Kyrie To The Mavericks, Brooklyn Re-Tools Around KD
The Deal: Nets receive Dorian Finney-Smith, Spencer Dinwiddie, and a 2029 1st Round Pick (unprotected) from the Mavericks in exchange for Kyrie Irving and Markieff Morris.
Typically, if an All-Star, All-NBA caliber player gets traded for 2 rotation pieces and a single 1st round pick, that would be highway robbery for the team giving up the All-Star. But Kyrie Irving is no typical star and if the 1001 off-the-court ‘mishaps’ didn’t hurt his value, actively requesting a trade 7 days before the deadline certainly did. The Nets were never going to get a dollar-for-dollar deal for the type of player Irving can be on the court, but they made out pretty well. Finney-Smith is a legitimate 3-n-D player that can guard opposing teams’ wing stars as the primary defender. He can switch a few positions, which should help him fit in with the Nets’ switch-heavy defensive scheme. He can knock down shots and space the floor for Kevin Durant and with Nic Claxton and the Slim Reaper, the trio makes for a formidable defensive frontcourt. Dinwiddie isn’t the player Irving is, but he can replicate some offensive punch as a secondary scorer, applying pressure to the rim and knocking down jumpers off of advantages Durant creates. The 2029 1st round pick could be really juicy if the Luka situation in Dallas ever deteriorates. And I have a feeling the Nets aren’t done making moves.
For the Mavericks, you can look at this deal in 2 ways. If the second half of this season truly is a trial period to see how the Irving-Doncic dynamic works then they probably coughed up a little bit too much to actually make it work this season. Losing Finney-Smith is a blow, even if it doesn’t seem like a massive one right now. He was a key cog that made that defense work last year when the Mavs made their conference finals run and while I’m hopeful Josh Green can step in and replicate some of the defensive things DFS provided, I’m wary about relying on him consistently to guard up in size. They’ve sorta handicapped their ability to put the best defensive team possible around Irving and Doncic and that’s what that duo needs. Again, maybe they’re not done and a Christian Wood, Tim Hardaway Jr deal brings in some formidable defenders into the fold, but as of now, I don’t love their short-term outlook. Long term, if Irving decides to sign on, and if the Mavericks are willing to cough up the money he’s looking for, you’re taking a huge gamble on a guy who has missed half his games as a Brooklyn Net through his 3.5 seasons there. You also never know when he just decides he wants to play for a different team or post something controversial and problematic. It’s a huge gamble on a player who has been gambled on before and hasn’t produced results. We’ll see if it pans out for the Mavericks, who seemed desperate to find Luka some help. And desperate teams rarely make it out this good.
2. Lakers, Timberwolves, and Jazz Swap Point Guards
The Deal: The Lakers Receive D’Angelo Russell, Jared Vanderbilt, and Malik Beasley while sending out Russell Westbrook and a top-4 protected 2027 1st Round Pick to the Utah Jazz. The Jazz sends Mike Conley to the Timberwolves along with Nickeil Alexander-Walker. The Lakers also send three 2nd round picks to the Timberwolves to facilitate the deal.
What the Los Angeles Lakers needed more than anything were actual, good NBA players to surround Anthony Davis and LeBron James. They got that with this trade. Russell will alleviate some of the ballhandling duties from James, is a more efficient and less sporadic playmaker than Westbrook, and was having a rather successful season with the Timberwolves. He was up for a payday this summer and if the Lakers end up winning games in abundance, maybe he ends up being their marque signing. Or, he can be included in a sign-and-trade in an eventual Irving deal. Vanderbilt and Beasley also provide 2 things the Lakers needed in abundance, shooting, and defense. The thing is, neither can do both. Beasley is a lights-out movement shooter who should pair well with James, Russell, and Davis. Think of a J.R Smith or Kyle Korver type from LeBrom James teams of the past. Vanderbilt isn’t much of an offensive weapon, although he’s a good connector as a tertiary passer. He is, however, a pretty superb defender and hustles at an insane level on the court. He’s going to be needed on the wings if the Lakers are planning on making a playoff run this season, so it’s a great addition. Overall, the Lakers’ outlook on the season looks much different after this trade, gaining the rights to 3 rotation players that they can keep after this season and only giving up the expiring contract of Westbrook and a single lightly protected first. They have more control of their destiny now and can even make another move on deadline day if they decide to include their 2029 1st round pick. Or save it for the summer. Regardless, they gained players while also exercising their flexibility. It’s a huge win for LA.
