NBA Trade Grades


Grading the most notable deals from what was a busy trade deadline

Pacers fleece Kings

Kings get: Domantas Sabonis, Jeremy Lamb, Justin Holiday, 2023 second-round pick (Protected)

Pacers get: Tyrese Haliburton, Buddy Hield, Tristan Thompson

——Oh, Kings. No franchise is more incompetent when it comes to evaluating the true potential of the guys they have in store than Sacramento, who probably made the Pacers’ brass gasp when they heard something even approaching this offer. Don’t kid yourself, Sabonis is a very good player who will be a fringe all-star for a long time in this league. But to trade a 40+ percent three point shooter who is already a nightmare to try do defend in his age-21 season is, as J.J. Redick put it, malpractice. 

For the Pacers, this is a home run within a slam dunk within a 99-yard touchdown. Since Rick Carlisle returned to the team, the Pacers have decided it’s best for them to pursue an all-around rebuild. To get Haliburton without surrendering a first-round pick or a truly premium asset is a stellar move for Indiana. 

Kings grade: F

Pacers grade: A+

Harden gets what he wants…again

Nets get: Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Andre Drummond, 2022 first-round pick(right to defer to 2023), 2027 first-round pick

76ers get: James Harden, Paul Millsap

——For the 76ers, anytime you can turn a player who had no interest in having anything to do with you into James Harden, you’ve probably done well for yourself. As part of this deal, Harden picked up his player option going into next season, putting off free agency one further offseason. The 76ers are probably going to be forced to commit $200+ million for a mercurial star advancing further into his 30s. Furthermore, it’s becoming increasingly clear Harden has a problem with many around the league, and a vocal superstar like Joel Embiid will be an interesting pairing. 

Brooklyn essentially rid themselves of their big-three fantasy and now has the ability to look more like an actual basketball team after this trade. For his size and defensive limitations, Seth Curry is a ridiculous outside shooter who should thrive off of Ben Simmons in the paint and the attention given to Kevin Durant. Andre Drummond gives them someone to battle on the glass with Embiid in the playoffs, and two first-rounders at least gives them a leg to stand on once all their stars either quit their way out of town again or get Steve Nash fired. 

76ers grade: B+

Nets grade: B+

Mavs give up on the Porzingis experiment

Mavs get: Spencer Dinwiddie, Davis Bertans

Wizards get: Kristaps Porzingis, 2022 second-round pick(31-45 protected)

——Mark Cuban once said he wouldn’t make the same mistake he made with Steve Nash after trading for Kristaps Porzingis and pairing him with Luka Doncic. In what has been deemed the first truly healthy season for Porzingis after his myriad of lower body injuries, he’s missed 21 games this year. That’s just not going to work. Dallas deserves credit for trading Porzingis while they still could, rather than continuing to squint and pretend it was either working or would eventually. The chemistry with Doncic was never really good or bad. It was, by all accounts, just fine. The Mavs hemorrhaged two first-round picks and other assets for a perennially injured big man with oozing potential, but completely unreliable availability and an albatross max contract. Once Dallas found a deal they could live with to stop the bleeding, they decided to pull the trigger. 

For Washington, Dinwiddie was a failed signing from day one. He’s shooting less than 40% from range and had his own teammates unhappy he was there to begin with. Tommy Sheppard and the Wizards deserve credit for turning that and a brutal contract in Bertans into, for all his faults, an extremely talented player just 26 years old.

Mavs grade: C

Wizards grade: A-

Josh Richardson gets traded for the 494th time

Celtics get: Derrick White

Spurs get: Josh Richardson, Romeo Langford, 2022 first-round pick(protected), 2028 first-round pick swap

——Few players see their value rise and fall quite like Josh Richardson. He began in Miami, before being traded to Philadelphia as part of the Jimmy Butler trade, before being traded to Dallas, before being traded to Boston, before being traded to San Antonio. In this case, the Celtics made a heck of a move to get off of him. Derrick White is still a sneaky-good point guard in this league, and a first-round pick, a first-round swap, and Richardson for him isn’t bad at all. 

This seems like a commitment to Dejounte Murray for the Spurs. One always got the sense one of these two would eventually be on the way out. Murray has made strides offensively, and while White is a big get for the Celtics, this isn’t too bad for San Antonio at all. The Spurs have done a solid job of reorienting their roster after the departures of Lamarcus Aldridge and Demar DeRozan, and nabbing a first and Richardson was a nice all-around haul for them. Good move for both sides. 

Celtics grade: A-

Spurs grade: A-

Celtics and Rockets hit Control—Z

Rockets get: Dennis Schroder, Enes Freedom, Bruno Fernando

Celtics get: Daniel Theis

——Ok? This was legitimately one of the weirdest and seemingly most pointless trades in recent memory. The Rockets, for whatever reason, thought it would be a good idea to cough up a good piece of change for Daniel Theis in the offseason despite being in complete rebuild mode and already possessing Christian Wood and Alperen Sengun. The Celtics didn’t really need the guy anymore either after their smart decision to extend rising star Robert Williams. But, for whatever reason, the Rockets decided this wasn’t worth it less than one season in, and didn’t get a draft pick for the German. 

Essentially, new general manager Rafael Stone decided to backtrack on the Theis contract, and take back absolutely nothing in return. Schroder and Freedom are easy buyouts, while Fernando is on the roster for the moment. For Boston, they may have simply felt they could use the solid depth Theis provided last year, and may have been in the negotiations for Theis at the 11th hour in the offseason before he chose Houston, thus making them feel comfortable taking back that contract. The Celtics are at least getting a good player in this deal. 

