By Ben Sherman '20
Even in the week leading up to the Super Bowl, the NBA has almost overtaken its hype with trade rumors brewing and deals being finalized as the February 7th trade deadline quickly approaches. Let’s take a look at some of the major deals that have been finalized, and perspective deals that could happen.
We’ll start with the biggest deal that’s been finalized. Kristaps Porzingis, Tim Hardaway Jr., and Courtney Lee, and Trey Burke to the Mavericks for Dennis Smith Jr., DeAndre Jordan, Wesley Matthews, and two future first round picks. The major player in this deal is Kristaps Porzingis, a 4th overall draft pick, who was booed by the Knicks when originally drafted. In the 2017-18 season, Porzingis averaged 23 points, 7 rebounds, 1 assist and an impressive 2.5 blocks per game. Originally thought to be a wasted draft pick, he was thought to be the future of the Knicks. However, having not played this year with an ACL injury, the Knicks decided to trade him and fully commit to rebuild. The Knicks were criticized for this trade, as they bailed on what was supposed to be a franchise player. However, I believe this is ultimately a good move for New York. The Knicks freed up cap space and will enter free agency during the offseason with $74.5 million to spend. They also get two future first rounders, definitely a major part of the Knicks rebuild strategy.
While not a bad deal for the Knicks, the Mavericks really won this trade in my eyes. Unless you have been living under a rock, you have surely heard of Luka Dončić. Lighting up the NBA and averaging 21/7/5, he is thought to be a lock for Rookie of the Year and was most likely the #1 snub of the All-Star Game. Another big factor of this trade is the Mavericks draft pick this offseason, as well as the fact that this year’s first rounder was not included, but rather first round picks from future seasons. Even with Luka’s very impressive rookie season, the Mavericks are struggling, and if the season ended today, they would have the 11th pick in the draft. This year’s draft class is thought to be stacked, and the thought of the Mavericks playing with Luka, Porzingis, and a promising rookie next season will make a lot of teams nervous. The biggest question here is whether or not Porzingis comes back as explosive as before his injury, but assuming he does, the Mavericks are a sleeper pick to make a playoff run in 2020.
The other big talking point in the NBA is Anthony Davis requesting a trade to leave the Pelicans. A trade involving Anthony Davis, possibly the best PF or C in the NBA, would likely be the biggest trade of the season. The most likely landing spot is the Lakers. Davis has expressed he does not care about money as much his legacy, which involves winning a championship. Thinking about Anthony Davis playing with the best player of all time, LeBron, would be scary. There are two issues with this trade. The first issue is that the Lakers would need to give an arm and a leg in order to acquire AD. For eample, the Lakers offered Kyle Kuzma, Lonzo Ball, Rajon Rondo, and a first round pick for Anthony Davis, which the Pelicans promptly rejected. There have been many different reports from the media that the Pelicans either don’t want to trade AD at all, or that they plan to counter the offer with a trade that involves two first-round picks.
The other possible landing spot for AD is the Boston Celtics, but there is a distinct issue with this, coming in the form of “The Rose Rule.” The rule, which references Derrick Rose, is as follows: “A player coming off of his rookie contract may sign a contract for 30% of the team’s salary cap if they have been MVP, or started in 2 All Star Games, or been named to 2 All NBA Teams (the usual rule is that rookies can only sign a contract worth 25% of cap space). However, the kicker here is that a team cannot have two players under a contract which follows the Rose Rule. Both Kyrie and AD are under contracts that follow this rule. Therefore, the only way AD would land in Boston is in a deal that involves Kyrie, or if Kyrie renegotiates his contract this offseason, and the Celtics pursue AD over the summer. However, that poses a question in and of itself.
Kyrie, known to be fairly outspoken, has expressed some slight frustration and is not adamant that he will re-sign with Boston this summer. Boston, after making an impressive playoff push to the Eastern Conference Finals last year without their two stars, was poised to be the surefire #1 seed in the Eastern Conference with LeBron’s departure. However, the Celtics got off to a rough start, but they are finally slowly regaining momentum and have jumped to 3rd seed in the East. Kyrie has stated that he “doesn’t owe anyone” when asked if he will resign, and he earlier expressed frustration about being a leader on the Celtics. While rumors of AD and Kyrie going to LA are fun to speculate about, they are unlikely.
These are the two biggest moves so far. This NBA offseason is poised to have massive implications for the NBA going forward. KD may opt out of his 4-year contract, the Raptors and Bucks are also possible landing spots for AD, and the hometown Wizards may try to trade Wall or Porter to relieve themselves of the supermax and max contracts, respectively. NBA fans are anxiously waiting to see what happens, as many fans just want a challenger for the Warriors in the finals.