Some of the biggest moves of the NBA trade deadline

Trade+Deadline

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Dani Heba, Copy Editor

The NBA trade deadline always brings excitement and chatter about what teams will make what moves to position themselves for their future. This year was no different.

Some significant trades were made shortly before the deadline. More surprisingly, some teams did not make any moves at all.

It has been a roller coaster of a week. Below are the notable trades in the NBA this week, broken down.

Sixers-Nets

In a blockbuster trade, the Philadelphia 76ers acquired former MVP James Harden and forward Paul Millsap from the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Andre Drummond and two first-round picks, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported.

For Harden, it was a saving grace, as he managed to leave the Nets following reports of him being unhappy with the team just a year after being traded there from the Rockets. He is reunited with Daryl Morey, who was the general manager of the Houston Rockets and initially traded for Harden from Oklahoma City.

Reports claim that Harden was unhappy due to the team’s number of losses and from Kyrie Irving’s inability to play home games due to his refusal to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Unfortunately, Nets fans did not  get to see much of the big three of Durant, Harden and Irving as they only played 16 games together. In that time, they went 13-3. Many thought they would be championship favorites but were upset by the eventual champion Milwaukee Bucks in seven games in the second round of the 2021 playoffs.

For Harden, in his fourth team at 32-years-old, this may be one of his final chances to win a championship. He is now paired with superstar center Joel Embiid and star forward Tobias Harris as they hope to lead the 76ers to their first championship since 1983.

As for the 76ers, they finally rid themselves of the Ben Simmons drama that surrounded the team since the end of the 2021 playoffs, when they lost to the Atlanta Hawks.

Simmons had a poor showing in the series  leading head coach Doc Rivers to claim that he wasn’t sure if Simmons could start on a championship team. This led to Simmons feeling betrayed by the team, and eventually in August, requesting a trade.

Embiid hasn’t hidden his frustration with Simmons, tweeting a meme expressing joy that Simmons is finally gone from the team.

As for the Nets, the team receives a substantial amount of depth to pair up with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant.

They receive elite shooting with Seth Curry, an all-around playmaker and defensive young star in Simmons and a former All-Star in Drummond, who is an elite rebounder and a much-needed interior presence for the Nets.

With this trade, the Nets make up for their weaknesses by acquiring a significant amount of depth while preparing to compete for a championship led by Durant and Irving.

Pelicans-Blazers

In the second-biggest move of the trade deadline, the New Orleans Pelicans acquired CJ McCollum from the Portland Trail Blazers, in addition to Larry Nance Jr. and Tony Snell, in exchange for Josh Hart, Tomas Satoransky, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Didi Louzada, a protected first-round pick and two second-round picks from the Pelicans, per ESPN.

This marks the end of an era in Portland, where the combination of superstar point guard Damian Lillard and McCollum produced winning seasons since McCollum was drafted in 2013.

Despite the pair never having won a championship, or advancing to the NBA Finals, the duo was always competitive and incredibly fun to watch.

Moments such as Game 5 in the first round of the 2019 Playoffs versus the Oklahoma City Thunder, the 2019 Conference Finals versus the Golden State Warriors and the 2014 first round series versus the Rockets are moments that will never leave basketball fans’ memories.

Alas, all good things must come to an end. Portland had a slow start to the 2021-22 season. They currently sit 10th in the Western Conference and haven’t  advanced to the first round since 2019. However, Portland pulled off a series of questionable trades at the deadline as well. First, they sent Robert Covington and Norman Powell to the Los Angeles Clippers in exchange for Eric Bledsoe, Justise Winslow, Keon Johnson and a second-round pick.

Then, they sent the newly acquired guards Alexander-Walker and Satoransky to the Utah Jazz and San Antonio Spurs, respectively, and received Joe Ingles, who is out for the season with a torn ACL and will be a free agent this offseason, Elijah Hughes and a 2022 second-round pick.

These are certainly not winning moves and one can only wonder what the Portland front office has planned for Lillard, or what Lillard thinks of his future in Portland, despite his loyalty and dedication to the franchise for a decade now.

As for the Pelicans, it  strives to be a competitor following the trade. Star forwards Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson, the latter still yet to make his season debut, are now paired with star guard McCollum and his superb scoring and playmaking abilities.

While this team likely will not  be a contender this year, given that it is unknown if or when Williamson will return, they could be competitive in the west in the seasons to come. The Pelicans finally have a winning future in their sights.

Kings-Pacers

The Indiana Pacers traded two-time All-Star center Domantas Sabonis, Jeremy Lamb, Justin Holiday and a 2023 second-round pick to the Sacramento Kings in exchange for Tyrese Haliburton, Buddy Hield and Tristan Thompson, ESPN’s Wojnarowski reported.

The Pacers are now in full-rebuild mode following this trade and their previous trade that sent Caris LeVert to the Cleveland Cavaliers in exchange for Ricky Rubio’s expiring contract, a lottery-protected 2022 first-round pick and two second-round picks.

The team looks to build around Haliburton, a talented young guard who was thought to be a cornerstone of the Kings franchise, Malcolm Brogdon and Myles Turner, who according to Wojnarowski, appears “thrilled” about Haliburton and being able to play center.

As for the Kings, they get an incredible center in Sabonis and some solid role players in Lamb and Holiday. They look to pair him with star point guard De’Aaron Fox in hopes of being competitive for the first time in years.

Notable teams that didn’t make any moves

Fans are upset with the New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers, who, to the surprise of many, did not make any significant deals whatsoever by the trade deadline.

Both teams have had a disappointing season thus far. The Knicks are currently the 12th seed in the Eastern Conference, while the Lakers sit at 9th following a series of disappointing losses.

For the Lakers, rumors swirled around trading Russell Westbrook, the former MVP who has historically been a triple-double machine. This season, Westbrook has put up some of the most disappointing numbers of his career, including his lowest points total since his second season.

It is now known that the Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Lakers were engaged in talks over a John Wall for Westbrook trade, but the Lakers refused to include a first-round pick.

The Lakers are now pursuing depth in the buyout market, looking to sign guard Goran Dragic once he is bought out by the San Antonio Spurs.

For the Knicks, they did trade for Cam Reddish, sending Kevin Knox II and a 2022 first-round pick to the Atlanta Hawks for Reddish, Solomon Hill and a 2025 second-round pick.

However, Reddish is barely seeing the court with rumors that Head Coach Tom Thibodeau was not pleased with the trade circulating. It is certainly odd, given the amount of talent Reddish has and his good performance in the 2021 playoffs.

Despite rumors that the team may trade Kemba Walker or Julius Randle, who are both having incredibly disappointing seasons thus far, the Knicks stayed put other than the Reddish trade.

Both the Knicks and the Lakers now look to figure out the rest of the season, hoping that their respective teams mesh in time to be serious competitors in the playoffs.