After a wild NBA trade deadline, it is important to reflect on the major moves. Star-caliber players traveled to teams hoping to make a championship run, while others sell off their remaining assets to better position themselves for the future. Here, grades will be given for the biggest moves from the trade deadline:
Kristaps Porzingis to the Dallas Mavericks → Grade: B+
MAVERICKS receive: Kristaps Porzingis, Tim Hardaway Jr., Courtney Lee, Trey Burke
KNICKS receive: Dennis Smith Jr., DeAndre Jordan, Wesley Matthews, 2 future first-round picks
The Kristaps Porzingis trade kicked off a crazy week in the NBA. The Latvian star, even though still recovering from a torn ACL, is one of the brightest and most promising young players in the NBA, and gives the Mavericks a fantastic complement to rookie phenom Luka Dončić. On the other side, the New York Knicks clear up two max salary slots for this upcoming summer, approximately leaving $73 million in cap space after trading away the contract of Tim Hardaway Jr.
The major player going to the metropolitan area is Dennis Smith Jr., whose impressive rookie year combined with his tremendous display of athleticism makes him an intriguing option to man the point guard spot for New York. Smith Jr. should have a terrific opportunity to showcase his talents for a rebuilding team, as 1st-year head coach David Fizdale should give the second year guard plenty of minutes. Although the Knicks clear up a ton of cap space, they take the risk of trading a potential superstar for an opportunity to sign big-name free agents, including Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. Only time will tell how this trade works out for the Knicks, but it is an extremely risky proposition to bet on something that will not be determined until this upcoming summer.
Harrison Barnes to the Sacramento Kings → Grade: A-
KINGS receive: Harrison Barnes
MAVERICKS receive: Justin Jackson, Zach Randolph
Although seemingly only a minor move, Harrison Barnes going from Dallas to Sacramento could have major implications in the future. Barnes has a $25 million player option for 2019-2020 which means that the Mavericks open up a max salary slot for this upcoming summer after getting his contract off the books. Trading for Kristaps Porzingis could make Dallas a popular destination for players in free agency who want to form the next “Big 3.”
In the short term, the Kings clearly want to compete for a playoff spot this year, as they have not made the postseason since 2006. Sacramento adds another valuable scoring option in Barnes, who is currently averaging almost 18 points per game, to go along with De’aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, and Willie Cauley-Stein. This trade benefits both sides, as Sacramento has a ton of cap space and are willing to take on a contract, while the Mavericks put themselves in a terrific position to make a splash in free agency.
Marc Gasol to the Toronto Raptors → Grade: B
GRIZZLIES receive: Jonas Valanciunas, Delon Wright, CJ Miles, 2024 second-round pick
RAPTORS receive: Marc Gasol
The Toronto Raptors have done everything in their power to put themselves in a position for a championship, acquiring 2-way superstar Kawhi Leonard over the summer, and now, trading for 34-year old center Marc Gasol from the Memphis Grizzlies. Gasol has a $25.6 million player option for 2019-2020, and joining forces with the likes of Leonard, Kyle Lowry, Pascal Siakam, and Serge Ibaka round out a formidable starting five that can make some noise during the postseason.
For the Grizzlies, they receive a young big man with plenty of potential in Jonas Valanciunas, who is 26-years-old and is under contract for next season as well. Wright and Miles are very solid role players and can be very useful on a rebuilding team. Overall, the Raptors get a star center for the rest of this season and continue to compete in the Eastern Conference arms race, while the Grizzlies get sufficient value in return.
Nikola Mirotic to the Milwaukee Bucks → Grade: A-
PELICANS receive: Jason Smith, Stanley Johnson, 4 second-round picks
BUCKS receive: Nikola Mirotic
The Milwaukee Bucks have been, by far, the most surprising team in all of basketball this season. Mike Budenholzer’s squad holds the best record in the NBA at 42-14, and continues to show why they deserve to be at the top of league. The addition of Nikola Mirotic, who has averaged 16.7 points and 8.3 rebounds this season, adds another deep shooting threat to Milwaukee’s wide array of options that includes Khris Middleton, Malcolm Brogdon, and Brook Lopez.
In return for the scoring forward, New Orleans receives a project in Stanley Johnson, who was the 8th overall pick by the Detroit Pistons in 2015. Johnson has struggled to find a role in the NBA, but receives an excellent opportunity to earn minutes for a team that is soon to be entering a rebuild. The only concern with this trade is for the Bucks, who gave up four second-round picks for half a season of Nikola Mirotic. The Pelicans on the other hand, receive plenty of value for a player whose contract expires at the end of the 2018-2019 campaign.
Markelle Fultz to the Orlando Magic → Grade: A+
MAGIC receive: Markelle Fultz
76ers receive: Jonathan Simmons, First round pick (via OKC), Second-round pick (via CLE)
Markelle Fultz’s struggles has been one of the hottest topics surrounding the NBA over the last year, as 2017’s #1 overall pick has battled injuries, personal demons, and shot discomfort, preventing him from developing into the star that his ability allows him to become. The Orlando Magic look to give Fultz a fresh start and a new opportunity to develop into the star that is expected of him. Not only does the trade give the 20-year-old another chance, he is going to a team that is in desperate need of a point guard and has built a talented young nucleus that can be successful in the future.
The Philadelphia 76ers have seemingly gone all in on this season, trading for Jimmy Butler earlier in the season and acquiring Tobias Harris from the Los Angeles Clippers right before the NBA trade deadline. Jonathan Simmons gives the 76ers some depth off the bench, providing a little bit more power to a championship-caliber team. This trade is perfect in every way, as Philadelphia receives enough value and draft assets in return for Fultz, and Orlando acquires a talented guard that has the ability to become a star in the NBA.
Tobias Harris to the Philadelphia 76ers → Grade: A-
76ers receive: Tobias Harris, Boban Marjanovic, Mike Scott
CLIPPERS receive: Mike Muscala (traded to LAL), Wilson Chandler, Landry Shamet, 2 first-round picks, 2 future second-round picks
The Philadelphia 76ers have quickly built one of the best teams in basketball, as the addition of Tobias Harris only supplements a roster that already had enough talent to make a run in the postseason. Averaging 20.8 points and 7.8 rebounds while shooting 44% from deep, Harris has become one of the most lethal three-point shooters in the NBA, adding another dimension to a team that desperately needs another scoring option from long range.
For the Clippers, they continue to sell off their expiring assets and position themselves to be extremely active this summer. Receiving two first round picks and a promising young talent in Landry Shamet for Harris only bolster their future potential. A major concern in this trade is Tobias Harris being an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. However, 76ers general manager Elton Brand is confident that he will be able to keep Harris in Philadelphia, as he has stated that Harris will be part of the future.