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.
In: Andre Iguodala, Jae Crowder, Solomon Hill
Out: Justice Winslow, Dion Waiters, James Johnson
You have to hand it to Pat Riley. He has balls!
Despite his team not being expected to be legitimate contenders, he hasn't rested on his laurels - he's gone all in. In Iguodala, Riley has a defensive rock, a solid play maker, and a man that has seen just about every situation that there can be on an NBA playoff court. Of course, he's also 36 and hasn't played for 8 months. Does the break mean Iggy is rested, or has it allowed his game to atrophy? Jae Crowder is a nice insurance policy should Iggy not be up to scratch anymore. The well travelled veteran has solid playoff experience in his own right. He's not the defensive savant that Iggy is, but he's stout, and works his tail off. Neither of these guys are great shooters, but the Heat have more than enough firepower to cover them.
Of course, in giving up Winslow, the Heat are bidding farewell to a player that – when healthy – might be better than either Iggy or Crowder right now. When you're not a clear cut contender, that takes some serious courage.
The quiet genius of this trade for Miami is that it's cleared some terrible contracts off the roster. Even if things don't quite work out next year, Miami's cap sheet is suddenly a lot cleaner for 2021. Cap space and South Beach? Don't bet against Riley making one more big splash in the next 12 to 18 months.
Why would you mess this up? The Bucks are quietly on course for a top 5 all time regular season. Their +11.9 point differential leads the league by eons. The gap to 2nd placed Boston is roughly the same to 11th placed Oklahoma City. They're legitimately two deep at every position, allowing them to be conservative with their stars court time. Their camaraderie is palpable. As much as Marcus Morris or Bogdan Bogdanovic would look great here, sitting pat doesn't hurt the Bucks at all.
In: D'Angelo Russell, Omari Spellman, Jacob Evans, Malik Beasley, Juancho Hernangomez, Evan Turner, Jarred Vanderbilt, 2020 1st round draft pick (via Brooklyn)
Out: Robert Covington, Andrew Wiggins, Noah Vonleh, Shabazz Napier, Jordan Bell, Gorgui Dieng, Keita Bates-Diop, 2021 1st round pick
Thank God for former Daryl Morey protege Gersson Rosas. He just about single handedly made this trade deadline exciting with a mega 4-team deal, that he was reportedly the architect of, and with his Uber Challenge Trade with Golden State (apparently the Dubs were almost an extra player in the 4 teamer).
First, the multi-team trade.
Minnesota made out like bandits in this deal. Covington is a 29 year with a history of knee injuries. He doesn't quite fit in with the timeline of Karl-Anthony Towns. Even if he was a few years younger, he's a complimentary piece at best.
Considering the shocking lack of shooting (and lack of general depth) on this roster, getting Beasley and Hernangomez – now presumed starters at the 2 and 4 – as well as a pick expected to fall between 15th and 17th is good business.
Evan Turner is a solid veteran who will help this season, but his expiring contract is the reason the Wolves acquired him. Jarred Vanderbilt is an intriguing throw in. The former 2nd round pick is still only 20 years old. His health has never given him anything like a solid stretch on the court to get his feet wet.
A fluid 6'9”, Vanderbilt's best case scenario is as a bench spark plug. He still needs to learn how to shoot the basketball, but the tools are there. He's a little like now-former teammate Jerami Grant.
In trading Wiggins for D'Lo, they're getting the best player in the deal, and he's also the best friend of their resident superstar. The pick going to Golden State could end up hurting, especially is if it doesn't convey (it's top 3 protected in 2021 – unprotected after that). To that end, Rosas is betting that his new superstar duo and the hugely upgraded depth around them can lead Minnesota back towards – at least – playoff contention.
New Orleans Pelicans
As expected, the Pelicans held tight. It's so early in the process with this team that it doesn't make sense to start moving more pieces around. Zion Williamson is only eight games into his career. Jaxson Hayes is a rookie. Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, Derrick Favors and JJ Redick are all in their 1st seasons in Louisiana. It's probably wise to let this stew bubble away for a little while.
New York Knicks
In: Mo Harkless, 2020 1st round pick (via LA Clippers), 2020 2nd round pick (Via Detroit)
Out: Marcus Morris
You might want to sit down for this news: the Knicks made a good, future oriented trade.
In dealing career-year Marcus Morris, the Knicks went against type. They’ve acquired a 1st round pick – likely to fall around #25 – and the serviceable Harkless. They haven’t given up any picks. They haven’t taken on future salary. They’ve even secured swap right with the Clippers on 2021, which is obviously laughable. Still, it’s progress for the leagues worst front office.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Heading into the season, the Thunder were surely the team most likely to make (at least) a trade, yet here we are: OKC have kept their team intact. There was of course the dalliance with Miami for Danilo Gallinari, which was a hairs breadth from getting over the line. If that trade went down, would GM Sam Presti have looked to move more players? We’ll never know.
If the plan was to keep the team together, it’s somewhat of a shame that Presti didn’t look to become a buyer at the deadline. Could the Thunder have picked up a wing to fill the one obvious gap on their roster? They didn’t need to go all out for a Covington, Iguodala or Morris, either. How much better would this team look with Glen Robinson III lining up at small forward?
In: James Ennis
Out: 2020 2nd round pick (via Los Angeles Lakers)
Trading for James Ennis is exciting, isn’t it Magic fans!
The Magic are the definition of middle of the road. They’re talented enough to make the Eastern playoffs each and every year, but their ceiling is the 7th seed. If that’s the goal, then so be it. The team will eventually slide into obscurity and nobody will even notice.
Alternatively, they could have tried to kick off the rebuild properly, trading the expiring Evan Fournier and the head scratching Aaron Gordon. With a star pivot in Nik Vucevic to keep them relevant in the present, and two intriguing talents in Markelle Fultz and Jonathan Isaac to build around, why not shoot for the moon?