The NBA trade deadline for season 2019/20 has come and gone and what was expected to be a relatively quiet period didn't quite turn out as relaxing as anticipated.
Sure, there were no seismic changes to the top end of the NBA market, but some contenders did make moves to improve. A few teams at the foot of the standings made changes with improvement in mind, as well. The Pistons seem to have simply given up. And the Rockets have decided to challenge the very convention of how the sport is played. Again.
Let's have a look at each and every team, and where they stand post deadline. As far as listed transactions, we're only taking into account trades made in the week prior to the February 6 deadline – Sorry Willie Cauley-Stein.
In: Clint Capela, Dewayne Dedmon, Skal Labissiere, Nene (since waived), 2020 2nd round pick (via Houston), 2021 2nd round pick (via Miami)
Out: Evan Turner, Alex Len, Jabari Parker, Chandler Parson (waived), 2020 1st round pick (via Brooklyn), 2024 2nd round pic (via Golden State)
Atlanta get their man in the middle, in the 25 year old Capela. The Swiss is a solid rim runner, who should gel with Atlanta's youthful star Trae Young. Whilst not an elite rebounder and rim protector, Capela is an immense upgrade over what passed for pivot defense in Atlanta this season. How he fits with John Collins will be telling. Whilst Collins has undoubtedly improved his range to the point where he shoots close to 40% from the corners, he's a rim runner at heart. There won't be any of that whilst he shares the floor with Capela. Of course, the question now is how do the Hawks view Collins? Is he an undoubted core piece? If he fits well with Capela, he might well be. If he doesn't, expect Atlanta to move on from him.
Boston really didn't have anyone worth trading that was on a matchable salary – they're loaded with non core players that are on smaller deals. That's good cap management, but it robs you of ammunition at the negotiating table.
Whilst there's no doubt they would have liked to added a versatile big, there was no real expectation that GM Danny Ainge would make a move.
Brooklyn made their moves in the most recent off season. As such, they're in somewhat of a holding pattern until they can get Kevin Durant back on the court. A low-key interesting thing to watch will be the restricted free agency of sharp shooting wing Joe Harris. Given they've held on to the 28 year old, it looks like the Nets will pay what they need to pay in order to keep him.
Technicians are still investigating as to whether the phone lines in the Charlotte front office were, in fact, operational before the deadline. The Hornets surely shopped their now bench riding veterans. Alas, they were unable to get any assets in. Since the deadline, Marvin Williams and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist have been bought out. With Cody Zeller and Nic Batum due to come off the books in 2021, we'll be going through the same dance this time next year.
The Bulls appear to be a little higher on their prospects that most observers.
Veterans like Tomas Satoransky, the injured Otto Porter and Thad Young especially should have found their way to a contender – none are stars but all are capable rotation players for top end teams. Sure, the Bulls ever growing pile of wounded soldiers makes it hard for them to assess this group, but if offers were there, they'd be foolish to have not looked seriously at offloading the veterans.
In: Andre Drummond
Out: A half eaten box of stale donuts
The acquisition of Drummond for the princely sum of Brandon Knight, John Henson and a 2023 2nd round pick, signals the end of Tristan Thompson, with the veteran likely to be bought out. Despite playing in the league since about 1982, Drummond is still somehow only 26 years old. His timeline is far more aligned with their young core of Garland, Sexton, Osman and Porter Jr. In the short term, it will be interesting to see how he fits with Kevin Love. Love's shooting should open up lanes for Drummond to roll through, whilst Drummond's shot blocking and quick hands should cover for Love's lack of foot speed and rim protection. Should is doing a lot of work in that last sentence – Love has never won without LeBron by his side. Drummond has topped out as the leader of a mid table team. Assuming Cleveland holds on to Drummond, they at least have a core to build around, now. Unfortunately it looks like a core that tops out at mediocre. Much like Drummond's Pistons teams.
Dallas are in a good spot. Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis are both under 25 years old. They have an elite coach. They have a solid supporting cast. The Mavs are ahead of schedule, and appear happy to grow into themselves just in time for the decline of LeBron James.
In: Keita Bates-Diop, Shabazz Napier (since traded), Gerald Green (since waived), Noah Vonleh, Jordan McRae, 2020 1st round pick (via Houston)
Out: Malik Beasley, Juancho Hernangomez, Jarred Vanderbilt
Denver are taking an educated risk. They're undoubtedly a fringe contender, with a talented and deep young roster. Whilst it makes sense to cash in on Beasley and Hernangomez before they hit free agency, it does erode some vital depth. To that end, Denver have pivoted very smartly t replace them. Juancho was expendable as soon as Michael Porter Jr proved he was healthy, but Bates-Diop is a nice insurance policy. A 6'8” combo forward with a condor like 7'3” wingspan, he has some defensive potential. He's also developed into a knock down shooter from the corners. Napier was redundant with Monte Morris on the roster, so moving him for McRae – a fair Beasley facsimile – was a smart move.
In: Cap relief in human form (Brandon Knight, John Henson), 2023 2nd round pick
Out: Andre Drummond
This trade came out of the blue. Not so much the trade itself – Drummond had been the centre of talks with Atlanta and New York in the past month – but for the pittance the Pistons received in return for their apparent franchise centrepiece.
Make no mistake, this was a straight up salary dump. Henson and Knight are both expiring deals. Perhaps the Pistons brass is hoping that their lack of free agency success in recent years is down to a lack of financial opportunity, rather than a lack of player interest.
The Pistons have been playing catch up for a while now, in regards to balancing their salary cap. The Van Gundy/Bower regime, and Joe Dumars before them, both gummed up the works with some truly horrible signings. Josh Smith, who hasn't played for Detroit since December 2014 is somehow still on the books. In trading Drummond, combined with the likely release of Reggie Jackson, Detroit are – finally – fully committed to a ground up rebuild.