What Just Happened? Recapping the 2023 NBA Trade Deadline
Well, that escalated quickly. Most NBA fans were still buzzing about LeBron James passing the great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the league’s all-time leading scorer. Not anymore. That’s old news now. Many so-called experts expected this year’s NBA Trade Deadline to be a quiet one.
They were wrong.
This year’s NBA trade deadline was the craziest one we have seen in a while. It had it all. As with all breaking NBA news stories, all eyes were on the Twitter accounts of Shams (Charania) and Woj (Adrian Wojnarowski), waiting for the next trade to be announced. Superstars requested trades at the last second – and were actually accommodated. There was a dramatic shift in conference power made overnight, literally. We all saw not one, but two jaw-dropping trades executed ahead of today’s 3PM ET NBA Trade Deadline. Multiple All-Stars were dealt. Other stars that many expected to be on the move (thanks NBA Twitter) ended up staying put. A bunch of guys got traded to teams for who they once played with before. There were both blockbuster and head-scratching moves made.
There’s plenty to unload here. NBA fans can thank the Brooklyn Nets for kicking off the insanity. Robin Lopez summed up the Nets situation with the NBA-related Tweet of the Day: https://twitter.com/rolopez42/status/1623588927863939073?s=20&t=W0vXESClEueoIsUx0-NDKAPhoto Credit: Twitter
Kyrie requests a trade. Again. The Nets finally oblige.
Dallas Mavericks get: Kyrie Irving, Markieff Morris
Brooklyn Nets get: Spencer Dinwiddie, Dorian Finney-Smith, a 2029 first-round draft pick, and second-round picks in 2027 and 2029
Kyrie Irving sent headlines throughout the NBA last weekend when he requested that the Nets trade him. He had also requested a trade just this previous offseason but signed a one-year, $36.5 million deal to stay in Brooklyn for the 2022-23 season. He said that he didn’t want to leave Kevin Durant behind, but contract extension negotiations with the Nets reportedly went South. Then he wanted out of Brooklyn. Again. On Sunday, the Nets granted Irving his wish by trading him to the Dallas Mavericks. He will now be paired up with superstar and MVP candidate Luka Doncic for the remainder of the season. It will be interesting to see how Irving and Doncic are fair sharing a backcourt.
KD moves on to the Valley in the middle of the night. The Suns become instant title contenders.
Phoenix Suns get: Kevin Durant, T.J. Warren
Brooklyn Nets get: Mikal Bridges, Cameron Johnson, Jae Crowder, 3 first-round draft picks, pick swap in 2028
I’ve said for months that the Suns needed to make a trade. Man, did they ever! After trading Kyrie Irving to Dallas, the Nets turned around and traded star Kevin Durant to the Phoenix Suns. New Suns owner Mat Ishbia isn’t messing around…except when he’s messing around apparently and trading for one of the league’s best players. Like Irving, Durant also requested a trade over the summer only to remain a Net at the start of the season. He listed Phoenix at the top of his preferred trade destinations. Once Kyrie left, KD again requested to be traded. The Nets said goodbye to KD and hello to Mikal Bridges, Cameron Johnson, and Jae Crowder - not for long. Crowder was later traded to the Milwaukee Bucks for FIVE second-round draft picks. Brooklyn still has a long jam of wing players in their new-look rotation. Wing Stop may not have wings, but after today the Brooklyn Nets certainly do!
The Lakers finally move on from Russell Westbrook in a three-team deal. D’Lo back to L.A.
Los Angeles Lakers get: D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley, Jared Vanderbilt
Utah Jazz get: Russell Westbrook, Juan Toscano-Anderson, Damian Jones, and the 2027 Lakers first-round pick
Minnesota Timberwolves get: Mike Conley, Jr., Nickeil Alexander-Walker, two second-round picks
I feel for Russell Westbrook. The L.A.-native seemed to adjust well to his new sixth-man role on his hometown team this season. He was playing well…only for the Lakers to send him to Utah. Westbrook is expected to be bought out by the Jazz and either sign with the Clippers or Bulls thereafter. Was even more surprising is that Rob Pelinka actually made a pretty good trade! He upgraded the talent on the Lakers’ roster and made them deeper in acquiring D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley, and Jared Vanderbilt. It will be interesting to see if Scotty Pippen, Jr. gets called up to the big club later on this season.
The Golden State Warriors save $161 million in luxury tax fees (WHAT?), don’t give a damn about second-rounders, and bring back an old friend.
Golden State Warriors get: Gary Payton II (and enormous luxury tax relief)
Detroit Pistons get: James Wiseman
Atlanta Hawks get: Saddiq Bey
Portland Trail Blazers get: Kevin Knox and FIVE 2nd Round Draft Picks
I’m convinced that Warriors President of Basketball Operations Bob Myers is some sort of genius. On one hand, I’m scratching my head and ready to criticize them for taking James Wiseman as a former #2 overall pick and them giving up on him. On the other hand, he brought back a key bench piece in last season’s title run in Gary Payton II and, oh, just saved his franchise $161 million in luxury tax fees! The average NBA team’s player payroll is about $148 million. The Hawks add a solid young player in Saddiq Bey, while the Pistons must be trying to pick up every recent lottery pick that hasn’t panned out. Also, so many second-round picks were dealt. And Kevin Knox.
