You know when you get off the treadmill and it still feels like you're moving even though you're on solid ground? That's what it feels like following a blitzkrieg of a 2023 NBA trade deadline that saw superstars dealt, role players swapped and countless draft picks change hands.
Not sure there's ever been a more obvious trade deadline winner in the history of the NBA. Durant revitalizes a Suns team that hasn't been the same since its inauspicious Game 7 playoff exit at the hands of Luka Doncic and the Mavericks last season, and immediately turns them into the favorites to come out of the Western Conference. A foursome of Durant, Devin Booker, Chris Paul and Deandre Ayton is as formidable as any in the league, and even though the trade depleted their depth, they still have capable, experienced role players like Torrey Craig, Cam Payne, Damion Lee and Landry Shamet.
The biggest question mark is health, but that's the case with any contender. Huge move by new Suns governor Mat Ishbia just days into his tenure.
Winner: Kevin Durant
After the Kyrie Irving trade, Durant was faced with the prospect of being the lone superstar on a Nets team attempting to thread the needle between rebuilding and contention. Instead, he's left that situation and now plays for a title favorite -- and the team at the top of his list when he first requested a trade last summer. Fans may not like the idea of superstars bailing on their franchises to form superteams, but there's no doubt that Durant has come out a winner in this scenario.
Loser: Brooklyn Nets (past)
The KD-Kyrie era in Brooklyn is over, and there's no way to characterize it as anything but an abject failure. One playoff series victory, just 74 games played with Irving and Durant on the floor together, and plenty of coach firings, trade requests and off-court drama along the way. In the last few days the Nets have gone from a legitimate title contender with Durant and Irving to a rebuilding franchise looking for the clearest path back to the top of the mountain. That's a rough hit to take.
Winner: Brooklyn Nets (future)
Despite the depression of the aforementioned fall from grace, Brooklyn squeezed about every asset it could out of Durant and Irving. Five unprotected first-round picks (replenishing their cabinet after dealing most of their draft assets to Houston in the James Harden deal), a 2028 pick swap, a young, borderline All-Star in Mikal Bridges, proven role players in Cam Johnson, Dorian Finney-Smith and Spencer Dinwiddie, and a couple of second-round picks is a solid haul. Now the Nets have decisions to make regarding their future, but they at least have options moving forward -- not something every team can say after dealing one superstar, let alone two.
I'm not saying the Lakers are now in position to compete for a title, but they're at least in position to compete. LeBron has made it clear that he's not interested in spending his waning NBA days on a bottom-dwelling team, and now with the record chase behind him he has a new set of teammates to attempt to climb the standings. The Lakers have eliminated Russell Westbrook, and all the issues he brings, while adding solid players in D'Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt -- only sacrificing one of their two coveted future first-round picks in the process. That's a team that can at least make a run in the Western Conference and, with a healthy Anthony Davis, have a puncher's chance at an upset of one of the higher seeds should they make the playoffs. While James likely would have preferred to have snagged Kyrie Irving or a player of that ilk, he has to at least be happy that the Lakers improved with their deadline moves rather than remaining stagnant.
It's not that the Nuggets did anything wrong, but they were hit by a nuclear bomb courtesy of Phoenix when the Durant trade went down. Denver had started to create some separation in the Western Conference, leading the Grizzlies by 4.5 games as of Thursday, and Jamal Murray's resurgence had them looking like favorites to make the NBA Finals. Now they have to contend with a superteam in Phoenix, while the Nuggets' only trade deadline move was acquiring big man Thomas Bryant from the Lakers and cutting bait with talented young guard Bones Hyland after reported discontent. Denver went from West favorites to second-fiddle overnight, making the team a loser this deadline through no fault of its own.
Winner: Kyrie Irving
I already wrote about this in the winners and losers from the Irving trade a few days ago, so please allow myself to plagiarize ... myself.
Say what you will about Kyrie Irving (and there's plenty to say), but the man tends to get what he wants. Asked out of Cleveland, went to an Eastern Conference contender. Wanted to play with his friend KD, signed with Brooklyn. Didn't want to get the vaccine despite local mandates, team let him play in road games.
