In like a lion, out like a lamb. Thatâs the story of the 2017 NBA trade deadline.
The big deals came days before the deadline. Nerlens Noel, there wasnât much that went down at the deadline., and we saw last week. , and ... that was pretty much it. Outside of a big deal between Chicago and Oklahoma City and the Sixers dealing off
Still, thereâs a lot to process. Here are the winners and losers from the NBA trade deadline.
Winner: New Orleans Pelicans
We Anthony Davis, and they added a superstar. They were unquestionably the biggest (positive) story of the deadline., but the Pelicans got a steal. They debut the new âFire and Iceâ combination Thursday night and kick off a new era. They needed to put a star next to
Loser: Sacramento Kings
I mean, if the Pelicans did so well, the Kings by proxy did terribly. And man, did they do terribly. One top-three-protected first-rounder and Buddy Hield (basically). Just awful. The stench of this trade is going to carry around the Kings franchise for years. It will be written about in books and constantly referenced when discussing how âyou never know what dumb deal some team might do.â The Kings literally obliterated the idea of âthey would never do that deal!â by doing a deal so bad itâs almost unbelievable. Fail.
Winner: Toronto Raptors
The Raptors picked up two key defensive contributors for a team that was in desperate need of them, landing Ibaka and Suns forward P.J. Tucker in the past week. Both can stretch to 3-point range, both are tough competitors, both are versatile and both can play multiple positions. The Raptors didnât land huge names, but they added to their arsenal while giving up almost nothing for them outside of Terrence Ross. Not only that, but they watched the Celtics pass up every offer and the Wizards only add Bojan Bogdanovic. The rest of the top of the East didnât improve while Toronto did. This was a very good week for Raptors fans.
Loser: Boston Celtics
OK, look, everything is marginal. They still have the second-best team in the East, still have the Netsâ pick this year and next. They still have Isaiah Thomas, Al Horford, Jae Crowder, Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart, along with Brad Stevens. Theyâre a good team that will only get better in the draft, and theyâll have free-agency options. However, they did not manage to convert their assets into a major upgrade. In a vacuum this doesnât matter, but over time those assets decrease in value. If they land the No.1 pick, Markelle Fultz plays the same position as Thomas and Smart. Thomas, Smart and Bradley are all free agents at the end of next season.
How on Earth do they keep all these guys? Expiring contracts have slowly decreased in value since the last CBA. Bradley and Smartâs peak value is right now, with a full 16 months left on their contracts. The No.1 pick instantly loses value once it goes from âconceptual starâ to a tangible player with strengths and weaknesses. Boston is not hurt. It didnât get worse. It didnât do a bad deal. But there is a timeline on how long these assets will be in play, and if the Celtics want to really contend for a title, they did nothing at the deadline to help the pursuit of that goal. General manager Danny Ainge continues to keep the powder dry, but you wonder if there are missed opportunities to make the kinds of strides Boston fans want to see.
Winner: Oklahoma City Thunder
OKC nabbed a top-flight defensive forward in Taj Gibson without giving up Domantas Sabonis. It added a shooter in Doug McDermott without giving up Alex Abrines or Victor Oladipo. It added a second-round pick for funsies. The Thunder got better in multiple areas and straightened out rotation concerns while not giving up anything more than a backup point guard about to be paid above market value. Sam Presti remains a very good GM.
Loser: Chicago Bulls
They are the worst-shooting 3-point team in the league and dealt their 37.6 percent shooting forward for a backup point guard to go with the three others they have on the roster -- and he only shoots 31 percent from deep. Oh, and they gave up a pick and beloved power forward Gibson and only got Anthony Morrow, who can never crack a rotation (despite being a great shooter) and hustle-hard Joffery Lauvergne. Oh, and they kept Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo, as they continue to show absolutely no direction or plan for the future.
Winner: Dallas Mavericks
Nerlens Noel is kind of damaged goods in terms of reputation, but heâs still an incredible player when healthy. Heâs 22, long, athletic, with great defensive instincts. He and Harrison Barnes constitute an actual young core, and thatâs something the Mavericks desperately needed. This was a great gamble for them.
Loser: New York Knicks
The Knicks reportedly almost had a deal for Ricky Rubio, sending away Derrick Rose. It fell apart because they apparently wanted too much. The problem is that Rubio is better than Rose right now, and Rose is set to be a free agent who will demand a max or near-max contract. So instead of getting a defensively questionable player with a terrible injury history off the books to add a good player, they stood pat and -- knowing the Knicks -- thereâs a decent chance theyâre the team that gives him that big contract. The Knicks almost did something that wasnât Knicks-ish, but then Knicked hard at the last second.
Winner: Indiana Pacers
They kept Paul George, and that was the right decision. If he makes All-NBA this season, they can offer him the designated player super-max and that could be enough to keep him. They didnât deal their franchise superstar and didnât get bad value for him. Not moving him was the right move.
Loser: Denver Nuggets
Much like Boston, they had assets and couldnât find deals. Danilo Gallinari could leave in free agency and the Nuggets got nothing for him, and they didnât clear up any of their positional logjams. Much like Boston, itâs OK -- Denver is in a good spot anyway. But you would have liked them to at least add an impact player to gear up for a playoff run against the reloaded Pelicans.