The NBA trade deadline never fails to disappoint.
The latest frenzy took place in the hours leading up to Thursday’s 3 p.m. ET deadline. A wide-open season that features multiple championship contenders led to a burst of trade activity — and additional rumors that never came to fruition — as clubs fortified their rosters looking toward the spring.
With that said, here are five trades that will have the biggest effect on the playoffs:
1. In a three-team trade, the Los Angeles Clippers acquire Marcus Morris Sr. from the New York Knicks and Isaiah Thomas from the Washington Wizards; the Knicks acquire Maurice Harkless and a 2020 first-round pick from the Clippers; and the Wizards acquire Jerome Robinson from the Clippers.
Analysis: Both the Clippers and the Los Angeles Lakers wanted Morris, and the Clippers won out. Morris is enjoying a career-best season with averages of 19.6 points and 5.4 rebounds per game in 43 starts. The 30-year-old out of Kansas also has 32 playoff games under his belt during previous stints with the Detroit Pistons and Boston Celtics. He has averaged 13.4 points and 5.9 boards in the postseason. Thomas also will give the Clippers a boost on offense, although he is a liability on the other end of the court. The former University of Washington star is averaging 12.2 points and 3.7 assists in 40 games (37 starts).
2. The Miami Heat acquire Andre Iguodala, Solomon Hill and Jae Crowder from the Memphis Grizzlies in exchange for Justise Winslow, Dion Waiters and James Johnson.
Analysis: Iguodala waited all season for a chance to compete for a playoff team, and now he will get his opportunity. He spent the past few months on the sideline rather than play for the Grizzlies, and the move paid off as he signed a two-year, $30 million extension with the Heat immediately following the deal. He is a three-time NBA champion and a versatile contributor on both ends of the court, and he gives Miami an extra dose of toughness as it prepares for a competitive playoff battle in the Eastern Conference. Crowder (9.9 points, 6.2 rebounds per game) and Hill (5.7 ppg, 3.0 rpg) also bolster Miami’s depth.
3. The Philadelphia 76ers acquire Alec Burks and Glenn Robinson III from the Golden State Warriors in exchange for a 2020 second-round pick originally belonging to Dallas, a 2021 second-round pick originally belonging to Denver and a 2022 second-round pick originally belonging to Toronto.
Analysis: No one doubts the 76ers’ greatness on defense. After this deal, they now have a better punch on offense, as well. Burks ranked third on the Warriors with an average of 16.1 points per game to go along with 4.7 rebounds and 3.1 assists. He shot only 40.6 percent from the field and 37.5 percent from the 3-point arc, so he is far from perfect, but he has the ability to get hot off the bench. Robinson ranked fifth on the team at 12.9 points per game to go along with 4.7 rebounds and 1.8 assists. His shooting has been sharper — 48.1 percent overall and 40 percent from deep — and he gives the 76ers another contributor for a low cost in terms of trade return.
4. In a complicated four-team deal, the Houston Rockets acquire Robert Covington and Jordan Bell from the Minnesota Timberwolves, along with Golden State’s 2024 second-round pick via the Atlanta Hawks; the Denver Nuggets acquire Gerald Green from the Rockets, Keita Bates-Diop, Shabazz Napier and Noah Vonleh from the Timberwolves, plus the Rockets’ 2020 first-round pick; the Hawks acquire Clint Capela and Nene from the Rockets; and the Timberwolves acquire Evan Turner from the Hawks, Malik Beasley, Jarred Vanderbilt and Juancho Hernangomez from the Nuggets, and the Brooklyn Nets’ 2020 first-round pick via Atlanta.
Analysis: This is a whopper — a 12-player deal that affects two playoff contenders, the Rockets and the Nuggets. Houston has preferred a small-ball approach all season, and this deal reinforces that strategy. Covington gives the Rockets a terrific defender, and he is capable on the offensive end, contributing 12.8 points per game this season. Houston later flipped Bell to the Memphis Grizzlies for forward Bruno Caboclo, who averaged 2.8 points per game in limited action this season. The Nuggets, who added a first-round pick while reshaping their bench, later flipped Napier to the Washington Wizards for Jordan McRae.
5. The Cleveland Cavaliers acquire Andre Drummond from the Detroit Pistons in exchange for John Henson, Brandon Knight and a 2023 second-round pick (the lesser of Cleveland’s or Golden State’s).
Analysis: Granted, this will not have a massive effect on the playoffs, but it does reduce Detroit’s playoff chances, which could help other teams such as Brooklyn and the Orlando Magic that are trying to qualify for the postseason. Drummond has been a mainstay for the Pistons since he entered the league in the 2012-13 season, and he was caught off guard by his abrupt departure. He is averaging a career-high 17.8 point per game this season while pulling down a league-high 15.8 rebounds per game.
—Tom Musick, Field Level Media