One of the first big trades to start off what is expected to be an active NBA trade deadline was between the Denver Nuggets and the Portland Trailblazers. These are two teams that find themselves in a tight race for the 8th playoff spot in the West. Portland has failed to meet their high season expectations while Denver is a young, quick pace team that is looking to show they are a playoff caliber team.
The Nuggets traded (C) Jusuf Nurkic and a 2017 1st round pick to the Portland Trailblazers in exchange for (F/C) Mason Plumlee and a 2018 2nd round pick.
On Portland’s end, they took a young big man still on his rookie contract with lots of potential. Before Nikola Jokic started blossoming into a superstar, Nurkic was the building block of the future for the Nuggets. He has shown the capability of being a starting caliber center that can be a low post scoring threat, which is something that the Trailblazers need. Being a heavily guard-dominated team, they need someone they can throw to on the low block and watch them go to work for tough buckets. The best part of this trade for Portland was the acquisition of the 2017 1st round pick. They now have three in this summer’s draft that they could potentially look to package in a trade for another big man if this trade doesn’t work out, or move up to the top of the draft to grab an elite young talent.
On the opposite side, Denver finds themselves currently in the last playoff spot in the West and were looking for someone to pair alongside Nikola Jokic, while also looking to unload Nurkic since he’d fallen out of the rotation most nights due to Jokic being so dominant. They acquired a high-energy, skilled big man in Mason Plumlee who is a team player and is willing to take on any role that his team needs. He should be a nice compliment alongside Jokic.
Plumlee will get most of his shots off putbacks and will give his all on both ends of the floor. The Nuggets are finally starting to get healthy and are one of the best offensive teams in the league, ranking fourth in points and assists. Plumlee should easily fit in with the Nuggets and should solidify them as the best rebounding team in the league, (currently first.)
Both teams benefit greatly from this swap even with it is an inner division trade, and it should help both sides in the short and long term.
If you were wondering why DeMarcus Cousins only played two minutes in Sunday’s All-Star game, wonder no more. News broke shortly after the game that DeMarcus Cousins had been traded to the New Orleans Pelicans. New Orleans was the host city of All-Star weekend and also has fellow All-Star big man and MVP of the All-Star game, Anthony Davis.
In the trade, the Pelicans received All-Star (C) DeMarcus Cousins and (F) Omri Casspi from the Sacramento Kings. In return, they sent Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway, a 2017 1st-round pick and a 2019 2nd-round pick.
The Pelicans clearly came out on the better end of this deal. They now have the top two big men in the NBA and two of the top five scorers in Cousins (4th) and Davis (5th.) This duo has the potential to be one of the greatest big man pairings the league has ever seen.
Davis’s bread and butter is defense, while Cousins is an offensive specialist. The Pelicans are currently two-and-a-half games back of the 8th spot in the Western Conference and look to be well equipped to succeed during the second half of the season.
Sacramento is clearly just unloading someone that they apparently feel they need to move on from. This was definitely not the best offer they could have gotten for Cousins, but with the trade deadline looming, they didn’t want to lose him for nothing during free agency. The Kings ultimately didn’t want to pay him the 5-year $210 million contract during the offseason.
The Kings franchise is now trending in the wrong direction. They already made a questionable trade that saw them dump three NBA salaries on the Sixers and trade swap rights in 2017 and an unprotected 2019 pick while receiving nothing in return. Now they’ve just sent the best center in the NBA away for really nothing concrete in return—a rookie, and a player that they let leave in free agency the year prior.
The Orlando Magic have not improved the way they thought they had over the offseason.
The trading of Victor Oladipo to bring in Serge Ibaka was a questionable move in the first place. Having give up so much to acquire him, they still find their franchise in a rebuild situation and have young talent like Aaron Gordon they need to find more minutes for.
In this trade, they sent Serge Ibaka to Toronto in exchange for (SF) Terrance Ross and 2017 1st round pick. They’re getting a high flying 3-pt shooter who never really got an opportunity for a starting role in Toronto and looks to prove himself with this fresh start. Also, they acquired a 1st round pick in this summer’s talented draft which will be the lower pick of the Raptors and Clippers, (Toronto owns both.)
The Toronto Raptors are playing great this season; fighting for a top seed in the playoffs, they were looking to add a finishing touch to their roster. They have been missing a defensive post player since the Magic signed Bismack Biyombo during the offseason. They thought they had found a replacement this offseason in Jared Sullinger, but he’s only played 11 games this season. The Raptors now acquire Serge Ibaka who is going to provide them with an interior post presence, as well as stretch the floor. Ibaka seems like he could be a key piece to the Raptors having post season success. He has been to the playoffs before, even making a Finals run in 2011-12 with OKC, and he has contributed at a high level during the playoffs.
