NBA Trade Deadline Grades
Sixers Receive: Tobias Harris, Boban Marjanovic, Mike Scott
Clippers Receive: Landry Shamet, Wilson Chandler, Mike Muscala, Sixers' lottery protected 2020 first round pick, Heat 2021 unprotected first round pick, and the Sixer’s 2021 and 2023 second round picks.
Elton Brand made the call on trade deadline eve to risk some future assets in an attempt to turn their Eastern Conference title contending team into a NBA finals contending team. The Sixers will be adding a top ten three-point shooter in the league that is able to stretch the floor in the wing role. They somehow replaced the roles that Robert Covington had with Jimmy Butler, and replaced Dario Saric’s role with Tobias Harris. They round out their starting five with J.J. Redick, who is 22nd all time in three-pointers made in NBA history, while shooting at a career 41.2% from behind the arc. Don’t worry guys, the combo of Tobias and Boban won’t be split up. The Clippers secured the biggest man in the league to back up Joel Embiid, which seems unfair. Boban has the ability to come off the bench in short bursts and be very efficient. The burden is now on Brett Brown to define the players roles moving forward and allow the players to thrive at what they’re great at. According to Liberty Ballers, the Sixers will have the cap space to re-sign everybody on the team next year, as well as using the $9 million MLE on a veteran role player in the offseason. The Process has found its starting five. Sit back and enjoy.
It’s obvious now that the Clippers are giving up on the 2019 season and pushing their chips all in next offseason. They won’t have to wait on an answer from Tobias, who seemed to be the back up plan for the Clippers. Instead, their focus can be on Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant, and Anthony Davis. This move was more than just clearing cap space, though. It was all part of a master plan by the best executive in the NBA, Jerry West. It’s no secret that the Clippers are now going to lose more games and miss the playoffs now that they lost their best player. This means that lottery protected draft pick that is owned by the Celtics won't materialize this season, leaving Boston with less assets in the Anthony Davis sweepstakes. It’s also no surprise that this move is going to make the Sixers a favorite in the East. In fact, their odds to win the East according to Vegas went up from 10-1 all the way to an impressive 2-1. Knowing that they are favorites means that they could beat the Raptors to advance. If the Raptors lose, Jerry West might believe that this will hurt the Raptors chances of re-signing Kawhi, which would make Kawhi easier to sign in the offseason.
Sixers Grade: A
Clippers Grade: A
Bulls Receive: Otto Porter Jr.
Wizards Receive: Bobby Portis, Jabari Parker, and Bulls 2023 second round pick
The Bulls are one of the many teams that will have cap space this offseason. Unlike the Lakers, Clippers, or Knicks, they aren’t expected to be able to land a big name this offseason, so their options are to build in the draft and trade for assets. They’ve added Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr. over the last two years but were missing a true small forward, which Otto Porter Jr. will give them. Porter is in his sixth season out of Georgetown and is signed to what many consider a bad contract, being four years and $106 million. His contract is set to expire in 2021, while Wendell Carter Jr. is still on his rookie deal. The Bulls are going to have three talented wings under the age of 25. Add Zach LaVine to the mix and you have a bright team that is just missing a point guard. This trade indicates that they are going to choose a primary ball handler in the draft. Right now they’re estimated to get the 4th overall pick, but if they could move up into the top three, they have a shot at Ja Morant or even R.J. Barrett to run the point. Barrett is classified as a wing, but could very well play the role of a point forward, giving them four starters that are 6’7"- 7'0", that are flexible and have the ability to switch on defense to anybody. Considering the train wreck kind of season the Bulls have had, this trade puts them right on track.
