Thursday’s trade deadline in the NBA saw a record-breaking 37 players change teams. Here’s a breakdown of which teams made the right move, as well as those that would’ve been better off not trading.
Miami Heat: The Heat acquired point guard Goran Dragic from the Phoenix Suns for a package of role players and draft picks. Dragic desperately wanted out of Phoenix’s three point guard system, and landed with a team that can effectively utilize his entire skill set. He wanted to come to Miami, and will likely sign a contract extension with them in the offseason. He’ll form an impressive starting five for the Heat, alongside Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Luol Deng, and Hassan Whiteside.
Oklahoma City Thunder: The Thunder may have improved their roster more than anyone else on deadline day. They jettisoned disgruntled backup point guard Reggie Jackson to Detroit, and added most notably center Enes Kanter from the Jazz. Jackson had become increasingly unhappy with his role and the Thunder were able to move him to improve their frontline, the weakest aspect of their team. Starting center Steven Adams has been injured, and veteran Kendrick Perkins simply wasn’t going to get the job done. Kanter, the third overall pick by Utah in 2011, gives a much needed inside presence to a talented team looking to rebound from early season injuries and compete in a loaded Western Conference.
Boston Celtics: The Celtics have little hope of competing this season with only 20 wins in their first 51 games, but they acquired point guard Isaiah Thomas from the Phoenix Suns in exchange for one of their many draft picks. Thomas is a proven scorer and is under contract for the next three seasons at a reasonable price. Boston added a quality player for their rebuilding effort without giving up too much.
Brooklyn Nets: The Nets dealt future Hall of Famer Kevin Garnett back to his original team, the Minnesota Timberwolves, and received forward Thaddeus Young. Garnett was only averaging 6 points and 6 rebounds per game, while Young is averaging 14 and 5. Both players are free agents at the end of the season. Brooklyn was able to take advantage of Minnesota’s desire for a homecoming, and added an impact piece for their stretch run in the weak Eastern Conference.
Phoenix Suns: With an imbalanced roster consisting of three point guards, Phoenix needed to make changes at the deadline. They ultimately traded both Goran Dragic and Isaiah Thomas, while acquiring pending free agent Brandon Knight. These moves may help franchise player Eric Bledsoe thrive, but it doesn’t improve the product on the floor, and didn’t maximize the return value of the players dealt. The Suns narrowly hold onto the eighth seed in the ultra-competitive West, and may have sacrificed their opportunity to maintain that lead.
Philadelphia 76ers: The Sixers continue to do everything possible to not win games. Their strategy of tanking to acquire draft picks has been going on for multiple seasons now, and culminated in trading former Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams on deadline day. Philadelphia was expected to compete once injured center Joel Embiid returns to the lineup next season, but their turnaround may be further away than most thought.
Milwaukee Bucks: The Bucks are one of the surprise stories of the 2014-15 season, entering the All-Star break at 30-23 despite losing their most promising player, rookie Jabari Parker, for most of the season due to injury. Instead of maintaining their core, they shook things up and essentially swapped point guards by dealing Brandon Knight and acquiring Michael Carter-Williams. Milwaukee is taking the long-term approach because even though Knight is currently the more talented player, he’s a restricted free agent after the season whereas Carter-Williams is under team control for the next few seasons. The Bucks hurt their chances this season with the trade, but it may prove to be a wise move down the road.
Scott DeWeese is a geographer from the Baltimore area. One of the final graduates of the University of Maryland from the ACC era, DeWeese is an avid sports writer and fan. When he’s not looking up remedies to counteract male pattern baldness, you can probably find him at Camden Yards or checking the fantasy football waiver wire. Follow him on Twitter @ScottDeWeese.