NBA Trade Deadline: Grades and Analysis

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Trade 1:

Pistons receive: Tobias Harris

Magic receive: Brandon Jennings, Ersan Ilyasova


Pistons: A

Magic: C


Pistons: Before this trade, Detroit could have went into the summer with roughly $32.8m in projected cap room and chased a desired stretch-four to put them in secure playoff contention next season. Some names that would have made sense include Ryan Anderson, Terrence Jones,  Harrison Barnes, or Marvin Williams; but with so many teams set to have cap room, competition for one of these players would have been fierce and a severe overpay was sure to come.

Instead, Stan Van Gundy and co. saw an opportunity to snag a young, developing, stretch-four on a fair contract at the deadline without experiencing a mad bidding process and possible risk of losing out on their top targets. While they did relinquish a solid backup point guard in Jennings (UFA), and a sharp shooting power forward in Ilyasova ($400k guaranteed next season) in order to acquire Harris, neither player likely figured into their future plans. After seeing first round picks be a requirement in acquisitions such as Donatas Motiejunas and Markieff Morris, the Pistons have to feel great about getting a player of Harris’ caliber, age, and contract value without relinquishing that future first round pick. Now it remains up to Van Gundy and the Pistons’ young core to integrate the 23 year old stretch-four into a team that appears ready to compete in the Eastern Conference for many years to come.

Magic: As a fan of Tobias Harris’ game and ability to become an ideal modern power forward, I was surprised to hear Orlando’s lack of return in this deal. Sometimes, whether it’s justified or not, teams tend to undervalue their own players. While Harris appeared to be a member of Orlando’s core, the Magic felt the need to unload his newly signed 4-year, $64m deal from their books in order to create more cap room this summer, but also to allow for more playing time for both Aaron Gordon and Mario Hezonja. With the trade, Orlando is now among the leaders in projected cap room this summer with $42m-$53m expected to be available.

Even with the extra savings though, Orlando needed to find greater return than two veterans who are unlikely to push them into playoffs this season and may not be back with the team next season. Cap room and flexibility are great to have and Orlando’s tax rates are nice, but as a small market team entering a competitive free agent market this summer, having the money to spend on players can only take you so far. While we don’t know what was out there, it’s hard not to believe the Magic could’ve scored a first round pick (even a protected one) for a player such as Harris. But while we can scratch our heads at what Orlando did here, the better approach is to wait and see how Rob Hennigan and co. use that cap room beyond the eventual re-signing of Evan Fournier this summer and Victor Oladipo next summer.

Trade 2:


Hornets receive: Courtney Lee, Cash

Grizzlies receive: Chris Andersen, P.J. Hairston, CHA’s 2018 second rounder, MIA’s 2017 second rounder (31-40), BKN’s 2019 second rounder (from CHA), BOS’s 2019 second rounder (from MIA) (56-60)

Heat receive: Brian Roberts, $2.1m traded player exception (TPE)


Hornets: A

Grizzlies: C+

Heat: B+


Hornets: After Michael Kidd-Gilchrist went down for the season, it was apparent the Hornets couldn’t sit on their hands any longer if they were serious about getting into the playoffs this season. When you look at the cost of acquiring Courtney Lee, this is a terrific deal for Charlotte. P.J. Hairston — while talented — was clearly not part of the team’s future after his 16′-17′ team option was declined before the season and two future second round picks are easily worth Courtney Lee even if he’s only a rest-of-season rental.

Grizzlies: An odd deal for the Grizzlies in the sense that they are clearly still trying to position themselves well in the Western Conference playoff race, yet felt as though they were not going to be able to re-sign Courtney Lee this summer with an impending max offer to Mike Conley and thus needed a return for the free-agent-to-be. Memphis can also only re-sign P.J. Hairston to a maximum starting salary of $1.3m this summer (declined team option). Chris Andersen provides center depth with Marc Gasol out for the season and receiving four (likely only two) future second rounders are nice as well.