The Wizards got the news that John Wall ruptured his achilles and would be out for at least twelve months and possibly all of next season. The Wizards are now sellers in the market and that’s exactly what they’re doing; shedding heavy salary while acquiring young players and draft picks. Jabari Parker has a $20 million team option this offseason, which is looking like an expiring deal given Parker’s lack of production and attitude on the defensive end. Bobby Portis is their young asset they can lock down moving forward. At just 23 years old, Bobby is still on his rookie deal of just $2.5 million this year and $3.6 million next year. After that he becomes a restricted free agent allowing Washington to match any offer and keep him for an additional four years. Portis is averaging career highs in 3P% at 37.5%, rebounds per game at 7.3, and points per game at 14.1, all while only playing 24 minutes a game. Showing this kind of improvement and production is exactly what the Wizards are looking for out of their power forward for the next six years. The Wiz are now without four of their top five scorers from last season. Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but Washington is being run by a mad man.
Bulls Grade: B+
Wizards Grade: B
Magic Receive: Markelle Fultz
Sixers Receive: Jonathon Simmons, Thunder’s 2020 first round pick, and Cavaliers' 2019 second round pick
Nobody in the league needed a fresh start more than Markelle Fultz. Now we finally get to see the 2017 first overall pick in a new setting that can let him grow at a slow pace. He’s now hoping that he can rebrand himself in Orlando as the guy they traded for instead of a draft bust. The Magic had a glutton of big men between Vucevic, Bamba, and Isaac, that didn’t allow them to utilize Jonathon Simmons in a starting role. They now replace the bench player Simmons, with an undeniably talented guard in Fultz. He can fill out their back court, which has been one of the most depleted guard rotations in the league for years. Fultz still recorded a triple double as a rookie. He stepped in for Ben Simmons this year when Ben had a back injury and did fine. He’s 20 years old and has only played 33 games in the NBA. I trust that in a nurturing environment he can step up and be a very productive combo guard. All eyes will be on Orlando to see if they can work their Magic on Fultz.
The Sixers don’t have many weaknesses now that they have Tobias Harris added to their big three, but there was a narrative around the league after the trade that they lacked wing depth. The defensive versatility that the former Spur will now bring to the bench of the Sixers will surely prove to be valuable. He’s been in a down year for the Magic this year, including an embarrassing 36% FG% from the floor. But they don’t need him to be firing shots. He can play perimeter defense, guard three or four positions, and give Butler and Harris a break without putting the team in a bad spot. The lack of wings that had the ability to switch on defense was exposed last year during their series with the Celtics and now they are in a position of strength going into the final stretch of the season. As an added bonus, only $1 million of his $6 million contract for next year is guaranteed, making him extremely easy to move if needed. The Thunder’s 2020 first round pick is a pick that has been passed around the league from team to team and finally ends up back in Philly along with the Cav’s 2019 second round pick, which is projected to be one of the best second round picks of the draft. I know that the Sixers will always get flack for trading up to get Fultz over Tatum and throwing in an additional pick, but at the time nobody had an issue with it. Philly isn’t looking back anymore. The road ahead is bright.
Magic Receive: B
Sixers Receive: C+
Kings Receive: Harrison Barnes
Mavericks Receive: Zach Randolph and Justin Jackson
The Kings finally finally finally got a small forward. Harrison Barnes is an easy player to integrate into the Kings lineup with him being a low usage player on offense. Barnes is a classic example of a player who is really good at everything but not great at any one thing. He is an above average shooter that can play above average defense on a contract of an All-Star. This contract would pose an issue for most teams in the NBA, but the Kings are different. Since they can’t get a big free agent to sign with them, they have tons of money to spend, and since their team is so young with the average age being just 23 years old, most players are still on team friendly rookie deals. New teammate Alec Burks is the only other teammate making over $10 million this year and as of right now Harrison Barnes will be the only player making over $9 million next year. Barnes fits into the cap, he fits into the rotation, and he fits into the timeline, being just 26 years old. This one was a home run and a day Kings fans have been waiting for.
