By will Pembroke, Debate & Discussion/Inside Xavier Sports SHow Manager
One week ago today, the NBA landscape was significantly altered by moves made at the trade deadline.
James Harden got his way when he was traded to Philadelphia in exchange for a package centered around disgruntled 76ers forward Ben Simmons. The Portland Trail Blazers finally broke up their longtime backcourt of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, trading the latter to New Orleans. Even oft-injured Dallas Mavericks big man Kristaps Porzingis found himself on the move to our nation’s capital to play for the Wizards.
Now a week removed from the emotion and hysteria that has become the NBA’s trade deadline season, I will break down a few of the biggest trades that went down and assign letter grades to each team involved.
Nets trade James Harden and Paul Millsap for 76ers’ Ben Simmons, Seth Curry and Andre Drummond
Wow. Just a little over a year removed from when he forced his way out of Houston to create a big three in Brooklyn, Harden did it again.
Harden made it clear with his lack of effort on the court this season that he has been unhappy with where the Nets stand as a team. No Kyrie Irving at-home games due to New York City’s vaccine mandate and another serious Kevin Durant injury have made the Nets’ regular season far more challenging than anticipated.
Harden will now move on to play with MVP frontrunner Joel Embiid and a 76ers squad that is currently ranked fifth in the Eastern Conference.
For Brooklyn, they add needed shooting in Seth Curry and a defense-minded player in Simmons, whose timetable to return to the court has yet to be set.
Both teams seem to have received what they wanted from this trade. Only time will tell who ends up on top in this year’s Eastern Conference playoff race.
Grades: Brooklyn Nets, B+; Philadelphia 76ers, B
Portland trades CJ McCollum, Larry Nance Jr. and Tony Snell to New Orleans for Josh Hart, Tomas Satoransky, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Didi Louzada and draft picks
After years of speculation as to when the Portland Trail Blazers would break up their good — but not great — backcourt of Lillard and McCollum, they finally did it. Portland only ended up receiving Hart, a protected first-round pick in 2022, and multiple second-round picks after Satoransky and Alexander-Walker were dealt immediately following this trade.
The Trail Blazers freed up some of their cap space by dealing McCollum. They clearly committed to tanking this season in favor of playing some of their high-upside young guys like Anfernee Simons. For New Orleans, they get the instant offense guard they wanted in McCollum.
However, they also have to take on his $30 million cap hit as well. With still no idea as to when star forward Zion Williamson will return to action for the team, it is hard to justify giving up a promising young player in Hart, along with a first-round pick for a guy in McCollum who is no guarantee to improve the team.
Sure, McCollum is a good scorer, but his athletic and defensive ability leave much to be desired for a Pelicans squad who already struggles on the defensive side of the floor.
Grades: Portland Trail Blazers, A-; New Orleans Pelicans, C
Dallas trades Kristaps Porzingis and a second-round pick to Wizards for Spencer Dinwiddie and Davis Bertans
This trade clearly falls into the category of two teams exchanging their own distressed assets. On one hand, the Mavericks have officially given up on the Porzingis experiment.
The once-promising two-way big man has turned largely into an expensive role player for Dallas who cannot stay on the court or protect the rim for long stretches of time.
On the other hand, the Wizards are able to offload Bertans and Dinwiddie, who have both struggled mightily to fit in with the team over the past two seasons.
There is a very real possibility that neither Washington nor Dallas will improve much as a result of this trade, but who knows. A change of scenery for all three of these once sought-after players could pay off eventually. At least for the Wizards, they have the potential to have a top-10 player at his position in Porzingis if he can stay healthy. Dinwiddie and Bertans will be solid depth at-best.
Grades: Dallas Mavericks, D;Washington Wizards, C