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Breaking Down the NBA Trade Deadline Moves

Alex Kennedy breaks down all the trades that were completed prior to today’s NBA trade deadline.

Alex Kennedy



The NBA’s trade deadline has now passed and, unfortunately, it was somewhat anti-climactic. While last year featured a ton of trades and plenty of big-name players getting moved, that wasn’t the case this season. There wasn’t a single star traded this time around and most of the moves were pretty minor. Despite players like Dwight Howard, Al Horford, Kevin Love, Pau Gasol, Ryan Anderson and others being mentioned in trade rumors, none of those individuals were dealt.

With that said, there were still nine deals that got done and several notable players changed teams. Here’s a breakdown of each trade that went down on Thursday:

Los Angeles Clippers get: Jeff Green

Memphis Grizzlies get: Lance Stephenson, (lottery protected) 2019 first-round pick

This was arguably the biggest deal of the day. The Clippers and Grizzlies completed this trade just before the 3 p.m. ET deadline passed. The Clippers could’ve traded Stephenson, C.J. Wilcox and a second-round pick to the Orlando Magic for Channing Frye, but they decided to pull the trigger on this move instead. While it’s clear the Clippers felt they needed to upgrade their frontcourt (as they also pursued Frye, Ryan Anderson and Thaddeus Young among others), it’s surprising to see them trade a future first-round pick in this deal. However, keep in mind that it’s lottery protected and a 2019 pick. Some have criticized the Clippers for giving up a first-rounder, but Stephenson has little-to-no trade value at this point so the Grizzlies wouldn’t have done this without the pick being included. Green is an unrestricted free agent this summer, while Stephenson has one year left on his contract (although it’s a team option worth $9,405,000).


Cleveland Cavaliers get: Channing Frye

Portland Trail Blazers get: Anderson Varejao, conditional first-round pick

Orlando Magic get: Jared Cunningham, second-round pick

Reports have indicated that Varejao and Cunningham will likely be waived, which means Frye is the only player who will stick with his new team in this deal. The Cavaliers entered Thursday wanting a stretch-four and that’s exactly what they’ll get in the 32-year-old Frye. For the Blazers, they land a first-round pick for facilitating this deal by absorbing Varejao’s contract. The Magic add a second-round pick and dump the remaining two years of Frye’s contract, meaning they could have as much as $45 million available in cap space to pursue free agents this offseason.


Phoenix Suns trade: Markieff Morris

Washington Wizards trade: Kris Humphries, DeJuan Blair, (top-nine protected) 2016 first-round pick

This was perhaps the day’s most surprising move, as it really seemed like the Suns were going to have trouble obtaining significant assets in exchange for Morris given his issues on and off the court. However, Washington decided to give up a 2016 first-round pick that is top-nine protected along with Humphries and Blair (who each have a non-guaranteed salary for next season) for Morris. The Wizards wanted to upgrade their power forward position, and they seriously pursued New Orleans Pelicans stretch-four Ryan Anderson. But instead of landing Anderson, they’ll hope that Morris will return to form with a change of scenery and help them make a playoff push in the Eastern Conference. Washington is currently 23-28, which puts them in 10th place in the East. For the Suns, this an excellent return for Morris considering he made headlines for all of the wrong reasons over the last year.


Detroit Pistons get: Donatas Motiejunas and Marcus Thornton

Houston Rockets get: Protected (top-eight) 2016 first-round pick, draft rights to Chukwudiebere Maduabum

Philadelphia 76ers get: Joel Anthony, 2017 second-round pick

Stan Van Gundy has liked Donatas Motiejunas for quite some time. Now, he lands the big man while his stock is relatively low and just before he hits restricted free agency in July (similar to the Pistons’ deadline deal for Reggie Jackson at last year’s deadline). Also, Marcus Thornton will reunite with Pistons GM Jeff Bower since the two were close when they were in New Orleans together. For the Rockets, they decided to part ways with Motiejunas to get their hands on the Pistons’ 2016 first-round pick that is only top-eight protected. Considering the big man has had injury issues this year and Houston was expecting him to cost a lot when he hits the market this summer, this move was somewhat of a no-brainer for them. For Philadelphia, they agreed to facilitate this trade and take on Joel Anthony’s contract in exchange for a second-round pick. UPDATE: The Pistons voided this trade since Motiejunas couldn’t pass his physical, so each player will return to their respective team.


