This year’s NBA trade deadline didn’t feature much in the way of star power, as teams instead spent the deadline hunting for depth improvements and ways to bolster their rosters for the playoff push rather than completely shake them up.
That said, the lack of big activity meant there were opportunities to make moves on the edges to improve rosters while much of the league stayed put. Figuring out winners and losers this year was a bit tricky, because there didn’t seem to be a ton of opportunities to make a big swing, as everyone seems intent on saving those moves for the summer now. That said, there were teams with clear needs at the deadline and only some of them addressed them. Others that were supposed to be big players at the deadline were left without a dance partner, while some top teams still managed to find some smaller upgrades to bolster their position for the playoff chase.
So, who won and lost the 2024 NBA Trade Deadline? Let’s dive in…
New York Knicks
The Knicks already had been the stars of trade season with their acquisition of OG Anunoby earlier in the year, sparking their run up the standings, but they continued to bolster their roster at the deadline by way of the Detroit Pistons. New York brought in Bojan Bogdanovic and Alec Burks for Quentin Grimes, Evan Fournier, Malachi Flynn, Ryan Arcidiacono, and two second round picks, giving them some additional depth and shooting on the wing without parting with any of their best draft assets.
Losing Grimes is not nothing, and they certainly gave up some long-term upside in the deal for what they hope is a short-term boost. Defensively they got worse, but Grimes was playing just 20 minutes a night and similarly to the Anunoby deal, giving up some talent that didn’t necessarily fit Tom Thibodeau’s vision to get vets that do makes sense for the Knicks. Bogdanovic will provide some needed floor-spacing and secondary shot-creation on the wing, although he’ll need to be paired with the Knicks best defensive groups to work. Burks is a vet who has played for Thibs and the Knicks recently and should slot into a lower-usage role in New York than he was playing in Detroit, where his value as a spot-up shooter will be valuable and some of his issues as an on-ball player will be mitigated.
To be clear, the Knicks didn’t make a massive leap at the deadline, but they did make some improvements (while maintaining flexibility for this summer) which is more than can be said about most of the East’s top teams. If nothing else, after years of lacking any sort of coherent vision or plan, New York at least has identified the path it wants to take as an organization and keeps making moves that push that vision along, which is a win for fans that have wanted that for so long.
The NBA’s longest active trade request has finally come to an end as Furkan Korkmaz was included in the deal between the Sixers and Pacers that brought Buddy Hield back to Philly. Korkmaz has been trying to get traded for five years now, asking to be included just about every time the Sixers are on the market for a deal but continued to be employed in Philadelphia. Now, he finally gets his wish and is joining the Pacers, although it’s hard to see him having much of a larger role in Indy than he had with the Sixers. Still, perseverance pays off and Furkan has finally been freed.
UPDATE: Korkmaz has been waived by the Pacers, so…maybe not a winner.
ESPN Sources: The Pacers are waiving Furkan Korkmaz, who they acquired in the deal with the 76ers for Buddy Hield.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 8, 2024
I include the Mavs in the winners category because I think they made their team undoubtedly better at the deadline, but I certainly understand those that aren’t thrilled with the process that got them here. Dallas effectively undid a large chunk of its offseason and had to unload a pair of first round picks (and swap 2028 picks with OKC) in order to right the wrongs of this summer, so it’s not as if this was some dominant deadline by them. That said, P.J. Washington and Daniel Gafford certainly seem like considerable upgrades in the frontcourt to what they’ve gotten this year from Grant Williams and Richaun Holmes.
Dallas desperately needed another center behind rookie Dereck Lively II, and Gafford fits a similar role as Lively that should allow the Mavs to play a similar style no matter what center is on the floor. Gafford is not as tall as Lively but is still a good rim protector (2.2 blocks per game) and is very bouncy and active on that end — he graded out positively on the defensive end in most metrics this year despite [gestures at everything else in Washington]. On offense, he’s not a deft post-scorer but he’s a great play finisher, which is the exact kind of center you want with Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving. Gafford is a very good roll man and vertical spacer, and should provide another lob threat for Luka and Kyrie to throw it up to. That archetype has worked very well for the Mavs with Lively, and adding another at a relatively low cost to have 48 minutes of solid center play that fits your needs is an upgrade for the Mavs.