Miami: The Heat saved $7.7m in luxury taxes and salary and received a traded player exception for essentially nothing (Brian Roberts was later traded).

Trade 3:

Clippers receive: Jeff Green

Grizzlies receive: Lance Stephenson, LAC’s 2019 first round pick (top-14 protected in 2019 and 2020, if not conveyed then MEM receives LAC’s 2022 second round pick)


Clippers: B+

Grizzlies: C+


Clippers: The Clippers made a good move here: with Blake Griffin out, they needed to keep pace in the West and Jeff Green’s versatility and familiarity with Doc Rivers can accomplish that better than Lance Stephenson’s poor play could. They cost themselves an extra $1.6m in tax (Jeff Green’s net-likely incentives increased by $200k), but for Steve Ballmer, this doesn’t seem to be much of an issue. I also like the protections on the pick from LAC’s perspective.

Grizzlies: Memphis clearly wanted to rid themselves of Jeff Green, but I don’t quite understand the return here. Lance Stephenson doesn’t seem to have any value outside of the state of Indiana, but even if he does reclaim some of that value, the Grizzlies are not replacing Courtney Lee’s expert shooting in any way. I like the acquisition of a first round pick, but I think this trade would have been really intriguing if Memphis could’ve really lowered the protections on that pick.

Trade 4:

Pistons receive: Donatas Motiejunas, Marcus Thornton, $212k TPE

Rockets receive: DET’s 2016 first round pick (top-8 protected in 2016, top-10 protected 2017-2021, unprotected in 2022), $2.3m TPE, $947k TPE, rights to Chu Maduabum

Sixers receive: Joel Anthony, DEN’s 2017 second round pick


Pistons: C+

Rockets: B+

Sixers: A


Pistons: The Pistons paid a steep price for the right to overpay a big man with back issues this summer. While they have their core set for the future, that pick could still come back to haunt them if Motiejunas doesn’t work out. Marcus Thronton will thrive with SVG though.

Rockets: The Rockets were unlikely to re-sign Motiejunas this summer due to back issues this season and limited money to give both he and Terrence Jones. To receive a first rounder for Motiejunas is a very nice return especially since that pick appears like it will wind up in the middle of the first round. Nice savings in this deal for HOU as well as they shed $8.1m from their tax/salary bill.

Sixers: Rent cap space for an asset. Wash, rinse, repeat.

Trade 5:

Suns receive: Washington’s 2016 first round pick (top-9 protected until 2022), Kris Humphries, DeJuan Blair, $1.6m TPE

Wizards receive: Markieff Morris


Suns: B+

Wizards: B


Suns: After a poorly handled situation from all parties that sunk Morris’ trade value this season, the Suns did well to received a first round pick that appears likely to come their way in the upcoming 2016 draft. They also opened up an additional $7.4m in cap room next season (if Humphries and Blair are cut before June 30th) and are now expected to have around $34m in cap space come July.

Wizards: It’s hard to tell whether Morris’ issues will carry over to his new team, but there is no denying his talent and potential in a league where stretch-fours who can defend are coveted. Giving up a first round pick that’s likely to be in the middle of the first round is risky especially with future rookie scale contracts expected to be gold, but with a draft that appears weak and a talented player on a very fair contract, this deal was worth the risk for Washington.

Trade 6:

Cavs receive: Channing Frye, CLE’s 2020 second rounder (56-60) (via POR), $9.6m TPE, $947k TPE

Magic receive: Jared Cunningham, CLE’s 2020 second round pick

Blazers receive: Anderson Varejao, CLE’s 2018 first rounder (protected top-10 in 2018, top-10 in 2019, if not conveyed then POR receives two future second round picks)


Cavs: B

Magic: B

Blazers: A+


Cavs: More veteran bench depth, shooting, and size can rarely hurt when you are chasing a championship, but a future first so far out into the future is a risky endeavor. Those picks can have a small chance of blowing up in a team’s face, but again, the Cavs are going for it now and a top-10 protection is fair insurance if things don’t go well. Cleveland also reaps big savings of $11.4m in tax and salary.