Oklahoma City Thunder get: Randy Foye

Denver Nuggets get: D.J. Augustin, Steve Novak, two second-round picks

This was a nice pick-up for the Thunder since Foye is a quality veteran who should be able to contribute off of Oklahoma City’s bench. The Thunder wanted to improve their depth as they chase the Golden State Warriors and the San Antonio Spurs, and they didn’t have to part with much to land the 32-year-old shooting guard. Augustin and Novak had fallen out of their rotation and they didn’t have much need for those second-round picks. For the Nuggets, this deal makes a lot of sense since Foye is an unrestricted free agent after this season and they likely expected him to walk. With this deal, they land two second-round picks (since they’re looking to stockpile assets) in exchange for Foye rather than losing him for nothing. This move frees up cap space for Denver too, since they absorbed Augustin and Novak’s contracts and they’ll both come off the books this summer to create $6.75 million in cap space.


Utah Jazz get: Shelvin Mack

Atlanta Hawks get: Second-round pick

The Jazz badly wanted to add a veteran point guard entering Thursday and they considered a number of other floor generals such as the Houston Rockets’ Ty Lawson and the Atlanta Hawks’ Jeff Teague. However, they finally settled on this deal to add the 25-year-old Mack and only part ways with a second-round pick. Mack’s $2,433,334 salary is non-guaranteed for next season, so Utah can take the rest of the year to see what he brings to the table and make a decision about whether to bring him back. Dante Exum is expected to be the Jazz’s starting point guard once he’s healthy next season, so this short-term fix makes more sense for Utah than giving up significant assets for a bigger name.


Atlanta Hawks get: Kirk Hinrich

Chicago Bulls get: Second-round pick

It appears the Hawks preferred Hinrich to Mack, as they gave up a second-round pick to add the 35-year-old and plug him where Mack used to be in the depth chart. Hinrich’s name hadn’t been mentioned in many trade rumors, as it seemed the Bulls were looking to trade other players such as Pau Gasol, Taj Gibson or Tony Snell. The Hawks were linked to a ton of trade talks as well, with Jeff Teague, Al Horford and Kyle Korver reportedly being discussed. However, both teams decided not to make any splashy moves and opted to make minor tweaks to their roster instead.


New Orleans Pelicans get: Jarnell Stokes

Miami HEAT get: Protected second-round pick

The HEAT did this trade (as well as two others) so that they could get under the luxury tax line and not have to pay a penalty. For the Pelicans, this deal allows them to add a 22-year-old big man who has two more years remaining on his rookie-scale contract. This is Stokes’ third team since being drafted in 2014, but he continues to have upside and could become a rotation player for the Pelicans. A Ryan Anderson trade would’ve freed up more minutes for him, but New Orleans decided to keep Anderson after talking to many teams about a possible trade.


Portland Trail Blazers get: Brian Roberts, second-round pick

Miami HEAT get: TPE

This was another move made by the HEAT so that they could get under the luxury tax line. The Blazers add a veteran guard in Roberts, who will replace the recently waived Tim Frazier on the roster. This move also allows Portland to add another draft pick since they’re collecting assets and – coupled with their three-team trade for Varejao – allows them to hit the salary cap floor. Today, Neil Olshey picked up Varejao (who will reportedly be waived), Roberts, a first-round pick and a second-round pick just to help facilitate trades using Portland’s cap space.

Which trade was your favorite? Share your thoughts in a comment below.

Alex Kennedy is the Managing Editor of Basketball Insiders and this is his 10th season covering the NBA. He is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.


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Update: Eric Bledsoe Trade Talks

Michael Scotto updates the ongoing Eric Bledsoe trade saga.

Michael Scotto



The sun has set on the 2017-18 season for Phoenix three games into the year.

The Suns fired head coach Earl Watson and promoted Jay Triano as the team’s interim head coach, as ESPN first reported. The Suns suffered an embarrassing 124-76 loss in the home opener against the Portland Trail Blazers. The final straw came during a 130-88 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on the road to drop the team to 0-3.

Then things went from bad to worse rapidly after a tweet from guard Eric Bledsoe.

General manager Ryan McDonough spoke with Bledsoe. Bledsoe told McDonough he was at a hair salon with a girl and the tweet wasn’t related to the Suns. McDonough didn’t believe that to be true and said the 27-year-old guard “won’t be with us going forward.”

Bledsoe spoke with McDonough and owner Robert Sarver privately several weeks ago. During that conversation the desire for a change was expressed, a league source told Basketball Insiders.

