NBA Trade Deadline 2014: How the Deals Reshaped the League
Was the 2014 trade deadline filled with plenty of marquee names changing locations?
Eh, not exactly, but there were enough solid players involved in rumors and actual deals to make it fairly exciting at the last minute. The sheer volume of movement kept everyone a bit entertained as well while the clock ticked down to 3 p.m. ET on Feb. 20.
When everything was wrapped up and the last WojBombs had trickled in, the NBA had produced 11 swaps, and some teams were busier than others. The Philadelphia 76ers, for example, managed to get involved in four trades, some of which were pretty monumental, at least relative to the other deals.
It's a lot to consider in the immediate aftermath, especially because a handful of trades involved players who aren't exactly household names.
That's why I'm here to help you out.
Who was on the move? Which players are in better situations and which teams won trades? How did the landscape of the league shift from the activity at the deadline?
Get ready, 'cause here we go.
Golden State Warriors Get Their Backcourt Help, Lakers Get Upside
The Golden State Warriors have had three big problems throughout the 2013-14 season—injuries, a lack of depth across the board and trouble winning close games.
Trading MarShon Brooks and Kent Bazemore to the Los Angeles Lakers for Steve Blake, as reported by Los Angeles Times' Mike Bresnahan, should help with the second problem, which could in turn help shore up the third.
"We think this just bolsters the bench and gives us some more options, some more weapons and a player when you give him the ball you know you can trust him," Warriors general manager Bob Myers told the Associated Press via NBA.com. "We just think it was a chance to improve our roster and that was our justification."
I broke down what the Lakers can expect from Brooks here, and upside is the name of the game. Both he and Bazemore are young players who could break out in the Mike D'Antoni system, but the real important movement lies in the Dubs' camp.
Blake, although elbow injuries have limited him to just 27 games thus far, has been experiencing a bit of a renaissance season. He's averaged 9.5 points, 3.8 rebounds and 7.6 assists per contest, and his lack of shooting efficiency from the field is made up for by his potency from downtown and his cerebral distributing abilities.
He'll be an asset off the pine in Golden State, who found the backcourt help it needed to ensure that it doesn't fall entirely out of the playoff picture and instead starts working back up the standings.
Kobe Bryant was not happy about this trade, voicing his opinion on Twitter as follows: "Not cool with @SteveBlake5 being gone AT ALL One of my closest teammates and psycho competitor GS picked up gem #smartmove."
The Mamba has spoken, and that's more telling than anything else about the success Blake could find with the Dubs.
Brooklyn Nets Gearing Up for Playoff Run
The Brooklyn Nets have been steadily climbing up the ranks of the Eastern Conference thanks to a hot start to 2014, and acquiring Marcus Thornton only helps them out.
As reported by NBA.com's David Aldridge, Brooklyn had to give up Jason Terry and Reggie Evans in order to acquire the high-scoring shooting guard. Hardly big losses, as neither veteran factored into Jason Kidd's rotation on a regular basis.
Terry's impact will be completely subsumed by Thornton, and while the loss of Evans' rebounding talent will hurt, it only affords Mason Plumlee and Andrei Kirilenko more playing time.
This move probably doesn't raise Brooklyn's playoff ceiling, as Thornton isn't impactful enough to move Brooklyn into the same realm as the Miami Heat and the Indiana Pacers. But he should make it even easier for the Nets to rise up past the Toronto Raptors in the East standings, giving them the No. 3 seed.
To be fair, this massive collection of highly paid players was already tracking toward that spot, but the addition of a potent scorer off the bench only aids the cause.
As for the Sacramento Kings, who acquired Terry and Evans, the purpose of the deal is a bit more hidden. Not only does it free up financial room for the ensuing offseason, but it opens up more opportunity for Ben McLemore and Ray McCallum to prove themselves during their rookie seasons.
Brooklyn is playing for now, and Sacramento is playing for later.
It was only natural that they pair up prior to the deadline.
Charlotte Bobcats Might Be Able to Score Now
The Charlotte Bobcats needed help scoring. Desperately.
According to Basketball-Reference, the Eastern Conference playoff hopefuls sit at No. 25 in the offensive rating leaderboard, despite boasting the services of an en fuego Al Jefferson. The big problem is the lack of shooting from the perimeter, as Charlotte ranks No. 27 in three-pointers made and No. 28 in triples attempted during the 2013-14 campaign.
Enter Luke Ridnour and Gary Neal.
The Charlotte Observer's Rick Bonnell broke the news on Twitter, which had the pair of guards coming to Charlotte while Jeff Adrien and Ramon Sessions would head to the Milwaukee Bucks.
