NBA Trade Review: Grading the Significant Deadline Deals
The trade deadline has always been an exciting period for rampant speculation and creative Trade Machine scenarios. Reality however, often plays out otherwise. This season hasn’t had as many earthshaking trades, due to the finely redrawn lines the new CBA forces all teams to tread on. That being said, there were still some interesting exchanges being made, some that could potentially change the momentum and fine tune the engine somewhat for playoffs contenders.
Now that the dust has settled, it’s high time Josh takes a detailed look into the winners and losers for the big mid-season trade deals. Less significant deals like the Nando De Colo trade to the Raptors were not covered here.
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 19:
Teams involved: Brooklyn Nets, Sacramento Kings
Kings receive: Reggie Evans, Jason Terry
Nets receive: Marcus Thornton
- Kings: For Sacramento, this trade was likely executed with the intent to make moves later on in the summer. Well, either that, or the team actually views Reggie Evans and Jason Terry as reasonable long-term pieces. Truthfully, the odds of the latter are about as low as the ball club’s chances of making the playoffs this season, so this swap will be graded on what this squad did achieve: that is, ridding themselves of Marcus Thornton’s ugly two year, $17 million deal in exchange for two players on smaller deals. The Kings had been interested in trading Thornton for some time, as the “scorer’s” play this year has been absolutely miserable (8.3 PTS, 38.1 FG%, 31.8 3PT%). However, the shooting guard’s hefty contract made finding a deal for valuable assets incredibly difficult, and quite frankly, the deal Sacramento struck with Brooklyn was likely the best option available.
Overall, the Kings succeeded in swapping a seemingly un-tradable contract for two athletes who are on cheaper, more “trade-friendly” ones. Also, while Evans and Terry are both limited, they can still somewhat contribute. For this, Sacramento gets a solid B+.
- Nets: As far as Brooklyn is concerned, all they did in this deal was place a bet on Marcus Thornton’s ability to adapt. If the change of scenery from youth in Sacramento to veterans in Brooklyn helps the two guard improve his all-around play, then this was a great trade, as he could be capable of providing a scoring punch off the bench. However, if Thornton’s terrible shooting trend continues on the East coast, then the Nets will be taking on a waste of a two year, $17 million contract. Then again, it’s not like Net’s owner Mikhail Prokhorov gives a hoot about how much money his ball club spends anyway – I mean, the organization already owed roughly $180 million in salary and luxury taxes before this season even began! Yea, he really could not care less about the NBA’s boundaries, that Russian rebel.
All in all, this deal for the Nets is a decent gamble which can either go exceptionally well or devastatingly dreadful. I give them a B-.
Teams involved: Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Lakers
Lakers receive: Kent Bazemore, MarShon Brooks
Warriors receive: Steve Blake
- Lakers: In this deal, the Lakers gave up an asset in Steve Blake: an experienced floor general who can wet the ball from three (39.7% this season), consistently create opportunities for others (7.6 ASTS), and provide exceptionally effective defense (1.3 STLS). And who did LA receive in return? An unproven, defensively-gifted yet offensively-challenged youngster in Kent Bazemore, and a defensively-dreadful/terribly inconsistent scorer in MarShon Brooks. As far as on-court value is concerned, this deal was absolutely awful. However, in regards to finances, the Lakers managed to succeed in saving themselves some cash: they shed $1 million in salary as well as $3 million in luxury taxes. Sure, the amount LA shed was small, but for a losing organization forced into paying the luxury tax, every penny counts.
In sum, the Lakers made a somewhat decent move. While the piece the franchise gave up possessed significantly more on-court value than the pieces they gained in return, the club did succeed in shedding a small amount of salary and luxury taxes. Also, considering the way this team’s season is currently unfolding as well as the fact Blake hits free agency this offseason, the loss of an asset like him truly does not matter at this point. The deal makes sense for them – therefore, LA is receiving a C+.
- Warriors: What an absolutely fantastic deal for Golden State. Not only did the organization obtain the perfect back-up point guard they needed in sharp-shooter Steve Blake, but they utilized a $4 million trade exception (TE) to bring aboard his $4 million contract. For those who want a quick explanation of what exactly this TE did, it basically allowed the Warriors to avoid paying the luxury tax (for a complete explanation of what a TE does, click here). Overall, Golden State improved their bench, and subsequently, they improved their team as a whole.
There really is nothing more to say on this matter. The Warriors clearly earned themselves an A+.