Now, just days after requesting a trade from the Nets due to what he viewed as an untenable contract situation, he's off to Dallas to play with one of the game's transcendent superstars in Luka Doncic. And while there's no guarantee that the Mavericks will offer Irving a long-term contract, it's hard to believe they would have traded away those assets for a two-month rental.
No wonder Irving continues to act the way he does. It just keeps working.
While the Suns and Mavericks made colossal splashes with their cannonballs into the deep end, the 76ers executed a perfect reverse one-and-a-half somersault while hardly creating a ripple in the water's surface. Philadelphia flipped Matisse Thybulle -- an excellent defender but a zero on offense who was earning sporadic playing time -- to the Charlotte Hornets in exchange for a 25-year-old two-way wing on the rise in Jalen McDaniels. The perfect complementary piece to a team looking for a little extra oomph off the bench, McDaniels is at least a capable 3-point shooter (which Thybulle was not), and has the length and quickness to provide nearly as much defensive impact. Philadelphia is sneakily positioning itself as a very tough playoff out, and McDaniels is a piece that could push the Sixers over the top.
The Grizzlies like to talk, and sometimes it's going to backfire. Just a couple of months ago, Morant named the Boston Celtics as primary competition for himself and the Grizzlies, while famously proclaiming that he was "fine in the West." Well, since then the Mavericks paired Kryie Irving with Luka Doncic, while Kevin Durant joins Devin Booker and Chris Paul in Phoenix. Leave it to New Orleans Pelicans guard and NBPA president CJ McCollum to say it best:
This all because @JaMorant said he was good in the West 😂😂😂
The Rockets aren't winners necessarily because of what they did at the deadline (though finally trading Eric Gordon was a wise move), but rather what the Nets did. Houston owns Brooklyn's first-round picks in 2024 and 2026, with the right to swap picks in 2025 and 2027 (and this year, but that's not going to happen). Those selections look a whole lot juicier after the Nets lost Irving and Durant in a matter of days. In theory, if the Nets bottom out and the Rockets improve, Houston could have four consecutive Brooklyn picks at its disposal. This is especially helpful since the Rockets owe Oklahoma City their own first-round picks in 2024 and 2026 (top-four protected). Whether the Rockets end up using Brooklyn's picks or trading them in other deals, the future is looking brighter in Houston.
With Brooklyn potentially dropping out of the Eastern Conference playoff picture, perhaps the Bulls felt they could leave their roster as is and make a run after the All-Star break. Maybe, but they could have missed out on the opportunity to retool by dealing one or more of Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic. There was reported interest in all three of them, along with guard Alex Caruso, but the Bulls decided to stand pat at the deadline. Either they're invested in this core moving forward (Vucevic is a free agent after this season), or they plan on taking care of things in the offseason. It seems like they could have made a move before the deadline, however, as they've been middling in play-in position for most of the season.
The James Wiseman situation was a disaster for the reigning champs, and his presence on the team had essentially become a sunk-cost fallacy. The truth is, he was not flourishing in the Warriors' environment and needed a change, and there was no way Golden State was ever going to recoup the full value of a No. 2 overall pick. So they sold him off for a handful of second-round picks, then turned around and flipped those into a familiar, valuable face in Gary Payton II. The Warriors' defense has been one of their main issues in a mediocre season, and Payton will have an immediate impact on that end -- not to mention his familiarity with Golden State's system. Payton should serve as a spark plug for the stretch run, and they got him for a player that -- while talented -- had no clear path to a rotation spot.
Another trade deadline passes and, yes, John Collins is still a Hawk. The explosive forward with a diverse skill set has seemingly been lost in Atlanta for years, leading to rampant trade rumors, but yet again ... nothing. He's reportedly been upset with his role in the past, but he'll have to wait until a later date to see if he gets the opportunity to be unleashed elsewhere. In the meantime, he has yet another forward to compete with for playing time, as the Hawks added Saddiq Bey at the deadline.
