The trade deadline approaches and while there typically is no more exciting time for NBA fans hoping to see roster changes than perhaps the beginning of July, this year it is certainly starting to look like we’ll be lucky to see even one remotely significant deal go down in the coming six days.
Historically, fun things do tend to happen this time year, as the following list proves. These are the most significant February deals to have gone down in modern NBA history:
#10 – Miami gets itself a killer crossover (1996) – When Rick Adelman brought Tim Hardaway, one of the best point guards in the league at that time, off of the bench, he grew understandably upset and that discord led to a deadline swap that sent him to South Beach in exchange for Kevin Willis and Bimbo Coles. Miami got two All-Star seasons out of Hardaway, who helped lead a really tough HEAT team that also featured Alonzo Mourning, while Willis and Coles did considerably less out in Oakland.
#9 – The point guard carousel spins round and round (1999) – The trade that sent Sam Cassell to Milwaukee, Stephon Marbury to New Jersey and Terrell Brandon to Minnesota ended up being one of the largest trades in league history, but the impact for Milwaukee and New Jersey was especially noteworthy. The Nets ended up with Marbury, who injected some (short-lived) energy into the franchise, while Milwaukee got some good miles out of Cassell. In the history of the league there, haven’t been many trades where three starters at the same position have been shifted around in a single transaction but this one accomplished that. Only Minnesota really “lost” on this three-way deal, as Brandon faced loads of injury issues the rest of his career.
#8 – Seattle removes The Glove (2003) – This was an instance where probably the greatest Sonic of all time was shipped out for a great scorer in Ray Allen to avoid watching Gary Payton potentially walk away from the franchise for nothing as a free agent that summer. Milwaukee, meanwhile, hoped Payton would walk away following the season so they could cash in on the cap space his expiring contract would create. It impacted both franchises in a major way and has to be considered one of the bigger deadline deals ever. At the very least, it was jarring to see a Seattle lifer like Payton sent off to a new employer.
#7 – Cleveland gives up on Kevin Johnson (1988) – At the time, this pick made a ton of sense for the Cavaliers because Mark Price was simply too good to afford K.J. much playing time and Larry Nance filled a different positional need. But Phoenix came out the big winners here, as Johnson would eventually prove to be every bit the player Price was and more. As an added bonus, the draft pick Cleveland threw Phoenix’s way in this deal turned into Dan Majerle the following summer.
#6 – Houston acquires Houston legend Clyde Drexler (1995) – Drexler did just barely get himself a championship ring immediately following the deadline deal that saw Portland ship him and Tracy Murray to Houston in exchange for Otis Thorpe, Marcelo Nicola and a 1995 first-round draft pick (Randolph Childress), but he’s not going to quibble about how he earns his jewelry. Drexler certainly put in his fair share of elite seasons over the course of his career, including two more All-Star appearances after the trade.
#5 – The Clippers trade away the pick that becomes Kyrie Irving (2011) – Even at the time, pundits scratched their heads over L.A. trading an unprotected first-round pick just to come away with an extra $11 million in cap room over two years, but that’s exactly what they did. The pick they traded away ended up being the top overall pick in the draft, which became Kyrie Irving, while all the extra cap space netted L.A. the talents of Ryan Gomes and Randy Foye. It ended up being a massive deadline deal and one of the worst trades of all time, period.
#4 – Philadelphia ups the defense with Dikembe Mutombo (2001) – Heading into the deadline as the Eastern Conference’s best team, the Sixers needed to make a deal for a big man to replace the injured Theo Ratliff. Somehow, they convinced Atlanta to take on Ratliff (as well as some other somewhat desirable pieces like Toni Kukoc and Nazr Mohammed) in exchange for Mutombo, who won Defensive Player of the Year that season and ended up playing an integral part in getting Philadelphia to the NBA Finals.
#3 – Detroit steals one-day Atlanta Hawk Rasheed Wallace (2004) – It’s hard for a deadline deal to result immediately in a championship because the team really only has about 30 games left in the season to jell well enough to make that a reality. However, the 2004 Pistons definitely made it work with Rasheed Wallace, who reinvigorated himself just in time to bring the team their first ring since Isiah Thomas was an all-world point guard for Detroit. When you consider the fact that all the Pistons gave up to get ‘Sheed was Zeljko Rebraca, Bob Sura and a first-round pick, this trade has proven to be one of all-time rip-offs in league history. Even weirder is that it was Atlanta who shipped Wallace off after having employed him for a single game.
