There were a lot of trades at this year’s NBA trade deadline. In one of the more exciting deadlines of recent history, big names, and role players, young stars, and old vets were on the move. There were tons of winners and losers from the deadline, but who are the biggest winners and losers?
Winner: Everyone in the Simmons/Harden Deal
This trade worked out for everyone. The Sixers were holding onto Simmons and couldn’t find a suitable trade offer, yet they were still one of the top contenders in the East.
They traded Simmons, who was basically nothing to them because he wasn’t playing anyways, for James Harden, one of the best guards in the league no matter his role within the team. He’s a much-improved passer and another scoring option for the playoffs when defenses inevitably, actually attempt to play defense on big-man Joel Embiid.
They also get a valuable veteran in Paul Millsap for the time being who can help with playoff experience and in the locker room down the stretch, plus he’s still a solid role player. The Nets, on the other hand, get rid of Harden who didn’t really want to be there anymore, is aging, and didn’t fit well with their other stars.
To replace him they get much younger, acquiring Ben Simmons who isn’t the main scoring option and will act as a facilitator as Harden did, but with that being his actual best role. He’ll be able to find Kyrie (in away games) and KD for open shots, and he’ll be a bigger force driving to the basket which they’ve needed desperately.
On top of all of this, the Nets also get two first-round picks as they prepare for later life without their stars, and for support for their stars in the short term. Everyone wins in this situation, including the fans.
Winner: Derrick White
White was having an incredible year in San Antonio this year, his best to date. But, the Spurs are going nowhere, and they made it pretty clear that other than Dejounte Murray, everyone was up for grabs as they begin their first rebuild in what feels like centuries.
White gets to go to a winning Celtics team and play alongside some of the best young stars in the game, all in the prime of his career.
Winner: The Pistons and Marvin Bagley
The Kings will come up later in this list, but they’ve been a mess ever since they drafted Bagley in 2018. In fact, they’ve really been a mess the last decade, and one could argue they haven’t actually been a competent franchise since they became the Sacramento Kings.
Bagley had to get out of there, and he got to go to the Pistons, another struggling franchise but with some solid young players to build on for the future. The Pistons in the meantime got Bagley, who still has some potential to be touched into, and they gave up Josh Jackson and Trey Lyles.
Those two guys amount to pretty much nothing. If Bagley can stay healthy, he could be an important piece for Detroit moving forward.
The Hornets and Montrezl Harrell
LaMelo and company needed another weapon. They needed a force inside because they oftentimes were dominated in the paint, and that came to fruition when they acquired Harrell for just Vernon Carey and Ish Smith.
Harrell wins as well because he escapes Washington, a confusing rebuilding sort of team, and goes to one of the brightest futures in the East.
Winner: The Clippers
With Leonard pretty much guaranteed to be out for the year, it’s been a weird year for the once-contending Clippers. They should be back next year, and they just retooled to help them get there.
They gave up Eric Bledsoe and Justice Winslow, two guys who weren’t doing anything for them really, and got Robert Covington and Norman Powell. Powell is a fantastic scorer, one of the most underrated in the NBA. Covington is one of the best 3 and D guys the NBA has seen in the last five or six years.
Both will help them improve this season and maybe make a deeper run than expected, and if they stick around for next year, they will be important pieces moving forward.
Winner: The Cavaliers
No one thought the Cavs would be where they are, especially with Sexton going down for the year very early on in the season. They are capitalizing on their success, and going to a win-now mentality, trading their first-round pick for star guard Caris Levert.
Levert is of all-star quality, and the Cavs now have another scoring option to six next to Garland and take over in close games versus top defensive teams. They needed another option come playoff time, and they got that from Indiana.
On top of that, their first round-pick is lottery protected. So, even if they fall apart this year somehow, they will still get their first-rounder next year.
Winner: The Pacers
The Pacers may have been the biggest winner here, which is pretty surprising seeing their lack of activity in the trade deadline year after year. They finally seem to have made the decision to tank, something their franchise has all but refused to do as a result of pure pride. Though respectable, it’s been tough watching this incredible Pacers roster compete at such a low level. They were injured, but even still, they just stunk, and with Carlisle on the bench, it’s shocking.
They gave away Sabonis, an all-star, but a horrible defender and a frustrating player to watch complain about fouls on the court, and they received one of the best young guards in the game as of right now in Tyrese Haliburton. Haliburton will be a piece to build around for the Pacers for the next decade if they choose to go that route.
They also gave up a couple of veteran role players, who are now useless for a tanking team, and got Buddy Hield who is a solid young role player despite his massive contract. The Pacers are in for the tank, and they only had to get rid of Levert and Sabonis, keeping Myles Turner, the guy who has seemed to want to stick in Indiana the most. This could be looked back on as one of their better trades in franchise history.
Loser: Kristaps Porzingis
The Latvian unicorn was supposed to be the secondary piece to a contending team in Dallas when they originally acquired the big.
But Porzingis just hasn’t meshed with the budding stars of the Mavs.
Though it’s felt like he has improved his shooting a bit from last year, his three-point shooting has been terrible. The once-feared sniper is now being left open for shots and he just can’t hit any.
His PPG is regressing and so s the focus that defenses are giving him. He’s now going to float around in Washington on a team going nowhere, likely wasting the rest of the good years of his career he has left.
Loser: The Trail Blazers
Rip City was going to have to break up their core at some point because of their failure to make a deep run to the NBA Finals despite all their talent. That time has finally come, and as a result, CJ McCollum is now a New Orleans Pelican.
Trading CJ does not make the Blazers a loser, because tanking now is the right move for their franchise, even if it was sad to see McCollum in a different jersey. But, for him, they got back a small collection.
Josh Hart and Nickeil Alexander-Walker are both very solid young role players, but both of their potentials have been pretty much tapped to the maximum. They also only got one first-round pick, which is protected. I think the Blazers could’ve milked more out of their star-shooting guard, which is why they lost this trade deadline.
On top of this loss should be trading Covington and Norman Powell away for a couple of aging vets in a move that was simply a cleaning house move instead of a rebuilding move. Powell is a great scorer and Covington provides value as well.
Even though they are not young they had a lot of value that was pretty much ignored when they accepted the reception of Justice Winslow, Eric Bledsoe, Keon Johnson, and a second-round pick in return.
Loser: The Sacramento Kings
There isn’t much to say about what the Kings are doing with these trades. Actually, there really aren’t any words. They trade away almost all of their young talent, including Tyrese Haliburton who may have been their brightest future star, and who has shown nothing but love for the city of Sacramento, for an all-star player in Sabonis.
But Sabonis doesn’t fit any need. Sacramento can’t play defense, and defense is Sabonis’s biggest weakness. They also don’t struggle with scoring at all, so logically they brought in a scoring big-man.
They also traded for Jeremy Lamb and Justin Holiday, two players who would be vets on a team trying to win now. It has become apparent the Kings think they’re in position to compete right now, but they’re not.
Fox and Sabonis will not keep up in this Western Conference, and this was a complete waste of young talent. Trading Marvin Bagley for a handful of peanuts was also disturbing and made pretty much no sense either. I’m sure that Sacramento had what they thought were valid reasons for all of this mess, but it sure isn’t a good reason.