/Grading Every NBA Teams 2019-20 Trade Deadline

Grading Every NBA Teams 2019-20 Trade Deadline

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    Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

    The trade deadline has come and gone, and a number of big-name players, including Andrew Wiggins, D’Angelo Russell, Clint Capela and Andre Drummond, are on the move.

    Before we dive into grades for all 30 NBA teams, feel free to treat yourself to a quick rundown of all the deals that happened this week, courtesy of Bleacher Report’s Dan Favale.

    Here, you’ll see all the moves broken down by team rather than by trade. And that includes those squads that didn’t make a move. Even standing pat can be a good or bad thing.

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    Tim Warner/Getty Images

    Incoming: Clint Capela, Dewayne Dedmon, Skal Labissiere, Derrick Walton Jr., 2020 second-round pick (via Houston), 2021 second-round pick (via Miami), $2 million

    Outgoing: Alex Len, Jabari Parker, Evan Turner, 2020 first-round pick (via Brooklyn), future second-round pick (top-55 protection), 2024 second-round pick, $1.3 million

    This is a fairly clear win for the Hawks. Clint Capela is 25 years old, averaging 13.9 points and 13.8 rebounds while playing on a contract that pays him significantly less than Andre Drummond.

    They wisely pounced on the Houston Rockets’ desire to go all-in on small-ball, sending only Evan Turner and a middling pick in a middling draft in the four-team deal.

    The only potential cause for concern here is how Capela will fit alongside John Collins. The latter has shown enough shooting range and perimeter skills to suggest he can operate at the 4, but his long-term ceiling still seems most likely achieved as a playmaking 5.

    That’s probably a matter of personal preference, though. Atlanta signaled a desire for a more traditional 5 when its interest in Drummond surfaced. Capela can give them similar production (probably more efficiently) for less money.

    Elsewhere, the Hawks brought Dewayne Dedmon back to Atlanta for Jabari Parker and Alex Len. If Dedmon can resurrect his 2018-19 game, this is another solid move. A three-man big rotation of Capela, Collins and Dedmon is good enough to compete for the playoffs in the East. Wings will be the next area to address.

    And finally, getting Derrick Walton Jr. and Skal Labissiere for a second-round pick, cash and tax relief is fine. Neither figures to blossom into stardom with the Hawks, but they’re young enough to be worth fliers.

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    Rocky Widner/Getty Images

    The Boston Celtics had been linked to both Andre Drummond and Clint Capela at various times leading up to the deadline. Capela may have been an interesting rim roller when surrounded by Boston’s playmakers, but standing pat is fine for this team.

    It’s not a huge sample size, but in the nearly 500 possessions Kemba Walker, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and Gordon Hayward have shared the floor, the Celtics are plus-13.6 points per 100 possessions (97th percentile).

    A center-by-committee approach that includes Daniel Theis, Enes Kanter and Robert Williams III provides an interesting combination of defense (Theis and Williams), pick-and-pop ability (Theis) and low-post scoring (Kanter).

    Is this roster perfect? No. An upgrade to get closer to the Milwaukee Bucks’ level would have been nice. But discretion is often the better part of valor.

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    Mike Stobe/Getty Images

    The Los Angeles Lakers reportedly registered some interest in Brooklyn Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie ahead of the deadline, but neither team wound up making a trade.

    For Brooklyn, that shouldn’t be a big deal. With Kevin Durant out for the entire season recovering from his Achilles injury and Kyrie Irving appearing in fewer than half the team’s games, 2019-20 is starting to feel like a stopgap year.

    Adding another star to KD and Kyrie certainly would’ve been interesting. But if no obvious deals presented themselves, it made sense to wait and see how the current young crop fits with that top two.

    Theoretically, the excess of playmaking in lineups that include Irving, Dinwiddie, Caris LeVert and Durant would make Brooklyn modern and quite difficult to predict on offense.

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    It’s tough to give a definitive grade without knowing what happened behind the scenes, but not even landing a second-round pick for any one of Marvin Williams, Nicolas Batum, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Bismack Biyombo feels like a loss. Still, the team may have an explanation.

    “Trade deadline has passed and, per a league source, no deals for [Hornets],” The Athletic’s Rod Boone wrote. “Appears they didn’t want to jeopardize the nearly $50 million in cap space alone they will get when the contracts of Bismack Biyombo, Marvin Williams and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist come off the books in June.”

