Blockbuster Trades in NBA

Grading the latest drafts and trades this season


Graham Hoffman, Freelance Reporter

      As the NBA season nears its midpoint, we approach a day all NBA fans love: the NBA trade deadline. Known as one of the most dramatic deadlines in sports, the NBA trade deadline is always packed with superstars being moved, teams going all in for their championship run, or teams going into full rebuild. In this piece, I’ll be breaking down most of the moves made leading up to the deadline, along with some of the things that didn’t end up coming to fruition. 



Dallas Mavericks – Brooklyn Nets

Mavericks Receive:

G Kyrie Irving 

F Markieff Morris  

Nets Receive: 

G Spencer Dinwiddie 

F Dorian Finney-Smith 

2029 First Round Pick (DAL)

2 Second Round Picks


Mavericks A-

The Mavericks hit the mark with this move. Acquiring a superstar is almost always a great trade. Acquiring one to pair alongside a generational talent like Luka Dončić makes this an exceptional trade. The time to win is now for the Mavericks. Luka has been left to fend for himself throughout most of his career and despite having to carry a very heavy load, he reached the Conference Finals last year. 

Luka’s contract locks him down until 2027, but if you are Dallas, you want him locked down for the rest of his career. Building success and acquiring superstars alongside him will keep him there. The Western Conference is also particularly weak this year as well, so a deep playoff push is definitely on the table. 

They did pay a steep price in giving up their best role player along with their best perimeter defender. Plus, Kyrie’s deal is over at the end of the season. He could walk in free agency after only two months. In the end, however, I give a favorable grade because superstars come at a premium and Kyrie Irving is a super, superstar. If the fit is good, the Mavs could end the year with a ring. With plenty of first round picks in the arsenal left, the Mavs could stay active till the 3pm deadline on Thursday in an attempt to secure that championship squad. 


Nets B- 

Wow. Wasn’t that a failure. The big three of James Harden, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Durant that was supposed to dominate the NBA ends after only winning one playoff series. In this trade, the Nets made the best of a bad situation. Kyrie wanted out, he hasn’t been a good fit, and has been a cancer to the team. Sure, they gave up a superstar without getting one in return, but hey, what more could they do? 

If the trade wasn’t completed, Irving would’ve left in free agency without any compensation. Now they add two solid role players and a future first round pick. I think the team as a whole will gel better without Irving. This opens up room for Seth Curry, Cam Thomas, and newly acquired Spencer Dinwiddie to go get buckets. Kevin Durant is still one of the best players in the league and with some added depth, maybe a playoff run is still in the picture. 


Los Angeles Lakers – Utah Jazz – Minnesota Timberwolves 

Lakers Receive: 

G D’Angelo Russell (MINN)

G Malik Beasley (UTAH)

F Jarred Vanderbilt (UTAH)

Timberwolves Receive: 

G Mike Conley (UTAH)

G Nickeil Alexander-Walker (UTAH)

3 Second Round Picks (LA) 

Jazz Receive:

G Russell Westbrook (LA)

F Juan Toscano-Anderson (LA)

C Damian Jones (LA)

2027 First Round Pick (LA)


Lakers A

I very strongly dislike the Lakers. Despite this, I have to admit this was a great move. If anyone needed to make a drastic change before this deadline, it was LA. As of February 8 the Lakers are five games under .500 and are sitting outside the play-in tournament. Despite LeBron James (30.2) and Anthony Davis (26.7) carrying a heavy load, there are only six teams in the entire NBA with a worse record. As LeBron gets older and older (now 38) the Lakers need to win a Championship soon if they are going to with him as the centerpiece. 

This move put them in a position to do so. Jarred Vanderbilt is one of the best defenders in the league and can effectively guard the 1 through 5 positions. He can immediately start at the four and will be a major asset in a future playoff series. Malik Beasley has had a poorer season thus far for his standards, but nonetheless is a great offensive player. He has a 38% career 3P% and will be an amazing floor spacer for LA. He can start immediately as the two or come off the bench as the sixth man. 