The Bucks acquired Ibaka in the Donte DiVincenzo deal this time last year, which, in retrospect, yikes. They shelved him this season when he wasn't in the rotation, and now he'll get to play the buyout-market game. The 33-year-old big man was considered a potential game-changer when the Los Angeles Clippers signed him as a free agent in 2020, but soon thereafter he suffered a back injury that would require surgery. He hasn't quite gotten back on track since then.
The devil is in the details. Who are the others? What kind of picks? Anunoby is an All-Defense-caliber wing who is 25 years old, underpaid and not a rental. He was never going to come cheap.
Evidently, though, Toronto's asking price was not only too high for Golden State -- it was too high for the entire league. Given that the Raptors ended up reuniting with Jakob Poeltl and doing nothing else at the deadline, it's also fair to wonder how serious they were about trading Anunoby. Or any of their starters, for that matter.
This will not be the first time that Jackson has been on the buyout market. The Clippers signed him off the scrap heap in 2020, after the Pistons cut him loose. That signing turned out to be a great decision; Los Angeles re-signed him twice after that.
Are the Clippers really going to do this?
There's a lot of buzz about Russell Westbrook and the Clippers right now. The Athletic's Law Murray is the latest to report that there is mutual interest between the two parties. Maybe it'll happen, but I'm skeptical about the fit.
Today, the Clippers essentially swapped Reggie Jackson, John Wall and Luke Kennard for Eric Gordon, Mason Plumlee and Bones Hyland. I'm not convinced that this means they need Westbrook any more than they did yesterday. In fact, I'd argue that this is now a worse situation for him -- with Plumlee on the roster, they will more frequently have a non-shooter on the court, which complicates things for Westbrook.
Westbrook puts pressure on the rim and finds easy baskets in transition, which, in theory, could help on offense. This was the rationale for the Wall signing, though, and integrating Westbrook is a trickier proposition. On this team, Westbrook's turnovers, poor shot selection and complete lack of gravity on the perimeter probably cancel out the rim pressure and pace.
And then there's the defense. Would Westbrook expect to take minutes from Terance Mann? Would he expect a bigger role than Gordon and Hyland? Does a team like the Clippers really need a "point guard" on the floor when Kawhi Leonard and Paul George initiate so much of the offense? Is Westbrook really a point guard in the traditional sense? I don't know about any of this. I'd stay away.
Only two teams did not make deadlines moves
The answer to this 2023 NBA trade deadline trivia question...
the Cavs and Bulls!
The NBA trade deadline has passed and for the second straight year, the Chicago Bulls stood pat.
At 26-28, the Bulls are one of two teams (Cavs) who did not make a trade today
Despite rumors circulating that the Mavericks could look to move Wood at the deadline, the time has come and gone and Marc Stein reports that he will in fact remain in Dallas. By not trading Wood this summer, the Mavericks run the risk of losing him in free agency if they get outbid, something they're already familiar with after last season's debacle in not extending Jalen Brunson before he left for the Knicks in the offseason.
Raptors staying put?
The trade deadline is basically here, and it *appears* every rumored Raptor -- OG Anunoby, Gary Trent Jr., Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam -- are all staying put in Toronto. Anunoby was perhaps the most-rumored player in this bunch, and Toronto reportedly wanted three first-round picks for him. It appears the high asking price was not met.
LaVine to Knicks unlikely to happen
Though there was some early reporting that the Bulls and Knicks were in conversation around a deal that would send Zach LaVine to New York, it's now "unlikely to happen," per SNY's Ian Begley. LaVine would've certainly been a huge get for the Knicks, but injury concerns and the willingness of Chicago to actually deal the shooting guard could've played a role in this deal not happening. There's still time before the deadline, but if a deal isn't done, perhaps the Knicks revisit this again over the summer, especially if the Bulls decide to blow up their aging roster after what's in large part been a disappointing season for Chicago.
GPII back to Golden State
Gary Payton II, part of the Warriors' title team in 2022, is coming back to Golden State. He'll rejoin the Warriors, ultimately, as part of the James Wiseman deal. The Blazers, who got Matisse Thybulle earlier in the day, will get five second-round picks for GPII.
