NBA trade deadline winners and losers: Suns make a statement, Nets’ dream dies, second-round picks have mad value

Every year, preliminary reports seem to suggest that this will be a fairly quiet NBA trade deadline. And every year, everything seems to go like clockwork about 16 hours before the 3:00 pm ET deadline. Last year it was James Harden’s take on Ben Simmons; this year it was Kevin Durant in silence like lasagna get to Phoenix.

(Well, maybe “like a lasagna that loudly and publicly filed a request to move to another pan, like six months ago.” But even Wayne of the mixtape era would probably have a hard time making that sound good.)

By the time the final bell sounded on Thursday, the West had a new challenger, the competition for a spot in the top six and for spots in both conferences was even fiercer, and the race for the draft pick’s biggest war chest intensified. more ferocious. While rumors spread and deals were made, I sat here like Frank T. J. McKee silently condemn them. Below are my first-ever impressions of which teams scored and which stumbled in this season’s massive NBA roster shuffle:

Winners: Phoenix Suns

Here’s what I wrote about Suns on Wednesday initial trading period:

In a recent conversation with Dave King of Bright Side of the Sun, general manager James Jones said the thing he’d like to add most to the trade deadline is shooting – in King’s words, “a guy who can hit no matter the situation, no matter who’s protecting them, no matter how high they exploit the situation”. Unless Durant revives his off-season interest in desert travel, I’m not sure who else who could enter the market fits that description.

Narrator: “Durant really rekindled his off-season interest in wilderness travel.”

Just hours after his opening press conference as new Suns owner Mata Ixbia. reportedly instructed Jones will contact Nets general manager Sean Marks. “secret negotiations in one team” about a big deal he dreamed of doing. It was a hell of a big splash.

Brooklyn Nets' Kevin Durant (7) celebrates the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday, January 4, 2023 in Chicago.  Chicago won 121-112.  (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
Yes, Kevin Durant is a monster that can change the world for the better…when he’s healthy. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)

Retiring Phoenix’s undefended first-round picks in 2023, 2025, 2027, and 2029, as well as trade rights for a 2028 first-round Suns player, as well as wings Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson, and Jay Crowder – essentially all the flank rotation that the Suns won the Western Conference with two seasons ago and played a league-leading 64 games last season. Duran comes: NBA’s eighth scoringone of many seven players in the league averaging better than 27-5-5 and a bona fide MVP candidate who may have been playing as well as ever before stretching the MCL last month.

Durant, Devin Booker, Chris Paul and Deandre Ayton absolutely destructive a foursome built to punish the postseason defense inside and out. Duran, Booker and Paul can pull you apart in a pick and roll and pull you up from anywhere; a defense designed to steal 3s and keep drivers out of the rim now has to worry about three of the world’s best mid-range shooters setting fire to their preferred surface. Durant can also make it to the line, averaging 7.3 free throws per game this season — more than Bridges and Johnson combined — which could prove to be an important source of extra offense for a Suns top team. 27th in free throws this seasonaccording to Cleaning the Glass.

Durant and Booker are also nimble off the ball, sprinting dangerously off screens of weak sides and getting into the trap. They are also ready for screenings that understand how to get the defense to switch to the isolation matches they Really don’t want to – the lifeblood of the lion’s share of the modern playoff offense at the most important moments of the season. Find any of them opposite Ayton’s pick-and-roll and help the defenders to a stalemate: stay at home on your assignment and let Ayton run free to the ring, or dive in to mark the roller and take a chance. giving one of the best shooters in the world a clean look at the catch-and-shoot trio.

Losing an All-Defense winner like Bridges (plus two other solid perimeter defenders) hurts, but this quartet should be pretty good defensively as well. Ayton’s ability to hold space and break safety glass should work well with Durant’s length, shot blocking, positional versatility and cluttering passing lines, all while supporting Paul’s persistent stealing and Booker’s continued improvement in ballplay. It remains to be seen who will complete the starting five – I’d bet on Torrey Craig to get the top spot as an underused, 3-and-D shooting guard, although perhaps returning TJ Warren or staunch guard Josh Okogi gets a chance, but he has a chance to become the best squad in the league.

The Suns have already begun to climb out of the hole they dug in December with injuries, having won nine of their last 11 games with the NBA. seventh best net rating in this range move within two games to third in a heavily congested West. They just added the best player who will move by this date – one of the top five players. in the league when healthy – and now Durant, Booker and Ayton have everything under contract until 2026potentially expanding the title window, which seemed like it could be closed smiling Slovenian Last spring.

Reasonable people can argue about whether this makes Phoenix the favorite in the West, whether you pick the Suns over the Celtics or the Bucks in a hypothetical Finals matchup, etc. What is undeniable, however, is that that no one is going to be particularly excited about the prospect of dealing with Durant, Booker and Paul in a seven-game series.

A month ago, the Suns faltered. Not anymore.

The most important people in the NBA right now: Suns coaching staff

And now the “emtor warning” riddle:

On paper, the Suns have enough firepower to incinerate any defense they face in the postseason. In practice, this would require saving Durant (currently out of action with a knee sprain, marking the fourth consecutive season in which he missed significant time with a leg injury), Paul (37, 6ft. ). quarterback with over 46,000 minutes on the odometer and a memorable postseason medical history) and Booker (who missed almost two months with groin and hamstring problems) upright, ambulatory and operational for the next four months.

That’s the crux of these four-quarter-on-a-dollar deals: obviously, it’s great to get top-notch consummate talent, but now you have a precious little depth behind your stars if things go wrong. (I kinda like it subsequent move throw in Oklahoma City’s Darius Bazley, a 6-foot-8 athletic combo forward who isn’t as proficient as the outgoing Dario Saric but could have done a little better on the perimeter.) The Suns could be a little more than three months before returning to the final; they may also be a step away from relying on Cam Payne and Landry Shamet more than they’d like after they’ve sold their entire future in the draft.

Loser: Nets attempt to become a superteam

In his quest to take over the New York market, return to the top of the East for the first time since Jason Kidd challenged Kenyon Martin and win the franchise’s first championship. after ABA mergerThe Nets were chasing superstars… and once they got them, they struggled to manage them in a way that would elevate the organization instead of having it constantly wallow in the mud.

For that brief moment when Duran, Harden, and Irving were healthy, it looked like Brooklyn would still thrive. But the powers that be could not prolong this moment. When Durant asked for it, Irving began looking for clues and deals, and owner Joe Tsai made it clear he wanted to stand firm in the power struggle, the dream died. It just kept waggling around for months before the Phoenix uttered it.

Who and how much of the blame for how everything collapsed in Brooklyn deserves will be discussed for ages. However, this four-year episode makes it clear that while getting superstars is hard, it can be even harder. have Super star.

And now the Nets are back where they started: without them.

Winner: Devin Booker’s ability to create a superteam with intent

Booker to Vincent Goodwill of Sportzshala Sports in November 2018:

According to Booker, the Suns are in no position to defeat the defending champion Golden State Warriors or even next-level rivals. But he knows the way to greatness – look at [Draymond] Recruiting Green [Kevin] Durant in 2016 is quite possible and could change the league forever.

“…Dynasties have been around for a very long time,” Booker said. “I don’t want a trade with any of the superteams.”

But …

“I would like to create a super team. I would like the super team to come to me.”

Four and a half years later…


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