#2 – New York sells the farm for Carmelo Anthony (2011) – In the five years since this deal went down, we’ve seen varying degrees of success from the players that Denver acquired as well as various degrees of success from the Anthony-led Knicks themselves. But the point is that in 2011, this really felt like one of the most significant and exciting trades of all time – deadline deal or otherwise. Wilson Chandler, Ray Felton, Danilo Gallinari and Timofey Mozgov all left the Rockies for the Big Apple, as did three draft picks (none of which amounted to much for Denver) and some cash. In his prime, Anthony was a top-five player in the NBA. Those kinds of guys don’t get moved at the deadline often, which is what made 2011’s deadline so exciting.
#1 – L.A. lands Pau Gasol, wins championships (2008) – If Marc Gasol hadn’t transformed into an eventual All-Star and Defensive Player of the Year, this would have been one of the most lopsided deals in history. Considering that Marc was just a throw-in for this deal and that it could have been literally any “draft rights” guy in that spot, it may still be one of the dumbest deals ever from the Memphis perspective. Still, for the Lakers the acquisition of big brother Pau Gasol led to three consecutive NBA Finals appearances, two of which resulted in championships. The brother-for-brother narrative doesn’t hurt anything here either, especially considering how good Marc Gasol turned out to be too.
Wizards trade Antawn Jamison to Cavaliers (2010) – While it didn’t pay the sort of dividends Cleveland would have liked (like winning a championship and keeping LeBron James in his home state), there’s no understating that this was a pretty huge trade for the Cavs at the time. It was tough to give up Zydrunas Ilgauskas in the deal, but he was immediately bought out by the Wizards, waited 30 days, and then returned to the Cavs. Essentially, Cleveland ended up with an All-Star forward for virtually nothing.
Nuggets trade Mark Jackson back to the Pacers (1997) – Donnie Walsh made the decision in the winter of 1997 to bring Jackson back to Indianapolis after having traded him to Denver just the season before. Seeing how much Indy dropped off the Eastern Conference map, it only made sense to bring Jackson back, and sure enough the Pacers were in the NBA Finals only a few years later. All it cost them (the second time) was Vincent Askew, Eddie Johnson and a second-round pick.
Sixers trade Jeff Hornacek to the Jazz (1994) – As good as John Stockton and Karl Malone made the Utah Jazz, it wasn’t until they added sharp-shooter Jeff Hornacek that they really started to look like a championship team. Hornacek added a whole new dimension to that team, while Jeff Malone—who they traded for Hornacek—wasn’t quite as valuable over the rest of his career.
Hornets trade Baron Davis to the Warriors (2005) – It was a relatively risky move for Golden State at the time considering how many injuries Davis had faced in his short career with the Hornets, but they only had to give up Dale Davis and Speedy Claxton to make it happen. Considering that a couple seasons later Baron’s Warriors would best the top-seeded Dallas Mavericks in one of the most exciting first round series ever, it worked out fairly well for Golden State. That said, they never did get out of the second round with Davis at the helm—not that they had done much better before the trade.
Kings trade Chris Webber to the Sixers (2005) – Toward the end of his career, Webber still had enough gas in the tank to make a reasonable influence on his new team, but the Sixers were extremely disappointing with Webber on the roster. They lost in the first-round in 2005 and missed the 2006 playoffs completely.
Clippers trade Danny Manning to Hawks for Dominique Wilkins (1994) – It couldn’t have been easy to trade ‘Nique after 11 and a half seasons in Atlanta, but then-coach Lenny Wilkens felt that Manning would help the Hawks perform better during the playoff stretch. It didn’t work out though, as the top-seeded Hawks would lose in the second round to the Indiana Pacers. Those 26 games Manning played for the rest of the ’94 season were the only ones he’d ever play for Atlanta, but considering he’d never really be 100 percent healthy the rest of his professional career, that was probably a good thing.
Deadline day is unpredictable, and very often big-name players are swapped without any sort of warning in deals that completely blow our minds. These are the best of those deals, and for the sake of excitement, let’s hope this year’s deadline offers something just as thrilling.
NBA Daily: 2018 60-Pick NBA Mock Draft – 4/24/18
The deadline for early entry into the 2018 NBA Draft has passed, so Basketball Insiders Publisher Steve Kyler offers up another 60-pick Mock Draft.
The Deadline for early entry into the 2018 NBA Draft was April 22, however, the NBA hasn’t yet released the full list of eligible players. There appear to be more than 153 underclassmen that have declared to “test the waters” according to reports. By way of comparison, last year there were 137 players from college and an additional 45 from international basketball that declared early, with 73 of those players pulling out after going through the process.
