NBA Trade Deadline: 4 Winners, 4 Losers
It was calm for a while yesterday, and it looked, even up until around lunchtime, like the NBA trade deadline was just gonna be a big nothing.
And then Portland traded for Aaron Afflalo, and the floodgates opened up. By the time it was all said and done, 37 players had changed teams, about a half dozen starting-caliber point guards were moved, and Goran Dragic (and his brother, Zoran) finally had a new home (and it wasn't Houston).
Oh, and Daryl Morey kept his streak alive -- eight straight trade deadline days with at least one trade. It's one of the most hallowed streaks in sports.
DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak. UCLA's 88-game winning streak. The Undertaker's 21-match streak at Wrestlemania. Morey's eight straight deadlines. Boom.
University of Houston Cougars Football vs. Louisville Cardinals College Football
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As always, there were winners and losers. Let's examine more closely...
4. Sam Presti Two playoff teams in the Western Conference got markedly better on deadline day -- Portland and Oklahoma City. We will get to the Blazers in a second, but the Thunder gave the second tier of their roster a total facelift. When you net it all out, they essentially gave up Reggie Jackson and Kendrick Perkins's corpse, and got back a competent low post scorer (Enes Kanter), a veteran backup point guard (D.J. Augustin), a designated shooter (Steve Novak) and some wing depth (Kyle Singler). Overall, a good day for Thunder GM Sam Presti, who I still think was being held at gunpoint when he made the James Harden trade. When you look at how competently the rest of their roster is assembled, it's the only explanation.
3. Miami Heat fans So for all of the talk about interest in Dragic from the Lakers, Celtics, Kings and Rockets, he winds up going to Miami for a pupu platter of hot garbage and a couple of first-round picks that may or may not wind up being productive. Honestly, if this trade deadline is a referendum on Dragic's status as a "big three member on a good team" caliber player, the feedback was murky at best. Sure, some of it probably had to do with his contract (done at the end of the season) and his demeanor this week (he basically said he wanted out of Phoenix, significantly reducing their bargaining power), but still, Miami got him for nothing. Now they have a starting five of Dragic, Luol Deng, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and the revelation that is Hassan Whiteside. That's a dangerous lower seed in the East. Please let them draw Cleveland in round one, basketball gods. Please.
2. Michael Carter-Williams Of all the odd developments at the 2:00 p.m. buzzer on Thursday, the oddest was probably the flurry of second tier point guards changing addresses. Dragic to Miami, Brandon Knight to Phoenix, Isaiah Thomas to Boston, Reggie Jackson to Detroit and Michael Carter-Williams to Milwaukee. Of all those players, MCW is the one I feel happiest for. A good player who will now find out what winning feels like, Carter-Williams is now part of a lineup that is long and intriguing with Giannis Antetokounmpo and, when he returns next season, Jabari Parker. Jason Kidd has to be so thankful he bitched his way out of Brooklyn.
1. Portland Trail Blazers The Blazers were already a legitimate Western Conference contender before they traded a whole pile of nothing to Denver for Arron Afflalo. Now a team with a starting lineup of Lillard-Matthews-Batum-Aldridge-Lopez can bring a guy off the bench who averaged 18 points a game last season and can defend guards and small forwards, if necessary. Having his Bird rights also gives the Blazers an insurance policy if Matthews leaves in free agency after the season. A great day to be a Blazers fan on Thursday.
4. Philadelphia 76er fans How does it feel to be a Sixers fan? Or a Sixers player? Or coach? One of the subtle secrets in the NBA the past few weeks is the Sixers were suddenly somewhat competitive, cobbling together a modest 4-4 eight-game stretch, and in the four losses, they were competitive with Atlanta (six-point loss) and Golden State (five-point loss). And then yesterday, they trade two of their most promising players -- Carter-Williams and K.J. McDaniels -- and get back a few more draft picks, Javale McGee, Isaiah Canaan and the rights to something called Chukwudiebere Maduabum. Honestly, who is it that spends money on this product?
3. Philly's media relations intern ....who probably spent an hour trying to correctly spell "Chukwudiebere Maduabum" in the trade memo.
2. Danny Granger Granger was among the first veteran free agents to commit to going to Miami on spec that he would be playing for a title alongside LeBron James. Then LeBron went to Cleveland, and all of a sudden he was playing on a crappy team on the level of the bad Indiana teams he'd toiled on several years ago. But hey, at least he was living in Miami! Well, until Thursday. Granted, there are far worse places to go than Phoenix, but adding insult to injury, the trade that sent Granger out of Miami actually makes Miami a dangerous team out East....and makes Phoenix a lottery team. Poor Granger.
1. Kevin Garnett Kevin Garnett is one of a half dozen or so players in the NBA with a no-trade clause in their contracts, and Brooklyn managed to convince him to waive it in order to send him home to Minnesota for Thaddeus Young. It's a solid trade for Minnesota in that they get back the greatest, most popular player in the history of their franchise, which is never a bad thing. Also, they get a Hall of Famer to mentor future franchise player Andrew Wiggins. It just sucks for Garnett (or anyone) to have to go to Minnesota (in February!) to do something so noble. It feels an awful lot like Rocky Balboa having to go back and live in the old neighborhood after Paulie signed power of attorney over Rocky's crooked accountant. Same exact thing.
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