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.
Is LeBron Enough For Cavs To Get Through The East?
Cleveland’s offense has struggled through the first two games of the playoffs. Can the four-time MVP consistently bail them out? Spencer Davies writes.
After a less-than-encouraging series opener versus the Indiana Pacers, LeBron James responded emphatically and led the Cleveland Cavaliers to a bounce back 100-97 victory to even things up at one game apiece.
Scoring the first 13 points of the game itself, The King was a one-man wrecking crew out of the gate and carried that momentum throughout all four quarters of Game 2. His 46 points were James’ second-highest scoring mark between the regular season and the playoffs. In addition, he shot above 70 percent from the field for the sixth time this year.
The four-time MVP pulled down 12 rebounds total, and but all but one of those boards were defensive—the most he’s had since Saint Patrick’s Day in Chicago a month ago.
What James did was another classic instance where LeBron reminds us that through all the injuries, drama, and on-court issues, whatever team he’s on always has a chance to go all the way. But having said all of that—can the Cavaliers realistically depend on that kind of spectacular effort for the rest of the postseason? It’s a fair question.
Kevin Love is a solid secondary go-to guy, but he’s struggled to find his rhythm in the first two games. He’s done a solid job defensively between both, but he’s getting banged up and is dealing with knocked knees and a reported torn thumb ligament in the same hand he broke earlier in the season.
Love has admitted that he’d like more post touches instead of strictly hanging out on the perimeter, but it’s on him to demand the ball more and he knows it. But finding that flow can be challenging when James has it going and is in all-out attack mode.
Kyle Korver came to the rescue for Cleveland as the only shooter that consistently converted on open looks. Outside of those three, and maybe J.R. Smith, really, there hasn’t been a tangible threat that’s a part of the offense during this series.
We all pondered whether or not the “new guys” would be able to step up when their respective numbers were called. So far, that hasn’t been the case for the most part.
Jordan Clarkson looks rushed with tunnel vision. Rodney Hood has had good body language out there, but seems reluctant to shoot off dribble hand-offs and is second-guessing what he wants to do. The hustle and effort from Larry Nance Jr. is obvious, but he’s also a good bet to get into foul trouble. Plus, he’s had some struggles on an island against Pacer guards.
As for George Hill, the good news is the impact on the floor just based on his mere presence on both ends (game-high +16 on Wednesday), but he hasn’t really done any scoring and fouled out of Game 2.
Maybe these things change on the road, who knows. But those four, the rest of the rotation, absolutely have to step up in order for the Cavaliers to win this series and fend off this hungry Indiana group, which brings us to another point.
Let’s not forget, the offensive issues aren’t simply because of themselves. After all, the Cavs were a team that had little trouble scoring the basketball in the regular season, so give a ton of credit to the Pacers’ scheme and McMillan’s teachings to play hard-nosed.
Unlike many teams in the league, the strategy for them is to pressure the ball and avoid switches as much as possible on screens. The more they go over the pick and stick on their assignments, the better chance they have of forcing a bad shot or a turnover. That’s what happened in Game 1 and in the majority of the second half of Game 2.
Cleveland has also somewhat surprisingly brought the fight on defense as well. In the first two contests of the series, they’ve allowed under 100 points. Lue’s said multiple times that they’re willing to give up the interior buckets in order to secure the outside, and it’s worked. It doesn’t seem smart when there’s a yellow-colored layup line going on at times, but it certainly paid off by only allowing 34 percent of Indiana’s threes to go down.
Still, looking ahead to what the Cavaliers can do in the playoffs as a whole, it doesn’t bode well. They’re not only locked in a tug-of-war with Indiana, but if they get past them, they could have a Toronto Raptors group chomping at the bit for revenge.
If they’re having this much trouble in the first round, what should make us believe they can barrel through the Eastern Conference as they’ve done in the past?
It’s not quite as obvious or as bad as Cleveland’s 2007 version of James and the rest, but it feels eerily similar for as much as he’s put the team on his back so far. The organization better hope improvement comes fast from his supporting cast, or else it could be a longer summer than they’d hoped for.
2017-18 NBA Report Card: Third-Year Players
Among the third-year players a few budding superstars have emerged, along with some role players who are helping their teams in the 2017-18 NBA Playoffs.
The 2015 NBA Draft has provided the league with a limited quantity of talent so far. After Terry Rozier (at 16th), it’s unlikely that anyone remaining has All-Star potential. Despite the lack of depth, the highest draft slot traded was at number 15, when the Atlanta Hawks moved down to enable the Washington Wizards to select Kelly Oubre Jr.
But placing a definitive “boom” or “bust” label on these athletes might be premature as the rookie contract is standardized at four seasons with an option for a fifth. If their employers are given a fourth year to decide whether a draftee is worth keeping, it seems reasonable to earmark the NBA Juniors’ progress for now and see how they’ve fared after next season’s campaign before making their letter grades official.