The 2018 Draft class could be shaping up to be one of the biggest, especially when you consider the volume of highly draftable seniors.
There are still some dates to keep in mind:
The NBA Draft Lottery will be held in Chicago on May 15. The annual NBA Draft Combine will get underway on May 16, also in Chicago. In any given draft year, roughly 70 percent of players invited to the Combine end up being drafted into the NBA, so a Combine invite is a significant draft milestone.
The NCAA requires all players wishing to maintain their college eligibility, without penalty, to withdraw from the NBA Draft by 11:59 pm on May 30. That is an NCAA mandated date, not related to anything involving the NBA, and that notice must be delivered in writing.
The NBA’s draft withdrawal date is June 11 by 5:00 pm ET. The NBA’s date allows a prospect to remain NBA draft eligible for future NBA drafts and is not related to any NCAA rule or date. There are ways for college players that did not accept benefits to return to college, however, they may be subject to NCAA penalties.
Here is this week’s 2018 NBA Mock Draft, based on the final pre-draft lottery draft order:
Here are some of the pick swaps and how they landed where they are currently projected:
The Cleveland Cavaliers are owed the Brooklyn Nets’ first-round pick as a result of the Kyrie Irving trade this past summer. The Brooklyn Nets traded several unprotected picks to Boston as part of the Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce trades in 2015.
The Philadelphia 76ers are owed the LA Lakers’ 2018 Draft pick, unprotected, as a result of the 2012 Steve Nash trade with the Suns. The Suns traded that pick to the 76ers as part of the Michael Carter-Williams three-team trade with the Milwaukee in 2015. The 76ers traded that pick to the Boston Celtics as part of the draft pick trade that became Markelle Fultz before the draft; it has 2 through 5 protections. Based on the final regular-season standings should convey to Philadelphia if the draft lottery holds true to the standings.
The LA Clippers are owed the Detroit Pistons first-round pick in 2018 as a result of the Blake Griffin trade. The pick is top four protected and would convey if the draft lottery holds true to the standings.
The Phoenix Suns are owed the Miami HEAT’s first-round pick as part of the Goran Dragic trade in 2015, it is top-seven protected and would convey to Phoenix based on the final NBA standings.
The Phoenix Suns were owed the Milwaukee Bucks’ first-round pick as part of the Eric Bledsoe trade. The pick would only convey if the Bucks pick landed between the 11th and 16th pick, which based on the final NBA standings did not convey. The Suns will now receive the Bucks 2019 first-round pick assuming it falls between the fourth and 16th pick.
The Atlanta Hawks are owed the Minnesota Timberwolves’ first-round pick as part of the Adreian Payne trade in 2015. The pick was lottery protected and would convey to Atlanta based on the final NBA standings.
The Minnesota Timberwolves are owed the Oklahoma City Thunder’s first-round pick as part of the Jazz/Wolves Ricky Rubio trade this past summer. The Jazz acquired the pick as part of the Thunder’s deal to obtain Enes Kanter in 2015. The pick was lottery protected and would convey based on the final NBA standings.
The Chicago Bulls are owed the New Orleans Pelicans first-round pick as a result of the Nikola Mirotic trade. The pick was top-five protected and based on the final NBA standings would convey
The LA Lakers are owed the Cleveland Cavaliers first-round pick as a result of Jordan Clarkson/Larry Nance Jr. trade. The pick was top-three protected and based on the final NBA standings would convey
The Brooklyn Nets are owed the Toronto Raptors’ first-round pick as part of the DeMarre Carroll salary dump trade this past summer. The pick was lottery protected and based on the final NBA standings would convey
The Atlanta Hawks are owed the Houston Rockets’ first-round pick as part of a three-team deal with the LA Clippers and Denver Nuggets involving Danilo Gallinari and taking back Jamal Crawford and Diamond Stone. The pick was top-three protected and based on the final NBA standings would convey
Check out the Basketball Insiders’ Top 100 NBA Draft Prospects – http://www.basketballinsiders.com/top-100-nba-draft-prospects/
NBA Daily: Trail Blazers Come Up Short and Now Search For Answers
The Portland Trail Blazers were swept in the first round of the Playoffs and now face tough questions, writes James Blancarte.