The Jazz are headed for the Wembanyama sweepstakes after blowing away expectations through the 1st half of the season. Markkanen got his All-Star nod, they’re happy now. But, I’m still surprised they settle for this return for three rotation players. Westbrook won’t play a single minute in a Jazz uniform, but that part doesn’t matter. For Conley, Vando, and Beasley, the Jazz received the Lakers’ 2027 1st-round pick which will be top-4 protected. What makes things even more puzzling, is if the pick isn’t converted, it immediately turns into a 2027 2nd-round pick. In all likelihood, the pick will convert, which is fine, but it just feels like the Jazz left too much meat on the bone and could have got more for the trio they sent out. But they got off Conley’s contract and opened up a bunch of money this summer, which is a win, I guess.
I might be in the minority here but I absolutely love Conley’s fit in Minnesota. Rudy Gobert now has a guard that he’s developed chemistry with. Conley does a lot of the same things Russell can do for this team as a secondary playmaker and shooter, all while still being a menace in passing lanes on defense. His presence should help Ant Edwards as well and getting NAW and multiple 2nds is a pretty good addition. If they weren’t planning to pay Russell, Conley is a good replacement that can provide similar things and maybe help unlock the player the Wolves traded for in the summer, Gobert.
3. Josh Hart to NYK, Reddish & A Pick To PDX
The Deal: Josh Hart is headed to New York in exchange for Cam Reddish, the Knicks’ 2023 1st round pick (lotto protected) which turns into four 2nd round picks if it doesn’t convert, as well as Svi Mykhailiuk and Ryan Arcidiacono
Hart is going to be wonderful in New York and exactly what the doctor ordered. He has connective juice as a passer, can guard multiple positions on defense and, if he ever gets his jumper back, he should provide some nice floor spacing as well. The Knicks immediately get a rotation player for a playoff run for essentially a late 1st round pick and a player they weren’t playing anyways in Reddish. This is good business from the Knicks.
This has me thinking the Blazers aren’t done at the deadline. This feels like the move before the move to open up cap space, add a pick and potentially package that together with something else in order to make a win-now move. Because this isn’t that. Hart is a considerably better player than Reddish, who has shown flashes, at best, in his time in the NBA. The extra 1st is juicy, though, and with the way the Knicks are playing, it almost certainly will convert. I just can’t help but think the Blazers have something else up their sleeve after this one.
4. The Suns (Finally) Get KD
The Deal: The Phoenix Suns receive Kevin Durant and TJ Warren and sent Mikal Bridges, Cameron Johnson, and Jae Crowder, 4 unprotected 1st round picks in 2023, 2025, 2027, and 2029 as well as a 2028 pick swap to the Brooklyn Nets.
Well, holy mother of God. Kevin Durant is finally a Phoenix Sun and it happens in the middle of the night when half of the NBA world is still asleep, including me. First of all, the Suns were always going to be the biggest wildcard in this trade deadline because of their new owner Matt Ishbia coming in and taking control of the organization just a few days before the deadline. Owners love to get involved early and what a way to do it. My initial thought is, a core four of Chris Paul, Devin Booker, Kevin Durant, and Deandre Ayton is up there with some of the best foursomes in the NBA — maybe the best. The shot creation and offensive firepower of that team just went through the roof. And this isn’t only a bet on winning this season, but a bet on winning for the next few years with Durant under contract until 2026. Not moving Ayton also gives them a level of flexibility to continue to further tweak this roster, either now or this summer. They’re immediately the title favorites, in my opinion. There are some serious questions about depth and health, but for now, this is about as good as it gets.
