The 2019-20 NBA trade deadline was expected to be a quiet one, though a four-team, 12-player blockbuster started off an eventful 48 hours of deals. Let’s take rank the top-5 winners from this year’s deadline.
Honorable Mention: Houston Rockets
The Houston Rockets made their trade days before the deadline in a blockbuster four-team deal. They sent out Clint Capela, Nene, and a first-round pick and brought back Robert Covington. They also flipped Jordan Bell, who arrived from Minnesota in that deal, for Bruno Caboclo. Given what the Wolves were rumored to have been seeking in a Covington deal (two first-rounders) and how the center market shaped up (just look at what the Pistons received for Andre Drummond), GM Daryl Morey is having a good week.
5. Washington Wizards
Washington’s ability to turn Isaiah Thomas and foreign prospect Issuf Sanon into Jerome Robinson is pure wizardry. Thomas, who was on a one-year deal, had no long-term future with the club and while Sanon, who was a second-round pick in 2018, is progressing, he’s years away from being NBA ready if he gets there at all. Acquiring Robinson, who was the No. 13 overall pick in last year’s draft, for that package is a smart, crafty move by the front office.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers
The Pistons tossed Andre Drummond aside like he was a frat house futon. The center may be poised to hit free agency and yes, that could be pricey. However, Drummond is still among the league’s best rebounders and he can be a major contributor on the right team. Who knows if that team is Cleveland but for the price of a second-round pick (and expiring deals), it’s worth the risk. Savy move by the Cavaliers.
3. Atlanta Hawks
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).
2. Minnesota Timberwolves
The Wolves got their guy: D’Angelo Russell. The franchise was determined to land the former no. 2 overall pick, working the phones until they were able to come to a deal. It costs them a pretty valuable asset: their own 2021 first-round pick (top-3 protected). If the KAT-Russell duo doesn’t produce results over the next two years, losing that will certainly hurt.
1. New York Knicks
The Knicks 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 are 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.