Welcome to another installment of the Red94 round table. We have different staff members joining us this week to analyze the 2019 NBA trade deadline, which saw plenty of teams make significant moves. Without further ado, let’s get to the questions!
What are your overall thoughts on the moves the Rockets made at this season’s trade deadline?
Michael Crouchley: Obviously, it’s disappointing that Fertitta is so insistent on staying out of the luxury tax when fielding a team that can compete in the playoffs. However, there was always going to be a move made to cut salary, and I’m glad the Rockets at least got someone that can contribute. If Iman Shumpert can keep his three-point shooting percentage around where it has been this season, he can do a nice job off the bench for Houston. My biggest complaint is that it seems like the same package could have netted Houston Kent Bazemore from Atlanta, or Garrett Temple and JaMychal Green from Memphis. Both are materially better returns for the Rockets.
Ross Michie-Derrick: The Rockets got under the cap, but they are still up against it. The trades made before the deadline will not help them sign free agents in the offseason, where as the parts they traded away, particularly their first-rounder and Knight’s soon to be expiring contract, represented the only hope Houston had of landing a difference making player at this time next year. Iman Shumpert, who they got in return for Knight, Chriss, and the pick, is not that. With a TS% comfortably under 50, Iman is one of the few players that makes James Ennis (traded in a separate deal) look like an offensive savant by comparison. If they’d been willing to go over the tax, the Rockets likely would have been able to pick up Garrett Temple and JaMychal Green from Memphis, two much better players who would have fit perfectly into Houston’s system.
Trent Johnson: Disappointing, if not surprising. After seeing several different quotes from Tillman Fertita about avoiding the repeater tax and only spending on a championship contender immediately followed by the lifeless offseason, this trade deadline was simply more of the same. I do think Shumpert is an upgrade over James Ennis, but I didn’t see the point of giving him away to shed a minimum salary, especially considering the team’s lack of overall depth this season. This trade deadline was reaffirmation about where the front office stands right now as far as improving the team, which is to do so as cheaply as possible and while cutting salary. I know some people are expecting more activity at the buyout market, but I just don’t see them risking dipping back into the luxury task for a guy marginally better than the wings and bigs they already have on the roster.
Which teams were winners at this season’s deadline?
Crouchley: The Boston Celtics – Anthony Davis is still a Pelican! Boston convinced the Pelicans to wait until the summer, putting them in prime position to send New Orleans an offer no one can beat once the season is over. For this season, Boston stood pat while the other Eastern Conference powerhouses made big moves. However, the Celtics have hit a patch of good form, and if Jaylen Brown and Gordon Hayward keep improving after disappointing starts to the season, Boston probably still has the best team in the East.
Michie-Derrick: The Clippers were stuck in traffic. With Houston, OKC, and others in front and a long-ass train in the Warriors crossing the street ahead of them, LA was going nowhere. They needed to get off the road, one way or another. That’s what they did before Thursday’s deadline, opting out of their mediocrity by dealing Tobias Harris, Avery Bradley, Boban Marjonovic, and Mike Scott in a pair of trades before cutting Marcin Gortat. None were bad players, and none were on terrible contracts, but neither were the the types of players you could build a championship team around. While teams like the Hornets, Heat, and Wizards decided to wait it out, the Clippers cleared enough cap-space to compete for big-time free agents while also acquiring several draft picks, intriguing young players such as Landry Shamet and Ivica Zubac, and quality veterans like Garrett Temple and JaMychal Green. From here they can pursue Durant and Irving, use their many assets in trades, or rebuild around their fun young players and their stash of draft-picks. At least they now have room to move.
Johnson: I think all three of Milwaukee, Philadelphia and Toronto got a lot better competing with one another over the past few days. Philadelphia fields one of the most talented starting lineups in the league now with Tobias Harris, even if the fit is funky. The Raptors went out and got a guy in Marc Gasol who can help their second unit offensively and also serve as the defacto Embiid stopper. And Milwaukee absolutely fleeced the New Orleans Pelicans by netting Nikola Mirotic for a handful of picks and Stanley Johnson via Thon Maker. With all that being said, the winners going forward may end up being the rival Mavericks, who picked up a transcendent talent (when healthy) in Kristaps Porzingis, who can play stretch five with the already-amazing Luka Doncic. And they got him for a couple of expirings and a guard they didn’t want; kudos to Donnie Nelson.
On the other end, which teams were losers at this season’s deadline?
Crouchley: The Atlanta Hawks – The Hawks had a chance to add to their promising young core at the trade deadline. Jeremy Lin, Dewayne Dedmon, and Kent Bazemore are veteran players that could’ve netted the Hawks some solid assets from playoff teams. But the trade deadline has passed, and the Hawks got nothing for their aging role players.
Michie-Derrick: The Celtics. Yes, the Lakers lost their chance at Anthony Davis and alienated almost everybody on their roster in the process, and yes there is still a very good chance Davis is traded to Boston over the summer, despite his wishes, but Boston has been putting off true contention for years and this season was supposed to be their breakthrough. Instead, while Boston held pat at the deadline in what has so far been a disappointing season, their Eastern Conference competitors all got better. Toronto added Marc Gasol, Philadelphia acquired Tobias Harris, and Milwaukee picked up Nikola Mirotic. The Celtics, who were supposed to win 60-plus games and challenge Golden State in the Finals, are looking towards next year once again, this time with depreciating assets.
Johnson: The pessimist fan in me wants to say the Rockets, but the clear loser here is the Los Angeles Lakers. After years lowballing teams (in the cases of Paul George and Kawhi Leonard) because of their belief in their franchise’s allure as a free agent destination,
Klutch Sports Group Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka finally put all of their usable assets on the table, offering all of Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma, with two firsts to New Orleans for Anthony Davis only for Dell Demps to forward them to voicemail. I don’t care what anyone says, New Orleans is taking a risk waiting for a potential Jayson Tatum offer from Boston because nothing is a certainty and Danny Ainge hasn’t historically been one to take it easy on his trade partners, but the fact that Demps did take the risk is a colossal loss for the Lakers. Not to mention the strange Clippers deal, I mean what?