The NBA trade deadline has wrapped up, and some of the most eventful deadline deals have happened.
The Sacramento Kings, Los Angeles Clippers, Milwaukee Bucks, and Detroit Pistons started the morning with a bang, trading seven players! Let’s start with the Kings who traded the 2018 second overall pick, Marvin Bagley III. A presumed bust to the Pistons. Bagley has dealt with injuries and limited playing time to begin his NBA career, but he was taken before a young legend, Luka Doncic. In his three and a half seasons in Sacramento, Bagley has also had his fair share of off-the-court drama as he and his agent have expressed their displeasure with Bagley’s role and playing time.
Bagley will look to improve in Detroit surrounded by a young core featuring this year’s number one draft pick, Cade Cunningham, and a rebuilding roster. The Kings get Donte Divencezo from the Bucks. Divincenzo, 25, looks to help the Kings make the postseason. This is something they have not achieved in 16 years, tying an NBA record. Milwaukee gives up Rodney Hood and Semi Ojeleye to the Clippers, two offseason additions who have had limited playing time. They receive a veteran center, Serge Ibaka, from the Clippers. Ibaka has had a down season but is an excellent paint presence. The Clippers received Hood and Semi Ojeleye, players who will likely be cut.
Kristaps Porzingis Traded to Washington Wizards
The deal between the Dallas Mavericks and the Washington Wizards came as a surprise to many, but it was not a bad deal. Kristaps Porzingis has not lived up to expectations with the Dallas Mavericks, but injuries have held him back. Porzingis played well in 2017 with the New York Knicks, earning an all-star nod, but he was injured the entire 2018-19 season. This caused the Knicks to trade him to Dallas for next to nothing. In 2019-20, he was excellent to start the season with Dallas, but cooled off and ended up having knee issues, which was a major issue in his tenure as a Maverick. In the playoffs, he was limited to three games but played well. In 2020-21, Porzingis showed flashes of his greatness in New York but was limited to just being a 3-point shooter, a role that he was not happy with. Trade rumors sparked, but his massive $160 million contract had teams hesitant with concerns about his injuries and performance. Overall, Porzingis had an injury-riddled, disappointing Mavericks tenure. The Wizards gave up Spencer Dinwiddie, a 28-year-old guard, who has struggled considerably, especially coming off an amazing 2019-20 season where Dinwiddie stepped up in the absence of stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. Dinwiddie tore his ACL in 2020 and has not fully recovered, it seems. Porzingis will look for an increased role, with star guard Bradley Beal being out for the season injured.
Indiana Pacers Reset, New Teams try to make a Push
The Indiana Pacers have been in purgatory for the past three years, ever since they traded disgruntled star, Paul George. The Pacers have solid players, but no star like George. After trading 2017-18 all-star and most-improved player Victor Oladipo at last year’s trade deadline, after a flurry of drama and injuries, the Pacers have not won a playoff series since 2013. They nearly went to the finals. The Pacers indicated on December 7, 2021, they were heading toward a rebuild. The first player to go was Caris Levert, a 27-year old wing, who had played only 74 games but had not made enough of an impact to prevent being traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavs traded an injured Ricky Rubio, a 2022 first-round pick, and two future second-round picks to Indiana, a solid deal to help increase the number of draft picks. Next, was a true shocker. Domantas Sabonis is a two-time all-star and was the Pacers best player. He got traded to the Kings, for Tyrese Haliburton, Buddy Hield, and Tristan Thompson. Haliburton was a star rookie and was not expected to be traded at only 21 years old. Many expected this deal could happen, but instead of Haliburton, the Kings would trade De’Aaron Fox, a 24-year-old star guard who has been playing below standards this year. Fox also carries a 30 million dollar contract and had been linked in trade talks earlier this year, when the Kings drafted Davion Mitchell, a 23-year-old guard out of Baylor. Buddy Hield, a nice 3-point specialist can help mentor some of the younger Pacers players but is expected to depart after this season ends.
Overall, the Kings will get Justin Holiday, Jeremy Lamb, and a second-round draft pick plus Sabonis, who is averaging 18.9 points, 12.0 rebounds, and 5.0 assists per game. Sabonis looked strong in his Kings debut and looks to help the Kings push for the postseason. The Pacers also traded Torrey Craig for Jalen Smith, a top young player from the championship-contending Phoenix Suns, who were not playing Smith, who has been superb when given an opportunity. Craig, 31, will look to help the Suns with his defense and shooting. He returns to the Suns as he played there in 2021.
James Harden-Ben Simmons Blockbuster
The most anticipated and most surprising trade of this deadline involved superstar James Harden going to the Philadelphia 76ers after only playing 16 games with the superteam Brooklyn Nets. The Nets had been dealing with major drama, with Kyrie Irving’s vaccination status playing a major issue. Harden was supposed to be part of a three-man super team at Brooklyn with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, but it never panned out because Kyrie Irving did not end up playing much because he refused to get vaccinated for Covid, which was required to play home games. James Harden came to the Nets from Houston after coming up short in a title pursuit during his eight years there.
According to Ramona Shelbourne, an NBA Insider for ESPN, “The idea was, you're gonna go win a championship and be part of a three-headed monster super-team…And mostly what he's found is it's kind of still on him all the time, either because Kevin’s hurt or Kyrie is out because of the vaccination status, his part-time player status."
Overall, with Harden being displeased, it was rumored that he might be traded. The Ben Simmons saga has been one of the crazy and wild stories over the last seven months or so. Last year in January, Ben Simmons surfaced in Harden trade rumors, but newly-appointed Philadelphia Sixers General Manager Daryl Morey did not trade for Harden, letting him go to the rival Nets. Morey is the former Houston Rockets GM who traded for Harden back in 2012 and has a very close relationship with him. Morey got immense criticism for this. This criticism only intensified after Simmons’s horrendous playoff performance against the Atlanta Hawks, after he struggled to generate any offense and was a major factor in the Sixers getting upset in the second round. After this series, many expected Simmons to be traded, including Simmons himself. This was especially true after the Sixers openly expressed their interest in trading him, but no offers satisfied Morey. Training camp came and went with Simmons holding out. After Simmons losing $19 million, and Morey not settling for anything less than a superstar, both sides now get their wish. The full trade is James Harden and Paul Millsap going to Philadelphia and Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Andre Drummond, and two first-round draft picks going to Brooklyn.
The Boston Celtics receive Derrick White from San Antonio for Josh Richardson and Romeo Langford, a 2022 first-round pick (via Boston), and a 2028 first-round pick swap. A pick swap means the receiving team has the option to switch picks with the team that offered it. The Celtics can use White for extra scoring off the bench, while the Spurs can try to develop Langford, 22.
The Wizards traded Montrezl Harrell, an expiring contract to the Charlotte Hornets, for Vernon Carey Jr., Ish Smith, and a 2023 second-round pick (Boston’s pick via Charlotte).
In a bit of a larger trade, CJ McCollum of the Portland Trail Blazers got traded to the New Orleans Pelicans alongside Larry Nance Jr. and Tony Snell for Josh Hart, Nickeil Alexander-Walker (later traded to the Jazz), Tomáš Satoranský, Didi Louzada, and a 2022 first-round draft pick, 2026 second-round pick (whichever is better between teams), and a 2027 second-round pick (whichever is better between teams). The Blazers continued making moves as Norman Powell and Robert Covington were traded to the LA Clippers for Eric Bledsoe, Justise Winslow, and Keon Johnson.
Overall, the trade deadline was crazy. So many trades, so many names, so many shockers. But, if you don't like that kind of chaos, you don't like NBA basketball.