The NBA Trade Deadline has come and gone, with teams agreeing to a flurry of trades in an attempt to better position themselves for the remainder of the season. Each year, some teams benefit exponentially from the deals they make, while others experience serious regret. Let’s take an early look at who we believe are the winners and losers of this year’s deadline.
WINNER: New York Knicks
The New York Knicks are loaded and ready to contend. Adding OG Anunoby back in December was an excellent move — though the former Raptor is set to miss the next few weeks following elbow surgery. In that deal, the Knicks sacrificed a bit of depth to secure a lockdown defender. On the day of the deadline, New York replenished its rotation with a pair of sharpshooting wings.
Bojan Bogdanovic adds a dynamic scoring option to a team that already boasts the league’s best defense. Over his last two seasons with the Pistons, Bogdanovic has played in 87 games and averaged 21.1 PPG on 41.3-percent three-point shooting. They also added Alec Burks, who has shot over 40-percent from beyond the arc in each of the past four seasons.
New York gained two strong rotation players while only needing to send out Quentin Grimes (who saw his playing time diminish this season), two second-round picks, and three other players who never saw the floor (Evan Fournier, Malachi Flynn, and Ryan Arcidiacono). Once Anunoby and Julius Randle return, this Knicks team will be a legitimate threat to come out of the Eastern Conference.
LOSER: Detroit Pistons
The Pistons haven’t stopped losing since the season began. Detroit went on a 28-game losing streak earlier this year. They dished out a record-breaking deal to hire Monty Williams, and are still in last place with a 7-43 record. Williams’ tactics have been questionable, to say the least, as he’s routinely shunned the younger talent in favor of veterans.
Perhaps the moves they made at the deadline will open developmental opportunities for other players on the roster. However, this is what the Pistons should have done months ago. There was no reason Bogdanovic, Burks, or the recently-released Killian Hayes should have been playing over Jaden Ivey, Ausar Thompson or Marcus Sasser.
It took Detroit’s front office all the way until February to realize this. And, what did they get for their patience? Evan Fournier’s expiring contract, Quentin Grimes, and a couple of measly second-round picks. Just awful organizational awareness from arguably the most poorly ran team in the Association.
WINNER: Dallas Mavericks
Dallas beefed up its front court with two major additions. The play of first-year center Dereck Lively has been promising, but the Mavs would almost certainly prefer to not rely on a rookie once the playoffs begin. Washington was an obvious trade partner for contending teams, and the Mavericks swooped in and snagged their big man, Daniel Gafford.
The Arkansas product is a proven rim protector who finishes everything around rim. Gafford ranks seventh in the league in blocks per game (2.2) and second in field-goal percentage (69.0-percent). Now, he goes from catching lobs from Jordan Poole and Kyle Kuzma to being the recipient of passes from Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving.
Not too long after that, Dallas agreed to a second deal, this time for Charlotte’s P.J. Washington. Washington has played a number of roles for the Hornets over the past five seasons. He’s been a starter, he’s come off the bench, and he’s even played some small-ball center despite being listed at 6-foot-7. While his outside shot has declined in recent years, Washington can do a little bit of everything and is another capable defender to put alongside Dallas’ two dynamo guards.
LOSER: Milwaukee Bucks
Adding Patrick Beverley was a smart move by the Bucks. Milwaukee was in desperate need of perimeter defense. The Lillard-Beasley backcourt has obvious limitations on that end. With Beverley, he can slide next to either of Milwaukee’s starting guards and take on the more difficult defensive matchup. He’ll be free to play aggressively on that end of the floor with two All-Defensive teammates (Giannis Antetokounmpo and Brook Lopez) flanking him.
Still, the Bucks failed to address their most glaring issue — age. If Beverley does crack the starting lineup due to his defense, we’d be looking at a starting five (Lillard-Beverley-Middleton-Antetokounmpo-Lopez) whose youngest player is in his 11th NBA season. Milwaukee could be trotting out a backcourt with a 33 and 35-year-old against the Jalen Brunson’s, Tyrese Maxey’s and Donovan Mitchell’s of the world. The Bucks not trading away one of their recent draft picks — who have barely played at all since Doc Rivers took over — for a younger, more athletic defensive option could cost them a postseason series.
LOSER: Los Angeles Lakers
Despite countless rumors and speculation, the Lakers decided to stand pat at the deadline and not make any moves. Of course, making no moves is better than making a bad move — the Lakers learned this the hard way when they traded for Russell Westbrook in ’21. Though, this team — as currently constructed — is not fit to compete for an NBA title. And, when you have LeBron James and Anthony Davis (both healthy and playing at All-NBA levels), that has to be considered a loss.
