Some Winners…and Some Losers of the NBA Trade Deadline by Okori Wadsworth

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Who is closer to the Championship because of today?

Considering that up to now, there is no set-in-stone NBA Finals favorite we should have expected a trade deadline with a lot of moving parts. But this? THIS?

No one expected anything like this. Postseason contenders have been made, rebuilt, and broken up all in a day.

So, with the smoke hopefully cleared, here is who won and lost on this NBA trading deadline in no particular order.

Winners: Oklahoma City Thunder

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The Thunder Rolls?

Kevin Durant…. Russell Westbrook…. Serge Ibaka.

Up until now, that was the extent of the guys on the Thunder I could reasonably expect to trust in a tight playoff game. Nothing against Reggie Jackson, or Kendrick Perkins, but I do not envision them doing well against, for instance, the Warriors. In fact, Kendrick Perkins would have to be hogtied to the bench against Golden State.

Now though? They’ve acquired bench scoring and an inside presence with Enes Kanter (and maybe even a guy who can start in place of Steven Adams on some nights), spot-up shooting with Kyle Singler and Steve Novak, and a steady backup point guard in DJ Augustin.

Also, and this part is key, they can cut down on the workload they put on KD and Russell. They don’t have to be the stars of the offense that they were once before.

But with all of those new toys to play with, something else left.

 

Loser: Scott Brooks’ excuses

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What happens if he can’t win the big one? 

Look, up until now, a reasoned argument could have been made that Scott Brooks has been left to twist in the wind by Sam Presti.

Now, though? That’s gone.

No one who knows enough about basketball to actually know who the players the Thunder got actually are will be able to say, with anything approaching certitude, that Scott Brooks doesn’t have what he needs to make a playoff run.

Inside scoring and interior passing? Enes Kanter gives him that.

A bench unit full of guys who can make outside jumpers whenever anyone doubles KD or Russ? Yup. Kyle Singler and Steve Novak do that.

A steady backup point guard to keep the oars in the water when Russell Westbrook is on the bench? DJ Augustin.

Now, though, Scott Brooks is out of excuses. If he can’t get the Thunder to the conference finals or better, he’s going to suddenly have everyone wondering why he still has a job.

 

Winners: Miami Heat

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The Heat Is Back On.

Pat Riley has built a team whose entire DNA has been built, for better or worse, around this one idea: We will never tank.

They have been to 5 finals, and won three rings, so it is not as though this idea is without merit.

And because they never attempt to go all-in for a high draft pick, they routinely amass the sort of interesting stuff that can make a blockbuster trade happen.

(This might also be because the Heat are not exactly going to remind anyone of the apex of the Lakers in terms of smart drafting.)

So when it came down that Goran Dragic ended up being on the Miami Heat, and that he was traded for nothing all that spectacular, I was annoyed that the Heat got exactly what they needed without having to give up any major contributors.

And then, because I’m a hoops junkie, I got excited. Goran Dragic and Dwayne Wade slashing to the basket, Luol Deng getting in where he fits in, Chris Bosh as a stunningly effective stretch 4, and HASSAN WHITESIDE as the literal incarnation of an NBA 2K center is a secretly really interesting NBA team.

Now imagine if that team, loaded with guys unafraid of big playoff moments, goes to see LeBron’s Cavs. That’s appointment playoff television.

Incomplete: The Philadelphia Sixers

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Clearly he’s thinking….. I don’t know what in the world he’s thinking.

I…… There just aren’t words for this.

I don’t know what Sam Hinkie is trying to do, except amassing draft picks.

I get fleecing the Pelicans by convincing them to give up 2 first-round draft picks for Jrue Holliday, a guy who at his apex isn’t exactly a dead ringer for Tiny Archibald.

I get drafting Noel and Embiid as shot-blocking rim protectors.

But I don’t get trading Michael Carter-Williams. Sure, his rookie class is looking more and more barren and desperate. But he should be, at least, still a building block for a championship team.

So what do I think Sam Hinkie is trying to do? No clue.

But, and I never thought I’d say this, I don’t care what he does.

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