DeAndre Jordan is still a Clipper (Feb. 8)
The Clippers made their big move last week, shipping Blake Griffin to the Detroit Pistons. They wound up doing nothing else, though, as DeAndre Jordan and Avery Bradley — two players rumored to be involved in deals over the past several days — stayed put. Owner Steve Ballmer does not want to bottom out, and by signing Lou Williams to a contract extension and keeping Jordan and Bradley, the Clippers — currently a half-game out of the final playoff spot in the West — will have a good chance of making the postseason for a seventh straight season.
Tyreke Evans, Marco Belinelli stay put, after no one thought they would (Feb. 8)
The biggest surprise from Thursday’s deadline? That players like Tyreke Evans and Marco Belinelli — solid players on expiring contracts — stayed in Memphis and Atlanta, respectively.
The Grizzlies were holding out for a first-round pick for Evans, and appear to have decided they would rather try to keep him this summer instead of giving him away for a second-round pick or a fallen former prospect. Atlanta, on the other hand, could’ve moved Belinelli for a second-round pick, but would’ve had to take on money in the trade. The Hawks decided it would be better to save that potential cap space until the summer, when a plethora of teams will be desperate to get out of the luxury tax, and it will likely net them better assets in return.
[The Cavaliers won the trade deadline, and have emerged as a legit NBA finals contender again]
Wizards deal Sheldon Mac to clear space (Feb. 8)
The Washington Wizards dealt guard Sheldon Mac to the Atlanta Hawks ahead of the NBA trade deadline. The deal lowers the team’s luxury tax hit and opens a roster spot for the Wizards to potentially fill with a free agent available in the buyout market. (Read full story)
Three-way deal lands Emmanuel Mudiay with Knicks, Doug McDermott with Mavs, Devin Harris with Nuggets (Feb. 8)
The New York Knicks, Denver Nuggets and Dallas Mavericks consummated a three-way trade Thursday, with the Knicks getting Emmanuel Mudiay, the Nuggets getting Devin Harris and the Mavericks getting Doug McDermott. Mudiay, the former No. 7 pick in the 2015 NBA draft, will get a chance to play significant minutes for a Knicks team that needs a point guard, while Harris gives Denver — which is trying to make the playoffs — a veteran presence at the point that they need.
Cavs wheeling and dealing at deadline (Feb. 8)
Shortly after starting trade deadline day with a bang by dealing Isaiah Thomas to the Los Angeles Lakers, the Cleveland Cavaliers pulled off a massive three-team trade with the Utah Jazz and Sacramento Kings that saw Cleveland land George Hill and Rodney Hood, giving them another much-needed boost of athleticism and shooting on the perimeter.
The deal was complicated, with Cleveland sending Iman Shumpert and Derrick Rose to the Kings and Jae Crowder to the Jazz. Utah, meanwhile, sends Joe Johnson to the Kings, who will undoubtedly buy him out of his contract and make him a free agent. Rose will reportedly be bought out, and could land back with former coach Tom Thibodeau on the Minnesota Timberwolves.
In a separate move, the Cavaliers sent Dwyane Wade home to the Miami Heat for a heavily protected second-round pick. While it was surprising that Wade would leave James, one of his closest friends, as Cleveland remakes its roster with youth and athleticism, it seems the Cavaliers decided to give him the chance to go back to Miami and reunite with Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra as a goodwill gesture.
Cavs blow up Isaiah Thomas experiment, send former all-star PG to Lakers (Feb. 8)
The Cleveland Cavaliers and Los Angeles Lakers completed the first significant deal of deadline day, with Cleveland sending Isaiah Thomas, Channing Frye and its 2018 first round pick to Los Angeles in exchange for Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. The Cavaliers had been expected to do something for weeks, and they finally did. The move they wound up doing, though, was a surprising one, in no small part because it opens up cap space for 2018 for the Lakers — who would love to use that space to sign LeBron James.
[Cavaliers trade basically everyone, Internet goes berserk]
Lou Williams agrees to contract extension with Clippers, sending ripples around the league (Feb. 7)
Lou Williams agreeing to a contract extension with the Los Angeles Clippers Wednesday will have several ripple effects through the remainder of the trade deadline.
They begin with the loss of Williams from the market as a potential bench scorer for a team looking to make a playoff run. Williams is having a career year, averaging 23.3 points per game for the Clippers, and could have been the kind of instant impact sub that could win a playoff game or two for a contender.
But now he’ll stay put — which is what people around the league have been expecting over the past week or so. Williams has helped lead the Clippers back into the playoff picture, and while owner Steve Ballmer greenlit the Blake Griffin trade last week, he doesn’t want his team to tank.
Trading Williams would all but ensure they would.
Williams staying could also kick the Tyreke Evans market into gear. The expectation around the league has been that the chase for Evans will go right down to the wire Thursday as Memphis continues to seek a first-round pick for his services. Perhaps the loss of Williams from the market will spur teams needing bench help — such as Boston and Philadelphia — to up their offers for Evans, given there are no other players like him available in the marketplace.