The Mavericks took no time at all cutting Zach Randolph, from the team leaving just Justin Jackson as the only return for Barnes. Justin Jackson was supposed to be a shooting wing that was able to get hot and score, but has really fallen short. He’s shooting just 32% from three and averaging just 6.7 points per game on a team that lacked wings. He was given plenty of chances to take over the starting job but fell into a rotational role instead. The idea of Justin Jackson returning to his North Carolina championship form was always enticing for Sacramento, but just never became a reality. The focus of the Mavs was to get younger, going from 26 year old Barnes to 23 year old Jackson, and to get cheaper, going from $25 million Barnes to $3 million Jackson. While they did achieve getting younger and cheaper, they also became less talented and didn’t get a draft pick out of it. I understand why the Mavs made the trade but they might have been able to get more.
Kings Grade: A+
Mavericks Grade: D+
Raptors Receive: Marc Gasol
Grizzlies Receive: Jonas Valanciunas, Delon Wright, CJ Miles, and Toronto’s 2024 second round pick
The Raptors made a move an hour before the trade deadline ended to get the 34 year old center from the Grizzlies. This move felt desperate and somewhat influenced by the Nikola Mirotic and Tobias Harris moves made by other top teams in the Eastern Conference. This is a team that has played their best basketball with Serge Ibaka and Pascal Siakam in the front court and Kawhi, Danny Green, and Lowry filling out the other starting roles. They will now have Gasol, OG Anunoby, and VanVleet coming off the bench. Yes they did lose some depth, but that isn’t a bad thing when straightening your main 8 players. Last year in the playoffs their roster went 10 deep and they were the number 1 seed in the East, but as we see in the playoffs, your rotations shrink and it’s not about having the best 10 players, its about having the best 7 or 8. They now have a case for having one of the best 8 man rotations in the East and because of that they are in a better spot to make a deeper playoff run. During that deep playoff run in the East the Raptors have a good chance of running into Embiid, Horford, Banes, and Miles Turner. Gasol gives them extra fire power and a great veteran presence for the Raptors all in season.
Today marks the end of an era in Memphis Basketball as they ship off Marc Gasol who is on the Mt. Rushmore of Grit-n-Grind. Marc has had an incredible 11 year career in Memphis and was one of the main reasons they had sustained success during his tenure there. When one door closes another opens and its time to fully embrace Jaren Jackson Jr. as the cornerstone franchise player he is. The first step to doing this is recognizing that he is only 19 and that his prime is still years away. A 34 year old center clearly doesn’t fit into this timeline so its time to move on. In doing so you hope to get young assets and/or draft picks which they technically did but didn’t impress anybody too much with the return. Valancuinas is going to be 27 by the end of the season with only one more year left on his deal. I would expect him to be moved before next years deadline and not stick around as part of their future. As for C.J. Miles he is in his 13th year in the league and might have a similar fate to Valancuinas. That leaves Delon Wright a young point guard with good size that had high expectations the last few years but hasn’t put together anything too impressive. He has actually regressed a bit from last year and struggled this year. If that’s all the return they get out of the players than I might be a bit concerned if I were a Grizzlies fan. Until we see what potential trades they make out of Valancuinas and C.J. Miles it’s hard to judge this one but a first round pick from a team should have been the ultimate goal. The 2024 second round pick isn’t enough to get anybody excited either. Very lack luster pull for their future for the franchise that held on to the glory days for a year too long.
Raptors Receive: A-
Grizzlies Receive: D+
Bucks Receive: Mikola Mirotic
Pistons Receive: Thon Maker
Pelicans Receive: Stanley Johnson, Jason Smith, Buck’s second-round picks in 2019, 2020, and 2021
Milwaukee has the most wins, best winning percentage, and the highest margin of victory in the league and the rich got richer. The Bucks have quietly become the best team in the East and are firing on all cylinders. They have become the blueprint for success that Philadelphia should follow. They use an oversized ball handler that is a freak athlete to drive the lane because he doesn’t have a good outside shot. They then surround him with very defined role players that space the floor around him. Mirotic is the ideal player in Coach Mike Budenholzer’s system that encourages it’s players to space the floor and let it fly from three. This season Mirotic is slinging 9 threes a game per 36 minutes which would make him the highest volume three point shooter on the Bucks. Nikola has had 5 games this season of over 25 points including a 30 and 36 point outing to open the season. This team is one of the best built teams that seemed to pop up overnight that I can remember in recent history. Absolute steal for the Bucks this trade deadline considering all they gave up was second rounders and a big man that wasn’t being used in Thon Maker. If you weren’t already terrified of the first place team you should be now.
