Fallout of the NBA Trade Deadline


With all due respect to The Last of Us (an amazing show, by the way), the best show on television right now is the National Basketball Association. 


Per usual, the NBA trade deadline offered an insane amount of excitement and drama, which is why this league is the equivalent of a soap opera. With everything now in the rearview mirror, let’s take a look at some of the more interesting trades and how the teams (and the rest of the league) will shake out.

Kevin Durant Traded to the Phoenix Suns

PHX gets: Kevin Durant, T.J. Warren
BKN gets: Mikal Bridges, Cameron Johnson, Jae Crowder, 2023 first, 2025 first, 2027 first, 2029 first

I was literally moments away from going to bed Wednesday but decided to take one final look at Twitter before shutting it down. Surely there wouldn’t be any trades at 1 a.m., right? Wrong. After Kyrie Irving was dealt to Dallas, Kevin Durant — who had listed the Suns as his top destination when he requested a trade months ago — was traded to Phoenix. Durant joins Chris Paul, Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton, instantly not only once again solidifying the Suns as contenders, but perhaps the favorites in the league. With Durant and Booker, the Suns now have one of the best duos in basketball and are going to be virtually unstoppable. Durant and Booker are two of the best mid-range, pull-up scorers in the game, as Durant leads the league in both points per game (12.2) and field goal percentage (54.7%) off pull-up shots this season. He is also shooting 60% from the free throw line distance, the second-highest rate among all players with at least 500 minutes. Booker, meanwhile, is third in pull-up points per game (11.4), while shooting 44% off the play type. And, of course, Paul has made a career out of getting to his spot on the elbow, while he’ll also continue to run the pick-and-roll with Ayton, who is also comfortable shooting that 14-footer. The Suns depth is clearly a concern, but the buyout market should provide them with some players to add to their rotation. 

For Brooklyn, adding all of the draft picks is obviously the goal, but Mikal Bridges is a stellar basketball player. Known for his defense, Bridges has taken strides on offense this season, especially in the absence of Booker. In fact, Bridges averaged 19.3 points per game during the month of January, while averaging 23 points per game over his last 10 outings. Bridges is also a very underrated passer and headlines a Brooklyn team that is suddenly loaded with really good wings (Bridges, Johnson, Royce O’Neale, Ben Simmons, Joe Harris, Seth Curry). Brooklyn is clearly thinking more about their future but with the Kyrie trade as well, they still have plenty of very good NBA players, giving them a chance to maintain a playoff spot this season, while also having assets to try to bring in a star in the future. 

As Expected, the Lakers Make Multiple Moves

LAL gets: D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley, Jarred Vanderbilt
UTA gets: Russell Westbrook, 2027 first
MIN gets: Mike Conley, three second-round picks

You knew the Lakers were going to shake up this depth chart, and while it may not have been the moves some expected, I really like what they did. D’Angelo Russell is a very inconsistent player, but he’s playing some of the best basketball of his career right now. During January, he flirted with 50/40/90, averaging 19.1 points and 5.8 assists per game, while shooting 46.3% from three on over seven attempts per game. When you have LeBron James on your roster, it is imperative to put shooting around him. Russell obviously provides more spacing than Russell Westbrook, shooting 39% off catch-and-shoot threes on the year. He can also give them more than Westbrook in terms of mid-range and pull-up scoring. Meanwhile, the Malik Beasley addition cannot be overlooked. The Lakers rank 29th in points per game (1.9), 28th in frequency rate (2.1%) and 28th in field goal percentage (33.3%) off screens this season. Beasley is averaging 2.6 points per game off screens on the year, fifth in basketball, shooting 42% off the play type. He is terrific at shooting off movement, too. Finally, Jarred Vanderbilt won’t provide much shooting but he’s a talented player who is strong defensively and hustles on every play. At 6-foot-8, Vanderbilt has plenty of defensive versatility alongside Anthony Davis. This move doesn’t suddenly transform the Lakers into contenders, but they are a much better basketball club.

Meanwhile, Russell Westbrook will likely be bought out, and teams such as the Clippers, Heat and Bulls have shown interest. And for Minnesota, Mike Conley takes Russell’s role, which may be a better fit alongside emerging star Anthony Edwards, while he also has plenty of chemistry with Rudy Gobert. And defensively, Minnesota will undoubtedly be better with Conley than Russell, while this move could also help unlock Edwards’ ceiling even faster, which is perhaps the most important development for this franchise right now. 

The Raptors Are Buyers, Not Sellers, at the Deadline

TOR gets: Jakob Poeltl
SAS gets: Khem Birch, 2024 first, two second-round picks

For weeks, there were not only rumors, but expectations, that the Raptors would trade at least one of their key pieces. Instead, they end up adding to the team, acquiring a familiar face in Jakob Poeltl. The Raptors have been looking for help at the center position for years now, and Poeltl will be a huge addition, as he is one of the best rim-protecting centers in the league. It also allows Pascal Siakam to play more at the power forward position which is clearly his most natural position on the floor. We’ll see if Toronto can make a run in the second half of the season and get back into the Eastern Conference playoff picture. 


Los Angeles Clippers Add to Their Backcourt and Frontcourt

LAC gets: Bones Hyland
DEN gets: 2025 second, 2026 second

Things weren’t going well between Bones Hyland and Denver, and he’s now in Los Angeles. We know the Clippers were going to add to their backcourt and Hyland gives them a talented offensive player who can give them plenty of scoring off the bench. Between Hyland and Sixth Man of the Year candidate Norman Powell, the Clippers’ second unit will be able to score. Hyland certainly takes a lot of questionable shots and leaves plenty to be desired on the defensive end but he’s an upgrade over John Wall and Reggie Jackson, who are both now playing elsewhere. 

