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Breaking Down the NBA Trade Deadline Moves

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As it typically happens, the NBA trade deadline this year was a bit mild compared to the nine deals that were executed last year. In all, seven deals were completed prior to the deadline, with some teams really helping their chances this season.

Of course, the Sacramento Kings trading DeMarcus Cousins to the New Orleans Pelicans highlighted this year’s moves, and it is still a bit shocking to see that Cousins was finally traded.

In the days leading up to today’s deadline, players like Jimmy Butler, Paul George, Brook Lopez Derrick Rose and Ricky Rubio were among those players rumored to be in trade rumors this year. While none of those players were ultimately dealt, their long-term future with their current teams could be in question given the trade chatter that surfaced.

Now that the deadline has come and passed, let’s break down each trade that went down on Thursday:


Philadelphia 76ers Get: Andrew Bogut, Justin Anderson and a Protected (1-18) 2017 first-round draft pick

Dallas Mavericks Get: Nerlens Noel

Noel has been a prime candidate to be traded and the 76ers finally were able to work out a deal. They’ll send Noel to the Mavericks in exchange for Andrew Bogut, Justin Anderson and a 2017 first-round draft pick that is protected for picks 1-18. Given the reported protections on the first-round pick, it’s likely the Mavericks will be able to keep it.

The logjam in the frontcourt for the 76ers has been widely talked about to this point, and this move addresses that position. It was clear the player the 76ers opted to trade likely wouldn’t have had a long-term future in Philadelphia, so they cashed in while they could. With this trade, it likely means the 76ers will keep Jahlil Okafor for the foreseeable future.

The jury still seems to be out on what sort of player Anderson can be, but the second-year guard is still under team control on his rookie contract for the next several seasons. Bogut could become a buyout candidate with the 76ers in the coming days. He was set to earn $11,027,027 this season, and if the two can come to terms on a buyout, he figures to become a top option for a contender. One team that has reportedly had him on their radar is the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Mavericks were said to have been interested in Noel for a while now and opted to bring him in. They are expected to work on re-signing him this summer, as Noel will become a restricted free agent. As a restricted free agent, the Mavericks will have the right to match any offer. When healthy, Noel has shown he can be a solid player on both ends of the floor and could likely even develop his game even more in an expanded role.


Houston Rockets Get: A Protected (31-55) future second-round pick

Brooklyn Nets Get: K.J. McDaniels

In what was a move designed to create cap space, the Rockets traded McDaniels to the Nets. It was reported that the trade will free up about $3 million the Rockets would be able to use to sign a player on the buyout market in the coming days.

McDaniels has appeared in 29 games this season and was averaging just 7.3 minutes per game for the Rockets. His contract could come off of the books next season for the Nets as they’ll hold a $3,476,873 team option.


Chicago Bulls Get: Cameron Payne, Joffrey Lauvergne and Anthony Morrow

Oklahoma City Thunder Get: Doug McDermott, Taj Gibson and a 2018 second-round pick

The Chicago Bulls made a deal just before the deadline, but it wasn’t the player some were hoping to see moved. Instead of trading Jimmy Butler, the Bulls traded McDermott, Gibson and a 2018 second-round pick.

Payne’s playing time since returning from a foot injury has been sporadic behind Russell Westbrook. By moving to the Bulls, Payne figures to have a chance to compete for the starting point guard job. The Bulls have been looking for a permanent starter but have yet to find it. If they believe Payne can be that guy, this could end up being one of the more underrated moves on the day for the Bulls.

For the Thunder, acquiring additional bench depth was badly needed. Since Enes Kanter has been sidelined with a forearm fracture, the Thunder’s bench had been a major problem. They add shooting in McDermott and a defensive presence in the paint with Gibson. McDermott was averaging 10.2 points per game and Gibson was averaging 11.6 points per game for the Bulls this season.


Denver Nuggets Get: Roy Hibbert

Milwaukee Bucks Get: Future second-round pick

After acquiring Hibbert from the Charlotte Hornets earlier this month, the Bucks turned around and traded him to the Nuggets. Hibbert had yet to log a minute with the Bucks and they opted to trade him to the Nuggets in order to obtain another draft pick.

By adding Hibbert, the Nuggets get another body to help its frontcourt depth. As of today, the Nuggets are sitting in eighth place in the Western Conference and likely wanted to add another player down the stretch. Hibbert averaged 5.2 points in 42 games with the Hornets this season. He’ll be an unrestricted free agent after this season.


Los Angeles Lakers Get: Tyler Ennis

Houston Rockets Get: Marcelo Huertas

The Rockets made another move on Thursday to help clear more cap space off of the books. They traded Ennis to the Lakers for Huertas, and are expected to waive Huertas at some point in the coming days. They figure to be very active in the buyout market as players are waived from various teams. Players like Deron Williams, Marcus Thornton and Andrew Bogut are among those expected to be available soon.

Ennis played sparingly this season for the Rockets, averaging just 6.3 minutes in 31 outings. Now, he’ll have an opportunity to earn more playing time for the rebuilding Lakers. Ennis is in the final year of his deal where he’ll make $1,733,880. He’s set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer.


Atlanta Hawks Get: Cash

Phoenix Suns Get: Mike Scott

The Suns pick up an expiring contract in Scott and send cash to the Hawks. Scott could be a buyout candidate after this trade.

The Hawks likely wanted to clear Scott’s contract off of the books, and by doing so, also opened up another roster spot. They could become a buyout candidate destination as well with the additional roster spot opening up. In addition, the trade created a $3.3 million traded player exception for the Hawks.


Toronto Raptors Get: P.J. Tucker

Phoenix Suns Get: Jared Sullinger and two future second-round picks

The Raptors were said to still be active in trade discussions after acquiring Serge Ibaka from the Orlando Magic last week. They were looking to add depth at small forward and did so by acquiring Tucker from the Suns. He’ll be an unrestricted free agent this summer.

Adding Tucker figures to be a move designed to shore up its perimeter defense. He’s now likely their best defender against LeBron James should the Raptors match up again with the Cleveland Cavaliers in the postseason. By making this move now, the Raptors were perhaps the biggest winners of the trade deadline.

The Raptors’ cap space this summer will be tied up in pending free agent Kyle Lowry. By acquiring Tucker now, the Raptors will obtain his Bird Rights and can exceed the salary cap to re-sign him if they decide to do so.

Meanwhile, the Suns part ways with an expiring contract in Tucker and pick up Sullinger and two future second-round picks in the process. Sullinger is in the final year of his deal as well, and could be a buyout candidate if the two sides decide to go that route. He’s appeared in just 11 games this year for the Raptors after dealing with a foot injury.

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With the trade deadline now over, teams will look to players to add in the coming days that are bought out. Many contending teams like the Houston Rockets, Cleveland Cavaliers, Golden State Warriors and others will be looking at these players that can help them during their run to the playoffs.

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About Cody Taylor

Cody Taylor

Cody Taylor is an NBA writer in his fourth season with Basketball Insiders, covering the NBA and NCAA out of Orlando and Miami.