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NBA trade deadline: 4 winners and 5 losers from deals, featuring Bulls, Knicks, Warriors, Lakers

Let’s hand out winners and losers from the 2024 NBA trade deadline.

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The 2024 NBA trade deadline has come and gone without the type of major fireworks we occasionally sees in the final transaction window before the playoff race. There were tons of deals around the NBA before Thursday’s 3 p.m. buzzer, but the biggest names rumored to be in deals mostly stayed home, and many of the league’s biggest franchise chose to do nothing.

The best player traded at the deadline was ... Buddy Hield? PJ Washington? Kelly Olynyk? Yes, this trade deadline was a lot more quiet than last year’s when Kevin Durant got traded to Brooklyn, Kyrie Irving was sent to Dallas, and the Lakers changed over almost half their roster. Instead, this deadline was about small tweaks that reaffirms the NBA’s championship picture about nine weeks before the end of the regular season.

Despite a lack of stars on the move, we’re still here to dole out winners and losers from the 2024 NBA trade deadline. Let’s get into it. We also assigned instant grades to every trade deadline deal, and have a tracker for each deal made.

Winner: New York Knicks

The Knicks made their biggest trade of the season just before New Years when they swung a deal with the Toronto Raptors for OG Anunoby. New York went 12-2 with Anunoby in the lineup to start his tenure, but an elbow injury that will keep him out several weeks means the team needed more reinforcements. They got them at the trade deadline by acquiring Bojan Bogdanovic and Alec Burks for the Pistons for a package headlined by Quentin Grimes and a couple second round picks.

Bogdanovic will help the Knicks’ spacing and ability to get up three-pointers with volume. He’s also one of the worst defenders in the league at this point in his career, but if anyone can find a way to insulate him on that end, it’s Tom Thibodeau. Burks, a former Knick, will be in a much more suitable role this time around as a microwave scorer off the bench. Parting with Grimes may come back to bite the Knicks one day, but he had fallen out of favor and New York needed to prioritize the present over any future development.

Are the Knicks a real threat to reach the NBA Finals out of the East? It’s unlikely with Boston and Milwaukee still standing in the way, but it’s certainly not impossible. The Knicks have somehow become a model franchise without any real lottery luck or home run swings in free agency. Instead, New York built patiently, turned free agent signings Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle into stars, and did well to surround them with two-way role players. It’s all happening for the Knicks right now.

Loser: Chicago Bulls

The Bulls sat out the trade deadline for the third straight year. When the buzzer sounded, lead decision-maker Arturas Karnisovas said the Bulls had a “really good” team with a straight face. Chicago still sits at two games under .500, hanging on to the No. 9 seed in the Eastern Conference. Karnisovas might think he’s doing a great job keeping the Bulls “competitive,” but he’s quickly becoming a laughingstock to his peers around the league.

The Bulls are going nowhere fast with his group despite the awesome development of Coby White this season. Zach LaVine is out for the year with a foot injury, Patrick Williams is also hurt, and the Bulls can’t compete with good teams at all, holding a 10-21 mark against above .500 teams this season. The Bulls had plenty of suitors for Alex Caruso, but reportedly rebuffed an offer from the Warriors. They also could have traded DeMar DeRozan in the last year of his deal, but decided that doing nothing was their best option. It’s a baffling decision, but it all makes sense if you pay attention to the franchise’s goals.

To Karnisovas, being “competitive” means having a chance to sneak into the playoffs. It’s a ludicrous definition of the word in a league where more than half the teams make the final bracket. The Bulls could have reloaded their future assets by dealing Caruso, DeRozan, and Andre Drummond. They could have helped save the top-10 protected draft pick they owe the Spurs next year for DeRozan. Instead, the Bulls do what they always do, which is nothing. If Karnisovas isn’t the worst GM in the league — and he’s definitely close — he’s certainly the laziest.

Winner: Charlotte Hornets

The Hornets are again one of the worst teams in the NBA, but at least they can sell hope for the future. LaMelo Ball still looks like a future star as a lead creator when he’s healthy, No. 2 overall draft pick Brandon Miller is having a phenomenal rookie season, and the team acquiring multiple first round picks at the deadline to replenish their future assets.

The Hornets got incredible value for P.J. Washington by trading him to the Dallas Mavericks for Grant Williams and a top-2 protected 2027 first round pick. The deal came on the heels of the Hornets trading Terry Rozier to the Miami Heat for a first-round pick that’s lottery protected in 2027 and unprotected in 2028.

