With this year's NBA trade deadline having passed as of 3pm on Thursday, February 23rd, 2017, NBA teams are no longer permitted to participate in the "wheeling and dealing"(credit to Walt "Clyde" Frazier) of players. The biggest splash actually occurred three days prior to the final date that trades were allowed when the Sacramento Kings traded their extremely talented yet equally troubled center, DeMarcus Cousins to the New Orleans Pelicans.
Yet, while Cousins was easily the most high profile player to switch uniforms, he was far from the only player to swap jerseys. On the contrary, a number of deals were completed in the final weeks teams were allowed to execute trades. Some teams, as well as players, came out on top; on the other hand, others, not so much. Here, we take a look at eight winners and seven losers of the 2017 NBA trade deadline.
15 15. WINNER: DeMarcus Cousins
A constant topic of trade chatter for the past three seasons, DeMarcus Cousins is about as polarizing a player in the NBA as there is (all due respect to Draymond Green and LeBron James). Cousins is arguably the game's most talented big man, but his poor attitude often overshadows his productivity on the NBA hardwood. On one side of the fence, you have a double-double machine currently averaging 27.6 PPG and 10.6 RPG. On the other side of the fence, you have a player whose quarreled with coach after coach and leads the NBA with seventeen technical fouls. Had Cousins stayed with Sacto he would've continued to have been the subject of trade rumors. Now, in New Orleans, Cousins gets a fresh start in the "Big Easy" and gets to rid himself of the bad cloud over his head that constantly followed him as a member of the Kings.
14 14. LOSER: Minnesota Timberwolves
Falling to the fifth pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, many thought the Minnesota Timberwolves had gotten a steal when they selected former Providence Guard Kris Dunn. Dunn hasn't had a worthwhile first season in the NBA as he's struggled to find playing time behind the likes of Zach LaVine and Ricky Rubio in the backcourt. LaVine, now out for the season with a torn ACL played the roll of the PG who could score, while Rubio played the role of the PG who could dish the ball. The Wolves were rumored to be looking to trade Rubio so Dunn could take over the bulk of the minutes in reference to running the offense. However, Rubio still finds himself a Timberwolf after the passing of Thursday's deadline and the Wolves did nothing to help their 2016 lottery selection, Dunn.
13 13. WINNER: New York Knicks
The New York Knicks don't win anything! Well, with the exception of Latvian unicorn Kristaps Porzingis bringing the 2017 Taco Bell Skills Challenge trophy to the "Big Apple". How can they be winners when they balked at making any moves? The hottest rumor out of the Knicks camp was sending Derrick Rose to Minnesota in exchange for Ricky Rubio, essentially swapping starting PGs. Rose, a free agent at the end of the year, is one with a number of red flags. For one, there's his injury history, secondly, there's the fact that he went AWOL on the team earlier in the season. Why not trade him and acquire an asset(s) opposed to him possibly walking away? Rubio is not one who is going to take the Knicks to the next level and is also on the books for a season past Rose. Now, the Knicks can make their decision in the offseason of either resigning Rose or opting to use the cap space they have as a result of Rose's contract expiring elsewhere - both of which are better options then bringing Rubio into the fold.
12 12. LOSER: Andrew Bogut
Imagine last season you're playing for the defending NBA Champion Golden State Warriors and you just won an NBA record seventy-three regular season games. Imagine the season prior to that you've won your first NBA Championship with those same forenamed Warriors. Now, imagine after losing Game 7 in the 2016 NBA Finals you're dealt to the Dallas Mavericks. Dallas surely doesn't have the roster Golden State currently has; but, little do you know, you'd kill to be in Dallas after February 23rd, 2016. On the forenamed date, Bogut was dealt to the woeful Philadelphia 76ers in a deal that bought Nerlens Noel to Dallas. Bogut's already on record saying he would like a buyout so he could be a free agent. Some people just don't "trust the process"!
