This week has been nothing short of exciting. LeBron became the all-time NBA scoring leader, the Super Bowl is finally here this weekend, and last but not least, the NBA Trade Deadline.
The NBA Trade Deadline season is often one of the most exciting times of the regular season for basketball fans, and it did not disappoint this year. Let’s take a look at which teams won from these interesting deadline moves.
Many will question the Timberwolves’ front office after their past few moves, but here’s why their latest trade isn’t as bad as some make it seem. The Timberwolves were involved in a three-team trade with the Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Lakers where they sent out D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley, and Jarred Vanderbilt and in return, received Mike Conley Jr., Nickeil Alexander-Walker, and extra draft compensation. Russell is a free agent this offseason, as well as Beasley, and neither seemed to be a part of the team’s future.
Russell has been playing some of the best basketball of his career this season, but it’s clear they had to move in a different direction. Russell is seen as a liability on defense and has had trouble communicating with the team in-game, which doesn’t work in today’s fast-paced NBA. There were also rumors of him not taking too kindly to Rudy Gobert. By bringing in Conley, The Timberwolves have a veteran floor general who can shoot the three and also be a capable defender at the guard position. Conley also has chemistry with Gobert where they played together in Utah. This could be the piece they need to unlock Gobert’s involvement on offense.
Mike Conley to the Minnesota Timberwolves Breakdown: – how Conley fits alongside Point Ant – how Conley can bridge the gaps between Rudy and his Wolves teammates – the value of empty side pick-and-rolls with this Wolves personnel – the Wolves’ bet on Ant + Jaden 🔊 ON pic.twitter.com/pNiExJnnon — Timberwolves Clips (@WolvesClips) February 9, 2023
One thing to also keep in mind is that Minnesota will still need to pay their rising star, Anthony Edwards. With the way Edwards has been playing, he has almost solidified a max contract extension and will deserve every cent. This move gives them more cap space flexibility to offer the max extension, and possibly bring in another quality player this offseason. Good trades aren’t always aesthetically pleasing, especially in the NBA, and this was one of them.
Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers have had a roller coaster of emotions the past few days, but can possibly go into the NBA All-Star Break with a new start and identity. In the aforementioned Jazz-Timberwolves-Lakers trade, the Lakers were able to fulfill most of their to-do checklist in one fell swoop.
They were able to unload Russell Westbrook and his contract and replaced it with other expiring contracts so that they are still flexible in spending this offseason. They were able to equip the team with better shooters, as Russell and Beasley are above average from beyond the arc. They were able to acquire versatile perimeter defenders that can also defend bigs in small-ball lineups. They acquired Vanderbilt who is a notorious “hustler” and Rui Hachimura from the Wizards in a previous trade. They were able to address their depth at the center position, as they swapped out Patrick Beverley for Mo Bamba, who can also knock down the three-ball.
Lakers trade deadline ACQUIRED: D’Angelo Russell Mo Bamba Rui Hachimura Jarred Vanderbilt Malik Beasley Davon Reed 3 second round picks MOVED: Russell Westbrook Kendrick Nunn Thomas Bryant JTA Damian Jones 27’ FRP – Top 4 protected 4 second rounders Hats off to Rob Pelinka pic.twitter.com/K3el90Uyl1 — Top Ball Coverage (@TopBallCoverage) February 9, 2023
The Lakers wanted Kyrie Irving to be a potential third scoring option with LeBron and Anthony Davis, but many believe the pending $200M price tag this offseason made them hesitant. The beauty of this trade is that they could still choose to pursue Kyrie this NBA offseason, as Russell, Beasley, Hachimura, and Vanderbilt are all pending free agents. Also, the only draft pick they had to give up was their 2027 first-rounder. Plus that pick is top-four-protected, meaning if the Lakers were to get a top-four pick in the 2027 NBA draft, they would get to keep it. Not bad, Rob Pelinka and company, not bad.
The Clippers did not make any blockbuster moves of their own to compete with Phoenix and Dallas, but they did make moves that might have improved their roster. They were able to acquire budding bucket-getter Bones Hyland from Denver, Mason Plumlee from Charlotte, and Eric Gordon from Houston. In the process, they lost Reggie Jackson in the Plumlee trade, Luke Kennard in a trade to Memphis, and John Wall in the Gordon trade.
The Clippers trade for instant offense in the form of Bones Hyland. pic.twitter.com/QEnypNpxn5 — BBall Index (@The_BBall_Index) February 10, 2023
It may not seem like that much of an upgrade since Reggie is well-loved and Kennard is one of the best shooters in the NBA, but it did in fact help them. Kennard is a lethal shooter, however, he is often targeted when he’s on defense since he isn’t exactly a gifted defender. Gordon is a savvy veteran that can also put the ball on the floor and drive to the basket, something not as often seen with Kennard.
The Clippers were able to address their frontcourt depth with Plumlee, but they were not able to trade for an established point guard. This is where developing Bones Hyland and trending reports come into play indicating that the Clippers could look to sign Westbrook after he is bought out of his contract and becomes a free agent. There will be some fresh faces in LA.
No one can be happier with the Suns’ new owner than point guard Chris Paul. It has not even been a week since Mat Ishbia was officially given control as the majority owner and he is already changing their franchise. Paul has played with several talented teammates over the years, but none of his teams have been as powered as this. Paul, who is now 37 years old, can essentially relinquish his part-time scoring duties and be a full-time floor general now.
Even though Durant is 34, he was playing some of the best basketball of his career before the injury and will look to pick up where he left off when he returns. This time he has another viable scoring option in Devin Booker, a floor general in Paul, and a talented big man in Deandre Ayton. The Suns were able to reach the Finals in 2021 and will look to return there this postseason. However, this time they’ll have reinforcements with two-time NBA Finals MVP, “Kevin freaking Durant”.
Wednesday, 11 AM: Mat Ishbia starts his first day on the job as the new owner of the Phoenix Suns. Wednesday, 11 PM: Mat Ishbia finalizes a trade for Kevin Durant. pic.twitter.com/8XmzpHiulT — Front Office Sports (@FOS) February 9, 2023
After a very eventful NBA trade deadline, look for teams to try to gain some momentum with their new-look lineups going into the All-Star break and before the postseason. The only way for these teams to show they won the trade deadline is to win. Also, feel free to keep an eye out for my next article, which will highlight my biggest losers of the NBA trade deadline.
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