As expected in the modern NBA, the trade deadline day created a ton of news. Possibly one of the biggest trades in the modern era, the Brooklyn Nets traded James Harden after only one season to the Philadelphia 76ers for a package centered around Ben Simmons. Both teams are clearly better off with the deal, considering their stars were unhappy at their current locations, and each have a chance to build title-contending teams in due time. We also saw some other major moves including the move of 2-time All-Star Domantas Sabonis and former All-Star Kristaps Porzingis.
Here are the biggest winners and biggest losers from the 2022 NBA trade deadline, because there were so many moves that it was almost hard to keep track of them. Luckily, we have recapped the major moves that resulted in winners and losers this season and going forward.
Winner: Brooklyn Nets
The Brooklyn Nets made the most of getting rid of James Harden by getting an incredible package consisting of 3-time All-Star Ben Simmons, elite shooter Seth Curry, and consistent backup center Andre Drummond. Not to mention, Brooklyn recouped some of the first-round picks they used to acquire Harden. In other words, the Nets added Simmons, championship-quality role players, and future picks.
Nobody knew for sure whether the Nets were going to trade Harden, especially when Kevin Durant wanted the 3-time scoring champion to remain with the team. But the rumors of Harden being unsettled were true and considering Harden has requested out with two teams in less than two years, they might be better off without him. A Big Three of Durant, Simmons, and Irving should be competing for a championship for the next 4 years at least.
Winner: Ben Simmons
Simmons, as with any superstar player in today’s NBA, got exactly what he wanted. The Australian did not want to play for the 76ers ever again, right or wrong. He was hell-bent on getting out, and he got his wish. But not even Simmons could have imagined ending up on a superteam with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, two NBA champions and future Hall of Famers.
Ben Simmons is also competing in a big market, with a team that caters to his skill set. Quite frankly, Simmons is better off with the Nets than he ever was with the 76ers, because his skills do not work alongside Joel Embiid. Finally, Simmons can return to basketball and show the world he is capable of becoming the superstar we all expect him to become.
Winner: Daryl Morey
Even with critics swarming Morey and his decision to stay patient with a Simmons trade, the former Rockets GM got the last laugh. He got the man he wanted, even if it took a little more than it should have. Losing Seth Curry, Andre Drummond, and first-round picks won’t be easy; but they finally got rid of Ben Simmons for possibly the best running mate for Joel Embiid.
Now, the Nets might have gotten a slightly better deal, but Philly had to do what was best for them. Ben Simmons was not coming back no matter what, and Morey needed to take advantage of Joel Embiid’s MVP season. Doc Rivers is still a great head coach, and now he has the pieces to win it all. Barring injury, there are no excuses for the 76ers and that was because Morey was right to be patient with a Simmons trade.
Winner: Philadelphia 76ers
No doubt, the 76ers got a fantastic player in James Harden. The Beard is a rare talent for the way he can score and set up his teammates, and he is the best player in the trade package by far. Not to mention, the 76ers finally found their All-Star guard that can shoot and actually be an offensive threat.
Simmons was great for them defensively, but his inability to be effective from the perimeter hurt the team when Joel Embiid was being swarmed by defenders. The 76ers have a Hall of Fame coach, two Hall of Fame-caliber players, and young guns who want to compete. All that is left for the 76ers is to prove it in the playoffs.
Winner: New Orleans Pelicans
New Orleans are waiting for Zion Williamson to return to full health, and Brandon Ingram is basically an All-Star talent at this point of his career. They needed improved guard play because Devonte’ Graham and Josh Hart are not cutting it. CJ McCollum, a career 19.0 PPG scorer, was a perfect addition. The shooting guard can create his own shot, put pressure on the defense, and also be a go-to player in the clutch. The Pelicans should be better next year when Zion is back, and their roster is looking good.
Winner: Cleveland Cavaliers
Look out everybody, the Cleveland Cavaliers are coming. Except for this time, LeBron James has nothing to do with it. Instead, All-Star Darius Garland has an excellent supporting cast including future star Evan Mobley, defensive stalwart Jarrett Allen, and scorers such as Collin Sexton and the newly-acquired Caris LeVert. LeVert was putting up 18.7 PPG this season with the Pacers and can fill in the injured Sexton’s role during this season's playoff push. The Cavaliers are one of the most exciting teams in the league, and they just got better.
