- Matthew Zeitz
NBA Trade Deadline: Winners and Losers
The NBA trading deadline has now come and gone, and it is time to reflect on which teams made the best moves. However, this is a tall task considering how many trades occurred, with 28 of the 30 NBA teams changing their roster. Multiple generational players and future Hall-of-Famers were moved as well, moves that could seriously impact the chances of their new team winning the championship. We will look at some of the trades that went down and evaluate whether the team primarily involved is a “winner” or a “loser”.
Winner: Phoenix Suns
The Suns made a huge splash at the deadline, acquiring former MVP and perennial all-star Kevin Durant from the Brooklyn Nets. The Suns gave up two of their great young players, Cam Johnson and Mikal Bridges, along with four future first-round picks to get the deal done. The Suns had already lost more games by the midpoint of this season than they did the entire previous season, and first-year team owner Mat Ishiba wasn’t satisfied with their mediocre play. He decided to push for a deal to get done. Needless to say, Durant will be a huge addition and will massively help the Suns’ chances come playoff time. Although it is risky giving up as much as they did to acquire an aging player with an injury history, their championship odds have moved from 16-to-1 to 4-to-1 since the deal. They definitely won the trade deadline.
Winner: Dallas Mavericks
The Mavericks also acquired a perennial all-star from the Brooklyn Nets at the trade deadline in Kyrie Irving, giving up two high-quality role players and a first-round pick in return. Irving will form a tandem with the Mavs’ young superstar, Luka Doncic. Doncic, who was forced to carry a huge burden previously, will now have Irving to take some of that responsibility off of him. Given how little they had to give up for a player of Kyrie’s caliber, this is a big win.
Winner: Brooklyn Nets
While this pick might seem a little counterintuitive, since the team just ridded itself of its two superstar players, there still exists solid reasoning behind it. In light of Kyrie Irving’s off-court antics, Nets management did not offer him a contract extension. Irving requested a trade and Durant shorts followed suit. Although Nets fan Drew Goldoff (‘25) is pleased with the young players they received in return, he is not happy with the overall situation of the team. The Nets were out of leverage, so a trade was imminent, but the Nets found a way to maximize the return on their deals. They ended up with some young stars and plenty of draft picks, making them winners as well.
Winner: Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers claimed their spot on this list as a result of a few different trades to round out their roster. They finally ended the Russell Westbrook experiment, trading him to the Utah Jazz, where he became a free agent. In return, they received D’Angelo Russell and three more very good role players. Although they currently sit in the 13th seed out of 15 at the time of the all-star break, they are just 3.5 games behind the 6th seed. A few solid additions could propel them into playoff position, and with Lebron on the roster, they could certainly go far.
Loser: Denver Nuggets
The Nuggets are currently the #1 seed in the Western Conference, so they have to be doing something right. However, with the Irving and Durant trades, the balance of power has shifted in the Western Conference. Their lone acquisition in Thomas Bryant does not move the needle for them since he will be backing up the 2-time MVP Nikola Jokic and playing rarely. They should have done more since they have a good shot at a championship, so that makes them a loser.
Losers: Chicago Bulls
Before, I mentioned how 28 of the 30 NBA teams made a trade, and one of the teams that didn’t was the Chicago Bulls. Chicago’s situation is tricky. They were the #1 seed in the Eastern conference at last year’s All-Star break, but since then, it has all gone downhill, and they currently find themselves in the #11 seed this year. Because of this rapid drop-off, you would have expected the organization to make one of two choices: either trade star players for other assets and start over or make some trades to improve and attempt to be competitive again. Instead, they decided to do absolutely nothing. Bulls fans like Brandon Gibbons (‘25) say they are very frustrated with the fact that the team has not chosen a direction, and that fact alone makes the team’s management and players big losers.