Yesterday’s NBA trade deadline provided basketball fans with a lot of fireworks. Here are my thoughts on who won and who lost during the Trade Deadline.
The Cavs are one of the biggest surprises so far this NBA season. The combination of young talents such as Evan Mobley, Darius Garland, and Jarrett Allen has made them a legitimate contender to make some serious noise in the East. Earlier this week, the Cavaliers traded with the Indiana Pacers for shooting guard Caris LeVert. LeVert gives the Cavs a scorer that can attack the rim, which is precisely what they need. With the first-place Bulls being hit with the injury bug, I would not be surprised if the upstart Cavaliers took over that spot in the East. So, if you haven’t already, I would start paying attention.
New Orleans Pelicans
The Pelicans have been somewhat disappointing so far this year. Zion Williamson has been sidelined the whole season thus far, and players like recently acquired Devonte Graham have not lived up to expectations. Some positives have been the continued development of Brandon Ingram and the return to form for Jonas Valanciunas. The Pelicans traded for CJ McCollum, which I think once Zion is healthy again makes a dangerous big three in the west with Zion, Ingram, and McCollum. McCollum is a proven scorer who will work well alongside the big athletic players that the Pelicans have. My only worry is while this trade does make the Pelicans objectively better, what is their ceiling? I worry they may become the new Portland Trailblazers and repeatedly flame out in the playoffs after the first round. It will be interesting to see how this trio works.
I am a self-proclaimed Ben Simmons hater, but you can’t deny that his fit on the Nets is perfect. Simmons adds All-NBA level defense, elite playmaking, and excellent rebounding to an already talented team. Playing alongside Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving takes a lot of the scoring pressure off of Simmons, allowing him to maximize his talents. As a basketball fan, it will be exciting to see what the Nets can do in the wide-open Eastern Conference.
Portland made a lot of moves, and I can’t say I like any of them. I think Portland should blow up their team and start over since clearly, they are not going to win a championship around Damian Lillard. And it seemed like they were going down this path by dealing with CJ McCollum, but reports have said otherwise. Currently, led by an interim GM, the Trailblazers are planning on doing a “soft retooling” to try and build around Lillard. I am just confused at how they can form a better team now than what they have had in the past. Portland has proven not to be a free agent destination, and they do not have many legitimate assets to trade for a star. So, I just wonder what is next for them, and I don’t think it will be very good.
I love Sabonis as a player, and I was excited going into the deadline to see if he would get traded to a contender. But that did not happen. He was traded to the Kings and is stuck there until 2024 unless he is dealt again. Sabonis is a dynamic offensive player who can score, pass, and rebound, but again how is the situation better on the Kings than with the Pacers? I would argue not much. I think De’Aaron Fox and Sabonis can create some offensive fireworks, but I don’t see them winning very many games. Which is a shame for the talented player that Sabonis is.
Los Angeles Lakers
The reason the Lakers have been losing has little to do with their deadline moves. It has to do with the offseason mistakes that have led them to this position they are in now. Trading for Russell Westbrook was a horrible move that did not make sense then and does not make sense now. The Lakers gave up most of their trade assets in Kyle Kuzma, Kentavius Caldwell-Pope, and Montrezl Harrell in the deal for Westbrook, which means they are stuck with Westbrook and his massive contract for this season. Unless the Lakers magically turn it on over the rest of the season, they will have a lot of decisions to make in the offseason.