Above photo: Isaiah Thomas (right) was traded for the fourth time in his NBA career on Thursday. Courtesy of Keith Allison
By Jeffrey Waitkevich and Alexander Eubanks
The NBA trade deadline is here, and it felt more like an NBA trade dudline.
Aside from the Cleveland Cavaliers cleaning house, there weren’t any big moves. The one big move happened last week.
Regardless, here’s your breakdown of every trade that happened on a busy Thursday.
Los Angeles Clippers trade Blake Griffin, Willie Reed and Brice Johnson to the Detroit Pistons for Avery Bradley, Tobias Harris, Boban Marjanovic, a 2018 first-round pick and a 2019 second-round pick.
Jeff: The first move of the deadline season was also the biggest. It was also the only blockbuster trade (sorry, IT). Griffin gives Detroit some star power, and Harris, Bradley, and that first-round pick that will likely end up in the teens will give the Clippers something to build with. Harris is coming off the best season of his career. I bet this makes the Magic feel great after trading Harris for Brandon Jennings and Ersan Ilyasova around this time two years ago. Also, “Bobi and Tobi” stay together, which is a fun storyline.
Alex: While not finished on deadline day, and we actually have games played to work with, this really looks like a stellar deal for Detroit. While Blake’s solid shooting numbers haven’t made the trip from LA to Detroit, the Pistons are 4-0 with him on the roster and his passing has been stellar. He’s averaging over six assists a game and his turnovers are way down. Stan Van Gundy had to do something if he wanted to keep his job, and he might have done it. The Clippers, on the other hand, got a surprisingly solid return for their star. Seeing as they made no moves to tank, even though they should have dumped Bradley, this is a quality return. Hopefully, the new-look Clippers pull something off this offseason.
Bulls trade Nikola Mirotic and 2018 second-round pick to Pelicans for Omer Asik, Tony Allen, Jameer Nelson and a 2018 first-round pick.
Alex: We really shouldn’t give Dell Demps props for scamming the Bulls and Kings. It’s like robbing a 5-year-old. With that said, dumping Omer Asik probably would have cost a first rounder on it’s own. The Pelicans did that and picked up a really solid piece in Mirotic.
Jeff: The Pelicans needed scoring after DeMarcus Cousins went down for the season with an achilles injury. Mirotic will fill that void as well as the Pelicans can hope considering the circumstances. This trade would look even better if they weren’t outbid in the Greg Monroe sweepstakes. The Bulls got a first-rounder out of Mirotic. That’s a move that really packs a punch.
Milwaukee Bucks trade Rashad Vaughn and a 2018 second-round pick to the Brooklyn Nets for Tyler Zeller. Nets trade Vaughn to New Orleans Pelicans for Dante Cunningham.
Alex: Why the Nets felt they needed Dante Cunningham, is beyond me, but they got a second-rounder out of it, so I guess the game plan of hoarding draft picks is still on. Bucks fans thought they were getting DeAndre Jordan; instead, they’re getting the worse Zeller brother. Congrats.
Jeff: Is it a trade deadline if a Zeller or Plumlee doesn’t get traded? Also, Vaughn has shown flashes of being an NBA-caliber player. Those flashes are just few and far between. If he can’t perform in New Orleans, he could be out of the league soon.
New York Knicks trade Willy Hernangomez to the Charlotte Hornets for Johnny O’Bryant, a 2020 second-round pick and a 2021 second-round pick.
Alex: So the Hornets are just gonna run with Howard, Kaminsky, Hernangomez and the better Zeller as a center rotation while Jeremy Lamb and sometimes Nic Batum are the only two guards on the roster? Someone tell Jordan to fix his team. This is getting rough.
Jeff: Hernangomez wanted out of New York; it happened. This isn’t a great landing spot, but he should create some competition among the big men, and it should help everyone involved.
Chicago Bulls trade Jameer Nelson and a 2022 second-round pick to the Detroit Pistons for Willie Reed and a 2022 second-round pick.
Jeff: SVG and Nelson reunite after the Dwightmare. This is a good move on all accounts. Nelson can help provide leadership and depth, and he doesn’t have to play for the Bulls. He also provides value in the aftermath of the Griffin trade as Reed didn’t really fit with Detroit. Chicago also adds another young big man who can stick around through the rebuild, or not. It doesn’t really matter; low risk, low reward.
Alex: The second round picks and where they move in a few years than it is seeing what the players do.
