Handicapping the Aftermath of the NBA Trade Deadline
This wasn't the most active NBA trade deadline we have ever seen. In isolation, it was all but irrelevant to the race in the Western Conference. That's not that surprising, as it feels like more than in past years even teams have already conceded the conference title to Golden State. But in the East, there were fireworks. There are probably five teams in the East that are at least somewhat in the mix - and Indiana is a step behind without Victor Oladipo. Three of the remaining four made big moves, and all will have a big impact on what happens from here on out. Here's a look at the biggest deals at the deadline, and what they mean for bettors:
Milwaukee: If you were to diagram the exact kind of player that the Bucks needed to add at the deadline it would pretty much have been Nikola Mirotic. And they added him for Thon Maker and a bunch of second-round picks. It's a steal of a deal, and it already makes a team that was terrifying even scarier. They have no worse than the second-best player in the conference - only Kawhi Leonard can challenge the Freak at this point - and a well-constructed roster. This was the best-managed deadline by a serious contender, and it's not close in my eyes.
Philadelphia: Philadelphia sacrificed depth for a star earlier this season. And despite some lingering chemistry issues they have decided to do it again. They again emptied out the bench, and draft picks, to grab Tobias Harris. They at least say that they don't intend to view either Butler or Harris as rentals, and they could probably afford to keep them. Harris is an excellent player, but his fit will be a challenge again, and the team has to work harder to make a talented-but-eclectic starting lineup work. And then the team dealt with a big headache by finally cutting ties with Markelle Fultz, sending him and his baggage to Orlando. They got a boost of depth back. There are still some questions about if they have enough depth, and their lack of depth was a concern in big games against top teams. I don't feel like they are at the same caliber as Toronto and Milwaukee right now, and they are going to be very dependent on the draw to advance, but they are better now overall - at least in terms of potential - than they were before the deadline.
Toronto: The Raptors really have no choice but to go all in. They don't know if they are going to be able to convince Kawhi Leonard to stick around past this year. If he goes, then their window slams shut, and they will be starting over. They would then likely have to deal Kyle Lowry and go really young as well. So, when you are staring at an uncertain future and a big current opportunity, you have to push in the chips and hope for the best. They chose to pay a fair price for Marc Gasol. Gasol isn't young and has lost a step or three, but he's just such a smart player that he is still a huge asset. His first game in Toronto wasn't great, but it really clicked in his second, and you can see how much of an upgrade he was from what they had. They have depth issues like the Sixers, but they have added Jeremy Lin off a buyout and seem to be flirting with Markieff Morris as well. Those are two very strong additions. They need to learn to stay healthy, and there are some lingering chemistry issues to keep working on, but they are more dangerous than they were - and they were already no worse than the second-scariest team in the conference.
Boston: I hate what the team did. Which was nothing. They are sitting back drooling over Anthony Davis, and somehow hoping they can land him in the offseason. That isn't going to help them now, and they have lost ground in a tough race. Yuck.
L.A. Clippers: This is another team that is just playing for the future. By dealing Harris, after dealing Blake Griffin last year, they are all about cap space. They can sign two max players this summer, and they have draft picks to add to those stars. It won't help their cause this year, but they were smart enough to know that they weren't winning a series even if they make the playoffs. It's hard to evaluate where they are at now.
Memphis: If they were going to look to their future, they should have grabbed value for Mike Conley as well as Gasol. By only going halfway, and by only getting reasonable value for Gasol as opposed to a great haul, they just slowed their inevitable rebuilding process.
New Orleans: Let's alienate and isolate our only star, hurt his trade value in the process, and then plan not to play him the rest of the season if we can get away with it. Good plan, guys. Just awesome. The Lakers and Celtics were both ready to back up a caravan of Brinks trucks to get Davis, and it was insane not to take it now. Instead they are stuck in a painful purgatory, and nothing good can happen.
Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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