By Sam Henken
The NBA trade deadline ended in a flurry of moves that included a big shake-up for one of the Pacific Division’s playoff contenders. But first, let’s look at where the other teams stand two weeks after the trade deadline.
The Golden State Warriors decided against trading anyone off their team that currently has the league’s highest winning percentage according to NBA.com. The Los Angeles Clippers had already used up their last trade assets in acquiring Austin Rivers and now will wait to see what the buyout market has to offer them. The Los Angeles Lakers barely have an NBA roster and did not have anything to offer the rest of the league. The Sacramento Kings remained quiet while they adjust to new coach George Karl…wait… they made a move?
Kings Receive: Andre Miller
Wizards Receive: Ramon Sessions
(All trade breakdowns courtesy of basketballinsiders.com)
Breakdown: Uh, wow. This is as boring as a trade gets in any sport, as these two teams swapped underperforming backup point guards. Miller is reunited with George Karl and gets the pleasure of passing to DeMarcus Cousins. Sessions had not been great for the Kings this year, averaging 5.3 PPG and 2.7 APG on a horrible 34% from the field and 24% from the 3-point line, according to ESPN, but now gets a chance to backup John Wall. Miller brings his old-man game to Sacramento and has received ample playing time since the trade.
Miami Heat Receive: Goran Dragic, Zoran Dragic
New Orleans Pelicans Receive: Norris Cole, Justin Hamilton, Shawne Williams
Phoenix Suns Receive: Danny Granger, John Salmons, 2017 and 2021 First Round Picks from Miami
Breakdown: Goran Dragic got his wish for a trade and ended up on a Miami team that might have had a good shot at making noise in the Eastern Conference playoffs if not for Chris Bosh’s blood clots in his lung. You have to believe that Miami is confident in re-signing Dragic, for them to give up two first round picks for him. As far as the other players they gave up, only Norris Cole is a real rotation player but was superfluous in Miami and gets a fresh start in New Orleans where Jrue Holiday is out for at least a few more weeks and is need of a point guard.
For the Suns, the return for Dragic is questionable, especially for a player who was one of the best guards in the league last year and won most improved player. The team’s hand was forced when he demanded a trade, but the team gets no immediate help despite being in the midst of the playoff hunt. Granger may be able to play spot minutes for the team, but he has not been the same player since leg injuries derailed his career over the past couple years but has yet to play for the team. Meanwhile, the Suns are waived Salmons.
So that makes the return for the team’s best player two first round picks that are two and six years away and two fringe roster players. It’s hard to see this trade as a win for Phoenix.
Boston Receives: Isaiah Thomas
Phoenix Receives: Marcus Thornton, CLE First Round Pick
Breakdown: As if dealing one point guard wasn’t enough, Phoenix went out and got rid of another. Thomas was always a questionable fit next Dragic and Eric Bledsoe in Phoenix’s backcourt, and three guard lineups left the team way too small on the defensive end. In return, they received a Cleveland first rounder that will probably fall in the late-20’s.
Since the trade, Thomas has won Eastern Conference Player of the Week and found a strong fit in Boston. Phoenix, meanwhile, has struggled to a 2-3 record since the deadline. Thornton has played sparingly since the deal but his expiring contract will help Phoenix clear cap space for this summer.
Phoenix Suns Receive: Brandon Knight and Kendall Marshall
Milwaukee Bucks Receive: Michael Carter-Williams, Tyler Ennis and Miles Plumlee
Philadelphia 76ers Receive: LA Lakers Top-Five Protected Pick
Breakdown: This was the biggest deal of the trade deadline and one that come out of nowhere. Focusing on the impact in the Pacific Division, this deal amounted to the Suns giving up the Lakers’ top-five protected pick (which would currently fall at #4 and stay with the Lakers and become top-three protected next year according to ESPN), Tyler Ennis and Miles Plumlee for Brandon Knight and Kendall Marshall, who has been waived.
While Knight is a good player and was a borderline All-Star in the Eastern Conference this year, the Suns gave up a potential lottery pick, a player in Ennis who was never given much of a chance in Phoenix and Plumlee, who was the team’s starting center at the beginning of the year. However, Knight is five years younger than Dragic, the player he is expected to replace.
Knight has struggled in six games with the Suns, averaging only 13.5 PPG. The trade signals Phoenix’s intentions to re-sign Knight who is a restricted free agent this year.