    None of those veterans figure to be a part of Charlotte’s long-term plans. And if potential suitors were insisting on the Hornets taking back contracts that extend beyond this season, walking away is reasonable.

    Still, it’s generally better to get an asset than to allow a player to walk for nothing.

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    Ron Schwane/Associated Press

    Unlike the Charlotte Hornets, the Chicago Bulls don’t have a bunch of expiring contracts to potentially unload. But they’re also probably not in a position to simply rest on their laurels.

    As of Thursday, Chicago had just a 10 percent chance to make the playoffs, according to FiveThirtyEight‘s projections.

    And one of their most intriguing young players, Lauri Markkanen, is reportedly getting antsy.

    Some kind of movement from the front office might have signaled more of a team direction for Markkanen and the other youngsters. Instead, the organization appears content to tread the waters of mediocrity.

    The sunnier explanation is that Markkanen, Wendell Carter Jr. and Zach LaVine are all young. They’ll get better. There may be something there with Coby White, as well. But endorsing that is implicitly endorsing the joint ability of Chicago and head coach Jim Boylen to develop players.

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    Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

    Incoming: Andre Drummond

    Outgoing: John Henson, Brandon Knight, 2023 second-round pick (less favorable of Cleveland and Golden State)

    The Andre Drummond deal was perhaps the most surprising of this year’s deadline. For most of the day, there appeared to be little to no traction for the 26-year old. Then, with seemingly no warning, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski broke the news that Drummond would be headed to Cleveland.

    On one hand, surrendering anything for what might end up being a two-month rental is tough to wrap your head around. But perhaps the Cavs are confident they can sell Drummond on a future (and a reasonable contract) in Cleveland if they have those two extra months to pitch him ahead of free agency.

    Drummond is first in career rebounding percentage and 40th in career block percentage. If the Cavs can replace some of the post-ups with more rim-running, he can be a positive addition.

    And, with all due respect to Brandon Knight and John Henson, Cleveland really didn’t give anything up in this deal. Those two have combined for 653 minutes this season.

    “They dumped him,” The Action Network’s Matt Moore tweeted. “They straight up dumped Andre Drummond. They put Drummond out there like you did with your futon when you were moving out of your college apartment after graduation.”

    Drummond is far from the game’s most modern center. But as a salary dump, it was fine for Cleveland to see what it could do with him.

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    Ron Jenkins/Associated Press

    The Dallas Mavericks had a couple of contracts that appeared movable heading into deadline day. The obvious one is Courtney Lee’s expiring deal, which pays him $12.8 million this season.

    The other was Tim Hardaway Jr., but that $19 million player option for 2020-21 may have been daunting for potential suitors (assuming there were any). Dallas may not even have been shopping him. Hardaway is shooting nearly 40 percent from three.

    When he’s on the floor with Luka Doncic, the Mavs are plus-14.0 points per 100 possessions (98th percentile). They’re minus-3.1 points per 100 possessions (36th percentile) when Luka is on the floor without Hardaway.

    Patience is an acceptable approach for this team, which may already be a bit ahead of schedule.

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    Michael Reaves/Getty Images

    Incoming: Keita Bates-Diop, Gerald Green, Jordan McRae, Noah Vonleh, 2020 first-round pick (via Houston)

    Outgoing: Malik Beasley, Juancho Hernangomez, Jarred Vanderbilt

    The Denver Nuggets accepted an invite to party with the Houston Rockets, Minnesota Timberwolves and Atlanta Hawks, giving us a four-team, 12-player whopper that sent a pick and potential rotation players to Denver.

    Keita Bates-Diop and Noah Vonleh offer depth. Shabazz Napier was later flipped for Jordan McRae, which was no big deal given the presence of Jamal Murray, Monte Morris and PJ Dozier on the roster.

    The biggest win here is the fact that the Nuggets wound up with another first-round pick. Sure, it’ll be a late first (it came from Houston), but Denver cashed in with a late lottery pick a couple of years ago when it landed Michael Porter Jr. There’s always a chance to land some talent in the first round. And if the team already knew Malik Beasley and Juancho Hernangomez would be out (or unaffordable) in free agency, getting some value for them is huge.

