It was an active trade deadline in the NBA last week. A record amount of players, 39 in total, changed teams in an explosion of transactions that left fans and media in a frenzy in the waning hours before the deadline struck.
The biggest winner of the trade deadline was the Oklahoma City Thunder. Kevin Durant and company are fighting for a playoff spot after a slow and injury-ridden start to the season, but their recent acquisitions should help secure them one of the eight playoff spots in the Western Conference. OKC acquired point guard D.J. Augustin, center Enes Kanter and wing players Kyle Singler and Steve Novak. They did lose explosive backup point guard Reggie Jackson, but Jackson was likely to leave in free agency at the end of the season and Augustin probably fits better leading the Thunder’s second unit. Kanter provides them with frontcourt depth that is necessary come playoff time, especially in the West. Novak has barely played in Utah this season, but Singler has been solid in Detroit while starting for most of the season. The Thunder is a team that no one in the West will want to play come April.
The biggest losers of last week were the Miami Heat, even though they pulled off the most impressive trade. The Heat traded point guard Goran Dragic, who was averaging 16 points per game in Phoenix, for point guard Norris Cole, washed-up swingman Danny Granger, a few no name players and a few draft picks. Acquiring Dragic instantly made the Heat a dangerous team in the East. That was true up until the news of Chris Bosh’s hospitalization. Doctors are concerned that Bosh may have developed a blood clot in his lung and may be out for the season. If that’s the case, any playoff success is out the window for the Heat. It’s fair to question whether they would have even made the move for Dragic if they could have known about the subsequent news.
Other interesting moves include Kevin Garnett’s return to Minnesota, Tayshaun Prince’s homecoming to Detroit, the Bucks swapping point guard Brandon Knight to Philadelphia for last year’s rookie of the year Michael Carter-Williams, the Celtics trading for dynamic point guard Isaiah Thomas and Western Conference contending Portland Trailblazers picking up some offensive depth by acquiring Aaron Afflalo from the Nuggets.
While only a few 2015 title contending teams made moves of consequence, many franchises altered their future with trading of young players, future draft picks and expiring contracts. A few of those contracts may be bought out by the new organizations, which will lead to a bidding war between contenders for veteran talent.