The 2017 NBA trade deadline is here. As we roll throughout the day and past the finish line, we’ll provide a running tally of grades on each trade made. From the blockbuster to the minor transaction, we’ll carefully evaluate the risks, rewards, and rationale behind the deal and assign it an appropriate score.
Keep in mind that deals don’t happen in vacuums. It’s important to consider not just the talent of the players involved, but also their salaries, contract lengths, injury history, and, frankly, personality. Teams are willing to do a lot to get rid of players who annoy them. (See: DeMarcus Cousins and Spencer Hawes.)
There are also market considerations to take into account. When an All-NBA center gets traded for Jimmer Fredette 2.0 and a first-round pick, it’s hard to demand much for your rotation player. There is a tremendous amount of uncertainty in the league right now as teams and players try to assess how the new collective bargaining agreement will affect free agency and even the draft. The 2017 draft is expected to be one of the best in years, which could affect how willing teams are to move picks.
Without further adieu, here are our NBA trade grades. Be sure to check back after each trade to see our judgment. And follow our NBA trade rumor tracker throughout the day so you don’t get blindsided.
The Suns shipped defense-first veteran P.J. Tucker to Toronto for Jared Sullinger and two seconds. Both Tucker and Sullinger have contracts that expire at the end of the season, so there are no real financial ramifications. This is really Toronto getting some defensive help against LeBron James and the other tough wings in the Eastern Conference at the cost of two seconds.
Raptors grade: Shoot them when you’ve got them
Suns grade: Gotta make room for Mike Scott
MIKE SCOTT TO THE SUNS
Cap dump for the Hawks. An infusion of emoji tattoos for the Suns. Win-win.
Hawks grade: [moneybag emoji]
Suns grade: [thinking face emoji]
There are no real cost savings here, but it appears the Rockets will waive Huertas, the worst Brazilian in the NBA since Rafael Araujo.
LAKERS GRADE: Magical.
ROCKETS GRADE: I’m sure there’s a reason.
I mean, sure.
Nuggets grade: Fine.
Bucks grade: Terrific.
This is an interesting trade! Taj Gibson might be the most useful player in this deal right now, and his contract expires this summer. Doug McDermott hasn’t panned out, but big shooters are a premium and McDermott might be a high-quality shooter at some point. The Bulls are also sending a second-round pick in the deal.
Meanwhile, the Thunder give up Cameron Payne, who isn’t wholly necessary behind Russell Westbrook and Victor Oladipo. Joffrey Lauvergne and Anthony Morrow are also headed to Chicago.
Chicago invested a good bit to draft McDermott. They have Payne for two more years on a cheap rookie deal now. If he pans out — I’m a fan -- this trade just might be work out. We’ll see!
The biggest news here: no more Russell Westbrook-Cam Payne handshakes. Sad!
Thunder grade: Antiswaggerific
Bulls grade: Boldish
The Rockets traded K.J. McDaniels to Brooklyn in a cap space move to open up $3 million of space. Houston is literally telling us this trade deadline over and planning for the after-party.
Rockets trade: [reconsiders life choices]
Nets trade: [remembers that it could be worse]
The Sixers sent Nerlens Noel to the Mavericks for Justin Anderson, Andrew Bogut, and a heavily protected first-round pick. Noel was due to be a restricted free agent this summer, and Philadelphia has a large number of promising centers and power forwards. Noel, however, is close with Joel Embiid despite only playing eight minutes alongside him. The end of the Noel-Embiid partnership is absolutely devastating to my psyche, and I shall punish the Sixers for their role in its demise.
Dallas, meanwhile, won’t be giving up a good pick in 2017. The pick is protected in the top 18, and it has been reported that it converts into two second-round picks otherwise. It is virtually guaranteed that the Mavericks will pick in the top 18 this year.
The second-year Anderson is a rotation player who can be more if he develops a good three-point stroke. On paper, he’s not dissimilar from where Jae Crowder was at this point in his career. But not every could-be Jae Crowder turns into Jae Crowder. He steps into a still-crowded Philly rotation, but there’s a chance he turns into a legit NBA starter somewhere. He’s also cheap for the next two years, which is very Philadelphia. But he’s not so good you trade Nerlens Noel for two seconds!
The end result of this move: Dallas is going to pay Nerlens Noel a ton of money this summer.
Sixers grade: HOW DARE YOU
Mavericks grade: [throws a bag of gold coins at Nerlens’ feet]
The Hawks signed Tiago Splitter a couple of years ago and never truly ended up needing him. His deal expires in the summer. Ersan Ilyasova has been traded roughly 47 times in the past year. His deal also expires in the summer. Atlanta ended up giving Philadelphia a future second and swap rights on second-round picks to make the deal.