    After two trades, the bulk of Denver’s playoff rotation remains intact. If McRae or any other additions play well enough to force their way into minutes, that’s gravy.

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    Chris Schwegler/Getty Images

    Incoming: John Henson, Brandon Knight, 2023 second-round pick (less favorable of Cleveland and Golden State)

    Outgoing: Andre Drummond

    “Detroit needed to shake things up,” Bleacher Report’s Dan Favale wrote. “Keeping Drummond would’ve risked flexibility. His contract wouldn’t have yielded more value if he opted in, and there’s always the chance that the front office would have been tempted (or forced) to re-up him should he have hit the open market.”

    If the Pistons were already resigned to a future without Drummond, this trade is a little easier to understand. Still, the package remains a bit of a shock.

    Over the course of Drummond’s career, he ranks first (by massive margins) among Pistons in value over replacement player, points, rebounds and blocks.

    Brandon Knight, John Henson and whoever is selected with that second-round pick will not combine to produce nearly as much for Detroit as Drummond would have over the life of his next contract.

    But that wasn’t the end game for the Pistons. This is about starting over. And now the team is one step closer to being able to do so.

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    Jordan Johnson/Getty Images

    Incoming: Andrew Wiggins, 2021 first-round pick (top-three protection via Minnesota), 2020 second-round pick (via Dallas), 2021 second-round pick (via Denver), 2021 second-round pick (via Minnesota), 2022 second-round pick (via Toronto)

    Outgoing: Alec Burks, Jacob Evans, Glenn Robinson III, D’Angelo Russell, Omari Spellman

    We never got a chance to see D’Angelo Russell play with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. And we’ll never know how well it would have worked.

    In terms of conventional positions and size, Andrew Wiggins fits better, even if he’s not as good an individual player. What’s more, we’ve probably never seen Wiggins in the proper role. He should be a clear third scoring option on the Warriors. And with the opposition’s top two defenders occupied with Curry and Thompson, he will have more space to operate than he ever experienced in Minnesota.

    The status quo from Wiggins is probably more likely than some delayed breakout. But he does have the pedigree of a No. 1 pick, and this may be the best possible situation for him to reach his potential.

    Getting multiple picks in addition to Wiggins can’t be ignored, either. The first-rounder from Minnesota is top-three-protected, but if this trade improves the Wolves, that increases the likelihood it conveys.

    The Warriors could always repurpose some of their growing stash of picks in other trades, as well.

    This deal, along with the trade that netted Golden State multiple second-round picks for Alec Burks and Glenn Robinson III, gives the Warriors significantly more flexibility than they had prior to this week.

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    Rocky Widner/Getty Images

    Incoming: Bruno Caboclo, Robert Covington, 2024 second-round pick (via Golden State), 2023 second-round pick swap (top-32 protection with Memphis)

    Outgoing: Clint Capela, Gerald Green, Nene Hilario, 2020 first-round pick

    When the dust settled after the four-team trade that sent Clint Capela from the Houston Rockets to the Atlanta Hawks, “at least they got Jordan Bell” was probably a natural reaction for many.

    After decades of basketball being played a certain way, we’re programmed to think everyone needs a big. Welp, just a couple of days later, Bell was redirected to the Memphis Grizzlies for Bruno Caboclo.

    Of course, Caboclo is 6’9″ (an inch taller than Bell), but he’s spent his career playing very much like a wing. Perhaps the next step in Houston’s experiment is center-sized wings playing at that spot?

    Or, probably more likely, positions are just out the window for the Rockets now. 

    P.J. Tucker is 6’5″, and he’ll start at “center.” At 6’7″, Robert Covington will be the tallest member of the presumed starting five.

    But, of course, he brings more than a couple of extra inches over the rest of the starters. Covington is one of the league’s premier three-and-D players. He’s never had a negative net rating swing, and no one in NBA history matches or exceeds his career averages for threes (2.8), steals (2.0) and blocks (1.0) per 75 possessions.

    Offensively, the blueprint makes sense. Harden on a fully spread floor is going to yield plenty of scoring possessions. The obvious caveat involves wondering what happens against Nikola Jokic or Anthony Davis in a seven-game series. Perhaps Covington can eventually ease some of those concerns.

