Major moves at the trade deadline leading to potential chaos in the NBA
February 15, 2019
Last Thursday, Feb. 7, one of the craziest days during the NBA season occurred: the trade deadline. By 2 pm CT, all teams needed to finalize and make any last minute moves before they prepare for the remaining three months of the regular season. Each year multiple players are moved across the league along with future draft picks and money, causing fans everywhere to lose their minds as they watch their favorite teams either buy or sell on their seasons. Here are some of the biggest moves that went down and what they mean for NBA fans everywhere.
Starting with the Eastern Conference, the four top seeds all made moves to acquire players in order to bulk up for their title runs. The number one seed Milwaukee Bucks traded Stanley Johnson, Jason Smith, and two future second-round draft picks in exchange for sharpshooter, Nikola Mirotic from the New Orleans Pelicans. Mirotic, now in his seventh season, spent his first five here in Chicago with the Bulls. Over his career, he is shooting 36% from the three-point line and is averaging 16 points per game this season. He will provide Milwaukee with more depth on the bench as he can come into a game and bring a crucial swing by knocking down shots. This will be essential in the playoffs as games will become more competitive and teams will need everything they can get from their players.
Next, the second-seeded Toronto Raptors sent a package of players, headlined by their center Jonas Valanciunas, to the Memphis Grizzlies for their former all-star center Marc Gasol. Now at the age of 34, Gasol has certainly seen better days but still remains atop the league at the center position. During his twelve seasons in Memphis, he was selected to the all-star game on three occasions and was a crucial piece during the Grizzlies deep playoff runs. For Toronto, this is an upgrade from Valanciunas as Gasol will provide key experience for this team in the playoffs as they are a team buying in on their chances to reach the NBA finals for the first time in team history.
Finally, the five seed Philadelphia 76ers made perhaps the biggest move before the deadline by adding wing player Tobias Harris. Averaging 20 points and seven rebounds per game, Harris is on the cusp of becoming an elite player in this league and now that he will be paired with the likes of Jimmy Butler, Ben Simmons, and Joel Embiid, Philly has one of the toughest lineups in the league and will cause opponents nightmares on both ends of the floor. While they currently sit at fifth in the East, they are just six and a half games behind Milwaukee for first and look as if they can easily jump up a few sports before the playoffs begin in April.
The powerhouse teams of the Western Conference made no major moves during the deadline, as many of these teams have enough confidence in their lineups heading forward. The Golden State Warriors have won the last two NBA Championships and look like they are well on their way to a third straight. After signing superstar center DeMarcus Cousins in the off-season, the already dominant “super team” became even more loaded with talent and are the clear favorites to come out of the West. But this very well may be the year in which things change, as the Denver Nuggets, Oklahoma City Thunder, and Houston Rockets all have proved to compete with the Warriors this season and have just enough talent to possibly unseat the powerhouse.
With the playoffs kicking off on April 13th, NBA fans certainly have a lot to look forward to. Now that we have our contenders set, it is just a matter of who will want it most this postseason. While Golden State may be favorites once again, it seems that their greatest challenges lay ahead of them.