Let’s first address the elephant in the room. The Cleveland Cavaliers went out and addressed their numerous holes in a subtle way that has most of the NBA world pondering. Did they improve or regress?
Giving up 110.2 points per game, ahead of only the Pelicans and Suns, there was nowhere to go but up for Cleveland. The Cavs acquired the best player moved at the deadline in Rodney Hood. The gangly swingman is instant offence off the bench. He’s a very capable defender, and brings a diverse array of offensive skills, including the ability to shoot off the dribble. For a team lacking perimeter defenders, they also added George Hill. Netting the former IUPUI star, brings the Cavs a respected veteran to add to solidify a messy locker room. George Hill is a proven long range shooter, and brings playoff experience. Considering Cleveland only gave up Iman Shumpert, Derrick Rose and Jae Crowder, this deal was a heist.
In a separate deal, the Cavs added an athletic pair from the Lakers in Larry Nance Jr. and Jordan Clarkson in exchange for Isaiah Thomas, Channing Frye and a 2018 first round pick. Owner Dan Gilbert acquired some solid young pieces to help for the present and the future. In an emergency situation where Lebron James leaves this summer, it leaves Cleveland with a scoring option and a decent big man going forward.
New York Knicks
Surprisingly the Knicks made a decent move at the deadline acquiring 2015 seventh overall pick Emmanuel Mudiay in a 3 way deal. Giving up Doug McDermott was an easy call to get a talented, yet disappointing young point guard. Now New York just needs to let Jarrett Jack know he will lose some minutes, so the Knicks can see what they have with the young guard. Will Mudiay and Frank Ntilikina be able to play together? Spacing will be an issue, but with Kristaps Porzingis going down with a torn ACL, this may allow the Knicks to stumble into a top 5 pick to move forward with next season.
Elfrid Payton went to phoenix in a surprising move. The Suns sacrificed a second round pick to the raw point guard who is having his best shooting season. With Isaiah Canaan out for the season, he gives the rebuilding club a solid piece to work with, even as he enters restricted free agency.
Quietly the Pistons continue to add to their mid season push. Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond continue to carry the offensive load in D-town with Tobis Harris gone, and Reggie Jackson still injured. They received some help, adding veteran point guard Jameer Nelson, and wiry wing man James Ennis for essentially nothing. Brice Johnson and second round pick go to the horrendous Memphis Grizzlies.
Pat Riley and Co. has dealt with the injury bug more than any team this season. In need of desperate help, they managed to bring back the best player in franchise history. Dwyane Wade was acquired for a 2020 second round pick. The 36 year old will bring leadership, moxie and savvy to this young team oozing potential. Luke Babbit returns to Miami for his second stint with the club, providing much needed shooting for the Heat.
When Gordon Hayward inevitably bolted to Boston in the summer, the Jazz and the rest of the NBA world thought Rodney Hood would come close to replacing his production. While Hood started off slow and had an oft injured start, Utah saw something they didn’t like and similar to the Blake Griffin trade, the Jazz sold high on the former Duke star. Selling high was not the issue, the less than ideal return was. Receiving Derrick Rose and Jae Crowder hurt. Also, with the Jazz still in the playoff picture, trade rumour magnet Derrick Favors stayed parked, as he will go into restricted free agency. And with almost the entire league up against the salary cap, they may be able to bring him back at a reasonable price this offseason.
After holding out Tyreke Evans for over a week in order to preserve his health for a trade, he was never moved for the bottom dwelling Grizzlies. Memphis was adamant to receive a first round pick for the 6’6” guard having a career year and renaissance at the 3 point line, making 2.1 per game at a 39.2 % clip. He’s averaging 19.5 , 5 and 5 reverting back to his historical 2009-2010 rookie season where he averages 20.1 ppg, 5.8 apg, and 5,3 rpg.
Los Angeles Clippers
For all the talk about a potential rebuild after trading away Blake Griffin, the Clips tossed away an opportunity to move Lou Williams, Deandre Jordan and Avery Bradley for first round picks. Doc Rivers has this young team playing hard, but for what reason? The Clips haven’t drafted in the lottery since they took Al-Farooq Aminu at 8 in 2010, and haven’t been in the top 5 since they took Griffin at 1 in 2009. Fools gold is exactly what the Clippers look like right now, and may be wasting a season for a potential 8 seed in the playoffs and sweep by their hated rival Golden State Warriors.
Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers are really hoping for one or two free agents to sign with them in either 2018 or 2019, but was it worth it to send Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. over to Cleveland for late first, Isaiah Thomas and Channing Frye? The Lakers look like they are still in disarray, and gave up some young proven players for flexibility going forward, which only pays off if you sign a superstar. Based on how the Lakers have failed to sign stars since the post Kobe era, the other side of the fence doesn’t look so bright.