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NBA

2020 NBA Trade Deadline: Winners, losers and most interesting moves

Many predicted that the 2020 NBA Trade Deadline would come and go with nary a whisper.

Whoops.

A four-team, 12-player trade that was the largest in 20 years wasn't even the most notable deal that got done!

While no current All-Stars changed teams, there was certainly plenty of action around the league with several contenders making major moves.

  • The Miami Heat swooped in to snatch Andre Iguodala.
  • The Houston Rockets tripled-down on going small.
  • The Philadelphia 76ers added some badly needed shooting.
  • The LA Clippers added another frontcourt scorer.

Add in the blockbuster swap of D'Angelo Russell and Andrew Wiggins and let's just say that was truly a deadline day for the ages.

So with that said, we're breaking down the biggest winners and losers along with what ultimately will be the most interesting subplot moving forward.

Biggest winner

D'Angelo Russell and Karl-Anthony Towns

Russell and the Golden State Warriors were never going to be a good fit.

Everybody can say all of the right things about the unselfish nature of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green and about wanting to see it all together before making any bigger decisions but even when everyone is back, Russell simply wasn't going to fit in.

Coming off what should have been a breakout season in Brooklyn which resulted in his first All-Star appearance, Russell now gets the opportunity to continue his upward trajectory playing alongside good friend Karl-Anthony Towns. The two of them should complement each other perfectly on the offensive end of the floor and there will be plenty of opportunity for Russell to once again run the show as he did with the Nets.

For the time being, this should appease Towns. He's got another young All-Star that fits his timeline and somewhat of a fresh start for a franchise that stalled out following a long-awaited playoff berth in 2018. The acquisition of Russell means the chatter of an unhappy superstar should subside, even if ultimately it wouldn't have led anywhere given he's under contract through the 2023-24 season.

Time will tell if Russell and Towns can build a winner in Minnesota and there's much work left to be done on a roster that's in flux. But this is a much needed clean start for the two young stars.

- Micah Adams (@MicahAdams13)

The Memphis Grizzlies

I believe the hashtag they've used this year is #GRZNXTGEN. How fitting that the Grizzlies continued to build for the future at the deadline?

Memphis successfully moved the contract of Andre Iguodala and in return, received a versatile 23-year-old in Justise Winslow, who adds to a young core that already consists of:

  • 20-year-old Ja Morant
  • 20-year-old Jaren Jackson Jr.
  • 21-year-old De'Anthony Melton
  • 22-year-old Josh Jackson
  • 23-year-old Brandon Clarke
  • 23-year-old Dillon Brooks

The Grizzlies, who have been one of the biggest surprises of the 2019-20 season, entered the day with a three-game lead over the Trail Blazers for the West's No. 8 seed. To say they're ahead of schedule would be an understatement.

Memphis has quickly succeeded in rebuilding its roster surrounding young talent and is shaping to become a Western Conference power in the coming years.

- Gil McGregor (@GMcGregor21 )

The LA Clippers

The Clippers acquired tough-nosed forward Marcus Morris to take over starting power forward duties, giving LA another 3-and-D guy to their roster. Morris has been a 3-point sniper this season, owning the fifth-best 3-point percentage in the NBA at 44.2%. He gives the Clippers yet another player that can create their own shot, as Morris was the New York Knicks' leading scorer at 19.6 points per game.

You could argue he's as good of a defender as the player he's replacing in Moe Harkless and he's clearly the better option on the offensive end of the floor. He provides players like Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell with even more spacing, and he even has some experience defending the Clippers' biggest contender in Los Angeles Lakers' forward LeBron James.

Morris has come for the crown of the "LeBron stopper" in years past, and according to ESPN's Ohm Youngmisuk, he's held James to 42% shooting from the field, the fourth-lowest in the league (min. 50 FGA).

This trade helps the Clippers in their pursuit to win a title this season and above all, Morris' attitude and demeanour fit perfectly with the players around him like Harrell, Williams and Patrick Beverley.

In his own words, "They gotta dog in Hollywood."

- Kyle Irving (@KyleIrv_ )

Biggest loser

The Boston Celtics

Heading into the deadline, it was no secret that the Celtics were looking to add much-needed frontcourt depth as well as scoring for their second unit.

When 3 p.m. hit, they had added neither.

Per Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix, attempts to acquire sharpshooter Davis Bertans came up short and the team wasn't truly linked to anyone else.

Still, there was a chance that Cleveland's acquisition of Andre Drummond could mean that big man Tristan Thompson would become available on the buyout market but that hope didn't last long, as Cleveland.com's Chris Fedor reported that the Cavs intend to keep Thompson for the rest of the year.

Now, with the Sixers and Heat making moves to address weaknesses and improve, the Celtics stand right where they were prior to the deadline.

In a season where there is a very small margin for error between seeds two through six in the East, Boston is currently 1.5 games from second and holds a just one-game lead over Miami for third.

