One thing is for certain — the 2023 NBA trade deadline did not disappoint.
The Suns’ acquisition of Kevin Durant was the biggest move in a trade period that saw more stars switching teams than usual, and 28 teams making deals. General managers showed enthusiasm for second-round picks. With many winners and losers, here’s the rundown.
Before the trade, the Suns had a decent season, sitting at fifth in the West with a 30-26 record. However, trading for Kevin Durant, a top-three MVP candidate this season, instantly made them a championship contender. The Suns paid a high price, including all their wing depth, four unprotected first-rounders, and a pick swap in 2028. Yet, it is worth it, as Durant is expected to give the team four playoff runs, making this their best chance at a championship. The Suns deserve credit for going all-in on this opportunity. The exchange of Dario Saric and a second-round pick for Darius Bazley was a neutral trade that saved the Suns some money.
The Lakers improved their team without giving up too much, acquiring younger and more athletic players in Rui Hachimura, D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley, Jarred Vanderbilt, Davon Reed, and Mo Bamba. They traded Patrick Beverley, Thomas Bryant, and Russell Westbrook, as well as a lightly protected first-rounder and four second-rounders, three of which they got back in the Bryant deal. While it’s uncertain if the upgrades are enough to make them contenders, the Lakers are now a dangerous playoff team.
Adding Kyrie Irving could be a win for the Mavs if his off-court issues don’t become a distraction. He fits well with Luka Doncic and the price to get him was reasonable, but the low cost is due to his past reputation for leaving teams on bad terms. The trade could become a loss if Irving’s behavior resurfaces.
The Brooklyn Nets made significant changes to their roster by trading away Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, but they received a tremendous haul in return. The Nets received five first-round draft picks, a first-round swap, four second-round draft picks, and several talented rotation players, giving them an excellent foundation for their future. Mikal Bridges was the star of the trade for the Nets, with his high-level defense and significant offensive potential, which will add depth to their team.
Dorian Finney-Smith and Cameron Johnson are two other 3-and-D wings that the Nets acquired, while Spencer Dinwiddie provides additional playmaking ability. The emergence of Cam Thomas, who has scored 134 points in the first three games, has also been a surprising development for the team. The Nets’ situation was untenable this year, and they pivoted to acquire young and talented players while also amassing significant draft equity.
The Milwaukee Bucks apparently don’t value second-round picks as they traded away a total of six second-rounders to improve their roster. One of the trades brought in Jae Crowder, who fills a void for the Bucks as a 3-and-D wing. They also parted ways with George Hill’s contract to save some cash. Although second-round picks have produced valuable players in the past, the Bucks have opted to focus on the present and use them as a bargaining chip for their current needs. The move shows that the Bucks are all-in on winning now and will do whatever it takes to improve their chances of winning another championship.
The Sixers made a three-way trade with the Hornets and Trail Blazers, receiving Jalen McDaniels and a second-round pick while sending out Matisse Thybulle and getting themselves out of the luxury tax. While Thybulle is a superior defender, McDaniels offers more offense and is still a decent defender. This trade is a win for the Sixers, especially financially, but may not excite fans as much.
The number of words written about the Raptors before the trade deadline exceeded all seven Harry Potter books, and all that happened was a Jakob Poeltl move.
Poeltl is a nice player. He was one of my Hidden Gems last year. He also addresses the Raptors’ most glaring need: rim protection.
But he doesn’t do anything for their offensive creation issues, and the price to re-sign him this summer (a top-six protected first-round pick in 2024 and two second-rounders) was fairly steep. At least that draft class is supposed to be relatively weak because there is a decent chance that the Raptors could have to give up a mid-to-late lottery pick for Poeltl.
The Raptors still have to do a lot of work to address their roster concerns. Adding Poeltl was a nice step, but it wasn’t enough.
Loser: John Collins
How is Collins still in Atlanta? It may seem like Collins being involved in trade rumors predates the invention of the iPhone, but it’s only been three years now that his name has been floated.
Collins’ role has continued to shrink with the Hawks, and it seems like he could thrive in a new location. Maybe it’ll be next year because his name will continue to be thrown around until his role changes or a trade materializes.
If you noticed that ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski was out-scooping The Athletic’s Shams Charania this year, you weren’t the only one. Beverley chimed in with the best tweet of the trade deadline.
Charania ultimately got the last laugh, though, reporting that Beverley would be getting moved to the Magic.
And how about this prescience from ESPN’s Brian Windhorst? He predicted that the Suns would be a super team back in 2020 after they had just come off a 34-39 season.