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Trade Deadline Grades

Bad Men, Bad Takes – Season 1

What a wild few hours it was in the lead up to the 2022 NBA Trade Deadline!

I’ll be going through each reported transaction and grading them below, however note that the Clippers and Blazers deal involving Norman Powell, as well as the Kings and Pacers deal involving Domantas Sabonis have not been included as you can find my analysis of those deals here and here respectively.

Also note that I’ll be grading each transaction on its own basis, without consideration for any further moves teams may have made in other deals (this is relevant to the Blazers who have since moved Alexander-Walker following the McCollum trade and so on).

Without further ado, my trade deadline grades.

Celtics acquire: Daniel Theis.

Rockets acquire: Dennis Schroder, Enes Freedom and Bruno Fernando.

The Dennis Schroder experiment hasn’t quite worked in Boston this season, and if this isn’t a microcosm of the Celtics season overall, I don’t know what is. He’s a player who is talented and has ability to contribute to a winning team, but the fit wasn’t suitable in Bean Town.

The Celtics shipped him to Houston along with Freedom and Fernando in a deal that sees them acquire former Celtic Daniel Theis, and it’s hard to argue about this. Theis, though undersized and often criticized, is a big who knows his role and doesn’t try to play outside of it. He also provides another body they can use in the rotation to help the developing Williams and aging Horford.

For the Rockets, this is a move to free up playing time for their young players. They acquire the most talented player in the deal in Schroder, even if he isn’t having his best season, but he is likely to be a buy-out candidate due to his cheap and expiring deal. Freedom has already been waived and Bruno Fernando doesn’t shape as playing much of a role regardless.

Overall, this deal doesn’t move the needle much for either team, but it gives the Celtics some stability in the front court while the Rockets pave the way for recent first-round pick Alpherun Sengun to see an increase in minutes while Kevin Porter Jr continues to get reps at the guard spot.

Celtics: B

Rockets: C+

Mavericks acquire: Spencer Dinwiddie and Davis Bertans.

Wizards acquire: Kristaps Porzingis, second-round pick.

There have been rumours Dallas star Luka Doncic and Porzingis don’t see eye to eye for a couple of seasons, and this trade makes it all but official that is the case.

The Mavericks have managed to off-load the contract of the Latvian big and pick up a serviceable player in Dinwiddie who shapes as being able to handle the ball and create when Doncic is off the floor. He’s also on a deal which has two years to run following the completion of this season, with only $10m guaranteed in the 2023-2024 season. This is important because Jalen Brunson, who has been a revelation in the last 12-18 months, is an unrestricted free agent at seasons end and it looks unlikely the Mavericks will be able to bring him back.

The Mavericks also pick up Bertans as part of this deal, who has been a disappointment in Washington since signing a long-term deal following the 2019-2020 season. His three point percentage is down nearly 10% from last season and overall, Dallas will be hoping a change of scenery can help him.

Washington made it clear Dinwiddie wasn’t wanted despite signing a multi-year deal in the off-season to join the team, so picking up Porzingis for him and a Bertans contract they likely regret signing isn’t a bad recovery. They also pick up a draft asset which never hurts.

Overall, the Mavericks are trying to re-tool around their star and guarantee some play-making around him for the future while the Wizards appear happy to take on the oft-injured Porzingis and an asset if it means being able to get off two contracts they no longer want – after-all, one bad contract is better than two, right?

Mavericks: B

Wizards: B+

Spencer Dinwiddie has found a new home in Dallas after the Wizards signed him to a multi-year deal just months ago. Credit: NewsDay

Hornets acquire: Montrezl Harrell.

Wizards acquire: Vernon Carey, Ish Smith and a second-round pick.

The Hornets no doubt would’ve been on the phone to Indiana for Myles Turner, but they settle on former SMOTY Harrell – and I don’t mean settle in a bad way. I’m very high on what Trez brings to the floor each and every night, and playing with a young and athletic core of LaMelo Ball and Miles Bridges should only help Harrell bring his trademark energy every night. While not perfect due to being undersized and limited on defence, Harrell is a such an upgrade on Plumlee because he is still active around the rim, but shoots free throws at a higher rate, has a more dynamic offensive game and brings the crowd into the game.

What’s better for Charlotte is that they gave up…not much really. Ish Smith will be a loss as he’s been a reliable veteran presence, but going forward Ball is clearly the option and there are cheaper reserve guards who can give you similar production in the long run. Vernon Carey Jr has barely played since being drafted and a second-round pick is a small price to pay.

For the Wizards, they want Daniel Gafford to be their starter going forward, and that’s understandable. I personally felt like the team played better with Harrell at the five, even if his stats were inferior to Gafford’s, but that’s the decision Washington have made. They pick up Ish Smith as a veteran play-maker and any asset is a bonus.

Overall, the Hornets get an answer at the five for now at the very least, and the Wizards continue to acquire assets.

Hornets: A

Wizards: B-

Celtics acquire: Derrick White.

Spurs acquire: Josh Richardson, Romeo Langford, a first-round pick and a future pick swap.

