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The lead up to the National Basketball Association (NBA) Trade Deadline, which passed on Thursday, February 7th, featured a handful of blockbuster trades with teams either going all-in to win this season or selling on their championship hopes.
The lead up to the National Basketball Association (NBA) Trade Deadline, which passed on Thursday, February 7th, featured a handful of blockbuster trades with teams either going all-in to win this season or selling on their championship hopes. Perhaps most notably, star big man Anthony Davis’s trade request to leave the New Orleans Pelicans failed to reach fruition, as the Pelicans did not accept any of the lavish offers the Los Angeles Lakers threw at it. Even so, the eventful series of trades that transpired last week should have an immediate impact on the rest of the NBA season but will also likely help alter the league’s landscape over the coming years. Here are some of the most influential trades and their impacts on the league as well as the respective teams and players involved.
The race for the top of the Eastern Conference has begun to heat up as three of the conference’s top teams made significant acquisitions over the deadline. First-place Milwaukee Bucks acquired Nikola Mirotic from the Pelicans, bolstering the team’s depth and fitting perfectly in the offensive scheme as a sport-shooter around Most Valuable Player (MVP) candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Toronto Raptors acquired veteran center Marc Gasol, who is a good facilitator and defender even in his age-thirty-four season. However, the biggest acquisition came from the Philadelphia 76ers who added borderline all-star forward Tobias Harris in a trade with the Los Angeles Clippers. Harris is an extremely efficient scorer who can play off-the-ball, making him a perfect fit in Philadelphia’s star-studded lineup with a number of ball-dominant players, namely Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. This move, coming after Philadelphia’s trade for all-star forward Jimmy Butler earlier this season, shows that it is vying to win this year, its focus transitioning from the future to the present. These three teams are legitimate Finals contenders, and this is all without mentioning the Boston Celtics who was the favorite to win the East. All of these moves should make the Eastern Conference Playoffs the most competitive it has been in a decade.
In the Western Conference, none of the top contenders made such impactful trades; however, the race for the bottom three seeds in the West should be more wide-open due to the deadline’s action. The Clippers trading away Harris could open the door for the upstart Sacramento Kings or the Lakers, which faltered with the absence of LeBron James, to sneak into the playoffs. The Clippers made that trade with the future in mind, as it acquired young talent and draft picks—even while sacrificing its playoff chances this year. Meanwhile, the young Kings is only one game behind the Clippers in the standings, and the Lakers is now fully healthy and ready to make a push for the playoffs. The race for the final playoff spots should be an entertaining fight to the finish.
Similar to the Clippers, many up-and-coming franchises made savvy moves that will have a tremendous impact on the league’s future. The Dallas Mavericks pulled off a shocking trade for injured All-Star Kristaps Porzingis with the New York Knicks in exchange for Dennis Smith Jr., draft picks, and veterans on expiring deals. This deal has the potential to be beneficial for both teams, as the Mavs will have an exciting young duo of Luka Doncic and Porzingis for seasons to come, establishing themselves as playoff contenders and potentially title contenders a few years in the future if both young stars can reach their potential. On the other hand, the Knicks have bolstered its tanking efforts and its chances at the number one pick in the draft this summer. Also, the team has cleared up an immense amount of cap space for this summer’s pivotal free agency period when stars such as Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving hit the market. The Clippers followed suit with the Knicks in the Harris trade as it has opened up maximum contract salary slots for this summer and have acquired solid young talent and picks. The crown jewel of the Clippers’ draft assets, however, is the unprotected Miami 2021 first rounder. Lastly, former number-one overall pick Markelle Fultz was traded to the Orlando Magic, a team that has desperately needed an upgrade at the guard position. Although Fultz struggled mightily during his tumultuous time in Philadelphia, this change in scenery could be a catalyst for a revival to his young career and the realization of the potential that saw him earn the first-overall selection in the 2017 NBA Draft.