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 20:
Teams involved: Cleveland Cavaliers, Philadelphia 76ers
Cavaliers receive: Spencer Hawes
76ers receive: Earl Clark, Henry Sims, two 2014 second-round draft picks
- Cavaliers: After trading away Andrew Bynum due to his unwillingness to perform his profession, Cleveland succeeded in acquiring a somewhat suitable replacement in shooting center Spencer Hawes. A big man who can play inside-out, Hawes has been posting solid statistics for Philly thus far this season, as he has managed to produce 13 PTS, 8.5 REBS, and a three-point percentage of 39.9% through 53 games. While his defense can be described as sub-par at best (if you want a chuckle, Zach Lowe of Grantland takes this to another level), the 25 year old center is capable of spreading the floor offensively with his exceptional three-point stroke. Considering the Cavs only gave up two second-round picks as well as two athletes who were not contributing much anyway, the acquirement of Hawes turned out to be a fairly solid achievement.
Off the bench, Spencer Hawes will provide a consistent shooting option from the outside. Since he is also seven feet tall, his presence on the perimeter will prove to open up driving lanes for his teammates as well. Cleveland did not give up that much for a decent offensive asset, and even though the big man may end up leaving this offseason in unrestricted free agency, the ball club earned themselves a respectable B.
- 76ers: On a roster as young and inexperienced as Philly’s, Earl Clark and Henry Sims may receive a chance to shine. But clearly, the goal for the 76ers in this deal was not to obtain either of these athletes for their abilities. The main motivation for the front office was to acquire expiring contracts as well as future draft picks, and through this exchange, that is exactly what Philadelphia achieved. General Manager Sam Hinkie may have dealt away one of his roster’s better players in Hawes, but quite frankly, the big man was not involved in the team’s long-term plans anyway.
Spoiler alert: this transaction was not Philly’s only deal at the deadline, as this team proved to be the most active organization of the day. The struggling franchise is focused on the future, and through this trade, they made a step toward making theirs brighter. For this, the club has rightfully received an A.
Teams involved: Denver Nuggets, Philadelphia 76ers, Washington Wizards
Nuggets receive: Jan Vesely (from Washington)
Wizards receive: Andre Miller (from Denver)
76ers receive: 2016 second-round pick (from Denver), Eric Maynor and 2015 second-round pick (from Washington).
- Nuggets: After a 50-day standoff with Andre Miller due to his disgruntled disposition towards head coach Brian Shaw, the franchise finally succeeded in completely ridding themselves of the veteran point guard by trading him away to Washington. The 37 year old floor general was dissatisfied all season long with the low amount of minutes he was receiving, and after a series of events which climaxed with him yelling at Shaw on January 1, Miller was ultimately banned from all team activities. Basically, the veteran was not getting what he wanted, and the club was forced to treat him like a five year old in order to properly handle the situation. Now, the standoff has concluded, and the Nuggets can finally move forward without worrying about the crybaby in the corner.
In addition to giving away Miller, the club also lost a 2016 second-round pick – nothing too significant. As far as the piece Denver received in return, Jan Vesely is an athletic wing who could use the change of scenery as a fresh start in this league. Overall, the Nuggets accomplished their goal of trading away Miller. For this, the club deserves an A.
- Wizards: While Andre Miller may not have worked out in Denver, the experienced leader should fit in nicely as a solid back-up behind John Wall in Washington. The biggest reason as to why Miller acted “out-of-character” in Denver – as Nuggets’ GM Tim Connelly put it – was because of his poor relationship with first-year head coach Brian Shaw. Now, the fourteen year vet is experiencing a refreshing change of location, and with the 23 year old Wall serving as the solidified starting point guard with the Wizards, Miller knows his role coming in and should succeed in playing it perfectly. On top of gaining a great reserve one man, Washington is also losing a disappointing one in Eric Maynor. If the fact Maynor is posting 2.3 PTS, 1.7 ASTS, and a field goal percentage of 29.2 percent is not enough to convince you of this, just watch this video of what else he is capable of “achieving” out on the court:
Embarrassing. All in all, the acquisition of Andre Miller is much more valuable than the loss of Maynor and a second-round pick. Congrats Washington, you have received an A+.
- 76ers: Just like their transaction with Spencer Hawes, Philly agreed to this trade with the future in their thoughts, as the two second-round selections they obtained were the driving forces behind the deal. Only difference in this specific swap is the fact Eric Maynor is not on an expiring deal: after this year, he possesses a player option worth roughly $2.1 million. Other than that, both of the 76ers’ initial trades on Thursday were performed with the same plan in mind.
Unfortunately for Philly, the fact Maynor’s contract has an option takes their grade down a tad. I’ll give them a B+.
