KP, AD And The Insane NBA Trade Deadline

This column has been in the works for about a week.  It’s long, but covers every major trade made over the past seven days and touches on some of the minor ones as well.

Late thoughts on the Kristaps Porzingis trade…

It’s going to be really funny when the Knicks sign Kemba Walker and only Kemba Walker this Summer, completely negating the whole point of this terrible, terrible trade.

Lets start from the beginning.  Last Thursday morning, in the middle of all the other NBA chaos that was happening, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnanowski dropped another bomb that Kristaps Porzingis met with the team, displaying that he was unhappy and concerned about its direction, leaving the Knicks to believe that he wanted a trade.  About 35 minutes later, Porzingis was a Dallas Maverick.

Thank God, Woj was late to the trade discussions New York was having about Porzingis with other teams (Or at least we hope so).  Reports later came out that the Knicks had been discussing moving Porzingis in the days prior to the trade.

This was a surprise and not so much one at the same time.  It was a surprise because you would have thought that Porzingis would be part of whatever big plans the Knicks had going for them this Summer, and you would have thought that Porzingis would’ve wanted to be a part of that.

But it wasn’t a surprise because Porzingis and the Knicks have clear, documented beef.  Whether it be Phil Jackson’s riff or the skipped exit interview or the fact that New York almost traded him once before, Porzingis and the Knicks never really got along.  The fact that New York was holding him out of basketball activities for this season even though he was probably ready to go after sustaining that torn ACL last season didn’t help their relationship either (Though that was a smart move by the Knicks, and Dallas is following suit).  Porzingis was probably going to walk next Summer, assuming he took the qualifying offer from the Knicks this Summer (Hopping into restricted free agency wouldn’t have given him the full power to leave).

The Porzingis situation serves as a warning to the rest of the league: Do Not Go To The Knicks.  All you had to do was look at how they treated Porzingis, their 2nd biggest star since Patrick Ewing.

It felt like NBA players had figured out that going to the Knicks was a suicide mission.  They got ignored by LeBron twice and never got KD’s consideration in 2016.  Their biggest signing in the past five years was Joakim Noah, which worked out wonderfully.  The Knicks had become a complete stay-away when it came to free agent destinations.

Which is why this renewed, supposed interest in joining them from two of the league’s ten best players is so strange.  Why would Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving want to go there?  KD left Oklahoma City not only because of Russell Westbrook, but because the Thunder were incompetently managed from the top down.  Kyrie wanted out of Cleveland not only because LeBron was limiting him from what he’s doing now, but because there was no way that team was winning another title again, and because Kyrie had never played for a good coach.

Maybe they want to play in New York City, the place that runs the world.  Maybe they want to bring the Knicks their first championship in 46 years in the most famous arena in the world in the city that runs the world.  Maybe KD and Kyrie just want to play together, and while Boston would make a ton of sense fit-wise, maybe they want to do it on that grandest stage.  Maybe KD wants to take on more of a LeBron-like role, where we see him as a more do-it-all, ball-handler type player.  Maybe Kyrie thinks the ceiling on this current Celtics team is a lot lower than we think it is, and that playing in Boston isn’t as fun as he thought it was.

I’m so pro player empowerment that I even supported Jimmy Butler’s antics earlier this season.  But I also care about championships, and I like players that want to win.  While Kyrie and KD would make a new threat in the East, it seems unlikely that team is a better one than each of their current ones.  Is Kyrie-DSJ-Knox-KD-Robinson better than Kyrie-Hayward-Tatum-Morris-Horford?  What about a team that features Kyrie-Tatum-Anthony Davis?  Kyrie, Davis and whatever the Celtics have left after a potential trade with New Orleans probably isn’t better than that potential Knicks team, especially considering that New York could have a juicy draft pick coming their way.  Given that Tatum is probably going to New Orleans in a Davis trade, it’s fair to see Kyrie’s point.