The Celtics continued the turnover of their roster around Brown and Tatum, but as said above, I’ll be grading each deal individually. Derrick White has put together two sneaky good seasons in recent years and his scoring, defence and play-making will all be assets to a Celtics team which lacks in those areas, particularly play-making outside of their dynamic duo.

For the Spurs, it’s interesting to see them make a deal during the season full stop, which gives me reason for intrigue. Richardson failed to fire with Boston, like Dallas before that, and San Antonio will be tasked with turning his career around a bit – something I’d back in Coach Popovich to do. Romeo Langford will likely get a fresh start after limited opportunities in Boston while the team also acquires a first-round pick – an asset that are considered gold in today’s NBA.

Overall, the Celtics get a guy who shapes as being able to help them tremendously in White, while the Spurs acquire an asset as well as a young player and a veteran whom they hope can all become serviceable role players around All-Star DeJounte Murray.

Celtics: B+

Spurs: B+

Sixers acquire: James Harden and Paul Millsap.

Nets acquire: Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Andre Drummond and two first-round picks.

This is the big, blockbuster trade we were all hoping to see. Ben Simmons will finally return to the court and try to help Brooklyn win a Championship, while James Harden re-unites with Daryl Morey and pairs with Embiid to make a run at the title for the Sixers.

James Harden is the best player in this deal, make no mistake about it – BUT – I can’t help but feel Philly may have overpaid a little for him. This was a concern I bought to Hunter’s attention in Episode 46 of the pod, arguing Morey is so desperate for Harden and that Harden is so much better than any other potential ‘best player’ offered in any rumoured deal that he may over-pay. I think the price they paid was pretty steep, but I also understand it from Philadelphia’s perspective.

They needed to pair someone elite with Embiid, and they get their man. Seth Curry and Andre Drummond are nice complementary pieces though, especially Curry who spaces the floor – something Embiid needs to continue to be effective. Drummond has also been a reliable back-up when Embiid has missed games, and they will now rely on Charles Bassey and potentially Paul Reed as the only players left on the roster over 6’7” apart from Embiid to play heavy minutes at the five.

They also send two first-round picks to Brooklyn as part of the deal, and while they have young talent in Maxey, Thybulle, Milton and Korkmaz, and may feel like those picks are expendable because of this, I still feel it’s a heavy price to pay.

For Brooklyn, the fit becomes even more complicated. On the offensive end, Durant and Kyrie should be enough to keep them in any game, especially with Simmons’ play-making factored in. The Nets defence does take a step up on the perimeter with Simmons replacing Harden, which may help the likes of Aldridge and Griffin by preventing penetration at times, but ultimately the Nets have the same issue they’ve had all season – a lack of interior presence.

It’s a high price to pay, but I can understand why Philly would go all-in on a Harden trade given the season Embiid is having. Brooklyn moves on from a guy who didn’t want to be there, but the fit with KD and Kyrie remains an issue in my opinion.

Sixers: A

Nets: B+

Simmons and Harden have swapped teams, but I can’t help but think Morey and the Sixers gave up more than they needed to in the deal. Credit: USA Today

Celtics acquire: Future second-round pick

Magic acquire: Bol Bol, PJ Dozier and a future second-round pick.

There isn’t much that needs to be said about this deal. The Magic and Celtics trade cash for players who are injured and also swap future second-round picks.

The Magic get a look at Bol Bol for the rest of the season (they have already waived Dozier) while in their rebuild, and the Celtics get cap relief. Hard to grade because, ultimately, it’s a bit of a nothing trade.

Celtics: C

Magic: C+

Raptors acquire: Thaddeus Young, Drew Eubanks and a second-round pick.

Spurs acquire: Goran Dragic, protected first-round pick.

Due to Dragic’s lack of court-time this season in Toronto due to personal reasons, this is a weird trade. It ultimately boils down to the Raptors trading a guy who wouldn’t have played for the rest of the season for a guy who will in Young. The Raptors are not a very deep team and bringing in Young (as well as Eubanks) helps them spread the load a little more.

The Spurs loom as likely to buy-out Dragic who is on the final year of his deal, meaning their motivation for this deal is the first-round pick. While Young was a nice player and helped them win games, the team wasn’t going to make noise this season and they pick up another asset to help rebuild on the fly around All-Star Dejounte Murray.

Raptors: B

Spurs: A

Kings acquire: Donte Divincenzo, Trey Lyles and Josh Jackson.

Bucks acquire: Serge Ibaka and two second-round picks.

Clippers acquire: Rodney Hood and Semi Ojele.

Pistons acquire: Marvin Bagley III

The Kings acquire Donte DiVincenzo who helps with outside shooting and remains on a very good deal considering the value he provides. He was likely expendable for Milwaukke given the off-season signing of Grayson Allen and this is the type of deal the Kings should continue to seek as they try to rebuild on the fly.