No one player has been more frustration for Detroit fans more so than Stanley Johnson. The raw athleticism he posses is rarely matched on the court on a nightly basis. He’s agile and strong which make him an excellent defender being able to guard 1-4 very well. His problem coming out of college at Arizona was that he didn’t have a great shot, or even a good shot for that matter, but the Pistons rolled the dice on the now 22 year old wing thinking that they could devolve him. They didn’t. His career FG% is 37% and he takes way too many long two point attempts. During his four year career just over 70% of his shots were two point attempts between 10 feet and the three point line. Stanley is a restricted free agent this season and the Pelicans will get a wing that will play defense for them for the next 4 or 5 years along with some second round picks. They could have done better considering how we have seen their trade negations going as of late.
Thon Maker is one of the most mysterious players in the league. He was drafted just two years ago as the 10th overall pick and is billed as 21 years old but there are skeptics out there. He burst onto the scene with his youtube mixtapes and instantly became a sensation in basketball circles. That was were it began and ended for the 7’1 center. The Pistons will likely move on from Zaza as their back up big man and sure up their interior defense with Thon Maker. On the offensive end hopefully Reggie Jackson is able to get him involved in the pick and role with success like Reggie has always had throughout his career. The timing of Thon Maker didn’t match up for the Bucks and hopefully Detroit will see the development through. This is a perfect example of two guys that needed a change of scenery.
Bucks Grade: A+
Pistons Grade: C+
Pelicans Grade: C-
Rockets Receive: Iman Shumpert, Nik Stauskas, and Wade Baldwin
Sacramento Receives: Alec Burks, Rockets 2020 second round pick
Cavaliers Receive: Brandon Knight, Marquese Chriss, and Rockets Lottery Protected 2019 first round pick
The Rockets added a good defender that can knock down shots in Iman Shumpert while getting rid of the albatross of a contract that Brandon Knight had. The Rockets had two goals this trade deadline: to get below the luxury tax and create a roster spot so that they could be participants in the buyout market and thats just what they did. As we’ll see in a later trade the Rockets move Nik Stauskas and Wade Baldwin again leaving them with just Shumpert. In a micro view of the situation it looks like a hefty price for Shumpert but as part of a bigger plan it gets them the flexibility they want.
For the Kings they were able to slightly improve their offensive depth by adding Burks while taking a hit to their defensive depth especially on the perimeter. With it being close in talent for both expiring players and adding a 2020 second round pick the Kings front office saw it beneficial. The locker room is where the Kings will be effected the most as Iman Shumpert was their “glue guy” that rallied the team and brought a championship pedigree on a daily basis. Multiple reports have said that the young team was sad to see their leader head out. The Kings didn’t move the needle forward with this one, just shook up their young team.
The Cavs had done a great job stock piling draft picks over the last few months. Every avenue they have to get more they are exploring including taking on bad contracts like Brandon Knight while at the same time getting a lottery talent from a recent draft in Marquese Chriss. If Marquese doesn’t work out then the Cavs can move on, but he could turn into a decent player and that would be a huge win for them. Getting a projected late first round pick in this next draft is the main reason they got involved, and for that I applaud them.