But for KD, does anything trump what he has right now?  DeMarcus Cousins doesn’t make a difference; he’s going to leave and the Warriors will be just as good without him.  For KD, this is simply about not getting bored, and trying to expand his game.  Again, it’s a fair point to see.

But why there…  just why the Knicks

Maybe Kyrie and KD feel like their starpower can overshadow any disfunction going on within the organization.  But there’s on the court problems too.  If KD wants to expand his game to a LeBron-like role, that affects Kyrie negatively, putting him in a similar role to the one he was in Cleveland.  And if you know Kyrie is coming, why was Dennis Smith Jr., a spark-plug, traits of bad Russell Westbrook (high usage rate, ballhog, non-off-the-ball player) guard the main piece of a blockbuster trade which sent your best player in years out the door?  I understand the salary relief, but if you have the capability to sign both Kyrie and KD, not only are you going to go over the cap to do that, but you’re going to go as far as it takes to get that team to be as good as it can.  You’ll pack MSG every night and be fine.  That includes keeping and paying Porzingis.  That means paying whatever that luxury tax bill is.  Because that team will be worth it.

Porzingis makes any team better.  Make him happy and put pieces around him, or, if you have the capability, have him be a piece around someone else.  The Knicks failed to do both of those things, and ended up trading him for two average-to-below-average first round picks and the hope that someone is coming.  That hope is based on two of the league’s ten best players leaving their already really, really good situations to come to a complete mess of an organization with serious on-court problems despite their young talent (I can’t imagine DSJ playing with anyone who is “supposedly” coming to the Knicks).

If Kyrie and KD were smart, they don’t go to the Knicks.  And if the Knicks were smart, they don’t make this trade.  How this move truly works out is based on one of those two sentences becoming true.

For Dallas, I mean, what an absolute steal.  The Mavericks essentially traded two first round picks for Kristaps freaking Porzingis, Courtney Lee, who is viable as a 5th guy for now but is a spot that could definitely be upgraded, and Tim Hardaway Jr., who 18 months ago probably gets “One of the worst contracts in the league” as a noun rather than his name.  While Hardaway Jr. isn’t the most efficient scorer, he has improved on that end over the past year, and this Mavericks team is one that just needs firepower around Luka Doncic to become a true threat in the playoffs.  Hardaway Jr. helps with that, and while the contract is still overinflated for his new self, you still have Luka and Porzingis.  I’ll take on close to anything if I have that (Except for Andrew Wiggins.  Definitely except Andrew Wiggins).

On the way out went a guard that the Mavericks were claiming they weren’t shopping and wanted around still, but definitely were shopping and didn’t want around due to his on-court fit with Doncic in DSJ and two expiring contracts that never worked out for Dallas but were too large to bench (Wes Matthews and DeAndre Jordan).  I mean, they cleared out everything that was wrong with their roster and got one of the best young big men in the league for the cost of two future first round picks.  The management that allowed the Mavericks to do this is who Kyrie and KD want to play for?  Good luck.

The Mavericks owe a lot of future picks now with this trade, and it’s risky if they fail to fill out the rest of this roster through other methods.  But having Doncic and Porzingis gets you to a certain ceiling, which means the picks you are giving away aren’t going to be very good in the first place.  And the duo of Doncic and Porzingis should attract talent.  These two guys have the ability to both be top 15 players; Doncic’s ceiling is legitimately one of the best players in the league.  Doncic is a de-facto point guard/crunch-time guy and Porzingis is the perfect big man for today’s league; he stretches the floor, protects the rim and is secretly athletic rather than lanky.  Porzingis’ health is a concern, but if Dallas fills out the roster, then his role can strictly be what he’s good at, rather than taking on a heavy load.

The pick going to the Hawks is probably going to be a good one; Dallas has all the incentive to go for a playoff spot for that reason and to get Luka some experience, despite their relinquishment of Harrison Barnes (More on that later).

If they didn’t owe Atlanta the pick, I would advocate for Dallas to tank the rest of this season, because again, it’s not like you’re going anywhere this season anyways without Porzingis.

