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NBA Trade Deadline 2022: Analysis
Thoughts on every NBA trade from the last week.
NBA Christmas has come and gone, with the trade deadline now passed. As the dusts of chaos now settle across a new dystopian NBA landscape, lets run through the madness and take stock of what the eff is going on.
We’ll start a few days ago.
Powell to the Clippers
LAC receives: Norman Powell, Robert Covington
POR receives: Eric Bledsoe, Justise Winslow, Keon Johnson, ‘25 2nd round pick (via DET)
The first of many dominoes to fall, this trade signalled the beginning of the end for Portland’s current timeline. By looking at this move and the subsequent ones from Portland’s point of view, it’s clear they’re repositioning themselves to re-tool around Damian Lillard and Anfernee Simons, who has proven he can be the guy.
On the face of it, the haul for proven NBA level starters like Powell and Covington is uninspiring, but Portland is doing this with money in mind. Bledsoe is set to earn $19.3M next season, but only $3.9M of that is guaranteed, so Portland can get rid of him after this season for a minor cap hit. Keon Johnson fits the mould of prospects they’ve been acquiring recently as an uber-athletic wing, holding the NBA combine record for vertical leap.
Now, whether you think Portland is in a position to rebuild on the fly with the pieces in place is another question, and the Pacific Northwest isn’t a traditional free agent hotbed. It will be interesting to see the plan for Lillard, and indeed if we even see him again this year.
For the Clippers, they sold off a hodgepodge of redundant bench guys to strengthen their core unit. The Clippers have had a few of those losses this season where you scratch your head and go how? The additions of Powell and Covington should equalise those off nights and, at worst, raise the floor of this team to a level where their consistency improves. The Clippers have now strengthened their presumed playoff rotation, and while we may not see Kawhi this year, Paul George should enjoy playing with Powell and Covington.
Cleveland Strengthens Guard Stocks
CLE receives: Caris LeVert, ‘22 2nd round pick (via MIA)
IND receives: Ricky Rubio, ‘22 1st round pick (lottery protected), ‘22 2nd round pick (via HOU), ‘27 2nd round pick (via UTA)
This trade was one of the worst kept secrets in the NBA in the days leading up to its eventual completion. The Pacers were middling around an uninspiring long term future so began selling off assets (more later). Rubio is out with a torn ACL for the rest of the year (and there’s rumours Cleveland will look to bring him back in the offseason), so this move for Indiana is about clearing space.
For Cleveland, once Rubio went down, they took their first swing by acquiring Rajon Rondo from the Lakers, a move that has produced middling results. LeVert brings the familiarity having been Jarrett Allen’s pick and roll partner for several years in Brooklyn, as well as a fairly inoffensive contract commitment ($18.8M expiring next season).
Cleveland loves running three guard lineups with Garland, Okoro and their bench point. While Rondo was that guy the fit was clunky, and it made people really appreciate how good Rubio had been for Cleveland. With LeVert slotting in, it gives the Cavs that secondary playmaker that JB Bickerstaff loves to complement his All-Star Darius Garland.
The End of an Era
POR receives: Josh Hart, Tomas Satoransky, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Didi Louzada, ‘22 1st round pick (protected), two future 2nd round picks
NOP receives: CJ McCollum, Larry Nance Jr, Tony Snell
Wow, it finally happened.
I recorded an episode of the Beyond The Fence podcast with Tim Wray a few days ago, just after the Clippers-Blazers trade was announced, and we were both surprised that McCollum had survived. Not anymore.
CJ has been in the rumour mill for what seems like five years now, and once Portland sold off Powell and Covington it was only a matter of time before the keys were fully handed to Anfernee Simons. It’s a pretty good return I feel for Portland. Josh Hart is a do it all guard, a solid contributor in the league, and on a friendly deal. Alexander-Walker is a long, intriguing point guard prospect who eventually got flipped again, which I’m a little surprised by, but more on that later. Satoransky and Louzada are just fillers.
On New Orleans side, it’s an investment in Brandon Ingram by making this sort of win-now move, by pairing a ball dominant scorer in CJ McCollum with your All-Star calibre forward, even before we get into the Zion circus. The record isn’t there, but New Orleans have been trucking along lately, and along with some great role players like Devonte Graham, stud rookie Herb Jones, and two-way find Jose Alvarado, they’re poised for a play in push.
The long term question around this team is flexibility. McCollum, Ingram, Valanciunas and Graham are all signed through 2023-24 at least, for nearly $100M in committed salary, while Zion is also due his extension next offseason. The Pelicans brass is pushing all the chips to the middle with this move.
