- Head spinning? We've got you covered. The Crossover is tracking every move ahead of Thursday's NBA trade deadline (3 PM ET).
With the 2017 NBA trade deadline behind us, The Crossover has rounded up every trade squeezed in before Thursday's deadline.
The biggest move of the season came down earlier this week, with the Sacramento Kings sending DeMarcus Cousins to the New Orleans Pelicans in a blockbuster move just minutes after Sunday's All-Star Game. In return, the Kings, who also sent Omri Casspi, received a protected first-round pick, Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans Langston Galloway and an additional second-round pick.
On Tuesday, Magic Johnson wasted no time making a move as Lakers President of Basketball Operations, sending Lou Williams to the Rockets for Corey Brewer and a first-round pick.
On deadline day, the biggest move came when the 76ers shipped Nerlens Noel to the Mavericks for Justin Anderson, Andrew Bogut and a protected pick.
What other moves went down before the wire? Here's a recap of every move before the deadline.
After months of shopping around their extraneous veterans, the Suns finally found an eager trade partner—if not one quite so eager to surrender the first-round pick they were chasing. Phoenix traded P.J. Tucker to Toronto on Thursday in exchange for Jared Sullinger and a pair of second-round picks, according to Yahoo! Sports.
Who won the deal? Let’s grade the trade.
The final months of Tucker’s contract—originally signed for $16.5 million over three years back in 2014—will be spent playing games of consequence. Phoenix is one of the few teams in the Western Conference without any conceivable hope of playing for the eighth seed. There are enough vets sticking around (and under longer-term deals) to keep the team’s head on straight, making Tucker so clearly movable. Getting a first-round pick in return was a tall order to begin with, but seconds in 2017 and 2018 (with Sullinger’s contract attached) make for solid consolation. Those picks might not amount to more than shots in the dark if the Raptors remain as good as expected. Still this is a windfall for Phoenix, considering that Tucker would have hit free agency in just a few months with no reason to re-sign on another team-friendly deal. A trade was inevitable.
When within reasonable range of a conference’s top team, a contender like the Raptors owes it to itself to commit. So much of a franchise’s operations are geared toward just getting that close—gathering enough talent, building the right chemistry, and moving at the right opportunities to make a title plausible. The Raps are seizing the moment. Moving for Serge Ibaka earlier this month was the big play to address a clear need. This is the follow-up.
Much of what Toronto lost by dealing away Terrence Ross can be recouped through Tucker, with the added benefit of acquiring a defender of different range than any other player on the roster. Toronto has struggled defending big, physical small forwards for years. Now it finally has one of its own—a strong, pesky wing whose denial alone is enough to wear down many opponents. Tucker isn’t the definitive answer to how this team might handle a playoff matchup with LeBron James, but Tucker is immediately the best option available and dependable rotation insurance otherwise. All he cost to acquire was a big who wasn’t in the team’s post-Ibaka plans and a few deep seconds for a franchise that has more immediate goals and plenty of developing talent on its roster already.
Amid rampant speculation surrounding a potential Jimmy Butler blockbuster, the Bulls instead made a smaller rebuild-oriented move before Thursday’s trade deadline. Chicago traded longtime frontcourt stalwart Taj Gibson and 2014 lottery selection Doug McDermott to the Thunder in exchange for another former lottery pick in Cameron Payne, along with Joffrey Lauvergne and Anthony Morrow. The Bulls also sent a 2018 second-rounder in the deal. The trade was first reported by The Vertical’s Shams Charania.
Who won the deal? Let's grade both sides.
After balking at a reported Pau Gasol deal with Sacramento one year ago, Chicago ensured it would get something in return for Gibson, a well-respected, hard-nosed power forward who went through plenty of playoff battles with the Thibodeau Bulls teams of old. He averaged 9.4 points and 6.4 rebounds on a guard-heavy Bulls roster in his age-31 season. With his contract set to expire and the Bulls mostly headed nowhere, finding a deal for their most fluid trade piece felt sensible. Chicago was reportedly hot after Andre Roberson, but the Thunder intend to keep the defensive specialist in free agency. The Bulls made a deal anyway, if in unspectacular fashion.
At the center of Chicago’s return is Payne, a 22-year-old lottery pick in the 2015 draft best known for being Russell Westbrook’s pregame dance routine partner. He missed two months this season with a broken foot and has struggled to make a serious impact off the bench for the Thunder. Some were high on his upside out of college, pegging him as the backup point guard OKC had searched for as the Westbrook-Durant era waned. But he has yet to deliver on that promise either as a scorer or playmaker, and has not been a consistent three-point threat. Chicago inherits Payne under a few years of cheap team control, but adds him to a glut of uninspiring young point guards amid what remains a half-baked rebuild.