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    This is another team that can probably justify standing pat with little pushback. The Indiana Pacers are contending for home-court advantage in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs despite missing Victor Oladipo for most of the season.

    You have to imagine they at least explored the market for Myles Turner, though.

    This season, Indiana is:

  • Plus-2.8 points per 100 possessions (66th percentile) when Turner and Domantas Sabonis share the floor.
  • Plus-8.1 points per 100 possessions (89th percentile) when Turner is off the floor and Sabonis is on.
  • Minus-5.3 points per 100 possessions (26th percentile) when Turner is on the floor and Sabonis is off.

A more modern 4 alongside Sabonis may have been a slight upgrade, but this is another team that can confidently stay patient.

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    Darron Cummings/Associated Press

    Incoming: Marcus Morris Sr., $1.3 million cash

    Outgoing: Maurice Harkless, Jerome Robinson, Derrick Walton Jr., 2020 first-round pick, 2021 first-round swap rights (with New York), 2021 second-round pick (via Detroit)

    The Los Angeles Clippers already had one of the deepest and most talented rosters in the NBA. Adding Marcus Morris Sr. to a group that includes Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Montrezl Harrell, Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams and Landry Shamet makes this one of the scariest teams in the league.

    It’s easy to imagine lineups that roll out George, Leonard and Morris at spots 2 through 4. All three can shoot. All three can defend multiple positions (two at an All-Defensive level). All three can create off the dribble (two at an All-NBA level).

    And the cost is plenty justifiable for L.A. 

    A late 2020 first-round pick is a shot in the dark. Ditto for the 2021 pick swap. The Clippers figure to be contenders as long as Leonard and George are around, so late firsts don’t hold a ton of value. Meanwhile, Morris is a clear upgrade over Maurice Harkless, and Jerome Robinson wasn’t a surefire part of the future.

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    AJ MAST/Associated Press

    The Los Angeles Lakers had a couple of cards to play. Kyle Kuzma likely had some trade value around the league. He’s 6’8″ and 24 years old, and he just averaged 18.7 points last season. The contracts of DeMarcus Cousins and Avery Bradley could’ve been put together for salary-matching purposes.

    But L.A. is on pace for 60-plus wins. The team appears to have solid chemistry, which can be thrown off by a trade. And there are other ways to upgrade the roster.

    “The Lakers are expected to give free agent guard JR Smith a post-trade deadline audition (perhaps as soon as next week) and remain favorites to sign Darren Collison if Collison elects to make a comeback to the NBA — in addition to potential pickups on the buyout market,” the New York TimesMarc Stein reported.

    Smith’s last three seasons in Cleveland (8.2 points per game with a 50.0 effective field-goal percentage) suggest he may not have much left in the tank, but Collison would help.

    His last three seasons paint a much different picture. He’s two years younger than Smith and averaged 12.2 points during that span. His 43.2 three-point percentage ranks first among all players with at least 300 deep attempts since the start of 2016-17.

    Replacing Rajon Rondo’s minutes with that kind of shooting could do wonders for the Lakers.

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    Michael Reaves/Getty Images

    Incoming: Jordan Bell, Gorgui Dieng, Dion Waiters, Justise Winslow

    Outgoing: Bruno Caboclo, Jae Crowder, Solomon Hill, Andre Iguodala, 2023 second-round pick swap (top-32 protection with Houston)

    Adding Jordan Bell and Justise Winslow to a young core that already includes Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr., Brandon Clarke, Dillon Brooks, Kyle Anderson and Jonas Valanciunas (still just 27) is undoubtedly a win.

    Winslow has been hurt for most of this season, but he played point forward to the tune of 12.6 points and 4.3 assists per game with a 37.5 three-point percentage last season.

    In terms of size, position and defensive versatility, he can provide much of what Jae Crowder did this season, only with better playmaking and shooting.

    Bell, meanwhile, is fairly far down the pecking order of young bigs in Memphis. But if he can recapture the hustle-guy mentality he brought to the Golden State Warriors as a rookie, he can help in limited minutes.

    As for what Memphis gave up, Andre Iguodala, Crowder and Solomon Hill weren’t going to be part of the long-term future, and the cap space forfeited by bringing in Gorgui Dieng returns when his contract expires in 2021. Dion Waiters will be bought out or released soon, according to Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes.

