The NBA season seems to be happening faster due to the extended 2019 / 2020 season after the Orlando Bubble Restart. The good news is we as fans do not have to wait that long before satisfying our NBA craving.
The action started in earnest after the trade machine got started. More fuel was added following the 2020 NBA Draft. With so much interaction between teams trying to strike favorable deals, let us look at the top five winners and top five losers in this year’s trade season.
Top Five Losing Trades
5. Los Angeles Clippers & New York Knicks
Los Angeles Clippers get: 2020 second-round pick (Number 33 pick – Daniel Oturu)
New York Knicks get: 2023 second-round pick (via Pistons)
Los Angeles Clippers – D
New York Knicks – D
The Clippers collect the 2020 second-round pick. After a star-studded roster underperformed, the head coach left the Clippers. With the team in disarray, the last thing it needs is another young draft pick that requires mentorship or nurturing. The Clippers are supposed to be in win-now mode but their trade actions do not help them to achieve that.
The Knicks obtain the 2023 second-round draft pick via Detroit. For a franchise in the doldrums struggling to see daylight, the Knicks need to make trades for immediate action. A pick in 2023 will only prolong the fans’ wait in this arduous rebuilding process that does not seem to be improving anytime soon.
4. New York Knicks & Utah Jazz
New York Knicks get: 2020 first-round pick (Number 23 – Leandro Bolmaro)
Utah Jazz get: 2020 first-round pick (Number 27 – Udoka Azubuike) and 2020 second-round pick (Number 38 – Saben Lee)
New York Knicks – D
Utah Jazz – C-
The New York Knicks obtained the 2020 first-round pick number 23. It seemed like the only improvement the Knicks have this season, moving them up the draft table. However, this is in no way any help for the Knicks who are seeking a team identity, their roster leader, and more consistency. In a draft field with limited upside, the Knicks barely showed any pedigree in this move.
The Utah Jazz get the 2020 first-round pick number 27 and the 2020 second-round pick number 38 in return. The Jazz may have upgraded from one pick to two picks but no real gains are seen in this move and the picks are likely not to impact the roster quality in the coming season.
3. Minnesota Timberwolves & Oklahoma City Thunder
Minnesota Timberwolves get: Ricky Rubio, 2020 first-round pick (Number 25 – Immanuel Quickley, who was dealt to the New York Knicks) and 2020 first-round pick (Number 28 – Jaden McDaniels)
Oklahoma City Thunder get: 2020 first-round pick (Number 17 – Aleksej Pokusevski)
Minnesota Timberwolves – C-
Oklahoma City Thunder – D
The Wolves reunite with Ricky Rubio and pick up the 2020 first-round pick number 25, which was subsequently dealt with by the New York Knicks. The Wolves also collect the 2020 first-round pick number 28 via the Lakers. Remember the losing seasons when the Wolves eventually gave up on Ricky Rubio? Now, even after having an All-Star point guard in D’Angelo Russell, the Wolves are thinking of going back to their initial failed plan of Ricky Rubio. This does not speak well of the Timberwolves’ organization’s congruency and clarity in their direction.
The Thunder pick up the 2020 first-round pick number 17. This has got to be the weakest trade out of all the smart trades executed by Sam Presti this year. For sure having a trading chip like Ricky Rubio can yield a better return than a mediocre pick in a mediocre draft field.
2. Brooklyn Nets, Los Angeles Clippers & Detroit Pistons
Brooklyn Nets get: Landry Shamet
Los Angeles Clippers get: Luke Kennard
Detroit Pistons get: Rodney McGruder and
2020 first-round pick (Number 19 – Saddiq Bey)
Brooklyn Nets – C
Los Angeles Clippers – C+
Detroit Pistons – D
The Nets get Landry Shamet in this three-team trade. This is a relatively worthy trade for most teams because Shamet is a respectable backup guard with career averages of 9.2 points, 1.8 rebounds, and 1.6 assists. The Nets only lose the number 19 pick in this year’s draft, which does not yield an impressive starter for the Nets anyway. The big downside of this trade is that the Nets have a glut of guards waiting for their turn in the team’s rotation. From Spencer Dinwiddie to Caris LeVert to Kyrie Irving to Joe Harris to Chris Chiozza to Tyler Johnson, there is no lack of guards. This is also happening amidst an uncertain future, mainly due to rumors of their interest to acquire yet another ball-dominant guard in James Harden. That leaves the rationale for this trade in question.
