Under The Bleachers: NBA Trade Deadline Winners And Losers

Above: Goran Dragic (left), Brandon Knight (center) and Isaiah Thomas (right) were among those traded Thursday at the NBA deadline

“There aren’t going to be any major moves,” they said in the days leading up to the NBA Trade Deadline.

They were wrong.

Thursday’s deadline came and went in a whirlwind of activity – players and picks exchanging hands at such a quick pace and so large a scale that Yahoo Sports NBA Insider and Twitter superstar Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) was forced to drop a “Good lord” at one point.

Here’s a look at the winners and losers from the NBA Trade Deadline.

Winners: Oklahoma City Thunder

New in town: C Enes Kanter, PG D.J. Augustin, SF Kyle Singler, SF Steve Novak
Leaving town: C Kendrick Perkins, G Reggie Jackson, draft picks

Last year’s Thunder came up short in the playoffs largely because Derek Fisher – now coach of the New York Knicks – was playing tons of minutes and the team had no bench. Well now they have a bench, plus a 22-year-old big man who was averaging 14 and 8 on a mediocre Utah team. Perkins was dead weight and Jackson wanted out, so OKC didn’t really lose anything important, and now they have two of the Top 10 players in the league (Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook), Serge Ibaka and Kanter, a quality back-up guard in Augustin and more depth than at any other point in the club’s history.

They might be the scariest No. 8 seed in NBA history.

Losers: Phoenix Suns

New in town: G Brandon Knight, PG Kendall Marshall (injured), SG Marcus Thornton, SF Danny Granger, SF John Salmons, draft picks
Leaving town: PG Goran Dragic, SG Zoran Dragic, PG Tyler Ennis, C Miles Plumlee, PG Isaiah Thomas, better draft picks

None of this makes sense. Phoenix alienated Goran Dragic to the point that the struggling former standout pretty much demanded to be dealt. A big part of the problem is that the Suns brought in Thomas in the offseason, giving the team three ball-dominant guards (Eric Bledsoe being the other). So what did they do after getting $0.35 on the dollar from Miami for Dragic? They traded Thomas to Boston. Phoenix righted the ship a little by snagging Brandon Knight from Milwaukee, but ultimately, Thursday was a net loss.

Winners: Miami Heat

New in town: The Brothers Dragic
Leaving town: PG Norris Cole, SF Shawne Williams, C Justin Hamilton

Never doubt Pat Riley. Yes, the team is currently eight games under .500 and fighting for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, but they suddenly became the nightmare match-up by acquiring Goran Dragic from the Suns. He gets to return to being in control of the offense, is the perfect point guard to play with Chris Bosh and when health, the Heat will roll out a starting five of Dragic, Dwyane Wade, Luol Deng, Bosh and Hassan Whiteside. That team wins 50 games in the East next year if they’re all healthy.

Losers: Milwaukee Bucks

New in town: PG Michael Carter-Williams, PG Tyler Ennis, C Miles Plumlee
Leaving town: PG Brandon Knight

This move makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. Knight is in his fourth season, but is still a couple months younger than MCW, who is in his second year, and he’s having a significantly better year than last year’s Rookie of the Year. Knight was averaging nearly 18 per for the surprising Bucks, who have won twice as many games already this year than they did last year, while MCW shoots under 40% from the floor and less than 70% from the line. He’s a better facilitator, but why mess up the chemistry in the middle of your first guality season in quite some time?

Potential Winners: Philadelphia 76ers

New in town: C JaVale McGee, PG Isaiah Canaan, more draft picks
Leaving town: SF K.J. McDaniels, PG Michael Carter-Williams

Giving up McDaniels stings until you remember that the second-round draft pick bet on himself and signed a one-year deal. Now that he’s having a strong rookie season, there was no chance of him re-signing at a reasonable number in Philly, so GM Sam Hinkie got what he could for him and moved on. McGee has an albatross of a contract and is a rare combination of crazy and perpetually injured that you don’t see very often, but this is all about the draft picks.

Philadelphia has been rebuilding by tanking for the last couple season, stashing draft picks and retooling slowly. Even with McGee’s massive deal on the books, they’ve still got cap room to go along with a bunch of quality young talent and first-round picks over the next several seasons. Three years from now, when the Sixers are two-years into being Eastern Conference contenders, the last few torturous years in “The City of Brotherly Love” will have been worth it.

Or none of the draft picks will pan out, Hinkie will just keep trading players for picks and Philly will be forever rebuilding… one of the two.

Losers: Brooklyn Nets

New in town: PF Thaddeus Young
Leaving town: PF Kevin Garnett

Brooklyn needed to be in “tear it down” mode at the deadline and instead, they traded an aging power forward for another good-not-great player with a hefty salary. So while Garnett would have come off the books (and likely retired) at the end of the season, now Brooklyn is committed to Young for nearly $10M next year. On top of that, GM Billy King failed to move Brook Lopez, Joe Johnson or Deron Williams. Those four players count for $62M in salary next year, but aren’t good enough to assure this team of a playoff spot.

What makes matters worse is that the Nets don’t have any draft picks over the next few years either, having traded all of them to Boston in order to acquire Garnett and Paul Pierce prior to last season. It’s a tough time to be a basketball fan in New York.

Winners: Portland Trailblazers

New in town: SG Arron Afflalo, SF Alonzo Gee
Leaving town: PF Thomas Robinson, SG Will Barton, PF Victor Claver, draft picks

Afflalo gives the Blazers a veteran scoring option off the bench – a guy that can knock down threes, do the small things and not mess up the chemistry as a late addition – and they didn’t have to give up a ton to get him. Barton and Claver weren’t seeing the court, the 2016 first-round pick is lottery protected and will likely fall in the mid-20s and Robinson hasn’t been able to crack the rotation despite looking good in short bursts. Gee could be a sneaky “end of the rotation” pick-up as well.

Losers: Toronto Raptors

New in town: N/A
Leaving town: N/A

The Raptors decided to roll with what they’ve got heading into the playoffs and while that has been good enough to get them to second place in the Eastern Conference right now, a potential “2 vs. 7” or “3 vs. 6” matchup against Miami suddenly looks a lot more daunting than it did on Thursday morning. If they survive the first round, the Raptors face potential pairings with Chicago and Cleveland, both of whom have had the Dinos’ number so far this season. Maybe this will all work out and Masai Uriji will look like a genius for standing pat, but right now, it feels like Toronto is destined for another playoff disappointment.

Tags: NBA

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