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    Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

    Incoming: Jae Crowder, Solomon Hill, Andre Iguodala

    Outgoing: James Johnson, Dion Waiters, Justise Winslow

    Andre Iguodala is 36 and hasn’t played since the NBA Finals in June. He’s had various nagging injuries over the last few years. There’s an outside chance he doesn’t move the needle too far for Miami.

    But if he’s even 75-80 percent of what he was with the Golden State Warriors, he should help. Pairing his defense with Jimmy Butler’s could be nightmarish for opponents, and his vision and passing ability give Miami even more varied playmaking. They’re already getting it from all over the floor with Butler, Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic.

    The fact that Jae Crowder wound up in the deal is big, too. He’s a multipositional defender who can spare Iguodala and Butler for stretches.

    Of course, you can’t help but feel Miami didn’t quite accomplish all it wanted this week. The Heat were reportedly interested in Danilo Gallinari, whose shot-making and ability to draw fouls would’ve made the offense exponentially more dynamic.

    Losing Justise Winslow is no small thing, either. He’s had his struggles with injuries, but he’s still just 23. And even in today’s increasingly positionless game, few possess his combination of size and playmaking ability.

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    Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

    The Milwaukee Bucks are a juggernaut. 

    They’re on pace for 70-plus wins and are currently rocking the fifth-best simple rating system score (combines point differential and strength of schedule) in NBA history. Giannis Antetokounmpo is on his own individual historic run, and the supporting cast seems to fit him perfectly.

    There was little to no reason for the Bucks to rock this boat. So, no one should be surprised that they didn’t.

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    Mike Stobe/Getty Images

    Incoming: Malik Beasley, Jacob Evans, Juancho Hernangomez, James Johnson, D’Angelo Russell, Omari Spellman, Evan Turner, Jarred Vanderbilt, 2020 first-round pick (lottery-protected via Brooklyn)

    Outgoing: Keita Bates-Diop, Jordan Bell, Robert Covington, Gorgui Dieng, Shabazz Napier, Noah Vonleh, Andrew Wiggins, 2021 first-round pick (top-three-protected), 2021 second-round pick

    The Minnesota Timberwolves had to do something. Their top two of Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins wasn’t going anywhere. 

    The on-court fit between D’Angelo Russell and Towns is smoother, and the potential chemistry benefits of uniting these two friends can’t be ignored. On defense, the star duo will undoubtedly be picked on, particularly with screen-and-roll possessions, but it should be able to inflict plenty of damage of its own on the other end.

    James Johnson is a nice addition, as well. He has the potential to be far more than a throw-in if he can stay healthy. Since his breakout with the Memphis Grizzlies in 2013-14, Johnson has a 17.6 assist percentage, a 3.2 block percentage and a 1.8 steal percentage, a combination of numbers matched by only Giannis Antetokounmpo and DeMarcus Cousins over that span.

    The players who came in from Denver should help, too. Malik Beasley is 23 years old and a career 38.2-percent shooter from deep. He could be an ideal flanker for Russell-Towns pick-and-rolls.

    Juancho Hernangomez struggled to stick in the Nuggets’ rotation over the last four years, but he still holds some intrigue as a stretch 4. In an offense-heavy scheme, he can also make defenses think twice about overloading on the pick-and-roll.

    Winding up with this mix of youth and veterans, as well as a first-round pick, when Robert Covington and Wiggins were the biggest names headed out feels like a net win.

    These moves probably aren’t enough to suddenly vault the Wolves back into playoff contention in 2020, but they now have two young legitimate stars under contract for the foreseeable future.

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    Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

    Derrick Favors and E’Twaun Moore are on expiring contracts. JJ Redick’s shooting could’ve helped a number of contenders. Jrue Holiday’s name was surrounded by some buzz this week.

    The New Orleans Pelicans absolutely could have justified being sellers at the deadline. But with Zion Williamson in action, standing pat made plenty of sense, too.

    The Pelicans have a 39 percent chance to make the playoffs, according to FiveThirtyEight‘s projection system. And the team is plus-11.4 points per 100 possessions with Zion on the floor, a net rating that ranks in the 95th percentile.

    The rest of this season is about seeing how everyone fits alongside the potential superstar.