Teams involved: Charlotte Bobcats, Milwaukee Bucks
Bobcats receive: Gary Neal, Luke Ridnour
Bucks receive: Jeff Adrien, Ramon Sessions
- Charlotte has been searching for outside scoring all season. While Gary Neal is by no means the most deadly scorer in the league, his inclusion in the Bobcats’ rotation should provide consistent perimeter shooting (36% 3PT) as well as floor spacing to give their leading scorer – Al Jefferson (20.5 PTS) – room to operate in the post. Considering Charlotte is in the thick of the Eastern Conference’s playoff race, this is exactly what they needed.
- As far as the acquirement of Luke Ridnour is concerned (or as I like to call him, the “epitome of mediocrity” – I mean, just look at the teams he’s played for), the ‘Cats honestly accepted him with the sole purpose to succeed in securing Neal. Milwaukee was unwilling to make this move unless Charlotte took on more of the financial burden, and as a result, Charlotte decided to let the Bucks throw in Ridnour and subsequently become the losers financially. The addition of Ridnour is not terrible, however, as the veteran point guard can run an offense smoothly as well as shoot solidly from deep (36.8% 3PT). Unfortunately, though, he does not possess the attacking/opportunity-creating skills Ramon Sessions constantly provided.
To conclude, Charlotte managed to obtain the outside scoring threat they desired. However, they did so by downgrading their back-up point guard spot from Ramon Sessions to Ridnour as well as upping their team salary. Due to these facts, the Bobcats have achieved an overall grade of B.
- Bucks: The only reason Milwaukee can call this deal a success is because the organization managed to shed a little more than $2 million in salary. Both athletes they obtained are nowhere near capable of turning this team’s terrible 10-44 season around, and neither one will likely stay for long as both of their contracts expire at the end of the year.
The Bucks shed some salary, and the players they dealt away likely would not have been able to draw in better assets via trade. So put on a smile, Milwaukee! You did the best you could, and you earned yourselves a B+.
Teams involved: Indiana Pacers, Philadelphia 76ers
Pacers receive: Lavoy Allen, Evan Turner
76ers receive: Danny Granger, 2015 second-round pick
- Pacers: In what proved to be the most significant transaction at the deadline, Indiana improved their roster by acquiring an offensively versatile athlete in small forward Evan Turner. Currently in the midst of his best NBA campaign thus far, the fourth year forward will likely fill the role of a solid scoring option off the bench, as the Ohio State product is a volume scorer who can light up the gym on any given night. Mix in the fact Turner can also set up scoring chances for his teammates and that the outgoing piece for Indy – Danny Granger – has struggled all season long, and it is clear the Pacers succeeding in making an on-court upgrade.
Along with the acquirement of Turner, Indiana shed several million dollars through this deal as well, as the contracts of Turner and Lavoy Allen do not add up to the expiring $14 million contract of Danny Granger. Speaking of Allen, he may end up not receiving much play time for the Pacers, but the big man is capable of contributing when he does get his minutes. In sum, Indiana pulled off an exceptional exchange, and the ball club is now even more prepared for their Finals run then they already were. Naturally, the club has walked away from the deadline with an A.
- Once again, the on-court value of the athlete Philly received played no role in their decision to pull the trigger on this trade. Although the athlete is former All-Star Danny Granger, the injury-plagued forward is playing like a shadow of his former self and there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel. However, while the Sixers did obtain yet another future second-round pick, the ultimate goal for the organization in this exchange was actually not to gain more picks. Oddly enough, the motivation behind the move was to add more money to their salary.
- Yes, you read that right. Philadelphia wanted to build on their team salary. Why? Because before they took on Granger’s expiring $14 million contract, the franchises’ total player salary was actually below the NBA’s salary floor of $52.8 million. With the addition of Danny’s current deal, the ball club exceeds the floor, and as a result, the 76ers can now avoid paying the very mild surcharge for failing to go over the minimum amount of team salary. Considering Philly’s current position as a lottery-bound ball club, this was an extremely smart financial decision. That’s GM Sam Hinkie for you. Pure genius.
Overall, Philadelphia pulled off a plethora of intriguing, future-focused deals before the deadline. They rid themselves of three players who did not fit in with their long-term plans, they acquired expiring contracts as well as an athlete who’s salary helped them meet the salary floor, and they accumulated a total of five second-round draft picks. Basically, Hinkie loaded the organization up with draft picks which can be packaged in trades to obtain assets later on, and he blew up the roster in an effort to cut cash and rebuild moving forward. Like I said – pure genius. This particular trade deserves an A, and the 76ers’ deadline day overall is also deserving of an A.
Having covered all of the trades, which one did you think was the best deal made at the trade deadline? Were there any trades that absolutely did not make any sense at all? Let us know what you think.
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