Dallas heads into next season with Luka-Hardaway Jr.-Porzingis. That’s pretty good.  They need two other guys (The plan to address that sounds like a couple Summer signings) as the Barnes trade got rid of another starter.  Courtney Lee is under contract for next season, and could serve as a wing opposite Hardaway Jr.

With this trade, the Mavs are at least fun as hell next year, with the potential to be a lot better.  That might be understating it.

On the Anthony Davis situation, and the Pelicans kicking off a fire-sale…

The Anthony Davis trade request came as no surprise, but the way Davis and Rich Paul handled this was pretty crappy, and it might end up backfiring on them.

Davis claimed that there were four teams on his list: The Los Angeles Lakers, the Milwaukee Bucks, the LA Clippers, and the New York Knicks.

But Davis and Paul knew that the only way Davis would be a Laker next season (Which is clearly his (And Paul’s and LeBron’s) preferred destination) would be to get him moved before the trade deadline, because then the Boston Celtics would be eligible to bid for Davis if LA had waited until July 1st.

The Celtics are out-bidding everyone no matter what.  New Orleans knew this.  Davis and Paul knew this.  The Lakers, for whatever reason, didn’t.

The Lakers first offer of Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Rajon Rondo, Michael Beasley and a first-round pick was incredibly hysterical.  It was actually bad business by New Orleans that they continued to talk with them.

LA ended up getting more serious, offering all five of their young players (Ball, Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and Ivica Zubac) and two first round picks in exchange for Davis and Solomon Hill.  That was actually quite realistic and fair.

The Lakers (and their fans) thought otherwise, and failed to realize there was no offer they could have put out there that is better than what Boston can offer July 1st.  Reports have the Celtics willing to put Jayson Tatum in a potential trade along with other pieces.  In Tatum, you’re getting a future All-NBA player with the potential to be one of the league’s ten best, plus a nice stash of draft picks and your choice of other role players.  That’s incomparable to what the Lakers have.  LA’s package contained late first round draft picks and potentially zero All-NBA guys/future stars.  While I like Hart a lot, his ceiling is a solid wing on a good team who can fill multiple roles.  Zubac felt like a Jursurf Nurkic without the passing ability; someone who will learn defense while consistently putting up 20-10s (There’s a legitimate chance he’s the best out of all the young guys LA had.  Of course they ship him out of all of them across the hallway for nothing.  Congrats to the Clippers on another AD asset!).  I’m afraid Lonzo Ball has already reached his ceiling; a good passer who is going to be an iffy shooter, limiting his effectiveness to take over late in games.  Kyle Kuzma could be anywhere from the best to third best player in their offer; the guy knows how to get buckets, and has a ceiling of a crunch-time scorer, but the efficiency has to improve.  Some nights he’s on and some nights he’s off.  There’s a chance he’s Andrew Wiggins 2.0 offensively.  And we’ve been praising Brandon Ingram for three years now.  Can anyone tell me what he does well on the court?

The trade would have made sense for New Orleans because they’d be getting a young core, but from what we’ve seen so far this season, and there’s been a much bigger sample size than what we thought we were going to get, it’s not exactly confirmed that this core works.  Individually, the projections are pretty good.  But you can’t look at it that way.  The Pelicans would have been getting all these guys, and they would have been the future.  They’d have to fit and work together.  It’s certainly taken them awhile to do so in Los Angeles.

In Tatum you’re getting a guarantee, and that’s why New Orleans was smart to wait. The Lakers offer I floated that should have gotten New Orleans to consider not making the Boston deal was all five young dudes and three firsts.

The Lakers offered just short of that before “pulling out” of talks with the Pelicans, claiming their demands were “outrageous.”  While the Pelicans and Lakers were *this* close to coming to a fair agreement, New Orleans did a good job not being nice here.  They should be “outrageous.”  In Davis, we’re talking about one of the five best players in the league and possibly one of the best 45 players of all-time.  Davis is 25 and is already at that point.  He’s has 5-6 years left of his prime, and that’s worst-case scenario.

