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So often we build something up in our heads, only to feel severe disappointment when it fails to live up to expectations. That’s why it’s so sweet and satisfying when the opposite happens, and our wildest dreams are exceeded by reality.
The latter was the 2022 NBA trade deadline, which saw a combination of blockbuster deals involving superstar players, surprises that came out of nowhere, and nerdy roster maneuvering that would make the world’s finest economists stand up and applaud. There was so much buildup about a potential James Harden-for-Ben Simmons trade that we almost convinced ourselves that it was a smokescreen, but the deal came through in all its glory to shake up the landscape of the Eastern Conference and the title race.
There’s plenty to discuss from that deal alone, plus a whole lot more. Here’s a recap of all the trades that went down, followed by the winners and losers from the 2022 NBA trade deadline.
For in-depth analysis on every trade, click here.
Here are your winners and losers of the 2022 NBA trade deadline:
Say what you will about Simmons, but the young man never wavered from his desire. He clearly did not want to play in Philadelphia again, and was willing to endure endless criticism, threats and profanity from fans, along with tremendous financial losses through fines and withheld paychecks, in order to force the change of scenery. He called the bluff of 76ers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey, who boldly claimed he was willing to wait four years for a favorable trade, and now Simmons is headed to a contender in a premier market. After all the talk of mid-to-bottom-level teams like the Indiana Pacers, Houston Rockets and Sacramento Kings showing interest, Simmons has to be ecstatic that he’s going to a Brooklyn Nets team that, if Kevin Durant is healthy, is still a legitimate threat to win the NBA title.
The tactics may have been unconventional and we can debate all day about whether what he did was fair to the 76ers organization, but in the end Simmons got exactly what he wanted.
Simmons may have gotten what he wanted, but so did Morey. Not only did the 76ers add James Harden, whom Morey has been infatuated with since their days together in Houston, but they also didn’t have to give up prized rookie-contract contributors Tyrese Maxey and Matisse Thybulle in the deal. Our Brad Botkin broke down how Morey’s patience with Simmons paid off, and now the Sixers are an unquestionable title threat with an MVP-level Joel Embiid.
First Harden was a driving force in the Rockets executing one of the worst trades in recent NBA history when they sent Chris Paul, two first-round picks and two pick swaps to the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for Russell Westbrook. Just a year later, the relationship between Harden and Westbrook had deteriorated enough that the Rockets traded Westbrook to the Washington Wizards for John Wall. After two consecutive downgrades at point guard, Harden then decided that he wanted out of Houston, showed up late for training camp and loafed his way into a trade to the Nets. Fast forward to last week, when Harden scored four points in a lackluster effort against the Sacramento Kings amid clamorous rumors that he wanted to be traded to the 76ers.
And here we are. With Harden constantly being dissatisfied with teammates and organizations, you have to wonder how long it’s going to take until things go south in Philadelphia.
I’m aware of the hypocrisy of praising Simmons for sticking to his guns while decrying Harden for the same, so I’ll name him a winner here. Everybody is entitled to happiness, and Harden has clearly been searching for years for a situation that makes him feel comfortable. Hopefully, Embiid is the teammate, and Philadelphia is the city, that will finally bring him joy and peace.
If Irving gets the vaccine and plays in every game this season, does Harden still want out of Brooklyn? We’ll never know, but Harden was reportedly after thinking he was joining a superteam, and we know he’s not blaming Kevin Durant for his injury. It’s more likely Harden was upset that Irving was sent home for the early part of the season and can now only play in road games due to his refusal to get the COVID-19 vaccine. The Nets were considered the title favorite heading into the season and dominated teams with Durant, Harden and Irving on the floor together. Now we’ll never get to see that core healthy in the playoffs, and Irving certainly shares part of the blame.
The Lakers are in free fall, and just a few days ago LeBron James went on the record saying that he doesn’t believe his current roster is capable of reaching the championship level.
“Do I think we can reach the level where Milwaukee is right now?” James said, via The Athletic. “Um, no. Is that what you wanted to hear? No.”
Well, the trade deadline has come and gone, and no moves by the Lakers. Their roster will remain the same, with possible minor additions coming in the buyout market.
