Debriefing the NBA Trade Deadline Insanity
Well, that was crazy. The NBA trade deadline came on February 8th, and it did not disappoint. With the completion of the trade season, a total of 37 players will be wearing a new uniform since January 29th, in which the blockbuster trade involving Blake Griffin started off the trade season insanity. There are an abundance of new roster looks, and you would be lucky to name six players still playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers who were also on the team before the trade deadline, after Cleveland completed three trades on the day of the deadline.
Instead of going through every single trade (and there were 15 of them), let's simply look at the teams who are worthy of your reading time. Some teams, such as the Sacramento Kings, just seem to get worse with every move they make. So, why waste your time reading about them? There is no reason to. That being said, let's take a look at who is actually trying to go somewhere and what impact the trade deadline moves had on them.
Cleveland Cavaliers Transform Roster
Come on, could we have started anywhere else? If you had even the slightest attention on the trade deadline shenanigans, you know that the Cavaliers went trade happy. They completed three total trades that included nine players being moved. Who are the Cavaliers now?
Larry Nance Jr., Jordan Clarkson, Rodney Hood, and George Hill.
Dwayne Wade, Isaiah Thomas, Derrick Rose, Jae Crowder, Iman Shumpert, 2018 first-round pick
What it Means
That was a lot. The Cavaliers, 7-13 in their last 20 games, decided that enough was enough. This team wasn't developing chemistry, defending, or finding ways to win. It didn't look like anything was going to change the way they were playing with their particular roster, until they decided to create a whole new one, trading away five players and receiving four.
On paper, it actually looks like the Cavaliers did really well in the trades. In fact, they look really scary now. Thomas had somehow made Cleveland worse since he came back from injury, Crowder's numbers had significantly dropped from 2017 in Boston, Shumpert played 13 minutes in about the last three months, and he didn't even look good before he was benched, Wade just looked old, and Rose looked even older. So, really, how much did they lose? They gave up the right players.
On the flip side, Cleveland brought in some promising talent. Clarkson has the ability to light up the scoreboard, both from the starting lineup or coming off the bench, and he can create shots for himself. Hood scored almost 17 points in just 28 minutes a game coming off the bench for the Jazz. He is a knock down shooter from three point range. Nance Jr. is a highlight reel waiting to happen. He was coming off the bench for the Lakers and was producing good numbers in his limited minutes. He is capable of becoming a double-double machine if given the minutes and the right system. Lastly, Hill brings a veteran presence to the point guard position. He has the ability to score, and best of all, he is shooting 45% from three point land this season.
All in all, it looks like the Cavaliers vastly improved on the final day of the trade deadline. They added two premier three point shooters with Hood and Hill. Clarkson will be able to run at point guard or shooting guard and can play either as a starter or a sixth man. He will be a valuable scorer along side of LeBron James and on the second unit off the bench. Lastly, Cleveland received a promising young talent in Nance Jr.
Now, we are all in a "wait and see" approach. Will this seemingly upgraded Cavaliers lineup be able to find success and reestablish itself as the team to beat in the East? Time will tell, but one thing we know, James is still in Cleveland. With more talent surrounding him again, Cleveland should be back to its winning ways soon.
Wade Returns to Miami
Speaking of Dwayne Wade, he is going to be a Heat again! This is huge news for Heat fans, as they get the franchises most coveted player back. They will probably have an amazing welcome back ceremony for him, and the fans are going to be alive and active. He's back! Heat fans are very excited, and Wade will be content finishing his career in the place where his legacy lives, for the team who drafted him way back in 2003. What a way to go out.
Now, for everyone else in the NBA, this has absolutely no effect whatsoever. Wade is no longer in the prime of his career, and, apart from a little more crowd energy, he won't offer much to Miami's success. They were on a five game losing streak before trading for Wade and will most likely be the first team left out of the playoffs this season, if they can't figure things out quickly. The Heat are on a downfall, and not even the great Dwayne Wade can change that. It's nice that Wade can retire in Miami, and, because of his legacy, he made the cut on this page. He deserves to after his illustrious career, but don't expect any changes in terms of the competitiveness of the Heat in the 2017-18 season.
Los Angelos Lakers Make a Move for the Future
The Los Angelos Lakers started the trading frenzy for the Cleveland Cavaliers by sending Clarkson and Nance Jr. to Cleveland. The talk surrounding the Lakers all season has been that of them wanting to bring in Paul George or LeBron James in free agency next summer. Well, they seem to still be set on finding a way to offer something intriguing to either of the two superstars. February 8th's trade proves that. Let's see what they did.
