NBA Trade Deadline Initial Reaction

Jake Freeman


The NBA Trade Deadline has come and gone, and boy, it did not disappoint. We saw high profile teams get involved and high-profile players dealt, leaving us with all sorts of thoughts, questions, and predictions.

Our initial reactions may be very different than what we eventually think of the deals 4 months from now, when the 2018 free agency period hits. But, let’s breakdown what took place in the hours leading up to the 3 PM deadline. Who were the winners? Who were the losers? And where do both parties stand from the most significant moves of the day.



“Pleasing? The King”

– The biggest of them all –

Cleveland Cavaliers receive: Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr.

Los Angeles Lakers receive: Isaiah Thomas, Channing Frye, Cleveland’s 2018 1st round pick


Initial Reaction: Wow. Didn’t see that one coming. While the Cavs have had their struggles both on and off the court, this was still a shocker. Sure, Isaiah Thomas wasn’t fitting in well. Yea, it seemed like he didn’t have much of a relationship with the other players and publicly criticized the coaching staff. Even so, we still thought the Cavs would keep the star point guard they traded Kyrie Irving for and try to figure it out down the stretch. Clearly that was not the case. Koby Altman wanted to make a statement with this deal and, as well all know, he didn’t stop there.


What now for LA?

The Lakers won the deadline with this deal. Period. And it had NOTHING to do with the pieces they acquired.

This was all about money and cap space.

Shipping Jordan Clarkson and his contract out of LA gives the Lakeshow space to sign TWO players to max deals in the 2018/2019 offseasons. That could mean acquiring Paul George this summer. It could possibly put them in the running for LeBron James. Or they can wait it out for players such as Kawhi Leonard and Klay Thompson in 2019. Either way, this brilliant move by Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka has given the Lakers hope, promise, and a real direction. They’ve always had the market to draw big names. Now they have the finances and roster set to bring in superstars very soon. Losing a nice, young big like Larry Nance Jr. isn’t ideal, but it was worth it to put them in this promising position. Acquiring a 1st round pick makes this deal that much sweeter. Oh, and let’s not forget, Isaiah Thomas is no scrub. Seeing if he can get back to playing like himself and if he can fit in is just another luxury for the Lakers. If he can, great. If not, no harm done. All is well, in LaLa Land.


What now for ‘The Land?’

This deal was all about the now. And when I say that I mean it was all about LeBron James in Cleveland for the next four months. The Cavs knew the spot they were in. Do nothing at the deadline, and barring a championship, watch the kid from Akron take his talents out of Cleveland for a second time. Shake things up to show LeBron you’re trying to put the right cast of players around him to make a serious run at the title…and still possibly watch him walk away come July. Koby Altman chose the latter, which we’d all agree was the better move. And he did a very good job. There was no “fantastic” move to make. LBJ and Isaiah never showed signs they could make the pairing work. There was a culture issue throughout the Cavs locker room. The team was old and lacked desire on the defensive end, so the front office decided to avert what Altman called a ‘slow death’.

With this deal they brought in healthier, younger, more athletic and energetic players. Larry Nance Jr. will fit well as a rim runner and defender. Jordan Clarkson brings some scoring off the bench. These moves were made to please LeBron James. Will they be enough to keep him in Believeland for the long term? I’m not quite sold. Everyone knows there’s only one thing they can attain to keep The King happy, and that’s some more hardware to match his crown.



“Familiar Faces on The Move”

– It’s all about fit –

3-Team Deal

Cleveland Cavaliers Receive: Rodney Hood, George Hill

Utah Jazz Receive: Jae Crowder, Derrick Rose

Sacramento Kings Receive: Joe Johnson, Iman Shumpert, Cleveland 2020 2nd round pick via Miami


Initial Reaction: This 3-team deal was surprisingly productive for all parties. The craziness to it is simply the fact that the Cavs, a franchise not even two years out from winning a championship, has completely overhauled its roster. This trade brings them to 5 players dealt, leaving them with a mere 4 players from that 2016 title roster. The move really shows that the Cavaliers wanted a very different look in their locker room heading into the back end of the season.


