At 3:00 PM Eastern Time on Thursday, the NBA will have its annual trade deadline, leaving teams with just free agency to adjust their roster for the remainder of the season. There’s sure to be a handful of deals completed in Thursday morning, and even a couple in the last moments—last year, the Clippers’ deadline move wasn’t publicly announced until beat writer Dan Woike tweeted the news at 3:16 PM.
Still, there’s plenty of action to discuss from the last several days, so let’s take a brief look at each move, and how each team involved fared.
Sixers get: Tiago Splitter, 2 2nd Round Picks
Hawks get: Ersan Ilyasova
This is a pretty straightforward deal for both sides: the Hawks, a good team, get a good player on an expiring deal for an oft-injured reserve. The Sixers, a bad team, get a couple of picks, get to be worse this year, and keep their cap sheet clear by swapping expiring deals. Makes sense for both—this is a solid trade, although you have to wonder what the point is for Atlanta to give up assets to add rotation pieces when they won’t be able to compete with Cleveland anyway. Still, it’s only a couple of second rounders.
Wizards get: Bojan Bogdanovic, Chris McCollough
Nets get: Andrew Nicholson, Marcus Thornton, WAS 2017 1st Round Pick
This is similar to the Ilyasova trade, although there’s a little bit going on here. Washington gave up their own first round pick in this year’s draft, which isn’t ideal, but they seem pretty likely to finish in the top 10, meaning this pick will end up in the 20s. Bojan Bogdanovic has questionable value, because while he’s having a nice season, his rookie contract is up and he might get a big offer in free agency. Still, paying Bogdanovic is preferable to paying Andrew Nicholson, who has disappointed after signing a four-year, $26 million deal last summer.
For the Nets, it’s a really smart long-term move. They probably didn’t want to pay to keep Bogdanovic, who is turning 28 soon, and while Chris McCollough is a nice prospect he’s still playing in the D-League. The cost of the late first round pick that they added is eating Andrew Nicholson’s contract, but the Nets have a long way to go before they’ll be able to lure big free agents anyway. It’s definitely worth using their room in a way that will add assets instead of just overpaying mediocre free agents in July.
Rockets get: Lou Williams
Lakers get: Corey Brewer, 2017 1st Round Pick
Noticing a trend? Good team trades bad player and pick to bad team for good player. Here we are again: Lou Williams, who is having a 6th Man of the Year-worthy campaign for the Lakers, was an obvious deadline target for a half-dozen playoff teams in need of a scoring punch. What’s interesting, though, is that Houston isn’t one of those teams: they have the 2nd-best offensive rating in the NBA, and are in the middle of the pack defensively. Still, they were able to add another weapon for an eventual effort to pull an upset against the Golden State Warriors by outshooting the Western Conference favorites. The first round pick hurts, but only a little as it will be late in the draft, and Lou Williams has another cheap season on his current deal.
For the Lakers, 19 points a night from the 30-year-old Williams was taking them nowhere fast. Now, they’ll open up more minutes for their younger guards, be a little worse for draft positioning, and have a bonus pick late in the first round. Brewer isn’t an expiring contract this year, which hurts somewhat, but given how the Lakers have used cap room in the past, they’re probably better off danging him as an expiring contract at next year’s deadline.
Pelicans get: DeMarcus Cousins, Omri Casspi
Kings get: Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway, 2017 1st Round Pick, 2017 2nd Round Pick
Quite frankly, this is awful value for DeMarcus Cousins. Hield probably isn’t as bad as some have made him out to be, but he isn’t the kind of young stud you’d expect at the center of a trade package for DeMarcus Cousins... and to only get one first-round pick? Horrible. That pick will likely end up in the 15-16 range, since New Orleans should make the playoffs following this trade.
The Pelicans add another legitimate superstar talent, as well as a nice player in Casspi. They seem to finally be claiming a direction for the first time—hopefully make the playoffs next year, and then lure free agents with the Davis-Cousins combo down low to grow in future years.
Raptors get: Serge Ibaka
Magic get: Terrence Ross, 2017 1st Round Pick
Ross is good—I like him as a bench wing. But for the Raptors, who have been trying to plug a hole at PF forever, Ibaka was too good of an opportunity to pass up. They won’t miss another pick in the 20s with all of the developing youth at the end of their bench (the Clippers have four players born 1989 or later—the Raptors have thirteen).
Orlando was going to either lose Ibaka in free agency or have to drastically overpay him despite his inability to lead them to the postseason this year. GM Rob Hennigan’s vision for this team has failed dramatically, but at least this is a cut-your-losses move that gives them a solid wing on a long-term, affordable deal, along with a late first round pick. Ross and the new rookie will be a part of Orlando’s next rebuild—although Hennigan may not be.
Nuggets get: Mason Plumlee, 2018 2nd Round Pick
Blazers get: Jusuf Nurkic, 2017 1st Round Pick
Here’s a deal that isn’t great for either team—Denver didn’t need the pick that they traded, but it seems like they could do better than adding a center who will struggle to play alongside Nikola Jokic, and who they will likely need to overpay this summer to keep.
Portland is desperate to revamp their frontcourt to take advantage of their elite backcourt duo of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, but Nurkic probably isn’t the answer. Paying Plumlee wasn’t going to be ideal, but moving him isn’t going to undo the horrendous decisions that have led to Evan Turner and Allen Crabbe’s new contracts.
Hornets get: Miles Plumlee
Bucks get: Spencer Hawes, Roy Hibbert
This is a straight-up salary dump for the Bucks—they moved Plumlee, who is due $12.5 million in each of the next three seasons, for Hibbert’s expiring deal and Hawes’ $6 million player option for next season. That’s a pretty deft escape from a horrible deal.
But why did the Hornets do it? Plumlee is a mediocre and totally replaceable backup center. They seem to have been wanting him for some time, and they pounced on him now while his value is low, but unless he has a major resurgence, Charlotte is going to end up regretting this trade for years.