This NBA trade deadline was one of the noisiest in quite a while. Let’s go over the winners and the losers of the day.
Winner: Cleveland Cavaliers
The opinion of the Cavs’ bevy of trades this season has been very, very mixed. Overall, I think the team did improve. Although they did not acquire a star such as DeAndre Jordan or Kemba Walker, they traded for four very good players. Cleveland traded away Isaiah Thomas, Dwayne Wade, Jae Crowder, Derrick Rose, Channing Frye, and Iman Shumpert. In Return, they received Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance, Rodney Hood, and George Hill.
Truthfully, every single one of the players the Cavaliers traded, bar Channing Frye, hurt more than they help. Thomas hasn’t been the same, Rose and Wade are washed up, Jae Crowder has had a very poor season, and Shumpert has a bad contract. Jordan Clarkson is having a better season than Thomas, averaging 14.5 points and 3.3 assists. Nance is one of the best role players in the NBA, as he does all of the little things that do not show up in the box score. Nance’s 8.6 points, 6.8 boards, and 1.8 assists are all you could ask for from a player like him. Rodney Hood has blossomed into a very good scorer this season, averaging 16.8 points a night. Hood, a 6’8 shooting guard, has all of the tools to become an all-star guard. Hill, although he is having a poor defensive season, is generally a great defensive guard, and thrives on contending teams. He is also elite from three-point range, shooting a staggering 45.3%. Best of all, the Cavs kept their Nets 2018 first round pick.
Did the Cavaliers improve enough to beat the Warriors, let alone get out of the East? Probably not. But, their team is better than it was 24 hours ago.
Loser: Utah Jazz
It is pivotal for a fringe playoff team such as the Jazz to get the trade deadline right. Unfortunately for Utah, they did not accomplish that. In Utah’s only trade, they dealt away Rodney Hood and Joe Johnson to the Cavs and Sacramento Kings respectively and received Derrick Rose and Jae Crowder. The Jazz have already waived Rose. Crowder has a team friendly contract at $7 million per year, and has been a good three and D player in the past, but has had a poor season.
They gave up Joe Johnson, who is a very nice veteran and locker room presence but has an atrocious contract. The massive loss for Utah is Rodney Hood, who like I detailed previously, has the makings of a star. A backcourt trio of Hood, rookie sensation Donovan Mitchell, and Ricky Rubio, who is having a career year, sounds pretty good. Unfortunately, this deal most likely takes the Jazz out of playoff contention.
Winner: Dwayne Wade
Let’s get this straight. Wade to Cleveland, as fantastic as it sounded, was a failure. He was not fond of any of his teammates except for his buddy LeBron James and hasn’t been very effective on the court. Wade returns to Miami, where he spent most of his career. Wade loves Miami and Miami loves Wade. He provides one of the best veteran locker room presences you can ask for and will be a solid contributor off of the bench if he accepts his role.
Loser: Isaiah Thomas
Last night, Isaiah Thomas came out and said that he did not want to be traded again. Today, he did not get his wish. After being drafted by the Sacramento Kings with the 60th pick, he won the starting job. Soon after, the Kings traded him to the Suns. After a point guard fiasco, the Suns traded him to Boston. After averaging nearly 30 points per game last season and making a significant MVP push, Thomas looked to have finally found a home. Unfortunately for him, Thomas was blindsided by the Celtics and traded to the Cavaliers. Thomas has been injured all season and is still not fully recovered.
The Los Angeles Lakers traded for Thomas, and about the only upgrade for Thomas is that of Ohio to California. Thomas will likely start, but ultimately take a backseat to Lonzo Ball, the future of the franchise. To make matters worse, the Lakers are all but guaranteed not to re-sign Thomas. He will be asking for far more money that he is worth, and the Lakers are saving up cap space. For a person as loyal as Thomas, it is sad that he will likely be joining his sixth NBA team this summer.
Winner: Phoenix Suns
Phoenix unloaded a second-round pick to the Orlando Magic for point guard Elfrid Payton. Although Payton is not a star, he is a solid point guard who is good on defense and a solid floor general. Contrary to popular belief, Payton is having a career year. Payton is averaging 13 points, 6.3 assists, and four rebounds on 52% from the field. Payton, who is generally viewed as a poor shooter, is shooting a respectable 37.3% from deep. Elfrid Payton will undoubtedly make an immediate impact on the Suns.
Loser: Orlando Magic
Although the Magic were looking to part with Elfrid Payton, they could have received more than a second-round pick for Payton. The Magic gave up quite a few assets for Payton; picks which turned into the likes of Dario Saric and De’Aaron Fox. The Magic are in full rebuild mode and have no clear direction.
Winner: Los Angeles Lakers
Magic and Co. did it again. The Lakers made another deal today and another good one at that. This front office has been mostly perfect with their picks and trades over the last four seasons and continues on their road to NBA dominance. Although the Lakers gave up two young, promising players in Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance for Isaiah Thomas, Channing Frye, and the Cavs first round pick this season. Although the Lakers will not resign Thomas or Frye, the real prize is the cap space they freed up. The Lakers will be pursuing superstar free agents over the next two seasons and this is a step in the right direction. Although I wish the Lakers could have done this trade without giving up Nance, it was still a win in the end.
Loser: New York Knicks
Let me set this straight, the Knicks’ day today is closer to neutral than it is to poor. Emmanuel Mudiay is very intriguing, and at only 21, has a chance to become a really good player in the future. Although Willy Hernangomez has not been playing this season, he is still a very solid player who made the all-rookie team last season. The Knicks only received Johnny O’Bryant, who has been waived, and two marginal second round picks. Although Mudiay could turn into a major win, the Knicks got worse at this moment.
Winner: Detriot Pistons
The Detroit Pistons broke NBA twitter last week in trading for star Blake Griffin. This trade has been a massive win so far, as the Pistons have been rolling, who are on a five-game win streak since acquiring him. The Pistons are convinced that they can contend in the east, and I believe they can as well. On deadline day, the Pistons flipped the two other players they received in the Griffin deal, Willie Reed and Brice Johnson. They flipped those two players, who the Pistons wouldn’t use anyways, for Jameer Nelson and James Ennis. Nelson is a solid veteran guard who is a smart passer and sure up the point guard rotation, and Ennis is a young, solid depth piece. The Pistons could make a surprise appearance in the NBA finals if all goes to plan.
Bonus Winner: Golden State Warriors
Seriously, when aren’t the Warriors winning? Although the Warriors did not make any deals on deadline day, no other team made a blockbuster move to seriously contend with them. Expect the Warriors to be hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy once again at the end of this season.
Ben Pfeifer is the Managing Editor of the Colts for Full Press Coverage, the AFC South Division Editor, and head NBA editor. Want to continue the discussion? Contact Ben Pfeifer on Twitter @Ben_Pfeifer_ and @FPC_Colts.