The NBA trade deadline has come and gone, and the biggest names on the verge of leaving, Anthony Davis and Mike Conley, stayed put. But in the final 24 hours, more than a dozen trades rocked the league, with Eastern Conference contenders one-upping each other in a four-team battle for the top spot in the conference. It was intense.
Tobias Harris is a Sixers, Nikola Mirotic is a Buck, Marc Gasol is a Raptor, and AD is still on the table for Boston come June. And that’s all after Kristaps Porzingis went to Dallas last week. What a stretch.
Anthony Davis is still a Pelican! More importantly, he isn’t a Laker. Boston couldn’t negotiate a deal with New Orleans during the trade deadline due to a CBA loophole involving Kyrie Irving’s contract, but can as soon as this summer. The path is right there for them to snag the superstar they’ve coveted for years.
Dallas made a shocking move a week before the deadline in acquiring Kristaps Porzingis from the Knicks. The Mavericks suddenly have an identity behind two European stars in Porzingis and Rookie of the Year-to-be Luka Doncic. They could be on the verge of something here.
The haul cost the Mavs an unsettled Dennis Smith Jr., who didn’t fit so well with Doncic, two players expiring contracts who weren’t going to return anyway in DeAndre Jordan and Wesley Matthews, and cap space in taking on Tim Hardaway Jr. (With Harrison Barnes off to the Kings, Dallas was able to offset some of that cash for the future and open room to eventually sign another big contributor or two.) It also cost the Mavericks two future first-round picks, which could end up coming back to bite them.
But you can’t do much better than pairing Porzingis and Luka Doncic. Should Porzingis return healthy from a torn ACL, this could be a home run.
Philadelphia, for better or worse, has decided to go all in right now. Its move for Jimmy Butler earlier in the season proved this, and now, with a trade for Tobias Harris and the subsequent deal sending Markelle Fultz off to Orlando for Jonathan Simmons, they’re doubling down.
A starting lineup of Ben Simmons, J.J. Redick, Butler, Harris, and Joel Embiid might be the best in the league outside of the Bay Area, and they made up for lost depth by acquiring Simmons, James Ennis, Mike Scott, and Boban Marjanovic. (Expect them to also add at least one more player in the buyout market).
Now, the challenge is getting the pieces to fit. If they do, the Sixers could make a real run at the Finals.
The trickier part comes in the offseason when Butler and Harris are free agents, but for now, this trade should be viewed as a win for a team with a championship in sight. You play to win the game, after all.
Milwaukee got one of the biggest steals of the deadline in trading for Nikola Mirotic, a sweet-shooting stretch big from New Orleans. It cost the Bucks zero rotation players and four second-round picks, of which Milwaukee had a surplus.
Mirotic gives the Bucks even more depth and cements them as the favorites in the East. This was a big, big win.
Toronto got a deadline steal, too, when it shipped Jonas Valanciunas, Delon Wright, C.J. Miles, and a second-round pick to Memphis for Marc Gasol. He’ll probably back up Serge Ibaka at center, showing just how deep that team is.
No longer does Gasol have to play for a middling, indecisive team. Now, he gets to go and really contend for a title with an absolutely stacked Toronto Raptors roster.
Porzingis was sick of how he was treated in New York and wanted to go somewhere that’s make him happier. Now, he gets to team up with a buddy in Luka and a franchise that has already gone out of its way to accept his brother and agent, Janis.
8. LaVar Ball
He got our attention again, and this is what he wants, so:
LaVar Ball says Lonzo is better than LeBron "He getting old"....then takes shot at LeBron's free throw shooting "He's been in the league a long time to not be able to hit no free throws" pic.twitter.com/59PisEPhQX— gifdsports (@gifdsports) February 7, 2019
He didn’t get traded, and announced it hilariously over his Instagram story:
LONZO BALL IS ON ONE SDUKFLSDHBFLKSDBFSDK (from his IG story) pic.twitter.com/sngUUqWQAZ— Silver Screen & Roll (@LakersSBN) February 7, 2019
Fultz’s injury recovery period has been a rushed and tense battle between the Sixers’ front office, the team, his agent, and his family. It’s been an ugly ride for the 20-year-old.
But now that heat is off, as he’s been traded to an Orlando Magic team that isn’t poised to win anytime soon. He can take all the time he needs.
The Clippers dealt an expiring-contract semi-star who they weren’t likely to re-sign anyway in Harris, and got more than a solid return. They landed one of the most coveted assets on the market in the Heat’s 2021 unprotected first-round pick, along with Philly’s 2020 lottery-protected pick and a quality prospect in Landry Shamet.
They’ve stockpiled enough assets to be a major player on the trade market, and they kept their cap sheet clean for chasing big-name free agents this summer, too. Look out.
Simple answer: They didn’t get Anthony Davis. Now the nightmare comes, as L.A. will have to compete with the Celtics and any other competitor who marches in — hi, Clippers! — knowing their offer didn’t overwhelm the Pelicans the first time around.
New York and Kristaps Porzingis couldn’t get on the same page even after Phil Jackson left, but the Knicks still dealt him prematurely. Porzingis reportedly met with management to essentially request a trade, but the Latvian had little leverage to do so and won anyway. Even when he became a free agent in 2019, he’d be restricted, meaning the Knicks could match any offer he signed and keep him. There was time to still make amends, or, at worst, drive up his stock after he returned from injury.
But the Knicks dealt him anyway for Smith — who is a fine project — picks, and cap space. That feels very underwhelming. We’ve seen what little New York does historically with open room on its cap sheet, and it isn’t good.
A freak in-home incident turned John Wall’s heel injury into an Achilles rupture, likely costing him most, if not all, of next season in addition to the rest of this one. That should’ve been the turning point for Washington to sell off all its pieces and pivot to a complete rebuild.
But, of course, it wasn’t. Instead of finally having the giant fire sale that’s been long overdue, Washington did what it always does and went halfway. It dealt some key players away merely to avoiding the luxury tax while keeping others in a misguided attempt to be “competitive.”
The Wizards let go of Otto Porter Jr., a former No. 3 pick who’s been solid in spurts, for Jabari Parker and Bobby Portis. Parker is an underachieving 23-year-old who isn’t shy about his lack of defensive effort, and Portis will become a restricted free agent this summer. Washington also got a second-round pick, which was then offset by the one they had to deal to get rid of Markieff Morris for three months of Wesley Johnson.
Just brutal stuff in D.C.
Barnes knew he was on the trade block, but opted to play on Wednesday night for the Mavericks, anyway. That backfired, as he was traded to the Kings during the game in the fourth quarter, and heard about it through fans on their phones in the arena. Oops.
After holding on to Marc Gasol for a few seasons too long, Memphis got a lackluster return for the former All-Star in a deal that made the Raptors even stronger. Toronto dealt 26-year-old Delon Wright, who is restricted free agency-bound, a so-so Jonas Valanciunas, and C.J. Miles, who doesn’t fit a rebuilding mentality. They didn’t receive any first-round picks either, just a mere second-rounder.
After all that, Memphis held onto Mike Conley, marooning the franchise legend with a bunch of kids.
The franchise can’t feel good about what came from one of its best players ever, and it’s hard to see Conley’s price going up this summer.
6. Anthony Davis (and his camp)
After all that, he’s still in New Orleans — and not on the Lakers.