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.
Markelle Fultz has missed three straight games as he deals with what are being called shoulder and wrist injuries, and it is starting to sound like he has no interest in playing for the Philadelphia 76ers again. However, Fultz may have no choice but to get back on the court for the team that drafted him No. 1 overall if he wants a fresh start somewhere else.
A player close to Fultz who chose to remain anonymous told Chris Sheridan of Get More Sports that the top contenders to acquire the former Washington star are the Phoenix Suns and Orlando Magic. The teams apparently showed interest recently, but both broke off talks after Fultz’s new injuries popped up following his benching against Phoenix last Monday.
Sheridan also reports that no team in the NBA is willing to trade for Fultz until they see the point guard play again. The Athletic reported last week that Fultz has been dealing with a wrist injury that is affecting his ability to shoot, but Sheridan said Monday that there is skepticism among NBA teams that his injuries are truly physical.
It certainly seems like Fultz wants a divorce from the 76ers, and the team would probably have no issue moving on from him if a trade was possible. However, the best way for Fultz to garner interest from other teams is to return to the court and prove he is healthy both physically and mentally. It may be a while before that happens, if it happens at all.
The Orlando Magic are eyeing up a rather surprising option in their search for a new head coach.
According to Marc Stein of the New York Times, the Magic are targeting Houston Cougars head coach Kelvin Sampson as their primary target.
No team has kept its coaching search quieter than Orlando, but there is a growing belief among league insiders gathered in Chicago this week that University of Houston coach Kelvin Sampson has emerged as the Magic's prime target
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) May 16, 2018
The Magic have largely withheld comment about any aspect of their coaching search and declined comment today, but Sampson has worked previously with new Orlando president Jeff Weltman in Milwaukee https://t.co/kyeA7f0HpU
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) May 16, 2018
Sampson was reportedly on the Nets’ list a few years back, but it would complete a remarkable turnaround for a coach who was fired from Indiana in 2008 amid a slew of recruiting violations. He has NBA experience, having served as an assistant with the Houston Rockets and Milwaukee Bucks.
The hot coaching candidate in the NBA this offseason appears to be former guard Jerry Stackhouse.
According to Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News, Stackhouse has already been contacted by the New York Knicks, and the Orlando Magic and Charlotte Hornets are also interested in speaking to him about their open head coaching gigs.
Jerry Stackhouse, whose reps have been contacted by the Knicks, is also a candidate for the Magic job and reportedly the Hornets job.
— Stefan Bondy (@SBondyNYDN) April 13, 2018
Stackhouse has served as a Toronto Raptors assistant for one season in 2015-16. Since then, he’s coached the Raptors 905, the team’s G League affiliate, where he has won a championship and coach of the year.
Clearly, Stackhouse has impressed NBA teams. As long as he doesn’t do anything like this, he sounds like a strong candidate for any team.
2018 is already proving to be quite the year in the sport of basketball: Isaiah Thomas is back, DeMar DeRozan is dropping 50-point games, and the founder of the NBA has officially begun his sacred pilgrimmage to Lithuania. But with that calendar flip comes the realization that the trade deadline is but a month and change away. Here are eight teams likely to be open for business.
Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers are just 17-20 on the year as two prime assets (their top individual defender in Patrick Beverley and their $65 million man in Danilo Gallinari) gather dust on the sideline in suits. To make matters worse, the schedule becomes a meat processor from here — the Clippers will face Golden State (twice), Minnesota, Houston, and Boston, all over the course of the next three weeks. DeAndre Jordan and Lou Williams (both of whom can be free agents after the season) are two immensely popular trade targets, and each looks like a legitimate top-10 option at his respective position this year. It may only be a matter of time before Clippers executive Jerry West takes advantage of their peaking value and cashes in on this period of feast before the seemingly inevitable famine.
New Orleans Pelicans
Every passing second is a second that DeMarcus Cousins is closer to free agency this summer. To be fair, there’s a lot of good going in New Orleans right now: Cousins and Anthony Davis are a tyranny, little-known guard E’Twaun Moore has been making a killing lately, and Rajon Rondo is slinging dimes like rhymes a la 2008. But the Pelicans seem to have the scarlet letter of “.500 team” permanently emblazoned on their jerseys, and it’s becoming a fair question to ask just how high their ceiling is with this core. The spacing still stinks, and overall the team is still a few wings short of a full chicken. It’s the worst time in the collective history of our galaxy to be a mediocre team in the Western Conference, and you figure that has to leave open the possibility of Cousins getting whacked by the trade bat for a second consecutive February.
Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert is placing the proverbial chair in front of general manager David Griffin’s door.
Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical reports on Tuesday that the Orlando Magic recently asked for permission to speak with Griffin about their vacant president of basketball operations position but that Gilbert has been “unresponsive” to their request.
Griffin’s contract with the Cavs expires after the season, and the last few weeks have indicated that the Magic plan to offer him the position outright.
Wojnarowski also adds that the Cavs have yet to make “a substantive offer” to retain Griffin. While the team is still in the middle of their playoff run and at least one high-profile backer is advocating for Griffin to be extended, Gilbert will have to do a lot more than just stalling if he wants to hold onto his guy.
The Orlando Magic have reportedly zeroed in on David Griffin as the man they want to run their basketball operations department.
Griffin is currently the general manager of the Cleveland Cavaliers, but his contract is set to expire. According to Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com, the Magic are planning to offer to make him the president of their basketball operations department. The two sides can begin negotiating a deal after the Cavs’ season concludes.
Cleveland has not ruled out giving Griffin an extension, but the team has not discussed a new deal with the GM. With the Cavs having the highest payroll in the NBA, there has been speculation that owner Dan Gilbert would rather not pay Griffin like one of the top executives in the league.
For what it’s worth, LeBron James has publicly endorsed Griffin and said he wants the Cavs to give the executive an extension.
The Magic are also said to be interested in a pair of Boston Celtics legends for their president of basketball operations position, but all signs indicate Griffin is the front-runner to land the job.