A Deadline of Why
Knicks being competent, Sixers not so much, and other trade deadline chatter.
The NBA trade deadline came and went on Thursday afternoon (Friday morning Australian time) without a bang so much as it was a series of slightly erratic fireworks, like your dodgy uncle bringing sparklers to a family New Years Eve celebration.
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As usual, here at The Antisocial Basketballer, we like to break down the big storylines from the NBA trade deadline, and figure out what’s next. This won’t be a trade by trade breakdown as such, because really who needs to hear detailed analysis about the minutiae of the Blazers acquiring Dalano Banton for a future second? No one, exactly.
I don’t know how comfortable I am living in a world where the New York Knicks are competently run, but that’s the reality of the situation at the moment as they took maybe the biggest swing on a relatively star-free deadline day, adding Bojan Bogdanovic and Alec Burks from the Detroit Pistons.
Bogdanovic and Burks are names that have been in the trade winds for over a year now, as the Pistons held onto both veterans at last year’s deadline amidst reports of…far more generous offers than what the Knicks swung here, but more on the Pistons asset management later.
For the Knicks, they add proven scoring talent to a deep roster that won’t ask either man to over-extend themselves to the point they were in Detroit. Bogdanovic is a classy scorer, a three level operator capable of putting up 20 a night. A high volume shooter, Bogdanovic is hitting over 41% of his threes this year on over seven attempts a night, giving opposing defences another headache to cover for off Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle when the latter returns from a shoulder injury.
In Detroit, Bogdanovic was often asked to be a steady metronome in a swirling sea of chaos around him as a bevy of young promising guards all took their lumps trying to figure out NBA basketball. Too often, possessions would end with a grenade in Bogdanovic’s hands, a hopeful crowd waiting eagerly for the resident magician to pull another rabbit out of the hat.
More often than not, a rabbit appeared.
Burks, meanwhile, has endured a rather rocky season thus far. A rare member of the exclusive club where their 3P% is higher than their FG%, Burks is hitting 40% of his threes, but only shooting 39% from the field as a whole, not that it matters much given 5.7 of his 9.4 field goals attempted per game are from behind the line.
Between November 1st and December 31st, Burks was borderline unplayable. Through a 21 game sample, he shot a miserable 31% from the field and 29% from three in 16 minutes a game on over 7 field goals attempted. However, since Jan 1st, Burks has caught fire, hitting 45% of his threes and just under 45% from the field, rediscovering his form as one of the most coveted pure sixth men scorers in the league.
In Bogdanovic and Burks the Knicks have acquired two polished offensive players capable of exploding on any given night (Burks two 30 point games, Bogdanovic four this season) for the low price of Quentin Grimes, an assortment of end of the bench veterans, and a second round pick.
The next month will be a period of assimilation and transition for the Knicks, and it’s likely we won’t see the full version of this team until the playoffs. Julius Randle is out for another few weeks at least with a dislocated shoulder, while OG Anunoby has just had elbow surgery. Both should be back sometime in March you’d think, giving the Knicks enough time to incorporate these new pieces before a playoff run.
The Perfect Fit
Dallas are currently sitting at 29-23, good enough for eighth in a loaded Western Conference battle for the final guaranteed playoff spots. With a generational talent like Luka Doncic at the helm, it takes some serious misfortune to not fire, and with Dallas it’s been injuries, with Doncic, Kyrie Irving, Josh Green, Dante Exum, Dereck Lively II and Derrick Jones Jr all missing time at various points in the season.
Enter PJ Washington, a modern day prototypical stretch power forward acquired from Charlotte for Grant Williams, Seth Curry and a future first round pick. The Grant Williams experiment in Dallas was short-lived and disappointing, but that’s a tale for another day, this is about Washington.
Washington isn’t exactly having an eye popping season numbers wise. His scoring is slightly down, his rebounding slightly up, all of which to say any growth or regression is statistically insignificant. Averaging 13 points and 5 rebounds on a terrible Charlotte squad will dull anyone’s lustre.
When I say Washington is a perfect fit on Dallas there is a certain level of projection and assumption to be made. In theory, Washington, as mentioned above, is that prototypical new age four, a bigger wing hybrid that can hit threes, defend at a league average level at least and be a positive rebounder.
The issue is Washington shot 35% from three last year, not bad but not anything special, and that number is down to 32% this year. I do put a portion of that on the loss of LaMelo Ball, who has missed huge segments of the last two years with injury, and as good as Terry Rozier was for Charlotte, he wasn’t exactly a known creator for others.
Washington is a really interesting fit in this Dallas isocentric offense, an upgrade in theory over someone like Maxi Kleber or Markieff Morris in that power forward/small ball centre role. I’m not sure whether he starts because I do think the Mavericks have found a nice balance between their All-World offensive backcourt in Luka and Kyrie and their role playing 3 and D guys in Josh Green and Derrick Jones Jr.
Washington’s ability to hit open threes will be his ticket to playing time and a key to unlocking another level of this Dallas offense. Teams can have a tendency to cheat off Williams/Jones Jr in the fourth quarter. If Washington can get back to his 2021 shooting levels, that becomes a more dangerous proposition.
I do also think the acquisition of Daniel Gafford has gone under the radar. In an ideal world he isn’t starting over Dereck Lively II, but as far as backup centres go, he’s an upgrade in my mind over Dwight Powell and Richaun Holmes. A good rim protector and active rebounder, he’s also another roll man for Luka to help his pick and roll game.
All up, I think Dallas are a big winner this deadline.