If I was a betting man, I would have put the likelihood of Durant getting moved at the deadline at like 25%, just because it is hard to fathom coming up with a trade package that made sense in just a few days. The Suns clearly did and overall, the value returned on this trade is good. 4 unprotected firsts, two of which are after Durant’s contract is over in Phoenix as well as Bridges and Johnson who are two, young and exciting wings that the Nets can build around for the future. It’s a win if we only look at this trade. But, you can’t. Bigger picture, the Nets walk away from the 3.5-year tenure of the KD-Kyrie duo with 0 Conference Finals runs, 1 toe on the line, multiple injuries, a million different debacles, and white hairs for everybody in the Nets front office and ownership group. The Nets, since arriving in Brooklyn, have tried and failed to create two different superstar groups — falling flat on their faces each time. The Nets picks are owned by the Rockets for the foreseeable future and while they might be fun and frisky with Bridges, Johnson, Nic Claxton, and Cam Thomas, it’s hard to imagine them being competitive enough to not make those picks hurt. The macro outlook on the Nets and their overall success as a franchise looks rough. But — they could still be a fun basketball team, away from all the headaches of the last 3 seasons. Go back to building a fun culture in Brooklyn.
5. The Raptors (Finally) Get A Big Man
The Deal: Jakob Poeltl to the Toronto Raptors in exchange for Khem Birch, a top 6 protected 2024 1st-round pick (from 2024 to 2026), and two future second-round picks.
I don’t have a grade for this yet because it all depends on the protections in that 2024 first. But quick observations:
Face value the Spurs weren’t going to get the two 1st round picks they desired for Jakob. That was never going to happen. One protected 1st and two 2nds make more sense. The Spurs get another asset in the asset chamber, Birch is definitely a big man who can be in the rotation on a bad team, which the Spurs will no doubt be. I really hope Wemby lands here because it would be funny to see Pop consistently dumbfounded on the sidelines by Wembanyama’s ability.
Update: This Raptors team is investing in winning now by giving up their pick flexibility for 3 seasons in order to acquire Poeltl’s bird rights. Is it the right call? I’d say no. Making the 2024 pick top 6 protected doesn’t provide them any insurance for a bad or lackluster 2023-2024 season. You have to pay Poeltl. You have to shake up your core even more because of money getting tight, which might make it even harder for you to compete next season. This is not a good deal for the Raptors, in my opinion, unless they get a complete haul for one of Anunoby, VanVleet or Trent Jr or all of them. The Raptors are pushing their chips in to be a good team NOW. But that doesn’t entirely make sense given how this team has looked this season.
Again, the actual grade I’d give for this trade depends entirely on the protections for the 2024 1st. If it’s lottery protected or top-20-protected, I like this trade a LOT more for the Raptors. Jakob Poeltl fits the build of the type of big man the Raptors envision, he’s a rim protector, he’s a good roll man, he can make passes in the short roll, and he should open up a bunch of space vertically for this team. Jakob and Pascal Siakam, two good friends, are back together. It’s a very good vibes trade. I have shooting concerns, as one seemingly always does with the Raptors because Poeltl, Siakam, and Scottie Barnes aren’t necessarily the most 3-point-reliant frontcourt in the NBA. That might make spacing an even more difficult task for Nick Nurse and crew. I also have questions about where Precious Achiuwa, who was really starting to find his footing again this season and looks primed to become an all-encompassing all-defense caliber player, fits into all of this with Poeltl now the assumed starting five.
In short, this leaves me with more questions than answers regarding the Raptors and I’m not entirely sure why they are acting as buyers.
But It feels like the Raptors aren’t done here and that they will, no doubt, trade one of if not multiple of Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby, and Gary Trent Jr to recoup on the picks they lost and maybe add some more youth onto this roster. Let’s see!
6. Celtics Get A Back-Up C
The Deal: Justin Jackson and two 2nd round picks from the Celtics for Thunder big man Mike Muscala
The Celtics needed a backup big and Muscala sort of fits the build for what they need. He provides size, can stretch the floor and it didn’t cost them anything at all. A good way to fine-tune their front-court.
I feel like the Thunder could have maybe got more for Muscala, who’s been awesome for them and has been their only true big man this season. The jury is still out on Jackson as a prospect, but Sam Presti loves him some picks, even if they’re 2nd rounders.
7. Bucks (Finally) Get Crowder
The Deal: Jae Crowder to the Bucks for five 2nd round draft picks, Indiana acquires Jordan Nwora, Serge Ibaka, George Hill and 2 seconds as well.
