How Each Eastern Conference Team Navigated the NBA Trade Deadline

Thaddeus Young

Getty Chicago Bulls forward Thaddeus Young.

The NBA Trade Deadline came and went and it had more deals than originally anticipated. The Hawks had four deals at the deadline, leading all teams (they also led all teams with five total trades during the 2019-20 NBA season).

Let’s break down what each team in the Eastern Conference did or attempted to do at the NBA trade deadline:

Celtics Fail in their Attempts to Upgrade

The Boston Celtics were not going to go quietly into the trade deadline. They weren’t looking for major moves like in past seasons but rather eyeing upgrades around the edges. The team made a strong offer for Davis Bertans, though the Wizards were uninterested in trading away the Latvian Laser. Boston also tried to pry Christian Wood from Detroit, though it was not enough for the Pistons to let him go. They should be a contender for any big men that hit the buyout market.

Pacers, Bucks, Raptors Remain Quiet

Three of the top-6 teams in the East remained quiet, opting not to disrupt the chemistry of their respective teams. They’ve had success and they weren’t messing with it

Chicago, Brooklyn Each Stand Pat

The Bulls were unable to consummate any deals, though they shopped Thaddeus Young as expected per a source. Despite the dismal season, Chicago has a path to make the playoffs given Orlando’s recent struggles and Kyrie Irving’s injury status.

Speaking of the Nets, they looked for deals though with their unique situation, they were unable to find any value that would help them for next season.

Orlando Fails to Make Major Upgrade

The Magic didn’t make a major move, only acquiring James Ennis from the Sixers for a second-round pick. They were looking for upgrades and shopped Aaron Gordon, per a source. The Clippers were one team that the Magic spoke with but Los Angeles was not interested.

Washington Makes Savy Moves

The Wizards don’t get much spotlight but what’s going on in Washington is noteworthy. GM Tommy Sheppard has made a series of shrewd moves that are pointing the franchise in the right direction. The trade deadline was no different with the team acquiring 2018 no. 13 overall pick Jerome Robinson in a trade that sent out Isaiah Thomas and Issuf Sanon, an international prospect who is far from being NBA ready.

Hornets Don’t Move Anyone

Perhaps the Hornets are the most surprising of the 11 teams that didn’t make a move, opting to keep veterans such as Marvin Williams and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist as opposed to allowing them to find a new home. Both are potential buyout candidates.

Pat Riley & Miami Strike

The Heat acquired Andre Iguodala in addition to Jae Crowder and Solomon Hill in a deal that essentially only gave up often injured Justise Winslow. Dion Waiters was not in the team’s short or long-term plans and James Johnson wasn’t lifting the Heat to new heights.

Pat Riley saw a chance to make an upgrade and took it. Iggy and Crowder as your 7th and 8th guys (both could certainly be higher priority in the rotation) is a nice situation to be in.

Philadelphia Adds Talent

The franchise didn’t wait until the final hour on NBA trade deadline day to make a move, instead, they pulled the trigger late Wednesday on a deal with the Warriors. The Sixers acquired Alec Burks and Glenn Robinson III in a deal that saw them hand over three second-round picks to Golden State. The two veterans should help solidify the team’s bench unit.

Burks was the No. 12 overall pick in the 2011 draft. However, injuries were the only thing kept him from reaching his full potential during his seven-plus season in Utah. This year in Golden State, the 28-year-old is averaging 16.1 points per game. He’s shooting 37.5% from behind the arc.

Robinson, who is in his sixth year in the league, is averaging 12.9 points per game and he’s shooting 40.0% from behind the arc. He was the No. 40 overall pick in the 2014 draft. Both Burks and Robinson have proven to be good veteran leaders for the Warriors this season.

Cavaliers Get Drummond, Pistons Get Cap Space

The Cavaliers made a prudent move, acquiring Andre Drummond for a mere second-round pick (plus the expiring contracts of John Henson and Brandon Knight). The move is low-risk and it also raises the Cavaliers ceiling if they intend to re-sign him. Drummond is the type of player who isn’t going to lead you to a championship but he can raise your ceiling. The Pistons apparently valued the potential on the free-agent market over that.

Hawks Make Upgrades

The Hawks were able to get a pick-and-roll center to pair with Trae Young and one who’s on a team-friendly deal in Clint Capela. The team is still set to have considerable cap space in a market where not many clubs are.  Atlanta also turned Jabari Parker and Alex Len into Dewayne Dedmon and the franchise netted $3.2M in straight cash consideration in a pair of other deals. The only downside was giving away a pair of future picks (Brooklyn’s 2020 selection; their 2024 second-rounder).

Knicks Look Like Winners?

The Knicks could be the biggest winners at the deadline. They altered their strategy mid-week after the organization fired its team president. The deadline could have been a disaster for the team. However, they made just one trade and it was a hit, sending Marcus Morris to the Clippers for L.A.’s 2020 selection, a pick swap in 2021, Detroit’s 2021 second-round pick, Maurice Harkless, and the draft rights to Sanon (the aforementioned foreign prospect).

Not one of those items is overly valuable in itself. Yet, Getting all of that for Morris, who signed a one-year deal with the club after backing out a verbal agreement with the Spurs, is quite impressive. New York inked Morris after they struck out in free agency last summer. While the Knicks’ exact plan this summer is unclear, it likely won’t include going after star free agents (since there won’t be many available on the market); any star it acquires will have to be via trade and now there are more assets in New York’s cupboard to maneuver with.

READ NEXT: Charles Barkley Does Not Hold Back on the Philadelphia 76ers