Finally, the most notable name headed to LA, D’Angelo Russell. Formerly drafted second overall to the Lakers in 2015, he was ditched in 2017 for Kyle Kuzma and other assets. While in Brooklyn, he developed into a competent scorer. After a short stint in Golden State he was dished to Minnesota where he has been for the past three years. Undeniably, he’s a baller. I believe he could be a good fit as a third option on this Lakers team, feeding off of the best passer he’s ever played with in LeBron. He is a defensive liability, but that’s something I believe his offensive prowess can make up for. 

The Lakers paid a relatively small price in draft capital, only giving up three second round picks and a first round pick that won’t be cashed in till 2027. The Lakers have to win now, so this isn’t that much to sacrifice. Russell and Beisley are just 26-years-old, and Vanderbilt is only 23. These players help win now, but will also be assets to trade in an eventual Lakers rebuild post-LeBron or assets to win in a future where a different superstar arrives in LA. 


Timberwolves B+

Personally, I don’t see much in this trade. The Timberwolves probably upgrade at point guard, adding a player who will mesh better with their front court due to Conley’s defensive and play making abilities. Acquiring three second round picks is nice as well, but nothing too impressive. Nickeil Alexander-Walker is a solid asset, the 6’6” play making shooter that has shown flashes in his short career thus far. He has good potential but again nothing too wild. The Timberwolves made solid work here, a win for Minnesota. 


Jazz C-

This was a gross trade. Going into the season, the Jazz didn’t want to win basketball games. After trading away their two best players in the off season, they – along with everyone else – thought they would be at the bottom of the standings by the midway point. Surprise! Lauri Markenin probably deserved to be an All-Star, Jordan Clarkson is going for 20 a game, Collin Sexton has been solid, and pretty much everyone else on the roster has been surprisingly solid. The Utah Jazz are the feel good story of the year, sitting around .500 and inside the playoff play in. 

Well, not anymore. The Jazz send young Jarred Vanderbilt and Malik Beasly away to LA and the sole veteran presence of the team, Mike Conley, off to Minnesota. All they acquired was a first round pick four years into the future, Russell Westbrook (who will reportedly be released), and two other players who will be non-factors for the Jazz. This was a complete nose dive into a rebuild, one that won’t sit right with me. The Jazz sit on a bevy of future picks which should help them in the long term, a stockpile boosted by this addition. 


New York Knicks – Portland Trail Blazers – Philadelphia 76ers – Charlotte Hornets 

Knicks Receive:

G Josh Hart

Trail Blazers Receive:

G Ryan Arcidiacono

F Cam Reddish

F Matisse Thybulle 

2023 First Round Pick (Lottery Protected) (NYK)

76ers Receive: 

F Jalen McDaniels 

2 Second Round Picks

Hornets Receive:

G Svi Mykhailiuk

2 Second Round Picks


Knicks B+

This isn’t a huge move by any means. The Knicks are probably still not contenders for a championship or anything close to that, but it does upgrade their squad. Josh Hart is a versatile two-way player who can produce instantly for them. Knicks star and former teammate of Hart, Jalen Brunson, reacted to the new by saying “Oh s***, yes!” 

Personal wise, they didn’t give up anything of value, but the first round pick does have some weight around it. The Knicks will still probably be in the draft lottery and end up retaining their pick this year due to its protection. The compensation for the Blazers will be four second round picks if the first rounder falls into the lottery. 

Blazers B-

This trade is a reflection of previous failures by the Blazers front office. Despite a true superstar in Damian Lillard, Portland has never really produced anything from it. Josh Hart is a good player, but one who in the long term won’t mean a lot to this franchise. Obviously the focus is no longer on the short term but instead possibly a rebuild is on the way. This could entail a trade of Damian Lillard, but that’s something that has been rumored for over two years now. 

Cam Reddish is an interesting player to acquire. One that never lived up to his college hype, but is still young and could progress more. Matisse Thybulle is also a fun player to pick up. He has been a great defender throughout his career but has been more than a liability on offense. If he can rediscover his three point shot he could be a good player. The draft pick (potentially picks) they acquired are also fine, but nothing too pivotal. This off season should be interesting to watch in Portland and which path they end up taking before the 2023-24 season. 