The deal makes sense philosophically, but fails to move the needle for the Bulls, who surrender another struggling former lottery pick in McDermott and a future second-round draft asset. It’s flawed logic, but still worth pointing out that the team surrendered two first-rounders in the 2014 draft just to land the small forward, who’s had successful spurts (and shot 42% from three last season) but failed to make the immediate impact Chicago hoped from a dominant four-year college player. If anything, it again sheds light on the front office’s recent struggles on the scouting and draft fronts. Lauvergne is a decent rotational big man and Morrow a serviceable shooting specialist, and both will come off the books next season.
Save for Payne emerging as Chicago’s most promising long-term guard, the Bulls continue to tread water. Gibson, a beloved locker-room presence, is gone. Jimmy Butler, and to a lesser degree, Nikola Mirotic (who Chicago also tried to move) are the lone leftovers from the Thibs era. The Bulls’ onus now moves to the off-season, where they’ll again be faced with the possibility of a Butler trade come draft-time. For Chicago, this line of action puts the future on hold yet again.
Oklahoma City comes out the winner from this deal, with clear places for Gibson and McDermott in their rotation and netting a draft asset, to boot. They did this while hanging onto Roberson, one of the league’s better perimeter defenders who’s made improvements to his shooting and adds toughness to a playoff-bound team. Gibson will be great in the locker room and lessen the pressure on rookie Domantas Sabonis, particularly with Enes Kanter still injured. Pair him with Steven Adams, and you’ve got the defensive-minded frontcourt pairing they’ve lacked. He’s on an expiring deal and can in theory be re-signed at a reasonable price. McDermott can still help with his shooting and should naturally benefit from all the defensive attention on Westbrook.
As the Thunder push forward around Russell Westbrook, they’re sending the right signals about their mindset as a franchise, even in a competitive West. They’re likely still one star away from returning to the upper echelon of the conference, but are positioned to perhaps steal a first-round series and go from there. The added depth helps short-term, the cap flexibility is a clear plus, and they surrender next-to-nothing in the process. Perhaps it was early to give up on Payne, but the logic is perfectly sensible. Doug McDermott may not dance, but something tells me Westbrook and Payne might stay on speaking terms.
The Rockets have traded K.J. McDaniels to the Brooklyn Nets, according to The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski.
McDaniels, 24, is averaging 2.8 points and just over 7 minutes per game.
McDaniels signed a 3-year, $10 million deal with Houston that expires after next season. The trade frees up $3 million in cap space for the Rockets to use on the buyout market.
The Rockets acquired guard Louis Williams from the Lakers on Tuesday.
The Sixers have moved to resolve their glut of bigs, albeit not in the way many reports suggested. Philadelphia traded Nerlens Noel to Dallas on Thursday in exchange for Justin Anderson, Andrew Bogut, and a first-round pick so protected that it’s very likely to convey as two seconds, according to reports from Yahoo! Sports and ESPN.com.
Let’s grade the trade.
Noel’s entire NBA career has been clouded by rumor. He was drafted to a Sixers team with only nebulous plans for actual roster construction, only to be joined by two top-three picks at his best position in subsequent drafts. The possibility of Noel being traded was always in the air, and finally made explicit by Noel’s own preseason request to be moved. The prospect of drafting all three of Noel, Joel Embiid, and Jahlil Okafor only ever made sense as a value play. Select all three, take advantage of the fact that Embiid was slated to miss his rookie season (and would eventually miss another), and eventually shuffle some along as the team susses out their incompatibilities.
It seems the Sixers waited too long to move on that surplus, not to mention misplaying their leverage in essentially sending Okafor home in the middle of the season. That left Philly to deal Noel, a clearly superior player to Okafor, for what amounts to two second-round picks and a young wing who could never stick in Rick Carlisle’s rotation. Andrew Bogut is reportedly not long for Philadelphia; meager bonus points could be had if the Sixers are able to flip his contract for something—anything!—before the deadline, though it seems more likely that Bogut is bought out after the fact and freed to sign with a playoff team.
Finding any direct course to a championship from a Barnes–Noel starting line would require some considerable imagination. But an outright tank never seemed to be in the Mavericks’ plans, and with this move they think forward while only facilitating their push for the eighth seed. The only real risk involved is the possibility—more abstract than based on any empirical trend—that Anderson pops in a new setting like Jae Crowder did. Noel and Anderson are far enough apart in current and predicted value for the Mavs to find comfort in the margin.
