Trade Deadline Review and Grades (3/26/21)

Bulls news: Zach LaVine reacts to trade for Nikola Vucevic

Hey everybody, it’s been a while! My last post was 11 days ago. But forgive me, because I was waiting for the biggest in-season NBA event: the trade deadline. I was gonna write an article about just the Bucks trade, but I just decided to throw it in this one. That’s why I haven’t made a post in so long.

Anyways, the trade deadline. Even though there weren’t any superstars traded (there was an All-Star), that’s alright because we already got the Harden trade (which actually has an involvement in this article). The trade deadline was still exciting (exciting enough for me to miss my gym class video call at 1:45. The deadline was in 15 minutes. I’d say it was worth it). 

So now that all the trades are finished, I can go through every move and give my opinion on them. Let’s get started!

(Expect a sequel to this article in the next couple weeks where I discuss signings made by teams on the buyout market. Guys like LaMarcus Aldridge, Andre Drummond, DeMarcus Cousins, and Jeff Teague will likely end up on teams this week.)

Atlanta Hawks

Add: Lou Williams

Lose: Rajon Rondo

This is an interesting trade for the Hawks. They’re losing backcourt defense in this trade, which is something this team needs considering Trae Young is one of the worst defenders in the entire league. Lou Williams does bring consistent scoring off the bench, but the Hawks do already have Danilo Gallinari and Bogdan Bogdanovic in that department (both of whom are also below average defenders). This trade isn’t bad though, because Rondo hasn’t been all that good for Atlanta this year. The Hawks get an upgrade of a player, but a worse fit with this deal.

Grade: C+

Boston Celtics

Add: Evan Fournier, Mo Wagner, Luke “does literally nothing” Kornet

Lose: Daniel Theis, Jeff Teague, Javonte Green

Before I talk about the players that actually matter, I need to explain the nickname I just gave Kornet. Homie literally doesn’t do anything good. He’s 7’1”, and shoots 33% from the field. That SUCKS. 85% of his field goal attempts this year have been from three, and he only shoots 28% from that range. This guy is a literal disadvantage. He can’t even block shots!

Ok, anyways, the Celtics did a pretty good job here. Evan Fournier is an underrated player. He’s a consistent 18+ PPG scorer. He’s a great fit in Boston’s iso-heavy offense as a spot up shooter (he’s shooting 54% on corner threes this year). The problem is the Celtics didn’t add a defensive anchor. Mo Wagner is an offensive center, and doesn’t defend like Theis could. I’m not worried about it though, because if they cut Kornet they can potentially get Hassan Whiteside if he gets waived. But by downgrading their center depth, they’re putting trust in Robert Williams. Robert is having a great season, and will be a starting-caliber center for this team going forward. Trading Jeff Teague opens more minutes for Payton Pritchard at the point. 

Grade: B (goes up to a B+ or maybe even a A- if they get Hassan Whiteside)

Charlotte Hornets

Add: Brad Wanamaker

The Hornets didn’t make any big moves, which they maybe should have. LaMelo Ball going down with a potential season-ending injury is a big blow to a young Charlotte roster looking to make a surprise playoff appearance. There is still a small chance that Andre Drummond ends up in Charlotte, but probably not. The Hornets did make one move though, which was buying Brad Wanamaker from the Warriors. Although Wanamaker is shooting an atrocious 35% from the field and 21% from three this year, he is an excellent free throw shooter. That means something, right? Wanamaker will be the main ball handler off the bench for Charlotte now that Devonte’ Graham will be starting again. So I guess this move was decent.

Grade: C+

Chicago Bulls

Add: Nikola Vucevic, Al-Farouq Aminu, Daniel Theis, Troy Brown Jr, Javonte Green

Lose: Wendell Carter Jr, Otto Porter Jr, Daniel Gafford, Chandler Hutchison, Luke “does literally nothing” Kornet

The Bulls made the biggest move of the deadline. They picked up All-Star center Nikola Vucevic, as well as some other pieces. Daniel Theis is a combo big who can defend the paint and stretch the floor at a solid level. Al-Farouq Aminu is a versatile defending wing who becomes even more valuable when he shoots higher than 20% from three. Troy Brown was picked just outside the lottery a few years ago, and still has upside despite his bad season. So the Bulls picked up some good players for a playoff push. They didn’t give up anything crazy either. I do think Daniel Gafford is good, but he’ll get a bigger opportunity in Washington than he would in Chicago.