Rockets Receive: B+
Sacramento Receives: C
Cavaliers Receive: B
Clippers Receive: Michael Beasley and Ivica Zubac
Lakers Receive: Mike Muscala
The Lakers made a statement that they stand behind Luke Walton by moving Michael Beasley just days after he challenged the young coach. Pairing him with Zubac who has been impressive of late was enough for the Clippers to move on from big man and marksman Mike Muscala. Mike will help the Lakers win this year more than Zubac would and will provide outside shooting that we all know LeBron loves to surround himself with. At the same time he fits into the Lakers timeline being on a $5 million expiring deal and not effecting the Lakers books for their potentially mega offseason. The two for one trade also clears up a roster spot for the buy out market including LeBron’s banana boat buddy Carmelo Anthony. Moving on from a young big man to add shooting and a veteran that is washed? Now that’s the most LeBron move that could have been made.
What the Lakers Staple Center roommate get out of the deal is Ivan Zubac who is going to fetch a small contract this offseason while not hurting their cap as he is on a $1.5 million contract set to be a restricted free agent next offseason. He’s also shown flashes to make the Clippers optimistic that he could play a part of their future in a bench role. During his last 9 games he’s averaged over 14 points and 7 rebounds per game. Overall their cap is lower and their future is brighter while putting the team in a better spot to tank this year and hurt the Celtics who own their lottery protected pick. That’s a no brainer for Clippers genius Jerry West.
Clippers Grade: A
Lakers Grade: C+
Clippers Receive: Garrett Temple and JaMychal Green
Grizzlies Receive: Avery Bradley
The Clippers continued their quest for the 2019 offseason by moving Avery Bradley who has been terrible this offseason. I mean terrible. Avery Bradley’s offensive rating according to Basketball-reference is 94 with a defensive rating of 115. Thats a -21. Avery Bradley is posting a terrible net rating while shooting 38% from the floor and it gets worse. He’s started every game for the Clippers this season and should be thrown in jail for sabotaging an organization. The fact that the Grizzlies took on Avery who has $13 million due to him next year is just insanity. I know that Avery Bradley seems like the ultimate Grit-n-grind kind of guy that Memphis would love but the truth is he hasn’t been that guy since Boston. He wasn’t that in Detroit, he wasn’t that in LA, and he won’t be that in Memphis. This seemed like a total blunder for the Grizzlies.
JaMychal Green and Garrett Temple are both on expiring $8 million contracts and we can anticipate that the Clippers have no intentions of moving forward with them. This was nothing more than a salary dump of $13 million clearing out even more cap space. This was an absolute heist.
Clippers Grade: A+
Grizzlies Grade: F
Rockets Receive: Sixer’s 2021 second round pick
Sixers Receive: James Ennis
As we talked about during the Iman Shumpert trade above, the Rockets goal was to clear out cap space to get under the tax and to create a roster spot to take a shot in the buy out market. That was accomplished when they let James Ennis walk. Guys like Enas Kanter and Wayne Ellington should be on the forefront of the Rockets mind now that the trade deadline is over.
Let’s not make the same mistake twice in a row. This offseason when the Rockets acquired James Ennis everybody was excited and said that he would replace the role that Trevor Ariza played. Everybody was wrong. James Ennis never showed that he was anything more than an average wing that isn’t an excellent shooter but he’s excellent at selecting his shots. For that reason the Sixers will be excited to add him to their bench for more wing depth behind Jonathon Simmons and only coming at the low cost of a second round pick in a couple years. Elton Brand is making a name for himself as an executive.
Rockets Grade: B-
Sixers Grade: A-
Wizards Receive: Markieff Morris
Pelicans Receive: Wesley Johnson
This move was all about the Wizards getting $232k bellow the luxury tax threshold and preventing them from being repeat tax payers. Wesley Johnson will provide them with more shooting and a different veteran presence that Markieff Morris brings. I expect to see Johnson come into the game knock down a three pointer or two and head out. That’s who he is and not much more should be expected.