Losing Sessions hurts, particularly because he's been such a fantastic presence in the locker room, but the addition of some shooting makes up for the negative impact. Ridnour was shooting 36.8 percent from downtown, and Neal's three-point percentage of 36.0 doesn't give him enough credit.
Not only has he shot better in the past, but he can create his own looks off the bounce, which gives the 'Cats yet another new offensive element.
"The Bobcats are currently in the No. 8 slot in the Eastern Conference, 2.5 games ahead of the ninth-place Detroit Pistons," writes B/R's Andy Bailey. "Adding the steady hand of Ridnour and the outside shooting of Neal should help them secure that position."
On the flip side, the Bucks' rationale here is almost solely financial, according to ESPN's Marc Stein:
The Bobcats (who at 25-30 are in eighth place in the Eastern Conference) have been chasing the disgruntled Neal for some time, but Milwaukee balked at a pure Neal-for-Sessions swap because Sessions is making $5 million this season, compared to Neal's $3.25 million. Adding Ridnour to the trade puts the financial onus back on Charlotte.
Oh, and they get even worse. As if Milwaukee needed any help earning top lottery odds in the stacked 2014 draft.
Cleveland Cavaliers Refuse to Give Up on the Playoffs
The Philadelphia 76ers were going to make a move. We all knew that, as Spencer Hawes, Evan Turner and Thaddeus Young have each spent more than their fair share of time in the trade rumors during the 2013-14 campaign.
Turns out, Hawes was the member of the on-the-block trio who got dealt first, although he wasn't the only one.
According to Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski, he was sent to the Cleveland Cavaliers for two second-round picks, which only make a bit of a dent in the stash that Chris Grant accumulated before he was fired. ESPN's Brian Windhorst fills in the details, revealing that those picks are their own selection and the Memphis Grizzlies' pick in the second round of the 2014 draft.
It's an interesting move for the Cavs, who are clearly still trying to make a push toward the playoffs.
On one hand, they're overpaying for the services of a solid starting center who will compete with a crowded frontcourt for playing time. Any minutes he receives—assuming Anderson Varejao gets healthy soon, as expected—will come at the expense of the development of Anthony Bennett and Tyler Zeller.
It would be fine if he were under contract for a few seasons, but Hawes could walk away at the end of the year. He's an unrestricted free agent, and he's likely to carry a hefty price tag as a 25-year-old center with three-point range. Cleveland could be giving up two picks for a half-season rental, and don't make the mistake of thinking second-round picks don't have value.
But on the other hand, Cleveland is determined to make the playoffs, and this will only help. Hawes was having a fine year with the Sixers, and he comes to a hot Cavs squad that acquired him while in the middle of a six-game win streak.
It all depends on your perspective.
If you're tired of rebuilding and futility, then earning a low seed and early playoff exit is worth the expense. But if you're more interested in the long-term future, it's tough to see Cleveland giving up assets so freely. After all, the Cavs have now relinquished a handful of picks for Luol Deng and Hawes, both of whom could walk away this summer.
Washington Wizards Get Better Now and Later
The Philadelphia 76ers picked up two second-round draft picks in the Hawes trade, and they added another pair by agreeing to take on Eric Maynor's salary. They'll have to pay him just over $2 million next year, assuming he picks up a player option, but then his contract expires, so it's no big deal.
As for the picks, there's one coming from the Denver Nuggets (in 2016) and another from the Washington Wizards (2015), per NBA.com's David Aldridge. According to Adrian Wojnarowski, Jan Vesely will also be going to Denver while Andre Miller is headed to the nation's capital.
It's hard to come up with Denver's reasoning here, as paying Vesely for poor play and a slight chance at a breakout doesn't seem that much better than paying Miller to sit out, especially when it costs a second-round pick to make the swap.
But it's easy to explain Washington's side of the bargain.
Miller helps the team both now and in the future, even though he's 37 years old and only under contract through the end of the 2014-15 season. As B/R's Stephen Babb breaks down in detail, he'll be able to serve as a mentor to John Wall for the next two years, helping the burgeoning superstar develop into one of the league's very best floor generals.
Even right now, though, he's an upgrade over Maynor, which only helps strengthen the Wizards' bench and playoff dreams.
"All along, the Wizards believed they were just a minor tweak in the roster away from getting over the hump to not just be a playoff team but a solid one with a chance to advance out of the first round," writes CSN Washington's J. Michael. "Thursday, they scored a veteran backup point guard in Andre Miller in a three-team trade with the Denver Nuggets and Philadelphia 76ers to move closer to that goal, CSN Washington has confirmed."