11 11. WINNERS: Cleveland Cavaliers
On January 24th, 2017, LeBron James made headlines (as he so often does), with five blunt and straight to the point words- "we need a f*****g playmaker". Having just short of a month to acquire the playmaker James so desperately craved, the Cavaliers eventually ended up coming up empty? So, how exactly could they be winners? The wine and gold sporting Cavs are winners because the two teams in the East that have the best chance to eclipse them in the East, the Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors, did not do anything (Celtics) and did not do enough (Raptors) to eclipse them. Celtics GM Danny Ainge ultimately decided against trading his plethora of young talent and/or draft assets to acquire one of Chicago Bulls superstar Jimmy Butler or Indiana Pacers face of the franchise Paul George. Had Ainge pulled the trigger, Beantown would've had it's own big three with either Butler or George and Al Horford and MVP candidate and 5'9'' phenom, Isaiah Thomas. The Raptors acquired Serge Ibaka for an absolute steal and while that is fine and dandy, but if a big three of Kevin Durant, Ibaka and Russell Westbrook were never able to reach the mountaintop, what makes anyone think a trio of DeMar DeRozan, Ibaka and Kyle Lowry will?
10 10. LOSER: Vlade Divac
While the trade of DeMarcus Cousins indeed points to a culture change in Sacramento like Divac pointed out when he said, "winning begins with culture, character matters", he also made another eye-popping comment once the Cousins trade was official. That comment was, "I had a better deal two days ago". Now, granted its highly unlikely that the public ever knows what this trade is, but Divac basically admitted he gave up Cousins for less than he was worth. On the other hand, perhaps Divac made this comment in order to face less scrutiny from the media and public where the majority consensus was that the Kings got fleeced in the deal of "Boogie". Whatever they case, it never looks good when you accept a deal that wasn't the best one on the table.
9 9. WINNER: Serge Ibaka
A seven year NBA veteran, Serge Ibaka has made the NBA playoffs in each and every season he's played. When his former team, the Oklahoma City Thunder, dealt the big man from Congo to the Orlando Magic in the 2016 offseason, Ibaka knew he'd have a much more difficult time to make it to the postseason. The Magic are doing what they do best- floundering, as they sit at a dismal 21-38. But, that's no longer Ibaka's problem as he no longer calls the "Home of Disney" home; instead, Ibaka now calls the team behind the "We the North" slogan, the Toronto Raptors and "the Six" his new home. Ibaka now once again gets to play with a team that has recently established a winning culture and is one of the East's top teams. Chalk up eight straight seasons in the playoffs, Mr. Ibaka!
8 8. LOSER: Indiana Pacers
Renowned NBA journalist Sam Amick sent out the following tweet minutes before the NBA trade deadline was set to conclude, "I repeat: Paul George - barring a title chance in Indy - is hell-bent on heading for Laker Land. This message has been sent throughout NBA". A native of Fresno, California (about three hours away from "LaLa Land"), George looks to have lost faith in the Pacers and its front office regime led by Larry Bird. Despite acquiring the likes of Indiana native Jeff Teague and Thaddeus Young in the offseason, the Pacers haven't seen a climb to the top of the conference. Instead, they sit at a mediocre 29-28 and their star player is unhappy. Free agents don't exactly line up in bunches to play for the Pacers and if Amick's tweet is to be believed, the Pacers should've sent George packing and should've started to rebuild with promising big man Myles Turner.
7 7. WINNER: Lou Williams
One of the leading candidates for the 2017 Sixth Man of the Year Year award, and the 2015 Sixth Man of the Year award winner, Lou Williams was able to ditch the purple and gold of the Los Angeles Lakers for the white and red of the Houston Rockets when he was acquired for swingman Corey Brewer and a 2017 first round draft pick. Williams, known for being able to provide a spark off the bench with his dynamic scoring will provide Houston's second unit with a scorer it has desperately been missing. Capable of manning the point as well as the two guard, Williams, just thirty, brings eleven years of NBA experience to H-Town. Considering what Williams does best is score and that his coach is the offensive minded Mike D'Antoni, it's safe to infer that Williams is in a good place.
6 6. LOSER: Roy Hibbert
Similar to Lance Stephenson, it's been all downhill for Roy Hibbert ever since he no longer donned the navy, white and yellow of the Indiana Pacers. Hibbert was dealt to the Denver Nuggets who will be his forth team in less than two full seasons. To make matters worse, the team who dealt him, the Milwaukee Bucks, just acquired him on February 2, 2017, making his tenure with the team less than a month! Denver is far from an ideal place for Hibbert to be dealt; on the contrary, it's one of the worst places he could've been dealt. Hibbert will be behind the likes of the "Manimal" Kenneth Faried, Spanish big man Juancho Hernagomez, one of the NBA's most promising and budding bigs Nikola Jokic and newly acquired and shown flashes of promise Center Mason Plumlee, Don't expect Hibbert to get much court time with Mike Malone's roster.