Landing such a lightly protected pick for Washington is an incredible piece of business for a rebuilding Hornets team. There’s some young talent developing here between Ball, Miller, and Mark Williams, and the team is poised to add another blue chip prospect with a top pick in the 2024 NBA Draft. Whether they keep those future picks or trade them one day for more immediate help, the Hornets are showing how to do a rebuild the right way.

Loser: Los Angeles Lakers

Loser: Golden State Warriors

The Lakers and Warriors each badly needed more help if they wanted to go on a real run in the Western Conference playoffs. Instead, both teams chose to do nothing, with the Warriors’ tax-saving trade counting as the only move between the two franchises.

The Lakers have been around .500 for most of the season, with head coach Darvin Ham coming under fire for his rotation decisions. Last year’s deadline moves saved the Lakers’ season and helped them go from the play-in to the conference finals. There were moves out there to make this year — Bruce Brown and/or Dejounte Murray would have been nice additions — but LA didn’t want to deal D’Angelo Russell amid his current hot streak, and opted to save their draft ammo for later. The Lakers can trade as many as three first round picks this summer ... but is it really a smart idea kicking the can to next year when LeBron James is 39 years old?

The Warriors could have gone so many different ways. Dumping Andrew Wiggins or Kevon Looney — who have both been terrible this season — would have given the team more flexibility long-term. Golden State also could have used a player like Kelly Olynyk, who went to the Raptors instead. The Warriors reportedly made a strong offer for Caruso, but Chicago wasn’t about to bite when everything is going so well for them (this is sarcasm). Both LeBron James and Stephen Curry are still playing at an incredibly high level this late into their careers, but unfortunately their organizations didn’t do anything to help them.

Winner: Utah Jazz

The Jazz are pulling off the impressive feat of building a winner without tanking, and they did well to acquire more future assets this year. The Jazz are a pleasant surprise at 26-26 on deadline day, and they were able to sell off small pieces of their present to get more bites at a big piece in the future.

Kelly Olynyk and Ochai Agbaji were traded to the Raptors for a late first round pick currently slated to be around No. 28. The Jazz also traded Simone Fontecchio to the Pistons for what is looking like the No. 32 pick in the 2024 draft. Even in a bad draft, those are quality selections that the Jazz will use to try to find another piece for their rebuild. Olynyk and Fontecchio are solid players, and Agbaji has some potential, but it feels like Utah added some quality assets without hurting their team too much this season.

Winner: The Mavericks’ present

The Mavericks entered the trade deadline at 28-23 overall, good for the No. 8 seed in the brutal Western Conference. Dallas needed to do something, and they got aggressive by acquiring P.J. Washington and Daniel Gafford.

Upgrading from Grant Williams to Washington will help this year. Washington is a more versatile offensive player, a better athlete, and also brings more length defensively. Washington can do a little bit of everything as a player, but he’s never been particularly efficient while playing for terrible teams in Charlotte. We’ll see if being paired with a genius like Luka Doncic can change that. Gafford’s role is much more defined: he plays “catch ball, dunk ball” offense and offers rim protection on defense. Doncic will throw him so many alley-oops, and Gafford will repay him by erasing his mistakes defensively. The Mavs got better, but ....

Loser: The Mavericks’ future

The Mavs gave up a lot to make these moves. The cost of upgrading from Williams to Washington is a top-2 protected 2027 first round pick. That’s a valuable asset! Dallas also gave up a 2030 pick swap to get Williams in the first place. For Gafford, Dallas sent back what’s slated to be a late 20s first round pick to Washington. Yes, it’s a bad draft, but good organizations can find cost-controlled talent even in a weak class.

The Mavericks better make some real noise in the playoffs, because they keep losing assets to continue building around Doncic. With so much draft ammo out the door, I would hope for a little bit bigger of an upgrade.

Loser: Atlanta Hawks

The Hawks have been involved in trade rumors all season, with Dejounte Murray, Bogdan Bogdanovic, and Clint Capela all garnering varying degrees of interest. Atlanta doesn’t have much to be proud of this season at 22-29 overall, holding down the No. 10 seed in the East. This organization was primed for a reset, but instead they kept everyone and didn’t make a single deal.

Trae Young catches a lot of the blame for what’s gone wrong in Atlanta, but in reality he’s been outstanding this year. The Hawks made a poor bet in trading so much draft capitol for Murray two summers ago, and this would have been an ideal time to get some value back. At least Murray is under a team-friendly, long-term contract, but it just doesn’t seem like the fit will ever be right between him and Young in the backcourt. It would have been nice to finally hand over the starting center job to Onyeka Okongwu, but he continues to be blocked by Capela. Bogdanovic would have been a big help for numerous contenders, and yet here he is playing out the string in Atlanta.

The Hawks need a shakeup, they just don’t realize it.