Since then, Phoenix has discussed trades involving Bledsoe around the league, sources told Basketball Insiders. In addition, Tyson Chandler has continued to be shopped by the Suns during that time.

Trade talks have rapidly picked up since Bledsoe’s desire to be traded was made public.

The Suns and Denver Nuggets have discussed a trade of Eric Bledsoe for Emmanuel Mudiay and other pieces, league sources told Basketball Insiders.

Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried has emerged as part of the trade package with Mudiay, league sources told Basketball Insiders.

Denver has shopped Faried for years. The 27-year-old forward is owed $12.9 million this season and $13.7 million next season. Mudiay is owed $3.4 million this season and $4.3 million next season. Mudiay will then become a restricted free agent if given a qualifying offer in the summer of 2019. For more information on Denver’s salary cap situation, click here.

The Suns also spoke to the New York Knicks and asked for No. 8 overall pick Frank Ntilikina and Willy Hernangomez in exchange for Bledsoe. The Knicks are not interested in that package, however.

Kyle O’Quinn is a candidate to be traded. Several teams have called the Knicks expressing interest in O’Quinn. New York wants to retain Hernangomez for the foreseeable future despite a lack of playing time early in the season. It’s also worth noting Hernangomez is a close friend of Kristaps Porzingis. Ntilikina is currently the point guard of the future in New York.

In addition, New York would need to add a salary filler to make the trade work financially. For more information on New York’s salary cap situation, click here.

The Milwaukee Bucks have also expressed interest in trading for Bledsoe, according to the New York Times. The Los Angeles Clippers and Portland Trail Blazers also have interest in Bledsoe, according to Amico Hoops.

Bledsoe is owed $14.5 million this season and $15 million next season before entering unrestricted free agency in the summer of 2018.

Bledsoe has averaged 18.8 points, 6.0 assists, 4.8 rebounds, and 1.6 steals per game with Phoenix. In addition, Bledsoe shot 45 percent from the field, 34 percent from downtown, and 81 percent from the foul line.

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NBA PM: Greek Freak Off to an MVP-Caliber Start

Giannis Antetokounmpo is the Bucks’ MVP and looks primed to be in the actual MVP race this season.

James Blancarte



The NBA season is officially underway. Although each team has only played a few games so far, it has helped illuminate where many teams and players are in their development. For example, last night’s game in Oklahoma City gave a glimpse into how the Thunder will handle a late-game situation now that the team has three previous number one options. In the final minute, Russell Westbrook scored two of the Thunder’s last three baskets and assisted Carmelo Anthony on the final basket just before Andrew Wiggins hit a game-winning buzzer beater from well beyond the arc.

After three games, Giannis Antetokounmpo’s individual development has been one of the most exciting storylines to follow. A number of positive and far-reaching questions can be asked of Giannis. What is the ceiling for him? Can a player of his considerable talents continue to improve after winning Most Improved Player last season? Remember, Giannis was drafted in 2013 and is still only 22 years old.

When told in August that although he could win most valuable player, he could not also win most improved player as well, he responded with a simple, yet telling response.

“Why not?” Antetokounmpo responded.

While he continued to be lighthearted and moved on to the next topic, it’s fair to ask, “why not?” when it comes to Giannis. Through three regular season games, he is averaging 38.3 points, five assists, 9.7 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game. These averages will likely regress to more sustainable numbers as the season continues. For now, however, his averages are in elite territory. In addition, his ability to impact the game is already getting to the point where LeBron James may be the only other player who can similarly fill up the stat lines while physically terrorizing opponents on both the offensive and defensive end of the court.

When asked who the “biggest freak in the NBA” is, Giannis elaborated that it was James due to his ability to impose himself on the game.

“The things [James] does, the veteran leadership he brings to the team, how big he is, how quick, how strong,” Giannis stated. “And at the end of the day, how smart he is. He can put his team in the right spots, make the right decision.”

In Saturday night’s game against the Portland Trail Blazers, Giannis willed his team to victory. It was Giannis demonstrating how big, strong and smart he was, putting his team on his shoulders and carrying them to an impressive win.
With less than a minute left in a close game, Giannis closed in with a well-timed double team on Damian Lillard and came away with a clean steal. The steal got the Bucks the ball back and Giannis was fouled, which put him on the free throw line. Unfortunately, he came up short on both attempts and the Bucks remained a point behind.

