Grading Every Trade Deadline Move
Going into this trade deadline, many people believed that there would be minimal movement, as this offseason does not have many big names worth making space for. But wow, we were wrong. There were some franchise altering moves, and tons of smaller ones that marginally help teams improve for now or the future. This deadline was hectic, unexpected and incredibly fun.
For my grading system, I will not only factor in the trade itself, but the moves that lead up to that trade and what the trade may have led to. For instance, if a player was given a massive contract, then sucks, and then that same team has to give up assets to move him, that will greatly decrease their grade. On the opposite, if a team gave up nearly nothing and got a solid asset that they then used to get even more assets, that can only help their grade. Anyways, let’s start the madness.
Houston Hates Centers
With a massive 12 player trade, Houston got their guy in Robert Covington, turning into a complete small ball roster. Covington’s 3-and-D skillset is hard to find in the NBA and he may be the best fitting wing available. After just one game it seems he is the perfect piece and the Rockets may have their closing lineup set. However, with the good comes the bad, and the Rockets now have no real centers. Yes, PJ Tucker will play center, but being 6’5” is too short to be feasible for four straight rounds to win the title. Sure, he looked fine against the Lakers in their first game without a traditional five, but I doubt this will last for the next four plus months. Regardless, if the Rockets do need a center, they freed up space in dumping Nene and Gerald Green to other teams, and while trading away a first seems dramatic, the Rockets rarely use their first round picks, and being in the 25-30 range will rarely get a player who can contribute to a title immediately. I do have to downgrade them a little as the largest factor for this trade was to reduce salary, as their owner seems reluctant to pay the tax, and trying to pinch pennies usually comes back to bite you.
ATL IN: Clint Capela, Nene (waived)
ATL OUT: Evan Turner, BRK 2020 1st, GSW 2026 2nd
I really like this move for Atlanta, as the only asset of value they gave up was what projects to be a first round pick in the mid-teens. Evan Turner has been horrid and a second round pick so far out is impossible to project, but getting a good starting center for essentially the 16th pick may be a steal. There is tons of speculation on John Collins’s future defensively, as it seems unlikely he can be a full time 5. Slide in Capela, and Collins now has a solidified position and Trae Young has another roll man to get more assists to. While Capela is under contract for a few years, I think it is still a good move, as Atlanta was not going to get anyone better for cheaper in free agency in the coming seasons.
I’m torn on this move, as the Timberwolves did get a good bit of assets, but I don’t know if they are really the best value for what they gave up. Robert Covington is a great player to place next to Towns, and Shabazz Napier was arguably their most consistent point guard this season, and the Wolves decided to let both go. While I really like Malik Beasley and Juan Hernangomez has had signs of being a good stretch four, both are free agents after this season, and it seems unlikely both will stay there. Tie this in with the Brooklyn pick only projecting to be in the 15-18 range, and there is no good long term piece they got for Covington nor Shabazz. Maybe they’ll keep Beasley as a scorer off the bench and they might find a solid player after the lottery to help build their future, but I don’t think they got enough for such a valuable player, and they would have benefitted more by keeping him.
DEN IN: Keita Bates-Diop, Shabazz Napier, Noah Vonleh, Gerald Green, 2020 HOU 1st
DEN OUT: Malik Beasley, Juan Hernangomez, Jarred Vanderbilt
I’m also confused by this move, as I am high on Beasley, and no asset they received is as valuable as him. I think this was a sign that Denver was not going to resign him, nor Hernangomez, plus Vanderbilt is more of a project than anything. Because of this, Denver decided to get a first where they probably would have received nothing if they waited. I do think Keita Bates-Diop can help, and Napier will build a great point guard duo with Monte Morris off the bench. With all that being said, nothing may be as good as Beasley, but getting a ton of assets with no real downside for a guy who was probably going to leave is a solid move.
