February 26, 2024

NBA trade deadline rewind: Reassessing 2023 moves, one year later


The 2024 NBA trade deadline is over, and while we did have roughly 20 trades this week, nothing really moved mountains in a seismic way. We saw some good role players shuffled around, but it wasn’t anything like what we saw last year, when historic superstars were finding new homes and packing their bags.

That makes this year’s trade deadline perfect for my annual trade deadline rewind column.

One of my favorite traditions is to look back at the previous year’s deadline, see how we felt about the trades at the time and update those assessments. With the benefit of hindsight, we can see if any or all were as meaningful or meaningless as we believed. Were long-term investments or sacrifices worth it? Did the playoff-push rentals pay off? Did any team mortgage its future for a fruitless return?

I’ve done this post-trade deadline column for years now. I reviewed the 15 trades leading up to the 2018 deadline and then the 22 trades we saw in 2019 and 15 trades in 2020. The 2021 trade deadline rewind had us reviewing 22 deals leading up to the deadline buzzer. In 2022, we had 18 trades to revisit.

We also have the Trade Deadline FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) scale, a rating between 1 and 10. The lower the score on the scale, the more legitimate that move was to make for the construction of the team. The higher the score, the more likely it was the team made the trade just to see its name in a Shams Charania notification.

With a year of hindsight, let’s dive into those 17 deals from 2023.


Jan. 5: Celtics offload Noah Vonleh

Celtics acquire: 2024 second-round pick (top-55 protected)
Spurs acquire:
Noah Vonleh, cash considerations

What we thought at the time: It just felt like the Celtics were opening up a roster spot for another move while also saving a bunch of money in luxury tax penalties. We knew the Spurs were going to waive Vonleh immediately.

What it looks like a year later: Exactly that. The Celtics saved roughly $7 million in luxury tax penalties. They didn’t really utilize the roster spot too much, but they did sign Justin Champagnie before the end of the season.

Did this really help either team? The Spurs got some cash, so that’s nice. The Celtics saved money.

Trade Deadline FOMO score (scale of 1-10): 9 for Celtics; 9 for Spurs


Lakers acquire: Rui Hachimura
Wizards acquire: 
Kendrick Nunn, 2023 second-round pick, 2028 second-round pick, 2029 second-round pick

What we thought at the time: I had plenty of questions about Hachimura joining the Lakers. I didn’t know if he’d fit in their lineup or whether he was going to consistently make outside shots. The defense was never a thing in Washington for Hachimura. The Wizards were essentially grabbing a small bag of second-round picks to avoid re-signing Hachimura without being convinced he might be worth it.

What it looks like a year later: For the Wizards, that’s exactly what it was. They used the 42nd pick they acquired on Tristan Vukčević, who is currently playing in the Adriatic League. As for the Lakers, it worked out way better than I expected. Hachimura became a very important part of the rotation and had some big moments in the playoffs. He re-signed last summer on a very reasonable contract, although his minutes have been inconsistent this season for some reason.

Did this really help either team? I think it did. Washington didn’t need to tie up money in Hachimura and the Lakers got better by helping him get better.

Trade Deadline FOMO score (scale of 1-10): 3 for Lakers; 6 for Wizards


Rui Hachimura elevates for a shot as Portland’s Anfernee Simons defends. (Gary A. Vasquez / USA Today)

Feb. 6: Nets say goodbye to Kyrie

Mavericks acquire: Kyrie Irving, Markieff Morris
Nets acquire: 
Spencer Dinwiddie, Dorian Finney-Smith, 2027 second-round pick, 2029 first-round pick, 2029 second-round pick

What we thought at the time: Our brains exploded. Irving’s Nets stint was so weird before it finally ended in the blink of an eye. Maybe people thought would jettison Irving in the summer, but Brooklyn handled it by the 2023 deadline instead. The return wasn’t spectacular, but it was solid. The Nets weren’t going to benefit from tanking, so getting rotation guys such as Dinwiddie and Finney-Smith made sense. They also received a future first-round pick. For the Mavs, they were risking Irving as a rental to show Luka Dončić they were going to make big swings to get him help.

What it looks like a year later: It actually has worked out extremely well. Granted, this was the first step in the big roster explosion for Brooklyn that week, but it received a good haul for someone who wasn’t reliable for the team in many ways. And we’ll see what Dallas looks like in half a decade, when that first-round pick is due. Irving re-signed with Dallas on a big but manageable contract. He and Dončić have worked well together, but the Mavs have had to endure Irving missing a good amount of time.

Did this really help either team? I think it helped both teams. Dallas needed a star next to Dončić, and Irving seems to have bought in … for now. Brooklyn needed a new direction, and it received guys who contribute now and can be flipped later.

Trade Deadline FOMO score (scale of 1-10): 1 for Mavericks; 1 for Nets

go-deeper

GO DEEPER

One year after trade, Kyrie Irving is pretty much at peace’ with troublesome Nets tenure


Feb. 7: Nets shed roster spots

Nets acquire: David Michineau
Kings acquire:
Kessler Edwards, cash considerations

What we thought at the time: The Nets needed to make some roster space, which meant giving up Edwards. Sacramento benefited from being in a numbers-crunch situation, so the Kings didn’t have to give up anything to get a potentially nice role player. And they got cash too!