In the end, the Bulls season will likely end with a disappointing play-in loss or getting swept in the first round (although Philly vs Chicago could be a 6 game series. That would be fun). That doesn’t matter though, because a playoff appearance would bring lots of confidence to a very young Chicago roster.

Grade: A half a plus

Cleveland Cavaliers

Add: Isaiah Hartenstein

Lose: JaVale McGee

I don’t have much to say about this deal. Cleveland had no need for JaVale McGee, and they got G-League legend Isaiah Hartenstein. Isaiah brings great hustle, and can kind of stretch the floor. Plus he’s only 22, so if can become a consistent backup center, Cleveland got great value for JaVale.

Grade: B-

Dallas Mavericks

Add: J.J. Redick, Nicolo Melli

Lose: James Johnson, Wesley Iwundu

After trading Seth Curry, the Mavericks lost some shooting from their backcourt players. J.J. Redick fills that hole. Although J.J. is shooting a career low 36% from three this year, that percentage can easily jump back up in a better offense than the one down in New Orleans. Nicolo Melli is basically Maxi Kleber the lesser, but stretch fours are always useful. Dallas didn’t give much up. So this is a good trade.

Grade: B

Denver Nuggets

Add: Aaron Gordon, JaVale McGee, Gary Clark

Lose: Gary Harris, RJ Hampton, Isaiah Hartenstein

This was a high quality deadline for the Nuggets. They’re having a season that is worse than the last couple, but these trades improve the roster significantly. Aaron Gordon fills the hole at power forward left by Jerami Grant. Imagine Jokic with the ball in the high post and AG cutting down the baseline. Lob City baby. JaVale McGee also gives the team a legitimate backup center, especially considering the Nuggets won’t play Bol Bol. Gary Harris has been a big part of Denver’s success for a while, but his offense has gotten worse the last couple years, and it was time to move on. Denver is now geared for another deep playoff run.

Grade: A

Detroit Pistons

Add: Cory Joseph

Lose: Delon Wright

Delon Wright is a solid player. He’s been pretty good for Detroit. I think they did this deal for the second round picks. But looking at the players straight up, I think this trade was bad for the Pistons. It’s not like Delon Wright is some 32 year old veteran. 

Grade: C- (saved by the second round picks)

Golden State Warriors

Add: Draft rights to some random dude I’ve never heard of

Lose: Marquese Chriss, Brad Wanamaker

To be honest, the Warriors motive for this deadline is not clear to me. If it’s a roster spot they wanted, they created one by selling Wanamaker. So I’m not sure why they got rid of Marquese Chriss. Chriss is a solid center. But I guess the Warriors are confident they can get a center on the buyout market. Maybe DeMarcus Cousins, or Gourgi Dieng. 

Grade: D (Could go anywhere from a D+ to a C+ based on who they sign)

Houston Rockets

Add: Avery Bradley, Kelly Olynyk, D.J. Augustin, D.J. Wilson

Lose: Victor Oladipo, P.J. Tucker, Rodions Kurucs

Rafael Stone? Bro? You good? Why would you trade Oladipo for nothing valuable? Seriously! For some dumb reason, this man passed up on Caris LeVert and Jarrett Allen, just to get Oladipo in return for James freaking Harden. So now they have Avery Bradley and Kelly Olynyk in return for Harden. That’s unbelievable. 

Grade D- (D.J. Wilson saves this from being an F just because he’s the greatest to ever do it.)

Los Angeles Clippers

Add: Rajon Rondo

Lose: Lou Williams

This trade is solid for Los Angeles. Rondo is a better fit for the Clippers because he looks to pass rather than shoot, and he can defend well. Rondo also steps it up in the playoffs. Unfortunately for the Clippers, they didn’t have the assets to get Terry Rozier, Lonzo Ball, or Kyle Lowry. So Rondo is good for now.

