NBA Trade Deadline Winners and Losers

Photo Credit: Rick Bowmer/AP

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.

Utah Jazz

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.

Russell Westbrook

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

Miami Heat

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.

Thomas Bryant

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.

Charlotte Hornets

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.

Championship Contenders: Eastern Conference

2023 Eastern Conference Championship Contenders
Photo Credit: Halftime Productions

As we slowly creep closer and closer to the 2022-23 NBA season, excitement is beginning to build around the league. The new year brings new hope and possibility for franchises all around the league, especially for these Eastern Conference championship contenders

For some teams, the new year presents another chance at chasing the illustrious goal of an NBA title. For others, it involves hope as their franchises hope to finally turn the corner. In this article, we will take a look at the Eastern Conference, and take a look at which teams have the best chance to be contenders for an NBA Championship.

Eastern Conference Championship Contenders

Tier 1: True Eastern Conference Championship Contenders

Celtics, Bucks, Heat

These three teams all have the best chance to come out of the Eastern Conference, and it’s far enough to clearly separate them from the rest of the conference.

First, we have the Boston Celtics. The Celtics are clearly capable of being in this category, with them being the team to come out of the Eastern Conference last year. They didn’t lose any major pieces, and were even able to add Malcolm Brogdon to the fold this offseason. They should enter as the favorites to come out of this conference.

The Milwaukee Bucks and Miami Heat should be considered the same. Neither team lost a key player, and both have been actively looking to add talent this offseason, albeit unsuccessfully — for now.

The Bucks nearly knocked the Celtics off last year without Khris Middleton. The Heat, on the other hand, were a missed-three-pointer from Jimmy Butler away from making the Finals last year. Both teams should be considered favorites.

Tier 2: Fringe Eastern Conference Championship Contenders

Nets, Cavaliers, 76ers

These three shouldn’t be considered favorites, but they all do still pose a real threat to make it out of this conference. The Brooklyn Nets have been surrounded by drama all off-season, but as of now it looks like they’ll be able to hold onto Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant. Those two alone pose a threat, and with the right squad around them they can certainly make some noise.

The Cleveland Cavaliers just made a splash move, trading for Donovan Mitchell. Mitchell, a proven star who has performed very well in the playoffs throughout his career, will join a very talented young corps. There isn’t enough star talent on the roster yet for them to be in tier one, but this team is extremely talented.

As for the Philadelphia 76ers, the perennial playoff disappointing team will have another crack at it this year. This time, James Harden and Joel Embiid will likely get to play a full season together. If Philadelphia can put it all together in the playoffs this time around, they’ll be a real problem.

Tier 3: Playoff Contenders

Bulls, Hawks, Raptors, Knicks, Hornets

These five teams should still be around come April, but they don’t have everything it takes to truly be championship contenders in the Eastern Conference — yet.

The Chicago Bulls started 2021 strong, but faded as the year went on, and haven’t made any major upgrades this summer. The Atlanta Hawks added Dejounte Murray, and they’re the only team in this tier that has a legitimate argument to be in Tier 2. Unfortunately, the team around Murray and Trae Young isn’t quite good enough yet.

The Toronto Raptors grabbed a playoff spot last season, but were quickly bounced by the Sixers. This unit has a ton of young talent, and they could be a true contender very soon. The New York Knicks added Jalen Brunson, but their inability to add any other star power leaves them down in this tier.

As for the Charlotte Hornets, well they seem to be the same team from last year. With the Bridges issues, and their silence on the market this offseason, they’ve shown no signs of improvement.

Could Joel Embiid Really Join The Heat?

The other day, Sixers center Joel Embiid sent out this tweet that led to a whirlwind of speculation.

It immediately begs the question,  when Embiid says, “Miami needs another star,” is he referring to himself? If so, could Joel Embiid to the Heat be in our future?

Embiid Isn’t Wrong

First, let’s be clear that Embiid does have a point here. At the moment, Jimmy Butler is Miami’s best player, and the team’s only true “star.” Bam Adebayo is probably the next closest to that designation, but he is not quite there yet. Looking at the rest of the roster, they have some great role players and veterans who were once stars, but their best days are behind them. One thing is obvious, if Embiid joined the Heat tomorrow, he would immediately become the best player on the roster. What team wouldn’t want to add him?

Could Embiid Want Out?

The big question here is whether or not Embiid would actually leave Philly. He has established himself as the undisputed leader of the team and is beloved by that city. However, frustration could be mounting for the Sixers big man after a fifth consecutive postseason exit without making the conference finals. Philly’s front office has failed to put a star alongside Embiid. They had Butler for the 2018-19 season, which ended in a heartbreaking game seven loss to the eventual champions in Toronto. Rather than trying to run it back, Butler was sent to Miami.

The latest attempt at finding a running mate for Embiid was a trade for James Harden. Unfortunately, Harden is a shell of his former self. Worse yet, he has an irresistible player option for next season that would pay him over $47 million, making him virtually untradeable. Is Embiid willing to risk wasting another year of his prime on a team that will likely struggle to contend for a title? He might decide that the Sixers have had enough chances and that it is time to move on.