Magic: Clearly, Frye was not a part of the Magic’s future and considering it appears Orlando has some major plans for 2016 free agency, Frye’s $7.8m salary in 16′-17′ and $7.4m salary in 17′-18′ was an issue. This move, along with the Tobias Harris trade could leave Orlando with close to $53m in space (if C.J. Watson is moved) this summer.

Blazers: Another example of renting your cap space for assets. The Blazers received a very interesting pick here in that Cleveland only has five players under contract in 2018: Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving, Tristian Thompson, Channing Frye, and Iman Shumpert. A zero-risk, potentially high reward trade.

Trade 7:

Nuggets receive: D.J. Augustin, Steve Novak, $1.2m cash, OKC 2016 second rounder, Charlotte’s 2016 second rounder (31-55), $135k TPE

Thunder receive: Randy Foye, $3.8m TPE


Nuggets: B

Thunder: B+


Nuggets: Recognizing their timeline to compete, the Nuggets did what they needed to do here: receive future assets for veterans. Two second rounders seem a fair price for Randy Foye and the cash sweetener to help pay for Steve Novak’s buyout makes this deal a fair one for Denver. They also used part of their Wilson Chandler Disabled Player Exception to take on Steve Novak and allow OKC to gain a TPE (the exception is now expired).

Thunder: As Sam Presti stated after the deadline, the Thunder needed to be aggressive in order to maintain their sustained excellence. Randy Foye can do nothing but help improve OKC’s bench once Andre Roberson returns. It was a near sure thing that OKC would deal either Novak or Augustin by Thursday and by doing this deal, OKC saved $11.75m in taxes and salary by dealing the both of them.

Trade 8:

Hawks receive: Kirk Hinrich, $947k TPE

Bulls receive: Justin Holiday, DEN’s 2018 second rounder (via UTH), $2.9m TPE

Jazz receive: Shelvin Mack


Hawks: C+

Bulls: A-

Jazz: B


Hawks: Gave up Shelvin Mack and Justin Holiday for Kirk Hinrich and because I do like Mack and Holiday, Atlanta gets a C+. That said, this trade won’t hurt or help Atlanta in any significant way.

Bulls: I think the Bulls returned very good value for Kirk Hinrich here and not only created a useful trade exception, but saved $4.8m in taxes and salary in the process. Job well done.

Jazz: Acquired a needed point guard who typically rates out as one of the better passers in the league for someone else’s (not their own) second round pick. Can only help in their pursuit of the 8th seed this season.

Trade 9:

Pelicans receive: Jarnell Stokes, $721k cash

Heat receive: NOP 2018 second rounder (top-55 protected), $845k TPE


Pelicans: A-

Heat: B


Pelicans: Relinquished essentially nothing to take on a player on a team-friendly contract who has a chance of developing into a role player. Low risk-moderate reward. Found a way to use a small Ish Smith TPE in the process (necessary to acquire Stokes due to the fact that he was signed to a 3-year deal).

Heat: Saves Miami $2.8m and brings them below the luxury tax. Also allows them to avoid the repeater tax rate. They also used all of their remaining cash available in trades from now until June 30th (they will not be able to purchase a 2nd round pick during the draft).

Trade 10:

Blazers receive: Brian Roberts, Miami’s 2021 second round pick

Heat receive: $2.9m TPE, $75k cash


Blazers: A+

Heat: B+


Blazers: Gave up essentially nothing to acquire a serviceable point guard and a future asset. Also saved $1.9m due to the fact they’re only required to pay Roberts’ pro-rated salary from now until the rest of the season (as opposed to his entire season salary that will go on their books) and got above the salary floor as a result of the trade.

Heat: Though it appeared the Heat could’ve used Brian Roberts with Tyler Johnson ailing, this move made sense from a savings perspective. The Heat saved $10m in taxes and salary here and for that, the trade was worth it.


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