The Warriors are routing Kevin Knox to the Blazers via multi-team deal with the Pistons, sources tell ESPN. https://t.co/VmxEAWCPNh
Looks like John Collins will not be traded after all. The Hawks have been trying to move their big man for some time, and reportedly were in talks with Phoenix before the Suns landed Kevin Durant. But Atlanta will hang onto Collins, per Bleacher Report.
Anunoby's name has been floated for several weeks ahead of the trade deadline, with seemingly every contending team wanting to trade for him. However, The Athletic reports that the Golden State Warriors are a serious contender to land the defensive-minded forward. Anunoby would certainly boost Golden State's defense, especially if you're looking far ahead and considering how the Warriors would handled Kevin Durant who just landed in the Western Conference for the Phoenix Suns. It's unclear exactly what the Raptors would want in return for Anunoby, they've already declined a deal that would've landed them three first-round picks, so the price will likely be steep. The Warriors just acquired five second-round picks in a trade that sent James Wiseman to Detroit, so those picks could be in play. Perhaps Andrew Wiggins heads to Toronto if Anunoby comes to Golden State, given they play similar roles.
Bamba to the Lakers
It's been a hectic 20ish minutes, and the Lakers are not done making moves. They'll get big man Mo Bamba from the Magic for veteran guard Patrick Beverley, per ESPN. Bamba was recently suspended after getting in a fight with Wolves guard Austin Rivers. He'll now be teammates with ex-Wolves guard D'Angelo Russell.
The Los Angeles Lakers are trading Patrick Beverley to the Orlando Magic for center Mo Bamba, sources tell @TheAthletic@Stadium.
At long last, the oft-rumored Eric Gordon trade has happened. The veteran guard is leaving the rebuilding Rockets in a deal that sends him to the contending Clippers. L.A. also just recently acquired Bones Hyland from Denver.
The Houston Rockets are finalizing deal to send Eric Gordon to the Los Angeles Clippers, sources tell @TheAthletic@Stadium.
Suns trade Dario Saric to Thunder for Darius Bazley, second-round pick
The Suns already made their big, splashy move in acquiring Kevin Durant from the Brooklyn Nets, and now they've followed that up by trading big man Dario Saric to the Thunder for 22-year-old forward Darius Bazley, per The Athletic.
The Oklahoma City Thunder are trading Darius Bazley to the Phoenix Suns for Dario Saric and a second-round pick, sources tell @TheAthletic@Stadium.
The Nuggets are trading second-year guard Bones Hyland to the Los Angeles Clippers, per ESPN. Hyland is a solid bench scorer for Denver, but has been in trade rumors for weeks. Denver will receive two second-round picks in return.
The Jazz traded Mike Conley, Jarred Vanderbilt, Malik Beasley and Nickeil Alexander-Walker yesterday, but that doesn't mean they're done dealing. There's interest in both Kelly Olynyk and Jordan Clarkson, according to The Athletic's Tony Jones, and they're listening.
Clarkson is effectively on a $13.3 million expiring contract because he's going to decline his $14.3 million player option. He's not going to sign an extension with Utah, the team is interested in re-signing him in the offseason, according to The Athletic.
This summer, Clarkson will turn 31. Right now, he is in the middle of his best all-around season in the NBA, averaging 20.9 points on 56.3 percent true shooting plus 4.2 assists. A trade might mean a return to the sixth-man role he was accustomed to, but he's proven that he can thrive as a starter, too, and he's done more than just create offense for himself.
In theory, this is a chance for Utah to sell high on another holdover from the previous era. It's only selling high, though, if other teams are willing to give up real stuff. In the next hour or so, we'll find out what the league thinks of Clarkson.
Heat rumblings: Lowry talks with Clips, Olynyk reunion?
Also: Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reports that, as well as Olynyk, they're interested in Dario Saric, another skilled big they could theoretically run dribble-handoffs through. Makes sense! It has been difficult to construct trades for players on mid-sized contracts, though, because they'd rather not lose Caleb Martin.
