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.
Golden State Warriors
In: Andrew Wiggins, 2021 protected 1st round pick (via Minnesota), 2020 2nd round pick (via Dallas), 2021 2nd round pick (via Denver), 2022 2nd round pick (via Toronto)
Out: D'Angelo Russell, Jacob Evans, Omari Spellman, Glenn Robinson III, Alec Burks
Let's bury the lede for a moment.
The Warriors trading Robinson and Burks for a series of low end 2nd rounders served two purposes: it permitted the team to save about $30 million in luxury tax payments, and it allows Golden State to lean into their 'tanking (not tanking)' season.
The main course, though, is undoubted the Challenge Trade to end all Challenge Trades. Russell is definitely the better player of he and Wiggins, but his fit alongside Curry and Thompson was always going to be clunky. Wiggins fills a positional need. He's also – theoretically, at least – a deep well of untapped potential. The much maligned former #1 pick will finally be in a stable situation, for the first time in hos professional life. If Golden State can make something of Wiggins, they're right back in contention next season. If they can't, he's a very interesting trade piece when attached to a top 5 pick for, just to name a player at random, Bradley Beal.
In: Robert Covington, Jordan Bell (since traded), Bruno Cabocolo, 2024 2nd round pick (via Golden State)
Out: Clint Capela, Gerald Green, 2020 1st round pick
You have to hand it to the Rockets organisation – they don't do things in half measures. This is some Daniel Day Lewis/Joaquin Phoenix level of committing to the character.
In trading their only viable centre sized player (and then forwarding the incoming Jordan Bell for the 'he should be here by now' Bruno Cabocolo), for a straight from the mould 3-D wing in Covington, the Rockets game plan is crystal clear: spread the floor and drive hard. James Harden's particular brand of brilliance might lose a little of it's lustre, with his rare lob chemistry with Capela gone.
However, another man with a 'particular brand' of brilliance should shine in this alignment. Russell Westbrook really doesn't have to shoot the ball at all, should he choose not to. He can drive hard, and drive often, knowing that there is either no shot blocker waiting for him, or an open player ready and willing to fire from deep, should a defender rotate down.
For Covington, this is the prefect offensive situation. Catch; shoot; repeat. His woeful ball handling is a non-factor in Houston.
Defensively, this is going to be very interesting viewing. Capela isn't elite at that end, by any stretch, but he is a legitimately good rebounder and a solid shot blocker. He covered for his guards more than people may realise.
Covington, is an elite team defender, able to cover for the mistakes of people around him. What he isn't, is a one on one stopper, despite his reputation. The lack of a pure stopper on the perimeter, combined with the compete lack of intimidation inside, could see us get some games not seen since the likes of Paul Westhead's early 1990's Nuggets, or the 2019-20 Washington Wizards.
Indiana has it's mid season addition in the form of the returning Victor Oladipo. Whilst he hasn't found form as yet, Dipo should get back to the player we know he can be come playoff time. That though should terrify the other Eastern Conference contenders.
In: Marcus Morris, Isaiah Thomas (since waived), 2022 2nd round pick (via Atlanta)
Out: Mo Harkless, Jerome Robinson, Derrick Walton Jr, 2021 3nd round pick (via Detroit)
In getting in ahead of the Lakers and Bucks to obtain Marcus Morris from the Knicks, the Clippers achieved the double whammy of strengthening themselves, whilst taking away a potential option from their main rivals.
Morris is in the midst of a career year, averaging 19.6 points and shooting a scorching 43.9% from deep. In LA, he'll get all the open looks he can handle, playing next to Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and Lou Williams. Morris has a well earned reputation as a ball stopper, but the Clips offense isn't exactly a flowing masterpiece.
All of the players previously mentioned have a similar trait in halting the offense once they have the ball, so that shouldn't be a problem here. What might be a concern, however, is Morris' legendary irrational confidence. The man will genuinely believe that he is the best player on the team.
Come a tight late playoff game situation, Morris is just as likely to go one on one and try to score as he is to sit in the corner and wait for the ball. Of course, he's had big playoff moments before, so he might just make the shot, but you would of course rather Kawhi had the ball.
Los Angeles Lakers
This feels like an opportunity missed for the Lakers. Whilst Marcus Morris might have been a touch redundant, and they couldn't match the Miami offer for Iguodala, there were certainly opportunities out there for the Lakers to improve their lot. Derrick Rose immediately comes to mind, as the play making guard that can take hold of the offense when LeBron sits. Perhaps GM Rob Pelinka could have looked to resuscitate the Kuzma for Bogdan Bogdanovic talks with Sacramento.
As it is, the Lakers will hunt the buyout and free agent markets. Darren Collison was strongly linked to the Lakers before deciding to stay in retirement for the time being, and they're also reportedly talking to JR Smith, who is always cool in a crisis.
In: Justice Winslow, Dion Waiters (since waived), James Johnson (since traded), Gorgui Dieng, Jordan Bell, 2x 2023 2nd round picks
Out: Andre Iguodala, Jae Crowder, Solomon Hill, Bruno Cabocolo
On one hand, Memphis did wonderfully well out of this trade.
For a middling, soon to be 30 year old Crowder, an onerous contract in Hill, and a bloke that never showed up to work, the Grizzlies were able to acquire a highly regarded 23 year old, who not only plays a position of need, but has a perfectly complimentary skill set to their existing young core.
Winslow's defensive ability was what made him a top 10 pick. His rare combination of strength and agility makes him an extremely versatile defender. At the other end of the floor, he's turned himself into a solid shooter from deep (37.9% over his past two seasons) so he should be able to play off Ja Morant.
Winslow's play making ability was unlocked by necessity in Miami, and he could open up a whole new side of Morant by allowing the star point guard to operate off ball.
The other side of the coin, is that Memphis are taking on a permacrocked liability. Winslow has missed 141 of a possible 379 regular season games so far in his career – that's nigh on 40%.
Worryingly, he's had a variety of injuries, so this isn't just a case of getting a particular issue right. There are signs that Winslow is simply not built for the long haul.