What now for Sacramento?

I like this move for the Kings. Do they become a significantly better team tomorrow? No. But this was a smart play. They gave up one player in George Hill (who they were overpaying) and brought in Joe Johnson and Iman Shumpert. Johnson will be bought out and Shumpert is no more than a decent role player.

But the best thing this deal did was clear the way for their young rookie. The most important player on the Sacramento Roster is the #5 pick De’Aaron Fox. Taking George Hill out of the picture means Fox has been given the keys to the franchise. While Hill was a mentor and helped ease Fox into the league, now De’Aaron will get full starters minutes for the remainder of the season and can use these last 30 games to improve and develop. Development is exactly what Sacramento needs at this time.


What now for Utah?

It’s an interesting move for the Jazz. Dish out Rodney Hood and Joe Johnson. Bring in Jae Crowder and Derrick Rose. Will Rose even be there for the rest of this season? All signs point to a buy-out. What the Jazz did really comes down to Hood vs. Crowder. Very different players with very different skill sets. Both can be valuable pieces. Hood, the scorer and long offensive talent. Crowder, the fundamentally sound wing defender and perimeter shooter. For the Jazz, I think they made the right move. This team was at their best, and in the playoff picture the past few seasons because their defense was stout. This year, while their offense has been better, they’ve taken a step back defensively and their record reflects that. Also, the improved play of Royce O’Neale made Hood expendable. As for Crowder, getting out of the drama in Cleveland, Jae will get back to being the type of player he was in Boston and bring that much needed edge back to Utah.


What now for Cleveland?

There it is, that’s even better. This was a big time move for the Cavs front office. Even though it seems desperate to revamp your team at the deadline, it was necessary. It was most necessary to move on from distractions like Derrick Rose and Iman Shumpert. It was smart to move on from Crowder, who never seemed comfortable in Cleveland, and use him to acquire Rodney Hood and George Hill. Hood, at age 25, continues the youth/energy movement, has good length, and is instant scoring off the bench.

Then there is George Hill, who, to me, is the x-factor of the Cavs trade deadline. There is nothing flashy or spectacular about Hill’s game. To be honest, I wouldn’t want him to be my starting point guard if I needed a primary ball handler and facilitator. But I think he will be the perfect type of point guard to play with LeBron. The perfect complement. He plays great defense at a very important position. And he’s almost the exact opposite of Isaiah Thomas. Doesn’t need the ball in his hands, doesn’t need to operate in pick and rolls. George started his career off the ball, knocking down triple after triple in San Antonio. He also was spotting up off the ball in his prime with Paul George and Lance Stephenson in Indiana. This season, it’s gone under the radar, but George Hill leads the NBA in 3-Point shooting percentage at 45.3 %. Put him off the ball with LeBron and it’s a match made in heaven.



“The Fear of Inactivity”

– Don’t force it, 3’s a crowd –

3-Team Deal

New York Knicks Receive: Emmanuel Mudiay, Denver 2nd round pick via Portland

Denver Nuggets Receive: Devin Harris, Knicks 2nd round pick via Clippers

Dallas Mavericks Receive: Doug McDermott

Initial Reaction: It’s happened to all of us. We’ve all been in the position where we’re not doing anything and it feels wrong. We become anxious. We feel like we should be doing something productive, accomplishing something. It looks like these three franchises all fell into that trap. Sitting tight isn’t a problem, if the right deal doesn’t present itself. This deal feels forced. And then trying to make a case that one team ‘won’ the trade feels forced as well. I’d say the Mavericks got the best end, but at least for this year, it’s the last place Mavericks, so does it matter?