76ers B

As a Sixers fan this deadline was a disappointment for me. This lone move boosted our chances at a playoff run for sure. Philli handed over a player who has sat the bench for most of season to receive a player who is a huge asset on the defensive side of the ball and an okay scorer. He will be a valuable piece for a long playoff series and is only 25 years old. 

While this is the deepest Sixers team I’ve ever witnessed, there was so much more on the table. The need for a backup center was huge and the Nuggets would eventually acquire a great one in Thomas Bryant for next to nothing. Andre Drummond was a name that was thrown around a lot and even his backup Tony Bradley would have improved the squad. This team improved at the deadline, but I wish they would have done more. 

Hornets C

Trade away a solid young player for two second round picks. Sounds like the Hornets. 


Phoenix Suns – Brooklyn Nets

Suns Receive: 

F Kevin Durant

F T.J. Warren

Nets Receive:

F Mikal Bridges 

F Cameron Johnson

4 First Round Picks (23, 25, 27, 29)

2028 Pick Swap

2 Second Round Picks


Suns A+

How do you win a championship in the NBA? Well, Steph Curry, LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, and Giannis Antetokoumpo are all guys who lifted the trophy in recent history. What do they have in common? These are all players that can take over any and every game they want to. Imposing their will through strength, speed, shooting, or any other basketball skill, they can go out and force their team to a win. That’s been the difference for the Suns the past two postseasons. Giannis torched them in 2021 and Luka did in 2022. The Phoenix Suns just acquired a torcher. 

Kevin Durant is unarguably one of the best players in the league at the moment. Being paired with a top tier shooting guard (Devin Booker), one of the best pure playmakers in the league (Chris Paul), and a walking double double (Deandre Ayton) makes this possibly the best team in the league. Can any team guard both Durant and Booker? What are teams going to do when Chris Paul is matched up against your third-best defender? There is not another four player combination in the league that can match this core. Keep in mind, T.J. Warren is a really solid player as well. 

The Suns are still imperfect. The bench is ugly at best, and this trade exhausts assets for the Suns’ future. Johnson is only 26, Bridges is 26 as well, and four first round picks is a heavy load. In the end, it doesn’t matter. The only goal for the Suns right now is to win a championship, this trade dramatically increases their chances to do so. 

Nets C

How has it gone so wrong? The big three that was supposed to take over the league is now completely dissolved. I thought that the Nets could have still competed in the East with a solid team built around Durant. Sure, they probably wouldn’t have won a championship, but weirder things have happened. This trade guarantees they won’t go deep this playoff.

Acquiring four first round picks is good, but with a still young Devin Booker, these picks will likely not be at the top of the lottery. The Nets acquire two interesting young players: Mikal Bridges and Cameron Johnson. Both are only 26-years-old and have been great role players on the Suns for a while.

The part I don’t understand for the Nets is the timing of this move. The Nets gave up three first round picks and four pick swaps to acquire James Harden. Because they made this trade at the deadline, there was no bidding war. It seems that only the Celtics and Suns participated in the attempt to acquire Durant. If they traded him in the off season, more teams could have been in on this deal, driving up the price for KD. 

Maybe the Nets didn’t have a choice. Durant might have privately requested a trade and as the only consistent part of the last three years for Brooklyn, I respect the fact that they honored that. This trade gets a bad grade from me because they are now stuck in mediocrity. The team is still okay enough to win some basketball games, but they don’t even have their own picks if they go into full tank mode. Brooklyn has a rough road ahead of them. 


Detroit Pistons – Golden State Warriors – Atlanta Hawks – Portland Trail Blazers

Pistons Receive:

C James Wiseman 

Warriors Receive:

G Gary Payton II

2 Second Round Picks

Hawks Receive:

F Saddiq Bey

Trail Blazers Receive:

F Kevin Knox

5 Second Round Picks


Pistons B-

Pistons acquire a former second overall pick who hasn’t been able to find his footing yet in the league. He definitely has a high ceiling still. If he can work something out he might turn into a plus starter still. The Pistons add Wiseman to a young core without any pressure to immediately produce. Change of scenery could be good for Wiseman and in turn Detroit. 

