NBA Trade Deadline 2017: Grading 2016's Deadline Deals, 1 Year Later

Josh Martin@@JoshMartinNBANBA Lead WriterFebruary 20, 2017

NBA Trade Deadline 2017: Grading 2016's Deadline Deals, 1 Year Later

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    Joe Murphy/Getty Images

    It's tough to tell whether the 2017 NBA trade deadline will feature a flurry of activity or cause most of us to fall asleep.

    Sure, some notable names (Carmelo Anthony, Paul Millsap, Jahlil Okafor, Nerlens Noel, etc.) have been tossed around, but with the Golden State Warriors running away from the pack, will any team be willing to shell out significant assets for a player who won't put it over the top?

    The new collective bargaining agreement could have a similar effect either way.

    On one hand, some guys will be more valuable than ever if they're on contracts that significantly predate the upcoming deal. On the other, those role players who signed massive deals during last summer's cap boom could be impossible to move. Some general managers might shy away from the trade market entirely until they have a complete handle on the details of the new CBA.

    What we can do with considerable confidence is look back at how last year's deadline deals turned out. Those have affected the NBA landscape all season long and could lay the tracks for whatever's about to unfold.

    Here, then, are grades for the nine trades that happened—excluding the two involving the Houston Rockets (Donatas Motiejunas, Joel Anthony) that didn't go through—during the few furious days leading into Feb. 18, 2016.

Detroit Pistons Swipe Tobias Harris from Orlando Magic

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    Chris Schwegler/Getty Images

    Detroit Pistons Get: Tobias Harris

    Rather than roll the dice in free agency, the Pistons got their summer work done last winter when they traded a recovering backup point guard (Brandon Jennings) and a solid shooting forward with one year left on his deal (Ersan Ilyasova) for Tobias Harris. He arrived in the Motor City having recently signed a four-year contract.

    The then-23-year-old Harris went on to average 16.6 points and 6.2 rebounds while hitting 37.5 percent of his threes during his first half-season with the Pistons. Though he leads Detroit in scoring so far through 2016-17 (16.3 points per game), he's struggled to hang onto his starting role ahead of Jon Leuer, who signed with the Pistons because of...Tobias Harris.

    "He and Tobias had a good relationship from Milwaukee, and Tobias really sold him on the whole thing," head coach Stan Van Gundy told Pistons.com's Keith Langlois. "I don't think we would've gotten Jon—or at least it would've been a lot harder—if not for Tobias."

    The switch has worked out for everyone involved, including Harris, who's scored more and shot better in fewer minutes per game off the bench.

     MinutesPointsFG%3P%Rebounds
    Starter33.215.946.9%33.6%4.9
    Reserve28.516.952.3%34.3%5.5

    Grade: B+

    Orlando Magic Get: Brandon Jennings, Ersan Ilyasova 

    Neither Jennings nor Ilyasova still play for Orlando. The former fled Central Florida for a one-year pact with the New York Knicks this offseason. The latter helped the Magic make the money work in the swap that brought Serge Ibaka to Orlando and sent Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis' draft rights to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

    The Magic have since moved Ibaka to the Toronto Raptors for Terrence Ross and a first-round pick that figures to land in the 20s this June. As for the scratch saved by sending out Harris' contract, general manager Rob Hennigan combined it with the rest of the team's cap space to sign Jeff Green, Bismack Biyombo and D.J. Augustin—none of whom has yet posted a PER even close to league average.

    It's no wonder the Magic are well on their way to a fifth straight lottery trip and that Hennigan is feeling the heat.

    "First and foremost, the criticism is warranted," he told the Orlando Sentinel's Mike Bianchi. "I don't know if it's welcome because no one likes to get criticized, but the job we have and the job we're trying to do is certainly subject to that. Our fans, quite frankly, deserve to be upset and deserve to be frustrated. … I think the proverbial hot seat comes with the territory."

    Grade: F

Charlotte Hornets Snag Courtney Lee in Three-Team Deal

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    Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images

    Charlotte Hornets Get: Courtney Lee (from Memphis Grizzlies)

    Courtney Lee did yeoman's work once he arrived in Charlotte. He shot 39.2 percent from three during the regular season, then caught fire for 44.4 percent beyond the arc in the playoffs, including the winning triple during Game 5 against the Miami Heat.

