The 2020 NBA trade deadline has officially come and gone, and although it is hard to determine just yet whether or not any of the moves made are significant enough to be deemed monumental, many of the exchanges which transpired will certainly be significant enough to shake life up for several teams across the league. So let’s get caught up.
Here in the Eastern Conference, the fourth place Miami Heat have undoubtedly been one of the biggest surprises of the season thus far. With a 34–16 record, it appears as if this team has the build to make a significant playoff run in the East, and given the team’s developments through the marketplace, it too seems as if their notorious General Manager Pat Riley believes just the same. In a three-team deal, the Heat traded Justise Winslow, Dion Waiters, and Gorgui Dieng to the Memphis Grizzlies, and James Johnson to the Minnesota Timberwolves. In return, the Heat gained some role players, and the three-time champion, one-time Finals MVP, and self-exclusionary veteran Andre Iguodala, who upon being traded signed a contract extension with his new team. Talks also heated up between Miami and the Oklahoma City Thunder over Danilo Gallinari, but ultimately went nowhere, which does beg the question: just how many pieces away is this Heat team from having what it takes to go all the way? The young core of the Miami Heat, led by five-time All-Star Jimmy Butler, are exciting to say the least, and this new veteran addition may just be the boost they need to pose a legitimate threat going into the postseason. Only time will tell. As for the rest of the conference, the Philadelphia 76ers moved a couple of pieces around, but with locker-room issues looming over all else, nothing seems significant enough to garner legitimate recognition. The Detroit Pistons, very inexplicably, traded away Andre Drummond, a superb center, to the Cleveland Cavaliers. In return, they gained Brandon Knight, whose career image has been trampled over time and again; some guy named John Henson; and a 2023 pick. Never let your enemies understand your intentions, I guess? The Atlanta Hawks, in what finalized as a four-team, twelve-player deal too complex for any simple explanation, received Clint Capela and Nene, while the Houston Rockets received forward Robert Covington. Basically, Atlanta got big, and Houston opted to go small. And the Timberwolves were involved. And the Denver Nuggets.
Continued out in the Western Conference, the battle between Los Angeles is one that has had fans excited all season, and the discord between the franchises seems to run deeper than just that of 48 minutes of battle on the hardwood court. Though this is where the two clash, it is expected that everything done beyond is with the intention of one-upping the other come game-time. Last week, the Los Angeles Clippers simply beat out the Los Angeles Lakers in the market, which will likely translate to the Clippers beating out the Lakers on the court. Both Los Angeles-based teams were heavily in the market for New York Knicks forward Marcus Morris, who himself is having a career-best season, averaging 19.6 PPG and 5.5 RPG. In the end, it seemed the Knicks were demanding too much of the Lakers, asking in return for Kyle Kuzma, Danny Green, and a pick. This resulted in Morris ultimately being shipped across the street to the Clippers, for what didn’t seem like nearly as much as what was being demanded of the Lakers. I guess we know which Los Angeles team is James Dolan’s favorite.
D’Angelo Russell, who, drafted second overall by the Lakers in 2015, has since seen himself playing for three different franchises, with this trade deadline marking his most recent move. Finally, after what feels like the forever-pursuit of Russell, a former Ohio State Buckeye, the Minnesota Timberwolves have found a true running mate for their increasingly disappointed (in the franchise’s inability to win) star Karl-Anthony Towns. The Timberwolves traded Andrew Wiggins, the 2014 number one overall pick, along with two 2021 picks, to the San Francisco Golden State Warriors in exchange for Russell. Off the court, Russell is known as a close friend to Towns, who himself was the number pick in the same draft as Russell. The young core is essentially playing with nothing to lose in Minnesota, so it will be interesting to see what, if anything, the two can do together. It will also be refreshing to see Wiggins in a new setting, as his career thus far has been abysmal compared to expectations to say the least.
As the dust settles, everybody will gain a better feel for how teams across the league stand going into the All-Star break and ultimate home stretch, but the prospect and now reality of seeing fan-favorite players in new uniforms is always uncertain and exciting. I am just thankful that the Boston Celtics, who are playing great basketball, are up to third place in the East. Watch out for their two All-Stars this weekend.