The Knicks Loaded Up, The Lakers Didn't Do Shit, The Bulls Continue To Torture Their Fanbase And Everything Else That Went Down At The NBA's Trade Deadline

And just like that, the 2023-24 NBA Trade Deadline has passed. Depending on who our favorite team is, these last few days have you either over the moon or mad as hell based on how everything shook out. While there weren't loads of "big name" trades, that doesn't mean this was an impactful deadline. If anything, we saw some contenders shore up some deficiencies, other teams that are trying to make that leap into contention make real adds, and just because someone isn't an All Star player doesn't mean they can't make an impact on their new team.

While we of course have to wait and see what all this movement actually looks like on the court, it's always a good time for some extremely premature reactions where we can debate who won the deadline and who fumbled an opportunity to get better.

Let's start with teams that I feel like had themselves a good deadline. You can call it "winning" the deadline if you want, but I look at it more as teams that should feel good about where they currently sit

New York Knicks

For the Knicks fan perspective, please go read Clem's blog. An an outsider looking in, there are a few things that would excite me as a Knicks fan. For starters, this was another instance where the front office has made it pretty clear they know what they're doing. These aren't the same old Knicks. Smart trades, smart free agent signings, keeping their financials in order, these are all things that competent franchises do, and it's something this era of Knicks management has been great at. We already know the OG Anunoby trade was a slam dunk. That's indisputable. I would also argue their moves today have the potential to be just as good

In terms of talent, there's no denying that what the Knicks are bringing in is better than what they are sending out, and they didn't have to give up a 1st to do it. That alone is a win. But then you look closer and the moves get even better in my opinion. For starters, Fournier was an expiring $17M, which they had to move. Bringing back Bogdanovic isn't just a talent upgrade, he also has a partially guaranteed deal for $19M next season. Having a good player on a midsized expiring deal is a valuable asset in terms of future trades, especially with the new CBA restrictions some teams are going to be dealing with. 

Not only that, but the Knicks currently have 2 roster spots open and are still under the first apron. When it comes to the buyout market, they don't have any restrictions on who they can sign, unlike some other contenders in the league

So just add it up. The Knicks (if you include OG in this) added legit talent on both sides of the ball, didn't have to give up any additional firsts today, have movable contracts for next season AND aren't getting boned by the new CBA rules. Whether or not it gets them to the ECF is to be determined, but no matter how you slice it, the Knicks had a very solid trade deadline.

Oklahoma City Thunder

As I blogged earlier today, I love the Thunder trading for Gordon Hayward. 

This is the exact low risk move that a team like the Thunder should be making right now. Who cares if their success is maybe a season early, if you can go for it and not have to give up a ton of assets to do it, that's a move you should always make. While Hayward isn't without his concerns, that's mostly injury related not basketball related. 

A move like this gives them someone who can be on the floor late over someone like Josh Giddey who can't shoot, and it helps give them a versatile scorer/facilitator that will probably be pretty motivated to play well now that he's finally back on a good team and is in a contract year. 

If we were to rank all the moves that could have real playoff implications, I don't think it's crazy to suggest that a healthy Hayward would be pretty high on that list. In a sense, this was almost like the rich getting richer.

Dallas Mavericks

If today was about adding depth/upgrading your talent, I feel confident in saying that's what the Mavs did today

The Grant Williams Experiment in Dallas was clearly a disaster, and Daniel Gafford is a much better backup center than Richaun Holmes. Sure, it's not ideal to have to attach a pick to offload Grant's deal, but when you have Luka and Kyrie on your team, you are in a win now window. PJ Washington isn't without his faults either, but he's better than Grant. 

Philadelphia 76ers

I'm putting the Sixers here under the impression that we will see Joel Embiid again at some point this season/playoffs. If that's not the case, then this move

is a tad less notable. Hield is an expiring player, so at least the Sixers get a look at him before deciding if he's worth some of their cap space this summer. If he doesn't stay in Philly, things also look a little worse.

But let's assume the Embiid does come back and Hield does stay past this season. Adding legit shooting around Embiid is always a smart decision, and I'm pretty sure Hield has made the most 3s in the NBA since he got drafted, so he fits that description. The defense isn't all that great but he's not really on this team to defend, he's there to help in theory create some additional space around Embiid. Doubling Embiid is much riskier when someone like Hield is the one who is open in space for a C&S three.

Their other moves are a little strange

mostly because Cam Payne kind of stinks, but there are rumors that the Sixers are in on Kyle Lowry should he get bought out.

Again, if Embiid is out for the year, none of this shit matters. Perhaps Morey is just punting on the year because he knows Embiid is out and that's why we're getting reports like this

Boston Celtics

Nothing drastic, but then again the best team in the NBA doesn't need a whole lot. Most Celts fans wanted big man depth, and  Brad Stevens delivered that with Xavier Tillman. We didn't see any wing scoring off the bench get traded for, but there's always the buyout market for that as long as the guy made under $12.4M.

They also flipped a nonfactor in Danalo Banton for a non-factor in Jaden Springer, the key there being Springer is younger and has 2x as high a salary next year ($2M vs $4M). This is important because as a second apron team, the Celts aren't allowed to aggregate contracts in trades. So, finding a way to bump up your 15th guy's salary to $4M while still keeping a roster spot open for buyout guys is a win no matter how you slice it. 