    Lee's hot hand, though, wasn't enough to push the Hornets past the Heat in their seven-game series. He subsequently left the Queen City for a sweet deal (four years, $48 million) with the New York Knicks.

    Charlotte, meanwhile, was left with little to show for the player (P.J. Hairston) and two second-round picks it sent to Memphis. Despite Lee's departure, the Hornets have improved their three-point shooting, though their standing in the East (24-32, 11th place) has suffered considerably.

    Grade: B

    Memphis Grizzlies Get: P.J. Hairston (from Hornets), Chris Andersen (from Miami Heat), four second-round picks (two from Memphis, two from Miami)

    The Grizzlies could've used Lee to support their M.A.S.H. unit during a first-round sweep at the hands of the San Antonio Spurs last spring. That aside, Memphis did well to haul in four second-rounders for an impending free agent.

    Time will tell if Memphis makes much of those selections. One of the picks (2017 from Miami) won't convey until 2018 if it lands between Nos. 31 and 40 this year. Another (2019 from Boston) won't arrive at all if it falls in the top 55 two years from now.

    Grade: B+

    Miami Heat Get: Brian Roberts (from Hornets)

    The Heat's involvement here was purely about shedding salary. By sending out Andersen and trading Roberts two days later, they shaved about $6 million off their luxury-tax bill for the price of a couple of second-rounders that weren't their own.

    Grade: B 

New Orleans Pelicans Pluck Jarnell Stokes from Miami Heat

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    Garrett Ellwood/Getty Images

    New Orleans Pelicans Get: Jarnell Stokes and cash considerations

    The Pelicans waived Stokes before he ever played a single minute for them. The prize for New Orleans was the $700,000 Miami sent over. (The pick the Pelicans sent is so heavily protected that it's not likely to leave the Crescent City, per the South Florida Sun Sentinel's Ira Winderman.)

    Stokes didn't make it back up to the NBA in 2015-16 and made just two appearances with the Denver Nuggets this past November.

    Grade: B

    Miami Heat Get: a 2018 second-round pick

    Another deal, another slice off the Heat's luxury-tax bill. Miami won't miss the 700 large it sent to New Orleans, not after realizing a $2 million savings on its own end, per ESPN's Marc Stein.

    As for Stokes' roster spot, Pat Riley filled it with Joe Johnson, who averaged 13.4 points per game for the Heat during the regular season and another 12.1 points in the playoffs.

    Grade: A-

Miami Heat Ship Brian Roberts to Portland

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    Sam Forencich/Getty Images

    Portland Trail Blazers Get: Brian Roberts, a 2021 second-round pick

    The Blazers didn't have to give up any actual basketball assets to bring in a decent backup point guard (Roberts) and a second-rounder that won't convey for another four years.

    Roberts averaged 2.6 points and 1.2 assists during the regular season in Portland and played all of 36 minutes in the postseason before signing with Charlotte in free agency.

    Grade: B+

    Miami Heat Get: cash considerations

    This was the deal that finally got Miami fully under the luxury-tax line—which must've made team owner Micky Arison happy. Pat Riley, on the other hand, had to empty his cache of second-rounders through 2021 to make his boss happy.

    Grade: C+

Cleveland Cavaliers Pry Channing Frye from Three-Team Trade

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    Jordan Johnson/Getty Images

    Cleveland Cavaliers Get: Channing Frye (from Orlando Magic), a future second-round pick (from Portland Trail Blazers)

    Channing Frye was key to Cleveland's historic title run.

    He only played sparingly against the Detroit Pistons in the first round and the Golden State Warriors during the 2016 Finals, but he torched the Atlanta Hawks and Toronto Raptors in between. Across the Eastern Conference Semifinals and Finals, Frye finished 63.5 percent of his shots and 58.1 percent of his threes en route to 10.9 points per game.

    The Arizona product is even more important for the Cavs now than he was last spring. With Kevin Love down on account of knee surgery, Cleveland needs Frye to fill the gap at power forward. He poured in 21 points during his first start—an eight-point win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Valentine's Day—before cooling off to four points on 1-of-8 shooting (0-of-6 from three) against the Indiana Pacers the next night.

    As much as Frye has helped, that 2017 first-rounder the Cavaliers sent out in the deal could inhibit their ability to bring in more support for a thinning roster prior to the trade deadline.

