GOOD GOD WHAT A DEADLINE!!! I was sitting at work checking Twitter (naturally) and the first move of the day was Jameer Nelson to Detroit. To which I thought, “Oh, it’s gonna be one of those deadlines isn’t it.” And then BOOM, Isaiah Thomas gets traded to the Lakers, and then a whole lot more trades kept rolling in. Now that the deadline is past, instead of grading every deal like I have in past years, I’ll give you the winners and losers from this years NBA Trade Deadline.
Probably the biggest winner of the day was LeBron James. He got Isaiah Thomas out of town, young players, and still has an out to go to LA if he wants it. The Cavs now have a light at the end of the tunnel, and if last night’s performance against the Timberwolves says anything, LeBron is ready for the stretch run.
The Cavs are big winners too because they covered all of their bases today. They got rid of Isaiah Thomas, who quickly became a cancer in the locker room. They were able to get players to better help LeBron for a possible championship run, and they also got young players on team friendly deals just in case LeBron leaves town this summer.
Probably the biggest shocker of the day saw Dwyane Wade get traded back to the Miami Heat. With the moves the Cavs made earlier in the day, it became clear that he would be losing minutes. Wade had also been angling for a return to Miami ever since he left for the Bulls, so now he goes “back home” and becomes a leader on a team that’s trying to make a run in the playoffs. The Miami Heat just became very interesting once again.
Los Angeles Lakers
Sure, the Lakers gave up on some young talent by trading away Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance. But they have officially made the room to make noise in the 2018 free agent class. They weren’t high on either of the two anyways (obviously), as they’ve been trying to trade Clarkson for months, and now they have $46M in cap room this summer, and could have as much as $69M. Enough to add two max players.
The Buyout Market
All the teams that sat out on deadline day have a silver lining. The buyout market is expected to be huge. Names like Derrick Rose, Joe Johnson, Shabazz Muhammad, and possibly Vince Carter could be on the market. Lots of contenders will be active and the deadline for bought-out players to be eligible for the playoffs is March 1st.
This guy goes from a folk hero and MVP candidate in Boston, to possibly backing up Lonzo Ball in LA in a matter of 8 months. He wanted the Celtics to “back up the Brinks truck” for him, but will he even get the mid-level exception at this point? Real tough time for him and I bet he regrets playing in the ECF last year and further injuring his hip.
Evans before the deadline was one of the hottest names on the market. He’s on a very team-friendly $3.3M deal and was expected to be traded to a contender. Instead he’s on a team that’s trying to tank, and his free agent market might have just been stunted by the surprisingly low Lou Williams deal. The resurgent year for Evans goes for naught and I’m sure it’ll be a long 3 months for him.
The Eastern Conference
I wrote just yesterday that the Raptors were the best team in the East and the Cavaliers wouldn’t make the Finals. Now after today, the Cavs got younger and more versatile on defense, and what looks like a more motivated LeBron. The Celtics didn’t make a move to improve themselves today (like trading for Tyreke Evans), the Wizards stood pat and still have to work out their issues, and as much as I love them, the Raptors still have to prove themselves in the playoffs. If things work out for them, the Cavs just once again became the favorite in the East and that’s bad news for everyone else.
A trade that basically only Raptors fans are interested in. The 2014 first round pick and the guy that was famously “two years away from being two years away” got traded to the Sacramento Kings. In 4 years, he couldn’t get into the rotation and hadn’t developed into a player worth keeping. He’s expected to be released by the Kings and we may never hear his name again. Tough for a guy that I we were all rooting for. Also, credit to Masai Ujiri for swinging for the fences, and also credit for knowing that it was time to cut bait.