19 February 2015

Breaking down the winners & losers of the 2015 NBA trade deadline

It was a frenetic race to today's NBA trade deadline as we saw a flurry of deals made right before the 3 pm Eastern deadline. As the All-Star break concludes tomorrow night with teams having around 30 games to go until the regular season concludes, who made out as winners and who came out as losers with their moves today?

Miami Heat
In the wake of LeBron James's departure to Cleveland, it has been a disappointing season for the Heat as they barely sit inside the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference as they are tied for seventh with Charlotte. That changes with their aggressive move for Goran Dragic (and Zoran Dragic) in which they only had to give up some spare pieces and a couple future first-round picks. Dragic now helps to form a dangerous starting five with Dwyane Wade, Luol Deng, Chris Bosh and this season's ultimate surprise, Hassan Whiteside. Dragic now gets out of Phoenix and goes to a team that fits him pretty well, and a team that looks like a nice upset pick come playoff time.

Oklahoma City Thunder
It seemed like the Thunder were all set to flip Reggie Jackson to Brooklyn for Brook Lopez but instead, they send Reggie Jackson to Detroit in a three-team deal to get Enes Kanter, Kyle Singler, D.J. Augustin and Steve Novak. Kanter has his flaws but he gives the Thunder a younger, healthier and cheaper post presence that they sorely needed. Singler should give the Thunder a solid wing shooter and Augustin should help replace Jackson. All in all, a solid day.

Portland Trail Blazers
Portlandia was able to fill a big need for a scorer off the bench by acquiring Arron Afflalo from Denver. To do so they had to part with a handful of bench guys that had not progressed as they hoped in Thomas Robinson, Will Barton and Victor Claver. Afflalo will certainly be useful given his excellent in scoring on mid-ranger jumpers and Alonzo Gee could find himself some burn too.

Philadelphia 76ers
One can easily scoff at the 76ers trading their best player, Michael Carter-Williams, to get another draft pick, but don't. First off, Carter-Williams is an awful shooter, turns the ball over a ton and isn't an efficient player, and is it really a big deal to trade the best player of a team that has won 12 games? Plus, they are getting an excellent piece in a first-round pick from the Lakers, likely to be a lottery pick going forward (1-5 protection in 2015, 1-3 protection in 2016-17, no protection in 2018). They also were able to collect another first-round choice, one that belongs to the Thunder, for just about literally nothing while having to take on JaVale McGee, who may never suit up for Philly. The Sixers could very well end up with four first-round picks next year and that's a win.

Detroit Pistons
I am not the biggest fan of Reggie Jackson but there is no question that the Pistons needed a guard in the wake of Brandon Jennings being lost for the season. He definitely has talent and he is also a restricted free agent so the Pistons have some control over his deal going forward. The fact that they did not have to part with anything too important makes this deal a pretty good one.

Boston Celtics
Isaiah Thomas could have signed with the Celtics in free agency (they were interested) but after half a season down in Phoenix, he will now join the Celtics. Boston did not have to give up too much, only Marcus Thornton and Cleveland's 2016 first-rounder, and Thomas will fill a need for a penetrator and a scoring guard alongside Avery Bradley and talented rookie Marcus Smart.

Minnesota Timberwolves
The Wolves made what appeared to be an emotional acquisition for franchise legend Kevin Garnett by sending Thaddeus Young to Brooklyn. That was not a good deal given Garnett's diminished play and how they had to send a first-round pick for Young in the offseason when they had no need for him. But now it appears that the team wants to sign Garnett to an extension, making this trade even worse for a team that should be focusing on rebuilding.

Milwaukee Bucks
Brandon Knight had been having a really good season for the surprising Bucks and nearly made the All-Star Game but, perhaps considering skepticism as to whether they could sign him long-term, thet dealt him to Phoenix in a big deal that brought them Michael Carter-Williams from Philadelphia and Miles Plumlee and Tyler Ennis from Phoenix. Plumlee could be a useful frontcourt piece but while Carter-Williams is a cheaper option than Knight, he is also a clear downgrade considering his significant shooting struggles.

Brooklyn Nets
The Billy King disaster continues. The Nets were hoping to begin a rebuilding process in earnest by unloading some of their expensive pieces but they were only able to trade away Kevin Garnett to Minnesota for Thaddeus Young. A deal to unload Brook Lopez on Oklahoma City in exchange for Reggie Jackson would have been nice but ultimately was unable to be put together. In the end, the messy future in Brooklyn remains.

Phoenix Suns
At least the Suns were able to bring in Brandon Knight to town and he will certainly be a welcome addition to the backcourt with holdover Eric Bledsoe but ultimately the team has to be disappointed with the hauls they got from Miami for Goran Dragic and from Boston for Isaiah Thomas and it feels hard to say that this team that is hanging on to a playoff spot in eighth in the West improved today.

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