Washington is an interesting player with some upside who is having a down shooting year in Charlotte but historically has been able to space the floor at the four and has some defensive versatility. That, of course, was also the idea with signing Grant Williams this offseason, but aside from a solid year as a spot-up shooter, Williams did not pan out in his first season with Dallas. They quickly chose to flip him into Washington, who is on a smaller deal with two more years left after this one, and hope that he’ll find more comfort playing alongside Luka and company. On the whole, Dallas is better but gave up some future flexibility (and trade assets) to make it happen. That’s the cost of missing on an offseason of moves with expectations to compete now, and they’ll hope they remedied those mistakes on Thursday and can get back in the contender realm of the West.
The Celtics also did some nice work on the fringes at the deadline, adding Xavier Tillman from the Grizzlies as another strong and versatile defending big and picking up Jaden Springer for a second round pick from the Sixers. The Tillman pickup is a bit of a luxury add for a Boston team that isn’t desperate for frontcourt help but it certainly doesn’t hurt to add some insurance for both Kristaps Porzingis and Al Horford. Mostly, the Celtics are winners cause no one really closed the gap on them at the deadline.
Without any star movement, the only team that clearly got better at the deadline in the East was the New York Knicks. Philly was fairly active — Buddy Hield is a nice addition for them but I’m not particularly high on the Cam Payne for Patrick Beverley swap — but they failed to address their frontcourt issues, which is a considerable issue with Embiid out for awhile. The Bucks adding Beverley makes a lot of sense given their awful perimeter defense, but that’s doesn’t feel like a needle-mover in terms of being a contender and they didn’t address their needs on the wing at all. The Cavs unsurprisingly stayed put having made their moves this offseason and are banking on getting healthy being their midseason upgrade. All told, the Celtics still feel like the class of the East by a decent margin and made some solid moves on the periphery, which makes them a winner.
Oklahoma City Thunder, Minnesota Timberwolves, and Phoenix Suns
Like Boston, none of these teams made ground-shaking moves, but each bolstered their roster while seeing other contenders in their conference stand pat. OKC adding a veteran wing in Gordon Hayward and clearing out some of their backcourt bloat on the roster (while doing some more vintage Presti stuff by moving a pick this year for a future pick swap with Dallas) was a nice move to consolidate a bit of talent and hope Hayward can help out in a smaller role than he played in Charlotte. The Wolves likewise take two players that were mostly out of the rotation and add Monte Morris, who has proven to be helpful on a playoff team in the past, to backup Mike Conley and give them steady point guard minutes for all 48. The Suns flip a bunch of their end of the rotation guys for Royce O’Neale, who is an upgrade on the wing in terms of two-way help provided he can pick up his three-point shooting when surrounded by more talent, and David Roddy (who probably isn’t a factor but will be a body to replace some of the guys on the way out).
They were all solid moves on a quiet day, and improving the roster when others didn’t is a win at a slow deadline.
The “Did The Most Stuff” Award Winners
I have no idea what the Pistons are doing, but they were definitely active over the last 24 hours. They spent Wednesday and Thursday smashing a big button that says TRADE and no one seems quite sure what the plan is in Detroit. I don’t want to call them losers, because to be honest, there’s not a whole lot more to lose and I think some of what they did was understandable. It’s just, similar to what I mentioned with the Knicks, they’re in that zone of seemingly just pressing buttons and hoping for a good outcome, rather than having a cohesive plan for constructing this roster.
First they traded a second round pick (that should be quite good) and Kevin Knox to the Jazz for Simone Fontecchio. They then traded Monte Morris to Minnesota for Shake Milton, Troy Brown Jr. and a second round pick. After that they flipped Bojan Bogdanovic and Alec Burks into Quentin Grimes and two second round picks from the Knicks — respectfully, I can’t see Evan Fournier, Malachi Flynn, or Ryan Arcidiacono being contributors this year or beyond. They also traded for Danuel House and a second rounder, waiving House immediately, and waived Joe Harris and Killian Hayes to make room for all the players they brought in.
On aggregate, they added three second round picks and a couple interesting players in Grimes and Fontecchio (the latter of whom they will have to re-sign this summer as a restricted free agent) and cleared up any questions about who their backcourt of the future is by giving Cade Cunningham and Jaden Ivey the keys. That, in and of itself, is a positive and why I don’t want to call it a terrible deadline or anything. That said, the second they gave up will be better than any of the ones they added, and given they were reportedly turning down first round picks for Bogdanovic a year ago and asking for one again this year, it seems they overplayed their hand with his trade value and ultimately had to settle for what they could get. It wasn’t a disaster, which is why they get their own space in between the winners and losers, but the plan in Detroit still isn’t particularly clear.