So blame the Pelicans for not taking the Lakers “final” offer all you want, but the first round picks are making up for what those young guys probably aren’t going to amount to.  Three makes it worth it, two does not.  For almost any other player, it’d be a silly argument to end discussions over.  For Davis, it wasn’t at all.

The Lakers’ and Celtics’ offers were the only ones New Orleans should have been discussing.  Other teams were putting their hands in the hat or should have been (Toronto, Portland, Miami, the Clippers), but only one of those teams gave the Pelicans a package that made sense.  While a hypothetical Damian Lillard and Zach Collins package is equal value for Davis, that would have turned the Pelicans into a little bit better than what they are now.  The ceiling on a Lillard-led Pelicans team would have been the 4th seed, not a Finals team.

The Pelicans have to get a rebuilding package out of this trade, not a win-now package headlined by another top 25 player.  You’re putting a second round ceiling on your team if you make that trade as opposed to getting a core of guys that could develop into something very, very good.

You need a star back for Davis, but that needs to be a future star rather than a current one.  That’s the difference between Tatum and Lillard.  Or between Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Kyle Lowry.

The four teams I mentioned above didn’t have the package New Orleans should have wanted for Davis, and it was smart of New Orleans not to consider them.  For once, the Pelicans handled something right.  Yesterday’s moves proved that as well.

The Bucks only made one move, but it was enough to counter the big plays made by others atop the East.  Milwaukee’s trade for Nikola Mirotic gives the Bucks another guy they can plant in the corner and get open shots for.  Some speculate he could be out there in crunch-time for them (He’s a player worthy of that), but that means benching Brook Lopez, who provides valuable defense to the Bucks and allows Giannis Antetokounmpo to not have to do too much on both ends.  If Lopez is out, Giannis is the de-facto rim protector, and the initiator offensively.  Giannis is a tank, but that’s a lot to ask of him.

New Orleans began their fire-sale with this move.  Just a year after acquiring Mirotic to help make a playoff run, they’re selling him to another hoping to make it deep.  This fire-sale is a elongated one, as AD (And possibly Jrue Holiday) won’t be moved till July, but Mirotic was the first domino to fall in what looks like a total rebuild for New Orleans.

They got back quite a bit; something necessary for a rebuilding team.  After the Bucks stole Stanley Johnson from the Pistons for Thon Maker, the Bucks flipped Johnson into Mirotic (An excellent move.  Johnson is a development piece.  Mirotic comes in right now and plays big minutes in the playoffs), and sent Johnson to New Orleans.  Johnson’s been up and down throughout his career, and just hasn’t figured out the offensive side of the ball.  It’s possible Alvin Gentry’s system could help.  He’s an excellent defender already, and still projects as a switchy wing.  He’s a good get and bet for the Pelicans.

Somehow, they netted four second round picks (And Jason Smith’s contract) in addition to Johnson.  Milwaukee had a ton of extra ones hanging around, and decided to ship them all to the Pelicans.  This says one of two things: 1) New Orleans wanted to revamp after the forthcoming Davis trade, keep Mirotic and try and stay competitive or (Explaining the high price) or 2) Demanded some crazily unprotected first rounder for him.  The 2nd option is more likely based on what we know about the Pelicans trade demands for AD, which is a good thing, because the first would have me concerned.

All-in-all, that’s a win-win trade.  For Milwaukee, it could go a long ways.

The Pelicans made one other move that wasn’t AD, and that was swapping Wesley Johnson for a 2nd rounder and Markieff Morris.  Morris is going to get bought out, so it’s essentially a way to get rid of Johnson, while for Washington, they get under the tax by dealing Morris.  Morris is an interesting buyout guy, but his breed is dying.  If he can’t make the adjustments his brother has, his options might start to become limited.