If he does, Miami would be a near-perfect fit. Embiid and Butler already have a great relationship and their playing styles mesh together well. Both are playmakers with and without the ball. Also, Embiid already plays with the tenacity that Heat coach, Erik Spoelstra, demands. Most importantly, the addition of Embiid would transform a Miami team that is currently a contender into a juggernaut.

How Would a Joel Embiid to the Heat Move Work?

Given that Embiid is under contract for next season, any move would require a trade. Also, he cannot be traded until July 17. So, what would a potential trade look like? After using ESPN’s NBA Trade Machine, and then adding in some draft picks, here is one possibility:

Miami receives: Joel Embiid

Philadelphia receives: Bam Adebayo, Max Strus, Miami 2023 1st round pick, Miami 2024 1st round pick.

For Miami, Embiid would be a significant upgrade over Adebayo. Giving up Strus and two firsts is the price of doing business, one that they would happily pay. On the other side, any trade in which Philly gives up Embiid would feel like a loss. The compensation is not terrible, but it is hard to see how the Sixers get better in this trade. It is important to note that this trade would only happen if Embiid demanded it. This would give Philly little leverage.

Will it Happen?

At the end of the day, it is hard to picture Embiid being anywhere but Philly next season. I think it is more likely that Daryl Morey finds a way to either trade Harden or add another shooter. Still, this situation is something to keep an eye on. Embiid is heading into the final year of his contract. If the Sixers are not looking like contenders when next year’s trade deadline rolls around, all bets are off.

Can Jimmy Butler and the Heat go all the way?

The Eastern Conference Finals began last night with Game 1 between the Boston Celtics and the Miami Heat. What started as a close game and the Celtics ahead, ended with complete second-half domination by Jimmy Butler and the Heat.

Butler led Miami to a 118-107 victory thanks to his massive stat line. The Miami superstar ended Game 1 with 41 minutes played, 41 points, nine rebounds, and five assists. His offensive command was met with an equally paramount defensive showing. Butler recorded five steals and four blocks on Tuesday. The dominant play by Butler was complimented by the Celtics missing two of their most important players and Miami playing exceptional defense.

Looking back

Miami entered the third quarter down by eight points after Boston’s Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown refused to get down in the first half. It was a somewhat surprising effort by Boston, as they were without defensive player of the year, Marcus Smart (foot), and Al Horford (health and safety protocols).

Being down at the half sparked some crucial changes for Miami at halftime. The player-led adjustments in the locker room inspired an entirely new approach to the game in the third quarter. Miami’s defense stole the show, allowing their team to go on a 22-2 run to start the second half.  The Heat went on to score 39 third-quarter points, allowing Boston just 14.

Butler’s dominance continued into the fourth quarter when he blocked a huge three-point shot for Tatum, elevating the energy, and nearly sealing the game for the Heat.

The Celtics almost came back in the fourth quarter. But in the end, Butler couldn’t be stopped, and Miami’s defense wasn’t going to back down.

Looking ahead

Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals will take place on Thursday on Miami’s home court. Miami is at a huge advantage due to the fact they have yet to lose at home in the playoffs. Bam Adebayo and the rest of the Heat’s core players have already shown they can contain Tatum and Brown. What will happen when the Celtics’ defensive star comes back?

Marcus Smart is rumored to be returning to the lineup for Game 2. This will provide another challenge for Miami’s defense, and another limit for Miami’s offense at the hands of Smart’s unbelievable defensive abilities. Al Horford will likely not return for Game 2.

If the Celtics want to keep their chances of advancement alive, they will have to win on Thursday to ensure they don’t get too far behind. One thing is for sure, Jimmy Butler and the Heat don’t make it easy to come back.

Breaking: Heat Re-sign Victor Oladipo

The Miami Heat have agreed to a one year deal to bring back 2 time all-star Guard Victor Oladipo, who they traded for last season.

The Miami Heat have agreed to a one year deal to re-sign Shooting Guard Victor Oladipo. Olapido has signed for the veteran minimum, the two time all-star will return for a second year with Miami.

Victor Oladipo is signing a one year deal in Miami.

This comes after Miami dealt Kelly Olynyk and Avery Bradley to the Rockets for Oladipo at the trade deadline. After joining the team, Oladipo injured his right quadriceps tendon.

Despite requiring surgery, Oladipo is expected back with the team during the winter.

In the 4 games he played in Miami Oladipo seemed to unlock Miami’s defensive potential, giving them another point-of-attack defender and volume scorer.

He looks to help this team on both sides of the ball.

Miami has added proven veterans in Kyle Lowry, PJ Tucker, and Markeiff Morris.

In addition, they retained depth pieces Duncan Robinson, Max Struss, Dewayne Dedmon, Gabe Vincent, and now have re-signed Oladipo.

The Heat look to continue an active offseason to this point, looking to maximize stars Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo.

They have shown interest in shooters across the league, adding depth that should help them in the postseason.

Heat are eyeing shooters.

Pat Riley always has something in his back pocket, and we can only guess what’s coming next. We will be sure to keep you updated through this fast paced offseason at ATB.

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