What now for Denver:

The only team of the three in contention for a playoff spot. Yet, the move seems the least impactful for them. The only meaningful part is that Mudiay is gone, but he had little influence on the group anyway. If there’s some positive, it’s that Devin Harris will provide veteran leadership and experience in the locker room. On the floor, he’ll play backup guard minutes at best, and doesn’t really bring any unique skill set to the Nuggets. I know, fun stuff here. Let’s move on.


What now for New York:

Uh-oh. Here they go again. Use the 8th overall pick on a young, raw point guard who will need minutes to develop. Bring up a young guard who has shown some decent flashes and sign him for the rest of the year. Now let’s go after a young guard who we liked and wanted a few years back. None of it makes sense. The timing, the personnel, none of it. Frank Ntilikina, Trey Burke, and now Emmanuel Mudiay. They’re already hindering Ntilikina and Burke’s development with Jarrett Jack.

NOBODY knows why he’s still playing 20+ minutes a game.

And now adding Mudiay to the mix, who has shown no promise and will only take away more playing time and chances to develop from the other two they’ve invested in. Someone explain this to me. The only message being sent here is to Frank Ntilikina and that’s saying, “yea this might not work out, it’s gonna be a while for you.” And to add to that, they make this deal using the one piece, along with KP, who fits in with the direction the NBA is moving, in McDermott, a shooter. New GM, same Knicks. My head hurts.


What now for Dallas:

To wrap up this deal, the Mavs parted ways with Devin Harris, a veteran, and brought in a young Doug McDermott. For a team in last place in the West with 17 wins, and in full rebuild mode, this is the right type of move to make. Like I said before, no, it doesn’t matter for this year. But a few years down the road, to mix with the young, promising guards on the Dallas roster, I like it. If they can acquire another strong wing player and a dominant big man, Dougie McBuckets can be a quality piece on a solid team. It’s a make or miss league and having outside shooting is more critical than ever. For what they had to give up, Cuban made a low risk, decent reward play in getting McDermott.



FLASHback to the Past”

The feel-good moment –

Miami Heat receive: Dwyane Wade

Cleveland Cavaliers receive: Highly protected 2nd round pick


Initial Reaction: Dwyane Wade is back in Miami, and all is right in the world. Every now and then the NBA season brings along an awesome storyline that we’re all so happy to see. This is one of those moments. Friday night’s game with Wade returning to the Heat was special. A moment we all needed. It was nice to hear that Dwyane and Pat Riley could come together, realize that there are things in life bigger than your ego, and forget about their differences from two years ago.

Also got to give props to the Cavs front office recognizing Wade’s heart was still in Miami, and knowing he’d be better off going home rather than staying in Cleveland with reduced minutes. Win-win. He was there to have fun playing with his best friend and to help win a ring. Was anyone having fun in Cleveland up until this point? Anything but that. This was what we call “the right thing to do.”


What now for Miami?

Don’t look now, but the Heat are a threat. Pre-Wade’s arrival they were right in the mix of the Eastern Conference, with a few quality wins over top teams. You can also probably count on one hand, the number of teams that play a better brand of basketball. With a roster full of young, fearless talents, Heat Nation has a lot to look forward to. But for now, take the cutting, the extra passing, and the sound defense in this Miami squad and add in Dwyane Wade’s locker room presence and closing ability, and you’ve got a team ready to battle down the stretch; A team who can possibly take the 4 seed or pull off an upset in round 1 of the playoffs. Flash is back, and so are the Miami Heat.


What now for Cleveland?

The commitment to winning this year was behind every move the Cavs made at the deadline. Altman got clearance from Lebron to trade his right-hand man. And now the Cavs can play the pieces they just acquired and go full throttle at a high tempo offense, scrappy defense to make their postseason push. No longer does Ty Lue have to weigh playing Wade for too many minutes and now LeBron can solely focus on bringing all members on the Cavs roster together. Oh how fun it would be, to see these two franchises meet in the postseason.


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