The Lakers were unable to find a suitor for Russell Westbrook, who has now been relegated to the bench during crunch time, and their reported in any deals may have ended a lot of calls before they started. With how poorly the Lakers are playing, they probably needed a miracle at the deadline to save them. That did not happen, which has to be demoralizing for the struggling franchise.
In a similarly sinking boat as the Lakers, the Knicks were reportedly looking to make a deal at the deadline. If adding talent wasn’t in the cards, they at least wanted to offload some salary, but that didn’t happen either. Instead, they’ll take the same roster that has lost 10 of its last 12 games through the rest of the season, as they attempt to climb out of 12th place in the Eastern Conference. We certainly are a long way from “Bing Bong!”
The Celtics didn’t make the sexiest moves, but Brad Stevens’ first trade deadline in the front office was an unmitigated success. Boston brought in Derrick White, the type of player who seems like he’ll thrive in a supporting role on a good team, parting ways with Josh Richardson and Romeo Langford to clear up a crowded backcourt. The cost was a first-round pick, but White seems more than worthy of relinquishing that asset.
Additionally, Boston sent out Dennis Schroder, Enes Freedom and Bruno Fernando and brought back old Celtic Daniel Theis. All told, the Celtics could have maneuvered themselves out of the luxury tax while improving their team, something that’s very difficult to do in the modern NBA.
The Mavericks provided the biggest WTF moment of the trade deadline, sending Kristaps Porzingis to the Washington Wizards. When it was announced that Dallas would be getting Spencer Dinwiddie and Davis Bertans in return, we all kept refreshing Twitter to see how many future first-rounders the Wizards were attaching to the deal. We kept looking. And looking. And looking.
Turns out there were none. No first-rounders. In fact, Dallas sent out a future second-round pick to Washington along with Porzingis in exchange for Dinwiddie and Bertans. That seems like pennies on the dollar for Porzingis, even considering his injury issues and reportedly rocky relationship with Luka Doncic. Bertans seems like a good fit for Dallas on paper, but he’s shooting 32 percent from 3-point range this season and is owed $33 million over the next two years. Dinwiddie has been downright bad this season coming off of his second ACL surgery, is set to make $18 million next season, and is positionally redundant with Jalen Brunson.
Speaking of Brunson, part of the reasoning behind acquiring Dinwiddie might have been to provide insurance in case Brunson leaves as a free agent this summer, with the Pistons reportedly set to make a big offer. If the Pistons are forcing your hand in a trade involving one of your supposed franchise centerpieces, it’s probably not a good thing.
The Wizards made perhaps the sneakiest splash of the trade deadline, acquiring Porzingis and future second-round pick from the Mavericks in exchange for the bloated contract of Bertans and Dinwiddie, who was playing so poorly that his teammates reportedly wanted him traded. Porzingis isn’t without his issues, injuries chief among them, but he and Bradley Beal would create a dynamic offensive one-two punch to build around. If Beal ends up being traded, Porzingis provides some insurance as a stop-gap No. 1 option. And even if Porzingis never ends up fully healthy, the Wizards didn’t give up anything they wanted to get him.
When the Damian Lillard trade rumors began swirling last summer, the idea was to put pressure on the Portland front office to help build a contender. About six months later, they’ve now traded away CJ McCollum, Norman Powell, Robert Covington, Larry Nance Jr. and Tony Snell, while bringing in Josh Hart, Eric Bledsoe, Justise Winslow, Keon Johnson, an injured Joe Ingles on an expiring contract, a protected 2022 first-round pick and three future second-round picks.
The stated goal was to create flexibility to upgrade the roster around Lillard this summer, but now presumed target Ben Simmons has been traded to Brooklyn and the deadline has come and gone with no further moves from the Blazers. Even if they free up cap space, Portland hasn’t traditionally been a destination for marquee free agents, and the class is already pretty limited in terms of difference-makers. If the Blazers are rebuilding and planning on trading Lillard, the moves make total sense. If, as they say, they’re still trying to contend with Lillard, not so much.
Assuming Zion Williamson is going to play basketball again at some point, the Pelicans created a fearsome threesome (on offense, at least) of Williamson, Brandon Ingram and CJ McCollum. There are certainly still questions about the rest of the roster, but rookie Herb Jones has looked great and young big man Jaxson Hayes has taken a step forward of late. One thing is for sure, the Pelicans have a whole lot more hope with McCollum than they did before they got him.