Despite missing the free throws, Giannis came up huge on the very next play. Giannis took on C.J McCollum one-on-one at the top of the key and created yet another steal. He then leaked out to receive the pass for a breakaway dunk that quickly gave the Bucks the lead with 11.4 seconds remaining.

On the next play, when Jusuf Nurkic set a high screen and roll, he received the pass on the roll and headed to the basket. Giannis’ primary responsibility was the shooter in the corner and yet he read the action correctly and was ready and waiting at the rim for Nurkic. Giannis times Nurkic’s shot perfectly and rejected him at the rim, which effectively ended the game in favor of the Bucks.

Giannis’ ability as defensive Swiss Army Knife was instrumental in the Bucks’ close win over Portland. In addition, Giannis has also made further improvements in an area of his that has received a lot of attention over the years. He continues to shoot a below average three-point percentage for his career (27.6) and has had a rocky start to this season as well (16.7). It’s likely that Giannis’ three-point shooting will be a significant limitation in his game for the foreseeable future. However, over his career, Giannis has shown an ability to improve his shooting percentage on two-point shots consistently, especially shots from 0-3 feet and 3-10 feet, per basketball-reference. As Giannis has gotten stronger and more explosive, he has developed a strong desire to attack opponents off the dribble and absorb contact at the rim. Whether he blows by his opponent outright or scores through opponents at the rim, Giannis has developed into an offensive force that few players in the league could hope to slow down.

In addition to his scoring, Giannis continues to display his unique ability to handle the ball in transitions and run the Bucks’ offense in the half court as a point forward. This sort of ability separates Giannis from the other elite wings in the league who don’t have the skill or vision to act as a primary playmaker. Giannis is doing much of what he did last year, but seems more aggressive and physically dominant through the first three games of this season. That sort of improvement of course puts Giannis in the MVP discussion (though it is incredibly early in the season to even start this sort of discussion).

Giannis was recently asked about his ability to win the MVP and wasn’t shy about his desire to win the prestigious award.

“I’m going to be one of the players that hopefully dominates the game. But I’ve got to still make sure that my team wins, that my teammates get better,” Giannis stated. “I’ve set the goal since the last game against Toronto last year, at the playoffs. I want to be the MVP this year.”

What helps solidify Giannis’ ability to be such a strong MVP candidate is also what makes his team less dangerous. The Bucks are woefully dependent on their star and, at least for now, lack the necessary depth to be a true contender in the East.

Through three regular season games, it’s clear that the Bucks will only go as far as Giannis can take them. And that is the key to Giannis’ budding MVP campaign. Let’s take a look at last year’s top five MVP candidates. Last year’s winner, Westbrook, has two new star-caliber players (Paul George and Carmelo Anthony) to share the spotlight, and the ball, with. James Harden is sharing the ball with Chris Paul, who is currently struggling with a knee injury. LeBron James and the Cavaliers are almost exclusively concerned with the postseason. Kawhi Leonard is similarly crucial to the San Antonio Spurs on offense and defense but has lingering health concerns and has yet to play this season. Finally, Isaiah Thomas is coming off a major hip injury and is not projected to play until January.

With so much uncertainty, Giannis has the opportunity to continue to draw attention as not only the most important player on the Bucks but perhaps the most valuable player in the league. Giannis’ early play this season indicates that this is possible. Despite his early-season outburst, Giannis is giving deference to LeBron James — though he admits he hopes to reach James’ level at some point in the future.

“Definitely [James is] the best player in the NBA. For a few years to come,” Giannis stated. “But I think a lot of players are getting better. Even myself. And hopefully one day we can get to that spot from him.”

Perhaps Giannis will take the spot as the best player in the NBA as early as this season. Considering how dominant he has been so far this season, it’s fair to ask “why not?”

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Wright Primed To Take Next Step With Raptors

Third year Utah alum Delon Wright is showing flashes of what he can do in an expanded role for Toronto.

Spencer Davies



Backup point guards are essential to a team’s success.

They’re the floor generals of the second unit. They create for themselves to score. They collapse defenses in order for the others to get opportunities.

In some cases, these players perform so well that they outgrow the role they provide and force their way into the starting five—on that same team or elsewhere. Just look at past examples: Darren Collison, Eric Bledsoe, Reggie Jackson, Dennis Schroder, etc. The list goes on.

Kyle Lowry was 20 years old when he was drafted late in the first round of the 2006 NBA Draft by the Memphis Grizzlies. He studied the position behind veteran guards Chucky Atkins and Damon “Mighty Mouse” Stoudamire.

