This season’s NBA Trade Deadline has come and gone. And, just as we’ve seen in past seasons, a flurry of last day trades were expected. However, that flurry of trades failed to produce anything really earth-shattering. That doesn’t mean the day was a total waste. Several teams made moves that may prove to be significant once the playoffs arrive. Yet, other teams that were expected to make noise went surprisingly silent. Of course, no deal was going to catch our attention like Sunday’s DeMarcus Cousins deal anyway. We all know that anyone picking up the best big man in the game is a winner, but who else were winners of this NBA Trade Deadline? And, who were the losers? Read on for my take.
1. RAPTORS – Toronto didn’t make a big splash like acquiring DeMarcus Cousins. But, what they accomplished helps them now and should comfortably put them ahead of the Celtics and Wizards, two teams that had passed them in the Eastern Conference standings. Acquiring Serge Ibaka earlier, and PJ Tucker just before the deadline, also places them in better position to challenge Lebron and the Cavs. Teams that have success against Lebron usually have multiple players that can bother him defensively. Ibaka, may not be the defender he once was, but he’s still pretty good at protecting the rim. Tucker, is also known for his toughness on the defensive end. In addition to their defense, both of these players can stretch defenses and score. Because of these deals, the Raptors are tougher and they didn’t give much in return. But, any playoff success still depends largely on Kyle Lowry and DeMar Derozan.
2. PELICANS – Acquiring DeMarcus Cousins was undoubtedly the biggest splash of the NBA trade deadline. It’s not going to have much significance on the playoffs this season, and it may not next season. But, what it does is give New Orleans one of the best front court tandems in NBA history. Now, will having two bigs of this caliber work in their favor. Both are comfortable on the perimeter offensively. But, what about their defense? Davis, can get out and guard players quicker and smaller than him, but can he do it every night? Can Cousins protect the rim enough? All big questions. But, if it doesn’t work, Cousins will only be 27 years old when his contract expires next season. Shouldn’t be hard to trade at that point. What a steal!
3. CAVALIERS – OK, so the Cavs only added Deron Williams. There’s no questioning this wasn’t the first move that Lebron James wanted for the upcoming title run. But, it’s what some of their challengers didn’t do that makes the Cavs NBA Trade Deadline winners. The Celtics didn’t add Paul George from the Pacers, or Jimmy Butler from the Bulls. Either of those players would have made the Celtics a lot better. Danny Ainge didn’t pull the trigger. Also, the Washington Wizards were largely silent, except for acquiring Nets’ sharp-shooter, Boyan Bogdanovic. As mentioned above, Toronto did help themselves. But, it still may not be enough to dethrone the Cavs. And, it’s not like Williams isn’t a nice pickup to backup Kyrie Irving at the point.
4. THUNDER – Sam Presti proves he’s still a great GM. Russell Westbrook, needed help, and that’s exactly what he got. Taj Gibson, and Doug McDermott aren’t all stars, but they both can fill a role. They’re also better than anyone else playing their positions currently on OKC’s roster, and the Thunder gave up little to get them. Gibson, can still be that hard-nosed, rugged defender and rebounder that can also score. McDermott, can do what he does best, spot up and shoot. The Thunder aren’t going to win the title, but they’re chances of reaching the second round increased. Teaming Gibson up with Steven Adams and Enes Kanter makes for a nice interior game that teams have to seriously prepare for. Only negative? Who’s going to fill Cameron Payne’s role in Westbrook’s pre-game dance ritual?
5. ROCKETS – Any team that’s perceived to be a contender would have been a winner in acquiring Lou Williams from the Lakers. What Williams adds to the Rockets right now far outweighs losing Corey Brewer and a first round pick. While, getting Williams is a slam dunk move, there are questions. In losing Brewer, and now KJ McDaniels, the Rockets are void of a wing defender behind Trevor Ariza. And, it remains to be seen who the Rockets could add with the money they acquired from the McDaniels and Tyler Ennis deals. If they add Andrew Bogut, it would be a win, giving them that rim protection they need. Regardless, adding Williams helps a team that despite being second in the NBA in scoring, has scoringlapses and gives James Harden a little more rest for the stretch run. Is all this enough to challenge the Warriors? Maybe.
Just missing the cut: Mavericks, Nets, Hawks
1. CELTICS – Despite Jimmy Butler and Paul George possibly being available, Danny Ainge did nothing. Only time will tell if standing pat was the correct move. The Celtics are currently second to the Cavs in the East, and with a move could have challenged the Cavs even harder in the playoffs. The Celtics are a good team, but are probably not as good as the Raptors and Wizards now. Plus, if they finish fourth and win their first round series, the prize would be Lebron and the Cavs in the second round. Still, with all of the assets the Celtics possess and Danny Ainge still in charge, the Celtics’ future is still very bright. It’s just a bit disappointing for the immediate future.
2. KINGS – It’s not known what Sacramento Kings management is smoking, but whatever it is, it has to be extremely potent. The only reason the Kings aren’t the biggest loser, is because they would have been at best the 8th seed out west. So, they didn’t lose much in terms of immediate impact. But, besides their new arena, what they lost in DeMarcus Cousins was their only positive identity. But, who’s going to want to come to the new arena and see them play now? And, to know the Kings had better deals on the table makes it even more terrifying for Sacramento fans. This franchise is clearly the NBA’s worst, and possibly the worst in sports.
3. BULLS – Whatever Sacramento Kings management is smoking, there’s no shortage of it in the Windy City. Trading away Taj Gibson was terrible. Gibson, at least showed toughness on the interior, and has several years of play left in him. Getting Cameron Payne hardly pushes the needle, and OKC let go of Anthony Morrow for a reason. The Thunder upgraded at the Bulls expense, and it’s hard to remember the last time a deal upgraded the Bulls.
4. KNICKS – Carmelo Anthony and Derrick Rose, along with their monstrous contracts still remain. Add to that the fact that Minnesota seemed willing to swap Ricky Rubio for Rose makes matters worse. Why the T’Wolves had any interest in Rose is anyone’s guess. But, leave it up to Phil Jackson to screw it up. The Knicks need to have some sort of direction around Kristaps Porzingis. Getting rid of Rose and acquiring Rubio would have been a decent start.
5. NUGGETS – The Denver Nuggets have been a huge surprise this season, and still have a great shot at being the 8th seed in the west. But, getting rid of Danilo Galinari before free agency would be in their best interest. Nothing was done, however. The future is still bright in Denver, but losing Galinari for nothing will hurt.
Just missing the cut: Wizards, Sixers