Kings Land an All-Star
SAC receives: Domantas Sabonis, Jeremy Lamb, Justin Holiday, ‘27 2nd round pick
IND receives: Tyrese Haliburton, Buddy Hield, Tristan Thompson
I have strong thoughts about this.
No one is questioning the talent level of Domantas Sabonis. He’s a two time All-Star and, maybe because of his style of play and general longevity in the league, is still only 25, a fact I think a lot of people don’t realise. Acquiring a player like that is a boon for any franchise.
But I don’t get it for Sacramento, and this isn’t a Kings bash session.
Acquiring Sabonis and giving up, I think anyway, your best player in Haliburton, a rare draft hit for a maligned franchise, sends the message that the team thinks they’re one piece away with this core from being perennial playoff contenders, and I don’t see it.
The Kings to me weren’t in a position to mortgage part of their future for a win now move like this, as good as Sabonis is. The Kings have now basically committed themselves to a Fox, Barnes, Sabonis and Holmes core, which screams 8th seed at best.
What I will say on the Kings, is it is a massive vote of confidence in Davion Mitchell, and I don’t disagree with that. Mitchell has proven to be another draft hit, and deserves more playing time, but not at the expense of Haliburton.
For Indiana, Haliburton is the start of what looks like a long rebuild. The cupboard is fairly bare with blue chip prospects in Indiana, with older rookie Chris Duarte and entrenched center Myles Turner the only real younger building blocks, but even getting Tyrese thrown in is a great start for that process.
Thunder TRADED A DRAFT PICK?
MIA receives: ‘26 2nd round pick
OKC receives: KZ Okpala
Yeah look, I missed this one when it happened. Okpala is about as “project-y” as a project can be in the NBA, a raw athlete with no real discernible NBA skill.
I’m just surprised Sam Presti parted with one of his precious future second rounders for him.
Utah trades Jingles, because they don’t allow music
UTA receives: Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Juancho Hernangomez
SAS receives: Tomas Satoransky, ‘2nd round pick
POR receives: Joe Ingles, Elijah Hughes, 2nd round pick
Clearly Portland didn’t rate NAW as a prospect as much as I did because this is effectively throwing him away for a fringe NBA guy and a future second. I love the get for Utah, NAW can add some length to that bench unit and provide a good scoring punch alongside known bench flamethrower Jordan Clarkson.
Satoransky is just the most Spurs player to never have played for the Spurs yet so that makes sense.
The main story of the trade is Ingles, who tore his ACL recently and is out for the season. It’s a sad end to his time in Utah…for now. I’d be honestly shocked if he ever rocked up in Portland, and I’m fairly sure the Jazz would have sought his approval before pulling the trigger.
Ingles will rehab the injury and my guess is, if he’s right by next year’s playoff signing deadline, a team, probably the Jazz, will pick him back up.
Deck Chairs, They Are A-Shufflin
SAC receives: Donte DiVincenzo, Trey Lyles, Josh Jackson*
MIL receives: Serge Ibaka, two future 2nd round picks
LAC receives: Rodney Hood, Semi Ojeleye
DET receives: Marvin Bagley III
Let’s spend one paragraph on each team here.
For Sacramento, the prize of the haul is DiVincenzo from Milwaukee, who they almost had a season ago in the doomed Bogdan Bogdanovic sign and trade. DiVincenzo is still working back from injury but provides a nice athletic complement to the Kings bench unit. Trey Lyles has been solid off the bench in Detroit with his scoring, but question marks over his defensive ability are there, both at the four and small ball five, while Josh Jackson lost his spot in Detroit’s rotation to Hamidou Diallo and then Rodney McGruder.
With Brook Lopez’s injury history, getting another big to help come playoff time is exactly what the Bucks needed. Ibaka can stretch the floor and provides a still-elite level of interior defence, and the Bucks only had to sell off some fringe pieces to get it done.
Considering the acquisitions of Powell and RoCo, I’m a bit shocked the Clippers sold on Ibaka, a very useful part of the center rotation, but my guess is in the playoffs they plan to play predominantly small lineups and use Zubac and Hartenstein as necessary.
For the Pistons, they sold two bench guys who didn’t fit the future for a shot at a once lauded prospect in Bagley, can’t be too mad, although I believe the picks the Bucks are getting are from Detroit and I wish they’d stop selling off second rounders like they’re nothing but oh well.
*Josh Jackson was traded from his hometown Pistons on his birthday, to Sacramento of all places. Happy 25th birthday Josh
Thad Young Escapes
SAS receives: Goran Dragic, ‘22 1st round pick (protected 1-14 in ‘22, 1-13 in ‘23, future seconds if not conveyed)
TOR receives: Thad Young, Drew Eubanks, ‘22 2nd round pick (via DET)
Not much to see here. Dragic was part of the Kyle Lowry trade over the summer but barely played in Toronto, while Thad Young was nailed to the bench in San Antonio. Reports are Dragic will be bought out, while Young was going to be, if he wasn’t moved.
