Grading NBA trade deadline deals

The good, bad, and the boring of the NBA trade deadline

Five time All-Star Blake Griffin was traded to the Detroit Pistons more than a week before the deadline. (Photo courtesy of Verse Photography)

Editor’s Note: Trades from between January 29 and the trade deadline on February 8 will be considered for this article.

Blake Griffin gets sent to Mo Town

To Los Angeles Clippers: Tobias Harris, Boban Marjanovic, Avery Bradley, 2018 protected first-round pick, 2019 second-round pick

To Detriot Pistons: Blake Griffin, Brice Johnson, Willie Reed

Although it didn’t happen on deadline day, this was arguably the biggest blockbuster deal of the deadline period. While my initial thoughts were that the Clippers fleeced the Pistons to get the package that they did for Griffin, he has performed admirably for Detroit so far. In his first four games for the Pistons, Griffin averaged 21.5 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 6.3 assists. More importantly, all four games were wins. This past game, however, he was beat by his former team 108–95, similarly to how the Clippers won this deal. Tobias Harris and Avery Bradley are proven starters in this league (although the latter will likely leave after his deal expires in 2018), and Marjanovic only has one year left on a friendly deal. Add in two draft picks, and this looks like a great package for an injury-riddled, one-sided player who will have difficulty living up to 30 million plus over the next four seasons after this one. While the Clippers are getting more than just financial flexibility from this deal, you have to think that this was the main focus. There is a superstar inside of Griffin, but I have little faith that he’ll be able to maintain his level of play in the future. Even if he does maintain his level of play, a miracle would have to happen in Detroit in order for the team to be contenders during his contract, as they have over 70 million tied to a core of Andre Drummond, Reggie Jackson, and Griffin for the next three years.

Clippers Grade: A-

Pistons Grade: B-


Nikola Mirotic gets shipped off to New Orleans

To Chicago Bulls: Tony Allen, Omer Asik, Jameer Nelson, 2018 first-round pick, 2021 second-round pick swap rights

To New Orleans Pelicans: Nikola Mirotic, 2018 second-round pick

Nikola Mirotic was too good for the Bulls, who are doing everything they can to ensure a top draft pick next year. That being said, he is far from good enough to save the Pelicans’ season, after the injury to DeMarcus Cousins. While 12.5 million over the next two seasons isn’t bad for a play like Mirotic, giving up a first round pick for a chance at the playoffs is not the way to rebuild a franchise. The one plus to this deal is them finally getting rid of Omer Asik’s awful deal, but it’s hard to envision free agents wanting to play for this franchise, and Cousins is probably not going to resign. For the Bulls, they got the first round pick they wanted, although it was at the price of Asik’s contract. Given that they were not likely to do anything with that cap space anyways, this has to be considered a win.

Bulls Grade: A-

Pelicans Grade: B


Cavaliers give up on Isaiah Thomas


To Cavaliers: Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance

To Los Angeles Lakers: Isaiah Thomas, Channing Frye, 2018 first-round pick (Cavs’ own)


Remember when Cavs fans were saying, “Just wait for Isaiah Thomas to come back”? Yeah, that didn’t help their issues on defence, which really isn’t that surprising. Remember when people thought that the Cavs won the Kyrie Irving trade with Boston? This trade is proof that they didn’t, and that Danny Ainge knows all. Given the current situation in Cleveland, however, this deal makes a lot of sense. Clarkson and Nance add a lot of defensive versatility to a roster that needed it, and the Isaiah Thomas experiment was not working out. Giving up a first round pick is tough, but Clarkson and Nance arguably have more potential than anybody the Cavs would’ve grabbed in 20s, especially considering their recent draft record. For the Lakers, they get rid of Clarkson’s contract (which isn’t bad, but hurt their chances of pursuing max contract-free agents this offseason), and get two expiring contracts in return. If LeBron leaves Cleveland this offseason, this may have been like buying a gym pass for a dude that’s trying to steal your girl, but this deal doesn’t really change the likelihood of that happening or not.


Cavaliers Grade: B+  

Lakers Grade: A


Cavaliers officially unload roster in three-way deal

To Cavaliers: Rodney Hood, George Hill

To Jazz: Jae Crowder, Derrick Rose

To Kings: Joe Johnson, Iman Shumpert, 2020 second-round pick

It is no question that the Cavs were having problems this year, and they did everything they could on deadline day to reshape the roster. George Hill and Rodney Hood aren’t huge upgrades over Jae Crowder, Derrick Rose, and Iman Shumpert, but at least they’re different. If there are concerns over this deal for the Cavs, it’s that Hill is on an absurd contract for this season and the next two, and really handcuffs the Cavs for the future. Realistically, the Cavs are basically screwed after this year anyways (I definitely think LeBron will leave), and so they are going all in for one more finals appearance. Question the logic, sure, but don’t question the intent. For the Jazz, they get a flier on Jae Crowder for two players they clearly had no interest in keeping for the future, which is solid. For the Kings, they get out of the Hill contract, but you really have to question why it was given to him in the first place.

Cavaliers Grade: B

Jazz Grade: B+

Kings Grade: B


Emmanuel Mudiay gets to fight for a starting job

To New York Knicks: Emmanuel Mudiay

To Denver Nuggets: Devin Harris, Clippers’ 2018 second-round pick via Knicks

To Dallas Mavericks: Doug McDermott, Nuggets’ second-round pick

Jamal Murray is the point guard for the foreseeable future for the Nuggets, so losing Mudiay doesn’t really sting. While Mudiay was thought of as much more than a “Harris and a second-round pick” type player when he was taken in the lottery, he was not really worth keeping around for the Nuggets. The Knicks will now take a shot at him, and while they can offer him a role, it’s still highly questionable if Mudiay can offer them anything. McDermott was turning into a solid rotation player for them, but for a team that is stuck in mediocrity, maybe getting a higher potential guy makes sense. I’m not convinced that Mudiay will be any better than who they would’ve gotten with their second-round pick, but the Knicks really didn’t give up much. For the Mavericks, Harris was dead weight on the roster, and getting what they did for him, while boring, is pretty good.

Knicks Grade: C+

Nuggets Grade: B-

Mavericks Grade: A-


Dwyane Wade erases blip in his career

To Miami Heat: Dwyane Wade

To Cleveland Cavaliers: Lightly-protected future second-round pick

Wade will always be remembered in a Miami Heat uniform, so seeing him back in the jersey is great for any NBA fan. After a falling out with Pat Riley in the offseason, the two made amends, so Wade can retire with the franchise he was always meant to retire with. Outside of a feel good story, this trade doesn’t really mean much for either franchise, but watch Wade’s return to the Heat to see why everybody is a winner in this one.

Heat Grade: A+

Cavaliers Grade: A+