Warriors B

The Warriors swap James Wiseman, a guy who wasn’t even getting minutes, for a solid defender in Gary Payton II. Payton was a part of the Warriors 2022 team and should fit right into his former role. This move saves a lot of money as well for Golden State and with the addition of two second rounders this is a solid move. 

Hawks B+

Atlanta hasn’t been good this season. They needed to make an addition at the deadline and this trade does just that. Saddiq Bey has averaged almost 15 points per game this year and is a solid shooter from distance. This adds depth to this roster and hopefully moves the Hawks closer to contention. 

Trail Blazers B-

Kevin Know is still only 23 years old. He hasn’t really done anything in the league yet but could still develop farther. Cam Reddish and Matisse Thybulle acquired earlier in the deadline seem to fit Payton’s role so the loss of him isn’t too much. 5 second round picks is a fun thing as well. This trade seems like a no risk and possibly okay reward. 


Notable Acquisitions (That I didn’t want to write paragraphs about)


Clippers A+


G Bones Hyland

F Eric Gordon

C Mason Plumlee 

The Clippers get three solid players who can make impacts on the court for LA immediately. Bones Hyland is a great young combo guard who can shoot and slash, bringing a new source of offensive juice. Eric Gordan is a solid shooter and in general an offensive threat as well. The veteran adds some additional leadership and experience to a solid core. Mason Plumlee directly adds to a positional need for the Clippers and possibly be a starter. Plumlee adds some defensive prowess to the squad as well as being a good rebounder and surprisingly a good passer. These additions add to lineup flexibility and improve the squad as a whole. Good stuff from the Clippers here. 


Pelicans B


F Josh Richardson

As a 76ers fan Josh Richardson has a special place in my heart. The 3&D wing can guard 1-3 and stretch the floor offensively. This adds depth to a Pelicans team who are beginning to find themselves.


Suns A-


F Darius Bazley

THE SUNS GOT KD. That’s the headline that dominated the deadline and will dominate as the narrative for the rest of the year. It obscures the other addition the Suns made, Darius Bazley. The long, athletic defender might not be enough to replace Mikal Bridges but does add wing depth to this squad. Bazley (22) is a young cheap asset who will be important in a playoff series. 


Nuggets A


C Thomas Byrant 

Thomas Byrant has been great this season. One of the lone bright spots on the Lakers he was traded at the deadline due to him set up to receive a bag after this season. If the Nuggets pay him or not, he will be a great piece to backup the Joker for the rest of the season. Great efficiency numbers on offense alongside solid rebounding and defensive splits adds a lot to this team. 


NBA Trade Deadline Shortened Story


Every year, NBA fans look forward to two days in particular, the NBA Draft and the Trade Deadline. The deadline falls at the midway point of the season. This timing adds to the drama of the whole ordeal. Teams have to decide if they want to go “all in” on the season, adding veteran assets to help them make a championship run. The other option is to be a “seller,” trading away older guys for longer term assets. 

On a good year, the deadline moves one big name player. This year brought about a new wave of madness. Kyrie Irving was the initial headliner of the deadline. He was shipped to Dallas in order to pair up with Luka Dončić, making potentially the most dangerous offensive duo in the NBA. The Nets received some solid assets and still looked like a valid contender. But before the dust could even settle, the Nets sent another earthquake through the league. KEVIN DURANT WAS TRADED TO THE SUNS. Kevin Durant is definitely the best player to be traded at the NBA Deadline, and maybe the best player to be traded in NBA History. 

During the midst of the Nets’ complete nose dive, the Lakers and Knicks acquired some good players, moving them closer to championship contention. Other teams like the 76ers, Nuggets, Clippers, and Suns added solid role players to their core. One big name shipped was James Wiseman, a former second overall pick, who the Warriors gave up on after three relatively unsuccessful years. Russell Westbrook was another big name shipped, he’s off to Utah, where he will likely be bought out and become an unrestricted free agent. Rumors suggest he will end up back in LA with the Clippers this time. A total of 49 players were moved on 24 trades, setting a new NBA record. If you want a full analysis of the biggest moves of the deadline, scan the QR code below to read my full story.