The Bucks were rumored for so long to be a destination for Crowder that this seemed inevitable. He hasn’t played basketball since May but in theory, he should provide a spark, either off the bench or as a starter (yikes) who can defend and stretch the floor. All of this is in theory but the Bucks needed some depth and Crowder should be that.
Five second-round picks for a guy you probably weren’t going to play is a good return. The Nets are stockpiling on picks.
Getting Nwora just for being involved in the deal is interesting. He’s a guy that they probably think they can develop moving forward and he probably gets more playing time in Indy than in Milwaukee.
8. Lakers Send Bryant To Denver
The Deal: Thomas Bryant to Denver for Devon Reed and 3 second-round picks.
Good move again by the Lakers, who needed to find some minutes for their newly acquired backup big Jared Vanderbilt. Bryant had been good for them but isn’t that great of a defender. Getting three seconds for an expiring lower-tier big is a win. The Lakers probably don’t keep Reed either and open up a spot to pick up another player.
Denver’s biggest issue is their defense and Bryant isn’t exactly heralded as a capable player on that end. He should be able to provide Jokic some relief and play minutes as a backup 5, but at the same time, you sort of wish they went out and got a better fit at the backup spot.
9. Thybulle Hits The PDX
The Deal: Blazers send Svi and multiple second-round picks to Charlotte, Philadelphia sends Matisse Thybulle to Portland and the Sixers receive Jalen McDaniels in return.
McDaniels is a wing defender who can help the Sixers this season and is young enough that he can be a contributing piece moving forward as well. He’s shown some flashes on offense so he won’t be as bad of a liability on that end as Thybulle was. He’s long, can guard multiple positions, and fill passing lanes. This is a good move for Philly.
How you look at this deal from the Blazers’ perspective depends entirely on how much you believe in Thybulle. He’s a good defender, although probably a tad bit overrated for his leaping ability, but he’s a complete negative on offense. If you’re the Blazers, how do you incorporate Thybulle and Gary Payton Jr into the lineup without losing too much spacing and offensive juice? These are questions that Chauncey Billups and the staff will have to figure out. Plus, they’ll have to pay Thybulle this summer. But overall, it’s a good move for a defender, which they desperately need.
I don’t understand the urgency to get off young players like McDaniels if I’m Charlotte. He’s an RFA so they’d have to pay him this summer but the price tag probably wouldn’t have been too much for a team that isn’t planning to compete anytime soon. I just feel like they could have got more for him.
10. Bones Finds A New Home
The Deal: Bones Hyland to the Clippers for second-round picks in 2024 and 2025
Bones Hyland has shown flashes of true star potential in his time in Denver. He’s also shown that he’s probably one of the worst defenders in the NBA. Reports indicate that the situation in Denver had gotten to the point where it was irreparable between him and the Nuggets so maybe the Clippers help Hyland turn a new leaf. If he’s looking for more opportunity, though, this might be a tough team to rationalize that, with tons of depth, and a rotating cast of players who occasionally see DNPs, all for the sake of finding something that helps this Clippers team win. That doesn’t necessarily seem like the ideal destination for a guard who wants more opportunity, but theoretically, Hyland gives the Clippers a lot of offensive juice from the guard spot. He has the potential to swing a playoff game or series, so there’s always that. And he can be a part of their future post-Kawhi and PG. If they can keep him happy until that point.
I’m not sure why second-round picks were in such high demand at this year’s trade deadline but I guess it’s better than getting nothing for Bones. I understand that the Nuggets probably were just looking to get rid of Hyland by any means, given the toxic work environment and all, but I’m surprised they couldn’t get more for him. More importantly, I’m surprised they didn’t try to swing for one of the Clippers’ many wing players to add some much-needed depth to their roster. I’m sort of disappointed with the way the Nuggets approached this deadline because they have a legit shot at winning a title and didn’t address the one issue they have: defense.
11. Saric for Bazley Swap
The Deal: Dario Saric and a second-round pick to the Thunder and Darius Bazley goes to the Suns
Saric wasn’t giving the Suns anything, especially with their lofty new additions but Bazley can come in and help shore up their wing rotation. With Bridges and Johnson in Brooklyn the Suns need some athleticism on the wings next to Durant and the only guys remaining are Torrey Craig and Josh Okogie. Bazley should help
Saric might help the Thunder space the floor a little bit but I’m not sure what the Thunder were doing at this deadline between moving Bazley and Muscala. They’re now missing a bunch of size so there are questions as to how their frontcourt looks. But I imagine that doesn’t matter that much for the Thunder this season. They’re playing with house money as a fun, frisky, play-in-level team.