But even after showing promise in his rookie season, management decided to take Mike Conley Jr. the very next year. Though the two were about even in playing time, it was clear the Grizzlies favored youth over anything else, so in 2009, Lowry was dealt with the Houston Rockets in a three-way trade at the deadline.

At this point, Lowry had started in only 30 games over two-and-a-half seasons, so the keys to the car weren’t ready for him just yet. Aaron Brooks was a unique talent that Rick Adelman loved to throw out there along with Tracy McGrady and Kevin Martin.

Brooks started all 82 games in the 2009-10 campaign and blossomed into a scoring machine. He was shooting the lights out that year, and because of that, it was tough to sit him. Lowry still took advantage of his playing time, though, with plenty of floor run. He averaged nearly 14 points and seven assists per 36 minutes.

To the misfortune of his teammate and the advantage to Lowry the next season, Brooks struggled mightily with the jump shot that made him so deadly. After 34 games, the Rockets moved him in a deal to Phoenix for Goran Dragic and a first-round pick. Dragic was on his way to carving his niche in the league, but it opened up a door for Lowry to really take hold as “quarterback” of the team.

Circumstances arose once again, however. Houston had let go of Adelman and hired Kevin McHale in June 2011. Lowry and his new head coach did not have the same rapport. He unfortunately suffered from a bacterial infection and missed out on the beginning of the season, and towards the end, the emergence of Dragic led to his demise.

That summer, the Rockets sent Lowry to the Toronto Raptors for Gary Forbes and a future first-rounder. Once again, it was a fresh start for him, but also a brand new team with a different head coach.

It didn’t take long for the man to realize his true potential there. Aside from shuffling a bit with Jose Calderon as the starter in Toronto, Lowry found a home. The jump he made between that season and the next one was impressive.

Lowry got paid after that 2013-14 season and re-signed with the Raptors for four years. He earned three All-Star appearances and—aside from the postseason disappointments—led the team to new heights with his fellow All-Star backcourt partner DeMar DeRozan.

Toronto and its star point guard agreed to a three-year, $100 million deal over the summer to keep him running the show and to honor that contract well as he has always had. But now there’s somebody behind Lowry waiting to break out, and could very well be the one who gets the torch passed to him.

Delon Wright is ready to make his mark. When he entered the league, he was a reserve behind Cory Joseph and had to observe and soak in the experience of NBA life. For some rookies, they get the chance immediately, and for the others, they have to wait their turn. In this case, it was the latter.

Playing the waiting game ended up working out well for him. In the offseason, the Raptors went out and traded Joseph for C.J. Miles due to the loss of DeMarre Carroll. It was a move that not only addressed a need for depth at the wing but also opened a door for Wright.

So here we are, two games in. The Raptors are 2-0 and have outscored their opponents by 51 points. In those combined, Wright has received 55 minutes of playing time.

Despite the competition being the rebuilding Chicago Bulls and a Philadelphia 76ers team trying to find an identity, he looks extremely comfortable. You don’t want to take too much out a sample size as small as that, but neither the numbers nor the eye test lies.

Wright has played the third-most minutes on the team thus far. He’s done a great job on both sides of the floor but has truly made a difference on the defensive end. As of now, the Raptors are only allowing 83 points per 100 possessions with him on the hardwood. When he’s not, that number blows up to 98.9 using the same scale.

Offensively he’s almost been just as good. Wright has been aggressive as a facilitator and as a shooter, putting up 13- and 14-point games early on. He dished out five assists in the season opener and nabbed five rebounds in the second game. He has a higher offensive rating than both Lowry and DeRozan.

According to, Toronto’s net rating with him off the court (12.9) is the second lowest to his lifelong teammate Jakob Poeltl (12.8). Take it with a grain of salt because it’s one week into the season, but Wright has the best net rating in the league (37.6) among those playing at least 25 minutes per game.

Call it garbage time play or whatever you want: He has the tools to succeed. The stature is there. The intangibles are evident. It’s all about putting it together over the course of an entire season.

If the trend continues, there’s no way Casey can keep him off the floor for long. We don’t know where Wright’s career could go. It’s way too early to tell. The Raptors are likely hoping for him to be the successor after this era of basketball has come and gone.

Lowry is the man in Toronto, as is DeRozan. Nothing is changing that anytime soon. But rest assured, Wright’s primed to take a big step this year and it’s going to be fun to watch.

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