NBA trade deadline: Clippers land Marcus Morris, Isaiah Thomas in deal with Knicks, Wizards, per report
The Wizards joined in with the Clippers and Knicks in the final minutes to form a three-team deal
The Los Angeles Clippers just added quite a bit of depth at the trade deadline buzzer. In what was originally a trade that would land the Clippers Marcus Morris from the Knicks, it quickly changed into a three-team deal with the Wizards sending Isaiah Thomas to Los Angeles as well, according to ESPN's Adrain Wojnarowski.
Here's what we know:
- Clippers get: Marcus Morris and Isaiah Thomas
- Knicks get: Maurice Harkless, Issuf Sanon, Clippers' 2020 first-round pick and 2021 second-round pick (via Detroit)
- Wizards get: Jerome Robinson
The Clippers get the wing depth they've been looking for in Morris, and while they received Thomas from the Wizards it's been reported that L.A. has no intention of keeping him on the roster. Still, though, the Clippers were able to steal Morris away from the Los Angeles Lakers who were also bidding for him, and that'll prove huge in the postseason. The Knicks add another first-round pick in the upcoming draft, while taking on the expiring contract of Harkless and obtaining the rights to Sanon who was selected by the Wizards in the second round of the 2018 draft. The Wizards get Robinson, who they've reportedly been interested in since the Clippers took him in the first round of the 2018 draft.
There's quite a bit to break down, so here are a few things to know about the details of this trade.
- Clippers drastically improved their championship odds
Over the past few weeks it was reported that the Clippers were on the hunt for additional wing depth to back up Kawhi Leonard and Paul George coming off the bench. The injury concerns of their two stars, as well as a genuine lack of depth at the forward position would leave the Clippers with a legitimate weakness when the playoffs roll around. However, adding Morris to this roster changes all of that. According to SportsLine data scientist Stephen Oh, with the addition of Morris, the Clippers' chances of winning a championship this season drastically improve.
The Clippers already have the highest-scoring bench unit in the league (51.2 PPG) on the strength of Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell, and adding Morris to that, who is averaging a career-high 19.6 points while shooting 43.9 percent from beyond the arc is a huge bonus. Not to mention, he's an upgrade on the defensive side of the ball over Harkless. Morris can play both forward positions, and is a physical wing player on defense. He'll fit right in on a team that already has stout defenders in Leonard, George and Patrick Beverley.
2. Knicks add to their depth of first-round draft picks
New York currently has the fourth-worst record in the league, and will likely secure another top-five lottery pick in the summer. With the addition of the Clippers' 2020 first-round pick, which is projected to be in the late 20s, New York will be able to add more youth to its roster through the draft. Or, if the Knicks want to make a trade in the offseason they'll have two first-round picks to do so.
Taking on Harkless doesn't do much for New York other than ensuring that his contract will be coming off the books this summer as he's on an expiring contract. The only question about this trade is could New York have gotten something better from the Lakers instead? Both L.A. teams were reportedly in a bidding war for Morris up until the deadline, but at the last minute the Lakers informed the Knicks that Kyle Kuzma was off the table in any trade negotiations, per The Athletic's Shams Charania. That's likely the player New York would've wanted most, and it's surprising that the Lakers reversed course after reportedly shopping Kuzma around for weeks now.
By not taking on any hefty long-term salaries, though, the Knicks remain financially flexible for the future while also ensuring they're stocking up on draft picks going forward. Over the next four drafts, the Knicks will have seven first-round picks which will surely help their rebuilding process as they hit the reset button again with a new president of basketball operations.
3. The Clippers bested the Lakers at the trade deadline
While the Lakers can still make moves in the buyout market, losing out on Morris to the Clippers specifically is a tough pill to swallow. If the playoffs ended today, the Clippers and Lakers would likely meet in the Western Conference Finals, and even though the Lakers may have the size advantage over the Clippers, their Staples Center roommate has far more depth. That was true at the start of the season, and with the addition of Morris, the Clippers have depth in spades over the Lakers.
It's interesting that the deciding factor in this trade for the Lakers was whether or not to give up Kyle Kuzma, who has been inconsistent all season long. Kuzma's recent play has been encouraging, but he's still struggled to find his footing coming off the bench. If they would have swapped him for Morris he would have undoubtedly given them an upgrade on both ends of the floor. Unfortunately, the Lakers will have to watch Morris in a Clippers jersey, and while on paper it already looks like Doc Rivers' crew has the upper hand between the two L.A. teams, time will tell if this move will be a factor in the postseason.
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