The trade deadline hit just one week ago and it was one of the busiest in recent history. Twenty-eight of the 30 NBA teams made some sort of move as a part of the total 21 deals. Some were small, like Dewayne Dedmon going to the Spurs for cash considerations. Others were absolutely massive though, like the Brooklyn Nets torching their future by trading their two All-Star starters Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving to the Phoenix Suns and Dallas Mavericks, respectively, making the race in the west uber-competitive. What move was the best though? The DC Sports section discusses just that in this week’s edition of the Roundtable.
Associate Sports Editor
Jakob Poeltl to the Raptors
This is a deal that many will overlook, but its value cannot be understated. The Raptors have been working with a very versatile, but undersized look this season that has left them vulnerable to taller teams. With the pickup of 7-footer Jakob Poeltl, they now have much more height and a player with considerable experience. Poeltl is averaging 12 points and nine boards, but he broke out in his third game with Toronto, scoring 30 points in the victory. The move also gives 6’ 8’’ Pascal Siakam much more freedom to space the floor without having to worry about being on the offensive glass. It fits his skillset much better than being forced to play center. Overall, the move was a critical one for the current play-in team just a few games away from a guaranteed playoff berth.
Kevin Durant to the Suns
I never grew up rooting for an NBA team, but this move will have the biggest impact on both organizations as well as the league. How the Suns acquired Kevin Durant without giving up one of Devin Booker, DeAndre Ayton or Chris Paul is remarkable and will be discussed for decades. When those four are fully healthy, that is one of the best starting fives in the league and makes Phoenix a favorite to lift the Larry O’Brien Trophy in June despite their slow start to the season. In return, Brooklyn acquired Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson, Jae Crowder (since traded to the Milwaukee Bucks) and four first-round picks. The Nets reconfigured their arsenal at the deadline, and it should help them compete for a playoff spot in a slightly weakened Eastern Conference. This is a trade I hope to look back on in five years and say both teams won; Phoenix has significantly higher championship aspirations while Brooklyn has a younger core that, if developed properly, will be a force in the association very soon.
Josh Hart to the Knicks
New York is back, and they are ready to compete for a Larry O’Brien trophy more than ever. The acquisition of Josh Hart makes them that much more ready, as Hart is the best-undersized rebounder in the NBA. His 8.1 rebounds per game is an NBA best for players 6-foot-5-inches or shorter. This deal is sweeter for the Knicks because they were able to dump Cam Reddish, who has struggled mightily in his short four-year career, shooting an abominable 39.5% from the field. New York is already feeling Hart’s presence as in his second game in the Big Apple, he had 27 points and five rebounds to help upset the Brooklyn Nets for the first time since 2020. With Jalen Brunson playing at an all-star level, it only makes sense to bring in his former Villanova teammate to help elevate his game even more. The Knicks, without a doubt, won this trade deadline by getting an absolute stud and dumping Reddish; Knicks fans should be throwing a parade for Leon Rose for absolutely fleecing the Blazers.
Spencer Dinwiddie, Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson and five first round picks to Brooklyn via Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving trades.
Yes. The James Harden, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant era in Brooklyn was a colossal failure and massive disappointment. The trio of future hall of famers only played a mere 16 games together and neither combination of the trio advanced past the conference semifinals. As each player took turns requesting trades, Sean Marks and Joe Tsai knew the dismemberment of the big three was inevitable. This past trade deadline, the Nets completed the dismembering of the big three by shipping Kyrie Irving off to the Dallas Mavericks and sending Kevin Durant to the Phoenix Suns. Brooklyn is now in full restart mode and the return they received for the big three gives them significant assets for building this team back up to championship caliber in the future. The Nets turned James Harden, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant into six unprotected first round picks, one protected first round pick, two second round picks and six players, two of whom averaging more than 17 PPG this season — Mikal Bridges and Spencer Dinwiddie. As disappointing as the big three was in Brooklyn, fans should have a lot to be excited about in the future with this return.
D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt to the Lakers
This trade does two things for Los Angeles. One part involves the departure of Russell Westbrook. It’s clear that a change of scenery was needed for both parties and this move does just that. Next, it brings in a new lead guard that is familiar with this environment in D’Angelo Russell. While the former Lakers draft pick didn’t succeed in his first stint, this team is much different. He’s going to be relied on a lot more for his playmaking abilities than his scoring with two excellent scoring options in Anthony Davis and Lebron James. Even at age 26, he can still learn under the tutelage of James to add to his game even further. That’s without talking about some of the additional pieces to this trade like Malik Beasley, who can come off the bench for productive minutes and another big off the bench in Vanderbilt. Overall, NBA fans should certainly be paying attention to how the Lakers perform with their new pieces, especially when James returns to the lineup.
Mo Bamba to the Lakers
It is no secret that the Lakers were in need of a solid center. After their disappointing end to last season, fans were crying out for Rob Pelinka to integrate a new center into the side. Mo Bamba just might be that center. Bamba is a seven footer, who was traded from the Orlando Magic in a multi-team deal, and is averaging 7.7 PPG. His 1.4 blocks per game will also be an exciting stat for Laker fans. This deadline deal was made all the better by the Lakers’ acquisition of Jarred Vanderbilt, who will also offer some height down low. The rotation of Bamba and Vanderbilt should allow the Lakers to maintain a presence in the paint throughout the game, as well as having the ever-present threat of LeBron James in their lineup. Although this may not be the deal that pushes the Lakers to the next level, it is hard to see it not improving the 13th seed in the Western Conference.