The NBA trade deadline saw tons of action, especially if you consider the whole preceding week a part of the action. Two of the biggest names floating out there — Anthony Davis and Mike Conley — didn’t move, but guys like Kristaps Porzingis, Tobias Harris, Harrison Barnes, Marc Gasol, and Ivica Zubac did.
Here’s our top five best pick-ups at the deadline, with a view toward the long term — not necessarily immediate impact.
1. Kristaps Porzingis
Porzingis might not play this season, and if he does, the Mavericks are deep enough out of the Western playoff race that there won’t be practical on-court implications to his presence. But over the course of the next few years, assuming Dallas can get Zinger to sign a long-term extension this summer as a restricted free agent, this should have a much bigger impact than anyone (or anything) else nabbed this trade season. You don’t trade for All-Stars on rookie deals too often.
2. Miami’s 2021 unprotected first and salary cap space (tied)
The Clippers swung a huge, surprising trade sending Tobias Harris to the Sixers for that Heat draft pick, a Sixers pick, and Landry Shamet. Later, the Clips traded Avery Bradley for expiring contracts. As I wrote earlier this week, L.A. just opted out of a playoff race they were winning to go all in on free agents and trade targets this summer. That’s just incredibly bold.
3. Nikola Mirotic
Mirotic isn’t one of the three best players traded near the deadline, but I’ll bet on Mirotic getting the incredible Bucks further toward their goals than, say Harris pushing the Sixers over the top. I mean, Milwaukee could make the NBA Finals now with Mirotic sniping from beyond the arc. They probably won’t keep him during an expensive summer, but getting Giannis Antetokounmpo to the NBA Finals is a huge, huge deal. What a masterful set of moves to land him.
4. Tobias Harris
This is not to knock the Sixers or Harris. A lot of folks are making assumptions that because Harris is a scorer and Philly has those that the fit will be bad. This ignores that Harris is a fairly low-usage scorer — he scores efficiently without needing 25 percent of the team’s possessions. His normal state is to not dominate the ball. There shouldn’t be a problem here, and there seems to be a good chance that the Sixers find a way to retain Harris in the summer while perhaps waving goodbye to Jimmy Butler.
5. Hope in Manhattan
Consider the fall-out from the Knicks’ stunning decision to ship out Porzingis to lose a couple other hefty contracts in advance of the free agent chase coming in July. First, Kyrie Irving started backtracking verbal commitments to Celtics fans. Then Kevin Durant went radio silent in the Bay Area for a week plus before a stormy scrum on Wednesday. The Knicks did this! Where there is smoke …
Others Receiving Consideration
Time in Boston, Iman Shumpert (Houston), Harrison Barnes (Sacramento), The Absence of Tobias Harris in the West Playoff Race (Lakers, Kings, Wolves).
Clippers 92, Pacers 116
Timberwolves 112, Magic 122
Raptors 119, Hawks 101
Lakers 129, Celtics 128
Grizzlies 95, Thunder 117
Spurs 118, Blazers 127
Here’s the national TV line-up for the weekend. All times Eastern. See the full schedule with League Pass action here.
Nuggets at Sixers, 7, ESPN
Timberwolves at Pelicans, 9:30, ESPN
Thunder at Rockets, 8:30, ABC
Lakers at Sixers, 3:30, ABC
Heat at Warriors, 8:30, NBA TV
Meanwhile, the LeBron James Sanctioned Tampering Hour — I mean, the NBA All-Star Game Draft was a real hoot. Let’s do this again every year.
Anthony Davis will be available this summer. Who has the best chance to land him?
Six days ago, Nik Stauskas and Wade Baldwin were teammates on the Blazers. They’ve since been traded together three times and both are now on waivers. What a world.
Whew. Be excellent to each other.