Thursday marked the busiest trade deadline in NBA history. Though what was expected to be the biggest firework (Kyle Lowry) never caught a spark, tons of big names were on the move, including one 2021 All-Star (Nikola Vucevic), 2019's Sixth Man of the Year winner (Lou Williams), and several previous All-Stars (Victor Oladipo, Rajon Rondo, Jeff Teague).
All those moves will have some major impacts on the waiver wire. Hopefully, you already roster Robert Williams (76% rostered) – we've certainly talked about him plenty in this column – as he's probably the trade deadline's biggest winner. But whether or not you've got TimeLord, there are plenty of possible pickups whose value improved Thursday.
As always, the players in this article must be rostered in less than two-thirds of CBS leagues. Players are listed in the order that I recommend adding them, assuming they are equally good fits for your team.
Adds for All Leagues
Unfortunately for us, the deadline's two biggest winners – Williams and Terrance Ross (84% rostered) -- are already too-widely rostered for this column. Tate and Kevin Porter (88% rostered) are probably next up, with the Rockets trading Victor Oladipo for scraps and leaning further into the tank. Tate might get some extra offensive responsibilities going forward, and even if he doesn't he still provides help in almost every other category.
Kenyon Martin (30% rostered) is also a potentially worthy add, though his workload has suffered since Christian Wood got healthy the incoming Kelly Olynyk could also cut into his opportunities. That said, I think the tanking factor outweighs the Olynyk factor, which keeps Martin firmly within the fantasy-relevant realm.
Gary Trent Jr, Raptors (66% rostered)
I've spilled a lot of internet ink on my love for Trent, and he barely qualifies for this article, so I'll be brief: Norman Powell was averaging 30.4 minutes per game before he was traded for Trent, and when Trent has seen that many minutes he has been rosterable.
The Thunder held onto Al Horford, which meaningfully dampens my hopes for Brown going forward. The Thunder don't buy players out, so Horford is here to stay. But the Thunder did make some other moves implying that they are leaning into the tank. In that context, the way they are currently using Horford leaves a lot of room for Brown to help rosters. They are resting Horford liberally – four times in the last six games – and only playing him 25 minutes when he's active. For managers with daily lineups, that's not hard to workaround. When Horford sits, you'll have plenty of notice, start Brown. What to do when Horford plays will depend on your particular settings, but, again, at least you'll have time to prepare.
Diallo (groin) is finally on track to make his Pistons debut Friday (tonight!)! I talked about him last week, and I'm going to mention him in the next blurb, so let's cut this blurb short.
Dennis Smith Jr., Pistons (25% rostered), I guess
The deadline's first meaningful trade, the Pistons sending Delon Wright to Kings for Cory Joseph and picks, will have some important impact on the waiver wire. On paper, Smith is the primary beneficiary, which is why I've reluctantly put his name at the top of this blurb. The problem, however, is that Smith isn't actually good, and he's probably not rosterable in a lot of leagues unless he gets above 30 minutes per game. On top of that, he's been dealing with a back injury lately and is questionable to play this weekend.
If you have a roster spot, and can't get any of the other players listed in this article, then feel free to grab Smith. But the best plan is probably to keep a careful eye on the Pistons' box scores for the next few games to see how the rotation shakes out. Maybe Hamidou Diallo (44% rostered), will be able to take on extra minutes and some facilitating role, or maybe Saben Lee (5% rostered) gets a chance and steals a large role. Lots of possible scenarios could pan out here. Almost all of them involve someone becoming a popular waiver wire add, but there are a lot of possibilities for which player that is.
Hopefully, rookie Killian Hayes (21% rostered) comes back soon and can get us back to my preferred state of being, i.e. not caring about Dennis Smith Jr. The latest reports leave open the possibility that Hayes returns as soon as next weekend.
Rajon Rondo, Clippers (15% rostered)
We've gotten into the highly speculative section of this article. Rondo will probably play a lot more minutes for the Clippers, and he's still one of the best assists-and-steals guys in the league. But will he play 20-to-25 minutes? Will he be setting up Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, or Terance Mann and Luke Kennard? If "yes" and "George and Leonard" are the answers, then Rondo is a top-100 all-leagues guy. If it's "no" and "Mann and Kennard", then he'll be quickly dropped.
Is it finally Bamba time? Vucevic is gone, and I don't think Wendell Carter Jr. is capable of taking all of Vucevic's 34.1 minutes. Honestly, Bamba probably remains at the fringe of the rotation and irrelevant to fantasy. But he profiles as a shot-blocking menace, so he warrants a mention on the possibility that the trade leads to a 20-minutes-or-more role. While we're talking about long-shots on the Magic, R.J. Hampton (7% rostered) is 20 years old, was considered a potential top-five draft pick a couple of years ago, and the Magic's wing depth chart is completely decimated. Insert the "so you're saying there's a chance" meme here.
Deep League Special
Remember that scene in Moneyball where the coach (played by Phillip Seymour Hoffman) won't play the guy the GM (Billy Beane, played by Brad Pitt) wants, so the GM just trades away the coach's guy? Well, it seems like Celtics' GM Danny Ainge remembers it fondly.
There are really only two ways to interpret the Celtics' decision to give away Daniel Theis for Moe Wagner, an obviously inferior player, to save a little money. So either they accepted their fate that this is a lost season (unlikely), or Ainge saw this deal as addition-by-subtraction. By shipping away Theis and Jeff Teague, Ainge is forcing coach Brad Stevens to stop playing them 25 and 20 minutes per game, respectively. Stevens has basically no choice but to increase Robert Williams' and Pritchard's roles.
Pritchard is currently averaging 19.7 minutes. He has played at least 22 minutes 15 times, averaging 25.8 minutes in those games. Twenty-six-ish minutes is a reasonable target for what he might see now that Teague is gone, so those games should provide a solid clue for what we can expect moving forward. In those games when he had a larger role, he averaged 11-3-3 with 2.2 threes and almost one steal per game – better than his per-minute season-averages would project.
The Cavs traded away JaVale McGee for Isaiah Hartenstein (0% rostered), and Andre Drummond is getting bought out, removing the possibility of a big man coming back in a potential Drummond trade. Wade's role was already up to 21.3 minutes over the last four games, and McGee's absence should help that workload continue – or possibly expand it slightly. Hartenstein has his supporters, and it's possible Hartenstein just eats up all of McGee's vacated minutes, or that he jumps Wade on the depth chart, and becomes the desirable waiver target himself, but my guess is that Wade holds on.