Concluding what was one of the most exhausting weeks in recent history, the NBA trade deadline has officially passed.
This would end up being one of the more active deadlines in recent years, with over 20 deals being completed throughout the week.
But which of these many deals were the most beneficial for the team doing them? I’m glad you asked. Here are three:
3. Clippers send Tobias Harris to the Sixers
This trade broke at 2 A.M. eastern time on February 6th. With a deal that occurred seemingly out of nowhere, NBA fans around the country would wake up Wednesday morning to find out they slept through the Philadelphia Sixers constructing the second best starting five in the league, second to only you know who.
This trade included the Clippers sending Tobias Harris, Mike Scott and Boban Marjanovic to the Sixers in exchange for Wilson Chandler, Mike Muscala, Landry Shamet, the Sixers’ 2020 first-round pick, the Miami Heat’s 2021 first round pick and two future second-round picks.
With Tobias Harris now becoming the most overqualified fourth option in the league, the Sixers struck gold. But they still weren’t the biggest winners of this trade. That title undoubtedly belongs to the Los Angeles Clippers.
I know what you’re thinking: “But the Sixers received the fringe all-star forward that’s now their fourth best player.”
It’s true. Philadelphia did definitely leave with the best player. But it’s what they gave up for him and more importantly, when they gave it up, that shifts the weight of victory towards the Clippers.
Harris is on the final year of his current deal, making him an unrestricted free agent this offseason. The Clippers’ plans for this summer are well documented, with the goal of adding two max contract free agents at the forefront. In order to afford those two max contracts, they needed to unload some salary. This deal got them very close to being able to do just that.
But it’s not just the money that makes this such a good deal for LA. They were going to free up the cap space regardless.
It’s the fact that they managed to bring in a promising young guard, two first-round picks– one of which being the coveted unprotected Miami pick– and a pair of second rounders in exchange for a player who they were going to let walk for nothing this summer that makes this deal so brilliant.
That is the type of return you see star players demand in trades. As good as Harris is, he is not that. The Clippers didn’t even receive that much value for Blake Griffin.
Sure, the Sixers brought in a really good player. But they also paid a heavy price for the right to pay that good player like he is a great player this summer, while already having to pay Jimmy Butler at the same time– providing them with a one-way ticket to salary cap hell.
While this is a talented team, they may not be as talented as the price tag that will come along would make one think.
If the Sixers make the finals, then it was all worth it. If they don’t, then things may start to look shaky. Either way, the LA Clippers made off great.
2. The Milwaukee Bucks acquire Nikola Mirotic from the New Orleans Pelicans
The Milwaukee Bucks are currently the best team in the Eastern Conference, decimating the conference with a point differential of +10.2 — by far the best in the league.
If the season ended today, Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer would in all likelihood win the coach of the year award. The implementation of his modern schemes has catapulted the Bucks to the top of the NBA hierarchy, unlocking the true potential of Giannis Antetokounmpo with the best spacing the NBA has to offer.
So when the team added one of the best players, and best fits, available on the trade market in forward Nikola Mirotic, the league was put on notice.
This was a three-team deal that included the Bucks receiving Mirotic, the Pistons receiving Thon Maker, and the Pelicans ending up with Jason Smith, Stanley Johnson, and four second-round picks.
Being able to flip Thon Maker, who recently requested a trade due to a lack of playing time in Milwaukee, into Nikola Mirotic is a massive upgrade.
A big part of what makes the Bucks’ offense so special is the presence of Brook Lopez. Having a big who can stretch the floor like Lopez allows slashers like Antetokounmpo and Eric Bledsoe to terrorize teams in the paint.
They are currently second in the league in three-point shots attempted per game with 37.6– second only to the Houston Rockets, who shoot the most threes of any team ever– and first in field goal percentage on drives at 55.7 percent.
This combination of interior and perimeter pressure is the lethal combination that allows them to be one of the league’s best offense, currently owning a 113.6 offensive rating.
Adding another sharpshooting big man– with Mirotic being 6’10– is going to make the Bucks offense that much more versatile, allowing them to strengthen their existing strength.
As an opposing defense, what are you to do when one of the league’s most unstoppable offenses gets even better at what makes them so unstoppable?
Probably just cry, I guess.
1. Orlando Magic give Fultz a chance
The whole Markelle Fultz saga has been one of the most strange things we’ve ever seen in the NBA. Never have we seen a player with his pedigree, or really any player at all, completely lose his ability to shoot the ball– due to a medical condition most of us don’t fully understand.
Even so, it was a smart move on the part of the Orlando Magic to take a chance on Fultz, acquiring him from the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for Jonathon Simmons, Oklahoma City’s first-round pick and their own 2019 second-round pick.
Maybe I am too optimistic, but due to the lack of precedent, I tend to believe Fultz’s jumpshot will be back in some form. It is such an unusual situation that it’s just hard to believe this is who he will be forever. Apparently, the Magic believe something similar.
The Magic currently have a team where it’s best two players, as well as their best two young prospects, are all big men. That is a ton of equity invested into the frontcourt and as you might expect, their backcourt is far less rich.
They have no one on the roster that has a chance to become the point guard of the future and with respect to D.J. Augustin, they don’t even have a point guard of the present solidified. If they did they’d undoubtedly be a playoff team.
No matter how small the chance may be, adding Fultz gives them a chance to change that.
The Magic get who may end up being their point guard of the future if things go as well as they hope, and Fultz receives a much-needed change of scenery.