In the world of professional sports, trade deadlines can be very exciting – or disappointing. This year’s NBA trade deadline had some of both. With eleven trades being announced in the last week, alongside many rumored trades that didn’t end up happening, there’s plenty to discuss and look forward to.
The first, and perhaps biggest trade of deadline week saw superstar Sacramento King’s center DeMarcus Cousins get traded along with Omri Cassipi to the New Orleans Pelicans for Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway, a first and a second-round pick. Almost unanimously, NBA fans and experts believe the Pelicans made out like bandits in this exchange. Fox Sports NBA writer Andrew Lynch gave the Kings an ‘F’ grade for the trade, and subsequently gave the Pelicans an ‘A+’. This trade pairs Cousins with one of the best power forwards in the league, Anthony Davis, creating an exciting tandem that some are saying could give the Golden State Warriors a run for their money. The part of the trade that confused Sacramento and NBA fans the most was that the Kings ultimately traded Cousins despite his love and devotion for the city of Sacramento. A video went viral of Cousins saying goodbye to Kings fans and media, and he was visibly tearing up. It remains to be seen who won this trade, but for now, it’s all Pelicans.
Two players the NBA collective had their eyes on were Chicago Bulls forward Jimmy Butler, and Indiana Pacers star Paul George. It was widely reported that the Boston Celtics were likely trade partners with both teams, especially Indiana, but the Celtics never followed through with a deal. Many attacked Celtics GM Danny Ainge for this, but with more details emerging about the demands of Indiana, it’s easy to see why he didn’t pull the trigger. NESN’s Ricky Doyle reported that the Pacers were asking for three out of the four following players: Jae Crowder, Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, and Avery Bradley. That’s two starters and two young prospects. In addition, they also asked for the Brooklyn Nets’ draft pick that the Celtics acquired in a trade. This pick is so valuable as the Nets are likely going to finish in last place, making that draft pick one of the top 5. The Celtics have been criticized for holding on to their great assets, but you must give them credit: they aren’t going to get fleeced.
A trade that has not been talked about enough is the one between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Chicago Bulls that saw Doug McDermott, Taj Gibson, and a second-round pick go to the Thunder in exchange for Cameron Payne, Anthony Morrow, and Joffrey Lauvergne. The Thunder, led by superstar Russell Westbrook, are having a good season, but it has been hard for them to be elite with virtually no support for the MVP candidate point guard. Westbrook, in addition to being a skilled shooter, is incredible and driving to the lane and either finishing, or dishing the ball for a wide-open shot. The problem is, the Thunder didn’t have a guy who Westbrook could consistently count on – until now. During his short career, McDermott has averaged a .398 three point shot percentage, a very good mark that proves he can cash shots from outside of the arc.
Here in Minnesota, the disappointing Timberwolves were reportedly actively shopping veteran point guard Ricky Rubio. Rubio has been the subject of major scrutiny from Timberwolves fans for not being a very good scorer, but to his credit, he’s very good at everything else. ESPN’s Marc Stein and Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski both reported that the New York Knicks were discussing a deal with Minnesota that would see Knicks guard Derrick Rose get sent to the Timberwolves for Rubio. Although Derrick Rose won an MVP award just six years ago, he’s significantly regressed and been lackluster in New York. It was initially reported the Knicks wouldn’t do the swap straight up, but wanted another piece from the Timberwolves in addition to Rubio. Shortly after the deadline, it was revealed the deal did not get done. The Knicks eventually gave in and expressed interest in a straight up Rubio-Rose swap, but Minnesota got cold feet and decided not to go through with the trade.
The Cousins trade sent shockwaves through the entire league, and will be one that is remembered for years to come. And although the Celtics did not end up dealing at all, they are a team that will be very interesting to watch in the offseason.