LA Clippers get Luke Kennard in this trade move after losing two players in this trade. Luke has shown a decent uptrend in his performance over the past three seasons, where his per-game averages rise from 7.6 to 9.7 to 15.8 points, 1.7 to 1.8 to 4.1 assists, 2.4 to 2.9 to 3.5 rebounds, as well as 53% to 54% to 54.8% effective field goal percentage. Luke does provide good consistency to deepen the Clippers’ bench if he keeps up his improvement.
The Pistons get Rodney McGruder and the 2020 first-round pick number 19. The four-year player, Rodney, has seen a gradual decline since his Miami Heat days. At the Clippers, his role player bench tasks have seen diminishing returns this season. Furthermore, the Pistons lost a decent bench player and hardworking role player in Luke Kennard during this trade, leaving a significant hole in its roster flexibility. The Pistons can only bank on their draft pick for any future upside.
1. Detroit Pistons & Houston Rockets
Detroit Pistons get: Trevor Ariza and 2020 first-round pick (No. 16 – Isaiah Stewart)
Houston Rockets get: Future first-round pick and 2021 second-round pick (via Lakers)
Detroit Pistons – C+
Houston Rockets – C
The Pistons get Trevor Ariza and the 2020 draft pick number 16. In a year of weaker field, the Pistons can only depend on Trevor Ariza, a declining veteran reaching the end of his career, to mentor its younger players. At 35 years old, there is little the former NBA champion can do to improve their Playoffs chances.
The Rockets get an unconfirmed future first-round pick to provide flexibility for its rebuild during the post-Harden era. With two of its stars in James Harden and Russell Westbrook likely exiting, the Rockets need more impactful players. Not much trade to boast about and much uncertainty to go along with it.
Top Five Winning Trades
5. Portland Trail Blazers & Houston Rockets
Portland Trail Blazers get: Robert Covington
Houston Rockets get: Trevor Ariza, 2020 first-round pick (Number 16 – Isaiah Stewart) and 2021 protected first-round pick
Portland Trail Blazers get – B
Houston Rockets – B-
The Blazers receive former All-Defensive team, Robert Covington, as a means to raise the defensive standard of the offensive themed Blazers. Robert is a reliable three-and-D player who is hardworking on the new switching style of defense and presents valuable hustle value for the Blazers.
The Rockets receive Trevor Ariza, the 2020 first-round pick (No.16), and the 2021 protected first-round pick. After a few experiments, the Rockets reunite with Trevor albeit a fleeting one. All these trade harvests give the Rockets more chips to continue trading their way up for better assets. The 2020 pick may be less useful due to the weaker field this year but the protected first-round pick will come in useful for future trade talks.
4. Oklahoma City Thunder & Philadelphia 76ers
Oklahoma City Thunder get: Al Horford, rights to Vasilije Micic
2020 second-round pick (Number 34 – Theo Maledon) and 2025 first-round pick
Philadelphia 76ers get: Danny Green and Terrance Ferguson
Oklahoma City Thunder – B
Philadelphia 76ers – B
The Thunder welcomes Al Horford, the 2025 first-round pick, and the 2020 draft pick number 34. The two draft picks continue to add to the huge treasure trove that the Thunder has accumulated. Al Horford is known around the league for being a quality veteran, defensive anchor, and a willing mentor for aspiring stars. His contribution to the Hawks, Celtics, and Sixers was well documented by the media and is a superb stability provider to this up and coming Thunder squad.
The Sixers receive Danny Green and Terrance Ferguson. Involved in the second trade move in just three days, Danny found a new home in the newly minted Sixers squad. With championship coach Doc Rivers and savant executive Daryl Morey leading the team, Danny adds veteran championship knowledge and mentorship for the quality team waiting to cross the hump deeper into the Playoffs. Terrance will provide more options for the coaching staff in their rotations and practices.