Why? There are no cost savings. But Ilyasova is healthy and allegedly a live body. Perhaps he’ll look better in the Hawks’ rotation than he has in Philadelphia. Meanwhile, Splitter is injured (not rare). Atlanta handed the draft considerations over to turn an empty roster spot into a marginally less empty roster spot.
Hawks grade: [snore]
Sixers grade: [louder snore]
The Wizards picked up Bogdanovic, who instantly becomes their most reliable bench player. His contract expires this season (he’ll be a restricted free agent in July). To get him along with low-end prospect Chris McCullough while getting out of Andrew Nicholson’s rough contract ($20 million over the next three years), the Wizards gave up their 2017 first.
Bogdanovic is probably not the best bench scorer the Wizards could have found, but needing to lose Nicholson’s salary as Bradley Beal’s deal kicks in and Otto Porter comes due, this is the best Washington could do. This is the cost of signing bad free agent deals: It hurts your ability to make good moves down the road. The Wizards were hamstrung here.
The kicker is that if given the payroll issues with Porter’s restricted free agency, the Wizards might have trouble retaining Bogdanovic if another team makes a strong offer. If this turns out to be a rental and McCullough (who can’t crack the rotation in Brooklyn,) doesn’t work out, this trade won’t look too great down the line.
Meanwhile, the Nets get a low 20s pick for a player who doesn’t move the needle much and a prospect who hasn’t worked out, just to take on some salary they’d need to spend somewhere anyways. Nice if uninspiring work.
Wizards grade: Perpetual C
Nets grade: B+
Lou Williams is one of the most prolific per-minute scorers in the league. He’s going to a team set up to cater to prolific scorers. The Rockets dropped just a touch of salary ($500,000) by sending Corey Brewer to the Lakers along with an unprotected 2017 first. This is a trade that really works out for both teams: L.A. gets a low pick taking on only a tiny bit of extra salary while freeing up shots and minutes for all their young guards and wings. Houston, meanwhile, gets someone who should help in the playoffs (provided he is not asked to play one iota of defense).
Lakers grade: A-
Rockets grade: B+
DEMARCUS COUSINS TO THE PELICANS
I have written extensively about this trade. If I’m forced to do so again, I might melt into the Earth’s crust, never to return.
Pelicans grade: A+
Kings grade: Gas station pizza at 2:30 a.m.
In this deal well before the deadline, the Raptors sent Terrence Ross and a 2017 first-round pick likely to be in the low 20s to the Magic for Serge Ibaka, who is a free agent in July. Provided they can manage the payroll effectively, the Raptors shouldn’t fear losing Ibaka outright. Ross is due $21 million over the next two years, so he’s not a bargain or a huge burden. The player Toronto would select in the low 20s (even in a good draft) would likely not be in the rotation immediately, and the Raptors are aimed at contending now.
The problem for the Magic is that they gave up Victor Oladipo and a late lottery pick (Domantas Sabonis) to get Ibaka, and then cut bait for a bench wing and worse pick. That’s not a strong turn of events.
Raptors grade: A
Magic grade: D
PLUMLEES ALL THE WAY DOWN
The Bucks sent their Plumlee (Miles) to the Hornets for Roy Hibbert and Spencer Hawes. A hole opened up in the sky above Jamestown, Ohio — the midway point between Milwaukee and Charlotte — and the Basketball Gods screamed through that hole “NO ONE CARES!”
I must disagree with the Basketball Gods here, as Michael Jordan will now be signing $37.5 million worth of checks made out to Miles Plumlee over the next three years, which is absolutely something to care very deeply about. The Bucks, meanwhile, get out of a contract they ought not have signed. The price is likely putting up with Spencer Hawes for next season (he has a $6 million player option). Paying a Plumlee $37.5 million might be preferable, actually.
Meanwhile, out West, the Blazers sent their Plumlee (Mason) to the Nuggets with cash and a second-round pick for Jusuf Nurkic and a top-five protected first. This is a heist for Portland, who acquired their Plumlee for a first that will have been later than Denver’s in a draft worse than 2017’s ... plus they get Nurkic. This Plumlee is a restricted free agent in July, so Denver will have to decide whether to pay him as much as Milwaukee paid its Plumlee. I don’t know, man.
Hornets grade: What in Michael Jeffrey Jordan’s name are you thinking?
Bucks grade: Nice save
Blazers grade: Solid, except for signaling that you don’t care about making the playoffs to your players
Nuggets grade: There was really no reason to get into the Plumlee business