    Grade: A- 

    Portland Trail Blazers Get: Anderson Varejao, a 2018 first-round pick (both from Cavaliers)

    The Blazers waived Varejao upon arrival, allowing him to latch on with the Golden State Warriors. The first-round pick from the Cavs could come in handy next June, though it will stay in Cleveland if it falls inside the top 10 in 2018 and 2019.

    Still, that's a pretty good return for a second-round pick and some salary absorption.

    Grade: A-

    Orlando Magic Get: Jared Cunningham (from Cavaliers), a future second-round pick (from Trail Blazers)

    Jared Cunningham never suited up for the Magic, who shed about $15 million in salary by sending Frye to Cleveland.

    Grade: C+

Atlanta Hawks, Chicago Bulls, Utah Jazz Shuffle Guards

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    Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

    Atlanta Hawks Get: Kirk Hinrich (from Chicago Bulls)

    Hinrich hardly played for the Hawks and didn't do much when he did. He totaled 10 points on 22.2 percent shooting with 17 assists through 103 minutes across 17 appearances between the regular season and playoffs.

    Not a great return for Atlanta under any circumstances, let alone after giving up two rotation players (Justin Holiday, Shelvin Mack) in exchange. 

    Grade: D

    Chicago Bulls Get: Justin Holiday (from Hawks), a 2018 second-round pick (from Utah Jazz)

    Holiday played the best ball of his career (to that point) upon arriving in the Windy City.

    The numbers he put up in 27 games (6.5 points on 41.3 percent shooting, 43.3 percent from three, 2.3 rebounds, 1.7 assists in 18.9 minutes) would've all qualified as career highs over the course of a complete campaign. That uptick made Holiday a valuable part of the package Chicago shipped outalong with Derrick Rose and a second-rounderto bring in Robin Lopez, Jerian Grant and Jose Calderon this past summer.

    But the Bulls fell short of the postseason in 2016, despite Holiday's efforts—and, perhaps, due in part to what it cost Chicago to acquire Holiday in the first place.

    Grade: B+

    Utah Jazz Get: Shelvin Mack (from Hawks)

    Mack was plenty productive upon joining the Jazz. He averaged 12.7 points and 5.3 assists, shooting a respectable 35.7 percent from three while logging 27 starts in 28 games at point guard. However, he did have some trouble taking care of the ball (2.9 turnovers per game), and the Jazz just missed out on the West's final playoff spot.

    This season, Mack has done a solid job backing up (and sometimes starting in place of) the oft-injured George Hill, posting 7.3 points and 2.8 assists in 21.4 minutes.

    Grade: B

Washington Wizards Whisk Markieff Morris Away from Phoenix Suns

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    Washington Wizards Get: Markieff Morris

    Morris' midseason arrival wasn't enough to will the Wizards into the playoffs. They fell three games shy while he poured in 12.4 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.4 assists.

    This season, the former Phoenix Suns forward seems to have found himself, thanks in part to a pep talk from Scott Brooks. As Washington's head coach recounted to ESPN's Zach Lowe:

    I met with him early in the season like a month in, I said, 'You've got something that a lot of guys don't have.' And he says, 'What?' I said, 'You can post up and take smaller guys at the block, but you also have the ability to take, to shoot threes.' But, I said, 'You don't want to take 'em for some reason. You'd rather take 17-footers, one-dribble pull-ups.'

    I said, 'That game is becoming dinosaurs, and if you're gonna do that, it's gonna be hard for you to fulfill this career that you can potentially have.' And I tell you what, he has really challenged himself and I want him to shoot as many threes as he can shoot. I think he should shoot five a game, but don't take away his low post when he has a good matchup.

    So far, Morris has improved in both regards, becoming slightly more efficient in the low post (0.88 points per possession in 2016-17 versus 0.84 in 2015-16, per NBA.com) and far sharper from three than ever before (36.7 percent this season versus 32.3 percent through his first five campaigns).

    That versatility has made him a key cog in one of the league's best starting lineups. And with two more years on his deal, Morris figures to be a part of Washington's success well into the future.

    Grade: A

    Phoenix Suns Get: DeJuan Blair, Kris Humphries, a 2016 first-round pick (top-nine protected)

    Humphries played four games for the Suns before they cut him loose. Blair never did.

