The 2020 NBA trade deadline has come and gone, and it was a far more eventful deadline day than most anticipated, with some deals thought to be dead coming to fruition (D’Angelo Russell to the Timberwolves) and others springing out of nowhere (Andre Drummond to the Cavs).
Those deals, combined with moves that took place over the rest of the week, saw some significant shifts take place around the league and, as such, it’s time to survey the winners and losers of the NBA’s trade season. Before we start, I’ll go ahead and address a few teams that don’t appear on the list.
The Sixers didn’t make the splashy move that people were hoping for, but really, without making a huge trade they didn’t have options to, so they took what they could get and it was fine but overall. The Lakers didn’t make a trade and while they missed out on Marcus Morris, they also didn’t overpay for him and remain in line to be the most coveted landing spot on the buyout market. The Rockets took a swing and I’ll be perfectly honest, I don’t know if it was a good or bad swing to go all in on small ball given the size in the rest of the West. They are the team I might be most fascinated by in the post-deadline world, but I don’t know if its for better or worse.
Memphis Grizzlies: The Grizzlies were given a first-round pick to take Andre Iguodala, a player who had never even reported to the city of Memphis, and then turned Iguodala, Jae Crowder, and Solomon Hill into Justise Winslow, a good young player that fits their timeline, Gorgui Dieng (via Minnesota for James Johnson), and Dion Waiters, who is an expiring. The Grizzlies have gone from a team with almost nothing but question marks one year ago when they moved Marc Gasol to Toronto, to a potentially way ahead of schedule playoff team with a young core led by the presumed Rookie of the Year who now has a core of 25-and-unders around him. This positions Memphis as the best young team in the NBA among all the various rebuilds happening. That’s impressive, and they also inked Dillon Brooks to a contract extension that seems to be an excellent value going forward. Good job, Memphis.
Andre Iguodala: The man played golf for six months, sold some books, didn’t have to report to the team, got traded to Miami (where there’s great golf), somehow got an extension that’ll guarantee him $15 million more next year, and is now on a contender in the East. Kings stay kings, and I’ll be damned if we don’t salute Andre for his fine work in finessing this season.
Atlanta Hawks: Speaking of young teams that helped themselves this deadline, the Hawks did well to land Clint Capela for the Nets first-round pick they had (which should be just outside the lottery) and Evan Turner (who was not playing), as well as bringing Dewayne Dedmon back from Sacramento for Jabari Parker and Alex Len. They addressed the need they had at center, which behind Len was a rather dire situation, and showed Trae Young they are serious about getting him help without giving up any of their best current young players or draft assets in the process. The Hawks are better right now and still are in good shape to continue their build that they insist they won’t rush, appeasing ownership and Young while staying on Travis Schlenk’s preferred growth timeline.
New York Knicks: Kudos to Scott Perry for not screwing things up before new president Leon Rose takes over. The Knicks got a first-round pick and a quality wing in Moe Harkless for Marcus Morris, who, to be quite honest, was probably playing above his head this season. Beyond that, they didn’t do anything else, but not doing anything bad in New York is better than usual and to do an actual good trade is downright celebration worthy in Manhattan.
Los Angeles Clippers: The goal of trades is always to have two teams that win, and in this case, I think that happened in the Clippers-Knicks deal. L.A. clearly doesn’t care about draft picks, and nor should they right now. This is about winning championships, and while I like Moe Harkless, Marcus Morris is an upgrade given what he’s done this season as a spot-up shooter — which the Clippers need more than another long, switchable defender. They gave up a first and Jerome Robinson for Morris and Isaiah Thomas, who is likely not going to stay with them, and beyond just getting Morris, they keep the Lakers from getting him, too. All of that together makes them a winner, because aside from Houston, they are the only Western Conference contender that made a splashy move and, unlike Houston, there seems to be far less risk involved in this trade.
Minnesota Timberwolves: The Wolves were going to be in the Losers column until Thursday morning when they resurrected trade talks with Golden State and managed to get D’Angelo Russell for a top-3 protected first in 2021, a second rounder, and Andrew Wiggins. The reason that makes them a winner isn’t because I love Russell and the fit — there are still tons of questions, particularly on the defensive end — but with Karl-Anthony Towns very publicly spiraling into frustration with the team, they had to get Russell after dealing Covington. They did that and didn’t give up the farm to do so, keeping KAT happy by bringing in his best friend. While I don’t know where the ceiling is for Russell, they upgraded their talent in the process and given where it looked like it could get to, it was an impressive turnaround late. Getting off Wiggins and Dieng opens up space for 2021, as well, and things are looking up in Minnesota.
Detroit Pistons: Zach Lowe mentioned on The Jump that the Pistons had resigned themselves to the fate of likely having to move Andre Drummond for less than a first-round pick after talks with the Hawks had fallen through. However, to do the deal with the Cavs so late and get so little, they weren’t even able to move off any of their actual potential assets. Derrick Rose, as a guard contenders would want, is still here, as is Luke Kennard, because talks with Phoenix fell through over pick protections. I don’t know what the plan is in Detroit going forward, but if a rebuild is on the horizon, they didn’t do anything substantial to position themselves better for that at this deadline.
Golden State Warriors: I’ll preface this by saying the Minnesota top-3 protected first for 2021 could end up being quite valuable, but given everything they gave up to be able to get Russell this summer — a first of their own and Iguodala, who became Justise Winslow (a player that would be very nice in Golden State) — I don’t love what they did here with him. Andrew Wiggins’ contract is, well, not great, and the money they now owe he and Draymond Green going forward is rather staggering. (I’m less worried about Steph Curry and Klay Thompson providing value on their deals.) The 2021 pick might be really good, but overall I just don’t feel like they needed to make this move now and the return they got for it wasn’t great.
Miami Heat: Maybe Iguodala still has more in the tank and this time off really did refresh him, but I think the Heat needed more than him, Crowder, and Hill to become actual challengers to the Bucks in the East. It hurts that they were not able to work out a deal for Danilo Gallinari as well, which was reported to be due to Gallo wanting a longer term extension than the Heat were willing to give because they don’t want to ruin their 2021 cap space. I think they gave up a lot of value in Justise Winslow for a player that I’m not totally sold pushes their ceiling that much higher. I think he helps them, but in short bursts, and this is a team that might just be dominating the regular season but won’t have an extra gear in the playoffs when the run into an elite team like Milwaukee, a la the 2018-19 Portland Trail Blazers.
Boston Celtics: Boston needed to upgrade their center rotation and didn’t. I know they weren’t going to give up their best players to do so and agree with that approach, but it’s hard to believe they couldn’t have done something to get a rim protector that they pretty desperately need. I think that comes back to haunt them come playoff time against some of the size that’s out there with the Bucks, Heat, and Sixers.
Denver Nuggets: Their portion of the massive four-team trade was fine, but the general assumption was it was the precursor to a bigger move. There were whispers as the deadline approached that they were poised to make a splash, but never did. While that’s not necessarily a disaster, this is a team that feels like they’re a tier behind the top of the West and needed to make a move here to get in the running.