On the Tobias Harris trade and the Clippers’ and Sixers’ deadlines…

This trade was an unbelievable late night surprise Tuesday that I was lucky (or not.. it was 1:30 AM) to be up for.  The Clippers shipped Harris, Boban Marjanovic and Mike Scott to the Philadelphia 76ers for Landry Shamet, Wilson Chandler, Mike Muscala, their own first rounder next season, Miami’s 2021 unprotected first rounder and two second rounders.

There’s many dynamics to this one.  First, the Sixers essentially made a trade that rid them of all the depth they had previously been complaining about not having enough of and didn’t fix their biggest issue.  Second, the Clippers, like the Knicks, have to know someone is coming by letting Harris leave early.  The fact that they made no push in trying to re-sign him is telling.

Let’s start with the Sixers.  If you base it off win-loss, the Jimmy Butler trade was worked out fine, and in just the way we planned it too.  But underlying issues have complicated its effectiveness, and has even led me to question whether it was the right move.

Butler’s little spat with Brett Brown not long after arriving in Philly and the Sixers’ loss to the Celtics on Christmas Day spotlighted these issues.  Butler wants the offense to run through him, with pick-and-rolls and isolations a heavy part of it.  That would be fine if Ben Simmons was a shooting threat from the outside.  He is not, and probably never will be given the reluctancy we’ve seen from him in that area of his game.

With Simmons a non-threat, defenses can leave him alone in the corner if the Sixers are isolating Butler or posting up Embiid.  This has led to essentially 4-on-5 play from the Sixers in crunch-time, and it’s cost them.

While it hasn’t been that huge of an issue in the regular season, come the playoffs it will be.  You have to execute down the stretch in the playoff games.  It’s the No.1 deciding factor in who gets to the Finals.

Philly’s best option to solve that would have been trading Simmons for Anthony Davis, an offer that would have made sense for New Orleans and could probably be done straight up.  Instead of considering this, the Sixers went all in on complicating matters even further, and risk losing one or both of their two big acquisitions this season come Summer if it doesn’t work out.

Trading for Harris adds another high-usage, high volume scorer to the mix.  While Harris is a more efficient player than I have previously given him credit for, you still have to wonder about the fit.  He’ll have to sacrifice on this team.  That’s a big adjustment compared to his role on the Clippers, where he was averaging 20.9 points a game and had a usage percentage of 23.6 percent.

And Harris wasn’t what they needed.  Philly needed two things this deadline: 1) A solution to the Simmons/Butler fit (A ball-handling guard or a trade of one of those two).  2) Depth.

They got neither.  While the Sixers did remake their bench, it’s not really a unit; and they have one facilitator who’s comfortable playing off the ball (TJ McConnell) and just a bunch of other dudes.

When you have a starting five that is as talented as their’s though, you can stagger guys pretty easily.  Every player can have the offense run through them in some capacity.  Together though is the question.

The Harris trade seemed unnecessary because Wilson Chandler was doing fine as the 5th guy in the Sixers starting lineup (He’d shot 39% from three this year, and was extremely effective playing off the ball) and because it sacrificed them of already limited depth.  Landry Shamet had been fantastic this season, and provided some of that guard-play Philly coveted and was shooting the lights out of the ball (40.4 percent from three!).  Muscala was a productive big off the bench as well.

But the Sixers did get Boban Marjanovic back, who’s been one of the best big bench guys in the league this season.  He’ll bring a bigger defensive presence than someone like Muscala, but can’t stretch the floor like him and Embiid can.  Mike Scott fits more of Muscala’s role, but who knows what you’ll get from him.

They also traded for James Ennis from Houston, who never fit in there but gives Philly more size off the bench.  He’s essentially Harris’ backup at the four.

Jonathan Simmons also came in from Orlando, in what was probably the most underrated/not-talked-about trade of the deadline.  Philly traded Markelle Fultz, the No.1 overall pick not even two years ago, and no one talked about it.  Perhaps it’s because Fultz played in just 33 games for the 76ers, or because the projected star has completely disappeared off the radar this season.  No one really knows anything, and no one really knows how to evaluate it.