Cleveland Cavaliers trade Isaiah Thomas, Channing Frye and a 2018 first-round pick to the Los Angeles Lakers for Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr.
Jeff: The Cavaliers traded a first-round pick that wasn’t the coveted Nets pick. That is good and bad news. It’s good because they can still use it; bad, because they didn’t use it to get any better in what could be LeBron’s last season with the team. Clarkson and Nance won’t radically change the Cavaliers on paper, but they could help bring back the winning culture and the team cleaned house in favor on younger, more athletic players. The future of LA will be fun. LaVar Ball’s remarks when Thomas takes Lonzo’s playing time will be a treat. Prepare for the best drama in Hollywood since the Kardashians became a thing. Frye also ended his Instagram farewell with “word of advice: don’t go 0-for-6 or they’ll trade your ass.” That was a treat.
Alex: Wow. Granted Thomas has been one of the worst basketball players I’ve seen this year, I can’t believe the Cavaliers would just pull the plug on this experiment after 15 games. While, I guess this makes the Cavaliers better today, does this really help going forward? If you’re a Celtics fan, are you now more or less excited to get the Cavs in the playoffs? Despite Thomas looking like a G-Leaguer lately, I couldn’t imagine the Cavs getting out of the Eastern Conference unless Thomas returned to his old form. This really lowers the Cavs’ ceiling. I like Nance as a player, but I don’t think he’s anything more than a decent backup, and Clarkson’s style as a bench scorer can really struggle in the playoffs. This is getting sad for IT He’s about to be backing up a Ball brother and he was talking about getting a max contract just six months ago; he would be lucky to get a mid-level exception at this point. Pour one out for Thomas, because when LeBron goes to the Lakers in four months, you already know he isn’t going to let him get re-signed.
Memphis Grizzlies trade James Ennis to the Detroit Pistons for Brice Johnson and a 2018 second-round pick.
Alex: James Ennis might be the Pistons best wing player. I’m not joking; check the Pistons depth chart.It’s not pretty.
Jeff: This is just one of those “meh” trades. Ennis is a fringe NBA player, but he’s athletic and should be fun in Lob City 2.0.
Atlanta Hawks trade Luke Babbitt to the Miami Heat for Okaro White.
Alex: RIP 13-Okaro, your status as fanbase meme will never be forgotten. This could help Miami though if Olynyk’s injuries are worse than the Heat are letting on, which they have a long history of. Babbitt played well for Miami last season; he shot over 40 percent from deep last year and has kept that up in his short stint with Atlanta.
Jeff: The welcome back train to Miami is full. This is a decent trade. Babbitt was solid before, and he should be solid some more.
Cleveland Cavaliers receive Rodney Hood and George Hill, the Utah Jazz receive Derrick Rose and Jae Crowder and the Sacramento Kings receive Joe Johnson and Iman Shumpert in a three-team trade.
Jeff: Cleveland dumped Rose on someone. That’s a plus. They also swapped Crowder, who might not even be good, for an athletic wing scorer. That’s another plus. They got a point guard who can defend and doesn’t have an affliction for ball-hogging. That’s three pluses. But they lost Shumpert’s rapping talents. That’s a negative. This deal doesn’t make much sense for Utah because they already lack scoring and Crowder won’t provide a ton of that, but this team is a better fit for the forward, so he should be able to return to his Boston form. Or he’ll continue to prove Mavericks fans right and still be bad. And, hey, the Kings got another old legend, barring that he doesn’t get bought out, with a great nickname (Joe Jesus) to pair with Vince “VC” Carter and Zach “Z-Bo” Randolph. Rose will be released and is likely to end up in Minnesota. Thibs is going to Thibs until he has every former-Bull on his roster.
Alex: The Cavs turned Kyrie Irving and their first-round pick into the Brooklyn Nets’ first-round pick, Hood, Clarkson, Hill and Nance. Sheesh. Hill’s been killing it shooting the long ball this year and he and Hood already showed they’re a solid backcourt when paired together. I really think they could help the Cavs more than the pair of former Lakers . The fact that the Cavs acquired them and only gave up Rose (who quit on the team for a few weeks), Crowder (who is terrible) and Shumpert (who might be a better rapper than basketball player) is massive. Also, seeing where Iso Joe (how did you not choose Iso Joe as his best nickname?) ends up after he gets bought out is going to be very interesting, because as he showed last season he can still perform in the postseason.
Cleveland Cavaliers trade Dwyane Wade to the Miami Heat for a second-round pick.
