2017 NBA Trade Deadline: Blitz, Bullets and Evasions

The Plot

The trade deadline is a time for frantic speculations, head raising news, surprises and disappointments and much more. And like all its predecessors, this season wasn’t any different. Heading into 2017, majority of the heavy weights like the defending champions, the Warriors (who added the mega star Kevin Durant to their arsenal) and the annual dark horses, now without Tim Duncan, led by Popovich and the rising talent in Kawhi Leonard were all underway to a possible championship run. On the other hand as the season progressed and as other teams looked in, many a rumors began floating about.

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The Setup

The defending champions and LeBron will undoubtedly top their conference as they have ever so easily in the past. But looking at what the West can put forth, the ‘King’ put pressure on his front office with all his might. Be it the media or twitter or post game interviews, whether it was self-detrimental is a topic for another day. The Cavs recognizing the need did oblige by signing the sharp shooter Kyle Korver. The King isn’t done yet, recognizing that their present roaster construction might just not be enough; he has quite openly demanded a backup point guard to replace Mathew Dellevadova (whom they obviously miss).

The NBA is full of top notch executives. Brilliant men have and are still reigning at the highest helms of sport organisational glory. Spurs top this hierarchical pyramid with the Warriors make their own obvious case. The recent years have seen another name that was trusted to serve one of the most rabid fan-base in Boston. Danny Ainge has done a phenomenal job in rebuilding the Celtics dominance. They have accumulated a stockpile of future draft-picks along with several assets with high market value. With the arrival of Isaiah Thomas and pairing him with Horford, they are naturally assumed to be in any trade talks. Talking about gloried franchises, the Los Angeles Lakers’ story has nosedived to say the least. With Jim Bus sacked and the steering now in the hands of Ervin ‘Magic’ Jonson, the storied franchise is going to gather up pieces to make the best of what their situation dictates.

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Los Angeles isn’t the only franchise with office issues.  Phil Jackson is a classic example of the fact that great coaches don’t make the best executives. The ‘Zen Master’ has been heavily criticized for his tenure in Madison. Outside of drafting Porzingis, he hasn’t done much for the Knicks. And now is openly trying to push the star Carmelo Anthony out of New York. Keeping in mind that Carmelo’s undeniable basketball prowess and the fact that he has a no trade clause, all eyes are on the Mecca once again but for all the wrong reasons.

The Follow-Through

Let’s break down what really happened. The musts’ and the must not’s, the yes’s and the no’s, the here’s and there’s and the winners and the suckers.

The Expected

The Kings have been bad to put it mildly. Vivek Ranadive and Vlade Divac have done a poor job in handling their end as the front office. They were unable to hold onto assets like Hassan Whiteside and Isaiah Thomas in the past and have had so many coaching staff changes that nobody cares to count. It is no longer an exaggeration to say that they are giving the Brooklyn Nets a run for their money. It was quite evident that Demarcus Cousins was unhappy with the annual losing records that they were piling up. With the best big man hitting free agency next season, it was only logical to expect him to change scenery. So the hands were dealt almost as soon as the All-Star Weekend drew to a close. Pelicans did not buy their bluff and certainly acquired the ace in the deck. Despite repeatedly assuring that Cousins was not going to be traded, the NBA community was taken aback when the news broke out that Demarcus and Omri Cassipi were being shipped to New Orleans to pair alongside Anthony Davis for last year’s 6th pick Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway and a first and second round pick. The first-round pick reportedly has top-3 protection, meaning that the pick will go to Sacramento if it’s No. 4 or lower.

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Raptors have seen the finish line many a times now and are looking to finally give Lebron a tough competition (as per the standards of the Eastern Conference). When the news of Paul Milsap being on the trading block broke out, it was but natural for the Raptors to have shown interest. Losing Bismak Biyambo was a definitive problem as he was a key reason for their two game push in the conference finals. If they want a similar appearance come playoff time, they need to strengthen their front-court.  It all began as The Raptors sent a first-round Draft pick and swing man Terrence Ross to the Orlando Magic in the deal for Serge Ibaka- a seven year vet who can defend, is athletic, can knock down jumpers and most important of all has playoff experience . they didn’t just stop there Jared Sullinger and two second-round picks to the Phoenix Suns for P.J. Tucker- a veteran who can hit three’s and defend multiple positions.

The emergence of Joel Embid and the highly anticipated signing of Ben Simmons and the endless drought conjured by Sam Hinkie certainly has provided the city of brotherly love with tradable assets.  Their over abundance of quality big men, in which they have certainly showed interest in parting ways with, are a likely destination for many teams. If they can get quality returns we certainly will start getting used to ‘’Trusting the Process’’. The former 2013 draft’s sixth pick Nerlens Noel, , was traded by the Philadelphia 76ers to the Mavs for Justin Anderson, Andrew Bogut and a heavily protected 2017 first-round pick. The Mavs are also reported to grant buyout offers for Derron Williams and Andrew Bogut (which has raised many eyebrows). The 76ers also gave away Ilyasova for Tiago Splitter and a second round pick.

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The Unexpected

Although everyone knew that Demarcus was going to be dealt with, nobody expected how the hands eventually played out. Sending the top tier Big-man to the Pelicans came as a shock to many specially after the management continually assured that he was their centerpiece and wasn’t going anywhere. To top off the element of astonishment, they let him go for second tier role players and picks- it was one of the biggest heist known in recent years.

The ”Summer of KD” left the future of his former team in knee deep of trouble. In the pre-season although they did add an enigmatic guard in Victor Oladipo, as the season moved on it was evident that despite Westbrook’s dominance over the league, he just did not have enough offensive weapons surrounding him.  Although it was clear that they needed to make a splash before the deadline approached, nobody expected that a trade would occur just inches before and in such a clandestine manner.  The Thunder had ears and eyes open all along and proceeded with utmost stealth. Oklahoma City received Taj Gibson, Doug McDermott and a 2018 second-round pick while Chicago received Anthony Morrow, Cameron Payne and Joffrey Lauvergne.

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Staying in the same conference, the Rockets had a similar situation to the Thunder but they recognized and formed a system which was suited to their star and former OKC player James Harden. They’ve certainly put the NBA on notice by unconscious shooting and winning by simply outscoring the opposition.  Just when Houston seemed destined to make some noise in the playoffs and when everything seemed to be at pace with Mike d’Antonie’s system, they added yet another piece from the Lakers in Lou Williams (Lakers’ leading scorer) to add on to their 3 point scoring barrage potential for Corey Brewer and a second round pick. The Rockets now currently have on their roaster five of the top 10 NBA 3-point scoring leaders.

 If the rumors were to be believed, quite a few big marquee names were supposed to be dealt with. Celtics were reportedly keen in acquiring Jimmy Butler or Paul George for their picks and a few assets. Getting a hold of either of them would have certainly made them contention favorites. But as the whispers grew day by day, the Celtics refused to pull the trigger and instead folded for the free agency coming ahead. This certainly has raised doubts whether it was the right move foe Danny Ainge to sit back and wait instead of cashing in on his assets. Other names like Carmelo Anthony and Blake Griffin will also be looking at the free agent market this summer for better or for worse.

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