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    Michael Reaves/Getty Images

    Incoming: Maurice Harkless, Issuf Sanon (draft rights), 2020 first-round pick (via L.A. Clippers), 2021 first-round swap rights (via L.A. Clippers), 2021 second-round pick (via Detroit)

    Outgoing: Marcus Morris Sr.

    The New York Knicks are clearly at the point of their organizational timeline at which they should be accumulating assets. Sending Marcus Morris Sr. to the Los Angeles Clippers accomplished that.

    Getting two draft-day selections and a pick swap for Morris is big, even if it comes from the Clippers, whose choices aren’t likely to be anywhere near the top of the draft.

    New York has a few mildly intriguing young players in RJ Barrett, Kevin Knox and Frank Ntilikina. Mitchell Robinson looks like a legitimate building block. Now, it’s all about getting as many bites as possible in future drafts.

    There may not be a single surefire future star on this roster, so the Knicks need as many chances to acquire one as possible.

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    Matt Slocum/Associated Press

    The Oklahoma City Thunder have been one of this season’s pleasant surprises. They’re a virtual lock for the postseason and are plus-6.3 points per 100 possessions (82nd percentile) when recently acquired veterans Chris Paul and Danilo Gallinari are on the floor.

    But relative success didn’t redirect the Thunder’s gaze from the future. Leading up to the deadline, they were reportedly still “open for business,” and flipping Gallo or Paul to a contender for assets would’ve made sense.

    Keeping this team together should be more fun.

    “I hate this mindset in the NBA,” Mavs Moneyball’s Josh Bowe tweeted in response to a report on Gallinari’s availability. “I can’t stand it. Everything is always an asset. Why does Gallinari have to be traded? Who cares if he’s not in their long-term plans. Just let fans enjoy a fun and surprising season.”

    Now, they’ll get a chance to do exactly that.

    Gallinari is averaging 22.8 points and 3.6 threes per 75 possessions. His net rating swing ranks in the 75th percentile, and his true shooting percentage is nearly six points above the league average.

    It’s easy to see why the Miami Heat were interested in him. But he fits just fine on a team that’s grown accustomed to making playoff appearances.

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    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    Incoming: James Ennis III

    Outing: 2020 second-round pick (via L.A. Lakers)

    The Orlando Magic are trending toward a second consecutive playoff appearance, but they’re one of the worst shooting teams in the league. They’re currently 29th in true shooting percentage and 27th in three-point percentage.

    James Ennis III certainly isn’t some kind of knockdown shooter, but a career three-point percentage of 35.6 is better than what Orlando is currently posting. A second-round pick is a pretty low price to pay for this attempt to spread the floor a bit.

    Maybe you can knock the team for not being more aggressive. Perhaps there was a chance to move Aaron Gordon. But slow and steady progress is OK, too.

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    Incoming: Alec Burks, Glenn Robinson III, 2020 second-round pick (via L.A. Lakers)

    Outgoing: James Ennis III, 2020 second-round pick (via Dallas), 2021 second-round pick (via Denver), 2022 second-round pick (via Toronto), James Ennis III

    The Philadelphia 76ers comfortably upgraded their bench, and all it cost was a net loss of two second-round picks (three sent to the Golden State Warriors with one coming back from the Orlando Magic).

    At 28, Alec Burks is having the best season of his career, averaging career highs in points (16.1) and assists (3.1) with an above-average three-point percentage. Glenn Robinson III is averaging 12.9 points and shooting 40.0 percent from three-point range.

    Neither will play as much as they were with the Warriors, but they should still provide plenty of value to a bench that ranks 28th in points per game.

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    Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

    It’s hard to know how close the Phoenix Suns came to making a deal, but they were reportedly “fielding calls” about Kelly Oubre Jr. and were also connected to Luke Kennard.

    The latter idea would’ve helped more than the former, but not doing anything is harder to justify for teams in the purgatory Phoenix has occupied since 2010.

    In terms of raw talent, Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton make up an intriguing top two. It’s hard to know who the No. 3 is right now. Finding him should be the priority, even if it means surrendering some assets in the process.

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    Incoming: 2024 second-round draft pick (top-55-protected via Atlanta).

    Outgoing: Skal Labissiere, $1.8 million

    The Portland Trail Blazers may not have completely dodged the luxury tax, but sending Skal Labissiere and cash to the Atlanta Hawks did save them some money.