Isaiah Thomas, Channing Frye, 2018 first-round pick
Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr.
What it Means
Previously, we stated that the Cavaliers won their trade day. Well, the Lakers did, too. In fact, they may have done even better than the Cavaliers. This was one of those win-win type of deals. Though Clarkson is a talented scorer, he no longer fits on the Lakers' roster plans. They have a young team centered around talented scorers and playmakers. Clarkson isn't a future center piece and isn't needed in their future plans. He is a good player, but it doesn't hurt the Lakers to lose him. Nance Jr. is another solid talent, but he isn't a future centerpiece either. He is still young, only in his third season, but his game has only slightly increased each season. He gives productive minutes off the bench and is a strong role player. However, the Lakers are most likely not losing a future All-Star in Nance Jr.
Receiving Thomas is intriguing for the Lakers. If they can work out a way to play both Thomas and Lonzo Ball next to each other, that could be a very exciting duo of playmakers. Thomas didn't play up to expectations in Cleveland, but he is still the elite scorer that he showed in Boston. The change of scenery should help him find his touch again. He adds an extra level to the Lakers' guard talent, and he should fit better on a team that doesn't have a superstar calling all of the shots.
Lastly, the most important part of this trade is the potential impact it has on the future of the Lakers' organization. They have now cleared a path to go out next summer in free agency and attempt to get Paul George or LeBron James or both. The salary cap opens up with the trade of Nance Jr. and Clarkson, as they now have two open positions for max contracts. That is a huge deal. They could offer both George and James max contracts or any other player in the NBA for that matter. That's scary.
They also have another playmaker in Thomas to add to their young upcoming stars that they already possess on their roster, and they have another first round draft pick to find another young talent. Money, the current roster, and the ability to bring in two stars act as bait for George, James, or any other superstar looking for a new home. The future all of a sudden looks very bright for the Lakers. This trade puts them one big step closer to bringing the Los Angelos Lakers' organization back to NBA relevancy. Well done, Lakers.
Pistons Gamble on Blake Griffin
The Pistons started the trade season off with a blockbuster trade to acquire Blake Griffin on January 29th. We've already learned a couple things about that trade in the first two weeks of Griffin being a Piston. The Pistons, however, weren't finished with simply acquiring Griffin, as they made two more trades on the final day of the trade deadline. What does their final roster look like, now that the trade season is over? Let's take a look.
Blake Griffin, Jameer Nelson, James Ennis
Tobias Harris, Avery Bradley, Boban Marjanovic, 2018 first-round pick, 2019 second-round pick, 2022 second-round draft swap rights
What it Means
Detroit received Blake Griffin for a couple of starters in Harris and Bradley who were forced to play lead scoring roles on a Pistons' roster lacking in talent and offensive options.
Van Gundy then took Brice Johnson and Willie Reed, who the Pistons received in the Griffin trade, and turned them into Nelson and Ennis in separate trades. Those two trades were sneaky smart trades on Van Gundy's part. The Pistons lost a lot of depth on the wing with the departure of Harris and Bradley. With Reggie Jackson nursing an ankle sprain slowly back to health, the Pistons have been in an unsuccessful scramble to replace his point guard impact. Ish Smith has taken over starting point guard duties, and has been inconsistent in his production. Meanwhile, the backup point guard spot has been an absolute nightmare.
The addition of Nelson brings a much needed veteran presence to the guard spot, as well as it gives the Pistons a capable shooter (36% three point field goals) to spread the floor in a way that Smith (26% three point field goals) is unable to. Van Gundy now has the ability to insert Nelson into the starting lineup, should he decide that more floor spacing is needed with Andre Drummond, Griffin, and Stanley Johnson clogging the lane with their inside scoring mentalities. Depending on how long Jackson remains sidelined, Nelson, though he is past his prime, could prove very helpful in keeping the Pistons in the playoff hunt, while they await the return of Jackson.
Ennis provides an instant upgrade to the roster, as well. The Pistons are lacking in wing depth, and Ennis provides exactly that. He has the ability to shoot form three, as well as drive to the lane and score. Just as important is his defensive abilities. Ennis provides the Pistons with another solid wing defender to play behind Johnson and Reggie Bullock. Detroit is in dire need of a player of Ennis's skill set. He will add much needed depth at the wing.
