The frosty skyline of Toronto and the fire slam dunks of Aaron Gordon during All-Star Weekend are already behind us. And with the NBA season past the halfway point it’s time to look at the teams that will be wheeling and dealing (or holding pat) with the league’s trade deadline on Thursday. Here’s a snapshot of what to expect (and what’s already happened.)
Trades are here
Clippers cut bait on Lance Stephenson
The Clippers gave up on Lance Stephenson, shipping him and a first-rounder to the Memphis Grizzlies in exchange for Jeff Green. It’s an LOLClippers moment to be sure, what with them giving up so readily on Lance Stephenson (and Josh Smith) after less than a full season with either on the roster. For Memphis it’s a win-win. The draft pick really helps and Stephenson, theoretically, is a top-40 talent in the league who could flourish in the grit-and-grind mentality of the Grizzlies and the “prove it” leadership that’s driven by Zach Randolph and Tony Allen in the locker room. Then again, Lance could explode and cause big intra-team problems considering the volatile personalities on Memphis.
Suns send Markieff Morris eastward to Washington
Phoenix shipped the petulant Markieff Morris to the Wizards Thursday afternoon in exchange for Kris Humphries, DeJuan Blair and a protected future first-round pick. Not a bad haul for the Suns who had been running into a brick wall with Morris since his twin brother was shipped to Detroit. The Wizards better have a plan to make Markieff Morris a useful contributor, or else they’ll quickly be seen as wasting not only John Wall’s prime but also a golden opportunity to attract Kevin Durant in the offseason.
Cavaliers acquire Channing Frye, ship Varejao to PDX
The Cleveland Cavaliers acquired Channing Frye to potentially anchor the offense for the second unit and shipped Anderson Varejao to Portland. It’s something of a head-scratcher, but one can’t blame the Cavs for trying to keep up with the San Antonios, Golden States and Oklahoma Citys of the league. The Cavs are in “WIN-NOW” mode and will be until they capture that elusive title for King James in his homestate.
Houston has traded Donatas Motiejunas and Marcus Thornton to the Detroit Pistons, league sources tell @TheVertical
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) February 18, 2016
The Detroit Pistons will be acquiring Donatas Motiejunas and Marcus Thornton from the Houston Rockets for Joel Anthony and a protected first-round pick in the 2016 draft. The trade comes at a steep cost as ESPN’s Brian Windhorst is reporting that the pick is top-eight protected this year and top-ten protected for next season. Still, the move thrusts Detroit into the contender pile in the Eastern Conference and also makes them both deeper and (slightly) younger in the short term.
For Houston, it means that Daryl Morey has a new and tantalizing poker chip to play with in that protected pick. It’s an asset that absolutely helps Houston this afternoon before 3:00 pm and it’s a chip that helps them this spring comes the NBA draft. Not a bad deal for either squad.
Detroit receives Tobias Harris from Orlando
The Pistons made a splashy and smart trade with Orlando in their acquisition of Tobias Harris. With Reggie Jackson rendering Brandon Jennings an afterthought and with the always-tradeable Ersan Ilyasova just hanging out, SVG pulled a trade with the Magic that makes Detroit instantly better on paper. The Pistons now have the length at every position to shut down any team and a very capable offense to boot.
Winners: The Pistons have pushed themselves into Eastern Conference “dark horse” status with this move. Harris, Andre Drummond, Reggie Jackson as a trio should, in theory, make life hell for most teams on most nights.
SiriusXM NBA Radio’s Eddie Johnson’s reacts:
Charlotte fills an MKG-sized hole
A little later on Tuesday afternoon, the Charlotte Hornets fixed their “Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is broken” problem by acquiring Courtney Lee from Memphis in a three-way deal with the Grizzlies and Miami Heat. For Charlotte the deal should reap immediate benefits with Lee’s scoring and all-around court acumen.
Winners: All three teams? Charlotte shores up their team depth with a great addition. Memphis gets Chris Anderson from Miami to plug their own Marc Gasol-sized hole; plus some cap flexibility and draft picks. Meanwhile, the Heat save some cash and slide further away from the luxury tax, while adding some needed three-point ability in Brian Roberts.