The Clippers were already defying the odds by being in playoff position despite zero games from Kawhi Leonard and an injury-plagued season from Paul George, and they beefed up the roster by adding a wing scorer in Norman Powell and a Swiss Army, 3-and-D forward in Robert Covington. The beauty of the acquisition is that it works in the short-term, making the Clippers a solid playoff team this season, and in the long-term, as both Powell and Covington will fit nicely alongside Leonard and George once they return. Add to the equation the fact that the only somewhat meaningful piece the Clippers had to give up was 2021 No. 21 overall pick Keon Johnson, and this is a home run deal for Los Angeles.
They were also able to cut $30 million off their luxury tax bill and create a trade exception by jumping into a four-team deal that sent Serge Ibaka to the Milwaukee Bucks. This was a great deadline for the Clippers.
Despite the jubilation after winning their first game with Domantas Sabonis, the Kings made a bizarre move by trading away 21-year-old Tyrese Haliburton, by far their best asset and already one of their most efficient offensive players. Haliburton looked like the Kings’ future floor general in a brief stint with De’Aaron Fox sidelined recently, and his ability to knock down 3-pointers and facilitate for teammates is thoroughly intriguing.
The Kings elected to pick up Sabonis, which, on paper at least, gives them an All-Star to pair with Fox to make a push for the playoffs in the near future. However, Sacramento already had a solid starting center in Richaun Holmes, who did not get traded at the deadline, and Haliburton is talented enough to make this deal look extremely short-sighted in a couple of years. Time will tell, but it seems like Haliburton was the one player the Kings should have refused to trade, and they sent him out for a very good player, but one who might not end up making a significant impact on winning.
Everybody deserves a fresh start, and that’s exactly what Bagley finally received on Thursday. Injuries and the stigma of being drafted directly ahead of Luka Doncic, Jaren Jackson Jr. and Trae Young have led to a disappointing first four seasons of Bagley’s career, and now he’ll get a chance to start anew in Detroit, a rebuilding franchise with nothing but time to develop and nurture young players. There have been plenty of instances of talented players flaming out in one situation only to thrive in another — Bagley and the Pistons certainly hope that’s the case.
The numbers from Sportsline think the Ben Simmons-for-James Harden deal favors the Nets in the long run. Brooklyn’s title chances have gone from 6.8 percent to 7.7 percent, Sportsline says. The deal doesn’t have a big impact on the Sixers’ projections.
Kristaps Porzingis is on the move…. to the Washington Wizards. The Mavericks are sending the big man to Washington in exchange for a package that includes Spencer Dinwiddie and Davis Bertans, per reports.
Source: Mavs are trading Kristaps Porzingis to the Wizards for Spencer Dinwiddie and Davis Bertans.
The Wizards are making a few pre-deadline moves. Washington is sending Montrez Harrell to Charlotte and Aaron Holiday to Phoenix, per reports.
Charlotte is acquiring Washington center Montrezl Harrell for Vernon Carey and Ish Smith, sources tell ESPN.
The Wizards are trading Aaron Holiday to Phoenix, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium.
Something a little lost in the shuffle from all of the buzz surrounding the James Harden-Daryl Morey reunion in Philadelphia. According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, the newest member of the 76ers with this deal is opting into his $47.3 million player option on contract for next season. That’s a lot of dough!
The Suns have the best record in the league but that doesn’t mean they’re going to technically stand pat at the deadline. According to Adrian Wojnarowski, the Pacers are finalizing a trade to send Torrey Craig to the Suns for Jalen Smith and a future second-round pick.
The Celtics are trading Josh Richardson, Romeo Langford and a protected 2022 first-round pick to the Spurs in exchange for guard Derrick White. Boston’s first rounder is protected 1-4. The Spurs also received a protected first-round pick this year from the Raptors in the Goran Dragic deal.
CBS Sports HQ analyst Avery Johnson said he’s spoken directly to Ben Simmons’ agent Rich Paul on how soon we could see the embattled star on the floor in a Brooklyn uniform. It sounds as if Nets fans may need to be a little patient with their new addition:
“It’s going to take some time but physically he’s there,” Johnson said on CBS Sports HQ. “The change of scenery is going be outstanding for him. Ben is really excited.”