Grade: B-

Miami Heat

Add: Victor Oladipo, Trevor Ariza, Nemanja Bjelica 

Lose: Avery Bradley, Kelly Olynyk, Mo Harkless, Meyers Leonard, Chris Silva

Great deadline for the Miami Heat. They didn’t give up all that much (although Kelly Olynyk’s role as a stretch center is not filled. Bjelica plays the four). Victor Oladipo, although he isn’t the same player he was two years ago, is still an excellent 3&D guard. He gives the Heat a legitimate third player while Tyler Herro is still improving. The Heat have sped up since their slow start, and the newcomers put more fuel in the tank. They also created a roster spot. If LaMarcus Aldridge comes to Miami, it’s over.

Grade: A half a plus

Milwaukee Bucks

Add: P.J. Tucker, Rodions Kurucs

Lose: D.J. Augustin, D.J. Wilson, Torrey Craig

I’m going to miss Torrey Craig. I really wish the Bucks would have played him more. I’m also gonna miss D.J. Wilson. But D.J. Augustin shoots worse from the field than he does from three, so I’m glad we got rid of him. P.J. Tucker is the glue guy that every championship team has. He doesn’t take bad shots (or many shots period), he rebounds and defends hard, and he also has insane shoe game. He’s a great pickup for my Milwaukee Bucks. 

Grade: B

New Orleans Pelicans

Add: James Johnson, Wesley Iwundu

Lose: J.J. Redick, Nicolo Melli

The Pelicans aren’t good on the defensive end of the ball, and their two additions are both better defenders than the subtractions. So that’s cool. The Pelicans probably should’ve traded either Lonzo or Bledsoe, but whatever. I suppose the Pelicans own a roster spot.

Grade: C-

New York Knicks

Add: Terrance Ferugson, Vincent “who am I and why am I in the NBA” Poirier

Lose: Austin Rivers, Ignas Brazdeikis

This trade would be bad for the Knicks if they didn’t have a loaded backcourt. Derrick Rose, Immanuel Quickley, Elfrid Payton, and Alec Burks all get consistent minutes there. The departure of Rivers means more minutes for Frank Ntilikina, which is a good thing.

Grade: C-

Oklahoma City Thunder

Add: Tony Bradley, Austin Rivers

Lose: George Hill, Trevor Ariza

The Thunder actually did a pretty good job here. They didn’t need Hill and Ariza, and got good value back for them. Tony Bradley has been playing well lately. Austin Rivers probably isn’t part of OKC’s long term plans, so he’ll probably get flipped for another asset. My only problem with this trade is that Moses Brown has been balling lately, and Tony Bradley will probably swallow up his minutes. But maybe Mike Muscala will be bought out.

Grade: B

Orlando Magic

Add: Wendell Carter Jr, RJ Hampton, Otto Porter Jr, Gary Harris

Get: Nikola Vucevic, Aaron Gordon, Evan Fournier, Al-Farouq Aminu, Gary Clark

The Magic just got rid of everything they own, but got back a pretty solid haul. They’ve been on the verge of a rebuild for a few years now, and now it’s happening. Wendell Carter has some solid potential. RJ Hampton is a rookie project who definitely has some good upside. The other two guys were just salary fillers and won’t be on the team for the long term. When a 2021 lottery pick is added to this roster, and Jonathan Isaac and Markelle Fultz return from injury, this team will look great. This would be even better if the Magic were able to get a young player in return for Evan Fournier (like Grant Williams or something).

Grade: B+

Philadelphia 76ers

Add: George Hill, Ignas Brazdeikis 

Lose: Tony Bradley, Terrance Ferugson, Vincent Poirier

George Hill is a great pickup for Philly. He’s a great shooter, a good playmaker, and a solid defender. He provides excellent backup point guard play. He’ll be good in the playoffs. The other players involved in this deal are meaningless. George Hill is a great player, and Philly barely gave up anything to get him

Grade: A-

Phoenix Suns

Add: Torrey Craig

Well, the Suns finessed the Bucks for a great defender in Torrey Craig. He can guard 1-4. That’s valuable. I wish the Bucks could have got Cam Payne or Jevon Carter in return, but it is what it is. Great value for the Suns with this one.

