There’s been two counterbalancing phenomena going on in the NBA over the last several years.
The first is the flurry of activity we see in the offseason. Free agent coming and goings are treated like national defense secrets. #WOJBOMBS and NBA Twitter fuel the internet’s growing thirst for transaction news. The draft has become a wild jungle of rumors and pick-tipping.
The second movement is how cautious GMs have been during the trade deadline. The best player acquired on last year’s deadline was…Marcus Thornton? Spencer Hawes? Andre Miller? Yikes. The year before had Rudy Gay and JJ Reddick, who are names but not superstars. It’s been years since we’ve had a deal that really changed the title race. Rasheed Wallace to the Pistons in 2004 is probably our last true midseason blockbuster.
This season? Rajon Rondo was dealt early on and now we have our second big trade of the season. We may have tons of more brewing. Between Western teams jockeying for position and Eastern teams trying to snag the low hanging fruit of a playoff spot, all bets are off.
This one’s no blockbuster, but it goes down as one of the oddest, goofiest trades in a few years. Twitter crashing while the details trickled out didn’t help.
Here’s how each team fared:
Acquire: Lou Amundson, Alex Kirk and 2019 Second-Round Pick (from CLE), Lance Thomas (from OKC)
Send: J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert (to CLE)
Depending on your feelings about Dion Waters, the Knicks may have given up the two best players in the trade and gotten nothing of note back.
The deal saves them $20 million and nabs them a second round pick four new Stars Wars movies from now. Long term, it’s a sound move. In the short term if you’re Knicks fan, yikes.
You’ve been passed in the standings by the Sixers. You trade away the youngest member of your core and a guy who, though frustrating, was at least fun to watch (on and off the court). The rest of this season is a wash. You hope for a draft pick this year and potentially a quick turnaround, because 2016’s first round pick was traded for the right to pay/slowly develop a hatred for Andrea Bargnani.
I texted my friend who’s a Knicks fan for his thoughts. He replied: “Well, at least now they can re-sign Amare at the max…”
The Knicks have as dark a present and as cloudy a future as anyone in basketball, and for some reason, that’s fun.
Acquire: J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert (from NYK), Protected First-Round Pick (from OKC)
Send: Dion Waiters (to OKC), Lou Amundson, Alex Kirk and 2019 second-round pick (to NYK)
Sloppy mess so far this season? Add one of the league’s most reckless shooters to the mix! That’s gotta help, right?
This is clearly not the Cavs’ last move this year (Reports have them lusting after Nuggets bigman Timofey Mozgov), but even then, I’m not sure where this gets them. Shumpert gives them desperately needed defense. I assume Smith becomes their scorer off the bench.
They are probably better off, though we’ll need to see if the pieces mesh together in time.
Acquire: Dion Waiters (from CLE)
Outgoing: Lance Thomas (to NY), Protected First-Round Pick (to CLE)
I’m starting to think that the decision makers in OKC think building a basketball team has the same principles as playing Monopoly.
They’ve collected a series of bruising bigs (Mitch McGary, Kendrick Perkins, Steven Adams). They are waiting to snag another smooth, lanky forward (Perry Jones III, Kevin Durant).
Now they can put some houses and hotels on their Combo Guards Who Shoot Too Much (Russell Westbrook, Reggie Jackson, and Dion Waiters).
Waiters may not fit properly, but Oklahoma City feels like they got him essentially for nothing. The draft pick is heavily protected (some even said they worried about fitting another rookie in their cap space and on their roster) and Lance Thomas is Lance Thomas.
Come playoffs time, do you feel better with Dion Waiters on the floor or Jeremy Lamb? Waiters is a slight upgrade.
So to recap: the Knicks are a joke and the Cavs and Thunder got marginally better. What a weird trade. It still feels fake to me. I don’t have the faintest idea who started the discussions that led to this deal or how they originally broached the subject.
Grade (for all 3 teams): A++
Trades are fun. More trades, please.
Shane McNichol is the founder, editor, and writer at PalestraBack.com. If you don’t understand the title of this post, do some Googling. We don’t need that kind of filth on Palestra Back. Follow him on Twitter @OnTheShaneTrain.