. In addition to Valanciunas, the Raptors sent Delon Wright, C.J. Miles and a second-round pick to the Memphis Grizzlies to get Marc Gasol.
Of course, the 34-year-old Gasol isn’t exactly what he used to be, but he’s still gifted on the offensive end and reliable defensively. Whether or not Gasol elects to exercise the opt-out clause in his contract this summer remains to be seen, but it’s clear the Raptors — much like the Bucks — believe they can capitalize on this one-year window, which is why they got Kawhi Leonard in the first place.
Los Angeles Lakers
Put simply, the Lakers got exposed. They reportedly offered just about everybody to the Pelicans for Davis, and what did they get? Nothing.
(Well, they did get Mike Muscala in exchange for Ivica Zubac and Michael Beasley from the Clippers, which is about as big of a¯\_(ツ)_/¯ trade as can be.)
The Muscala trade aside, making abundantly clear to every young player that they’re expendable and their star player LeBron James, who, let’s be real, must have a non-zero involvement in the team’s operations, would be fine without them is a tough pill to swallow.
For most of the days leading up to the deadline, the Hornets were linked to Gasol, and it really seemed like they’d get their hands on him. Instead, Gasol was traded to the Raptors, leaving the Hornets empty-handed.
At best they’re an eight- or seven-seed in the East, and not upgrading at all essentially guarantees they either miss the playoffs or get their doors blown off in the first round. Sounds fun!
One day we might look back and be impressed with the Wizards’ bookkeeping this deadline, but that’s a bit of a stretch. Shedding Markieff Morris and Otto Porter’s contracts is cool and all, but they really didn’t make any moves that will set them up to be a better team in the future without considerable risk.
It’s possible the Wizards could make a semi-decent signing in this offseason, but it’s tough to see them making any sort of splash. Because of that, they’re probably going to be pretty bad for a little bit — which is a hell of a concept considering they were a game away from the conference finals just two seasons ago.
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