Wild deadline day in NBA
By Peter Santo
Every year as the NBA trade deadline approaches, team executives spend countless hours examining players both on their roster as well as players on other teams, looking to make moves to improve their teams. They clearly thought their teams needed some serious improvement, as this year’s deadline featured many more trades than usual.
The first trade of the day featured the Nuggets and 76ers. Center Javale McGee and a first round (lottery protected) pick that was originally owned by the Thunder were traded to the Philadelphia 76ers. The pick is lottery protected, meaning that unless the pick is one of the top fourteen it will be owned by the 76ers.
In exchange the Nuggets received the draft rights to Turkish guard Cenk Akyol, who has never played a minute in the NBA. The trade was more of a salary dump by the Nuggets, as McGee will be paid 12 million dollars next year and the 76ers get a coveted first round pick to help their rebuilding process.
The next trade was between the New York Knicks and Houston Rockets. Veteran point guard Pablo Prigioni was dealt in exchange for guard Alexey Shved and two second round picks. This trades went largely unnoticed with neither side making a huge impact, the Rockets will get an experienced ball handler and the Knicks a couple minimal impact picks.
The Celtics furthered their rebuilding by dealing small forward Tayshaun Prince to the Pistons in exchange for forward Jonas Jerebko and guard Luigi Datome. With the trade Prince will return to the team with which he began his career and the Celtics get two young players as they continue to load up on young talent.
The next team to make a splash on deadline day was the Sacramento Kings, trading guard Ramon Sessions to the Washington Wizards for experienced veteran Andre Miller. Miller is one of the oldest and wisest players in the league and will be a mentor for the maturing Demarcus Cousins and help new coach George Karl implement his system. Sessions, a younger player and better scorer, will be a better fit for the Wizards and a solid backup point guard.
The Rockets were back on the trade block later in the day, moving backup point guard Isaiah Canaan and a 2015 second round pick in return for K.J. McDaniels. McDaniels is a tremendous athlete who will provide young bench talent with upside to the Rockets. The 76ers get a serviceable point guard in Canaan and another draft pick for their rebuilding.
The Boston Celtics and Phoenix Suns were the next teams to exchange players during the day, with the Suns sending point guard Isaiah Thomas to the C’s for scoring guard in Marcus Thornton and a 2016 first round pick. With the trade the Celtics get a good scorer in Thomas and legitimate starting point guard which they lacked since trading Rajon Rondo to Dallas, while the Suns dump a piece of their overcrowded backcourt and get a first round pick in return.
In the ultimate nostalgia trade the Minnesota Timberwolves traded forward Thaddeus Young to the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for former Timberwolf Kevin Garnett. KG will go back to where it all began, where he started his surefire Hall of Fame career. In return the Nets get arguably the best role player in the league in Thaddeus Young. Young was also the odd man out in the young upstart Wolves’ rotation, so this trade will work out well for both sides.
In what was one of the most important trades of the day the Denver Nuggets traded guard Arron Afflalo and forward Alonzo Gee to the Portland Trail Blazers for guard Will Barton, forward Victor Claver, forward Thomas Robinson, and a 2016 first round lottery protected pick.
The title contending Blazers get a solid scorer in Afflalo and an experienced forward in Gee. With many teams making last minute additions to strengthen their chances of winning the West, will this be the move that pushes the Blazers to the Finals.
In exchange for the veterans the Nuggets get young, unproven talent in Barton, Claver, and Robinson as well as a first round pick.
Another big trade that took place on deadline day was the Phoenix Suns trading for point guards Brandon Knight and Kendall Marshall. In exchange the Milwaukee Bucks receive Michael Carter-Williams, rookie Tyler Ennis, and Miles Plumlee, while the 76ers get a 2015 first round pick from the Lakers.
The Suns will receive a point guard to replace Isaiah Thomas and Goran Dragic, who the Suns moved later in the day after receiving news that Dragic was not looking to resign with the team.
In Brandon Knight the Suns get a point guard of the same caliber as Dragic and Thomas who can also play shooting guard and therefore better fitting their needs. The Bucks lose Knight but get a versatile point guard in Carter-Williams.
The next big trade of the day was between the Detroit Pistons, Oklahoma City Thunder, and Utah Jazz. The Pistons went out and got a young, talented point guard in Reggie Jackson who for months has been eager to step out of the shadow cast by Russell Westbrook in Oklahoma City.
In exchange the Thunder received center Enes Kanter, forward Steve Novak, forward Kyle Singler, and point guard D.J. Augustin. With starting center Steven Adams injured, the Thunder got a young, talented, and most importantly scoring big man in Kanter. Whether or not Kanter will keep the starting role is up for debate but Kanter was a great addition to the Thunder.
In Steve Novak the Thunder get a lights out three point shooter while Kyle Singler will provide more of the same, good shooting not much else. The Thunder also got a serviceable backup point guard in D.J. Augustin. This move vastly improved the Thunder bench and could give them the spark they need to go very deep in the postseason.
The Jazz received twenty one year old power forward Grant Jerrett as well as veteran center Kendrick Perkins and the draft rights to center Tibor Pleiss. They also received a 2017 second round pick via the Pistons, and a future first round pick from the Thunder.
The last trade and perhaps the biggest of the day was another three team trade between the Miami Heat, New Orleans Pelicans, and Phoenix Suns. As part of the deal the Heat were dealt both Goran and Zoran Dragic. Goran Dragic, a potential all star point guard, will help the Heat make a playoff push and give the team a true point guard.
In exchange the Pelicans got point guard Norris Cole, center Justin Hamilton, and forward Shawne Williams. Cole is a solid backup who will be a good rotational player for the Pelicans, as will Hamilton and Williams.
The Suns made a terrific move getting two first round picks from the heat, one in 2017 and the other in 2019, as well as forwards John Salmons and Danny Granger. Everybody in the NBA knew Goran Dragic wanted out of Phoenix and the Suns got something in return for him in two first round picks. They also got good veteran three point shooters in Granger and Salmons, who will also be good locker room guys.
The NBA trade deadline was a hectic one with a total of thirty eight players and ten draft picks on the move. In what will surely go down as one of the most active trade deadlines in NBA history, be sure to look out for the real winners and losers of the day and how each trade impacts teams going forward.
Jackson Posnik also contributed to this report