The Emails You Didn’t Send
…and other quick hits.
For ages, the smoke around Atlanta was which contender would swoop in and present the highest big for Dejounte Murray, an All-Star guard seemingly frustrated at being the second banana to Trae Young. Clearly, Atlanta never received an offer they felt worthy of parting with Murray despite the questions around the long term viability of the Young-Murray partnership, and the emergence of Jalen Johnson.
Atlanta are in no rush here, as Murray is under control for at least three more seasons after this one, having previously agreed to an extension with the Hawks at an average annual value of over $28M which kicks in this coming offseason. It is worth noting that because Murray has an extension kicking in, he is subject to the poison pill provision, meaning he counts for the average of this year’s salary and next year’s salary for trade purposes (around $21M or so averaged out). This offseason, Murray will count for $24M, and can fetch bigger trade pieces.
I’m going to need someone to sit me down and explain gently what the plan was for the Philadelphia 76ers this deadline.
Trading Patrick Beverley to the Bucks for Cam Payne is a move that’s lateral at best, and a pretty clear downgrade on the face of it. Then they turn around and effectively hand Jaden Springer, a really useful rotational guard with good defensive instincts, over to Boston for free like a champagne on arrival.
Getting Buddy Hield in from Indiana for a collection of end of the bench fodder helps the Sixers offense stay afloat while Joel Embiid is out, but unless there’s some misdirection about how serious Embiid’s injury is, it seems like a desperate sequence of moves with differing connotations.
Meanwhile in the north east, Boston just quietly padded out their bench rather nicely with the aforementioned Springer and Xavier Tillman from Memphis. While I do think there’s been some overreaction to how much these guys will actually contribute when it matters just because it’s Boston, there’s no denying they both fill needs.
For the last year, my biggest question for Boston has been their depth. As far as a top 5-6 rotation they might be the best in the league but it fell away. Not only does this give Joe Mazzulla options in the playoffs, it also allows more regular season rest for Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Kristaps Porzingis.
Tillman specifically fills a nice role for them, assumedly usurping Luke Kornet and Neemias Queta as the replacement five. A good positional defender without spectacular athleticism and the ability to hit an occasional pick and pop three are valuable traits for any bench big.
Patrick Beverley fills a desperate need as a guard that actually knows how to play defence. That’s about it.
The Bucks needed some functional wing help, and I get they’re asset-poor but I’m surprised they couldn’t turn at least one of Pat Connaughton, Bobby Portis or Marjon Beauchamp into something like a Royce O’Neale or Dorian Finney-Smith.
Phoenix made move that grew with every report. What started with Royce O’Neale and David Roddy for Chimezie Metu, Yuta Watanabe and an assortment of rubbish picks I don’t care to sift through eventually evolved into including Keita Bates-Diop and Jordan Goodwin as well. While I really like Goodwin and I think the other three have some merit, none of these guys are exactly earthmovers. You can question the necessity of dumping almost every minimum contract role player you have for Royce O’Neale but that’s moneyball I guess.
O’Neale has had a weird year in Brooklyn basically being given free reign to do whatever he wants, and Roddy is another warm body to throw out in situations in the playoffs, giving the Suns more options next to other guys like Josh Okogie and Nassir Little.
The Thunder’s only move at the deadline was to add Gordon Hayward, which took me by surprise but I don’t hate it. Sure, I think the Thunder had more pressing needs elsewhere (see: frontcourt role players) but I do think Hayward allows more flexibility with regards to Josh Giddey or Lu Dort.
The bigger move here might have been packaging one of Dort or Giddey (or both) for a swing at a wing but that isn’t really OKC’s modus operandi, and Hayward gives them a veteran shot creator for those sticky playoff moments when the court tightens, for the low price of Vasilije Micic, Tre Mann, Davis Bertans and second round picks.
I have no analysis of the Dinwiddie-Schroder trade other than why, for everyone involved.
Likewise, why are the Raptors giving a first round pick up, protected or not, for Kelly Olynyk and Ochai Agbaji?
Finally, and I’ve restrained myself to here, but the Pistons asset management has continued to burn the team. After needing to attach two second round picks to get off the contract the team signed Marvin Bagley to, Troy Weaver has again sold low by holding on to the ticking time bomb of Bojan Bogdanovic and Alec Burks.
Reports are the team had offers including first round picks this time last year. Now, the grand prize is Quentin Grimes.
Don’t get me wrong, Grimes is a great fit for this team as an actual wing that can play defense, and I’m happy with his acquisition, but the road to get here has been convoluted and terrible.
In actuality, I was actually fine with the moves the Pistons made at the deadline. I was fearful the team would sell off one of the young guys (see: Jaden Ivey) for a job-saving swing at a Dejounte Murray, but instead, they operated around the margins, adding useful NBA players that can hit shots and play defense in Simone Fontecchio, Troy Brown Jr and Grimes (as well as Shake Milton, Malachi Flynn, Evan Fournier, Danuel House and Ryan Arcidiacono, the latter two of whom will be waived).
The gutting ended with farewells to Danilo Gallinari, Joe Harris, Killian Hayes (all waived), Monte Morris, Kevin Knox and the aforementioned Bogdanovic and Burks. A lot of effort to undo the mistake of sitting on your hands in the summer, but at least now Monty Williams is forced to sink or swim with Cade Cunningham, Jaden Ivey, Jalen Duren, Ausar Thompson and Marcus Sasser.
Somehow James Wiseman is still on the roster though.
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