With Williams staying in Los Angeles, it’s looking more and more likely DeAndre Jordan will, as well. While teams have remained interested in the center, the combination of cobbling together enough assets to entice them to move Jordan while also not burdening them with salary that goes past 2019 has made it seem likely for some time now that it will be hard to make a deal for Jordan that makes sense for both sides.
That is especially true when considering, again, that Ballmer doesn’t want the Clippers to flame out, and they are currently a half-game out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference. Even if the Clippers do move on from, say, Avery Bradley — one of the pieces they received in exchange for Griffin last week — keeping Williams and Jordan would be more than enough to allow Los Angeles to, at a minimum, remain relevant in the West playoff picture in the season’s stretch run.
[NBA trade deadline winners and losers: Lakers hit a home run; Celtics caught looking]
Knicks ship out disgruntled big man Willy Hernangomez, Kristaps Porzingis’s ‘best friend’ (Feb. 7)
When a team has a player present a trade request, there are two ways to proceed. One is to hold firm and tell the player to deal with their current situation, potentially leaving the locker room unsettled thanks to a disgruntled presence. The other is to acquiesce and move the player, resolving the situation and taking the best deal available.
The New York Knicks chose the latter Wednesday, sending Willy Hernangomez to the Charlotte Hornets for Johnny O’Bryant and a pair of future second-round picks.
In truth, the deal is probably the best deal the Knicks could have made for Hernangomez if they decided they needed to move him. While he was productive last season in becoming an all-rookie first team selection, Hernangomez had been supplanted in the rotation this season by Enes Kanter — a better version of Hernangomez. And now that his close friend and longtime teammate Kristaps Porzingis has torn his anterior cruciate ligament, he may be a center long-term — which only would cut into Hernangomez’s playtime and value even further.
The unfortunate thing for Hernangomez is that he went from one team with a logjam at center to another team with one. Charlotte will likely try to play him next to either Dwight Howard or Cody Zeller, but it’s hard to see how that will work well. What he does provide the Hornets with, though, is a capable backup on a near-minimum contract for the next two seasons. That could pave the way for the Hornets to move on from either of their more expensive options to try to move away from the luxury tax line.
[Kristaps Porzingis’s torn ACL is a cruel blow to a franchise that’s all too used to them]
Bucks, Nets swap spare parts (Feb. 5)
Last Monday, the NBA world was shaken by the news that Blake Griffin had been traded to the Detroit Pistons, a franchise-changing move for both teams.
This Monday, the NBA world was anything but shaken by the news of another swap — the Brooklyn Nets sending center Tyler Zeller to the Milwaukee Bucks for Rashad Vaughn and a second-round pick.
The trade was the definition of a minor transaction, with the Bucks gaining a potential improvement at backup center behind John Henson and the Nets continuing to add to their asset pool with a second-round pick — one that will either convey this spring (the pick is protected 31-to-47 in 2018) or in 2020 (when it is unprotected).
If anything, it’s a deal that can be seen as an indictment of the progress of 2016 first-round pick Thon Maker, who hasn’t taken the step forward many expected him to after showing some flashes in Milwaukee’s first-round loss to the Toronto Raptors in last year’s playoffs. But given the price point of the deal (likely a late second-rounder this year, or one the Bucks would expect to be in the back half of the second round two years from now) it’s a fairly low price for some additional depth inside.
Greg Monroe becomes instant offense off the bench for Celtics (Feb. 2)
The Boston Celtics will sign Greg Monroe to a one-year deal worth $5 million, beating out the New Orleans Pelicans for the former Georgetown product. The Phoenix Suns bought out Monroe earlier this week, and the 27-year-old had a clear choice before him: play on a minimum contract for the Pelicans but be guaranteed their starting center job, or go to Boston for a significantly higher salary with less guaranteed playing time.
Monroe chose the latter, as the Celtics — armed with an $8.4 million disabled player exception from Gordon Hayward’s serious injury in the season-opening game — used a sizable chunk of it to sign him for the remainder of the season. Monroe, a New Orleans native, was coveted by the Pelicans, who lost starting center DeMarcus Cousins for the season with a torn Achilles a week ago. He would’ve stepped into a newly rebuilt big-man rotation in New Orleans had he agreed to sign there, as the Pelicans completed a trade Thursday for Nikola Mirotic to play alongside Anthony Davis.
In Boston, Monroe will fall somewhere into the rotation with Aron Baynes and Daniel Theis behind all-star Al Horford.
One note of clarity: although Boston was granted the disabled player exception for Hayward’s injury, and used it to sign Monroe, that doesn’t preclude Hayward from coming back this season. The chances of him doing so, however, are remote.
Monroe averaged 11.3 points and 8.0 rebounds per game in 23 games this season for the Suns, whom he joined in November as part of the trade that sent Eric Bledsoe to the Milwaukee Bucks. Monroe remains a solid scoring and rebounding big, though his skill-set would’ve made him a better fit in the NBA 10 years ago than in today’s pace-and-space dominated league.
It was a bit surprising that Phoenix bought out Monroe, who had a $17.8 million expiring contract, before next week’s trade deadline. But the Suns have been said to have designs on spending money in free agency this summer, and thus likely weren’t interested in taking back dead money in exchange for draft assets from other teams using Monroe’s money.
Pelicans make a deal for Nikola Mirotic after all (Feb. 1)