The 2015 NBA trade deadline will be remembered for years to come.
The second half of the NBA season started with a monsoon, hurricane and thunder snow storm all mixed together. While there weren’t any big name all-stars on the move at the trade deadline, there were plenty of surprises that heated up the NBA on this biter cold February day.
It was a memorable race against the clock, one unlike any seen in the history of the league. Many of the moves will dramatically impact the race to the playoffs and championship. But there were a few trades that left me highly confused.
Here are the biggest trade deadline winners and losers.
Oklahoma City Thunder: General manger Sam Presti just rebuilt his entire bench with a slew of highly proven veterans and a star on the rise in getting Enes Kanter and Steve Novak from the Utah Jazz, as well as D.J. Augustine and Kyle Singler from Detroit. The most impressive part is he did it all with one trade.
Enes Kanter provides the inside scoring (13.8 ppg & 7.8 reb) the Thunder have NEVER had, even when they made it all the way to the 2012 NBA Finals, and he is only 22. Augustine has proven over the course of his career he is the dependable backup point guard that Reggie Jackson no longer wanted to be, while Singler and Novak are a pair of sharp shooters that will help space the floor even more for Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook to slice up defenses.
As Mike Dunleavy said on NBA TV’s trade deadline special, “they went from dangerous to lethal.”
The best part of the deal is that the Thunder traded away a guy in Reggie Jackson they knew they weren’t going to be able to resign in free agency, while also getting rid of Kendrick Perkins’ contract that handcuffed them the last three seasons.
No one in the West wanted to see OKC in the playoffs to begin with, now let’s see who starts actively jockeying for position to avoid them.
This also was Sam Presti’s checkmate move to let Kevin Durant see why he should stick around with in OKC when his free agency comes up.
Milwaukee Bucks: Michael Carter Williams, the reigning Rookie of the Year is more of the true point guard then the guy he’s replacing in Brandon Knight. MWC is the kind of talent future Hall of Fame point guard and Bucks coach Jason Kidd can mold into an elite PG, much like he was in his playing days.
At 6’6, you add MCW’s length to forwards Giannis Antetokounpo, John Henson, Jared Dudley and next season put them with Jabari Parker when he returns from his knee injury, the Bucks will be a team that will make an Atlanta Hawks like rise in the Eastern conference. Defensively their length will be a hassle for whoever they face in this coming playoffs as they currently sit in the six seed. They will be a tough out even with their inexperience.
Miami Heat: Let’s be real, when LeBron left the Heat, nobody thought they could find a way to put a strong playoff team on the court. In the wake of the “Decision Part II”, team President Pat Riley pieced together a roster that was barely holding on to the eighth seed in the East.
Now by getting Goran Dragic from Phoenix to pair with Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh and Loul Deng, Miami is a team that whoever they face in the first round of playoffs will lose a little sleep thinking about. I qualify that statement with, if they’re healthy.
Dragic is the reigning NBA Most Improved Player and 2013-14 third team all NBA member. That means he was a top 15 player when utilized properly. He’s a major upgrade over Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole–who was traded to New Orleans–neither of which has fulfilled their potential. Point guard was the biggest weakness on the Heat Big 3 championship teams and in the current albeit short LeBron-less era. Not anymore!
Kevin Garnett/Minnesota Timberwolves: Who says you can’t go home again? The Kid is now the Man, and if he is ready to call it a career, this is the best way to end it by bringing it full circle.
KG spent the first twelve years of his career in Minneapolis with the T-Wolves and has express interest in becoming apart of ownership with the team that selected him with the fifth pick in the 1995 Draft when his career is over. Now that he’s closer to that point, this move makes huge sense for him personally, but also the franchise.
The T-Wolves weren’t going anywhere this year or even next season for that matter, this is a strategic business/PR move. After having their hand forced to move on from Kevin Love, bringing back the best player in franchise history in this manner, will show future players the class organization they have and why a guy like Andrew Wiggins and other rising young talent should want to be a part of it long term. Unlike Love.
Giving up a great young talent in Thaddeus Young will hurt in the short term, but a parting with him seemed to be inevitable. This move was a legacy move and should pay off huge in years to come.
Washington Wizards: The Wiz have quickly built a contender by blending a nice mix of accomplished veterans and young potential superstars. Why destroy that?
Trading away a key veteran in Andre Miller to the Sacramento Kings for Ramon Sessions threatens to ruin the chemistry that has them in the mix to possibly make an NBA finals run. I worry how this will affect the mind state of their young guns John Wall and Bradley Beal who are still very raw about the business side.
Detroit Pistons: After releasing Josh Smith and going on a nice winning streak before losing Brandon Jennings to an Achilles injury, D.J. Augustine filled in more than admirable. Augustine is a pros-pros who has done well in the emergency roles before, which he did for the Chicago Bulls when Derrick Rose went down last season. The Pistons were steadily moving closer to grabbing a playoff spot against all odds. Bringing in Reggie Jackson alone from OKC is not going to stabilize those efforts.
There’s no guarantee Jackson is going to re-sign with the Pistons when he hits free agency this summer, which is why OKC shipped him off. Looks like Detroit is trending down, just like they were when they had Josh Smith.
Utah Jazz: Giving up Enes Kanter, a 22 year old post player with double double potential to a conference foe is all ways a bad decision. Especially when you think about how hard it is to get any big men to play in the post these days. I understand they’re thrilled with center Rudy Gobert, and forward Derrick Favors has turned out to be a good player, but you NEVER trade a talent in conference.
Getting Kendrick Perkins isn’t so bad when you consider the plan is to buy him out, but that cap space isn’t worth the player Kanter can be.
Phoenix Suns: What are the Suns doing? First you trade away the 2013-2014 Most Improved Player of the Year and Third Team All-NBA member in Goran Dragic because he was unhappy playing in the log jam at point guard in the “Valley of the Sun.” Then you trade your 2014 first round pick, point guard Tyler Ennis to Milwaukee and Isaiah Thomas to the Boston Celtics, who you just signed last summer creating the situation that made Dragic want out. What was once an embarrassment of riches at the point guard position, now is a weakness.
Just as baffling is what you got in return. Brandon Knight is an All-Star caliber player, but he is a restricted free agent this summer which puts you in the same bind you had last summer with Eric Bledsoe that essential helped create the problem you’re trying to eradicate. Receiving inconsistent forwards Shawne Williams, Danny Granger and little used center Justin Hamilton from Miami isn’t going to help them hold off OKC or New Orleans for the eight seed in the West.
The Suns were in good position to hold on to a playoff spot after coming surprisingly close last season. You’ve now risked ruining the chemistry and momentum you worked so hard to build over the last two seasons.
The only saving grace is that they picked up two first round picks in 2017 and 2019 from Miami. So instead of a potential first round exit, it appears they’re ready to blow it up and rebuild again.
Philadelphia 76ers: It’s not even worth going in depth on this organization. Michael Carter Williams is the reason anyone had hope that the tanking for top picks method was working. They just gave up their reigning rookie of the year with all-star potential and all they got were more unknowns in the form of draft picks and NBA on TNT’s “Shaqtin’ A Fool” star Javele McGee.
Trading a young piece with potential in K.J. McDaniels to Houston before really evaluating what he could become is just as bad as moving on from MCW. At this point the 76ers are like a farm team for the rest of the league. They keep drafting young talent and then send them to “real” NBA teams just as they’re ready to blossom into stars.