For Philly, they’re in a different place now.  While they could use Fultz to be a facilitator/crunch-time scorer, the Butler trade earlier this season signified that the 76ers were probably planning on a future without him.  He was never going to be the guy they hoped for.

For Orlando, it gives some hope to a franchise that hasn’t had a point guard in 10 years.  If Fultz can become anything we projected him as, that’s a win.  It’s worth the gamble of the 1st and 2nd round pick given up (The first was an extra one Orlando had from OKC, not their own).  Orlando should be able to give Fultz the car keys.  In Philly, that wasn’t the case.  Orlando allowing him to run the show will show us what, if anything, he’s really capable of.

Like Ennis, Simmons is a body off the bench.  He hasn’t done a lot for Orlando this year, but provides defense and a veteran presence on the court.  He really was a throw-in when it came to this trade.

Still, none of this makes up for the fact that the Sixers gave up valuable bench pieces and an insane amount of draft capital for a guy they didn’t need.  The picks might have been the most shocking part of the whole trade; Philly gave up the 2021 Miami unprotected first rounder (One of the most valued assets in the league) in addition to their own first next year and TWO second rounders.  You only give up that much if you’re going to be winning titles.  The Sixers can’t guarantee that.

Plus, you help the Clippers get in position for a possible Anthony Davis trade, which is far more possible and seems much more likely after this deadline.

This trade clearly symbolizes that the Clippers know things about this Summer.  In any other scenario, LA is dying to re-sign Harris and elevate the core that made them fun this season to one that can contend.  They did the exact opposite of that, clearing as much cap room as possible and fire-saling almost everyone, leading to a bevy of picks and a ton of cap room that makes them real players for the likes of Kawhi Leonard and Anthony Davis.

The Clippers have to know Kawhi is coming.  Even though they got more than you could ask for, you don’t just let Harris go like that.  And you don’t get back the assets you did if you’re not making a play for someone.  It would make no sense for the Clippers to rebuild; the team they employed for the first third of the season was too close to being good.  It’s one of those “We’ll see when we get there” things, but a Clippers package featuring SGA, Jerome Robinson, Landry Shamet, Ivica Zubac, their own first round pick this Draft and the two firsts acquired from Philly makes a case to rival Boston’s offer.

The Avery Bradley trade was another sign.  Bradley’s not the same guy anymore, but you don’t just send him to Memphis for expiring contracts; a contender would have loved to give up value for Bradley to at least play defense for them.  That trade was a gift for the Grizzlies, who get another defensive-minded player who can switch in Bradley.

On the Raptors’ and Grizzlies’ deadlines…

Overall I was fine with what the Raptors did.  I was initially against them doing anything at all, as I believed firmly in the “Don’t fix it if it isn’t broke” philosophy (Their name coming up in Davis talks was odd to me), and because I thought that they could win the title with the roster they had pre-deadline.

Adding just Gasol was fine.  Jonas Valancuinas’ role had been limited due to injuries and the rise of Pascal Siakam and Serge Ibaka, and Gasol isn’t able to play big minutes anyways.  Gasol essentially becomes Valancuinas’ minutes.  Now they’re just more efficient minutes.  I would expect Gasol to come off the bench, as he’s shown a bit of rust this season and isn’t the Marc Gasol we’ve been used to the past eight years.  The crunch-time pair of Pascal Siakam and Serge Ibaka has been too good this year.

In terms of value, Toronto sacrificed some depth, but overall got a steal.  That doesn’t mean it was unfair for Memphis though.  While they probably would have liked to get a bit more for their all-time franchise guy, the haul from Toronto was good.  Delon Wright will get big minutes, and figures to be their starter heading into next season, as it would only make sense for Mike Conley to be traded after the moves made Thursday.  CJ Miles is incredibly underrated; he was fantastic for Toronto until Danny Green showed up. The Grizz had to eat Valancuinas, but he at least fits their grind style, and there’s only one more year left on his deal.  The 2nd round adds value as well.  The Grizzlies also got Tyler Dorsey from Atlanta for essentially free (Shelvin Mack was waived by the Hawks), a young player who still projects as a scorer off the bench.