Up front, I love this for the Bucks. They lose DiVincenzo, but as mentioned above, they have essentially replaced him with Grayson Allen. Serge Ibaka has been inconsistent with the Clippers, but through injury and the surprising play of Hartenstein, he’s also received very sporadic minutes in Ty Lue’s rotation. Needing a big, this is as good as it comes at this price. Ibaka is a Champion, can space the floor, block shots and doesn’t take up shots on offense.

The Clippers were rumoured to have Ibaka on the block due to his expiring deal and inconsistent play, and pick up Rodney Hood and Semi Ojele. This deal is mostly about reducing their luxury-tax liability though, and it does that by about $30m – all without surrendering any picks.

The Pistons get a pretty good deal all things considered, sending out Josh Jackson, Trey Lyles and multiple second-round picks to acquire Bagley. I personally hold out hope for Bagley to develop into a solid role player despite the fact he’s maligned by Sacramento’s fan base and believe the NBA landscape will quickly turn to speaking about what he can do, rather than what he can’t, as he ends his rookie deal and becomes a restricted free agent.

Kings: B+

Bucks: A-

Clippers: B

Pistons: B

Serge Ibaka could be an important piece for the Bucks as they fight for back-to-back NBA Championships. Credit: Clips Nation

Jazz acquire: Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Juancho Hernangomez.

Spurs acquire: Tomas Satoransky and a second-round pick.

Blazers acquire: Joe Ingles, Elijah Hughes and a second-round pick.

The Jazz wanted to make a change given the injury to Joe Ingles and the team’s recent poor play, and do just that with this deal.

Alexander-Walker is a player I remain high on and now he’s out of New Orleans, I can see a version of his that develops like his cousin in Oklahoma. They also pick up Hernangomez as a big body to soak up minutes when Gobert is on the bench.

The Spurs have made a series of shrewd moves at the deadline, and this is another. They pick up a veteran play-maker in Satoranski as well as another second-round pick – all while only giving up Hernangomez.

The Blazers bring in Ingles (who is injured) as well as a second-round pick and Elijah Hughes, but none of these players move the needle at all. It remains to be seen exactly what the Blazers are planning as they attempt to rebuild the roster around Lillard, but I can’t imagine giving up Alexander-Walker helps – even if they are already loaded at guard with Lillard and Simons.

Jazz: B+

Spurs: B+

Blazers: B-

Heat acquire: Future second-round pick.

Thunder acquire: KZ Okpala.

Heat: “Hey Oklahoma, do you want another young player?”

Thunder: “Ok. How is a future second-round pick sound?”

Heat: “Yeah cool, whatever”.

This trade does have some crafty, in-depth reasoning as outlined here, but it’s a nothing deal on it’s own.

Heat: C

Thunder: C

Blazers acquire: Josh Hart, Tomas Satoransky, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Didi Louzada, 2022 first-round pick (protected) and two future second-round picks.

Pelicans acquire: CJ McCollum, Larry Nance Jr and Tony Snell.

The Blazers continued to blow things up around Lillard with this trade following their deal with the Clippers, and this isn’t a bad haul. While some were surprised and cited a lack of value back in the deal, McCollum never made an All-Star team and his value was probably more in line with Aaron Gordon as opposed to Nikola Vucevic if we’re comparing recent trades.

Josh Hart is deceptively effective and has been for a number of seasons. He rebounds well, scores enough to keep defences honest and plays hard. I’m not sure he’s a keeper long term, but he’s a solid role player at the very least. Satoransky and Alexander-Walker have since been moved on, but represented value as a solid veteran and a young player with high upside. Louzada is almost a non-factor, but the two future second-round picks, in addition to a first-round pick, are where main compensation is for the Blazers.

The Pelicans get a veteran scorer to help the team fight for the play-in tournament this season, while giving up draft capital and a promising youngster in Alexander-Walker. This is all about chasing a ‘playoff’ birth to convince Zion Williamson it’s worth sticking around in Louisiana, and while it means their roster is more or less set with Valanciunas, Ingram and McCollum, they are a better team than they were before the deadline, regardless of what they had to move to get the deal done.

Blazers: B

Pelicans: B+

CJ McCollum will be tasked with helping the Pelicans make the Play-In Tournament after the Blazers broke up their core of he and Lillard. Credit: KATU

Pacers acquire: Ricky Rubio, a protected first-round pick, and two second-round picks.

Cavaliers acquire: Caris LeVert and a second-round pick.

Last but not least, a deal completed a few days prior to the deadline, this one was discussed by Hunter and myself in depth on episode 46 of the show.

Rubio is currently injured and on an expiring deal, so will factor little going forward. I assume he will sign MLE’s with contenders for the rest of his career once recovered.

The draft capital is where the Pacers heart lied in this deal, and a first and two second-round picks for LeVert is not an unpalatable return.

For the Cavaliers, they continue to make good moves and bolster their team for a Playoff push and beyond. Sending out picks is less of an issue given a young core of Garland, Allen and Mobley (as well as Sexton if they bring him back following injury) and bringing in another talented scorer like LeVert can’t hurt.

Pacers: B+

Cavaliers: A

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