NBA Buy or Sell: Clippers clear winners of trade deadline; Grizzlies improved playoff chances after moves
Also, is Kristaps Porzingis better without Luka Doncic?
The NBA trade deadline has come and gone, and while several franchises made quality moves it was rather quiet for most of the contending teams. There's still, but time will tell if any of these transactions will be beneficial when the playoffs roll around. This is the point in the season when every team is just trying to make it to the All-Star break unscathed before things kicks into high gear and every game starts to matter a little more for playoff positioning.
With the trade deadline still fresh on everyone's mind, though, let's look at some of the moves made and see what's real, and what isn't worth giving a second thought.
Buy or Sell: The Clippers are clear winners of the trade deadline
Even after having the best offseason in franchise history -- and the best among all teams this past summer -- the Clippers saw that there was still room for improvement going into the Feb. 6 trade deadline. Sure, they've already beaten the Lakers twice this season, but the playoffs are a different beast, and it's beneficial to have excess depth in case injuries occur, or address a need for changes in the rotation. It was reported that the Clippers were concerned with their headed into the trade deadline, and while it took sacrificing a few future picks, they traded for exactly what they needed in Marcus Morris. Not only did they secure a valuable 3-and-D wing in Morris, they were able to snatch him away from the Lakers, who were reportedly also bidding on the former Knick but refused to include Kyle Kuzma in any trade package for Morris.
Adding Morris to a Clippers bench that already leads the league in points (51.2) is truly unfair. He was averaging 19.6 points with New York this season, and the versatility he provides on the defensive end of the ball with his size is a huge bonus. The Clippers will have a lot of bodies at their disposal to front guys like LeBron James, Anthony Davis, JaVale McGee and Dwight Howard in the postseason, because if these two teams do make it to the Western Conference finals, the Clippers will need all the length and size possible to defend the Lakers.
Buy or Sell: Among teams fighting for a playoff spot, the Grizzlies helped their chances most at the trade deadline
While it would have been interesting to see exactly how Andre Iguodala could've helped this Memphis team, ending the saga that included thinly-veiled shots at the three-time NBA champion was in the best interest for the Grizzlies. Not to mention, they got back another solid young piece to add to their wealth of young talent in Justise Winslow, who has shown promise of being a budding young star in the past.
The Grizzlies were already a surprise team this season with their young core led by rookie Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr. and Dillon Brooks pushing this team into the No. 8 spot of the West standings. Adding another under-25 talent in Winslow to that is a great steal in return for dealing Iguodala. However, despite the fact that on paper Winslow looks like a great addition to this team, his run of injuries this season alone is cause for concern.
The former Heat forward has played in just 11 games this season, missing a bulk of the year with various back issues as well as a concussion. The last full game that Winslow played in that wasn't cut short because of injury was in early December in a 10-point outing off the bench in 31 minutes of action. Winslow can't help the Grizzlies if he can't stay healthy. If he can't, Memphis didn't help itself by trading away one of its best defensive players in Jae Crowder for an oft-injured player -- all in order to move Iguodala.
Buy or Sell: Iguodala has the best chance to succeed among all players changing teams
On the other end of the Memphis-Miami deal, it's Iguodala who made out like a bandit. Not only did he get traded to a quality contending team in the Heat, he also secured $15 million over the next two seasons, and he didn't have to suit up for a single game this season up to this point. Aside from that, though, Iguodala helps shore up Miami's biggest weakness: its defense. Despite having a top-10 ranked offense in the league, the Heat have a middling defense (14th), and adding a defensive-minded wing like Iggy to throw at elite players like Giannis Antetokounmpo, Pascal Siakam and Jayson Tatum will be an advantage in the postseason. Iguodala also has a sterling track record for being a great locker room guy, which is just a bonus for this young and talented Miami team. He'll fit right in with the "Heat culture," and can become a threat in crunch time.
Iguodala has already proven time and time again that he can do all the little things necessary to win basketball games, and for a Heat team that looked like a fringe contender compared to the rest of the elite teams at the top of the East, his services will be greatly appreciated.
Buy or Sell: Kristaps Porzingis is more effective without Luka Doncic
Luka Doncic has already missed six games due to an ankle injury that he re-aggravated during practice in late January. During that time, the Mavericks have managed to stay afloat, going 3-3 mainly because of Kristaps Porzingis. In the six games that Doncic has been sidelined, Porzingis is averaging 29 points and 11.3 rebounds, while shooting 50.7 percent from the field and 41.2 percent from beyond the arc. He's had three 30-point games since Doncic's injury, which is more than he's had over the course of the season combined, and he's looking like the player he was before he tore his ACL in 2018.
This is a difficult one to assess, because when Porzingis and Doncic share the floor it has been difficult for both players to get going at the same time. However, the two are still a plus-2.5 when they're out there together, and Porzingis is near the top of the list of Mavericks players on the receiving end of Doncic's assists. Doncic has been the major reason the Mavericks are a playoff-contending team, and while Porzingis is averaging 18 points a night, the chemistry between him and Doncic hasn't fully been established yet. Right now it does look like Porzingis is more effective without Doncic commanding the ball, but that doesn't mean he's completely ineffective when the reigning Rookie of the Year is running the show.
Porzingis needs Doncic's playmaking and ability to draw the defense to be most effective, and Doncic needs Porzingis' size, shooting and rim-running ability to play off of. Both players need each other, and while individually they're able to light up a scoreboard, they'll have the most success when they're on the floor together. It's still Year 1 of the Doncic-Porzingis pairing, so it's too early to start saying these two can't coexist.
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