Drummond is Worth a Bag of Chips
DET OUT: Andre Drummond
What the actual hell are the Pistons doing. Yes, Andre Drummond is not the perfect center. Yes, he may walk in free agency, and if he doesn’t, he is due nearly $30 million next year. Yes, they should get assets to rebuild. But guess what? They got nothing for him. Henson and Knight are fringe rotation guys who are both free agents after this year, and a least favorable 2023 2nd? C’mon man. If I knew the Pistons really wanted nothing for Drummond I would’ve called them and saw if I could offer $15 to let him play pickup with me on some weekly runs. And I get they need to cut salary and start fresh, but at the absolute worst, Drummond is only on contract through next season (if he accepts his player option). Meanwhile, Blake Griffin is on a massive contact for the next two seasons after this one, and with all his injury history, his best days are behind him. They traded the wrong guy and made no sense.
CLE IN: Andre Drummond
CLE OUT: Brandon Knight, John Henson, CLE/GSW (Least Favorable) 2023 2nd
Because I gave the Pistons an F, I must love this move for Cleveland, right? Wrong. While the Cavs are not pushing to win for a few years, so the salary cap is not a huge deal, they added their 4th guy whose best position is center, and they combine to make $87.2 million this year, and $71.8 million next year (if Drummond takes his player option). It just makes no sense. He does not fit on the team nor does he fit the timeline of their young point guards, and it feels that the Cavs are hoping he leaves this summer, or maybe he stays and hope that Tristan Thompson leaves. I will give them some credit for getting someone on a value, but considering the fit, I cannot give them a good grade.
Dewayne Dedmond is Coming Home
ATL IN: Dewayne Dedmond, HOU 2020 2nd, MIA 2021 2nd
Dedmond has turned himself into quite the unique center, being able to stretch the floor while protecting the rim. His best seasons came with Atlanta a few years prior, but left for a large contract with Sacramento. While Atlanta has to take on his 3 year/$40 million deal, Atlanta now has a good backup to Clint Capela to play 48 minutes of rim-rolling, shot blocking centers. Similar to Capela, I do not know if Atlanta would be able to get much better of a center than Dedmond without giving out a larger and uglier contract. Also, they got two second rounders, and while they might be pretty bad, they are still assets. While Jabari is having a nice season, if he accepts his player option, Atlanta would still have money on their books. Len is also having a fine season, but I see Dedmond as a better fit in the system.
SAC IN: Jabari Parker, Alex Len
SAC OUT: Dewayne Dedmond, HOU 2020 2nd, MIA 2021 2nd
Boy oh boy, the Kings messed up. By giving Dedmond such a large contract, and then realizing Richaun Holmes is a better player, they essentially threw out $40 million. To recover, they had to give up two seconds, and even if they are bad, they are still gone. Throw in that Jabari does not fit in the slightest on the Kings, it seems they are just wasting time and potential of their young pieces. Len may fit as a backup to Holmes, but even still, they downgraded there. I do like them clearing some space, but this is like putting out a fire that you set yourself. Good job, but now you have something burnt and you had to deal with all the crap of having a fire going on for a half season.
The Knicks did Something Smart?
LAC OUT: Mo Harkless, Jerome Robinson, LAC 2020 1st, 2021 1st Pick Swap (NYK), DET 2021 2nd
The Clippers got ANOTHER piece and while the assets seem large, I think it is justified. Harkless was having a decent season, but considering the Clippers received a first-round pick to take him on, that essentially cancels out the first they gave up. I highly doubt next year that the Knicks will be better than them, so the pick swap is pointless to them. The Detroit 2nd projects to be good, but were talking about a mid-30’s pick, and Jerome Robinson has been a mistake of a pick for the Clippers. So at the end of the day, they gave up a 2nd and Jerome Robinson for Marcus Morris, as IT has been waived. Morris projects to fit perfectly next to their other pieces, and given his size, I would not be surprised if the Clippers go to a true small ball lineup with Marcus at the 5. Overall I absolutely love this move for LA, as they got their guy for nothing of true long term value.
