There’s no debate that the NBA trade deadline is the craziest in all of sports. This year was no different. Big names were moved as fans were scrambling to figure out what was happening. Trades were coming at an unforgettable rate, creating a memorable trade deadline for fans and players alike. As teams are trying to get their last key pieces for the playoff push, we take a look at some winners and losers of the NBA trade deadline.
NBA Trade Deadline Winners
Los Angeles Basketball
The Lakers were involved in just two trades Thursday, but came away a solid group of players. Headlining their additions are D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley, Jarred Vanderbilt, and Mo Bamba. That’s a terrific haul considering the biggest pieces they gave up were Russell Westbrook, Thomas Bryant, Patrick Beverley, Juan Toscano-Anderson, and a 2027 1st-round pick (protected 1-4). It gives them better depth and fits for their play style. This puts them as a playoff contender in my eyes.
The Clippers may have had the best day at the NBA trade deadline. They snagged Bones Hyland, Eric Gordon, Mason Plumlee, and three future 2nd-round picks. Those are nice upgrades from what they gave up: three 2nd-round picks, John Wall, Luke Kennard, and Reggie Jackson. It gives them a nice pairing at center and solid back-up guards while simultaneously getting a little bit younger. I believe this puts them in the mix to contend for the West — if they can stay healthy.
Both the Clippers and Lakers knew they needed to make some moves if they wanted to contend, and that’s exactly what they did. Neither team forced a trade and made some amazing moves.
The Utah Jazz were only involved in one trade on NBA trade deadline day, but the move they made was terrific. They ended up trading two 2nd-round picks, Mike Conley, Malik Beasley, Jarred Vanderbilt, and Nickeil Alexander-Walker. They received Russel Westbrook, — who is expected to be bought out — Juan Toscano-Anderson, Damian Jones, and the Lakers 2027 1st-round pick (1-4 protected).
The players involved aren’t expected to make a big impact, but there are other factors I love about this trade. They cleared cap for next year with Conley and Vanderbilt. They were due about $16 million next year, but now they’re off the books for the Jazz. That’s huge for them as they’re projected to have around $50 million in cap now next season — possibly more. They also added another first round pick in 2027. This makes 15 first-round picks for them between now and 2029.
With the added players and bevy of draft picks, the Jazz are setting themselves up for a fantastic future. They already have a solid core to build around with Lauri Markkanen breaking out and Collin Sexton still improving. Look out for the Jazz in the upcoming years.
Some may be confused why I have Russell Westbrook on this list after seeing he got traded to the Jazz. As mentioned above, Westbrook is expected to be bought out, changing everything. He’s able to choose where he plays — besides the Lakers — and is (presumably) out of Los Angeles, where the media was tearing him apart.
Westbrook hasn’t been great this season. Though he hasn’t been that bad, either. He still brings some energy to a team, and the fit in LA was bad. Now, he’s out of the pressure of being a Laker, and can choose where he thinks he fits best. He could be more comfortable and play his game. He is expected to choose between the Clippers and Heat. Those two teams could help him find his game more, and worry less about the outside pressure — such as being a Laker.
It’ll be interesting to see where Westbrook goes and if he can restore some of the old Russ magic. He was treated unfairly in many reports during his time in with the Lakers, so a change of scenery could be exactly what he needed.
NBA Trade Deadline Losers
After losing in the Eastern Conference Finals last year, the Heat have been a little disappointing. They’re 6th in the East, but had higher aspirations. Many thought they would be aggressive and make some moves with Duncan Robinson’s bad contract and Kyle Lowry’s regression and age. They would’ve had to give up picks to get rid of them, but they are hurting the team this year, and will next year as well by standing pat.
Instead of making a move, the Heat sat back and did nothing. Not a single trade. There’s rumors that they’re in the market for potential buy-out candidates, but is that enough? I’m not so sure. They could’ve made a move to cement themselves as a better team, and put them in the conversation of possibly winning the Eastern Conference. The decision to do nothing could hurt them down the road.
Heat fans were angry, and have every right to be. It’s tough to see a team that was one series away from the Finals last year not make a single trade when they’re not living up to expectations. They have a rough offseason coming up, especially if they don’t go far in the playoffs.
In a surprising move, it was reported that Bryant became unhappy with his role on the Lakers, and had requested a trade. That was a bit of a shocker, as Bryant was putting together a solid season in LA backing up Anthony Davis. He was averaging 21.3 minutes per night, putting up 12.1 PPG and 6.8 RPG, while shooting 65.4% from the field and 44% from three.
After Bryant made his request, the Lakers decided to move him to the Denver Nuggets for Davon Reed and two 2nd-round picks. This put Bryant in a very similar position, as he is now the back-up to Nikola Jokic. He does go to the #1 seed in the West, but his role remains almost the exact same. Now, he’ll be hoping to prove himself for his next contract in Denver.
It might be nice for Bryant to play for the #1 seed, but he loses this deadline for one reason: his role stays the same. If anything, he could lose more minutes considering the Nuggets have the best center in the league, Nikola Jokic. He got the trade, but not his wish.
The Hornets were rumored to trade multiple players at the deadline, and they ended up making just two trades. They didn’t involve players rumored to be moved such as Terry Rozier, Gordon Hayward, and Kelly Oubre Jr. Their first trade was moving Mason Plumlee to the Clippers for Reggie Jackson — who was bought out — and a 2028 2nd-round pick. Their other trade was moving a 2024 2nd-round pick and Jalen McDaniels to Philadelphia for a 2023 (from Philadelphia) and 2027 (from Portland) 2nd-round pick, and Svi Mykhailiuk.
The main issue with these trades is that they don’t do anything for the Hornets. They essentially gained two 2nd-round picks and Svi Mykhailiuk for Mason Plumlee and Jalen McDaniels. That is not a good return for those two players. It is apparent that Charlotte is in full tank mode to hopefully win the lottery for Victor Wembanyama or Scoot Henderson.
The Hornets have been a mess for a while, and trades like these are why. They need to start making moves that will help, instead of hurting or not doing anything thing for them. It was another poor deadline for this Charlotte franchise.