The John Wooden “Don’t mistake activity for achievement” trade goes to the Houston Rockets with help from Los Angeles Clippers and Memphis Grizzlies.
Houston Rockets get: John Wall, Danny Green, three second-round picks, and the Bucks’ 2023 first-round pick
Los Angeles Clippers get: Eric Gordon
Memphis Grizzlies get: Luke Kennard
Other than doing Eric Gordon a solid by moving the veteran guard to a contender…what are the Rockets doing here? They just reacquired a guy in John Wall who said his experience in Houston was “trash” and another in Danny Green who will certainly be bought out. The Clippers acquiring Gordon and the Grizzlies getting Luke Kennard were solid moves. The Rockets did acquire some draft capital, so that’s something.
Other trades include…
…the Blazers sending Josh Hart to the Knicks for Cam Reddish. Portland then engaged in a three-team deal that netted them Matisse Thybulle from the 76ers. Jaden McDaniel is now a Sixer. The Clippers sent Reggie Jackson to the Hornets in exchange for Mason Plumlee. Said Hornets also picked up multiple second-round picks. The Nuggets then sent young guard Bones Hyland to the Clippers in exchange for two second-round picks.
Thomas Bryant wasn’t happy with his role in Los Angeles. The Lakers then shipped him to the Nuggets, where he may play even less. Mike Muscala is now a Boston Celtic. Just what they need – another shooter. Josh Richardson is now a Pelican. Not a literal pelican. He was traded to New Orleans by the Spurs in exchange for Devonte Graham, and get this…four second-round picks. The Thunder sent Darius Bazley to the Suns for Dario Saric. The Hawks sent Frank “the tank” Kaminsky and Justin Holiday to the Rockets for Garrison Matthews and Bruno Fernando. Lastly, the Lakers sent NBA Play-In Tournament legend Patrick Beverly to the Orlando Magic for Mo Bamba. Why? I have no idea.
There were also big moves that were NOT made. If there were one guy who most was absolutely sure would be traded in would be the Hawks’ John Collins. It’s not like Atlanta didn’t try to move him. There was a rumored deal with the Suns that was close. Then, the Kevin Durant trade happened. Oops. Most NBA analysts expected the Toronto Raptors to be sellers. Both OG Anunoby and Fred VanVleet were rumored to be on the trade block. Both are still Raptors after the trade deadline.
The Bulls and Zach LaVine were trending on Twitter with hours to go before the 3 PM Eastern deadline. It was rumored that the Bulls were close to sending LaVine to the Knicks. That deal never happened. Other perennial trade rumor candidates such as Tobias Harris, Gary Harris, Terrance Ross, and Coby White also stayed put. Teams called Portland asking for Damian Lillard. It remains “Dame Time” in Rip City.
What was especially odd about this year’s deals was the number of players traded to “new” teams for who they had played for before. There were a LOT of them:
Spencer Dinwiddie, Nets
T.J. Warren, Suns
D’Angelo Russell, Lakers
Eric Gordon, Clippers
John Wall, Rockets
Jakub Poeltl, Raptors
George Hill, Pacers
Dewayne Dedmon, Spurs
Bruno Fernando, Hawks
Like every year, there were strategic moves made by GMs, otherwise known as salary-dump moves (see Warriors, The for reference). These veterans are prime buyout candidates and will probably be playing for other teams in the coming weeks.
Russell Westbrook, Jazz
John Wall, Rockets
Serge Ibaka, Pacers
Danny Green, Rockets
Reggie Jackson, Hornets (then again, it would be a Hornets-like thing to keep Jackson)
Patrick Beverley, Magic (could he return to ‘Sota?)
I think that covers it all. The 2023 NBA Trade Deadline has come and passed. It was one for the books. With so many teams in both conferences battling for playoff positioning, it will be interesting to see how the new guys gel. The Brooklyn Nets may drop to the play-in and now have more wings than Wing Stop. Bob Myers is a salary cap genius, sort of. I’m still not sure what the Bulls, Raptors, Wizards, Magic, and Blazers are doing. As usual, second-round picks are treated as hot potatoes for most teams. The Utah Jazz somehow managed to acquire even more draft picks. The Spurs, Blazers. Nuggets and Hornets must have gotten jealous. And finally, the Lakers, Mavericks, and especially the Suns certainly got stronger in the Western Conference. Got all of that?
Remember when Ja Morant said he wasn’t worried about anyone in the West? Actually, what he said was, “I’m fine in the West.” Right.
Someone go and check on him. The Grizzlies path to the NBA Finals just got a tad bit tougher.