NYK IN: Mo Harkless, Issuf Sannon, LAC 2020 1st, 2021 1st Pick Swap (NYK), DET 2021 2nd
NYK OUT: Marcus Morris
This is exactly what I thought the Knicks should have done, and I really love this move. While Morris wanted to be in New York and was having a career year, he is not leading them to their goals. By going full tank, they are going to have a better pick while also picking up a late first this year and an early second next year. I really don’t know anything about Sannon, but the main value comes from two picks in the 25-35 ish range for a guy who only hurt their future, as he was far too good for a tanking team.
WAS IN: Jerome Robinson
WAS OUT: Isaiah Thomas, Issuf Sannon
Washington, welcome to tanking. It seems that the Wizards don’t care about this season and are focusing on working with John Wall for next year while picking up a solid player in this year’s draft. While IT is no longer a star, he is still a decent point guard who can help a team be successful. By moving him, the Wizards are punting on competent point guard play and taking a shot at a young guard who got no shine in Los Angeles. Maybe Robinson turns it around and looks good, but if he doesn’t this trade is kind of pointless. I do think they should tank, so this is a solid idea, but nothing spectacular.
Houston REALLY Hates Centers
HOU IN: Bruno Caboclo
HOU OUT: Jordan Bell, 2023 2nd (Swap Least Favorable with DAL and MIA)
It seems the Rockets had no idea who Jordan Bell was, then they saw next to his name CENTER and immediately felt sick to their stomach. They then gave away the 6’8” center for the 6’9” Brazilian KD and felt immediately better. I guess Caboclo fits better in their five-out system, as he did shoot 36.9% from deep last year, and his athleticism is exciting and useful. However, I do think the Rockets should have kept Bell as someone who is used to playing the five, but hey, they hate centers.
MEM IN: Jordan Bell, 2023 2nd (Swap Least Favorable with DAL and MIA)
MEM OUT: Bruno Caboclo
I am higher on Bell than Bruno, but at the end of the day, this is just shuffling chairs on the Titanic. The 2nd rounder they got seems kind of pointless, as I think that Dallas and Miami will probably both be really good in 2023, but if either slip, hey, it’s a free upgrade. This also saves Memphis $220,000 while giving them a true backup big next to Brandon Clarke. While his skillset is extremely similar to the rookie, he should be able to fit in when there is foul trouble, and will continue to be exciting on this young Memphis squad.
Iguodala is Freed
I am slightly confused by what Memphis did. Originally it looked like they got Justise Winslow for Iguodala, and that is where the deal ended. If so, I would love it, as I think Winslow is really good and just has injury concerns. However, they also had to give up Hill and Crowder, and even though neither were going to be real pieces on the next great Grizzlies team, they are both having decent years on expiring contracts. By giving those up and taking on Dion Waiters and Gorgui Dieng, they now put on extra money to their books both this year and next. Also considering it seems that Waiters is going to be cut, so his contract next year will be dead cap space, I am starting to like it less and less. I think Dieng is a nice backup center that has shown promise defensively and shooting through his career, but he is still due quite a bit of money. Maybe this is Memphis’s way of preventing them from overspending this summer, by throwing away money, which sounds foolish. However, they did sign one of the worst contracts of all time in 2016. So maybe punting on this offseason is fine, but I will not say it is good. Winslow will be a nice defensive piece who can handle the ball, all on a decent contract and for no long term pieces.
MIA IN: Jae Crowder, Andre Iguodala, Solomon Hill
MIA OUT: Dion Waiters, Justise Winslow, James Johnson
I originally hated the original trade, as I think that Winslow fits better now and in the future than Andre Iguodala, but with all the moves being made, the Heat look like geniuses. Iguodala will certainly help this year and they were able to shed a lot of money for next season. Winslow is due $13 million, and the $15 million per year extension that Iguodala will make turns this into nearly a wash, but now the Heat don’t have to pay James Johnson and Dion Waiters’s combined $28.6 million next year. Neither really fit into their rotation either, and while Hill may not play, Crowder will certainly be a great piece for them. Yes, they had to give up a young piece, but with his injury history, turning him into two pieces that will help today, all while shedding tens of millions next year.
