Biggest Regrets from the 2022 NBA Trade Deadline

Greg Swartz@@GregSwartzBRCleveland Cavaliers Lead WriterMarch 28, 2022

Biggest Regrets from the 2022 NBA Trade Deadline

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    Matt Slocum/Associated Press

    Now six-plus weeks removed from the 2022 NBA trade deadline, we're getting a good idea of what moves proved to be successes and which ones teams wish they could get back.

    There could also be some substantial regret from teams that did little to nothing at the deadline and were instead relying on a juicy buyout market that simply never materialized.

    While those running the front office may never publicly admit regrets they have from the deadline, these are the biggest mistakes that are probably burning deep inside.

Houston Rockets Keeping Eric Gordon

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    David J. Phillip/Associated Press

    The Rockets have begun to distance themselves as the worst team in the NBA, which is actually good for their long-term success. They missed out on a chance to improve their draft pick collection at the trade deadline, however, by choosing to keep 33-year-old Eric Gordon.

    While Houston can still trade Gordon this offseason (he's owed $19.6 million next year with a non-guaranteed salary of $20.9 million for 2023-24), it's hard to imagine his value will be higher than it was pre-trade deadline.

    In his first 45 games leading up to the deadline, Gordon was averaging 14.2 points and 3.0 assists and hitting 42.7 percent of his threes, his highest mark since the 2014-15 season. If there was ever a time to move him to a contender that needed an elite outside shooter who can also drive and defend, this was it.

    Now in 11 games post-trade deadline, Gordon has put up just 11.2 points and 1.5 assists and shot 35.9 percent from three.

    According to Matt Moore of The Action Network, Houston reportedly had two different offers featuring a first-round pick on the table for Gordon, while HoopsHype's Michael Scotto reported the Utah Jazz had interest in Gordon and were dangling the expiring contract of Joe Ingles and a first-round pick in trade offers around the league.

    Going into the offseason, it's hard to envision teams offering more for Gordon, who will turn 34 later this year and has shown a significant drop-off since February 10.

    Keeping Christian Wood (who's also quite a bit older than the rest of Houston's young core at 26) was justifiable, but not trading Gordon, especially if a first-round pick was coming back in return, was a mistake for Houston.

Sacramento Kings Choosing De'Aaron Fox over Tyrese Haliburton as Franchise Guard

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    Associated Press

    No player that was moved at the trade deadline was more surprising than Tyrese Haliburton, the then 21-year-old second-year guard for the Sacramento Kings.

    Despite being one of the few draft picks the Kings have hit on over the past two decades (a steal at 12th overall in 2020), Haliburton still had two-plus years remaining on his rookie deal. He was in no danger of leaving in free agency, loved living in Sacramento and excelled playing both on and off the ball.

    Trading a guard on a roster loaded with them (Haliburton, De'Aaron Fox, Davion Mitchell and Buddy Hield) wasn't a surprise, especially to acquire a premier frontcourt talent like Domantas Sabonis. Of this list, however, Haliburton should have been the lone untouchable.

    "I really, really, really was all in on Sacramento. And I wasn't shy about it. I would tell people, straight up, 'I want to be that next C-Webb for this city.' That was my whole mindset. I wanted to become one of those players who got drafted somewhere and built a legacy—on and off the court. I wanted to become someone the people of Sacramento knew was in their corner," Haliburton wrote in The Player's Tribune.

    For a franchise that hasn't reached the postseason since 2006 (when Haliburton was six) and has struggled to retain talent since, this was a colossal mistake.

    This isn't to take anything away from Sabonis, a 25-year-old two-time All-Star who's become one of the best rebounders and big-man passers in the NBA. Sacramento would have been wise to build a deal around Fox should Indiana have been interested. Giving up draft picks and any other player on the roster would have been respectable as well.

    But Haliburton? No way.

    He has predictably thrived in Indiana, averaging 16.7 points, 4.2 rebounds, 9.4 assists and 1.9 steals while shooting 40.6 percent from three.

    His production was one thing, but his genuine love for the Kings franchise was another.

    From crying in the bathroom after being traded to penning his goodbye letter to Sacramento, Haliburton leaving the Kings so early doesn't feel right.

    Fox may not have possessed the same trade value as Haliburton (although Jordan Schultz reported the New York Knicks, Philadelphia 76ers, Utah Jazz and Pacers were all interested), but Sacramento should have pursued trades for the fifth-year point guard instead if they felt they had to split up the duo.

    As good as Sabonis could be for the Kings moving forward, the franchise will eventually regret trading Haliburton so early into his career.

Portland Trail Blazers Selling Low on Norman Powell and Robert Covington

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    Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

    The Blazers had to do something at the deadline, as a three-guard lineup featuring Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum and Norman Powell was producing a negative net rating (minus-1.3) in 395 minutes together. This simply wasn't a championship-caliber roster.