Celtics grade: C+

Rockets grade: D

Kings finally get DiVincenzo in four-team blockbuster

Bucks get: Serge Ibaka, two second round picks(Sacramento, Detroit), cash considerations(Clippers)

Clippers get: Rodney Hood, Semi Ojeleye, Vanja Marinkovic

Pistons get: Marvin Bagley III

Kings get: Donte DiVincenzo, Trey Lyles, Josh Jackson, David Michineau, second-round pick(Detroit)

——Milwaukee’s aversion to just keeping Donte DiVincenzo is bizarre. This is the second time they’ve moved the swingman, although the first time they agreed to send him to Sacramento, the trade was voided. Serge Ibaka does look like he’s more or less shot, but with Brook Lopez recovering from back surgery, a veteran big man with lots of playoff experience and two draft picks if all else fails isn’t poor. The Clippers clearly were more interested in reducing a massive tax bill with this move, as neither Rodney Hood or Semi Ojeleye will do much for this team. 

This was a great trade for the Pistons, however. Josh Jackson meant nothing to them at this point, and they made the decision to sell high on Trey Lyles during what’s been his best season. Only throwing in two second-rounders is not too much at all for Bagley III, who desperately needed a change of scenery. The Kings atoned for their awful trade of Haliburton with this move, making up somewhat for the decision to draft Bagley III over Luka Doncic and getting Divincenzo in the process. 

Bucks grade: C

Clippers grade: D

Pistons grade: A+

Kings grade: A-

Blazers begin reshaping around Dame

Pelicans get: C.J. McCollum, Larry Nance Jr., Tony Snell

Blazers get: Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Josh Hart, Tomas Satoransky, Didi Louzada, 2022 first-round pick, 2026 second-round pick, 2027 second-round pick

——On the surface, this doesn’t look terribly good for Portland, but this had to happen. The McCollum-Lillard backcourt had run its course, and getting Josh Hart and three picks isn’t nothing. Alexander-Walker has legitimate potential, but he was promptly flipped in a separate move with Utah. The Pelicans do appear to have a nice roster on paper, but this is a classic example of a team desperate to be just relevant enough to have even the slightest chance of keeping Zion Williamson long term. Sure, Brandon Ingram, McCollum, Jonas Valanciunas, Devonte Graham and Larry Nance Jr. could be worse, but in that conference, what does it really matter?

Blazers grade: B

Pelicans grade: C

Looming iceberg approaching in Utah

Blazers get: Joe Ingles, Elijah Hughes, second-round pick(Utah)

Spurs get: Tomas Satoransky, second-round pick(Utah)

Jazz get: Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Juancho Hernangomez

——Things are starting to get a bit hairy in Salt Lake City. The Jazz, while fourth in the conference, have clearly had a bit of a disappointing season, and rumored tension between Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell stemming all the way back to the infamous coronavirus moment in 2020 appears to be getting worse. Trading for a young, raw Alexander-Walker seems like a bit of an admission that a potential implosion is on the horizon. San Antonio is happy to take on Satoransky for a draft pick in this deal, while the Blazers made a weird decision to turn a young guard with real promise into virtually nothing. Utah appears to have gotten the best out of this deal. 

Blazers grade: D

Jazz grade: B+

Spurs grade: A

Cavs make aggressive play for LeVert

Pacers get: 2022 first-round pick(lottery protected), two 2022 second-round picks, Ricky Rubio

Cavaliers get: Caris LeVert, 2022 second-round pick

The Cavaliers are one of the best stories of the season in the NBA. They are remarkably second in the Eastern Conference, and decided to go for it a bit with this trade. While they undeniably got better with LeVert, the better part of this for Cleveland was the lack of too big a commitment to him. LeVert has one more guaranteed year beyond this season, and a first round pick likely to be in the 20s isn’t a difficult price to pay for him. The Cavaliers will also be armed with LeVert’s expiring deal along with Kevin Love’s going into next year. Kobe Altman continues to establish himself as one of the very best general managers in all of sports.

For Indiana, they probably hoped to get a hair more out of this, but a net of two draft picks including a first will do. The Pacers appear focused on building a core around Tyrese Haliburton and one big move up in the draft with all of these new picks to play with. Great move for Cleveland, solid for the Pacers. 

Cavs grade: A+

Pacers grade: B

Suns reunite with Torrey Craig

Suns get: Torrey Craig, cash considerations

Pacers get: Jalen Smith, 2022 second-round pick

——Phoenix did a good job with this move, adding another capable wing defender they are familiar with after bringing him in last season. He rejoins Mikal Bridges and Jae Crowder to form one of the better frontline wing groups in basketball. It should also be noted that cash considerations aren’t totally insignificant for this franchise, as their already large payroll could skyrocket if they decide to extend Deandre Ayton. With that ownership group, one never really knows how a big tax bill is going to affect their decision making, so this was a good thing to get thrown into the mix by general manager James Jones. 

Indiana continues to stockpile assets and picks. They were smart to expect the Suns to just pay Ayton eventually, as the exit of Jalen Smith shows. Craig didn’t mean much for Indiana at this point, so a potential rotation player at center and another pick works just fine. 

Suns grade: B+

Pacers grade: A

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