    The pick, though, came in handy for Phoenix on draft day. The team used the slot (No. 13 overall) to draft Georgios Papagiannis, whose rights they traded to the Sacramento Kings—along with those of Skal Labissiere, Bogdan Bogdanovic and a 2020 second-rounder from the Detroit Pistons—in exchange for Marquese Chriss.

    The 19-year-old Washington product is a long way from a bona fide breakout (7.6 points, 3.5 rebounds, 41.9 percent shooting). But his combination of size, athleticism and inside-out skills means Chriss may well hang onto the Suns' starting power forward gig for years to come. 

    Grade: B+

Los Angeles Clippers Fall for Jeff Green

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    Sam Forencich/Getty Images

    Los Angeles Clippers Get: Jeff Green

    The Clippers should've known better than to envision Jeff Green as the solution to their problems, let alone cede a first-round pick for him.

    Doc Rivers had seen Green's talent and maddening inconsistency up close when the two were with the Boston Celtics between 2011 and 2013. They had also witnessed the Memphis Grizzlies give up a first-rounder for him the year prior, before tiring of his up-and-down play.

    None of that was enough to stop Rivers from pulling the trigger. Green gave L.A. another option at power forward while Blake Griffin was down, averaging 10.3 points and shooting 38.5 percent from three during a stretch of 10 starts in 11 games between late February and mid-March. The Georgetown product also filled in for Griffin after he succumbed to injury during the playoffs, with 15.0 points and 5.3 rebounds over the Clippers' last three games against the Portland Trail Blazers.

    But the team opted to not retain Green, who signed a one-year deal with the Orlando Magic. Thus, L.A. was left with nothing to show for the pick it sent out, creating a deficit of assets that could have been used for more weapons in the West's ever-escalating arms race this season.

    Grade: C

    Memphis Grizzlies Get: Lance Stephenson, a 2019 first-round pick

    The Grizzlies made up some of the losses from their deal for Green in January 2015.

    Stephenson found ample opportunity to reignite his game amid the injury mayhem in Memphis. The Brooklyn native averaged 14.2 points on 47.4 percent shooting (35.5 percent from three) over 26 regular-season contests, including three games with 20 or more.

    He closed the Grizzlies' playoff sweep at the hands of the San Antonio Spurs with 26 points in Game 4 before hitting free agency this past summer.

    Shortly before Stephenson split for New Orleans, the Grizzlies used the Clippers' 2019 pick to acquire the draft rights to Deyonta Davis and Rade Zagorac. Davis, 20, has chipped in 1.9 points and 2.0 rebounds in 7.3 minutes per game across 25 appearances. Zagorac, 21, remains in Serbia, where he's poured in 13.9 points, 6.4 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.4 steals in 29.7 minutes per game for Mega Leks.

    Grade: B

Oklahoma City Thunder Grab Randy Foye from Denver Nuggets

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Oklahoma City Thunder Get: Randy Foye

    Numbers-wise, Foye was a flop in OKC. He shot 34.9 percent from the field and 30.9 percent from three in 27 regular-season games and slightly worse (34.1 percent overall, 30.8 percent from deep) during the Thunder's run to the brink of the 2016 Finals.

    But Foye's presence helped extend Billy Donovan's rotation after D.J. Augustinwho went to Denver in the swapfell out of it. 

    Grade: C+

    Denver Nuggets Get: D.J. Augustin, Steve Novak, two second-round picks, cash considerations

    The Nuggets waived Novak the day after the deal was confirmed. Augustin, on the other hand, acquitted himself well in the Mile High City.

    He scored more and shot considerably better in Denver (11.6 points on 44.5 percent shooting, 41.1 percent from three) than he did with the Thunder (4.2 points on 38 percent from the field, 39.3 percent from three) in 2015-16.

    The Nuggets spent one of the second-rounders they received on French forward Petr Cornelie, who's still overseas, and dealt Daniel Hamilton, their addition with the other pick, back to OKC.

    Grade: B-

    All stats and salary information via NBA.com and Basketball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.

    Josh Martin covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him on TwitterInstagram and Facebook, and listen to his Hollywood Hoops podcast with B/R Lakers lead writer Eric Pincus.

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