“It’s going to take some time but physically he’s there. The change of scenery is going be outstanding for him. Ben is really excited.”@CoachAvery6 has heard DIRECTLY from Ben Simmons’ agent, Rich Paul, on how soon we could see him on the court with the Nets. pic.twitter.com/GEYV2s026p
The Nets have broken up their Big 3 in a blockbuster deal on Thursday that sends Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Andre Drummond and a pair of first-round picks to Brooklyn. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, Sean Marks and the Nets may not be done wheeling and dealing before the 4 p.m. ET deadline now that they’re armed with two first rounders. Who else could we see coming to Brooklyn and joining Kevin Durant?
With James Harden out of the door, leaving Brooklyn to link up with Daryl Morey in Philadelphia, the 76ers have seen their NBA championship futures go from +1300 to +700, according to Caesars Sportsbook.
Sixers went from +1300 to win the title to +700 @CaesarsSports pic.twitter.com/NsdEQTLPjM
• Ben Simmons
• Seth Curry
• Andre Drummond
• Two first-round picks
According to Adrian Wojnarowski, Brooklyn will get Philly’s 2022 first-round pick unprotected with a right to defer until 2023 and a 2027 first-round pick protected 1-to-8. The 2027 pick would roll over to 2028 protected 1-to-8 again. The pick turns into two seconds and $2M in 2029.
• James Harden
• Paul Millsap
Here’s something we never thought we’d have to point out prior to the pandemic. As the Nets grapple with Kyrie Irving only being available for road games because of New York’s vaccination requirements, Ramona Shelburne of ESPN is reporting that Ben Simmons is indeed vaccinated, clearing the way for his availability for every Brooklyn game, which I’m sure the Nets did their due diligence in the process of striking this deal with Morey and the 76ers.
It’s finally happening! The Brooklyn Nets are trading James Harden to the Philadelphia 76ers for Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Andre Drummond and two first-round picks, according to Shams Charania and Adrian Wojnarowski. Daryl Morey gets to keep Matisse Thybulle and is reunited with his former Rockets star in Philly while Ben Simmons gets the breakup he so desperately desired following his terrible postseason play and in-season holdout.
A brief thought: I wonder if Brooklyn would send Philadelphia Bruce Brown back to replace Matisse Thybulle if the 76ers ultimately relent. He would give the new-look 76ers some of the defense they sacrificed back. The issue is that Brown has veto rights as an impending Early Bird free agent on a one-year deal, and getting him to agree to waive those rights on such a time crunch would probably be difficult.
Matisse Thybulle is the last hold up. Everything else in a James Harden-for-Ben Simmons trade has been agreed to, according to Keith Pompey.
It looks like we’ve found our sticking point. The Nets want Matisse Thybulle in a possible James Harden trade, according to Ian Begley. We’ll see if Philadelphia folds and surrenders their top defender.
A brief pause in four-team trade analysis to bring you this, from Sam Amick: “There’s a whole lot of optimism coming from the Ben Simmons camp that a deal with Brooklyn gets done.” Woj adds that there “is motivation on both sides to get a deal done.”
Clippers perspective: They saved a bunch of money! The Clippers were in such a high tax bracket that getting off of Ibaka now will ultimately end up saving them tens of millions of dollars. Those dollars have no on-floor impact, though, it’s just money out of Steve Ballmer’s pocket. From that perspective, this is a great deal for the Clippers because the alternative of dumping him wholly into Oklahoma City’s cap space would have probably cost more draft capital. Ballmer was willing to spend the cash necessary to keep extra draft picks. That’s what the best owners do.
Milwaukee’s perspective: I always liked the idea of Serge Ibaka as a Bucks target… but felt it was likelier that he came via a buyout. The Clippers could have likely used draft capital to send him into Oklahoma City’s cap space and saved a fortune in luxury tax bills. They’re saving plenty here, but this route makes Ibaka a trade acquisition over a buyout. There are benefits to that for Milwaukee. The Bucks will now have Ibaka’s bird rights in the offseason, for instance.