One note for Jock Landale fans, not that they were much competition for frontcourt minutes, but there’s two less bodies to compete with now.
BOS receives: Future 2nd round pick
ORL receives: Bol Bol, PJ Dozier, future 2nd round pick, cash considerations
Long live cash considerations.
Both Bol and Dozier are out for the year, this is to get Boston under the tax line, nothing to see here.
It Actually Happened
BKN receives: Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Andre Drummond, two 1st round picks
PHI receives: James Harden, Paul Millsap
So, it actually happened. Morey got his man and Simmons gets a fresh start in Brooklyn.
I’m not sold on the fit of Harden alongside Joel Embiid, Tobias Harris and Tyrese Maxey but it’s still a win for Philly to turn a guy who wasn’t playing into an MVP level player. Seth Curry had been struggling recently and while Andre Drummond was a feelgood reclamation, he’s expendable.
With all things considered, it’s a move Philly had to make. With your star in Embiid agitating for success, the front office had to go and maximise this window while Embiid is healthy and playing MVP level basketball.
For the Nets, the odd experience is over, and Ben Simmons joins a loaded cast with fellow Australian Patty Mills (and Aus born Kyrie Irving). Simmons provides an interesting wrinkle as he can theoretically play as a center next to Kevin Durant, or as the point guard with Kyrie Irving off ball, running pick and rolls with a bouncy, athletic center like Andre Drummond and Nicolas Claxton.
In the end, Brooklyn got a pretty good haul for a wantaway star, and now it’s on Ben Simmons to fit into this loaded team for their championship push, while all eyes will be on Harden to prove why he wanted to be in Philadelphia so much.
Boston Acquires a White
BOS receives: Derrick White
SAS receives: Josh Richardson, Romeo Langford, 1st round pick, future pick swap
It seemed foregone that Derrick White was going to be the odd man out in San Antonio but this package seems slightly underwhelming after the John Collins rumours.
The idea of Josh Richardson has been better than actual Josh Richardson for about three seasons now, Langford is a prospect, and that first rounder will likely be in the late-teens/early twenties. Dejounte Murray was also seemingly not happy.
For Boston, I really like White as a complement to Brown and Tatum, although he’s been having a down year shooting the ball in San Antonio. He could be poised to take over lead guard duties from Marcus Smart, especially now that Schroder has also been traded.
White has mainly excelled at attacking the paint off the pick and roll, so pairing him with an elite vertical threat like Robert Williams III as well seems like the ideal secondary action around Brown and Tatum.
Charlotte Finds a Big
CHA receives: Montrezl Harrell
WAS receives: Ish Smith, Vernon Carey Jr, 2nd round pick
It’s a bit of a disappointing package for someone with the name of Harrell but Washington were sliding and wanted to get off the money.
From Charlotte’s point of view, center was a big need for them, with only Mason Plumlee really entrenched in the rotation. This allows a true pick and roll threat for LaMelo Ball and Terry Rozier, while solidifying the production in the middle, presumably off the bench
There really isn’t much to say here, Charlotte have done well to get a proven contributor for a playoff push, at a fairly low cost.
DAL receives: Spencer Dinwiddie, Davis Bertans
WAS receives: Kristaps Porzingis, 2nd round pick
Dallas, what on earth are you doing?
Porzingis is on a massive contract, so I understand wanting to try and move it on as he’s been constantly injured during his time in Texas…but for those two guys?
Spencer Dinwiddie is signed through 2023-24 for $18M a year, although that last year is only half guaranteed, while Bertans earns $16-17M a year until 2024-25 (but the last year has an early termination option).
In essence, Dallas have moved one large, bad contract for two decent-sized, bad contracts. Dumping a unicorn like Porzingis for a mirage of financial flexibility. Make it make sense?
For Washington, getting off those contracts, Bertans especially, without having to give up even a single first round pick should be viewed as nothing but an absolute win for their front office, so well done to them.
Freedom is Cancelled
BOS receives: Daniel Theis
HOU receives: Dennis Schroder, Enes Freedom, Bruno Fernando
Yeah I don’t know about this one either. Freedom was immediately cut, Fernando might be too, and Schroder absolutely does not fit the timeline of this Houston team (probably a buyout candidate).
Boston get Theis back…sure?
All this really does is free up Enes to pursue his full time passion of being a stooge on Fox News, so good for him.
If you stuck around to the end, you’re a real one and I appreciate it. Follow me on Twitter @bensquag for more NBA ramblings, amongst other things, and subscribe to the Beyond The Fence podcast.