Plus, he can do shit like this defensively which certainly doesn't suck

What comes next is the bigger domino for me though. I do still think it wouldn't hurt to have some sort of wing shot creator off the bench just for Joe to be able to throw a different look onto the court, but we'll have to see the names of buyout guys before we know if anything even makes sense.

Phoenix Suns

Again, if this deadline was about contenders finding ways to sure up their rosters rather than make drastic trades, the Suns have to be feeling pretty good with their work today as well

Those salaries ended up being Chimezie Metu, Jordan Goodwin, Yuta Watanabe, and Keita Bates-Diop, so yeah I'm thinking the Suns will be able to survive. They brought back the best player in the deal, a guy who can play the 3 or small ball 4, can make threes and can guard multiple positions.

Given their salary restrictions and lack of picks available, this was probably the best the Suns were going to be able to pull off, and it's a guy who you can plug in right away. Think of who the Suns may have to go up against in a playoff run and it makes sense that they would want to find a way to explore their wing defense. 

Now, in terms of teams that you could argue fumbled today….

Toronto Raptors

Does anyone have any idea what the Raptors were doing today? 

They gave up a first for an expiring Olynyk and a 23 year old wing who can't really shoot. Then they traded Dennis Schroder for……nothing. I can understand them wanting to enter a rebuild, but usually when that happens you trade players for actual pieces or at the very least draft capital. Instead, they flipped someone like Schroder, someone who has guaranteed years left on his deal and could always be flipped next year for a guy who they immediately cut. That's just bad asset management if you ask me. Even if you could only get a couple 2nds next year for Schroder, that's better than getting nothing.

Not only that, but they didn't flip Bruce Brown either which was very confusing. If you're blowing it up, why not flip him? What good does picking up his $23M option this summer do if you're entering a rebuild? Why not get some assets for that player when you know contenders are interested? Just very bizarre behavior from Masai Ujiri.

Detroit Pistons

I mean, duh. None of what the Pistons did today makes sense, but that's not surprising.

Chicago Bulls

Poor Bulls fans man. Everyone knows the absolute worst thing you can do as an NBA franchise is refuse to pick a direction. Sometimes teams need to be honest with themselves and understand that the time has come to smash the rebuild button. And yet here the Bulls are, willingly choosing to stay in NBA purgatory.

Not good enough for true contention, and not shitty enough for a high lottery pick.

That's the kiss of death in the NBA. Not to mention DeMar DeRozan is an expiring player, so it's entirely possible they now lose that asset for nothing. The alternative is maybe overpaying for a 35 year old player. Why not just bite the bullet and flip him? He still has value right now and I know the BUlls are technically in the Play In, but it feels like that's doing more harm than good for them as a franchise.

Nobody was willing to overpay for Caruso/Drummond etc, but that doesn't mean the Bulls were right to stand pat. Even if you have to lower your price, we have a large enough sample to know that this current mix isn't good enough to make a deep run. Sitting idle when that's the case doesn't usually end well.

Milwaukee Bucks

No disrespect, but if your big trade deadline move is swapping Cam Payne for Pat Bev, there's no way you're truly feeling great right now as a Bucks fan. Now when you look around the conference and see what everyone else did. But this is the reality when you give up all your assets for Jrue Holiday, Dame, and then an additional 5 2nd round picks for Jae Crowder. Really, what did they have to move?

It was pretty clear that guys like Bobby Portis and Pat Connaughton had zero market, and when you think of the Bucks biggest issues when playing the best teams, what did they solve today? Is their wing defense any better? Does Pat Bev solve their guard defense in 2024? 

Add in the fact that MIL is on the buyout list of teams that can't bring in guys who made over $12.4M, I can't imagine this was the deadline day that Bucks fans were hoping for.

Los Angeles Lakers

The Lakers told us a few things today.

1. They don't think this team was a trade away from winning a title

2. They didn't want to mortgage their future with picks when LeBron's future is up in the air

Unfortunate for them I guess. Don't worry though, we're already getting reports that the Lakers are just going to go star hunting this summer. Who cares about this current season and not wasting a year of LeBron when you can maybe sign a free agent this summer!

And hey, maybe they get a buyout guy. But there's no two ways about it, not doing shit today is not what Lakers fans were hoping for. 

Golden State Warriors

Steve Kerr kind of hinted that the Warriors weren't going to do anything major, but the fact that they actually didn't was a little surprising. For a team under .500 and currently outside of the Play In, I wouldn't exactly say things are working in GS. I guess the thinking is maybe as long as they get in (just 1 game back), you put Steph Curry in that spot and he can carry you through.

Not moving Klay was an interesting choice since that seems to be something that's only getting more awkward by the game, and not getting out of the Andrew Wiggins contract given how brutal he's been is a certainly a choice as well.

Obviously I'm not going to feel bad for the Warriors or their fans given what happened in 2022, but you could make the case they missed an opportunity to retool with his deadline.

When it comes to future trade deadlines, I would advise everyone to temper their expectations. If anything, this year was a great example of how teams are going to operate under these new CBA rules. We're most likely going to get smaller more depth related deals than major blockbusters, which is a bit of a bummer. The same is true for free agency as well, as now the path is to sign an extension now and demand trades later. Fewer and fewer stars are even hitting the market, and that's not changing anytime soon either.