February is one of the most exciting times in the NBA. The month encapsulates All-Star weekend and all of its joys, as well as the exciting and pressure packed Trade Deadline only a few days later. While All-Star weekend is more for the fans and to show appreciation for some outstanding players, the Trade Deadline is where real moves are made and contenders are discerned. Lets take a look at some of the moves made today.
Boogie Cousins to NOLA: On Sunday evening, nothing short of a blockbuster trade was made. In a deal sending DeMarcus Cousins and Omri Casspi to New Orleans in return for Tyreke Evans, Buddy Hield, Langston Galloway, as well as 2017 first and second round picks to Sacramento, a contender was made. Looking at the deal from the side of the Kings, they receive a young guard with a lot of potential in Buddy Hield, a very solid veteran player in Evans, and a nice backup piece in Langston Galloway. This was clearly a deal for the future in regards to Sacramento, as they will most likely struggle through the rest of this season on their way to hopefully drafting a nice player in the 2017 NBA draft. And while the Kings gear up for the future, it is the Pelicans who won the deal. Adding a player who averages 28 and 10 is no small feat, and when you couple that with another guy averaging 27 and 11, the possibilities are endless. I firmly believe that if head coach Alvin Gentry can install an efficient offense built around his two studly bigs in Davis and Cousins, while surrounding them with shooters and penetrating guards, this team will wreak havoc on the Association. It should also be noted that when healthy, Omri Casspi is a deadeye from three, around 40%, and that is a factor that only strengthens this team. Beware NBA, the Pelicans are coming.
The Raptors improve: Last week, Toronto made a move that sent Terrence Ross and a 2017 first round pick to Orlando in return for defensive big Serge Ibaka. Then earlier today, Raptors GM Masai Ujiri struck again by moving Jared Sullinger and two second round picks to the Suns for the defensive minded PJ Tucker. Both of these moves clearly display Toronto’s desire to not only compete for the East, but perhaps even make it out. By adding Ibaka, a stretch four who is an elite inside defender, they bolster both their offense as well as their defense. They also only gave up a streaky Terrence Ross and a first round Clippers pick, which shouldn’t be worth much. Looking at their PJ Tucker move, the Raps got rid of a player who rarely suited up for them in Sullinger, while adding a player with to ability to match physicality with a team like the Cavs. Only downside I see in this for Toronto, is the fact that they lost a lot of picks, something that can hurt in the future. As for Orlando, they did dump some salary while also gaining an athletic and young player, making it a respectable trade for them.
OKC gearing up: One of the larger trades of the day involved two teams fighting to stay in the playoff race in the respective conferences; the Chicago Bulls and the Oklahoma City Thunder. OKC and Chicago linked up for a deal that sent Taj Gibson, Doug McDermott, and a 2018 second round pick to the Thunder in return for backup guard Cameron Payne, shooter Anthony Morrow, and young big Joffrey Lauvergne. This was a big deal because of what it represents for both teams. By adding a veteran big man and underrated post player in Gibson, the Thunder are clearly making a push for the postseason. The addition of Doug McBuckets supports this, as he is being swapped for a struggling shooter in Morrow. I think both of these guys will help the Thunder continue to compete, and I am confident they’ll see a lot of time. The Bulls also made a solid deal as they added a nice backup guard in Payne, as well as a nice offensive player in Lauvergne.
Mavs swipe Nerlens Noel from 76ers: In an afternoon deal sending second year forward Justin Anderson, defensive guru Andrew Bogut, and a very protected first round pick to Philly for Noel, Mark Cuban and the Mavs pulled a fast one. This trade is okay for Philadelphia as they get a defensive minded young player in Anderson, and a pick, but they failed to flip Bogut for another asset and he will most likely be bought out and join a playoff bound squad. This trade was a major win for the Mavericks, as they add a strong and mobile defender in Noel, who is only 22 years old. This is perfectly in line with what the Mavs will have to do as Nowitzki ages and the franchise must endure an overhaul. On a side note, a duo of Harrison Barnes and Nerlens Noel could be scary in coming years.
The Rockets ready for takeoff: The Rockets made multiple moves leading up to the three PM deadline; acquiring Six Man Lou Will, leads league in points off bench, only strengthens a strong Rockets bench. Corey Brewer wasn’t doing much for the Rockets this year anyways and a guard tandem of Eric Gordon and Williams off the bench would scare any NBA team. The Lakers get another vet who can defend, as well as a first round pick in an excellent draft class.Earlier today, the Rockets also traded KJ McDaniels to the Nets, a player who was not significant to the Rockets team. This is a good move for Houston because they are freeing up about three million in cap space. This move doesn’t mean much for a struggling Nets team, but I do believe McDaniels will continue to be a quality defender in Brooklyn. Finally, the Rockets also traded point guard Tyler Ennis to the Lakers for more established backup guard, Marcelo Huertas. This is another small deal that will mean more for the Rockets, as the Lakers are mostly just adding youth and shooting in Ennis.
Smaller Moves: Roy Hibbert is now a Nugget. Ersan Ilyasova is going to finish his solid year in Atlanta after being swapped by the Sixers for Tiago Splitter and their second round picks. The Hawks also moved stretch-four Mike Scott to Phoenix for cash considerations.