The Philadelphia 76ers are finalizing a trade to send Ersan Ilyasova to the Atlanta Hawks for Tiago Splitter and will swap second-round picks, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical.
Ilyasova is averaging 14.3 points, 5.9 rebounds and 0.3 blocks per game. He is in the final year of his own contract and is due $8.4 million.
Splitter is on an expiring contract and is expected to earn 8.5 million. He is averaging 5.6 points, 3.3 rebounds and 0.3 blocks per game.
The Wizards have acquired Nets shooting guard Bojan Bogdanovic and forward Chris McCullough in exchange for forward Andrew Nicholson, guard Marcus Thornton and a 2017 first-round pick, The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports.
The Nets were reportedly “determined” to get a first for Bogdanovic, who is set to be a restricted free agent. Brooklyn now has two first-rounders: Washington’s and Boston’s (the Celtics hold swap rights and are sure to exercise them, acquiring the Nets’ all-but guaranteed high draft pick). ESPN’s Zach Lowe reports the pick is lottery-protected, in the event the Wizards (currently third in the East) miss the playoffs.
Bodganovic beefs up the Wizards’ thin bench as they head toward the postseason. The 27-year-old wing is averaging 14.2 points per game and shooting 35.7% from three this season. McCullough is a second-year forward who has received little playing time.
Washington signed the 27-year-old Nicholson to a four-year deal in free agency but have played him sparingly. Thornton is a journeyman guard averaging 6.6 per game off the bench for the Wizards, but had not appeared in a game since Jan. 3.
- Jeremy Woo
The Lakers concluded one of their most turbulent days in recent memory by trading guard Lou Williams to the Rockets for forward Corey Brewer and a 2017 first-round pick, according to Yahoo Sports and ESPN.com.
After firing longtime GM Mitch Kupchak, stripping executive Jim Buss of his power, turning over the keys to Magic Johnson, and reportedly agreeing to hire super-agent Rob Pelinka as Kupchak’s replacement, LA made a move for the future by trading Williams, a strong candidate for the 2017 Sixth Man of the Year award.
Let’s grade the trade.
Williams was one of the most obvious trade chips in the league given his strong play this season, his clear fit as a leading scorer on a second unit, his reasonable contract, his playoff experience, and his utter uselessness to the Lakers, a rebuilding team that should be going all out to tank down the stretch.
Really, Williams was worse than useless in LA, he was counterproductive. Every foul he drew, every four-point play he converted, and every 20-point outburst increased the chances that the Lakers don’t retain their top-3 protected first-round pick. This year, Williams is averaging a career-best 18.6 PPG and shooting a career-high 38.6% on threes, and the Lakers’ offensive efficiency rating has jumped from 98.9 to 108 when he’s been on the court. Showcasing him worked perfectly, and now it’s time for the Lakers to move forward.
Cashing out on Williams accomplishes three goals: it delivers a first-round pick (which should land somewhere around No. 25), it helps the Lakes keep their own pick in a draft with major difference-makers like Markelle Fultz and UCLA’s Lonzo Ball at the top, and it opens up even more minutes and shots for 2015 lottery pick D’Angelo Russell, who hasn’t demonstrated major progress in his second season. Even though he’s still only 20, Russell (14.2 PPG, 26.5 MPG) is rapidly approaching sink-or-swim time and deserves a looser leash down the stretch of an already-lost season.
This move is less about the meh return package—the Lakers added salary, Brewer doesn’t really help, and the pick isn’t anything to write home about—and more about playing the tank game. Yes, that’s always a tough sell for a high-profile franchise like the Lakers, who are stuck in their fourth straight year of abysmal losing after failing to sustain a hot start to 2016-17 that briefly raised expectations. Nevertheless, tanking is clearly the best option given that Russell hasn’t yet blossomed, Julius Randle probably isn’t going to develop into a star-level player, and 2016 lottery pick Brandon Ingram, while promising, is still a few years away from being a franchise player.
As it stands, the Lakers should do everything within their power to outrace the Suns to the bottom of the West standings to capture the No. 2 spot in the draft lottery order. If that approach ultimately lands Ball, for example, the Johnson Era will be off to a strong start. The alternative universe—where the Lakers held on to Williams and put their pick into greater jeopardy than necessary—would have been an abomination.