But Donte DiVincenzo was their one trade chip, and there were probably better players they could have allocated it towards than Ibaka. What this deal suggests is that Brook Lopez, who has been out since opening night with a back injury, is further away from returning than we thought. Milwaukee badly needed another rim protector that could shoot. There are only so many of those in the NBA. The Bucks got one and insured themselves against Lopez’s absence in the playoffs. It’s hard to fault them too much for that even if this might have been a slight overpay.
Okay, let’s circle back to the four-team trade from earlier. As a reminder, here’s who’s going where:
Bucks get: Serge Ibaka, two second-round picks, cash
Clippers get: Rodney Hood, Semi Ojeleye
Kings get: Donte DiVincenzo, Josh Jackson, Trey Lyles
Pistons get: Marvin Bagley III
The Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers were engaged in trade talks about you know who earlier this morning, per Chris Haynes. No word on where talks stand as of now.
Doc Rivers has canceled 76ers practice today, calling it the “human thing to do” in light of all of the rumors surrounding his team. Make of that what you will. For now, no Harden-for-Simmons deal appears imminent.
Minor trade alert! Boston and Orlando are swapping injured youngsters. Bol Bol will head to Boston. Dozier’s going to Orlando, per Woj. Both are out for the year. Cash and a swap of second-round picks will be involved as well. This is now the third time Bol has been traded this season. He failed a physical after Denver tried to send him to Detroit. They rebounded to get him to the Magic, but now the Magic are sending him to the Celtics. Dozier is a more proven commodity as a role player, but Bol’s upside as a big man that can shoot and dribble is substantially higher. It has just never been realized.
The chances of a potential James Harden-Ben Simmons blockbuster happening in the next 2.5 hours could come down to the other players who are (or aren’t) in the deal, per Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer. The Sixers have “been adamant about not packaging their young standouts Tyrese Maxey and Matisse Thybulle,” writes Pompey.
As for Dragic, he’s headed for the buyout market. Dallas will be the favorite to land him, according to Chris Haynes, and that makes sense given his connection to fellow Slovenian Luka Doncic. Keep an eye on Miami, though. The Heat could not have reacquired Dragic had he been bought by Toronto, but their reacquisition restriction ended the moment he was traded to another team.
Okay, let’s talk about these deals, starting with the Dragic-Young swap.
That trade is a home run for San Antonio. Days ago, it didn’t appear certain that the Spurs would get a first-round pick for Young. Now they’ve gotten a fairly good one. Hard to do better for a player you were barely using, and it makes the DeMar DeRozan sign-and-trade look even better for them now. The Spurs got two first-round picks for a player they never planned to re-sign. Not too shabby.
The Toronto side is a bit more complicated. Young will help, but he’s 33 and on an expiring contract. As well as he fits into Toronto’s “we only play 6-8 forwards and Fred VanVleet” ethos, he’s probably a short-term addition. That’s the sort of player contenders add every year, but the cost for Toronto was steeper than it would be for most teams. This front office has landed Pascal Siakam, Jakob Poeltl, OG Anunoby and Scottie Barnes with four of its last five first-round picks. That’s an absurd batting average. The first-round pick Toronto is giving away had far more value to them, specifically, than it does to most teams.
Unsurprisingly, the Spurs will let Dragic hit the buyout market after acquiring him from Toronto, per Woj. The Bucks, Mavericks and more are expected to try to acquire the veteran guard.
ESPN Sources: The Spurs — who are trading for Toronto’s Goran Dragic — are expected to negotiate a contract buyout with Dragic. Among the interested expected to be interested once he becomes a free agent: Dallas, Milwaukee, Chicago, Clippers.
Here’s what appears to be the full, four-team trade between the Bucks, Kings, Clippers and Pistons, per ESPN.
Full trade participants:
Kings: Donte DiVincenzo, Trey Lyles and Josh Jackson.
Bucks: Serge Ibaka, two future second-round picks, cash.
Clippers: Rodney Hood, Semi Ojele.
Pistons: Marvin Bagley Jr.
The four-team deal is starting to round into shape. Semi Ojeleye and Rodney Hood will also go to the Clippers, per Woj. This will leave the Bucks with at least two open roster spots to use on the buyout market.
An important note on that Dragic-Young trade: if Dragic is off of the table, the Raptors don’t have an easy way to match salary on Talen Horton-Tucker. That’s going to make the rumored three-team swap with Toronto, Los Angeles and New York significantly harder.
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