Winner: Utah Jazz
The Jazz did not make any major moves, but they sneakily added a talented young point guard. Nickeil Alexander-Walker is only 23 years old and is putting up 12.8 PPG and 3.3 RPG, starting a career-high 19 games so far. Losing Joe Ingles will hurt Jazz fans, but the swingman is almost 35 years old and is out for the season with a torn ACL. The Jazz added a nice young guard to their ranks without losing too much.
Winner: Serge Ibaka and Milwaukee Bucks
Milwaukee could be moving on from Brook Lopez soon, and veteran Serge Ibaka was a great pickup for them. The former Defensive Player of the Year is past his best and no longer an imposing force every night, but he certainly improves the Bucks’ interior defense. Milwaukee are aiming for a very deep playoff run and Ibaka will help the team far more than DiVincenzo, a guard that completely fell out of rotation.
Winner: Charlotte Hornets
It does not seem to be important, but the Charlotte Hornets got even better. Montrezl Harrell, despite what anyone has to say about his attitude, is a solid paint enforcer. The big man is putting up 14.1 PPG and 6.7 RPG on 64.5% shooting from the field, meaning he is very capable of being a fire-starter off the bench. The Hornets want to make a playoff run, and Harrell will absolutely help them in the first round of the playoffs.
Winner: Marvin Bagley III
It must be hard for a 22-year-old who went No. 2 in the 2018 draft to be consistently involved in trade rumors. The Kings have been trying to get rid of Bagley III for the past few seasons and did not give the big man a chance to show what he can do. For the sake of the athletic forward, joining the Detroit Pistons is the best thing for him. The Pistons are in complete rebuild around Cade Cunningham, and Bagley has a chance to finally prove why he is worthy of being a No. 2 overall pick - hopefully.
Winner: Boston Celtics
The Celtics did not trade Marcus Smart or Al Horford, but they added a very good guard in Derrick White and a capable backup big man in Daniel Theis. Boston was clearly not high on Dennis Schroder and Josh Richardson, so both were easily expendable for White and Theis. The Celtics got better on the court and there is no doubt about that. The only thing missing is a blockbuster deal for another All-Star because that is what they really need to compete for a championship.
Winner: Indiana Pacers
The Pacers were deep in the trade market, looking to offload their players as soon as possible. LeVert was traded to Cleveland, and Sabonis was moved for promising young guard Tyrese Haliburton. Sabonis is the best player as of right now, but Haliburton has a chance to become a multiple-time All-Star that can score and also create for others. Indiana did very well for themselves considering Haliburton is almost 22 and could be their franchise centerpiece for now. Indiana also added athletic big man Jalen Smith to their ranks, and he also has a ton of potential.
Winner: San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs are finally embracing a rebuild because they have their best player in the All-Star Game and also acquired two first-round picks. San Antonio will miss Derrick White, possibly their second-best player, but the guard is almost 28 and does not fit with their plans. The golden days of San Antonio are over, and they are off to a great start with their rebuild.
Loser: John Wall
Even if John Wall is making max money while relaxing on the bench, it is a shame that a former 5-time All-Star point guard cannot contribute to a championship team. It was very possible that Wall was preparing for a move to the Lakers because a chance to play with LeBron James and Anthony Davis could do wonders for his legacy. But the 31-year-old point guard is forced to spend the rest of the season without playing the game he loves, something which is not ideal for an aging veteran on his last legs.
Loser: Donte DiVincenzo
It is hard not to feel sorry for Donte DiVincenzo, a 25-year-old guard that has not had a chance to prove his worth with the championship Bucks. The shooting guard has lost his place with probably the best team in the league and is heading to a Sacramento franchise that has a ton of question marks.
Loser: Los Angeles Lakers
It is absolutely shocking that the Los Angeles Lakers did not make any moves, considering the team is an utter disaster. Despite the clamoring by pundits for trades, the Lakers are stuck with their current team as they look towards the buyout market. After all, there had to be at least a few moves on the table.
For one, the Russell Westbrook situation is getting ugly. The point guard is taking shots at his coach and simply does not fit alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis. A swap for John Wall was not a guaranteed winner, but at least it was something. Of course, nobody expects the Lakers to go anywhere this season as they look at risk for missing the postseason.
Loser: New York Knicks
The Knicks, like the Lakers, did not make a single move this offseason to shake up their roster. Julius Randle does not look like their long-term answer, especially as the pressure starts to build on him by the New York faithful. Also, the offseason moves have been flops, starting with Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier. The Knicks clearly need another star player, and they were even in talks to move Cam Reddish. Nobody knows what the fix is for the Knicks, because they are not going to improve as is.