By RYAN BRAUCH
Every year, all 30 NBA teams scramble to make last minute trades as the annual trade deadline approaches. For many teams, any trade will impact the outcome of their season and determine whether or not they will find themselves in the playoffs or not. There are numerous reasons in which a team makes a trade around the deadline.
Whether it be to make a final playoff push, to clear cap space, or in some cases, get rid of valuable players in order to tank. No matter what the reason is for the transactions, there are always winners and losers to every trade.
Oklahoma City Thunder; Winners:
The Thunder are currently sitting on the seventh seed in the West, with a comfortable lead over the other teams fighting for the eighth seed. Despite having Russell Westbrook at the reigns of their offense, OKC’s top priority was to get other scorers to be included in their offensive scheme. For a while, the Thunder had discussed trading with the Nuggets for forward Wilson Chandler. After a while, those discussions fizzled out, still leaving the Thunder needing some offensive minded players.
On Thursday, the Thunder traded point guard Cameron Payne, forward Anthony Morrow and center Joffrey Lauvergne to the Bulls, in exchange for forwards Doug McDermott and Taj Gibson. McDermott is a prime shooting threat, especially as a three-point shooter. Gibson is a great player all-around and can score well, but can also defend and rebound on an elite level. Getting rid of Payne was a smart move by the Thunder, as the young guard cannot shoot very well, giving him little offensive value despite his decent passing ability. Overall this trade should give the Thunder bench the extra boost it needs to secure a playoff berth.
Philadelphia 76er’s; Losers:
The Sixers were active last week as they were part of two trades during the All-Star break. Early in the week, Philadelphia sent Ersan Ilyasova to Atlanta in exchange for Tiago Splitter and a few second round picks. On the day of the trade deadline, the Sixers’ front office sent center Nerlens Noel to the Dallas Mavericks for next to nothing.
The Mavs got Noel by sending second-year forward Justin Anderson and veteran center Andrew Bogut to Philly, along with a heavily protected first round pick. With the Mavs having a tumultuous season and Bogut demanding a buyout, the 76er’s are only left with Anderson and Splitter to shake up their roster. More big men were the last thing the Sixers needed, as they already had a frontcourt logjam with Embiid, Okafor, Saric, and Noel. Only now, they have replaced Noel for Splitter. Philadelphia really needed a shooting threat in their backcourt to give their offense a boost. With lackluster trade attempts, this only solidifies another tanking season in eastern Pennsylvania.
New Orleans Pelicans; Winners:
The Pelicans made headlines as they swindled the Sacramento Kings’ front office into giving them three-time All-Star center Demarcus Cousins and Omri Casspi in exchange for rookie guard Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans and two draft picks. With the addition of Cousins, the Pelicans could be threat to be reckoned with as they also have All-Star power forward Anthony Davis. These two will easily pair together to form the most elite frontcourt in the NBA and dominate the paint and the glass.
The only things the Pelicans are missing now are chemistry and decent rotational players. Since they traded Evans and Hield, the Pelicans are now leaning on the likes of Solomon Hill and Hollis Thompson on offense. As Davis, Cousins and point guard Jrue Holliday build chemistry, the playoff clock is ticking as the team stands a few games behind the current eighth seed in the competitive Western Conference.
Sacramento Kings; Losers:
In the wake of the epic Demarcus Cousins trade, the Kings front office had one thing on their mind, rebuilding. By shipping Cousins and Casspi off to New Orleans, Sacramento sent a clear message to the league that they are in the process of a total reset. With forward Rudy Gay out with an extensive leg injury the team was ready to call it a year, collect as many rookies and draft picks they could and get rid of their best players.
Following trading Boogie, the Kings also expressed interest in removing guards Arron Afflalo and Darren Collison from their roster. By failing to gather any more picks and accepting a terrible deal for Cousins and Casspi the Kings are trade deadline losers.
Toronto Raptors; Winners:
The Raptors are currently holding the third seed in the East and appear to be title contenders as we transition into the final stretch of the regular season. Toronto acquired forward Serge Ibaka from the Orlando Magic for guard Terrence Ross and a first round pick. Then they received P.J. Tucker from the Phoenix Suns in return for forward Jared Sullinger and a second round pick.
Toronto’s weakness thus far, has been their defensive consistency, or lack of. The addition of Ibaka, an elite shot blocker, and Tucker should improve their defense and rebounding greatly as the team prepares for playoffs. These were two strong moves made by the franchise that will likely propel them further in the postseason.
Boston Celtics; Losers:
Before the deadline, numerous trade rumors surrounded Boston as the team engaged in endless trade discussions. With so many possibilities swirling around from Jimmy Butler to Paul George, the Celtics were part of just about every rumor. Like the Raptors, the Celtics are also title contenders, but struggle in rebounding.
Investing in another big man was a top priority for Danny Ainge and the Celtics, but nothing came of the numerous discussions. Boston was silent when the trade deadline rolled around. Not getting a strong rebounder may end of hurting the Celtics when it comes time to play the Cavaliers or the Raptors in playoffs.