This could be the finishing touch to a roster that is hoping to make a deep playoff run.
The Philadelphia 76ers started the season with bad news when 1st overall pick Ben Simmons broke his foot during a preseason practice. All of that, though, has been shadowed by the return of Joel “The Process” Embiid.
After being sidelined for the past three seasons with injuries, (back and foot,) this season he has seen his minutes restriction increase from 22 minutes and no back-to-back games, to 28 minutes with no back-to-backs. The Sixers also have plans to reassess his restrictions at the start of the new year.
He certainly has not disappointed through the first quarter of the season. While only playing 15 games due to his restrictions, he’s averaging 18.2 points, 7.6 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 2.5 blocks, showing off his full repertoire of offensive talent while his game changing defensive presence has the team fully believing that he was worth the wait.
“The Process” looks like everything the Sixers and basketball fans imagined he would be. Embiid is the true franchise player the team’s been desperately looking for, and with hope for the return of Ben Simmons sometime this season, things could be looking up quickly in Philadelphia.
Russell Westbrook and James Harden have shot out of the gates this season. Being most people’s early season candidates to win MVP, it shouldn’t seem surprising that they’re in peak form. But the nature in which the former teammates are playing is unreal.
Westbrook has embraced his new role as the franchise cornerstone quite nicely, coming out with something to prove following Kevin Durant’s free agency departure. He’s certainly on pace to put up career numbers and doesn’t look like he’s slowing down.
Only a quarter of the way into the season, Westbrook is currently averaging a triple-double with 31.0 points, 11.3 assists and 10.8 rebounds—already tying the record last year for 8th all-time with 18 triple-doubles in a season, he’s got 11 through 22 games this season, while also having 18 double-doubles.
James Harden has been cooking down in “H-Town,” showing he’s fully capable of running the show as a point guard. He’s flourishing as a passer in the Mike D’Antoni offense and is currently leading the league in assists per game, while still remaining a dominant scorer, (4th in the league.) He’s currently averaging 28.3 points, 11.8 assists and 7.6 rebounds. He has seen his team excel due to his increased distribution and has the Rockets currently sitting as the 4th seed in the Western Conference.
Both of these players have been beyond impressive to start the year and look to continue to keep
their teams on the winning side of things, giving us the opportunity to sit back and watch one of the most entertaining MVP races in recent memory.
Boston Celtics – The Celtics have plenty of assets that they could part with to add to their already stacked frontcourt. A package that could benefit both sides of this transaction would be: LaMarcus Aldridge and Danny Green in a trade centered around Avery Bradley, while also trying to get two of their forwards, (Amir Johnson, Kelly Olynyk, Jonas Jerebko and Tyler Zeller.) The Spurs could find themselves with a better team than what they had, even while losing a superstar.
Denver Nuggets – The Nuggets have an assortment of talent that they could throw in a trade to acquire the power forward from San Antonio. The Nuggets could look to offer a package around Kenneth Faried and a combo player or two guard such as Wilson Chandler, Will Barton or Gary Harris. The Spurs could potentially bring in a starting power forward and a solid rotation player to their already strong lineup.
Detroit Pistons – The Detroit Pistons could find themselves fighting for a top seed in the Eastern Conference if they made a trade to acquire Aldridge. The Pistons could reunite the Spurs with Boban Marjanovic and stretch-4 in Tobias Harris for Aldridge. Detroit could have a star-studded front court that could quickly change their fortunes in winning the Eastern Conference, while San Antonio could bring in a player that already flourished in their system, (Marjanovic,) and an all-around stretch-4 in Tobias Harris that could look to dominate in a front court with Kawhi Leonard and Pau Gasol.
Phoenix Suns – Phoenix could look clear up their crowded backcourt by sending a trade of Brandon Knight and Alex Len to try and acquire Aldridge from the Spurs. They desperately wanted the power forward when he left the Trail Blazers and need an offensive post presence to play alongside Tyson Chandler. The Spurs could get a young and promising big man in Alex Len that would fit nicely in their system and could benefit from a season around Pau Gasol.
Washington Wizards – The Wizards are a team that seem to be one key piece away from contending in the Eastern Conference. In a swap of LaMarcus Aldridge for Markieff Morris and Andrew Nicholson, they could pry the power forward loose from the Spurs, giving them what would appear to be one of the better starting lineups in the Eastern Conference with Wall, Beal, Porter Jr., Aldridge and Gortat. The Spurs would virtually have a less productive version of Aldridge in Morris and a solid role-playing big man in Nicholson.