The Lakers didn’t have a whole lot of moves at their disposal. However, adding a perimeter defender with the loss of Jarred Vanderbilt should have been a priority. Even bringing back a familiar face like Dennis Schröder would have helped on that end of the floor. Trading away D’Angelo Russell didn’t make any sense given his recent play and reputation around the league. It wasn’t a completely disastrous deadline for the Lakers, but it was certainly disappointing.
WINNER: Oklahoma City Thunder
The Thunder didn’t have to do anything splashy at the deadline. Currently tied atop the Western Conference, this group is already ahead of schedule and stocked with picks for years to come. Still, acquiring a veteran like Gordon Hayward for a modest price was a shrewd move by one of the savviest front offices in the league.
Hayward’s name doesn’t carry the same cache as it once did. Injuries have ravaged the 33-year-old veteran who hasn’t played over 52 games in a season since 2019. Still, he remains a solid all-around player who can shoot, pass, and knows how to play the game. He’s an excellent insurance policy for a young team with postseason aspirations. Hayward won’t back down in any matchup, and won’t be an intrusive fit next to OKC’s young stars.
LOSER: Chicago Bulls
Chicago’s front office once again proved its ineptitude in yet another puzzling trade deadline. The Bulls have been spiraling for the past few seasons. They’ve had plenty of chances to enter a rebuild, but have refused to accept their fate. Reportedly, the team made defensive-minded guard Alex Caruso untouchable. DeMar DeRozan was inexplicably kept despite being an impending free agent who could chose to leave in the offseason. DeRozan certainly could have helped a number of contenders. Same goes for Nikola Vucevic who is on a fairly team-friendly deal for the next three seasons. Zach Lavine was predictably kept after electing for season-ending surgery.
Coby White’s ascension this year was the perfect gateway for Chicago to usher in a new era. Building around the UNC product should have been a lay-up for this organization. Trade away all the veterans for more pieces, and give all of their minutes to the youngsters already on the team. Instead, the Bulls are content with fighting for a play-in spot…for seemingly the rest of eternity.
WINNER: Phoenix Suns
The Suns did a trade like how somebody would do it on NBA 2K — bundle up a bunch of C-level players for one B-level player. Phoenix was actually applauded this offseason for the way they built the roster around their three stars with limited resources. Most of those players were shipped out during today’s deadline deal. Phoenix sent out Keita Bates-Diop, Yuta Watanabe, Chimezie Metu, and Jordan Goodwin in a three-team trade which netted the Suns wings Royce O’Neale and David Roddy.
O’Neale is exactly the type of role player the Suns desperately needed. When Grayson Allen — who has played extremely well for Phoenix this season — is a bit undersized for a particular matchup, Phoenix can now shift to O’Neale who has more experience guarding bigger players. He’s a 39-percent three-point shooter who can attack closeouts and dish the ball (3.4 APG over last two seasons). Roddy is a big body who will round out the end of Phoenix’s bench. The Suns are ready to make a statement in the Western Conference now that their three starters are healthy and playing well together.
LOSER: Golden State Warriors
The Warriors (mostly) stood pat at the deadline, a sign of acceptance that the season is already lost. Their lone move was trading away Cory Joseph into Indiana’s cap space. The veteran guard drew the ire of Warriors fans as he was seemingly one of Steve Kerr’s favored options during a disastrous campaign. Klay Thompson is staying (as expected), and so is Andrew Wiggins (less expected). Additionally, they opted to hold onto Chris Paul’s expiring contract as he rehabs a hand injury.
Golden State is headed nowhere this season. The team is currently 11th in the Western Conference and out of the play-in picture. Thompson and Wiggins — two of the team’s starters — are enduring career-low seasons. Draymond Green missed half of the year because he couldn’t stop striking opponents. And, Kerr seems to have lost his grasp as the rest of the league has caught up to his motion offense. The Warriors desperately needed something to change at this deadline, but it appears they are prepared to face their ultimate demise head-on.
WINNER: Los Angeles Clippers…?
Fans were left a bit underwhelmed with the quality and quantity of deals that were made at the deadline. The biggest deal that was agreed upon Thursday was likely New York acquiring Bojan Bogdanovic. That’s a far cry from deadline deals we’ve seen in past years. However, there’s a reason for that. Most of the bigger deals already occurred. Just in the last few weeks, we saw Terry Rozier, Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby all get dealt.
The James Harden trade happened all the way back on Halloween, and remains the most impactful transaction of the year. The Clippers have been on a tear since the New Year, rising up the Western Conference standings and emerging as a legitimate NBA Finals contender. Though they didn’t acquire any new players on Thursday, the Clippers were definitely huge beneficiaries from a trade this season.