The February 18 NBA Trade Deadline is now officially in the books. Fans all over the world kept track of the latest buzz from the league as teams looking to revamp their rosters in time for a solid playoff push jostled with those stacking up on draft picks and clearing salaries for more cap space. As with every year, the draft deadline sent the basketball world’s anticipation and drama levels through the roof, as any possible player movements had the potential to alter the NBA’s entire landscape.
On the 16th of February, the Detroit Pistons and the Orlando Magic began the trade frenzy by swapping stars, as the former sent stretch-big Ersan Illyasova and dynamic point guard Brandon Jennings to the Magic in exchange for star forward Tobias Harris. With both teams chasing a spot in the playoffs, the moves were seen as a win-win, with Harris complementing the Piston’s triple-double machine (Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson). For the Magic, the trade reunites Jennings and Illyasova with coach Scott Skiles, whom they played for in the Milwaukee Bucks.
On the same day, the Miami Heat, Charlotte Hornets, and the Memphis Grizzlies got involved in a three-team deal that saw the Heat’s Chris “The Birdman” Andersen move to the Grizzlies, Courtney Lee from the Grizzlies to the Hornets, and the Hornets’ P.J. Hairston and Brian Roberts to the Grizzlies and Heat, respectively.
At the same time, despite many anticipated a big trade by the Houston Rockets involving All-Star center Dwight Howard, the team opted to keep the big man and instead traded forwards Donatas Motiejunas and Marcus Thornton to the Pistons for Joel Anthony and a 2016 top-8 protected first-round pick. After acquiring Anthony, the Rockets sent him on the move once again to acquire the draft rights to Chukwudiebere Maduabum of the Philadelphia 76ers.
And in further trade deadline buzzerbeaters, the league saw a flurry of player movements as several other teams sought to revamp their rosters. Once again, the Heat made moves to free some cap space by sending Jarnell Stokes to the New Orleans Pelicans for a protected second-round pick and the recently acquired Roberts to the Portland Trailblazers, while yet another three-team swap was orchestrated by the Chicago Bulls, Atlanta Hawks, and the Utah Jazz. The Bulls received a second-round pick from the Jazz and swingman Justin Holiday from the Hawks. Meanwhile, the Hawks received the sharpshooting point guard Kirk Hinrich from the Bulls, and the Jazz received Shelvin Mack from the Hawks.
Even some of the top teams got involved by making trades of their own to strengthen their roster for the playoffs. This was highlighted by yet another three-team swap that brought marksman Channing Frye (from the Magic) to the top seeded Cleveland Cavaliers, rebounding machine Anderson Varejao and a conditional first-round pick to the Trail Blazers from the Cavs, and Jared Cunningham (from the Cavs) plus a second-round pick (from the Blazers) to the Magic.
The Oklahoma City Thunder also got a solid shooting guard in Randy Foye from the Denver Nuggets in exchange for Steve Novak, D.J. Augustin, and two second-round picks. Another Western Conference championship contender L.A. Clippers made moves to land a scorer to come off the bench: Jeff Green from the Memphis Grizzlies for the Clippers’ Lance Stephenson.
Finally, the Phoenix Suns made the unsurprising move of trading disgruntled forward Markieff Morris to the Washington Wizards The Suns was able to get a good deal as they received forwards Kris Humphries and DeJuan Blair from the Washington Wizards in exchange for Morris.
While this year’s trades weren’t high on big-name stars, the player movements nevertheless tell a lot about which direction each team is going. In some of the moves, the effects may be seen with time, while some can be seen immediately as boosts for playoff positioning and ultimately, title runs. Now that the trade frenzy is over, everyone’s eyes will be on these these teams to see if they can finish the remaining season with a bang – presenting another rollercoaster that every NBA fan will be on.