The NBA trade deadline has come and gone and now the league can move forward with the second half of the 2016-2017 season. While players such as Carmelo Anthony, Jimmy Butler, Paul George, and Kevin Love (injured) were not moved, there were some other notable players who do have new homes. With that being said, here are the most significant moves of this year’s trade deadline …
1. The Sacramento Kings trade center DeMarcus Cousins.
This was the biggest move of trade season but some have also called it highway robbery. This deal came to fruition just a couple of hours after the All-Star Game had ended last Sunday night. Cousins was sent to the New Orleans Pelicans along with small forward Omri Casspi in exchange for swingman Buddy Hield, shooting guards Tyreke Evans and Langston Galloway, along with both of the Pelicans draft picks (first and second round) in the 2017 NBA Draft in June. The reason why many feel that Sacramento got the bad end of the deal is because they just shipped off perhaps the best big man in the game today.
Cousins is having a career year as he’s averaging 27 points, 10 rebounds, and almost two blocked shots per game. He’s also making 45 percent of his field goals, 35 percent of his 3-point shots, and has turned himself into an all-around player. Now, he gets to team up with Anthony Davis who’s a talented big man in his own right. Put both of them on the floor and Davis’ athleticism will allow him to move to power forward, thus creating perhaps the most dominating front court in the game today. Davis has his own impressive per game averages (28 points, 11 rebounds, 2 blocks), and the Pelicans are now in prime position to make a push for the eighth and final Western Conference playoff spot (they currently sit three games back).
Buddy Hield has been struggling to some degree but he’s just a rookie. There’s some belief that he can one day blossom into the type of offensive player that made him the sixth overall draft pick in 2016. Evans was originally drafted by Sacramento (first round, 2009) so there’s some familiarity there. Galloway is just in his second year and was an undrafted free agent who’s still trying to prove himself. All three men are capable of being pure shooters but the loss of Cousins will be felt for quite some time.
While Cousins can never truly be replaced, the Kings will certainly try by starting another former Kentucky standout at center in Willie Cauley-Stein. After being Cousins’ backup for the last season and a half, the 23-year-old now has a chance to showcase his skill set and get his minutes up and give per game averages (5.8 points, 2.7 rebounds) a boost. In the end, the Kings are still stuck in rebuild mode.
2. The Toronto Raptors get Serge Ibaka
This deal works out for both sides. The Raptors needed a healthy body in the post with Patrick Patterson on the injured list recently. Even when healthy, Patterson’s 7.2 points and 5.5 rebounds per game aren’t going to cut it in the rough and tumble Eastern Conference. So they sent guard Terrance Ross along with a first-round pick in the 2017 draft to an Orlando Magic team that’s hitting the reset button once again to get the 6-foot-10 inch forward. Ibaka’s talents were being wasted in Orlando, where the Magic haven’t made the playoffs since 2012.
Ibaka is now playing for a contending team again. He averages 15 points a night because he can stretch the floor and has a solid jump shot. Despite his low averages, Patterson can compliment Ibaka’s skill set and give Toronto a one-two punch at the power forward position. As for Ross, after this season he has two years and $21 million remaining on his contract. Whether or not the Magic will build around him remains to be seen.
3. Taj Gibson moves to Oklahoma City
When it came to the Chicago Bulls, all eyes were on Jimmy Butler. But in the end it was Taj Gibson who was sent packing. The 6-foot-9 inch power forward along with jump shooter Doug McDermott, and a second-round draft pick were shipped to the Oklahoma City Thunder. In return the Bulls received a pair of guards in Cameron Payne and Anthony Morrow, along with center Joffrey Lauvergne. All eyes point to a potential rebuild in Chicago.
Russell Westbrook gets a dependable post player in Gibson. The 2009 first round draft pick -when healthy- can score in the paint, puts up a decent 14-foot jumper, fights for rebounds, will block the occasional shot, and can guard both forwards and centers. As for McDermott, perhaps a change of scenery is what he needs. After becoming one of the best scorers in NCAA history at Creighton, the 11th overall pick in the 2014 draft has been inconsistent at best. Some nights he’d put up single digits, other night’s he has double digit outputs.
McDermott can be a fully capable offensive player with his sharpshooting abilities. His defense needs work, but with a new team and a new city, he may finally get his game together. The Thunder may not have all of the exact pieces for a playoff run but they definitely get an upgrade. As for the Bulls, we’ll have to see how the rest of the season plays out. Although the addition of two guards could spell the end for Rajon Rondo and put Dwayne Wade’s future up in the air.
4. Nerlens Noel goes to Dallas.
Thanks to a logjam of post players on the Philadelphia 76ers roster, somebody had to go. In this case it was Nerlens Noel. The 7-foot forward/center was sent to the Dallas Mavericks in exchange for guard Justin Anderson and center Andrew Bogut. Sports Illustrated says that Philly will give Bogut a buyout which will make him a free agent. There are no winners in this trade.
Both teams have losing records, and the Sixers needed to make some room on their roster.
5. Kyle Korver now plays for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
This was the first big move of the trading season. It happened back on Jan. 7 as the Atlanta Hawks sent swingman Kyle Korver to the defending champion Cavs in exchange for veteran small forward Mike Dunleavy Jr. and guard Mo Williams. Cleveland made this move in order to bolster their bench and so far it’s worked as Korver, arguably one of the best 3-point shooters in the game today, has had four 20-point games in a Cavs uniform.
That is this year’s NBA trade deadline in a nutshell. For the players that weren’t moved on Thursday, it’ll be interesting to see if they’re moved to another franchise when the NBA Draft comes around in June.