Winners and losers of the 2019 NBA trade deadline

The NBA trade deadline has officially come and gone. Before the deadline hit, we saw several trades made around the NBA. We saw several contenders make moves to make them better, while other teams weren’t as fortunate with their trade situations. 

NBA Trade deadline
Mike Conley” by Sean Davis is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

Like anytime there’s a trade, there’s going to be winners and losers. My fellow Fourth Quarter Sports writer, Jon Geib, and I have worked together to put together a list of the biggest winners and losers of the 2019 NBA trade deadline. How did your team do? Let’s find out!


NBA trade deadline winners and losers

Winner: Philadelphia 76ers

The Philadelphia 76ers were very active at the NBA trade deadline, notably adding Tobias Harris
and getting rid of Markelle Fultz. The first trade sent Mike Muscala, Wilson Chandler, Landry
Shamet and four picks to the Los Angeles Clippers in exchange for Tobias Harris, Boban Marjanovic and Mike Scott. The Sixers gave up a lot, but this trade showed they’re all in on trying to win a championship this season.

Harris is a much needed upgrade at the power forward position. Boban provides a serviceable big man to backup Joel Embiid. The starting five in Philadelphia featuring Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, Jimmy Butler, Tobias Harris and JJ Redick, is easily the second best in the entire NBA, behind only the Golden State Warriors.

The second trade of Markelle Fultz to the Orlando Magic, returned Jonathan Simmons along with a first and a second round pick. Jonathan Simmons adds depth to the bench, which is the number one criticism of the current Sixers’ roster. Elton Brand took some risks this year, especially with Butler and Harris on expiring contracts, but for this season the Sixers were definitely winners at the NBA trade deadline. – Jon Geib


Loser: Los Angeles Lakers

Obviously, you expected to see the Lakers in the loser category after they failed to land
Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans at the deadline. Magic Johnson was willing to
trade all the young players on his team, any and all future first-round picks, Luke Walton, three
of his dogs and his first born son.

Honestly, I think the Pelicans did the Lakers a favor by not accepting any of the Lakers’ trade offers. The Lakers were clearly panicking and willing to overpay a ridiculous amount and mortgage the future of the organization in order to appease LeBron James. The young players for Los Angeles were clearly impacted by all of this trade talk. It was visible in Tuesday’s 42-point loss to the Indiana Pacers, who are currently missing their best player, Victor Oladipo.

There is a very realistic chance that Anthony Davis will not join the Lakers until 2020. By then, LeBron will be turning 36 during the season. I can assure you the Lakers did not anticipate their biggest NBA trade deadline acquisition to be Mike Muscala. – Jon Geib 


Winner: Los Angeles Clippers

Ironically, the team who made the blockbuster trade with the Philadelphia 76ers were also
winners at the trade deadline. It is rare that both teams benefit from a trade, but that is the case

The Clippers did not want to pay Tobias Harris a large contract this summer, as they are hoping to acquire not just one, but two star free agents in the offseason. The Clippers acquired Landry Shamet, a rookie guard who is rapidly gaining confidence in his shot and has the potential to be a young JJ Redick in the making. They also flipped Mike Muscala from the Sixers to acquire Ivica Zubac, a young big man with potential, and Michael Beasley, who I presume will be bought out, from the Lakers.

But wait, the Clippers were still not done! They traded Avery Bradley to the Memphis Grizzlies, which created even more cap space. The key for the Los Angeles Clippers this season is to drop out of the playoffs, where they are currently the eight seed. If they miss the playoffs, they retain their first-round pick for the upcoming 2019 NBA draft, which was supposed to go to the Boston Celtics. Bravo Jerry West, bravo. – Jon Geib


Loser: Boston Celtics

The Celtics did not make any moves at the trade deadline, so you may be asking “How are they
losers?” Well, it is that exact reason I include them as a loser at the trade deadline. There are four strong teams vying to win the Eastern Conference this year: Toronto, Milwaukee, Philadelphia and Boston. Three of those teams strengthened their roster at the trade deadline, and one team did nothing.

Toronto added Marc Gasol to give them a strong presence in the post. Milwaukee added perimeter shooting with Nikola Mirotic. Philadelphia bolstered their starting lineup with Tobias Harris. By keeping the roster intact, Danny Ainge made a statement that he believes the Celtics are strong enough with the current roster as is to win the Eastern Conference.

Boston has been under-performing this season after high expectations based on last
season’s deep playoff run. The reintegration of Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving to the lineup
has surprisingly caused problems for a young roster that took a LeBron-led Cavaliers team to
Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Boston’s inaction at the trade deadline
could very well be the reason they do not win the East. In turn, it could be the reason they lose Kyrie Irving this summer to free agency. – Jon Geib


Winner: Toronto Raptors

Sitting as the number two team in the Eastern Conference, the Toronto Raptors were already considered one of the legit title contenders in the conference. However, they saw their Eastern Conference challengers make some great moves, meaning they had to make some too.