The playoffs have been a wild ride so far. On Sunday, all three Eastern Conference playoff games were exciting matches that featured star players stepping up in the clutch. As a result, each series is tied up, two games each. The other game of the day featured the San Antonio Spurs, who stayed in control and never once allowed the Golden State Warriors to take the lead. The Spurs managed to get a win against the defending champs despite missing their best player and now their head coach indefinitely.
For the Portland Trail Blazers, there was no such Game 4 turnaround. In fact, with the Spurs win, the Trail Blazers have the lamentable distinction of being the only team to be swept in the first round of the playoffs. This is just one way to describe how disappointing and surprising this playoff series loss to the New Orleans Pelicans was for Portland. Many NBA observers and Pelicans fans were quick to point out that every ESPN NBA personality chose the Trail Blazers to win the series, as did select writers of the Basketball Insiders team.
The Trail Blazers’ players and front office also made it clear how surprised they were at the result. Forward Evan Turner shared his surprise.
“Obviously finishing so quickly wasn’t definitely the plan and to a certain extent it was shocking,” Turner said.
General Manager Neil Olshey chimed in as well.
“Nobody expected [the playoff sweep] to happen. It did. We had our chances in Game 1, we had our chances in Game 2. Clearly Game 3 was a setback,” Olshey stated when describing his surprise at how the series ended. “Stunned, I think disappointed.”
Credit should be given to the Pelicans and their ability to fully harness their talent and impose their will in the series. Turner was effusive in praising the talent and ability of the Pelicans.
“Unlocked Jrue is pretty dangerous and we all see how Rondo plays. He’s a homerun hitter but he is always solid. He can mess around. He’ll get two or three triple doubles. Anthony Davis is a problem,” Turner said.
When asked how he felt about the playoff exit, starting center Jusuf Nurkic stated that he is beyond disappointed.
“I mean, the way I finish the season, I feel shame. The way we have a season, like a team and group, and being in position to be third in the West, and finish like this, is not good,” Nurkic stated. “It’s not something you should be proud of, because all you do through the year, fight for playoff and to be in position to have a good postseason.”
Despite the early exit, many within the organization were quick to highlight that they continue to see the regular season in a positive light, including Head Coach Terry Stotts.
“I thought we had a very good regular season, I thought we had a very disappointing end of the season,” Stotts stated.
Damian Lillard shared a similar sentiment when reflecting on the season as a whole.
“I think I’ll always remember the way [the season] ended. But I won’t forget the kind of season we had. You can’t ignore the fact we won a division title in a division where there was some great teams,” Lillard stated. “We came out on top.”
Still, the success of the regular season makes the playoff result that much harder to grasp and deal with for some. Nurkic again didn’t hold back when comparing the success of the regular season with the team’s playoff failure.
“Very surprised,” Nurkic stated. “You definitely didn’t see the team who we are in the playoffs.”
Explaining why the Trail Blazers came up short against the Pelicans is no easy task. Clearly Portland’s attempt to feature its two premiere guards failed as the Pelicans were able to clamp down on Lillard and McCollum effectively in each game. Complicating matters further was the inability of the Trail Blazers to effectively utilize Nurkic on both ends of the court. However, there was at least some praise to be heaped on the backup bigs, Zach Collins and Ed Davis.
“I think Zach played really well for us,” Olshey stated. “He had an impact defensively.”
Also, Al-Farouq Aminu was able to do his part as an acceptable defensive option against Davis while spreading the floor with his outside shooting
Regardless, Turner shared his assessment that the team failed to have an adequate game plan for a scenario where their two best players are neutralized.
“One thing that may help, it’s no jabs or anything, but building the identity outside of our two strong scorers,” Turned stated. “[W]e sometimes go downhill when a team fully focuses on a lot of attention on our stars […] But I think we might need certain plays, certain structures that kind of prepare just in case that occurs.”
With their postseason concluded, the Trail Blazers are suddenly left trying to answer questions with no easy answers. Who, if anyone, is to blame for what happened? So far, many head coaches have been let go and unsurprisingly some speculation has turned toward Coach Stotts. Stotts, when asked, focused on the team and deflected any analysis of his performance.
“I’m not going to evaluate the job I did,” Stotts said.
Lillard, on the other hand, was effusive in his praise of his coach.
“Coach Stotts has done a great job from day one. We’ve been in the playoffs five years straight,” Lillard said.
For now, there does not appear to be strong rumblings about Stotts. With the offseason just beginning for the team there is still time to reflect and assess what went wrong. Additionally, the team has to resolve what to do regarding its own free agents. No name looms larger than Nurkic, who despite his poor showing, represents one of the team’s top talents and expressed his guarded optimism regarding a return.
