SAC NBA Trade Deadline Reflections

Deadline Winners and Losers by Miguel Bautista

The 2014-15 NBA trade deadline was probably the craziest one in NBA history, with 37 players changing teams. The main winners of this season’s trade deadline are the Thunder, Heat, Blazers, and Sixers. The losers are the Suns, Bucks, Nuggets, and Celtics.

Instead of acquiring an injury-laden Brook Lopez at roughly seventeen million, the Thunder got Enes Kanter for about a third of the price. The more influential acquisitions are D.J. Augustin and Kyle Singler; they bring perimeter shooting to improve Oklahoma City’s floor spacing in addition to bench scoring. This should make things easier for Durant and Westbrook.

The Heat acquired Goran Dragic for what appears to be nothing; they give up rotation players as well as a top 7-protected 2017 first round draft pick that rolls over to 2018 and becomes unprotected in 2019  and a 2021 unprotected first rounder. It appears that Riley has planned for the worst (i.e. Wade/Bosh injuries and or decline) by adding the protection. A great deal. The only downside of this is reading that Bosh may miss the rest of the season due to (maybe career ending) blood clots in his lungs.

The Blazers acquire two rotation players in Afflalo and Gee, while giving up what will likely be a late first round pick and some fringe rotation players. By bolstering the bench, the Trail Blazers signed off on their intent of competing for a championship and challenging the Warriors and Grizzlies (who stood pat), for Western Conference supremacy.

The Sixers win by acquiring one of the league’s most valuable assets: the Lakers’ top-5 protected 2015 pick. Additional conditions of the pick; if they do not acquire the 2015 pick, they could acquire the Lakers’ 2016, 2017 or 2018 first round pick. The 2016 and 2017 picks are top-3 protected, but the 2018 pick is unprotected. In short, the Sixers will get a valuable top pick, which is worth its weight in gold to GM Sam Hinkie.

The Suns lost by giving up Dragic, Thomas and the Lakers’ pick, and getting Brandon Knight, a couple future firsts from Miami, and Cleveland’s 2016 first. They may end up losing Knight in free agency, and again, they gave up the Lakers’ pick! Even if getting two firsts for the disgruntled Dragic is a good deal in the long term, overhauling so much of the successful squad means they likely signed away a playoff spot in 2015. And once again, THEY GAVE UP THE LAKERS PICK!

The Bucks blew up what was a promising season, but I understand their reasoning. They did not
want to lose Knight in free agency for nothing, so they brought in Carter-Williams and Ennis, who are still on their rookie contracts. I’m guessing their offense will drop off significantly without Knight. I hope this does not ruin a still promising season in Milwaukee.

I’m not sure what the Nuggets or Celtics are doing. I have no clue what the plan is in D
enver. I’m surprised that I did not hear more discussion about Faried and Lawson. Are the Celtics trying to make the playoffs? It might help them to get some playoff experience, but I assumed they wanted to get a couple more high draft picks. Is Brad Stevens too good to tank?

The Good, the Bad and the Sixers by Robert Petrosyan

In a day of big deals, it was the Oklahoma City Thunder that made off like bandits. Before the deadline, morale was low for Thunder fans, as their team was still in the bubble for a playoff spot jockeying against the Suns and Pelicans in the very deep West. And they had a very disgruntled bench player in Reggie Jackson who demanded a trade. Initial rumors suggested that Reggie Jackson would be traded to the Brooklyn Nets for the oft-injured and high salary Brook Lopez. However, OKC surprised everyone (including this Reggie Jackson owner on fastasy) by sending Jackson to the Detroit Pistons in exchange for DJ Augustin, Steve Novak and Kyle Singler, all of whom would immediately propel the Thunder bench to being one of the best. But the Thunder still needed a big man next to Serge Ibaka,but instead of taking on Brook Lopez, OKC made a stunner of a trade to grab Enes Kanter from the Utah Jazz in exchange for a first rounder and Kendrick Perkins’ expiring contract. Kanter is similar to Lopez in that he isn’t much of a defensive player, but he’s a promising youngster with better health and a MUCH more manageable salary. His rookie deal will make way to restricted free agency this summer, and while the Thunder probably won’t re-sign him to a long term deal, Kanter is an immediate upgrade to this team and will go a long way towards pushing the Thunder into the playoffs and keeping the 2016 free agent Kevin Durant happy.