    Trading McCollum in a deal with the New Orleans Pelicans (that also included Larry Nance Jr. and Tony Snell) netted a decent return of the current projected No. 10 overall pick, Josh Hart, Nickeil Alexander-Walker (who was later traded) and other pieces.

    The first deal involving Powell and Robert Covington, however, was a disaster.

    Portland sent both to the Los Angeles Clippers for Eric Bledsoe (who hasn't played after suffering an Achilles injury), Justise Winslow, rookie Keon Johnson and a 2025 second-round pick via the Detroit Pistons.


    Considering the Blazers had to give up Gary Trent Jr. and two first-round picks in deals to acquire Powell and Covington in the previous 15 months, this was getting pennies on the dollar.

    Powell was in the first season of a five-year, $90 million deal that should only look better with time as the salary cap increases. Getting anything less than a first-round pick (which the San Antonio Spurs even received from the Toronto Raptors for Thaddeus Young) wouldn't have been worth making a deal.

    Even Powell himself was shocked at the trade.

    "But because I signed the long-term deal I had, five years, I bought a house out there. I was like, 'I'm going to be out here for a little bit.' That was the only bad thing about the trade. I just got my furniture into the house, so I didn't really get to enjoy that. I definitely didn't think I was going to be traded," Powell said, per Law Murray of The Athletic.

    Unless Johnson turns into a star (he's averaging 7.1 points on 31.3 percent shooting in 12 games in Portland), this was a huge undersell from a Blazers team that should regret not waiting for better offers to come in.

Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks Doing Nothing

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    Two of the NBA's most spotlighted franchises, the Lakers and Knicks, were surprisingly quiet at the deadline despite clearly needing roster upgrades to make a serious postseason run.

    Even if it were something minor, simply getting an emotional lift by adding additional talent could have made a difference to the spirit of either team. It's no surprise that relying on internal improvements hasn't worked.

    Both the Lakers and Knicks have been worse after the deadline:

    • The Lakers were 26-30 before the deadline (46.4 win percentage) and have gone 5-12 since (29.4 percent).
    • The Knicks were 24-31 before the deadline (43.6 win percentage) and have gone 7-11 since (38.9 percent).

    Lakers Vice President of Basketball Operations Rob Pelinka tried justifying his team staying put, something almost unheard of for a roster featuring LeBron James.

    "We were aggressive in a lot of conversations trying to improve the team—we always want to put this team in the best position to win a championship. But ultimately we didn't find a deal that had a net positive effect for the short-term success of the team and the long term, and those are both things we consider," Pelinka said, per Mike Trudell of

    As Bleacher Report's Jake Fischer wrote, Pelinka could have been part of the problem.

    "Several rival front offices have indicated Pelinka has lacked when it comes to working with opposing teams. 'He wasn't returning some teams' calls at [this year's] deadline,' one general manager told B/R."

    Now, the Lakers have fallen all the way to 10th in the West, barely clinging on to the conference's final play-in spot.

    The Knicks are in even worse shape, sitting at 11th overall and nearly guaranteed to miss the postseason altogether with a five-game gap separating them from the 10th-place Atlanta Hawks.

    With the buyout market producing little talent this year, the Lakers and Knicks should regret standing pat at the deadline.

Brooklyn Nets Not Getting a Third Team for James Harden-Ben Simmons Trade

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    Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images

    The Nets were essentially forced to trade James Harden to the Philadelphia 76ers before the deadline, granting the superstar shooting guard his wish before potentially hitting free agency this offseason.

    Getting Ben Simmons as the headline in a return for a team that needs to maximize the remaining years of Kevin Durant's prime, however, now looks like a mistake.

    Simmons has yet to play for the Nets and recently received an epidural to help fix a herniated disk in his back. While Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium says his goal is to play, there's uncertainty about whether he'll be able to this season.

    With Durant putting up his highest scoring output (29.7 points per game) since his 2013-14 MVP season and Kyrie Irving now cleared to play in home games for the Nets, Brooklyn should have championship aspirations this season.

    This puts a lot of pressure on Simmons to return and play at a high level, something we haven't seen since his first-round series against the Washington Wizards roughly 10 months ago.

    While the Nets shouldn't regret trading Harden, they should have pushed for a three-team deal instead.

    Sending Simmons to a rebuilding team or one that could be more patient with his recovery would have been best for all parties involved, especially if the Nets could have gotten a player like Tyrese Haliburton from the Sacramento Kings or CJ McCollum/Norman Powell from the Portland Trail Blazers.

    The Nets don't need a third All-Star with a healthy Durant and Irving to win a title, but rather just some high-level role players who can hit open shots and defend.

    If Simmons can't play this season or continues to be limited by a back injury and Brooklyn gets bounced early in the postseason, the Nets are really going to regret not expanding their blockbuster into a three-team deal.