12. Wiseman In Detroit, Bey In ATL
The Deal: The Blazers receive Kevin Knox and five second-round picks, the Pistons receive James Wiseman, the Warriors receive Gary Payton II and five second-round picks, all while the Hawks receive Saddiq Bey.
The Hawks desperately needed some shooting and theoretically, Bey can fill that role. He’s having a down season and struggled to find a consistent role with the Pistons, but with Atlanta, there’s a shot he can find a consistent role as a 6th man type. The Hawks will have to pay him this summer, though, so I’m not sure how they’ll deal with all the money problems coming their way, but if John Collins ever ends up getting moved, it should make things more affordable.
This is the second time in the last couple of seasons the Pistons have traded for a distressed 2nd overall pick. Detroit also has a log jam at the center spot with Jalen Duren, Marvin Bagley, and Isaiah Stewart, but apparently, they’ve already promised Wiseman a starting role. If Wiseman figures it out, it’ll be because Detroit gave him the opportunity to try and fail. But giving up Bey for him seems like a lot at the moment. We’ll see how it looks in a few years.
Gary Payton II fit like a glove (pun intended) with the Warriors last season. It was surprising they let him go to Portland. But with this move, the Warriors save over $40M in tax money over the next 2 seasons by letting go of Wiseman and adding Payton, who should help bolster their rotation. Good move by the Dubs.
Kevin Knox does not help the Blazers win now. Neither do the 5 second-round picks. It’s unclear what direction the Blazers are headed with this move and with their deadline moves in general. It’s puzzling.
13. Grizzlies, Clippers, and Rockets Swap Shooters
The Deal: Luke Kennard to the Grizzlies, John Wall, Danny Green and picks to the Rockets and Eric Gordon and three second-round picks to the Clippers
I love Kennard’s fit with the Grizzlies. He’s not the best defender and has a good chance of getting hunted in the playoffs, but he’s a guy who can knock down open shots and that should help Memphis’s half-court offense. He’s a good, snug fit and they didn’t spend much to get him.
This time last year, the Rockets probably could have gotten a pretty good 1st round pick for Gordon, instead, they walk away with Wall, Green, and a few picks. Depending on what the picks look like, this might turn out better for the Rockets. But as of right now, it’s a meh deal.
Eric Gordon is back where his career started! He’s going to help space the floor for the Clippers, he’s also an additional shot-creator off the bench. Between Hyland, Gordon, and Plumlee, the Clippers bolstered their bench in a major way at the deadline. Huge win.
14. Bamba Heads To LA
The Deal: Mo Bamba to Lakers for Patrick Beverley and a future second-round pick
Losing Bryant and adding Bamba is a win for the Lakers. Bamba will be a nice stretch five for Los Angeles off of the bench and probably will get more run than he was getting in Orlando behind their slew of big men.
Pat Bev probably isn’t log for Orlando but if he stays they end up getting a guard who can bolster their defense. If he doesn’t, they got a future second-round pick for Bamba. Decent return.
15. Pelicans Swap Guards
The Deal: Devonte’ Graham and four second-round picks to the Spurs and Josh Richardson to the Pelicans
Devonte Graham had a rough two seasons in New Orleans. The contract he signed was always going to cost money to get off of, but giving up four second-round picks, in this economy, seems like a lot. Richardson can give them some defense on the wings but he isn’t a good shooter and doesn’t seem like a guy who will actually crack the rotation of a deep playoff team.
Getting four second-round picks and taking on a salary that doesn’t matter to you in the first place? Yeah, this was good business by the Spurs.
16. Clippers Get Plumlee
The Deal: The Clippers get Mason Plumlee, the Hornets get Reggie Jackson
The Clippers get a backup big, which they had been dying for. Plumlee is pretty underrated as a passer and rebounder and can give a contender spot minutes when needed. This is a good pickup again by the Clippers.
The Hornets aren’t keeping Reggie Jackson and are likely to buy him out.