Atlanta Hawks and Chicago Bulls
As is now an annual tradition, the Hawks and Bulls were focal points of trade rumors for months and then did pretty much nothing at the deadline. We’ll start with an Atlanta team that was very clear in their intention to trade Dejounte Murray, only to fail to find the market they hoped for him. They reportedly talked to the Lakers, Pelicans, Raptors, and others, but could not get the two first rounders in return they wanted for the former All-Star. Not only that, they’ve been trying to move Clint Capela and De’Andre Hunter since the offseason, and again failed to find a trade partner. Now the Hawks will again push for a Play-In berth and maybe a first round appearance before the same rumors pick up this summer around the Draft. They did it with John Collins for years (and long before that, Josh Smith), and it seems one of the few constants of the organization is dangling key players publicly in trade rumors only to hold onto them by insisting the right deal wasn’t out there. That’s fine, but it certainly doesn’t help locker room morale to hear your name constantly in trade rumblings and don’t know if or when you’ll be dealt to ensure ownership can duck the luxury tax.
Then you have the Bulls, who haven’t made a deadline deal involving a player since 2021 despite similarly being heavily involved in rumors each January and February. This year they have a little cover in the form of Zach LaVine’s foot surgery, but even before that it seemed they were unlikely to move their All-Star guard. There were whispers about Nikola Vucevic and DeMar DeRozan, murmurs about Alex Caruso, and damn near shouting about Andre Drummond, but all four will be on the floor for Chicago in their next game against Memphis. Running it back loses its luster after awhile, and despite a decent run of late, you’d be hard-pressed to find many Bulls fans excited about the overall team’s prospects going forward — even if Coby White’s leap is genuinely exciting. Arturas Karnisovas even said the Bulls had the greenlight to go into a rebuild from ownership, but have decided to “remain competitive” in the East, sitting at that famously competitive record of 24-27 on the season.
Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State Warriors
The Lakers and Warriors are the same teams they were a week ago, which comes as a bit of a surprise given how things have been going. It’s not a shock given the reporting we’ve heard over the past few days, but that also doesn’t make a dud of a deadline any more palatable to fans (or stars) on either team. LeBron James has been making his displeasure known in a vintage, passive-aggressive manner of late, with cryptic tweets and walking off the floor with a Knicks towel draped around his neck after a win at Madison Square Garden. Stephen Curry, meanwhile, offered the definition of insanity in response to questions about his desire to see the Warriors make improvements, offering a rare glimpse at his own frustrations with Golden State’s struggles this year.
And yet, neither star got any reinforcements at the deadline, with the Lakers not making any moves and the Warriors only shipping out Cory Joseph for a pick. Both teams will sell it as them keeping their options open for this summer and both will probably look to make a buyout signing — the Lakers are expected to chase Spencer Dinwiddie — but I’m not sure that’s enough consolation for their stars who don’t particularly care about future flexibility. The truth is, there wasn’t a singular deal that could solve all the issues both rosters have, but doing nothing certainly seems like throwing in the towel on the season.
On the whole, Toronto has made clear their plans for the future are to build around Scottie Barnes. They made their big moves, trading OG Anunoby and Pascal Siakam, well before the deadline and I think they did solidly in those deals all things considered. However, what they did at the deadline wasn’t my absolute favorite.
I know this isn’t a great draft and they didn’t trade a great pick, but they must really believe in Ochai Agbaji or be determined to acquire all the Canadians by bringing in Kelly Olynyk. The part that makes the least sense to me about the trade with the Jazz is the Olynyk portion. The veteran big is a helpful player on an expiring, but Toronto is a team that seems determined to tank out the season to retain their top-6 protected pick that would otherwise go to the Spurs this summer. I’m fine taking a swing on Agbaji — they need shooting and that was his whole upside in the draft two years ago even if it’s not panned out in limited action in Utah — but I’m just not sure about the Olynyk addition fitting with either their short or long-term goals.
They then dumped Dennis Schroder’s salary on Brooklyn for Spencer Dinwiddie and released him, which makes more sense for the tanking efforts, but certainly isn’t a particularly great deal. Again, in terms of trade season as a whole, the Raptors have at least picked a direction which I can appreciate and added some talent and draft assets that certainly didn’t appear to be available at the deadline. That said, with regards to the deadline itself, their moves didn’t make a ton of sense with the short-term plans, with the caveat that if Agbaji pops it was all worth it.