Everyone calm down. It’s finally over. Another trade deadline has come and gone, Twitter has burned into cyberspace, and all is right in the NBA universe. There weren’t any blockbuster trades that will shift the balance of power in the NBA, rather savvy moves to either clear cap space, add pieces for a postseason run, or acquire young players for the future. Here’s the rundown of the most important developments from 2018 NBA trade deadline.
Cleveland Cavaliers and Los Angeles Lakers
After only appearing in only 15 games with the Cavaliers, the Isaiah-LeBron experiment has ran its course. For the Cavaliers, this was inevitable if they want any chance of keeping LeBron this offseason. Watching him and Isaiah try to co-exist was excruciating; trading him now gives them a return of young players before he leaves in free agency. While Clarkson and Nance Jr. aren’t the perfect solution to the Cavaliers defensive struggles, their energy and versatility allows for more switching, a necessity against teams like the Warriors and the Rockets.
For the Lakers, this was a shrewd move to not only build their future but improve their current roster. The Lakers are dead last in three point percentage and Thomas and Frye will provide outside shooting. Magic Johnson has said that Lonzo Ball will still be the teams starting point guard so it’ll be interesting if Thomas can play off the ball on the Lakers, although he couldn’t on the Cavs. More importantly however, the Lakers got Nance and Clarkson’s salaries off their books, allowing them to chase two max contract players in the summers of 2018 and 2019; a first round pick thrown in isn’t too shabby also.
Cleveland Cavaliers, Sacramento Kings, Utah Jazz
For the Cavaliers, this trade fixed a problem they’ve been dealing with since Kyrie Irving was on the team: lack of defense at the point guard position. Over the years Hill has been regarded as one of the best defenders at his position in the league and he has playoff experience to go along with it. Hood is a better player this year than Shumpert, Rose, and Crowder; a change in scenery from a fringe playoff team to a title contender could improve his career season even moreso.
The downside to all the trades the Cavaliers have made is that they are only built for a run this season. The Cavaliers are paying a combined 31.5 million for Clarkson and Hill, which will be a waste if LeBron decides to leave in free agency. Hood is an restricted free agent this summer, and Nance Jr. is unrestricted in 2019. The Sacramento Kings are starting to finally move in the right direction. Getting Hill off their roster frees up cap space to trade for expiring contracts, so long as they come with draft picks as well. Keep an eye out for a buyout on Joe Johnson’s contract.
It’s clear that Jae Crowder has underperformed this season, but a change in scenery could be exactly what he needs. He’s earning 15 million over the next two years, a bargain compared to what Hood might get on his next contract. When he’s playing to his potential he’s a better defender than Hood and has the physicality to take the power forward minutes that Johnson’s departure has left vacant. If Crowder doesn’t perform any better on the Jazz however, they may have missed an opportunity to build a core around Hood and Donovan Mitchell.
Dallas Mavericks, New York Knicks, Denver Nuggets
Dallas Mavericks Receive: SF/PF Doug McDermott
Denver Nuggets Receive: PG/SG/SF Devin Harris, 2018 second-round pick (from Los Angeles Clippers, via New York)
New York Knicks Receive: PG Emmanuel Mudiay, 2018 second-round pick (from Portland, via Denver)
After 3 years, the Nuggets have given up on the Emmanuel Mudiay project and the New York Knicks couldn’t be happier. Buying low on his stock, the Knicks are hoping that a change of scenery is what Mudiay needs to jumpstart his career. His points and assists have gone down since last season but to be fair, the Nuggets gave up on him. He’s improved both his field goal and three point percentage; he’s now shooting 40% from three. It’s early, but putting him at point guard and sliding Frank Ntilikina to the shooting guard is an interesting idea. Both players frame and wingspan allow them to do unique things on the court; Ntilikina is looking like he will develop into a lockdown defender, it’s up to Mudiay to develop into the offensive punch of the duo.
For the Nuggets, this was a questionable trade. Mudiay hasn’t panned out exactly, but a second round pick isn’t enough to justify trading away a 21 year old beginning his prime. Yes, they also received Devin Harris who can fill the PG/SG spot, but he’s 35 and on an expiring contract. Unless the second round pick eventually becomes a productive player, this is a trade the Nuggets shouldn’t have pulled the trigger on.
Getting Devin Harris off the roster in exchange for a young player was a brilliant move for the Mavericks. Although he’s a playmaker for the offense, he’s 36, on an expiring contract, and the Mavericks suck. Trading him in exchange for a 26 year old sniper who works hard on defense is the most forward thinking move Dallas could have done. Doug Mcdermott is the type of player Rick Carlisle likes: motivated, coachable and willing to serve. If he plays his cards right, McDermott could be a part of the Maverick rebuilding plan.
Orlando Magic and Phoenix Suns
Suns Receive: PG Elfrid Payton
Magic Recieve: 2018 2nd Round Pick
For the Suns, this trade doesn’t really have a downside. If Payton plays to his potential, Phoenix will retain his Bird rights and place him long term in the spot next to Devin Booker. If he plays poorly, the Suns can part with him in 2019 free agency. The Magic couldn’t have commanded more than a second round pick or a player of equal worth for Payton. They probably should have ridden out Payton’s cheap contract to see if his improvement on the offense end is something that would continue.