MIN IN: James Johnson
MIN OUT: Gorgui Dieng
Money, Money, Money. With swapping one overpaid guy for another, Minnesota will save nearly $1.2 million next year due to Johnson’s reduced salary. Dieng is a better player, but I think this is a way to transition to a younger team, allowing Naz Reid to take over the backup 5 minutes. I don’t think this is a homerun, as Naz isn’t 100% ready to be a large scale contributor, but saving money without giving up much is a slight win in my books.
Washington Gets a New Point Guard
WAS IN: Shabazz Napier
WAS OUT: Jordan McRae
After dumping Isaiah Thomas to the Clippers, the Wizards appeared to only have one point guard left, Ish Smith. Smith is a solid backup, but not much more than that. I thought they were going to go full tank, but rather, they pivoted towards competency. McRae is having a breakout year, but is out injured, providing no positive to Washington currently. By flipping him for another really solid backup point guard, the Wizards are still just waiting for John Wall to be healthy, but hopefully can keep one, or both, to eventually support John Wall next season.
DEN IN: Jordan McRae
DEN OUT: Shabazz Napier
This is a total win-win trade, as each team got a player they needed. While Napier has more NBA experience, Denver already had Jamal Murray and Monte Morris at that spot, and Jokic plays de facto point as well. And while McRae has minimal NBA experience as a proven wing, he is a solid upside option to fill Malik Beasley’s role. Yes, he is already 28 years old, but maybe the Nuggets now have a decent bench scorer for a few seasons who has shown shooting capabilities.
Philly Gets More Wings
PHI OUT: DAL 2020 2nd, DEN 2021 2nd, TOR 2022 2nd
Philly needs wing creators, and they got some. Are Burks and Robinson world beaters? No, but what their role will be in Philadelphia, I can see them succeeding. Burks has been solid for Golden State, and has been hitting catch and shoot threes at a 38% clip. Throw him on Philly with their playmakers, and he should be able to make his shots and create for himself when their stars sit. In a similar fashion, GR3 is hitting catch and shoot threes at over 40%. He is not as dynamic of a playmaker, but if he just parks in the corner and lets it go from deep, the 76ers would be more than happy. And while they had to give up three second rounders for these two, all project to be fairly bad. Dallas’s pick is going to be in the late 50’s, Denver’s for next year seems similar, and I imagine Toronto won’t turn to garbage anytime soon. So while on paper it seems large, Philly dumped useless picks for some useful players.
GSW IN: DAL 2020 2nd, DEN 2021 2nd, TOR 2022 2nd
GSW OUT: Glenn Robinson III, Alec Burks
This trade is just a meh trade if I ever saw one. The main reason why Golden State was able to part ways with their wings was trying to reduce their salary and signing younger, cheaper players to contracts. The picks they get back don’t really project to be much, but I really don’t know what else they could have gotten back. Burks is expiring and GR3 has a $2 million player option, so neither would warrant large assets to be building pieces for teams, so I really don’t think they had anywhere really to go. Golden State gets some credit for shedding salary, but it just does not feel like anything happened for them.
Portland Needs to Save Money
POR IN: ATL 2024 2nd
POR OUT: Skal Labissiere, Cash
C’mon Olshey, do something. As a Portland fan, I have been extremely disappointed in their moves recently as it seems the only reason why anywhere made cam to financial reasons. Skal is nothing special, but he is the only healthy center on the roster besides Hassan Whiteside. Swanigan has stepped in for periods, but really is nothing to write home about. By moving Skal’s $2.3 million salary, they are down to around $4 million over the luxury tax. Yes, it is nice to save money, but now Portland is at only 10 healthy players on their roster and I doubt they even look at 10-day contracts in fear the new owner needs to cough up another penny.
