IT’S becoming an annual tradition that the trade deadline seems to be a whole bunch of rumours until the last two hours. Then, shit hits the fan. Yesterday was no different as 28 players switched teams in the final hours of deadline day for better or worse. I’ve already broken down the fantasy impact of these moves, now it’s time to talk actual basketball.
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CLEARLY, there is only one place to start after the hectic end to the 2017-18 trade season. Just over 24 hours ago the Cavaliers completely restructured their team in a flurry of moves that saw six players bounced and four new faces brought in. On paper, it seems like the Cavs made decent moves in an effort to get younger, better defensively and improve the locker room ‘culture’. Regardless of who you choose to point the finger at for their dysfunction, GM Koby Altman has said that the team was ‘marching a slow death’ so rebooting the locker room should fix some of those issues right away. Should.
Image from cleveland.cbslocal.com
THE big winner of the additions and subtractions from the team was LeBron James. He gets to see how this roster takes shape and if they can develop into a championship threat and if not well, he’ll bolt. Of all the guys coming in for the Cavs, I’m hype about Rodney Hood, even if he lacks a bit of consistency. He and Larry Nance Jr give Cleveland young pieces that can be key contributors in crunch time and despite the bloated contracts of George Hill and Jordan Clarkson, they are also pieces that should fit into the team without too many headaches.
OF course, we can’t talk about the moves they made without mentioning Isaiah Thomas. What a monumental fuck up trading for him was! In hindsight, they probably brought IT back too soon and understandably he wasn’t up to scratch. That combined with the fact that the team was old and bad defensively led to the downward spiral that has taken over NBA headlines for the past six weeks. Oh did I mention that Kyrie Irving is balling out for the best team in the East still? FFS.
THOMAS might not get the Brinks truck he so desperately wants in LA, but he will have a chance to thrive outside of LeBron’s shadow with the Lakers. With free agency pending his future is unknown and until Lonzo is healthy we won’t know exactly how the Lakers view him as an asset/player. Given their current roster construct and the upcoming free agent season, I don’t expect to see Thomas in a Lakers uniform next season.
IN a quick summary I’m a fan of the moves Cleveland made. There was no way they could stand by and do nothing and it might not translate into a 2018 title. It does give them an exciting bunch of dudes to try and mould into a contender and regardless of LeBron’s decision in the off-season, it leaves them in a decent position moving into the future.
CAVALIER and Isaiah Thomas headlines aside there was a feel good story of the day. A groundbreaking deal between the Cavs and the Miami Heat (the first time they did business since ‘The Decision’) saw Dwyane Wade return to Florida where he will almost certainly end his career. He isn’t the player he once was for the Heat, but he had moments during his time as a Cav that suggest there’s still something left in the tank.
BELIEVE it or not, it wasn’t all Cleveland at the trade deadline. Outside of the reigning East champs, a pair of young point guards changed conferences in an effort to boost a rebuilding franchise. Emmanual Mudiay made his way from the Nuggets to the Knicks and Elfrid Payton, who is in the final year of his rookie contract was traded by the Orlando Magic to the Phoenix Suns.
STARTING with Mudiay I can understand why the Nuggets moved him. But for Devin Harris? Jamal Murray doesn’t fit the bill as a traditional point guard and many believe they need a genuine floor general to help them take the next step. Mudiay had annually improved his shooting numbers but found himself fighting for minutes as Murray overtook him for the starting job. Now he finds himself fighting for a starting position once again in New York, but with much less competition. From the Knicks perspective giving up Doug McDermott to see if the young, athletic Mudiay will help their rebuild is an A+ move in my eyes.
Image from hoopshabit.com
THE curious case of Elfrid Payton (and his headline-making hair-do) continued with Orlando giving up on him after three and a half seasons. He has shown that he can be a useful player but has struggled to consistently find his jump shot, a skill that most modern point guards can’t survive without unless you are a gift from God.
PAYTON enters restricted free agency this offseason and as Phoenix flounders through their climb back up the standings we are left staring at their roster and saying WTF. Devin Booker is a bonafide stud, but getting Payton is a weird move that doesn’t exactly give us a sense of their direction in the short or long term. I mean he’s an upgrade from Ulis with Canaan and Knight out for the year, but is he really an upgrade from Ulis? If someone throws money at him this offseason the Suns won’t be jumping to match the offer. It’s just flat out wierd, but hey it is the Phoenix Suns.
Image from basketballinsiders.com
OUTSIDE of the aforementioned moves and of course, the Blake Griffin deal, there wasn’t a lot of other noteworthy deals from the deadline. A handful of players were moved, but none of them are going to play big minutes for teams to close out the year or have a massive impact on the game. A lot of the teams atop the conference such as the Celtics, Raptors and Rockets didn’t budge either, however, they could still be players in the buyout market.
DESPITE the overwhelming rumour mill for the likes of Kemba Walker, DeAndre Jordan and Tyreke Evans no deals were made as draft picks and bad contracts paralyzed a lot of NBA GM’s from making a big move. Lou Williams wasn’t moved either, with the Clippers instead opting to extend his contract before the day was out for another 3 years and $24 million.
ON the surface the deadline seemed insane thanks to the Cavaliers’ explosion, but the drama wasn’t as big as it has been in years past when you really dig into it. The 2018 deadline will be remembered for the Cavs moves and if they transpired into a Cleveland revival or instead, perfectly paved the way for LeBron to the Lakers six months from now.