The Pelicans got a rough rider by adding Markieff Morris. This trade was done with the thought of moving Nikola Mirotic in mind. Morris can step in and help Julius Randle replace Mirotic while providing the team with a real fire on and off the court. While Markieff might not be the contributor that he used to be, the Pelican’s look like they got the better player here and there was no real cost to them as Morris is on an expiring. This one was a win for both teams.
Wizards Grade: B
Pelicans Grade: B+
Suns Receive: Tyler Johnson and Wayne Ellington
Heat Receive: Ryan Anderson
Wayne Ellington was waived immediately after the news broke that he was traded and will be able to sign to any team that is interested in having him so the real reason Phoenix made the trade was to fill a specific whole in their roster. The Suns have had a point guard dilemma since Devin Booker joined their team. The conversation has been centered around if Phoenix should let the young shooting guard play a point guard rule. Earlier in the year coach Igor Kokoskov said that he was comfortable with Booker running the point and would regularly use him there. While Booker is capable of running the offense he is more dangerous in catch in shoot situations in which he has a teammate playmake for him. Tyler Johnson is a good combo guard that doesn’t excel at any one thing and would be viewed in a better light around the league if the Brooklyn Nets didn’t offer him such a large offer sheet that Miami felt inclined to match. Because of this he was never able to live up to his contract making him look like a below average player. This is a new chance for Tyler Johnson to contribute in a big way with a Suns team that has been looking for their playmaker.
The Heat took on the infamous Ryan Anderson contract that will continue to be one of the worst contracts in the NBA until the end of the next season making $21 million and no impact. What Miami gets out of this trade is shedding a total of $4 million over the two years which doesn’t sound like much but when you have as much cap tied up as the Heat do, anything helps allow you to go out and make some moves even if small to get your team on the right track.
Suns Grade: B
Heat Grade: C+
Kings Receive: Caleb Swanigan
Blazers Receive: Skal Labissiere
This is a case of two young forwards on teams that haven’t been able to get it going. Maybe a different system or scenery will change that for both. Skal’s contract expires in 2020 while Caleb’s becomes a restricted free agent in 2021. While Skal was the prospect with higher upside, the Kings get to walk away with Swanigan for an extra year on a rookie deal. No real risk here for either team.
Kings Grade: B Blazers Grade: B+
Pacers Receive: Nik Stauskas, Wade Baldwin, Rockets second round pick
This one was simple. The Rockets paid the Pacers a second round pick to take on Nik Stauskas and Wade Baldwin. The Pacers are waiving both players allowing them to sign anywhere and will take a cap hit this season of $3 million combined for the two. The Pacers walk away with a second round pick and the Rockets get down to just 12 roster spots meaning they are going to look for potentially three veteran buy out candidates to sign in the next few weeks. This move was all reward and no risk for both teams.
Rockets Grade: A
Pacers Grade: A
Nets Receive: Greg Monroe and Raptors 2021 second round pick
Similar to the Rockets and Pacers trade above, The Raptors open up a roster spot and shed $2.1 in cap space. As for the Nets they will waive Greg Monroe and take the $2.1 million cap hit this year and walk away with the Raptors 2021 second round pick in exchange.
Raptors Grade: A
Nets Grade: A
Team LeBron Receive: Ben Simmons
Team Giannis Receive: Russell Westbrook
During the All-Star draft Giannis selected All-Star reserve Ben Simmons right from under LeBron knowing that the two are Kultch Sports buddies. LeBron was thrown off his game, a very rare sight for the legend. After the dust settled and there was a clear view of were the chips laid, LeBron made Giannis an offer he couldn’t refuse. He offered the 2017 MVP for the 2017 ROY. Giannis accepted the trade knowing that Embiid and Russ would be on the same team which is destructive, and the TNT crew processed the trade instantly. It’s official. The Klutch sports crew will play together for Team LeBron in Charlotte.
Team LeBron Grade: A+
Team Giannis Grade: A+
Make sure to check out Director of NBA Content, Kyle Brandon every Monday on our 48 Minutes: Shot Callers Podcast as well as on twitter @Goodluckkyle