LAC gets: Eric Gordon, three second-round picks
MEM gets: Luke Kennard
HOU gets: Danny Green, John Wall, 2023 first swap

I love this move for the Clippers and Eric Gordon, who is thrilled to be out of Houston. Even at age 34, Gordon is still a very solid player. He can still defend at a relatively high level at the shooting guard position and is a career 37% three-point shooter. 

Memphis, meanwhile, adds some much needed three-point shooting in this three-team deal. The Grizzlies have dropped eight of their last 10 games, have a below-average halfcourt offense and struggle to shoot the long ball. Memphis ranks 24th in three-point percentage this season (34.4%), as well as 25th in three-point percentage off catch-and-shoot opportunities (35%). Kennard is one of the 10 best shooters in the league — so far this season, he’s shooting 47% off catch-and-shoot threes. And not that he’ll be asked to with Ja Morant and Tyus Jones on the roster, but Kennard can also handle the ball a bit, too. It isn’t quite the splash that an OG Anunoby trade would have been, but this was a good move from the Grizzlies. 

LAC gets: Mason Plumlee
CHA gets: Reggie Jackson, 2028 second

Finally, the Clippers add a backup center behind Ivica Zubac, who has said he has been fatigued at times this season. Zubac is logging a career-high 29.3 minutes per game, nearly five more per game than his next-highest. The Clippers had been playing Robert Covington as their backup center for much of the season, so this is a welcomed addition. Plumlee is having a strong season, averaging 12.2 points, 9.7 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game. He’s one of the best facilitating centers in the league, which gives the Clippers a different look when he’s in the game compared to Zubac. His 7.3 potential assists per game are fifth among all centers this season. 

Josh Hart Moves to the Eastern Conference

NYK gets: Josh Hart
POR gets: Cam Reddish, 2023 protected first

Josh Hart is reunited with college teammate Jalen Brunson in New York. It is a solid move for the Knicks, as Hart is an elite rebounder, especially for his position. His 8.2 rebounds per game are the fifth-most among all non centers this season. He’ll also improve any team’s wing defense, though I would like to see him be more aggressive from three-point land, as his triples per game have essentially been cut in half from a season ago. 

Portland, meanwhile, adds Cam Reddish, who I believe is legitimately good. He wasn’t part of New York’s rotation because Tom Thibodeau runs short rotations. Reddish, 23, has shown serious flashes as a scorer and I am looking forward to finally seeing him see minutes once again. 

Detroit Trades for James Wiseman in Three-Team Deal

DET gets: James Wiseman
ATL gets: Saddiq Bey
GSW gets: Five second-round picks

The move by Golden State to trade James Wiseman is a luxury tax deal, as it’ll save the Warriors $7 million in luxury tax this year and $30 million next season. Despite already having Jalen Duren, Isaiah Stewart and Marvin Bagley on the roster, the Pistons not only decided to take a chance on the former top overall selection, but they reportedly plan to start him. Meanwhile, Atlanta adds some more shooting with Saddiq Bey, which is something they have been missing in the absence of Kevin Huerter. The Hawks rank 27th in catch-and-shoot three-point percentage this season (34.6%), while Bey is shooting 41% off the play type. Especially with Trae Young slumping from beyond the arc, most of Atlanta’s production from three has come from Bogdan Bogdanovic and rookie AJ Griffin this season. Because we haven’t seen Young play off the ball as much, despite the addition of Dejounte Murray, it is important for the Hawks to add more shooting. 

The Lakers Aren’t Finished, Add Mo Bamba

LAL gets: Mo Bamba
ORL gets: Patrick Beverley, second-round pick

Los Angeles was linked to Myles Turner for months, but with him signing his extension with Indiana, that wasn’t in the cards. And while he isn’t anywhere as good as Turner, Bamba does give the Lakers some ability as a floor-spacing five, shooting 39.8% from three on almost three attempts per game. Orlando, who have 100 guards on the roster, are unlikely to keep Patrick Beverley after this move.


Portland Looks to Improve Defense with Matisse Thybulle

POR gets: Matisse Thybulle
PHI gets: Jalen McDaniels, 2024 second, 2029 second
CHA gets: Svi Mykhailiuk, 2023 second, 2027 second

Philadelphia couldn’t find a spot for Matisse Thybulle, who will now look to bolster Portland’s struggling defensive unit. The 76ers will bring in Jalen McDaniels, who isn’t as good of a perimeter defender as Thybulle but is really good and offers way more on the offensive end, which was the reason Thybulle couldn’t find consistent playing time. This move also puts Philadelphia below the luxury tax, too. 

Denver Upgrades Backup Center Spot with Thomas Bryant

DEN gets: Thomas Bryant
LAL gets: Davon Reed, three second-round picks

This is a good move for Denver, as you are hoping to basically survive any minutes where Nikola Jokic is off the floor. Denver has a +26.2 points per 100 possession differential when Jokic is on the floor this season, easily the highest mark in the league. Their effective field goal percentage also jumps up by 7.9%, also the highest rate. Thomas Bryant is an upgrade over DeAndre Jordan, averaging 12.1 points and 6.8 rebounds per game on the season. 

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