NBA: Takeaways from the two major trades at the deadline

As the NBA Trade Deadline came and went, there were two major trades that could have a huge impact on this season and for years to come

There was a bit more buzz than anticipated at this year’s NBA Trade Deadline. Now that the dust has settled, we can objectively look at two major trades that made major waves in the league yesterday.

Let’s take a closer look at the fallout from these two deals.

Golden State/Minnesota trade

Warriors received Andrew Wiggins, 2021 first-round pick, 2021 second-round pick 

Wolves received D’Angelo Russell, Jacob Evans, Omari Spellman 

D’Angelo Russell and Andrew Wiggins are both talented players who have a questionable impact on winning basketball games. Each side in this trade has a defensible case for making this move.

If you are Golden State, you are betting that your environment/culture will help Wiggins round out the areas of his game aside from scoring. You are betting on the organization developing him into the small forward of the future.

An analogy could be Victor Oladipo, who was also an athletic marvel but failed to put it all together until arriving in Indiana. He has since credited his season in Oklahoma City for molding him into a star. Oladipo was even on a bloated contract just like Wiggins is now, but nobody is calling it an overpay these days.

In all likelihood, Wiggins never figures it out and Golden State is stuck with a more expensive Harrison Barnes. I would still probably rather have that instead of trying to fit D’Angelo Russell next to the Splash Brothers. Like the Warriors, you are also putting trust in your own evaluation of Russell that he will not be the answer to Minnesota’s problems (thus increasing the value of their 2021 pick).

The hope for the Minnesota Timberwolves is that D’Lo and Towns, surrounded by an armada of solid wings (Culver, Okogie, Layman, Beasley, Hernangomez), carries them to a top-five offense in the league. Karl-Anthony Towns has never played with a good point guard, so these outcomes are definitely in play. If this move turns the Wolves’ into an offensive juggernaut, then they have many options in front of them.

They could ride it out with this group and be a fun playoff team (albeit with a limited upside) for the next several years. They could also try to package some of their assets (young players such as Culver, two top-15 picks in the 2020 NBA Draft) in pursuit of a third star if the opportunity presents itself. These, of course, are the best-case scenarios for this trade.

The downside, on the other hand, is tremendous. There are many scenarios where I could see this leading the Timberwolves toward the treadmill of mediocrity, with no draft capital or cap flexibility to get them out of it. Think a more flamboyant version of the pre-Sean Marks Brooklyn Nets.

Time will tell how this will unfold for both franchises. Based on recent history, it seems more shrewd to have faith in the Warriors’ ability to nurture Andrew Wiggins rather than the Timberwolves with D’Angelo Russell, but there are many other factors at play. Russell is a year younger, and he has shown many more signs of competence than Wiggins.

On the other hand, Wiggins is one of the most gifted athletes at his position, while Russell is one of the slowest players in the NBA. It will be fascinating to see how this eventually plays out throughout the years. If I had to pick a side, I would lean towards Minnesota, just based on how desultory the state of Wiggins’ game has been.

Los Angeles/New York/Washington trade

Clippers receive Marcus Morris, Isaiah Thomas (will likely be bought out) 

Knicks receive Moe Harkless, 2020 first-round pick, pick swap with Detroit 

Wizards receive Jerome Robinson 

The LA Clippers are at a special place in their franchise arc. Even a marginal upgrade in the team can boost their championship odds exponentially. I am skeptical that replacing Maurice Harkless with Marcus Morris gives the Clippers this. Strictly as off-ball players, these two are incomparable.

Harkless does not get guarded in the starting lineup, and Morris has turned himself into a borderline elite 3-point marksman. However, I am not sure what else Morris gives LA. Harkless oftentimes guards the opponent’s best perimeter threat, which allows Kawhi Leonard and Paul George to conserve their energy. Marcus Morris is not the most reliable player, and he shot the Celtics out of a fair share of games with his addiction to mid-range pullups.

One of the Clippers’ main weaknesses is their ball-movement, and while Harkless is no Boris Diaw, Morris does not give them a step up in that regard. I could be wrong and Morris could really supercharge the offense, but overall I do not like this trade for LA. I believe that if they were going to use their last piece of ammo (their own 2020 first-round pick), then they should have targeted someone who is a more definitive upgrade.

Next: Miami Heat: Pat Riley made an audacious gamble at the trade deadline

The Knicks made out nicely in this deal. Not only does moving on from Marcus Morris save them from themselves (in that they avoid overpaying him this offseason), but they also acquire a decent asset in return. This trade helps the Wizards solely on the fact that Isaiah Thomas is not on the team anymore. Euro stash Issuf Sanon had some flashes in the summer league. I would likely rather have him than Jerome Robinson (who has not shown to be an NBA player as of right now), so the value there is questionable.

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