The Raptors made a few moves, but by far their best move was acquiring Marc Gasol from the Memphis Grizzlies. Gasol is averaging 15.7 points, 8.6 rebounds, 4.7 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.2 blocks this season. Gasol is going to be a legit post presence for this team. He’ll also add another good defender to a roster already including Kawhi Leonard, Serge Ibaka and Danny Green.

Gasol is easily an upgrade over Jonas Valanciunas. Losing Delon Wright and CJ Miles will make the most minimal impact for the Raptors, if it makes any impact at all. Neither of them played very much. The Grizzlies got an impactful player while not having to give up any players who were really valuable to them. Great trade for the Raptors. – Joel Deering


Loser: Mike Conley

The Memphis Grizzlies made their fair share of trades before the NBA trade deadline. They traded Marc Gasol to the Raptors, Garrett Temple and JaMychal Green to the Clippers, and Shelvin Mack to the Hawks. In return for those players, the Grizzlies acquired Jonas Valanciunas, Delon Wright, C.J. Miles and a 2024 second-round pick from the Raptors, Avery Bradley from the Clippers and Tyler Dorsey from the Hawks.

Sitting at 22-23, the Grizzlies are currently the second worst team in a loaded Western Conference. Regardless of who they got rid of or who they got, they’re not going to be a playoff team. That’s the very reason why Mike Conley is an NBA trade deadline loser.

Conley’s name was heavily involved in trade talks, as was Marc Gasol’s. The difference is, Gasol now plays for a team who’s surely going to be a playoff team. Not just a playoff team, but a playoff team who has a legit chance at representing the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals. While Conley saw Gasol leave, he stayed put in Memphis, where he’s going to have to play the rest of the season with a team who has no shot at making the playoffs.

To make it worse for Conley, it’s kind of his fault. There were rumors he was targeted by the Jazz, but then reports came out saying Conley didn’t want to play there. Utah currently sits at 31-24 in the seven spot in the Western Conference. They’ve got a real shot to be in the playoffs. A player as talented as Conley deserves to be in the playoffs, and he could have been. It’s too bad he ruined it for himself. Have fun watching Gasol in the playoffs come playoff time, Mike! – Joel Deering


Winner: Milwaukee Bucks

Already the best team in the NBA, the Milwaukee Bucks made a move to help secure their status as one of the best in the league. By acquiring F Nikola Mirotic, the Bucks surrounded MVP candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo with another weapon. Mirotic was having a career year with the Pelicans when he was playing. In 32 games played this season, he’s averaged a career high 16.7 points and 8.3 rebounds.

In exchange for acquiring his services, the Bucks gave up Jason Smith, Stanley Johnson and four future second-round picks. Jason Smith played in six games for the Bucks. His best stat was averaging 2.2 points per game. Stanley Johnson was acquired for Thon Maker in a trade with the Pistons, but he never played a single game for the Bucks. Four picks could be considered a lot, but they’re all second-round picks.

Essentially, the Bucks gave up pretty much nothing for a legit NBA player. When Mirotic gets healthy again, he’s going to be a huge addition to the Bucks. He’s going to be huge for the Bucks in their playoff run. – Joel Deering


Loser: New Orleans Pelicans

While the Bucks won the NBA trade deadline, the New Orleans Pelicans did not. To recap the Mirotic trade, the Pelicans lost a 16.7 points and 8.3 rebounds per game guy for Jason Smith, Stanley Johnson and four second-round picks. Smith averages 3.2 points per game on the season. Stanley Johnson averages 7.5 points per game this season. Between the two of them, they average significantly less points than Mirotic by himself.

The Pelicans acquired Mirotic from the Bulls last season for three players and a first-round pick. He was huge in the Pelicans making the playoffs last season. He’s been injured for a good chunk of this season, but you’ve seen the impact him not being around has had. The Pelicans are 24-31 and the third worst team in the Western Conference. With Mirotic now gone, the Pelicans likely have no shot at making the playoffs, even if Anthony Davis does play the remaining games.

Speaking of Anthony Davis, he’s still a member of the Pelicans after the NBA trade deadline. That could be a big mistake on their part. The Los Angeles Lakers were the biggest buyers for Davis. They offered the Pelicans quite a bit, including Kyle Kuzma, Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and multiple first-round picks.

Instead of accepting any offers from the Lakers, the Pelicans continued to raise the price higher and higher. Now they didn’t get anything for Davis. They’ll still have opportunities to trade him, but will any of their offers be as good as what the Lakers were offering? Maybe, or maybe not. – Joel Deering

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