    “My understanding is that the Blazers sent Labissiere and $1.75M in cash considerations to the Hawks,” the Oregonian‘s Jamie Goldberg wrote. “Blazers end up with $2.8M in tax savings, a $2.4M Trade Exception and a top-55 protected second-round draft pick in 2024 from Atlanta.”

    That’s all well and good. But, of course, this does nothing to help the Blazers actually win games in 2019-20. 

    Though Labissiere is out with an articular cartilage lesion in his left knee, he was third on the Blazers in box plus/minus. He was also a 23-year-old with some upside on a team hurting for depth inside.

    Without another trade to get under the tax line, this almost feels like it should deserve an incomplete grade.

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    Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press

    Incoming: Alex Len, Jabari Parker

    Outgoing: Dewayne Dedmon, 2020 second-round pick (via Houston), 2021 second-round pick (via Miami)

    This summer, the Sacramento Kings followed up an encouraging 2018-19 season by signing a few veterans (Dewayne Dedmon, Trevor Ariza and Cory Joseph) who were supposed to help get them back to the playoffs.

    Two of those players have already been traded: Ariza is on the Portland Trail Blazers, and, as of deadline day, Dedmon is back on the Hawks.

    Optics aside, Thursday’s trade wasn’t actually too bad.

    The Kings had to surrender two second-round picks to unload Dedmon’s contract. But Alex Len is four years younger, and Jabari Parker can give Sacramento some punch off the bench. He’s averaging 20.0 points per 75 possessions with an above-average true shooting percentage.

    That’s not a bad return for a player who fell out of the rotation shortly after the season started.

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    Ronald Cortes/Getty Images

    It’s time for the San Antonio Spurs to rebuild.

    During their time together, San Antonio is minus-0.9 points per 100 possessions when DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge are both on the floor. It’s plus-6.5 when both are off.

    If there was any value on the table for either former All-Star, the Spurs should have taken it. This team, as currently constructed, is nowhere near a title contender. It may not even make the playoffs.

    The Spurs are far more likely to return to the rarified air in which they spent two decades if they embrace an overhaul and see what the youngsters can do in lead roles. There’s plenty of potential with Dejounte Murray, Derrick White and Lonnie Walker IV. They just need time together to show it.

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    Michael Reaves/Getty Images

    The Toronto Raptors get the default B for being good and standing pat.

    They’re in the midst of a franchise-record 12-game winning streak. Their 6.02 SRS is better than the one they posted with Kawhi Leonard last season (5.49), and it feels like they’re just now starting to get healthy.

    As of now, FiveThirtyEight gives Toronto a 10 percent chance to return to the NBA Finals. It’s been a remarkable season for a team that was expected to be, at best, plucky after the loss of Leonard and Danny Green.

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    Garrett Ellwood/Getty Images

    The Utah Jazz already made a move earlier this season when they traded Dante Exum and two second-round picks for Jordan Clarkson. The trade has made the bench more dynamic, but issues (particularly at the backup 5 spot) remain.

    Moves along the fringes would’ve been understandable. But like some other teams here, Utah hasn’t had a ton of time to coalesce with the entire roster healthy. Cutting bait before seeing how well Mike Conley fits with everyone likely would’ve been too hasty.

    Perhaps the buyout market could offer help at the 5.

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    Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

    Incoming: Shabazz Napier, Jerome Robinson

    Outgoing: Jordan McRae, Isaiah Thomas

    Jordan McRae had some eyebrow-raising performances for the Washington Wizards this season, but he doesn’t figure to be a key cog going forward 

    As for Isaiah Thomas, it unfortunately just doesn’t look like he’ll ever get back to the form he displayed before his hip injury. This season, his minus-5.8 box plus/minus ranks 301st out of the 305 players with at least 500 minutes.

    Replacing those two with Jerome Robinson and Shabazz Napier feels like a win.

    The former never had a chance to show much for the Los Angeles Clippers, but he’s just 22 years old and averaged 20.7 points during his final season at Boston College. The latter has developed into a solid backup point guard who’ll cause far fewer defensive problems for Washington than Thomas did.


    Unless otherwise noted, stats courtesy of NBA.com, Basketball Reference, PBPStats.com or Cleaning the Glass.