Long known as a one-way bucket-getter with a strong handle, a quick release and crafty moves, Williams looks like a logical fit in Houston. He’s comfortable playing both with the ball in his hands and as a complementary look to other stars, given his recent stint in Toronto, and his eagerness to shoot will fit right in with James Harden, Eric Gordon, Ryan Anderson and company under Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni. While the Lakers haven’t attempted nearly as many threes as the record-setting Rockets this season, the two teams have played at similar paces (both top-seven league-wide) and Williams has attempted more threes per minute than at any point during his career. Expect his green light to get even greener.
Both Williams and Brewer are 30 years old but they’re trending in opposite directions: Williams is heading down the Jamal Crawford graceful aging arc while Brewer is finding it harder and harder to stay on the court. In theory, Brewer fits the Rockets’ needs better as a versatile energy guy. In practice, however, he’s struggled to contribute in a diminished role this season, posting a career-low Player Efficiency Rating.
From a financial perspective, Houston actually saves a little bit of money, as Brewer was owed $15.2 million combined over this season and next while Williams will take home just $14 million. There’s zero doubt which player Houston would rather have as it gets up for a possible deep postseason run this year and looks to refine one of the league’s most potent attacks around Harden into the future.
Although Houston didn’t part with much to acquire Williams, there are a few reasons to pump the brakes on the hype train. First, he’s been a far less effective player in the playoffs than in the regular season, averaging just 10.8 PPG and shooting 36.2% from the field in the postseason. Second, his defensive impact numbers have been well below average for years, making him the type of weak link who will get picked on mercilessly by teams like the Spurs and Warriors. Third, the redundancy of his skillset with Harden and Gordon will almost certainly limit the scope of his individual contributions relative to his highwater marks with the Lakers.
Countering that last point, however, is the fact that Williams represents excellent injury insurance for Gordon, another Sixth Man of the Year favorite who started to miss some time before the All-Star break. The Rockets’ momentum has slowed a bit after a scoring start, and Williams is exactly the type of player who could help kick things back into gear for a top-heavy roster with grand designs on a possible trip to the Western Conference finals.
After a quiet, relatively tame All-Star Weekend, the NBA provided fireworks immediately after its showcase game in the form of a blockbuster trade. DeMarcus Cousins, the mercurial, immensely–talented center, is headed to New Orleans, where he will team up with fellow Wildcat Anthony Davis in what is now the most offensively gifted five–four combination in the league.
Cousins is headed to the Pelicans with only one more season left on his contract, while the Kings, who also dealt Omri Casspi, will receive Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway and their 2017 first- and second-round picks, according to multiple media reports.
Here’s how each team did in the deal:
It’s simple, but talent wins in the NBA. In Cousins, the Pelicans are acquiring a 26-year-old, in-his-prime big man who averages 28–10 while shooting nearly 36% from three. If Cousins keeps up those current statistics, he’ll be the only player in NBA history 6’10” or taller to post such averages in his age-26 season. Cousins is an offensive force, and his game has steadily improved despite the surrounding clown show in Sacramento.
Of course, there are obvious caveats here. Cousins’s attitude has been a huge issue in Sacramento. He’s clashed with coaches, teammates and referees to a ridiculous degree. His effort on defense has come and gone. And it's fair to question how good Cousins truly is considering he could never carry his team to the postseason. On top of all that, Cousins contract expires in 2018, which could make him nothing more than a glorified rental if he doesn’t re-sign with New Orleans—though the Pelicans have the option of trading him again next year.
On the court, spacing could be tight in a Davis-Cousins frontcourt, but both have emerging outside games, and Alvin Gentry may now finally have the kind of pieces to prove the offensive genius he was hired for. As far as effort concerns, New Orleans isn’t a shining example of an NBA franchise, but the change of scenery from the Kings to the Pelicans should still be jarring enough to promote more consistency in Cousins.
Ultimately, this is the kind of home run move teams need to make in the current NBA landscape. Acquiring superstars during free agency will become increasingly difficult in the new CBA, and players like Cousins are rarely available on the trade market. The Pelicans are making the deal without giving up any notable players, and any smattering of draft picks seems appropriate for Cousins.
Could Sacramento really have not done better? Only one first-round pick? No franchise players in return? No better offer was on the table ahead of Thursday's deadline?
This grade really isn’t just about the trade, however. It’s a grade for years of ineptitude. It’s a grade that reflects how the Kings more or less insulted their fans by running an amateur operation that wasted years of Cousins’s promising career. It’s a grade appropriate for owner Vivek Ranadive, whose new arena will now be just as empty as his old one. This is a bad day for the Kings organization, and it could be a long time before it finds another player as talented as Cousins
The 76ers have the option to swap first-round picks with the Kings in this summer’s draft. Philly will have a really good chance at landing the top pick, especially with Sacramento now expected to free fall in the standings.