ATL IN: Skal Labissier, Cash
ATL OUT: ATL 2024 2nd
While Skal is hurt, why not take a shot on another big man. He may fit nicely next to Collins, Young and Capela, and if he does, sign him. If he’s hurt the rest of the year, or just does not fit, you took a shot on a guy and the cash leaves Atlanta only due a few hundred thousand dollars out of their pockets. Not a great move, as Skal is nothing more than a 4th/5th big man, but hey, you got him for nothing, considering the Hawks will probably be good within four years.
Harrison Barnes 2.0 in the Bay
GSW IN: Andrew Wiggins, MIN 2021 Top-3 Protected 1st, MIN 2021 2nd
Congrats Warriors! You got back your starting small forward from the 2015 title team! But, oh no! This time he makes nearly 9 times as much as he did just a few years ago. Yeah, maybe I am being too harsh calling Andrew Wiggins Harrison Barnes. After all, Barnes can shoot and has been parts of successful teams, so sorry HB. Regardless of the Jokes, Wiggins has had flashes in his six seasons, but for as good as he has looked at times, he has looked horrible even more often. I am convinced that Wiggins has not improved since high school, and many agree with that hypothesis. Regardless, the Wolves game him a max contract, pleading him to improve and play defense. Its comical that all this is real, but what is even funnier is that a team took on his massive 5 year contract for just one first round pick and one second rounder. And guess what? They also had to give up a 23 year old All Star point guard in the deal. People were questioning if DLo would fit next to Steph and Klay, and we really cannot say either way for certain. And instead of waiting for the summer, they rushed and moved him for some questionable pieces. The pick may be nice, as it could be the 4th pick next year, or completely unprotected in 2022, but until we know what those picks turn into, we cannot say this trade had any redeeming qualities.
MIN IN: D’Angelo Russell, Omari Spellman, Jacob Evans
MIN OUT: Andrew Wiggins, MIN 2021 Top-3 Protected 1st, MIN 2021 2nd
Congrats Wolves fans, you did it. You got rid of one of the worst contracts in the league, ranked as the 96th worst forward contract by value, for not much at all. Yes, those picks can be worth a ton, but to get off of the monster contract, Minnesota probably expected to give up large amounts of assets anyways. Add on top of it, you get Towns one of his best friends, and one of the better young guards in the game today, and this looks like a steal. And while he will not be stopping anyone on the perimeter, his offense is certainly good enough to make the Wolves an actually scary offensive team for the first time in a while. And while Jacob Evans and Omari Spellman have had disappointing careers to this point, Spellman has some ability to stretch the floor and have a pulse defensively. Congrats again Minny, you got your point guard.
Ennis on the Move Again
PHI IN: LAL 2020 2nd
PHI OUT: James Ennis
These are the super interesting trades that really change the NBA. Just kidding. Philly needed to make this trade in order to make room for Burks and GR3 in a prior trade. While they could cut Ennis, his $2 million would be dead cap on the books for next year, and with how expensive Philly’s team is, every penny counts. And while Ennis is not a bad player, he is mediocre at best, so some teams might have wanted a sweetener to take on his contract. Instead, Philly got a late second rounder instead. While not incredible, it is something coming in when the alternative was someone getting waived and there being extra money on their books. I cannot call this an incredible move due to how small it is, but it is good, nonetheless.
ORL IN: James Ennis
ORL OUT: LAL 2020 2nd
Another meh move, Orlando got a backup wing for essentially nothing. Ennis is cheap and will not impact their bottom line in the future, but they did get someone who can absorb minutes now on their quest to the playoffs. Due to their injuries, Orlando needed someone to just be out there, and giving up what may be the 56th pick at worst is not a bad move.
The Grand Finale
ATL IN: Derrick Walton (waived), Cash
ATL OUT: ATL Top-55 Protected 2022 2nd
Yup, it happened.
Grade: Who Cares
LAC IN: ATL Top-55 Protected 2022 2nd
LAC OUT: Derrick Walton, Cash
Yup, it happened. Saves the Clippers some money.
Grade: See above