The Pistons got better with their trade deadline deals. On paper, they are likely good enough to make a playoff run before the end of the regular season. Whether they are able to make any noise in the playoffs will depend on how well Jackson is able to perform after he returns from injury. If he can regain the level of play he had before his ankle injury, as well as gel with newly acquired Griffin, the Pistons may have a roster capable of upsetting some of the Easter Conference powers in Cleveland, Boston, and Toronto. Only time will tell on this one. They Pistons have plenty to prove to get to that point.
Pelicans Try to Hold on to Final Playoff Position
Superstar center Demarcus Cousins went down with a season ending achilles injury on January 26th. It seemed that the Pelicans had finally figured out how to use both Cousins and Anthony Davis together to form a winning combination. They were improving with every game they played together. The injury could not have been more detrimental to the hopes of the season. The Pelicans, however, still have possibly the most dangerous big man in the game in Davis, as well as a decent supporting cast around him. Though the hopes of a postseason run all but ended with Cousins' injury, there is always a small ray of hope when a player of Davis's ability is on the roster.
New Orleans wasn't about to let the season go with Cousins. They made a trade with one last breath of hope for the 2018 season, as they went out and grabbed Nikola Mirotic from the Chicago Bulls on February 1st.
Nikola Mirotic, 2018-second round pick
Tony Allen, Omer Asik, Jameer Nelson, 2018 first-round pick, 2021 second-round draft swap rights
What is Means
Though the Pelicans gave up three players and a first round draft pick for Mirotic, it may not be as much as it seems at first glance. They gave up three veterans who were no longer adding much to the Pelicans' rotation. Allen was averaging 4.7 points a game in 12 minutes of action, and Asik has played 8.5 minutes a game in 14 games with 1.3 points and 2.6 points. Nelson, meanwhile, was the first option of the bench at point guard on the roster, so he may have added the most value of the three, but his 5.2 points and 3.7 assists per game off the bench can be easily replaced. The biggest loss is perhaps a first round pick in 2018. The Pelicans, however, didn't lose any overly valuable pieces in the trade.
Receiving Mirotic is a bit of a gamble, as he has had an up and down career. That being said, he has played at a very high level in the 2017-18 season, as he is scoring at a career high of 16.8 points per game in just 24.9 minutes. His shooting success is also the highest of his career with 47% field goals, 43% three point field goals, and 82% free throws on the season. He is scoring often and efficiently.
Mirotic cannot replace Cousins. There may not be a player in the league who can fill those shoes. He does, however, give New Orleans another viable scoring option. He should open the offense up for Davis, and he doesn't need an abundance of touches to be satisfied. Mirotic fits easily into whatever offensive scheme he is asked to play. His play could prove valuable in helping the Pelicans hold onto the eight and final spot in the Western Conference playoffs.
In four games with the Pelicans, Mirotic has averaged 14 points and nine rebounds. His most recent outing may have showed just how much talent the Pelicans really received in the trade, as Mirotic scored 21 points, grabbed 16 rebounds, and accumulated five blocks in a 138-128 victory in Brooklyn. If Mirotic can continue producing numbers anywhere near those, the Pelicans will have found an absolute gem in the trade with the Bulls. As it looks, it appears the Pelicans will be able to hold onto a playoff spot. If Davis and Mirotic can play at their highest levels in the playoffs, it will be hard for any team to stop the Pelicans' offense. New Orleans could be an intriguing sleeper to keep an eye on, after most have already written them off with the injury to Cousins.
The 2018 NBA trade deadline was absolutely out of control. Show me someone who expected the Cavaliers to go out and do what they did, no one even knew that Blake Griffin was on the trading block until word came out that he was traded to the Pistons, and the Lakers pulled off a move out of nowhere that, all of a sudden, puts the rest of the NBA on watch, as two superstars could go to Los Angelos for max contracts next summer. The Pelicans may have gotten a bigger steal in Mirotic than anyone knows, and Dwayne Wade is back in Miami for the rest of his career.
In case anyone was getting bored with the NBA season, the trade deadline made sure to put you back on watch. What will become of the completely transformed Cavaliers roster suddenly filled with deep talent? Will the Pistons be able to make a playoff run with their new superstar and deeper lineup? Can the Pelicans hold on to the final spot in the Western Conference and possibly make a run in the playoffs? Will the energy of having Wade back in Miami turn Miami's season around and help them hold on to a playoff spot in the East? Finally, who's coming to Los Angelos next season? LeBron? Paul George? Both?
There is a lot to look forward to, both to close the 2017-18 season and in free agency next summer. Stay tuned. It's going to be a fun ride.
© 2018 Micah Reum