“I want to be here, it’s no secret,” Nurkic stated when asked if he wants an extension in Portland. “Yes, definitely.”
Nurkic ended the thought by stating, a bit ominously, that he did his part and a deal may or may not get worked out.
“My agent and people here are going to figure out the rest, or not,” Nurkic said.
Complicating the desire to retain Nurkic is the team’s financial situation as the team is currently over the cap and under obligation to center Meyers Leonard, who has struggled to stay in the rotation and is earning roughly $21.8 million over the next two years.
“It’s our job to be measured and not to overreact. [Because] when you overreact is when you make mistakes,” Olshey stated.
Lillard was quick to emphatically shut down the notion of splitting up him and McCollum when asked if that would be a good idea.
“I mean, I don’t agree with it. I think it’s that simple,” Lillard declared.
When asked what the team plans to do going forward, Olshey expressed optimism but tried again to pay credit to the season’s effort overall.
“We’re going to do everything we can to upgrade the roster as we always do but we also aren’t going to lose sight of the success throughout the course of the season,” Olshey said.
“I don’t have all the answers for you today,” Olshey surmised. “A lot of times you don’t know where your help is coming from.”
The Problem With ‘Championship Or Bust’
Should an NBA Title be the only measuring stick when we’re talking about a team’s success?
In this day and age, there’s a constant need for instant gratification. It goes for everything, really, but especially for sports.
Before the 2017-18 NBA season kicked off, the general outlook on the league was that the regular season would be a waste of time. People dubbed the Golden State Warriors as clear-cut repeat champions. Other then that franchise, there were maybe one or two others that could put up a fight with such a juggernaut.
While that story has yet to play out, others are developing quickly.
The all-of-a-sudden dangerous New Orleans Pelicans are the only ball club to have advanced to the second round of the playoffs as the sixth seed in the Western Conference. LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers are deadlocked in a tied series with an Indiana Pacers team that everybody seemed to believe was lottery-bound before the year began.
After falling nine games under .500 in late January, the Utah Jazz have caught fire and are up two games to one against the league’s reigning league MVP and a re-constructed Oklahoma City Thunder roster. We’d be remiss to leave out the sensational play of Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid as the Philadelphia 76ers continue to show how dominant they’ve been in a hard-hitting affair with a gritty Miami Heat bunch.
The start to this postseason trumps last season’s already. There is a competitive fire within the majority of these encounters. It’s all on the line to prove who will be the best of the best.
And having said that, there can only be one that takes home the Larry O’Brien trophy.
One. That’s it. In the last 18 years, there have been a total of eight different organizations that have earned the right to call themselves champions. All things considered, it’s not that many.
But there’s a giant misconception about parity in the NBA that needs to be thwarted.
This league is filled with talent, top to bottom. Just like in any sport, you have the basement dwellers still trying to right the ship. Whether it be coaching, injuries, or inexperience—they’re attempting to find their way. That’s why those players are sitting at home in late April.
Then there are those who are not merely spectators, but are involved in the remaining field of 15 teams (sorry, Portland Trail Blazers). Of course, in their minds, there is a common goal of winning a title, as it should be.
However, is it fair to quantify the success of every one of these franchises simply based on whether they accomplish that goal or not? Heck no.
Are we supposed to just forget about the progress made from end-to-end? What if — hear this out — both teams have talent and one just beat the other?
Building championship basketball takes patience. There has to be some semblance of playoff experience involved. Continuity is a must have. You might not want to hear it, but the postseason is where the seeds are planted, where the understanding of the stage really starts.
There can be a collection of young players who have been teammates for years, but have never taken part in the playoffs before. Sometimes there can be a team that’s full of veterans that have been there, but they may not have played together as a collective unit. Each one of them has a different background in a different setting.
It’s a whole different beast at this point. Some are so naive to see how elevated and intense the environment really is, so they assume a team that loses a few games isn’t championship material. Newsflash: Not one team in the history of the NBA has gone 16-0 in the playoffs.
And then, the ones who fall—whether it be in The Finals, conference finals, or in first two rounds—those organizations didn’t accomplish anything. Wrong, wrong, wrong.
So in this basketball world we live in where everything has to be a 20-point victory with zero losses and it’s “championship or bust” as the measuring stick, take a step back and appreciate the work it took to even get to the postseason.
Win or lose, many of these teams are building towards bigger things in the future. These experiences will make that clear in the years to come.