Jackson also reports that they've talked about Kyle Lowry with the Los Angeles Clippers and are trying to find a taker for him. Lowry would immediately become the Clippers' best screen setter, and he'd get to reunite with Kawhi Leonard and Norman Powell, who won a championship together in 2019.
Last night, Jimmy Butler said he doesn't know what's going to happen with Lowry. "I want him to be my teammate forever," he said. "And whatever happens, happens, but that's still gonna be my dog." Then Butler whispered into the microphone, "He ain't going nowhere."
Westbrook has a list of preferred teams if bought out from Utah
It's still unclear if the Jazz plan on buying Russell Westbrook out of his contract to make him an unrestricted free agent, but if that happens, the former league MVP has interest in joining the Clippers or the Heat, per The Athletic. The Heat have been shopping Kyle Lowry ahead of the trade deadline, so bringing in Westbrook would fill that role if Lowry is traded elsewhere. The Clippers are also in desperate need of a point guard, and have been reported to buy John Wall out of his contract if they can't trade him ahead of the 3 p.m. ET deadline.
Westbrook thrived in his bench role with the Lakers prior to being traded, but the fit was always a little clunky for a Lakers team that has been desperate to launch themselves into the championship conversation.
LaVine to the Knicks?
The New York Knicks have already added Josh Hart in a deal that sent Cam Reddish to the Portland Trail Blazers, but now they might be big fish hunting. The Bulls and Knicks have restarted talks surrounding Zach LaVine, per Chicago Sun-Times' Joe Cowley. Talks stalled yesterday, but per Cowley they are now back on with about two hours to go until the trade deadline.
Just heard from a source that Bulls and Knicks are revisiting talks on a LaVine trade. Talks began yesterday but broke off. Now back on.
The Pacers and Bucks are making more moves with two hours til deadline time. Veteran guard George Hill is heading to Indiana, per ESPN. It's not immediately clear if this is part of the deal that brings Jae Crowder from the Nets to the Bucks.
Hill spent five seasons with the Pacers earlier in his career.
The Pacers are acquiring Bucks guard George Hill and a second-round pick, sources tell ESPN.
Sixers land Jalen McDaniels in three-team trade with Hornets
Philadelphia is trading Matisse Thybulle to Portland, per Bleacher Report. The Sixers will land Jalen McDaniels as part of a three-team trade with the Charlotte Hornets, per ESPN. The Hornets will get back "multiple" second-round picks, in addition to Svi Mykhailiuk.
The Golden State Warriors are talking to the Detroit Pistons about a potential Saddiq Bey trade, according to Yahoo Sports' Jake Fischer, who adds that Golden State is increasingly willing to move former No. 2 overall pick James Wiseman.
Detroit is reportedly interested in Wiseman. In related news, here is a quote from Pistons general manager Troy Weaver on Dec. 3, 2020: "I love bigs."
Bey was selected 17 picks after Wiseman in the same draft. He has not been particularly efficient in his first three years in the league, but his highs have been much higher (and more frequent) than Wiseman's. He would potentially give Golden State some more versatility in the frontcourt.
Detroit has something of a frontcourt logjam already. If it were to take on the Wiseman development project, it would presumably make other moves so he could get on the court.
Jae Crowder appears happy to be heading to Milwaukee
CUT OFF MY FINGER TO SAVE MY HAND… 99 BACK AGAIN.!! 😈😈😈😈
The Jae Crowder era in Brooklyn has come to a close ... 11 hours after it began. The Nets are sending Crowder, originally acquired from Phoenix in last night's Kevin Durant blockbuster, to the Milwaukee Bucks in exchange for five(!) second-round draft picks.
Crowder sat out the entire season in Phoenix and has not played since the 2022 postseason. He should be fresh for a Milwaukee team looking to win another title. Crowder was on the Suns team that the Bucks beat in the 2021 Finals.
The Milwaukee Bucks are acquiring Jae Crowder in a trade with the Brooklyn Nets for five second-round picks, sources tell @TheAthletic@Stadium.