Grading The NBA Trade Deadline

The 2019-2020 NBA Trade Deadline has come to pass, and in its wake, it has left veterans and rising stars alike in new places. Some were brought in as role players or part of a second unit off the bench. And others brought in to be a co-star or maybe even the new face of a franchise. With all this out of the way, let’s grade some of the biggest trades completed at this year’s NBA Trade Deadline.

Cavaliers rescue Andre Drummond from Detroit

Cavaliers- A

Pistons- C+

Andre Drummond has long been considered the NBA’s premier rebounder—averaging over thirteen rebounds since his second year back in 2014—and yet the Cavaliers were able to acquire him for relatively nothing. In return for their franchise player, who has a double-double as a career average, the Detroit Pistons received John Henson and Brandon Knight, neither of whom average over five points per game. The Pistons also received a second round draft pick, but if there is one thing the history of the NBA has taught us, it’s that serviceable draft talent tends to run out once you go south of the draft lottery.

It’s my belief that Andre Drummond is the transitional piece from Kevin Love—one of the few players remaining from the Cavs 2016 championship run—to a new era of Cavaliers basketball. One with Andre Drummond, Colin Sexton, and Darius Garland being at the forefront. What this trade means for the Pistons is that they are finally going full tank mode. At least that’s what losing to the Knicks says. But in all seriousness, what this move does is allows for the Pistons to clear cap space and raise the value of their draft pick which is currently hovering around 6th-7th overall. My only concern is that the Pistons haven’t made an exceptional draft pick since drafting Drummond himself, so I have no reason to believe this will be any different.

This trade isn’t as one-sided as many believe, but the Cavaliers still come out on top.

Clippers land Marcus Morris in 3-team deal

Clippers- A+

Knicks- B

Wizards- Excluded

Speaking of “full tank,” the Knicks also made a trade this trade deadline. They traded away what seemed to be the only bright spot on the team, power forward Marcus Morris, to the Los Angeles Clippers. Morris is having arguably the best season of his eight year career, averaging 19pts|5reb|1.5ast, at the age of 30. The Clippers got another scorer who converting 43% of his threes this year to put alongside Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, as well as a player with enough length to help Ivica Zubac and Montrezel Harrell down low in the paint, which they need if they wind up playing the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals like I believe they eventually will.

So it seems like this is just another instance of the Knicks getting hosed right? Wrong. Believe it or not, the Knikcs made a strategically good move, one of few in the Jim Dolan era. The Knicks received what is most likely going to be a late round draft pick and small forward Moe Harkless. Yes, Moe Harkless is most certainly a downgrade from Marcus Morris, but the Knicks are tanking. Whatever the Knicks can do to lose more games without sacrificing their young talent, is what the Knicks should do, and Marcus Morris isn’t exactly young by NBA standards. Much like the Pistons however, what’s holding the Knicks back from getting a higher grade is the fact that I don’t have too much faith in the Knicks’ front office on draft night. Their most recent first round pick RJ Barrett is averaging 13 points per game off some of the most inefficient shooting splits in years, and their best first round pick in a decade is currently playing alongside Luka Doncic in Dallas. But the Knicks are at least heading in the right direction, and for an organization as abysmally run and operated as the Knicks, that’s all you can really ask for.

Warriors and Timberwolves swap stars

Warriors- A

Timberwolves- C+

This trade pretty much sums up why the Warriors were able to achieve the heights they did in the mid-2010s. In many ways, Andrew Wiggins is the same player as D’Angelo Russell. Both are ball-dominant, poor defensively, and have a good outside shot. The big difference is that Andrew Wiggins isn’t another guard; he’s a genuine small forward. Due to injuries, we never got the chance to see Steph, Russell, and Klay together on the same court, but that was Golden State’s plan. It was obvious that D’Angelo Russell was nothing more than a trade piece from the moment he signed his name on the dotted line with the Warriors this past off-season. So when the Warriors enter next season with a healthy Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, paired with Andrew Wiggins and an early first round draft pick (most likely James Wiseman), we will see a team in the western conference that is dangerous to anyone they play. Oh, and did I mention they also received a 2021 1st round pick and a 2020 2nd round pick from the Timberwolves? I didn’t think so. 

For the Timberwolves, this move doesn’t make much sense basketball-wise, but that’s not the point. The Timberwolves have been dealing with a disgruntled Karl Anthony Towns for the majority of this season, so going out and getting one of his closest friends in D’Angelo Russell, appears to be a much needed peace offering for their super-max recipient. If only they didn’t ship off those picks alongside Wiggins to the Bay Area. 

Heat coax Andre Iguodala out of retirement

Heat- C

Grizzlies- C+

Timberwolves- C

This is perhaps the most overrated trade in recent NBA history. The Grizzlies acquired 23-year-old Justise Winslow—a talented but limited player—alongside Gorgui Dieng and Dion Waiters, whose salaries amount to a $29 million dollar cap hit, taking away Memphis’s ability to pursue a max free agent this off-season. The Heat received 36-year-old Andre Iguodala and gave him a contract worth $30 million over two years, an aging Jae Crowder, and center Solomon Hill. And finally the Timberwolves saved a little bit of money and got James Johnson. Yet social media went crazy. Chalk it up to the universal love for Pat Riley and the trade being one of the first completed around the deadline, I guess. 

Overall, nothing from any team that is going to amount to a noticeable change in their win totals, but if I had to give the edge to one team, it would be the Memphis Grizzlies, because they received the player with the most potential, the cap they swallowed isn’t that much of an issue since,


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