Toronto also shipped out Greg Monroe and had to pay a 2nd round pick to Brooklyn to do it.  Monroe was the minutes replacement for the injured Valancuinas, and played pretty well in that spot, but Gasol is just better and more efficient.

Charlotte’s interest in Gasol never made a lot of sense.  There’s been recent reports that Walker is probably staying in Charlotte, which made their interest a little more reasonable, and Gasol would have been upgrade over Bismarck Biyombo and Cody Zeller at the 5, but Charlotte isn’t exactly a team that should be buying when they already have a bevy of bad contracts.  They could have sent a pick along with one of those contacts to make the deal better, but how would Gasol of been part of your future core that you’re trying to build?

Interest in Mike Conley around the league was plentiful, and it should have been.  Memphis didn’t end up moving him, which has to be disappointing for both, but his time will probably come in July or at the Draft.  Utah and Detroit seemed to be the front-runners; Detroit’s interest never made any sense.

Utah and Memphis discussed two different deals – one that included Ricky Rubio, Derrick Favors and a 1st round pick and another that included a 1st and 2nd rounder and a contract to match Conley’s.  The first one made more sense.  Rubio almost certainly had to go out if Conley went in.  His three-point shooting has improved, but it still sits at a measly 32.5 percent.  Rubio, unlike Conley, needs the ball to be effective, and on that Utah team which desperately needed firepower (Which Conley would have supplied), you couldn’t afford to have non-shooters on the floor.  Rubio-Conley-Donavan Mitchell would have been ridiculous defensively, but they would have lacked switchability playing three guards together like that.

Conley would have been perfect for Utah.  He would’ve fit alongside Mitchell thanks to his three-point shooting and could have taken some of the ball-handling pressure of him.  Nothing on the defensive end would have been lost as well.

On the Otto Porter trade…

This trade was strange.  If you’re Washington, you can’t solve your biggest problem (John Wall’s albatross of a contract), and while that means moving Porter is okay, it doesn’t mean that this was the move to make.

Washington sent Porter to Chicago for Jabari Parker, Bobby Portis and a second round pick.  Thank God for that second round pick; it really does a lot of the makeup for this terrible, terrible trade.

First of all, Chicago couldn’t have given you anything better?  Did you not ask about Antonio Blakeney, or even Kris Dunn?  Dunn straight up would have been a better deal, and you could have forced a pick out of Chicago had they given you Blakeney.

Secondly, did you not call a team like Dallas, Utah or Denver and gauge their interest?  Those are all wing-needy teams who could be looking for third options offensively, and might have been willing to give up more than the equivalent to Parker and Portis.

Third, how do you feel good about Parker and Portis coming back for Porter?  Porter’s proto-type is one of the most coveted in the league right now.  His value is way higher than what he went for.  Plus, Parker is a terrible fit for a Wizards team that needs more unselfish players and better defenders.  Parker is the complete opposite of both of those traits.

Oh!  And he has a club option for this Summer, so you’re not even getting him back because there’s no way you’re paying $20 million to him next year.  So the value is completely gone!

The Wizards did get Bobby Portis, who’s a young big that Washington could develop into something more.  He’s actually a perfect fit given some of the personalties in that locker room.

But Portis straight up isn’t close to what could have been received for Porter, making this one hard to justify.  I guess we can just say “Eh, it’s the Wizards” and move on.

I was initially sour on Chicago’s end of this trade, but have came a bit around.  Despite being on that massive max contract, Porter is only 25 and has two years left on his deal.  For the Bulls, he can be kind of a leader for them, and an effective one on the court too.  He could help them defensively, an area they could use it as they rank 24th in defensive rating.  By the time Porter’s contract comes up again, the Bulls would hope to have something developing into a playoff squad.  Porter, by then still only 27-28, could have some years left, and be willing to re-sign and try and push the Bulls into their new era.

