Alright, let’s be honest. Once the trade deadline ended the first article you were looking to read was one that told you which teams “won” their trades and which team “lost” the moves they made. Well, after waiting a couple of days to watch the various debuts players made on their new teams, I am finally here to let you know what I think about this year’s trade deadline.
Without further ado, let’s get to the winners.
I think the Raptors are BIG winners. This was on clear display in their win against the Celtics on Friday night. In case you missed it, the Raptors added Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker in separate deals, giving up Terrence Ross, a 2017 first round pick (the worse of Toronto’s or the Clippers), Jared Sullinger, and two second round picks all together.
Let’s take a quick second to summarize what the Raptors had to give up. Ross is a nice young rotational player on a decent contract ($10.5 million for the next two seasons) who is very athletic and a capable three-point shooter (career 37.6 percent from beyond the arc). What he isn’t is a good defender or an efficient, elite scorer. Plus, with Norman Powell sitting right behind him in the rotation, Ross became expendable for the Raptors.
Having two first round picks allowed the Raptors to trade the less favorable one away with little reservation in the Ibaka deal, and to get Tucker all it costed was Sullinger (who was terrible in the 11 games he appeared in this season) and two second round picks, which are essentially crap-shoots in the draft.
The Raptors now have the ability to throw out a Tucker-Patrick Patterson-Ibaka frontcourt, which should cause nightmares for opposing offenses. And with Ibaka and Patterson’s ability to hit threes, the floor spacing won’t be completely cramped.
Listen, I’m not saying the Raptors are going to the finals. But there’s no doubt they are better suited to face the Cavaliers now than they were just a week or two ago. With the Celtics not making a move and the Wizards’ significant upgrade being Bojan Bogdanovic, the Raptors seem poised to make another run to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Corey Brewer is gone.
Oklahoma City Thunder
How you evaluate the trade the Thunder made really depends on how you view Cameron Payne. If you view him as a potential point guard of the future for a team (which the Bulls presumably do), then you may be fine with this deal from Chicago’s perspective.
If you are more like me and don’t see Payne becoming anything more than a backup guard, then you view this trade as a theft for the Thunder. Let’s review the details first: The Thunder received Taj Gibson, Doug McDermott, and a 2018 second round pick for Payne, Anthony Morrow, and Joffrey Lauvergne. My goodness what a trade for the Thunder.
Gibson is a physical defender and rebounder while McDermott provides OKC with some much needed shooting. Moving forward, the starting lineup will still be deprived of floor spacing, but man is their defense going to be stifling. Does any guard want to drive to the paint just to see Taj Gibson and Steven Adams greet them at the rim? Yea I’ll pass on that one.
Whether or not you believe the Celtics should have given up one (or both) of the Brooklyn picks to get Jimmy Butler or Paul George, it is impossible to deny that this current Celtics team would have benefited from obtaining a big man that can rebound and protect the rim.
You’re going to tell me that the Celtics couldn’t beat the offer the Mavericks made for Noel or Oklahoma City’s offer to get Taj Gibson? Yea, I’m not buying it. While such a move wouldn’t have been the “sexy” trade most Celtics fans wanted, those are moves that could push the Celtics to the Conference Finals.
Instead, the Celtics are still vulnerable to getting killed on the glass and not being able to get consistent stops on defense. The Celtics are still a very good team that has incredible assets, but sooner or later you can’t call them assets if you don’t plan on using them.
New York Knicks
Lather, rinse, repeat.
Indiana Pacers & Chicago Bulls
I decided to group these two teams together because both of them have a star wing that was almost traded to the Celtics and neither team can pick a direction for their franchise.
It’s hard to fault either team for not trading their star player, but both teams made (or didn’t make in Indiana’s case) moves that don’t help the organization move forward.
For the Bulls, they got what they hope is their point guard of the future in Payne for the steep cost of Gibson, McDermott, and a second round pick. It’s not exactly the type of move that inspires a rebuild.
For the Pacers, they first openly shopped their 2017 first round pick in hopes of getting PG13 some help. Then, they switched gears and shopped George on the trade market, leading many to think a rebuild was on the horizon. Then, the trade deadline came and gone, with the Pacers not making a single move.
They didn’t begin a rebuild by trading George but didn’t get him any help at the same time. Not a good look Larry Legend.
For many of the trades completed this trade season, only time will tell who truly came out on top. However, there were certainly some heists that occurred this trade season, and early returns point to these winners and losers.
All statistics provided by Basketball Reference and NBA.com