5 5. WINNER: Oklahoma City Thunder
Russell Westbrook will undoubtedly be upset to see his dance partner Cameron Payne leave "Loud City" for the "Windy City" but the acquisitions of rugged Power Forward Taj Gibson and sharpshooting swingman Doug McDermott should numb his "Payne" (pun intended). The injury prone Payne was expected to play the role of Westbrook's backup but has instead only played in twenty games this season and missed twenty-five of eighty-two in his Rookie campaign. In short, Payne was proving that he wasn't a sufficient enough backup for the Thunder. Gibson brings a strong defensive presence to the paint for the Thunder while McDermott will get plenty of open looks from behind the arc with Westbrook being his new Point Guard. OKC didn't just win; Russell Westbrook won; Taj Gibson won; Doug McDermott won.
4 4. LOSER: Paul George
When your superstar is unhappy, "you know you done f****d up, right" (credits to Menace II Society). And this is exactly what the Pacers did with their superstar, Paul George. In George's own words, "I kind of was on the ropes just like you guys on what was about to happen. It was kind of a dark moment of uncertainty. That was the frustrating part. You want me to be your guy here, I thought I'd be in the loop a little more than that". Being the face of the franchise, George has every right to be upset that he wasn't notified about trade negotiations centering around him. George's Pacers aren't having a year to remember as they are just 29-28 and with him being dangled as trade bait, George may believe the Pacers think the phrase "if you're not a part of the solution, you're a part of the problem" applies to him.
3 3. WINNER: Danny Ainge
The Boston Celtics GM ultimately decided against dealing one of his many young talented studs (Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder, Kelly Olynyk, Marcus Smart) or the plethora of first round picks he's acquired (including the most valuable, the 2017 Brooklyn Nets first round selection which has a high possibility of being a top three pick). Ainge has been hoarding and hoarding assets for years now and by not moving any of these before 2017's trade deadline just reiterated that he will not give up anything unless and until he's simply wowed away. Maybe the Pacers get more desperate to move Paul George in the summer? Maybe the same happens with the Bulls and Jimmy Butler? Maybe Ainge receives a deal that not even he can say no to on or prior to draft night? Ainge kept his options open and the 2017 summer will almost surely have the Celtics receive a slew of offers for their many assets.
2 2. LOSER: Orlando Magic
On June 23rd, 2016, the Orlando Magic acquired the man the Oklahoma City Thunder foolishly decided to give a contract extension to opposed to James Harden, Serge Ibaka. In trading for Ibaka, the Magic traded away 2013 number two overall draft pick Victor Oladipo, Ersan Ilysaova and the eleventh overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, son of former Portland Trail Blazers big man Arvydas Sabonis, Domantas Sabonis. Less than a year later, the Magic traded Ibaka to the Toronto Raptors fearing he was a flight risk in the offseason as his contract was set to expire. What did the Magic acquire? Terrence Ross and a 2017 first round pick. Essentially, the Magic traded away their 2013 first round selection, Oladipo, Ilyasova and their 2016 first round selection, Sabonis, for Ross and a pick that almost assuredly falls in the twenties of the first round. If the Magic didn't fail in uber fashion I don't know who did.
1 1. WINNER: Nerlens Noel
When Nerlens Noel was traded from the Philadelphia 76ers to the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday, February 23, 2016, it came as a bit of a surprise. The reasoning behind this was that everything pointed to the Sixers wanting to trade away their other big man, Duke product Jahlil Okafor, and not former Kentucky Wildcat, Noel. Nonetheless, Noel finds himself in a much better situation as he now plays for the Mark Cuban owned Dallas Mavericks. Not only does Noel get to rid himself of the logjam of the Sixers front court which includes the likes of the forenamed Okafor, Joel "The Process" Embiid, Richaun Holmes and Dario Saric, but he gets to go to a team in playoff contention in the Mavericks. Noel's minutes will definitely increase which almost assuredly guarantees his production will as well. Well done, Mr. Cuban, well done!
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