Michael also mentions the hidden benefit of a two-for-one player trade, which opens up a roster spot. Depending on what need arises, Washington can now offer a 10-day contract to a veteran or D-League call-up later in the season.
Indiana Pacers Get Even Better
According to Wojnarowski, the Indiana Pacers and Philadelphia 76ers combined to make one of the biggest deals of the deadline, swapping Evan Turner and Lavoy Allen for Danny Granger. And to sweeten the deal, the Sixers picked up another second-round pick, per Grantland's Zach Lowe.
Philadelphia's interest in Granger does not revolve around his skills on the court. That much is certain.
He's simply an expiring contract, one who will open up even more cap space next summer than Turner and Allen could've, especially because the two former Sixers both might have drawn qualifying offers. But beyond that, there's a chance that Philadelphia could choose to buy out Granger's contract, as B/R's Ethan Skolnick suggests.
For Indiana, Turner is an immediate upgrade over Granger, as he's more comfortable handling the ball and distributing it around amongst the other scorers. Given his newfound attacking mentality, he could emerge as a solid sixth man, and his lack of elite defensive skills will be hidden by the rest of the standouts on the Pacers roster.
The ability to function as a true shooting guard also helps, as does his future.
Granger was highly unlikely to re-sign with the Pacers, as Lance Stephenson is the No. 1 priority and the team has shown no indication that its stance on the luxury tax has changed. But if Stephenson gets away—which he could if he continues playing at a near-All-Star level—then Turner is now a backup plan
Not only are the Pacers getting marginally better, but they're ensuring their future success.
Hard to complain about that.
Denver and Houston Strike a Mutually Beneficial Deal
According to Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski, the Denver Nuggets sent Jordan Hamilton to the Houston Rockets for Aaron Brooks in the rare mutually beneficial trade that only involves two players.
As Wojnarowski subsequently tweeted, "Rockets get the athletic wing player that they've wanted for the postseason, and Denver gets a capable backup for Ty Lawson."
He's not just making this up, even if you're initially confused by why the Rockets would want to make a trade that actually decreases their ability to space the court with perimeter shooting. A week prior to the trade deadline, Jonathan Feigen wrote the following for the Houston Chronicle:
Morey would not discuss goals for the trade deadline, but several other individuals with knowledge of the team's thinking said the Rockets already sought to land a backup wing who is strong defensively and can catch-and-shoot, rather than a power forward (considered a priority before the season) or a perimeter player who creates off the dribble.
Hamilton may not be a glamorous player, but he's an improving wing who can make contributions on both ends.
As B/R's Dan Favale wrote, "Hamilton should fit seamlessly into Houston's fast-paced system as an athletic wing who can run end-to-end with ease, which is apparently something Morey and the Rockets were prowling for."
Plus, Brooks, while the superior player involved in the trade, has only been playing 16.7 minutes per game for the Rockets, so it's not like he's a big loss. When Patrick Beverley and Jeremy Lin are both healthy, he hardly plays, and Isaiah Canaan can always pick up the slack.
The reasoning requires a lot less explanation for the Nuggets—they needed a point guard.
This could be the move that helps Denver make a push up the Western Conference standings, simply because there was such a dearth of floor generals in the Mile High City. With Andre Miller in the doghouse and Nate Robinson out for the season, the Nuggets were entirely dependent on Ty Lawson.
When he was injured—as he's been for quite a few games sandwiching the All-Star break—the Nuggets had to use Randy Foye and Evan Fournier as makeshift point guards, but now they have a more legitimate option.
Miami Heat Open Up a Roster Spot
As ESPN's Brian Windhorst and Marc Stein reported, "The Miami Heat opened a roster spot Thursday by trading backup guard Roger Mason Jr. and cash to the Sacramento Kings for a highly protected second-round draft pick."
"The Kings are expected to waive Mason," writes Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel, "With the Heat including enough cash in the deal to offset Mason's remaining 2013-14 salary, which was at the NBA minimum."
Presumably, they'll be including even more than that, as there had to be some incentive for the Kings to agree to the deal.
Of course, it's unlikely the Heat ever get their hands on the second-round pick, barring a miracle turnaround from the Kings in the very near future, but that's never what this was about.
The roster spot is all that matters.
"If Dwyane's healthy or not," Erik Spoelstra told Winderman, "We feel comfortable right now keeping the rotation that way it is. But we also feel we can be versatile with it, if need be."
