“Oh my gosh, it’s so good to see you. You look so … different. Not in a bad way or anything, you know there’s just something different about you.” While this may be a line more commonly used among exes seeing each other again for the first time, the same can be said to the NBA right now. After a busy afternoon headed into the trade deadline, the GMs of the league have certainly shaken things up. Because of that, this last leg of the season is going to look a whole lot different. To help make sense of it, here are all the big deals that went down and what in God’s name it all means.
Goran Dragic to Miami
What it means: The Heat have been mediocre at best this season, but adding an All-Star caliber guard in Dragic changes them in a big way. It’s a good situation for Dragic, who came out and said he didn’t trust the Suns anymore and saw his numbers take a big dip from last season. Despite averaging 16 points and 4 assists, Dragic having to play with two other ball-dominating guards in Eric Bledsoe and Isaiah Thomas meant the ball was in his hands less than he would care for. If Miami can stay healthy, which is a big if considering Dwayne Wade’s history and the chance Chris Bosh could be out for the rest of the season with blood clots in his lungs, the Heat could make some noise in the East. Not to mention they have something to build around for the future with Dragic and Hassan Whiteside who’s having a breakout season.
As for the Suns, they get two solid veteran players in Danny Granger and John Salmons but more importantly two first round picks: one in 2017 and one in 2019. For a young team trying to build, draft picks are invaluable.
The third team involved in this deal is the Pelicans. With the Suns potentially taking a dip after giving up both Thomas and Dragic, the Pelicans are nipping at their heels for the ninth seed in the West, still within striking distance of the playoffs. With Jrue Holiday hurt, Norris Cole coming over from Miami, a young player with playoff and championship experience has a chance to make an immediate impact.
Michael Carter-Williams to Milwaukee
What it means: In one of the most surprising deals of the day, last year’s Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams escaped hell, I mean Philadelphia. The 6-6 point guard will not only have a chance to get playoff experience this season but also to learn under one of the greatest to ever play the position in Head Coach Jason Kidd. Not to mention when Jabari Parker comes back from injury next season, a solid young core will start to take shape. The 76ers received a first round pick in the deal, but in a league of elite point guards, it’s head-scratching to see them give up one with so much potential.
On the other side of this deal, Phoenix picked up Brandon Knight, which is a great find. Knight is having the best year of his pro career right now, and Phoenix just lost two dynamic guards in Goran Dragic and Isaiah Thomas. Knight will have a chance to come in and make his presence felt right off the bat.
Reggie Jackson to Detroit
What it means: In another three-team deal the big name was Reggie Jackson heading to Detroit. It’s unclear what Jackson’s future is long-term with the Pistons when Brandon Jennings comes back next season. For now though, Jackson has 28 games to prove his worth and get the chance he never would have gotten on a team with Westbrook and Durant. Jackson excelled while Westbrook was sidelined. If he shows that wasn’t just a fluke, then he might get the paycheck he feels he deserves this summer — whether it be in Detroit or somewhere else.
On the flip side, the Thunder picked up several pieces who could prove useful in veteran point guard D.J. Augustin, who is a great option off the bench; Sharp shooter Steve Novak and some young talent in Kyle Singler and up and coming big man Enes Kanter. OKC is in the middle of the pack when it comes to bench production, but could see that change soon.
The last team in this trio is the Jazz. The only big name in the deal is Kendrick Perkins, who is expected be bought out and already has several playoff contenders including the Bulls, Cavaliers and Clippers wanting to pick him up. More importantly for Utah is a pair of draft picks and the draft rights to German big man Tibor Pleiss.
Aaron Afflalo to Portland
In one of the more under the radar moves of the day, the Trailblazers bench improved significantly with the addition of Aaron Affalo. Afflalo is a 6-5 shooting guard that doesn’t do any one thing great but does everything well. Averaging 15 points, two assists and three rebounds per game, he’ll fit in nicely with the Blazers’ second unit, which is 28th in the league in scoring.
As for Denver, the Nuggets get a 2016 first round pick (lottery protected) and a handful of young rotational players in Will Barton, Victor Claver and Thomas Robinson. Denver is a young team, and there are minutes up for grabs to be competed for. With the Nuggets out of the playoff mix, this will be a good chance to show what each addition has to offer and to earn roster spots.
Kevin Garnett to Minnesota
If nothing else, this move is sentimental. It’s hard to believe the Timberwolves think of Kevin Garnett as a long-term option. In the short term it will be good for this young core of Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine and Shabazz Muhammad to learn from one of the greats. Garnett will also have a lot to offer to young big men like Gorgui Dieng and Anthony Bennet It will be nice to see Garnett, a future hall of famer, finish his career where he spent his first 12 years.
As for the Nets, many expected them to make more noise than they did. With rumors of Brook Lopez to OKC and Joe Johnson to Detroit, the Nets stayed surprisingly quiet, the one exception being the acquisition of steady scorer Thadeus Young. The Nets are currently 26th in the league in points per game, so the added scoring punch of Young, who’s averaging 14 points per game, will be a nice boost.
Isaiah Thomas to Boston
The second head to be cut off of Phoenix’s three-headed guard monster, Isaiah Thomas instantly makes the Celtics a better team. Just a game and a half back of the eighth seed in the East, Bostson added a 5-9 guard who was averaging 15 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists, off the bench. With a collection of young talent beginning to pile up in Boston, the Celtics’ future seems bright. Making a big leap in the East is far from improbable, and that’s exactly what they plan to do.
As for Phoenix, the Suns get another draft pick, and with the addition of Brandon Knight to a team that still has some exciting young talent, you can see the potential if all these picks are used wisely.
It was a busy day to say the least. These moves will create for some interesting story lines as teams try to find their rhythm before the playoffs as well as evaluate their talent for the future. There are quite a few teams that look … different right now. We are about to find out whether that’s a good thing or not.
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