The Top Dogs
Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves: Given the dearth of premier choices and their glaring need up front, it’s hard to envision the T-Wolves drafting anyone but KAT if they had to do it again. Although his scoring average is down from last season (21.3 vs. 25.1 PPG), that trend could be explained by the addition of Jimmy Butler and the team’s deliberate pace (24th out of 30 teams).
To his credit, Towns had career highs in three-point percentage (42.1 percent) and free throws (85.8 percent), while finishing second overall in offensive rating (126.7). His continued improvement in these areas could explain why the Timberwolves ended their 14-year playoff drought.
Nikola Jokić, Denver Nuggets: Although he was a 2014 draft pick, Jokić’s NBA debut was delayed due to his last year of commitment to the Adriatic League. His productivity as a rookie was limited by both foul trouble and a logjam at the center position, but he still managed 10.0 PPG.
With Joffrey Lauvergne and Jusuf Nurkic off the depth chart, Jokić became the clear-cut starter this season and rewarded Denver’s confidence by averaging 18.5 points and 10.7 rebounds per game. And by chipping in 6.1 APG, he provides rare value as a center with triple-double potential.
Kristaps Porzingis, New York Knicks: Although he has never played a full season since joining the league, Porzingis has provided enough evidence that he can be a force when healthy. Before his junior campaign was derailed, the Latvian was enjoying career highs of 22.7 PPG and 39.5 percent shooting from behind the arc.
Unfortunately, the Knicks haven’t provided much support at point guard to help with Porzingis’ development. Trey Burke looked impressive down the stretch in Zinger’s absence, but that was in a score-first capacity. Meanwhile, both Frank Ntilikina and Emmanuel Mudiay have underwhelmed. On the plus side, Porzingis’ outside ability paired nicely in the frontcourt with Enes Kanter, who prefers to bully his way underneath.
Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns: Like Porzingis, Booker’s third year in the NBA was cut short by injuries, but that didn’t stop him from achieving career highs in points (24.9 per game), assists (4.7) and three-pointers (38.3 percent) on an otherwise moribund Suns team. Indeed, cracking the 40-point barrier three times in 54 contests was an achievement in and of itself.
While his short-term prospects would’ve been far better on a team like the Philadelphia Sixers (who might have taken him instead of Jahlil Okafor in a re-draft), Booker can still become a franchise cornerstone for the Suns if they are able to build around a young core that also includes T.J. Warren and Josh Jackson.
Myles Turner, Indiana Pacers: Despite an inconsistent freshman season at Texas, Turner has become a stabilizing influence at center for the Pacers, whose blueprint consists of surrounding a go-to scorer with role players. While he hasn’t shown drastic improvement in any particular area, he has produced double-digit PPG averages all three years as a pro.
Although Turner’s shot-blocking ability fuels his reputation as a defensive maven, the reality is his 104.8 defensive rating (which is just OK) was skewed by his 110.9 d-rating in losses (it was 100.8 in wins). In order to merit consideration for the NBA’s all-defensive team, he will need to bridge the gap in this discrepancy and impact his team’s ability to win more games in the process.
D’Angelo Russell, Brooklyn Nets: Following their respective trades, Russell has fared better in the Big Apple than his 2015 lottery counterpart Emmanuel Mudiay, as the Los Angeles Lakers were forced to cut bait to draft Lonzo Ball. While Ball has shown promise as a rookie, the Lakers’ perception of Russell may have been premature, as the former Buckeye has stabilized a Nets backcourt that had been characterized more by athleticism than consistency.
Despite missing a significant stretch of mid-season games, Russell provided similar numbers for Brooklyn to that of his sophomore season; but without a pick until number 29 in the upcoming NBA Draft, the Nets will have to bank on improved production from DLo and his raw teammates to contend for the eight-seed in the East.
Terry Rozier, Boston Celtics: Injuries have paved the way for Rozier to showcase his talent, most recently with a 23-point, 8-assist effort in game two against the Milwaukee Bucks. But Rozier was already making headlines as a fill-in for Kyrie Irving whenever he was injured. Now that the starting point guard reins have been handed to the former mid-round pick, he has become one of the more pleasant surprises of the 2017-18 NBA season.
The biggest impediment to Rozier’s success might be the regression to limited playing time once Irving returns. While the Celtics could “sell high” and trade Rozier on the basis of his recent performances, they may opt to retain him as insurance while he is still cap-friendly.
Best of the Rest
Larry Nance Jr., Cleveland Cavaliers: Following the trade deadline, Nance has provided a spark for a Cavs frontcourt that has been bereft of viable options aside from Kevin Love.
Josh Richardson, Miami HEAT: A jack-of-all-trades at the small forward position, Richardson has evolved into a three-and-D player that has meshed well with the HEAT’s shut-down focus.