Even though the Suns were pushed into a corner with Goran Dragic and did the best they could with the situation, I would still have to rate the Dragic to Heat deal as a bad deal with all things considered. They had to have known that stockpiling three starter calibre point guards  would not end well, and it bit them when they were faced with a trade demand from the league’s reigning Most Improved Player. The Suns did well to at least grab two future first rounders from the Heat and depending on the trajectory of the Heat the next 5-7 years, it could prove to return significant dividends. However, getting rid of Dragic (and Isaiah Thomas), essentially puts the Suns behind the Thunder and Pelicans for the final playoff seed in the West and it signals an intention that the Suns are giving up on their playoff hunt. However, giving up the Lakers pick for Brandon Knight presents a conflicting story and shows the Suns still intend to compete. While Knight is an upgrade over Thomas, he is entering free agency and could stand to make eight figures, at Phoenix or elsewhere. Also, it doesn’t help that he is also a point guard who will compete with Eric Bledsoe for ball handling duties.  Meanwhile, for the Heat, bringing in Dragic was a big jolt for the South Beach faithful and showed intend from Pat Riley that the Heat will still be a force in the East. However, the excitement ended quickly at the announcement of blood clots in Chris Bosh’s lungs that ended his season and could threaten his career. However, the Heat had no  way of predicting such horrible news, but either way, the Heat mortgaged their future with this trade and it could be a problem going forward. Conventional wisdom dictates that an asset is worth more now than it will be five years from now. However, that may not be the case here. The Heat now are a playoff bubble team, but five years from now, around the time they have to pay up those draft picks, they could be a much worse team, especially with the long contracts of declining veterans hampering their flexibility. This situation is too similar to the Brooklyn Nets’ predicament to be considered positive. There is also the issue of Goran Dragic’s free agency, and while he had the Heat on the list of teams he’d re-sign with, it doesn’t mean he won’t leave if another team has a better situation for him. And if Goran Dragic leaves next year as a free agent, the Heat’s payment would have all been for naught.

And now time for the most bizarre team in the league, the Hinkie-led 76ers, After years in perpetual tankmode, the Sixers are back to square negative 48 (or is it negative 53,  i don’t even know anymore). Taking on JaVale “Shaqtin’ A Fool” McGee’s contract for a first round pick was a very smart move by the Sixers, but it went all downhill from there. Michael Carter-Williams, the reigning Rookie of the Year, was traded to the Bucks in a three team trade that netted them the Lakers’ top five protected first round pick by way of the Suns. MCW wasn’t a perfect player by any means, but he is still someone who could be a starter for the next ten years and is a triple double threat. He’s better than the average 5th to 10th pick and it send a very bad message to the fans when even the successful draft picks are at risk of being shipped out before they even reach their prime (the fact that Nerlins Noel was in the trade mill, ridiculous). Then comes the downright inexplicable trade of KJ McDaniels to the Houston Rockets for a 2nd round pick. KJ McDaniels has established himself as a premier wing defender with a penchant for blocks (OKC should’ve traded for him) and may have also set up a new contract precedent by betting on himself with a one year minimum contract as opposed to a four year rookie deal. That may have been the problem, as Hinkie may not have wanted to sign McDaniels to a more expensive contract, which doesn’t make sense considering the abundant cap room the Sixers have, Both McDaniels and MCW had very promising futures, and for Hinkie to have dealt them away in order to actively get worse is absurd. The NBA is a superstar-centric league where mediocrity is the worst place to be, but even when putting the need for better draft position into consideration, teams still have to keep the players that do succeed in order to build a foundation for future development or use them as part of a package that will yield them a superstar. That’s what Daryl Morey (Hinkie’s mentor) did when he used the Rockets’ various assets to bring in James Harden, who since made the Rockets into a contender. And considering how mediocre tank-candidates of 2013 Toronto Raptors and Atlanta Hawks are doing now, maybe being middling isn’t so bad after all. But even when a team does tank, there has to be direction, a plan and most importantly, an end in sight, and unfortunately for Philaelphia, they have none of these.

An Unforgettable Deadline by Frank Ross

The NBA trade deadline of 2015 is one to remember.  The landscape of the NBA changed significantly, as 9% of the league was traded that day, and contenders got the pieces they needed to compete.

Portland getting Aaron Affalo and OKC getting Enes Kanter significantly increases the chances of either team winning a championship.  Afflalo upgrades the Portland bench to respectability and gives them a very good rotation going into the playoffs.  There are certain things Portland still needs to worry about, but the roster is no longer a serious scare.  As for OKC, getting Kanter fills a gaping hole at the five, as the rotation of Adams/Perkins was offensively inept.  With Kanter, he can bring some offensive potency and some defensive ability as a shot blocker, if nothing else.

As for other teams, there were plenty of moves among the non-contenders.  Phoenix rid themselves of the 3 PG experiment, and traded Dragic away for some draft picks, Danny Granger and John Salmons.  They also got rid of Isaiah Thomas for Marcus Thornton and a draft pick.  I feel that the move puts Phoenix in a state where they will start rebuilding the team.  The 3 PG experiment did not work, so now the management will try something new.  As for Miami, getting Dragic would have made them playoff contenders with a reputable line-up of Goran Dragic running the point, Wade at the 2 and Bosh and Whiteside as the bigs, but with Bosh out for the season they will still have issues as a unit.

Philadelphia performed a shocking move and traded KJ McDaniels and MCW for essentially more draft picks.  They have a lot of draft picks to work with and develop more talent.  Personally, I think it’s a smart move to get more talent from college and develop the talent to play well as a unit.  It was how the OKC squad came to be prominent in the league.  However, if Hinkie decides to set a new precedent and trade away successful youngsters for more draft picks, the future may still contain a lot of losses for Philadelphia, because consistency is a necessity.

Lastly, seeing KG go back to Minnesota and Tayshaun Prince go back to the Pistons warms my heart.  I don’t think Prince going to Detroit will change much about the direction or position of the Pistons.  I don’t think the Wolves make the playoffs, but I think a veteran player like Garnett will make a positive impact on a team with such a young squad.

With 9% of the NBA traded, this deadline should not be forgotten.

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