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The Progress Report – NBA Trade Deadline Edition

With the trade deadline come and gone, let’s give a few GM’s some grades on their trade acumen. Like always, there are a few stars, a few class clowns and we’ll also discuss some teams that have dropped the class (although it’s a little late and they won’t be receiving a refund for their tuition).

Stars of the Class

Minnesota Timberwolves

Minnesota has done an abysmal job up until this point in the season, currently boasting a 15-35 record and two separate 10 game losing streaks, which shows how amazingly bad they are. But as of today, I consider Gersson Rosas a star. With very little cap space and not very many assets, he somehow turned Andrew Wiggins, Robert Covington, Jordan Bell, Keita Bates-Diop, Shabazz Napier, Noah Vonleh, and a couple of draft picks into D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley, Juan Hernangomez, Jarred Vanderbilt, and a protected first-round pick (oh right, and Evan Turner) at the trade deadline.

With their seat at the draft lottery already picked out, they made the right decision to take swings at young talent while keeping almost all of the young, cost-controlled talent they already had. Whether it all works out or not, we don’t know yet. But Mr. Rosas used everything he learned at the Daryl Morey School of Negotiating (badgering other teams until they acquiesce to your whims), and for that, he deserves an A+.

Miami Heat and Memphis Grizzlies

Pat Riley continues to be an absolute OG in this game, not only coming out of left field to land the most coveted player of the trade deadline in Andre Iguodala, but also landing Jae Crowder. What makes Pat a star is that he was actually able to offload known troublemaker Dion Waiters in this trade AND make these moves without having to give up draft picks they weren’t even allowed to trade. I also give Zach Kleiman a little credit because Justise Winslow could (keyword: “COULD”) be the glue guy of this young team going forward if he can stay healthy – and it isn’t exactly like Memphis has free agents beating down their door right now. I’m also assuming they’ll pay Dion Waiters to go away and Gorgui Dieng can be somewhat serviceable for the one and a half seasons he has to be in town. 

Los Angeles Clippers

Somehow the rich continue to get richer in LA by getting better players AND keeping better players away from their neighbors across the hall; Marcus Morris Sr. was probably the second-most coveted player after Iguodala during this year’s trade deadline. I’d go so far as to say that he fits better than Iguodala on most teams with his 43% three-point percentage. He’s also one of the toughest guys in the league and won’t be afraid to mix it up with LeBron James and Anthony Davis in a playoff series. And with the Lakers having to stand pat at the deadline due to a lack of assets and therefore hoping Darren Collison signs with them, the Clippers’ acquisition of Morris Sr. looks even better.

Atlanta Hawks

This may be Travis Schlenk’s best transaction, picking up Clint Capela for basically nothing. As much as I’m a fan of John Collins, he can’t play center full-time. With Capela now on the roster, he can play his best game at power forward and play small-ball center in spurts. Trae Young wanted help and received a rim-running center who fits their timeline and can help cover up his deficiencies on defense. I’ll pretend that they didn’t trade Jabari Parker and Alex Len to get Dewayne Dedmon back and didn’t flip him for something else they could have used, but I won’t say it’s the worst trade ever since he has a familiarity with their locker room and could be a good veteran for them.

Class Clowns

Houston Rockets

I’ll preface what I say about the Rockets with this: I appreciate the fact that they are willing to zig while everyone else is zagging. I appreciate that they are unabashedly willing to play a numbers game, even though it’s boring as hell to watch. That being said, these are the transactions of a desperate man. A man who knows that he’s probably getting fired this year if he does not win a championship, but also knows that this team does not have the personnel to win a championship without a gimmick.

With only two and a half centers on the roster (if you considered Nene on the roster), Daryl Morey traded Clint Capela for Robert Covington and Jordan Bell. Then he traded Jordan Bell, who isn’t a full-time center, but could play the position, for Bruno Caboclo, who’s way too skinny to play center. The only big man left on the roster is Tyson Chandler, whose middle name is Cleotis. We aged out of the name Cleotis about 20 years ago, so that should tell you that he might be a little too old to play real center minutes every night.

Maybe the center position doesn’t matter. But until a team that ranks 30th in offensive rebounding percentage wins a title (and doesn’t have LeBron, D-Wade and Chris Bosh on the roster), this will probably trigger a changing of the guard in Houston this summer. 

Golden State Warriors

They might consider themselves to be “light years ahead,” but trading D’Angelo Russell for Andrew Wiggins does not reflect that statement unless Wiggins has been playing possum since the day he got to Minnesota. Russell could’ve brought back better players (I was low-key rooting for an Aaron Gordon for Russell trade), but it just seems, from the outside looking in, that the Warriors didn’t explore all of their options. It’s not like they’re going to the playoffs this year, so there was just no need to rush; plus, a package surrounding Wiggins and a boatload of picks from Philly and Minnesota will be much more difficult to advertise than one surrounding Russell, Glenn Robinson III, and Alec Burks. I’m not an expert, but I guess we’ll see in due time.

Cleveland Cavaliers

I mean…ok. Someone, please go tell Kevin Love that it’ll be ok. Tell Tristan Thompson too.

On a side note, I feel really bad for Andre Drummond, having to move from Detroit to Cleveland. From one rough situation (team-wise and city-wise) to another. At least you’ll be free this summer big guy. 

“Early” Drops

The Charlotte Hornets, Chicago Bulls, and Phoenix Suns are all drop candidates for the simple fact that they did nothing during the trade deadline. I won’t say anything about Charlotte since they have more wins at this point in the season than I thought they would all season. However, Chicago and Phoenix have proven themselves to be disappointments. Both teams have tangible issues that could have been addressed through trades, or they could have been sellers and acquired some assets on their way to a late tank job.

But to stand pat and just accept whatever outcomes happen shows a certain level of negligence that will (and should be) rewarded with the 13th pick in the draft. And they deserve that awful draft pick. Nothing says things won’t change for the better for either team, but I don’t believe it’s wise to not be in control your own destiny. 

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