Remember when the consensus with the NBA Trade Deadline was that it was going to be pretty boring with more buyers than sellers? Those were some good times, because a lot has changed since then.
Suddenly, the Grizzlies decided to end their golden age of basketball, Kristaps Porzingis and the Knicks divorced and rumors are swirling around Anthony Davis. In a matter of weeks, the trade deadline suddenly could have major implications for what happens this summer. We are now one day away from the deadline, and we could be in for one epic one a little over 24 hours from now.
Kudos to the NBA for moving the deadline up a few weeks earlier. It forces teams to think quicker, it gives players who are traded to their new teams more time to acclimate and players don’t have worry about getting traded while they’re enjoying the All-Star break.
At first, it seemed as though nothing was really happening. Besides some updates on Anthony Davis and Marc Gasol, little was going on besides the Lakers trading for swingman Reggie Bullock. Then, Wednesday at 2:17 a.m. EST, we received news that changed everything, and that’s exactly how we’re starting this off.
The Sixers Are Going All In
We all thought that was the case when they traded for Jimmy Butler back in December. We were wrong. NOW they are all in.
The Sixers broke NBA Twitter earlier this morning when they reportedly acquired Tobias Harris, Boban Marjanovic and Mike Scott from the Clippers for Wilson Chandler, Mike Muscala, Landry Shamet, their 2020 first-round pick and Miami’s unprotected 2021 first-round pick.
First things first, wow. Those picks were the last assets Philly had left over. The Process is now complete, and Philly has shown everyone their hand. What they just paid for those guys is a substantial amount, a big risk considering Harris and the players coming with him are on expiring contracts. But if that gives you an edge in the top-heavy Eastern Conference, then do it.
One theory for why else Philly did this: Things haven’t gone as swimmingly as the Sixers had hoped with Jimmy Butler. They haven’t been bad, but Butler hasn’t had the most seamless transition to the team. Trading for Harris substantially increases their ceiling, which in turn leads to more success, which would help their chances in retaining him – and Harris for that matter.
Harris also should be the perfect fit to put next to Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. With all due respect to Butler, Harris is one of the best floor spacers in the league who doesn’t need the ball in his hands to be the most effective. Tobias is also playing the best basketball of his career, putting up career-highs in almost every category. That’s probably not going to continue now that he’s the fourth option.
Read that again. The same man who was getting a lot of All-Star buzz in the loaded Western Conference is now the fourth guy in Philly. This is going to be fun.
Two more notes: Philly got some solid depth in Marjanovic and Scott, which is good for them because depth has been one of their fatal flaws. Finally, who’s to say the Sixers are done dealing? They still have Markelle Fultz. They could still get more needed depth should they find a trade for him.
The Anthony Davis Sweepstakes
There has never been, and may never be, another player who has prompted just about every person associated with the NBA to frantically refresh their Twitter feed just to find any updates on his situation like Anthony Davis. Since his trade request, we’ve all hungered for the next update.
Tuesday, we got our latest twist: It appears the Lakers, who have been the long-standing favorite since Davis’ trade request last week, have pulled out of trade talks with the Pelicans because of “outrageous” requests made by New Orleans. This request included six to eight first-round picks on top of their entire farm of young talent, including Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, and Ivica Zubac as well as cap filler.
This could be legitimate, or it could just be a negotiation tactic. By doing this, the Lakers are probably banking on Davis’ value as a player decreasing as each hour passes, which will force the Pelicans to compromise. If the Pelicans call the Lakers’ bluff, then the Lakers would have to compete with the Celtics for Davis, who can’t trade for him – due to the Designated Rookie Extension rule – until Kyrie Irving opts out of his contract this summer.
What makes this new wrinkle so intriguing is that so much is riding on this year’s deadline. For the first time ever, the offseason plans of the three most storied franchises of all time are all linked together. The Lakers, Celtics and Knicks are all going to be linked to Anthony Davis.
The Lakers want Davis because pairing him with LeBron would make them relevant again and could form another super team. Boston wants Davis because snagging him would help their chances of re-signing Irving, which would, in turn, keep their status as a contender.
New York is kind of a wild card. Of course, they want Davis aboard – Let’s be honest, who wouldn’t – but what they would prefer is him not going to Boston above all else, because if he doesn’t, that helps New York’s chances of getting Kyrie, who they plan to chase in free agency.
Even if the Lakers are playing the waiting game, they may be losing leverage. The team is coming off a 42-point loss to Victor Oladipo-less Indiana Pacers, which was LeBron’s worst loss ever as a pro. The image below paints a worse picture.
Things seem a little awkward on the Lakers bench… pic.twitter.com/LqIqocPUBD
— Yahoo Sports NBA (@YahooSportsNBA) February 6, 2019
There appears to be a real disconnect between LeBron and his young teammates, which may have been fueled by the trade rumors surrounding the Lakers and Anthony Davis. Since LeBron is represented by Klutch Sports, the same agency as Davis, this could point to LeBron pushing for the trade, which may have rubbed his teammates the wrong way. Maybe the trade rumors were not correlated with what happened at Indiana, but that’s not a good look either way.
No matter what the case is, the Anthony Davis sweepstakes are going to get a lot more interesting between now and 3 p.m. EST on Thursday.
Marc Gasol Is On The Move…Or Not?
We’ve been wondering for a few weeks now about what was going to happen with Marc Gasol. Big Spain’s name came up in a rumor with the Raptors, but that was quickly squashed because the Grizzlies were not interested. A few hours later, it appeared we finally got our answer in the afternoon.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) February 5, 2019
Until we didn’t several hours later.
NBA sources told SN on Tuesday that a potential deal sending the Grizzlies’ Marc Gasol to the Hornets is, “probably not” happening.
Skepticism on both sides, and no framework in place, despite signs that something was afoot.https://t.co/LHdG90DNUS
— Sean Deveney (@SeanDeveney) February 6, 2019
It only gets more confusing, too. Deals fall through all the time, which appears to be the case here. What makes this instance different, though, is that while Gasol may not be headed to the Hornets after all, it doesn’t seem like he’ll be playing for the Grizzlies once the deadline passes.
Even though Charlotte has been linked to Gasol for some time now, that still would have made for a puzzling trade. Marc would definitely be an upgrade over who they have manning the center position currently, but would it be worth risking Miles Bridges and/or Malik Monk for half a season of an aging Gasol? And have those two shown enough that they are a satisfactory return for Gasol? And obviously, what contracts would have been sent back to match with Marc’s?
For now, no deal is imminent between the two, but something’s gotta’ give with Memphis. The atmosphere in the Grizzlies’ locker room felt like Gasol and Mike Conley were playing their last home games with the franchise. It’s going to be really awkward if they wind up staying on a team whose fate has already been sealed this season.
This all happened within 12 hours. It goes to show that the NBA never sleeps, and if things are like this in such a short time span, imagine what they’ll look like on Feb. 7.