NBA Trade Deadline


Illustration by Glenn Horne

Take a look into what happened in this year’s trade deadline.

Brody Conaty, Opinion Editor

   There is never a drama free moment in the National Basketball Association. The annual Trade Deadline only enhances that drama as championship contenders look to bolster their roster, while bottom feeders look to sell their top players in hope of receiving compensation to help them in the future. Almost every team gets in on the action and the 2019 deadline was no different. 2019 may have been to some, the most action packed deadline since 2015 when Goran Dragic and Isaiah Thomas were flipped to the Heat and Celtics, respectively.

   To start off the annual swapping of players, the Knicks sent borderline superstar Kristaps Porzingis to the Dallas Mavericks with Tim Hardaway Jr., Trey Burke, and Courtney Lee. The Knicks received Wes Matthews, DeAndre Jordan, and Dennis Smith Jr. in trade along with two future first round draft picks. Porzingis, who has been sidelined with an achilles injury this entire season, was growing frustrated with the Knicks organization for multiple different reasons. The same could be said for Dennis Smith with the Mavericks as Smith believed rookie phenom, Luka Doncic was taking away his spotlight. So to deal with their young, disgruntled players, the Knicks and Mavericks essentially swapped them, with other pieces included. Although the Knicks did receive the promising 21 year old point guard, Smith, they also gained something even better from the trade. By trading away Hardaway Jr. and Lee, they were able to free up enough money to hopefully sign Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant this offseason, two of the best players in the sport. We will see if this risky trade works out for the Knicks, but if history tells us anything, it’s that the Knicks made a big mistake trading away the 22 year old Latvian, Porzingis.

   Apart from the New York and Dallas trade, the Philadelphia and Los Angeles (Clippers) trade was the most groundbreaking to the NBA landscape. Early Wednesday morning, the Los Angeles Clippers elected to trade their star, Tobias Harris, to the Philadelphia 76ers. The 76ers sent rookie, Landry Shamet, Wilson Chandler, Mike Muscala, and two first round picks to the Clippers in exchange. Many NBA fans are confused with this move by the Clippers. LA was currently in the playoff picture and decided to trade their best player for assets that will help them in the future. The only logical explanation to this decision by the Clippers is tanking. The team is attempting to lose games on purpose to hopefully raise their chances at a higher draft pick. The Clippers have been known to do this in the past as they traded their best two players in franchise history, Blake Griffin and Chris Paul, just last season. From this trade though, the Clippers also freed up a significant amount of money which will allow them to go after Kawhi Leonard and Kevin Durant in free agency. For the 76ers, this is an excellent deal. They will add Harris to their already stellar lineup of Ben Simmons, J.J. Redick, Jimmy Butler, and Joel Embiid. Inserting Tobias Harris makes the 76ers a top candidate to win the Eastern conference.

   The other two biggest contenders in the East, the Bucks and the Raptors, also improved their rosters significantly. The Bucks traded newly acquired Stanley Johnson and Jason Smith for a young scorer Nikola Mirotic. Mirotic should thrive in an offensive minded system surrounded by Giannis Antetokounmpo, Malcolm Brogdon, Khris Middleton, and Brook Lopez. The Raptors added Marc Gasol the longtime Memphis Grizzlies star without jeopardizing much of their future assets. Gasol is a fantastic addition to help Toronto’s offense and interior defense. Gasol is a dream pick and roller to pair with the All Star point guard, Kyle Lowry, and superstar Kawhi Leonard.  

   Although many trades were made, sometimes in the NBA, the biggest stories are what did not happen. Anthony Davis, one of the best players of this generation, demanded to be traded from the New Orleans Pelicans. The Los Angeles Lakers, who possess the greatest player ever, LeBron James, seemed to be perfect suitors for the New Orleans big man. Magic Johnson, Lakers general manager offered almost every asset the Lakers have (minus James) to no avail. New Orleans general manager Dell Demps refused to trade Davis to the Lakers, as he prefers to wait until the offseason to deal the All Star power forward. This left the Lakers with not many options to improve their weak roster. Instead of adding Davis, the team had to settle with sharpshooter, Reggie Bullock, and reserve forward, Mike Muscala, who was previously dealt to the Clippers.

   Not every trade made was intended to alter the 2019 season either. The Detroit Pistons were able to flip aforementioned Bullock and disappointing forward Stanley Johnson in favor of young prospects Thon Maker and Svi Mykhailiuk. The Wizards made similar moves parting with three point marksman, Otto Porter and power forward Markieff Morris to gain the youthful Jabari Parker and potential oozing Bobby Portis. The Kings also decided to swap young wing Justin Jackson and veteran Zach Randolph in exchange for Harrison Barnes, who they hope will help them make a playoff push.

   The final trade before the three o’clock deadline involved former overall number one pick Markelle Fultz. Fultz has been with the 76ers for a season and a half and has only appeared in 33 games due to a lagging shoulder issue. The 76ers, being a Finals contender, have pressured Fultz to contribute to their success. The young point guard clearly was not ready for such responsibility as, he has underperformed resulting with him being titled as a bust. Now, Fultz will receive a brand new start on an up and coming team in the Orlando Magic. Fultz will join an exciting young core of Aaron Gordon, Jonathan Isaac, and Mohamed Bamba in Orlando in a pressure free situation where Fultz can heal and develop properly. Philadelphia received bench depth by obtaining John Simmons and some future compensation gaining a first round pick in 2020 and a second round pick in 2019.              

   As always, the NBA did not disappoint to entertain its wide fan base. Now that all the trades are completed, only time will tell what teams made great deals, and what teams will be suffering from their mistakes made in the past week.