Quick hits on the deadline:

  • Portland stayed quiet for the most part, but did end up swapping Caleb Swanigan for Skal Labissiere, a move I liked a lot.  Both guys needed a change of scenery, and Labissiere is a nice mobile player Portland can try and find minutes for.  The Kings are also pretty set rotation-wise, but need someone in the middle of their new lineup of De’Aaron Fox-Buddy Hield-Bogdan Bogdanovic-Harrison Barnes.  Swanigan won’t be the answer there, but with some development could turn into a bench big at some point.
  • Circling back to the Lakers, their trade for Reggie Bullock was a good one.  LA essentially swapped a lights out shooter in Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk for another one in Bullock.  Bullock gives LA better defense and more experience; you can trust him in a playoff game.  The 21-year-old Mykhailiuk might have been a stretch in that spot.
  • The Kings made some good, interesting moves Thursday.  Essentially, Sacramento traded Iman Shumpert and Skal Labassiere for Harrison Barnes and Alec Burks, escalating their timeline and giving them even more depth on the wing.
  • I addressed Barnes’ fit above.  Burks gives them another wing they can insert in off the bench.  His length fits well with the Kings.
  • Value wise, Sacramento did great.  Labassiere for impact guys like Burks and Barnes is a steal (Even though giving up Labassiere comes with a bit of a risk).
  • The Shumpert trade was a win-win.  Sacramento got impact guys and Houston gets a guy who can hopefully help them out on the defensive end as James Ennis did not.  He’s also been great from three this season, so he fits Houston’s scheme well.
  • The Cavaliers also benefitted from that three-teamer, netting a first round pick from Houston to take on Brandon Knight’s contract (Once again an example of Houston’s new owner being very, very cheap.  Houston had to give up a 2nd rounder for Indiana to buy out Wade Baldwin and Nik Stauskas) and got Marquese Chriss on a flyer (I still believe in you Marquese!)
  • Speaking of the Suns, the Tyler Johnson trade felt a lot like last year’s trade for Elfrid Payton, except a more expensive one.  The Suns got rid of one horrific deal for another, but the second could actually provide some value.  Johnson should get time next to Devin Booker at point guard, and theoretically, the two should be able to play off the other as he’s a 35.3 percent shooter from three.  It’s worth the gamble, since the Suns didn’t really have to give anything up.  If Johnson fits, the Suns could have an answer at their weakest spot.
  • I wish the Suns would have kept Wayne Ellington, who also came over in that trade, but he deserved the chance to be on a competitive team.
  • I did not expect him to sign with the Pistons though, as they are on the fringe of what I would deem a “competitive” team.  He’s essentially the Bullock replacement (Detroit looks smart here, swinging Bullock for an asset and getting Ellington, a similar player) there.  But teams like Philly and maybe even Golden State were calling.  Why not go there?
  • The Barnes trade for Dallas made it clear they’re all-in on this Summer.  They, like a couple other teams, must know one guy is coming.  Barnes was plenty effective for them, and they didn’t really get anyone back (Justin Jackson is a tough evaluation.  I liked him a lot but there’s a real chance he’s just terrible).
  • So what did we learn this deadline?  1) There’s way too many teams who have their whole future hinging on this Summer.  That’s a scary proposition, and someone’s going to lose out.  2)  Philly is one of those teams, but it might be in their best interest to actually let themselves lose out a bit.  If you let Butler leave and insert Harris as your 5th starter, isn’t that a better team than what you entered this season with?  Can Harris be the crunch-time option?  3) The Eastern Conference Playoffs are going to be fascinating.  All four of the top teams have Finals-worthy talent.  4)  The Kings are in position to get into the playoffs, and if they do, watch out.  They could make some noise.