Alex: I’m probably one of the few Heat fans who hate this trade. I get the value in picking up Wade for a 12-year-old, but I can’t imagine how this works. Goran Dragic, Justise Winslow, James Johnson, Tyler Johnson, Josh Richardson and Wade are all ball-dominant players who are less effective off the ball. Wade isn’t anywhere near the player he once was and he can’t score with the ease he did, and with the way Pat Riley described it, it doesn’t seem like he’s going to be asked to take a backseat to anyone. I get Pat Riley loves praising himself and #HeatCulture, but nothing is changing the fact that this is a roster without any direction, future stars, cap space, draft picks or any real shot of getting past the second round of the playoffs.
Jeff: This move just feels right. Wade didn’t deserve all the rigamarole in Cleveland. He also didn’t belong behind Clarkson in rotation. Who cares about fit? The man who turned Dade County into Wade County is back.
Toronto Raptors trade Bruno Caboclo to the Sacramento Kings for Malachi Richardson.
Jeff: This is heartbreaking because the Kings plan on releasing Caboclo. Three years ago, Fran Franschilla said that Caboclo was only two years away from being two years away. Now, he’s only one year away. Hopefully, that doesn’t mean one year away from being out of the league. Richardson is a fine young pickup for the Raptors, but he doesn’t really move the needle. He was almost traded for Mario Hezonja when the Croatian was bad (or less bad, depending who you ask).
Alex: Caboclo will always live on in our hearts, and that’s what really matters. If Richardson continues the Raptors’ trend of finding young quality bench players, they could really be onto something. Also, Super Mario has had a really decent last five games. Keep hope alive.
New York Knicks receive Emmanuel Mudiay and a second-round pick from Denver, the Dallas Mavericks will receive Doug McDermott, and the Denver Nuggets will receive Devin Harris and a 2018 second-round pick from New York in three-team trade.
Jeff: After being rumored to be looking to acquire Elfrid Payton, the Knicks definitely found a higher-upside player in Mudiay. The Nuggets picked up a solid veteran who can provide consistency in the second unit. As for the Mavericks, McDermott is a pretty mediocre player, but he’s young enough and a good enough scorer to be worth picking up. The move also gets rid of one of the many point guards in Dallas’s backcourt.
Alex: Are we sure Mudiay has more upside than Payton? This is an OK trade for everyone involved. For a long time, Denver has l needed t a solid ball-handler to take some of the weight off of Jokic and Murray Harris can be a placeholder for the rest of the season, when Denver can bring in a real point guard (what up Kemba?). Dallas gets an OK wing who’s good at shooting but can’t play defense (Carlisle will definitely love that), and the Knicks get another young player to add to their core around Porzingis (send up the prayer emojis for Porzingis and his knee) to build around.
Portland Trailblazers will trade Noah Vonleh and cash considerations to the Chicago Bulls for the rights to Milocan Rakovic and a $3.5 million traded player exception.
Alex: Shouts to Neil Olshey for getting the Blazers under the Luxury Tax; way to clean up your mess.
Jeff: Ah, the good old return of cash considerations and the rights to a foreign player. It’s like cookies and milk on Christmas. Vonleh could also provide some value in the future for the Bulls. If he doesn’t, it’s still a low risk move to fill the gap left behind by Nikola Mirotic.
Washington Wizards are trading Sheldon Mac to the Atlanta Hawks for a future second-round pick
Jeff: Who? Is this Shelvin Mack’s burner account?
Alex: The sad thing is he might not even be the worst player on the Hawks.
Orlando Magic trade Elfrid Payton to the Phoenix Suns for a 2018 second-round pick.
Alex: This is one of my favorite trades of the day, if I’m being honest. The Suns finished 28th in defensive rating last season,. They’ve somehow gotten worse and are currently last in the NBA. Elfrid Payton isn’t without his flaws, but he could help the Suns get out of the NBA cellar and provide some ball handling, who are without a starting-caliber point guard.
Jeff: Payton didn’t fit in John Hammond’s plans for the future. Quite honestly, only Jonathan Isaac and Jonathon Simmons really fit into what he wants. It was also rumored that nearly everyone else was on the trading block. It would have been nice to see Evan Fournier and Nikola Vucevic net some return as well, but someone has to lead the charge toward the number one pick in the draft. Either way, this trade is good because the Magic got some return for a player who wasn’t likely to remain with Orlando after this season.