Maybe they'll call up James Ennis, whose rights are still retained now that he's finishing up his contract in Australia. Maybe they'll add a veteran, similar to the acquisition of Chris Andersen that sparked last year's run.
The Heat now have options, and the flexibility was gained at the expense of a player who rarely found himself on the court. Mason was playing just 10.4 minutes per game, after all.
Atlanta Hawks Acquire Antawn Jamison
As reported by CBS Sports' Ken Berger, the Atlanta Hawks and Los Angeles Clippers snuck a deal in right before the deadline. Hardly a blockbuster, it involved Antawn Jamison switching teams, which means that he'll put on the seventh different jersey of his career.
Assuming he ever gets on the roster. Wojnarowski reveals that the Hawks and Jamison are already discussing a buyout.
This season has been a rough one for Jamison.
He's suited up in only 22 games, playing 11.3 minutes per contest. And when he's been on the court, he's been highly ineffective.
Defense has never exactly been Jamison's forte, and that's not changing as he gets older. But his shot has deserted him, as he's hitting only 31.5 percent of his shots from the field and 19.5 percent beyond the arc.
Atlanta will hope that he rebounds, both literally and metaphorically, but he's really useful just as a big body. And that's assuming he doesn't get bought out. The Hawks have suffered enough injuries to the frontcourt that absorbing his minuscule salary wasn't particularly problematic.
As for the Clippers, it's mostly about tax relief. "Sending Jamison into Hawks' cap space saves Clippers $1.4M on their tax bill," writes Berger.
Additionally, it opens up another roster spot, much like the Washington Wizards and Miami Heat also did at the deadline. Perhaps they'll be able to add a more able body to the frontcourt if one becomes available.
ESPN's Arash Markazi also reveals that the Pacers are gaining the rights to Cenk Akyol, a 26-year-old Turkish small forward who has yet to make his NBA debut after he was drafted with the penultimate pick of the 2005 selection process.
This doesn't really change the fortunes of either team, though. In the grand scheme of the rumor pool, this is barely a ripple.
Byron Mullens on the Move
As B/R's D.J. Foster tweeted, "Is Philadelphia just going to put Byron Mullens in Spencer Hawes' uniform and hope no one notices?"
That's really the only explanation here.
Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times originally reported this trade, which involves the Los Angeles Clippers clearing out more of their useless bodies in the frontcourt by sending him to the Philadelphia 76ers for a second-round draft pick.
We've seen mutually beneficial trades, but this is the exact opposite.
The Sixers have absolutely no use for Mullens, unless they want a less-effective Hawes clone. And he's not even an expiring contract. I understand that having roughly 6,718 second-round picks is fun, but dealing for a very limited big man isn't the way to use one of them.
Even though the Clippers are giving them one, per ESPN's Arash Markazi, it's probably going to be worth less that most second-round selections, and it's protected
On the flip side, LAC is trying to clear up cap space and minimize the impact of the luxury tax, just as it was doing with the Jamison deal. But that's getting problematic.
After moving Jamison, Los Angeles was down to just four big men—Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, Ryan Hollins and Mullens.
Now they're down to just three, though the combination of frontcourt trades means that they'll almost certainly be adding a veteran or D-League standout via a newly freed-up roster spot.
Another San Antonio Spurs Reclamation Project?
Don't ever sleep on a move the San Antonio Spurs make.
When Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski broke the news that general manager R.C. Buford had traded Nando De Colo to the Toronto Raptors for Austin Daye, the potential of the Gonzaga product just skyrocketed.
How many reclamation projects have the Spurs successfully completed? It's what makes the dynasty continue year after year, as Buford acquires players who work in the system and Gregg Popovich makes them thrive.
Daye has never found much success in the NBA, but he's still only 25 years old, and he has great physical tools. If anyone can teach him how to maximize them while learning how to take the right shots, it's the Spurs.
B/R's Andy Bailey agrees, writing, "Even if we don't see it right away, you can be certain that being a part of the Spurs organization on an everyday basis will have a positive impact on this once-promising player."
As for the Raptors, this was about ridding the team of a distraction and gaining an expiring contract.
"Lateral move. De Colo will be a UFA, Daye was in Casey's dog house, hadn't played more than 3 mins since Dec 10, coincidently vs Spurs," tweeted Josh Lewenberg, a beat writer for the Raptors.
Don't think for one second that this was a bad move for either team. Never doubt the Spurs, and never question the trades made by Masai Ujiri, the Toronto general manager.
San Antonio got a player with moderately high upside who could be the latest reclamation project, and the Raptors gained another expiring contract while freeing themselves from a player who was in Dwane Casey's doghouse.
Another win-win move.