Without the size to make things difficult for Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks, the Celtics will now have an even tougher time earning the No. 2 or No. 3 seed to hold off a potential postseason meeting with the Bucks until the Conference Finals.

- Gil McGregor (@GMcGregor21 )

The idea that bad contracts can't be moved

Chris Paul was untradeable.

Andrew Wiggins was untradeable.

Paul was moved prior to the start of the season and now it's Wiggins that has a new home in San Francisco.

Whether it's Paul or Wiggins or John Wall, we collectively waste so much time declaring that bad contracts can't be moved. Except they can. Just ask Joe Johnson.

I'd like to forever put to bed the exhausted and tired debates about behemoth contracts for aging or under-performing players.

- Micah Adams (@MicahAdams13)

Andre Drummond

You have to feel for Andre Drummond a bit.

His name has been thrown around the rumour mill over the past few weeks leading up to the trade deadline, and yet, he still didn't feel as though he was properly notified by the Pistons organization.

On top of that, the hype surrounding his name typically - and naturally - linked him to a contender. "Will the Clippers or Celtics fill their need for a starting centre with Drummond?"

If he saw any of those rumours, he must've enjoyed the idea of potentially being the piece that sends a team fighting for an NBA title over the top. When every person who did their due-diligence with push notifications sent to their phone on trade deadline day caught wind of the Drummond deal, it was a collective, "Andre Drummond is going to Cleveland?"

The deal doesn't make much sense and it can't be a great feeling being the best rebounder in the NBA and seeing you were traded for Brandon Knight, John Henson and a second-round pick. Going from a team out of the playoff picture in the East to a team even closer to the bottom of the conference had to be even more deflating.

- Kyle Irving (@KyleIrv_ )

Key storyline to watch

The Rockets going all small

There's small ball and then there's whatever the Houston Rockets are doing.

Personally, I love it.

I have no clue if it will work. It might result in a first round exit. It might result in a championship parade.

But kudos to Daryl Morey, Mike D'Antoni and the Rockets for leaning all of the way into their identity as a small-ball team reliant upon the simple fact that three is greater than two. Even if they add some bigs in the buyout market, the Rockets will likely close games with 6'5" James Harden, 6'3" Russell Westbrook, 6'3" Eric Gordon, 6'5" P.J. Tucker and 6'7" Robert Covington.

They already played BY FAR the most minutes without anybody 6'8" or taller on the floor and that's just going to be what they do moving forward save for a few minutes here or there from Tyson Chandler, Jordan Bell or TBD future Rocket. This is no longer a cute gimmick, its their identity.

What happens when they play the likes of Anthony Davis, Nikola Jokic or Rudy Gobert. What if they make it to the Finals and see Joel Embiid or Giannis Antetokounmpo?

Again... maybe it works. Maybe

- Micah Adams (@MicahAdams13)

Continuity and Chemistry

For some teams that didn't make moves - namely the Bucks, Lakers and Raptors - standing pat appeared to the best option for the season's stretch run.

It's probably no coincidence that they have the top three records in the league, respectively.

As constructed, the Bucks have far and away been the league's best team and have the record of 43-7 to show for it. Their roster might not necessarily be flawless but it's hard to argue against the results so far.

The Lakers, who were rumoured to be active at the deadline, ultimately decided no move was worth making as well. For LA, a franchise that has dealt with tragedy and emotions much bigger than basketball, inaction could be a statement of unity to strengthen internally as it prepares for their playoff run.

Toronto is a team that has surpassed many expectations this season, and every single member of its roster has contributed one way or another. The players that may have appeared to be expendable from a production standpoint likely have an immeasurable impact on the team's chemistry. For the Raptors, a team that is 37-14 despite having not been at full strength so far, standing pat is the ultimate sign of belief that the guys within the locker room can continue to deliver.

Keep in mind that each of these teams could be active on the buyout market, which is yet another way to bolster a roster without sacrificing pre-existing chemistry.

It will be interesting to compare the success of these contenders with that of the deadline's most active teams.

- Gil McGregor (@GMcGregor21)

How ready is Andre Iguodala?

The Miami Heat made their move to acquire Andre Iguodala, feeling he could be the piece they need to turn their season into a potential championship.

Before the trade had even been finalized, they also signed Iguodala to a two-year contract extension worth $30 million.

While Iguodala has more than proved he's worth that sort of respect with a resume like three NBA titles, a Finals MVP, a couple All-Defensive Team nods and an All-Star bid, he hasn't played since last season's NBA Finals.

And while there are clearly no doubts that he has stayed active despite sitting out the first half of the season, there's a major difference between workout shape and game shape. How long will it take the 36-year-old to get into game shape? Are the Heat expecting to throw him into the starting lineup, defending opposing top wing players right away? What wrinkles will there be in getting Iguodala accustomed to his new team?

These are all things I'll be looking for when the former Finals MVP takes the floor for the first time in a Heat uniform.

- Kyle Irving (@KyleIrv_)

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA or its clubs.

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