Grade: B+

Portland Trail Blazers

Add: Norman Powell

Lose: Gary Trent Jr, Rodney Hood

Norman Powell is having a helluva season. 20 PPG (19.6 to be exact, but whatever) on 44% from three. The Trail Blazers have to win something while Lillard is in his prime. Both Trent and Powell will need to be paid this offseason, but Powell brings more “win now” value. So good trade for the Blazers, but not great, because Gary Trent is really good as well.

Grade: B

Sacramento Kings

Add: Delon Wright, Mo Harkless, Chris Silva, Terence Davis, Mfiondu Kabengele

Lose: Nemanja Bjelica, Cory Joseph, Jabari Parker, Mfiondu Kabengele

This is a sad day for fans of Finn’s Basketball Blog. Mfiondu Kabengele is now out of a job. (if you read my GM of the Clippers article, you’ll know what I’m talking about. If not, you’re lame.) The Kings traded for him, and then cut him two days later. But to be fair, Terence Davis is an underrated young guard, and anytime you can trade a second round pick for someone like TD you do it in a heartbeat. Kabengele was the sacrifice to bring TD in.

Besides that though, the Kings think they can make the playoffs. We’ll see about that. Delon Wright does provide more guard depth though, and good guard depth at that. Mo Harkless is your typical 3&D veteran. Chris Silva hustles. Jabari Parker lost his job, and I’ll be curious to see if he gets another one. This was a pretty decent deadline for Sacramento in terms of players added and subtracted, but I’m confused on the direction they’re headed in. The grade takes a hit because of that.

Grade: C

San Antonio Spurs

Add: Marquese Chriss

Lose: Draft rights to some random dude I’ve never heard of

San Antonio’s big subtraction is LaMarcus Aldridge, but it’s not that big of a deal. He was injured for a while, and the Spurs were perfectly fine without him. I used to think Jakob Poeltl sucked, but he’s lowkey pretty solid in the post on offense and defense. Also, adding Marquese Chriss, who is a high flying center (Chriss is also adding a bit of a three pointer to his game) for literally nothing is pretty good. Chriss is out for the rest of the year with a broken leg, but if he’s good when he comes back, then the Spurs get a solid big.

Grade: B- (Could fluctuate based on how good Chriss is when he returns)

Toronto Raptors

Add: Gary Trent Jr, Rodney Hood

Lose: Norman Powell, Terence Davis, Matt Thomas

Gary Trent Jr. is a great young player. If he can become an above average defender, I could see him being in All-Star conversations one day. With Kyle Lowry’s career coming to a close in the next few seasons, Gary will be a great backcourt mate for Fred VanVleet. That is, as long as Toronto is willing to pay him this offseason, which I’m sure they will be. The only thing dragging the grade down slightly is trading Terence Davis for a second round pick. I think TD is good. But it’s not that big of a deal.

Grade: B+

Utah Jazz

Add: Matt Thomas

The Jazz added another shooter to their bench. Cool. 

Grade: B

Washington Wizards

Add: Daniel Gafford, Chandler Hutchison

Lose: Troy Brown Jr, Mo Wagner

The Wizards get a good deal by flipping Wagner, a stretch center who isn’t having a great shooting season, for Daniel Gafford. Gafford is a center in his second NBA season. He protects the rim at a high level, which is much needed for the Wizards. If Gafford doesn’t start over Robin Lopez for the rest of this season (when Thomas Bryant returns next season, we’ll see who starts) that would be highly disappointing. Great pickup for the Wizards though.

Grade: B+

So that’s that! Like I said earlier in the article, look forward to a buyout market version of this article in the coming weeks. What do you think about the trades? Let me know! See you next time!

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