3. Phoenix Suns & Oklahoma City Thunder
Phoenix Suns get: Chris Paul and Abdel Nader
Oklahoma City Thunder get: Kelly Oubre Jr., Ricky Rubio, Ty Jerome, Jalen Lecque and 2022 first-round pick
Phoenix Suns – B
Oklahoma City Thunder – B+
The Suns become the savior of the Chris Paul sweepstakes, stomaching his huge contract. The trade comes with Abdel Nader, as a rotation option for the Suns. The prime value of Chris Paul is an instant Playoffs ticket. His ability to raise the output of the athletic center, DeAndre Ayton (reminiscent of DeAndre Jordan), his ability to mentor Devin Booker into superstardom, and his competency as a floor general would prove invaluable to this Suns team who seemed to be turning a corner. The Suns need to go all-in if they wish to win within the very short runway left in Chris Paul’s career.
The Thunder receive Kelly Oubre Jr., Ricky Rubio, Ty Jerome, Jalen Lecque, and the 2022 first-round pick. Whether is it bolstering the growing roster, providing more stable bench production, or getting extra chips to make further secondary trades, the Thunder has checked several boxes when acquiring this truckload in return. What a classic Sam Presti move.
2. Los Angeles Lakers & Oklahoma City Thunder
Los Angeles Lakers get: Dennis Schroder
Oklahoma City Thunder get: Danny Green and 2020 first-round draft pick (Number 28 – Jaden McDaniels)
Los Angeles Lakers – A-
Oklahoma City Thunder – B-
In this trade, the Lakers get this year’s Sixth Man of the Year award finalist,
Dennis Schroder, while sending three-time champion, Danny Green, as well as the 2020 first-round draft pick number 28, Jaden McDaniels, to the Thunder.
The Lakers successfully replaced an aging sharpshooter in Danny at 32 years old with an instant bench leader-playmaker in Dennis at 27 years old. This keeps the Lakers in elite contention again without losing many skills. The Thunder receive another precious first-round pick to continue their youth rebuilding process, welcome a veteran champion in Danny to mentor the young core, as well as maintain a similar salary commitment of close to 15.5 million USD in this trade. Hence, this can be considered a decent win-win scenario for both teams.
1. Milwaukee Bucks & New Orleans Pelicans
Milwaukee Bucks get: Jrue Holiday and 2020 second-round pick (Number 60)
New Orleans Pelicans get: Eric Bledsoe, George Hill, 2020 first-round pick (Number 24), 2024 first-round swap rights, 2025 first-round pick (unprotected), 2026 first-round swap rights and 2027 first-round pick (unprotected)
Milwaukee Bucks – A+
New Orleans Pelicans – A+
After the uneventful Playoffs, the Milwaukee Bucks wasted no time in striking a deal to pull in Jrue Holiday and the 2020 second-round pick number 60. Jrue is widely regarded around the league by players as an underrated defender, efficient playmaker, and a great teammate. This is seen as an instant upgrade from Giannis’ former running mate in Eric Bledsoe. Jrue brings better size, playmaking, defense, the offense as well as basketball IQ than Eric Bledsoe. The additional draft pick helps to sweeten the deal as a potential trading chip for secondary trades.
New Orleans Pelicans receive Eric Bledsoe, George Hill, the 2020 first-round pick number 24, the 2024 first-round swap rights, 2025 first-round pick, 2026 first-round swap rights, as well as the 2027 first-round pick. David Griffin must be given a lot of credit for formulating such a bountiful harvest in the final year of his prized point guard’s restricted free agent contract before he walks for free next season. This gives the Pelican many more options as it continues year two of the rebuild.
What a flurry of trades within such a short timeframe! With the 2020 / 2021 season waiting to start in a month, these trades will soon be validated, reassessed, and felt in full impact when the rejuvenated teams pit themselves against one another in yet another exciting season to come.