What this Trade Deadline did show was that teams were looking to correct their timelines. Younger teams tried to shed veterans that didn’t fit their long-term plans while Playoff teams added key reserves to round out their rosters.
Here are the Winners and Losers of this year’s Trade Deadline.
Winner: Atlanta Hawks
Looking at the Hawks’ record, this move to acquire Clint Capela, who’s on the second year of a five-year $90 million contract doesn’t make sense. Based on their 14-38 record so far, the Hawks are on a rebuilding track. Why not save their cap space and draft pick (First Round Pick from Brooklyn)?
That’s because the Hawks are done losing. They were pegged as a rising team this year with Trae Young and John Collins leading the way. Unfortunately, injuries, suspensions and awful defense derailed their improvement.
Bringing in Capela (and bringing back Dewayne Dedmon) solves their defensive woes. Capela has proven that he’s a multifaceted defender who not only protects the rim, he can also stick with perimeter players on switches.
Capela not only helps the Hawks right now, he helps them moving forward. There’s no way Atlanta would have been a free agent destination in the next two years. So, in essence the team would have been sitting on cap space for no reason. With this trade, the Hawks got a player who is young enough (25 years-old) to fit their youth movement and talented enough to accelerate their growth.
Winner: Memphis Grizzlies and Miami Heat
It’s rare that two teams end up on the winning side of a trade, but that’s what happened when the Heat and Grizzlies swapped playmaking forwards. Both moves fit their current timelines.
The Grizzlies not only got better by addition via subtraction but they also got better with addition via addition. The Grizzlies shipped away Andre Iguodala, who was determined not to play in Memphis. That irked the young guys who were busting their ass, fighting for a Playoff berth in the rough West.
The Grizzlies got solid players in their trade deadline moves, all of whom fit the direction of the team. Justise Winslow is a playmaking forward that will allow Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr. and Brandon Clarke to shine as off ball options. Winslow has been sidelined by injuries for much of this season, but when he does get healthy, he will fit seamlessly with the Grizzlies.
As for the Heat, they got a player that will help them with their push to the Finals in the East.
Right now, there is no clear cut second-best team in the East. Pat Riley saw that opening and decided to pounce. He didn’t hesitate to trade away Winslow, who was the odd man out even with a solid showing last season. The Heat are going to ride Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo and their underrated young guys from this point forward.
Beyond clearing their identity, the Heat are bringing in a player who fits their culture. Iguodala is a player not afraid of competition, ready to play in the biggest stage and willing to fill in a role on a team. Having Iguodala, Butler and Jae Crowder to throw at Giannis Antetokounmpo makes the Heat a real threat in the East.
Loser: Detroit Pistons
After making the Playoffs last year as an eighth seed with a .500 record, the Pistons decided to blow things up and go through another rebuilding phase. That decision alone makes them losers of not only this Trade Deadline, but this season.
Looking at the haul for their supposed franchise player, Pistons fans won’t be happy with the trade. Detroit shipped away Drummond for a couple of bench players and a second round pick. A couple of months ago, players like Mitchell Robinson, Julius Randle and Jona Valanciunas as well as first round picks from the Hornets and Celtics were in the mix for Drummond. To go from that to Brandon Knight, John Henson and a 2023 second round pick is a steep fall.
To make matters worse, Drummond put the Pistons on blast on Twitter. It’s clear that Drummond wanted to stay in Detroit. The Pistons just didn’t want to pay the price.
Winner: Minnesota Timberwolves
When your franchise player says something like that after your 13th straight loss, you have to make moves. The Timberwolves made several to shake up their season.
Their biggest one was to make a trade to bring in Karl-Anthony Towns’ best friends. With Golden State obviously dangling D’Angelo Russell to interested teams, Minny grabbed the opportunity. It cost them a first round pick, but they got the player they wanted and needed.
This Russell Trade ticks off so many boxes for the Timberwolves. He’s clearly a better fit alongside Towns with the two forming a new guard-big All-Star duo. Russell and Towns’ relationship as well as Russell’s long-term deal will help entice Towns to re-sign with the team. Minny also ships away Andrew Wiggins, an expensive and inefficient player who didn’t fit well alongside Towns.
Forgotten in all their moves before the Deadline was the Robert Covington trade that netted them Malik Beasley and a first round pick. The Timberwolves not only get draft compensation for Covington, they get a wing like Beasley who can produce numbers similar to Wiggins on a cheaper contract.
Loser: Isaiah Thomas
Thomas just can’t get a break. All he wants to do is to play. But nearly four years after he suffered a major hip injury, he still hasn’t found a team willing to give him a chance. After a a scintillating run with Boston back in 2017, he has since bounced around the league, trying several comeback runs with the Cavaliers, Lakers, Nuggets and most recently the Wizards.
Thomas has actually been a solid option for the Wizards this year. He filled in a need for Washington, playing as their point guard with John Wall our and Tomas Satoransky gone. But that wasn’t enough to keep him on the roster. Thomas was traded by Washington to the Clippers where he would have had an opportunity to play for a championship contender.
Unfortunately, Thomas didn’t fit the plans in LA. He was waived less than . an hour after the trade was announced and now he’s back in limbo, unsure of where his next landing spot will be.
It sucks that a classy guy like him can’t get a solid shot to resume his career.
TBD: Philadelphia 76ers
The Sixers are reeling. They’re a team with issues that can’t be fixed by any trade deadline acquisitions, short of trading away Joel Embiid or Ben Simmons. They tried anyway.
The Sixers tried to solve their bench and shooting problems by bringing in Alec Burks and Glenn Robinson III. Burks (1.8 3PM on 37.5% 3FG) and Robinson (1.4 3PM on 40% 3FG) aren’t the deadeye shooters Philly needs but they’re an upgrade over the current options on the team. Philly paid a relatively cheap price (multiple Second Round Picks) to acquire them anyway.
The thing is, the acquisition of Burks and Robinson won’t determine the success of the team’s season. That burden still lies on Embiid, Simmons and Head Coach Brett Brown. If the Sixers can’t find a way to fix their offense then trading for the two former Warriors would mean nothing in the long run.