10 biggest takeaways from the NBA trade deadline
The 2019 NBA trade deadline was an exceptionally active one with multiple big names changing teams, even if the biggest name on the market ended up staying put. That doesn’t change the fact that the action, especially in the Eastern Conference, was fast and furious, and that isn’t even factoring in the Kristaps Porzingis deal.
Here are ten big takeaways from all the moves that took place prior to Thursday’s deadline.
1. The Anthony Davis saga will drag on into the summer, and the Lakers look worse for it
It didn’t seem like the New Orleans Pelicans ever had any real intention of negotiating with the Los Angeles Lakers in good faith on an Anthony Davis trade. The Pelicans have every incentive to wait until summer to deal Davis, when they should have a wider range of interested teams. The Lakers will be disappointed, as they don’t look great publicly, seem to have muddled the minds of their young players, and may now find themselves in a situation where they can be outbid. LeBron James probably won’t be happy, either.
2. Eastern Conference is now home to an arms race
All the top teams in the East clearly sense opportunity. The Milwaukee Bucks added Nikola Mirotic, the Philadelphia 76ers got the ball rolling with the Tobias Harris trade, and the Toronto Raptors brought in Marc Gasol. Only the Boston Celtics largely stood pat, and that’s probably because they intend to use their assets to get Anthony Davis in the summer. Their rivals sensed that, and likely determined that now was the time to strike. The Eastern Conference playoffs are certainly going to be competitive to say the least.
3. The Sixers are finally going for it
“The Process”, as it was understood to be, is finally a thing of the past for the Sixers, who acquired Tobias Harris from the Los Angeles Clippers in a major move that solidifies their starting five. The Eastern Conference is wide open, and the Sixers sensed that, feeling that Boston is vulnerable and their time is now. They’ll have work to do to keep this core together, but for now, they have Harris, Ben Simmons, Jimmy Butler, and Joel Embiid together in a conference that seems to be there for the taking.
4. Bucks’ Nikola Mirotic addition could be a masterstroke
The best team in the East got better by acquiring Nikola Mirotic from the Pelicans, who fits what they’re doing perfectly. Mirotic makes a lot of three-pointers, just as the Bucks do. He spaces the floor and provides another weapon for Giannis Antetokounmpo to work with. The move solidifies Milwaukee as one of the clear favorites to come out of the Eastern Conference, and the Bucks managed to do it without really giving up a huge haul or significantly weakening themselves in the short- or long-term.
5. Marc Gasol is the Raptors’ attempt to make a statement of their own
The Toronto Raptors’ acquisition of Marc Gasol is a big deal as well, further deepening the Eastern Conference. They had already been able to run with Serge Ibaka inside, and Gasol is a clear upgrade on that with his scoring and playmaking ability. It essentially means the Raptors can create some very versatile lineups, and fundamentally it ensures that they remain where they are in the battle with three top East foes. Plus, they didn’t have to give up a first-round pick.
6. Orlando may offer the change of scenery Markelle Fultz needed
It became apparent a while ago that Fultz and the Philadelphia 76ers weren’t going to make it work. He fought his jumpshot, he fought injury, and he fought the perception of being the No. 1 pick Philadelphia traded up for that just didn’t work. In Orlando, the spotlight will be off, and Steve Clifford is a highly-rated coach. Maybe Fultz will never be the transcendent star that many hoped he’d be when he was taken first overall, but a move to Orlando could give him a much clearer path to becoming a solid NBA player.
7. Dallas Mavericks have quickly maneuvered themselves into a bright future
The Mavericks paid fairly dearly in draft picks to bring in Kristaps Porzingis, but when combined with Luka Doncic, the move is well worth it. Add in the fact that they were able to get a big contract in DeAndre Jordan off the books, followed by that of Harrison Barnes in a separate trade, and the Mavericks have two young franchise players with room to maneuver to add another piece this offseason. They’ve done an outstanding job positioning themselves for the future in two quick trades and deserve immense credit.
8. Rockets add Iman Shumpert, are still trying to find the winning formula
The 2018-19 iteration of the Houston Rockets is extremely reliant on James Harden even more than they ever have been in the past. They’ve also never really adequately replaced Trevor Ariza, a valuable defensive wing who they lost after last season. The Rockets will hope that Shumpert is that adequate replacement, and his offensive resurgence gives them some home that they’ll be able to get some contributions from beyond the arc as well as defensively. It could be a low-key move that ends up paying big dividends in the playoffs.
9. Rodney Hood may be a good buy-low candidate for Portland
Hood looked like a rising star in Utah, as he was averaging about 17 points per game while shooting 39 percent from three-point range when the Cleveland Cavaliers acquired him a year ago. His stock has been battered since then, but the Portland Trail Blazers will be hoping they can be the beneficiaries of a change in scenery. Hood is capable of being a good shooter and a dangerous player on offense far more than he had been in Cleveland, and there’s a chance this actually works out well for Portland.
10. Lakers put a Carmelo Anthony move on the table
The Los Angeles Lakers made a rare trade with the Clippers shortly before the deadline, adding some shooting in Mike Muscala while simultaneously clearing a roster spot. It is entirely possible that this roster spot goes to free agent forward and LeBron James buddy Carmelo Anthony, who would very much like a job. Anthony will be a big story in the buyout market, but one quiet subplot of Thursday’s trade action is that the Lakers very much put themselves in a position to grab him if they want to.