Willie Cauley-Stein, Sacramento Kings: Thrust into the starting center role after the trade of DeMarcus Cousins, WCS has provided serviceable (albeit unspectacular) play as the next man up.
Delon Wright, Toronto Raptors: A key contributor for the East’s top seed, Wright was instrumental in the Raptors’ game one victory over the Washington Wizards with 18 points off the bench.
Bobby Portis, Chicago Bulls: The former Razorback has flashed double-double potential, but playing time at his true position (power forward) has been limited by the emergence of rookie Lauri Markkanen.
NBA Daily: Looking At The 2018 Draft Class By Tiers
The NBA Draft is a hard thing to predict, especially when it comes to draft order and individual team needs, Basketball Insiders publisher Steve Kyler takes a look at how this draft looks in tiers.
Looking At The 2018 Draft In Tiers
While Mock Drafts are an easy way to look at how the NBA Draft might play out, what they do no do is give a sense of what a specific player might be as a player at the next level. With that in mind, we’re going to take a look at how some of the notable NBA draft prospects project.
It’s important to point out that situation and circumstance often impact how a player develops, even more so than almost any other variable.
So while the goal here is to give a sense of how some NBA teams and insiders see a draft prospect’s likely potential, it is by no means meant to suggest that a player can’t break out of his projection and become more or sometimes less than his he was thought to be.
Every draft class has examples of players projected to be one thing that turns out to be something else entirely, so these projections are not meant to be some kind of final empirical judgment or to imply a specific draft position, as each team may value prospects differently.
So, with that in mind, let’s look at the 2018 NBA Draft in Tiers.
The Potential Future All-Stars
DeAndre Ayton – Arizona – C – 7’0″ – 245 lbs – 20 yrs
Luka Doncic – Real Madrid – SG – 6’7″ – 218 lbs – 19 yrs
Michael Porter Jr – Missouri – SF/PF – 6’10” – 216 lbs – 20 yrs
Maybe Stars, But Likely High-Level Starters
Jaren Jackson Jr. – Michigan State – PF – 6’10” – 225 lbs – 19 yrs
Marvin Bagley III – Duke – PF – 6’11” – 220 lbs – 19 yrs
Wendell Carter – Duke – PF – 6’10” – 257 lbs – 19 yrs
Mohamed Bamba – Texas – C – 7’0″ – 216 lbs – 20 yrs
Collin Sexton – Alabama – PG – 6’2″ – 184 lbs – 19 yrs
Mikal Bridges – Villanova – SG/SF – 6’7″ – 210 lbs – 22 yrs
Robert Williams – Texas A&M – C – 6’9″ – 235 lbs – 21 yrs
Miles Bridges – Michigan State – SF/PF – 6’7″ – 230 lbs – 20 yrs
Dzanan Musa – Cedevita – SF – 6′ 9″ – 195 lbs – 19 yrs
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander – Kentucky – SG – 6′ 6″ – 181 lbs – 20 yrs
Trae Young – Oklahoma – PG – 6’2″ – 180 lbs – 20 yrs
Maybe Starters, But Surely Rotation Players
Kevin Knox – Kentucky – SF – 6’9″ – 206 lbs – 19 yrs
Troy Brown – Oregon – SG – 6’6″ – 210 lbs – 19 yrs
Khyri Thomas – Creighton – SG – 6′ 3″ – 210 lbs – 22 yrs
Zhaire Smith – Texas Tech – SG – 6′ 5″ – 195 lbs – 19 yrs
Rodions Kurucs – FC Barcelona B – SF – 6′ 9″ – 220 lbs – 20 yrs
Aaron Holiday – UCLA – PG – 6′ 1″ – 185 lbs – 22 yrs
Jacob Evans – Cincinnati – SF – 6′ 6″ – 210 lbs – 21 yrs
De’Anthony Melton – USC – PG – 6’4″ – 190 lbs – 20 yrs
The Swing For The Fence Prospects – AKA Boom-Or-Bust
Lonnie Walker – Miami – SG – 6’4″ – 206 lbs – 20 yrs
Mitchell Robinson – Chalmette HS – C – 7′ 0″ – 223 lbs – 20 yrs
Anfernee Simons – IMG Academy – SG – 6′ 5″ – 177 lbs – 19 yrs
Jontay Porter – Missouri – C – 6′ 11″ – 240 lbs – 19 yrs
Lindell Wigginton – Iowa State – PG – 6′ 2″ – 185 lbs – 20 yrs
Bruce Brown – Miami – SG – 6’5″ – 191 lbs – 22 yrs
Isaac Bonga – Skyliners (Germany) – SF/SG – 6’9″ – 203 lbs – 19 yrs
Hamidou Diallo – Kentucky – SG – 6’5″ – 197 lbs – 20 yrs
Players not listed are simply draft prospects that could be drafted, but don’t project clearly into any of these tiers.
If you are looking for a specific player, check out the Basketball Insiders Top 100 Prospects list, this listing is updated weekly.
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