Alright, alright, everybody can finally take a deep breath and relax. The trade deadline madness has finally concluded and I’m going to give a brief summary of the highlights and expectations of teams involved in significant deals.
PHOENIX SUNS/BROOKLYN NETS/MILWAUKEE BUCKS/INDIANA PACERS: PHX- Kevin Durant & TJ Warren | BKLYN- Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson, draft picks | MIL- Jae Crowder | IND- Jordan Nwora, George Hill, Serge Ibaka, draft picks
By far the most shocking move of the deadline. Phoenix gets one of the greatest scorers of all time to pair with Devin Booker and Chris Paul, forming the NBA’s latest “super team”. However, the Suns take a hit in terms of depth, losing key players like Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson who have proven to be incredibly effective role players in the league. Phoenix is all in on trying to win now.
Brooklyn is in a fascinating spot right now. They currently sit in fifth place in the Eastern Conference, and have started to play solid basketball. Now, they have unexpectedly lost both of their superstars within a week. Where do the Nets go from here? They certainly have lots of talent on their roster and are more than capable of securing a playoff spot. Cam Thomas has dropped 40+ points three times in the past four games, Nic Claxton is having a breakout season, and Brooklyn has just acquired a haul of talented players with postseason experience. Mikal Bridges is having his best season yet, posting an average of 17.2 points per game on almost 40% from three, not to mention that he might be the best perimeter defender in the entire league.
DETROIT PISTONS/GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS/ATLANTA HAWKS/PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS: DET- James Wiseman | GSW- Gary Payton II, two second-round draft picks | ATL- Saddiq Bey | POR- Kevin Knox, five second-round draft picks
Former second-overall draft selection James Wiseman heads to the Motor City where he joins a budding class of young talent including the likes of Cade Cunningham, Jaden Ivey, and Jalen Duren. Wiseman is a gifted athlete with impressive touch around the rim and all the tools to be a legitimate shooting threat as a 7-footer. He didn’t quite fit the Warriors’ system, but his age and limitless potential were too hard for Detroit to pass up on.
Atlanta ended up landing 6’7” forward Saddiq Bey from the Pistons. Bey is currently averaging 14.8 points and 4.7 rebounds per game this year. He brings a unique blend of scoring and defense to a Hawks team that was looking to expand its depth at the forward position. I believe that Bey should be a great fit down in Atlanta. Trae Young and Dejounte Murray command so much attention from defenses that Saddiq should be able to take advantage of mismatches and open catch & shoot opportunities.
The Trail Blazers acquired Kevin Knox to go along with five second-round draft picks. Knox played 42 games with the Pistons this season, averaging 5.6 points per game on an impressive 37.1% from three.
Back in the Bay! Gary Payton II rejoins the Golden State Warriors after a championship run in the 2021-2022 season. Payton is a remarkable defender that is obviously familiar with the Warriors’ system. The Warriors are hoping GP2 will provide a spark to their defense, as they rank 18th in defensive rating.
BROOKLYN NETS/DALLAS MAVERICKS: BKLYN- Spencer Dinwiddie, Dorian Finney-Smith, 2029 first-round draft pick, two future second-round draft picks | DAL- Kyrie Irving, Markieff Morris
Kyrie Irving and Luka Doncic. Instantly the best backcourt in the league? Probably, yes. Dallas is loading up on star power, pairing Luka with one of the greatest individual scorers the game of basketball has ever seen. Kyrie has proven to be able to play off the ball as well, and I believe that this duo can have success. Sure, the Mavs lose two integral players from their roster, but a move this bold shows fans and the rest of the league that they are ready to contend again this year. The addition of Irving should prevent teams from loading up on Luka in the playoffs, and will also allow head coach Jason Kidd to gameplan more effectively against opposing defenses late into the season.
As discussed earlier, Brooklyn underwent a complete roster makeover this trade deadline. Spencer Dinwiddie rejoins the Nets and brings teammate Dorian Finney-Smith with him. Both players bring valuable playoff experience to a Brooklyn Nets team looking to make a run in the postseason. When commenting on how he has handled all of the drama that has unfolded in the past week, head coach Jacque Vaughn said “business as usual”. There is no doubt the Nets feel they are going to be a tough out come playoff time in the spring.
LOS ANGELES LAKERS/UTAH JAZZ/MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES: LAL- D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley, Jarred Vanderbilt | MIN- Mike Conley, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, draft swaps | UTA- Russell Westbrook, Juan Toscano-Anderson, Damian Jones, 2027 first-round pick (Lakers)
Los Angeles adds an impressive trio from Minnesota as D’Angelo Russell returns to the city that drafted him 2nd overall back in 2015. Historically, LeBron has been at his best when surrounded by shooters that can knock down open shots he creates for them. Malik Beasley fits that description quite well, as he’s a career 38% shooter from three. Beasley has 10 games this year with 5+ made three-pointers. Jarred Vanderbilt follows Beasley to their third different team in two years, bringing defensive versatility and rebounding to a Lakers team that ranks 20th in defensive rating. Vanderbilt’s ability to switch 1-5 is an extremely coveted ability in the league today and was a big reason for Minnesota’s success on the defensive side of the ball last season.
Well, that was a quick(ish) summary of the highlights of the trade deadline. Teams have a clear picture of their roster now, and the playoff picture will really start to take form in the next few weeks. Still, though, there are a number of really impactful players that have yet to sign with teams. Contract buyouts are also something to keep an eye out for in the short future.