After many weeks of All-Star level NBA players — Blake Griffin, Kevin Love, Pau Gasol, Jeff Teague, Carmelo Anthony, Al Horford, etc. — being tossed around in trade rumors, almost nothing happened on the day of the NBA’s trade deadline. After an abundance of activity last season, many were expecting a similar result this season. However, it was quite the opposite considering 18 teams moved 26 players and Jeff Green was possibly the most talented of the list.
Outside of the Brooklyn Nets, NBA organizations are beginning to become smarter. Teams are taking less chances because general managers are finally realizing how far back a bad trade can set their franchise. Teams such as the Nets don’t have any first round picks until 2020, or even a single asset on their roster that can get them a first round pick to become younger. They don’t even have a way to set the reset button until 2020. 2020!!!!! Sean Marks to the rescue!
I think one of the two reasons for the slow trade season has got to be because the salary cap is jumping again in the summer. Most of the trades were made so that teams could position themselves to sign a free agent this offseason. The second reason being that nobody wants to get screwed. It’s that simple. It’s extremely hard to trade for a player that upgrades your team, high reward/low risk, benefits your future, and isn’t lopsided against the opposing team.
Regardless of a slow trade season, here are my thoughts on each trade:
Jeff Green to the Los Angeles Clippers
Clippers get: Jeff Green
Grizzlies get: Lance Stephenson, future 1st round pick
This trade tells me a few things that should be seen as obvious. Doc Rivers the general manager/head coach that can never decide when it’s appropriate to be which is willing to deal Lance Stephenson at the expense of a first round pick. Is he that desperate to get rid of Stephenson, or does he really need Jeff Green that bad?
Lance Stephenson will likely never find his fit in this league again unless the Stephenson trainer, Frank Vogel, gets his man back on the Indiana roster. While it’s obvious that Stephenson is a knucklehead, I’m not convinced he was a bad thing while on the court for the Clippers. Lance does things while he’s on the basketball court — sometimes good, sometimes bad. However, he gives the Clips a wrinkle on the perimeter with his athleticism that the Clippers will apparently make a deep playoff push without.
The only reason I can think of why the Grizzlies made this trade is so they could adopt the most interesting roster in the NBA — Born Ready, ZBo, Barnes, The GrindFather, Birdman. Oh yeah, and that 2019 first round pick from LAC with an uncertain Blake Griffin future and super-veteran Chris Paul.
On the flip side, this trade solidifies the uncertainty around Blake Griffin’s future in Los Angeles. Obviously they’ll need somebody to fill in while Griffin remains out with his hand injury, but they aren’t exactly desperate to get their power forward back. I mean, they have an insanely better record with Blake Griffin and are making a legitimate case that they’re better without him.
As a Celtics fan, I’ve seen Jeff Green play an insane amount of games. Jeff Green isn’t going to make a difference for the Clippers. Green is tremendously better in the power forward slot than he is on the perimeter trying to play the wing. While his athleticism is higher than Stephenson’s and can be a poor man’s Blake Griffin until he comes back, you’re throwing away a first round pick for an unneeded rental. Don’t get me wrong, Jeff Green is a great player and will improve the team, but a first round pick for Jeff Green smells like another second round playoff exit.
Tobias Harris to Detroit
Pistons get: Tobias Harris
Magic get: Brandon Jennings, Ersan Ilyasova
While sitting at .500 at the All-Star break, the Detroit Pistons traded away a guard that is no longer a part of their future and a veteran big man for a young, rising talent to pair with the rest of their young talent. Harris offers diverse offense and great rebounding to help Drummond clean the glass. Harris should help propel the Detroit Pistons into the playoffs for the first time since 2009.
As for the Magic, the trade doesn’t make very much sense to me. Other than getting Aaron Gordon more minutes, it raises questions of who is going to be a part of Orlando’s future. Bringing in Brandon Jennings and giving him 25 minutes in his first game as a member of the team helped boost the Magic to a win over the Mavs, but in hindsight took minutes away from the 2015 fifth overall selection, Mario Hezonja. I thought Harris had an opportunity to be one of the main faces of that team moving forward.