What it looks like a year later: Exactly what we thought a year ago. Edwards is a solid contributor and offers good depth for the Kings. The Nets’ portion of this trade is playing in Turkey.

Did this really help either team? It helped the Kings a little bit, and it helped the Nets make their other moves.

Trade Deadline FOMO score (scale of 1-10): 4 for Nets; 3 for Kings


Feb. 7: Heat jettison Dewayne Dedmon

Heat acquire: Cash considerations
Spurs acquire: 
Dewayne Dedmon, 2028 second-round pick

What we thought at the time: This was maybe one of the funniest trades of the deadline. Why? Roughly a month earlier, Dedmon threw a massage gun onto the court because he was frustrated with his role, Erik Spoelstra, BitCoin or something. I’m not quite sure. He only played for the Heat once more before they sent him out for nothing.

What it looks like a year later: Exactly that. The Spurs waived Dedmon, Philly signed him, and he played a handful of games the rest of the season. He hasn’t been signed since.

Did this really help either team? No and no.

Trade Deadline FOMO score (scale of 1-10): 6 for Heat; 10 for Spurs


Deadline Day: Lakers, Wolves beef up in three-team deal

Lakers acquire: D’Angelo Russell, Jarred Vanderbilt, Malik Beasley
Wolves acquire: 
Mike Conley Jr., Nickeil Alexander-Walker, 2024 second-round pick, 2025 second-round pick, 2026 second-round pick
Jazz acquire: Russell Westbrook, Juan Toscano-Anderson, Damian Jones, 2027 protected first-round pick

What we thought at the time: Wow, the Lakers actually pulled the trigger on a trade getting rid of Westbrook. He was a terrible fit for them, and they needed to shake things up to get some depth. Bringing in Vanderbilt could give them a defensive option to pair with Anthony Davis to really beef up their defensive versatility. Russell could spread the floor with the shooting Westbrook couldn’t provide while moving the ball a little. Beasley could give the Lakers extra outside shooting, something the front office struggled to put next to LeBron James.

On the Wolves’ side of it, moving from Russell to Conley meant having more of an adult at the helm to help balance out Anthony Edwards during his stardom learning curve. Conley can shoot, defend and take care of the ball, even if his game isn’t sexy. Alexander-Walker was someone the Wolves could hope to retain and develop after he showed early progress in New Orleans. For the Jazz, they were just looking for the first-round pick and expected to waive Westbrook.

What it looks like a year later: It’s been pretty good for everybody involved. The Wolves have thrived with Conley as the point guard, and Alexander-Walker re-signed while also looking to be integral to their rotation as they fight for first atop the West. For the Lakers, the roster transformation really boosted everything for them. They went on a big-time run and eventually reached the conference finals in the West. Russell has had ups and downs but has mostly been a positive. Vanderbilt was great last season but has been hurt most of this season. Beasley eventually left and signed in Milwaukee. As for Westbrook, he signed with the Clippers and rediscovered truly contributing in a positive way.

Did this really help either team? It helped everybody. The Jazz got worse for a bit, but they got their pick. The Wolves are thriving. And the Lakers had a solid run at the end of last season.

Trade Deadline FOMO score (scale of 1-10): 1 for Lakers; 1 for Wolves; 3 for Jazz

go-deeper

GO DEEPER

Lakers stand pat, Warriors don’t add anyone at deadline


Deadline Day: Raptors get big with Poeltl

Raptors acquire: Jakob Poeltl
Spurs acquire:
Khem Birch, 2023 second-round pick, 2024 protected first-round pick, 2025 second-round pick

What we thought at the time: Finally, the Raptors go for some size. Toronto had been throwing nothing but 6-foot-8 athletic guys on the court with a few guards sprinkled in. But they realized having some beef in the frontcourt was necessary. The Spurs were still accumulating draft picks and making sure they had a chance in the Victor Wembanyama sweepstakes.

What it looks like a year later: Exactly what we thought. The Raptors re-signed Poeltl to a good contract, and he’s been a good center for them. They’re no longer playing completely undersized all the time. The Spurs won the Wemby sweepstakes. Tanking works, kids!

Did this really help either team? It absolutely did. Wemby is on the Spurs, and Poeltl is a good big man for the retooling Raptors.

Trade Deadline FOMO score (scale of 1-10): 1 for Raptors; 1 for Spurs


Jakob Poeltl pulls down a rebound over Utah’s John Collins. (Dan Hamilton / USA Today)

Deadline Deal: Massive four-team deal lands Kevin Durant in the desert

Suns acquire: Kevin Durant, T.J. Warren
Nets acquire:
Mikal Bridges, Cameron Johnson, Juan Pablo Vaulet, 2023 first-round pick, 2025 first-round pick, 2027 first-round pick, 2029 first-round pick, 2028 first-round pick swap, 2028 second-round pick, 2029 second-round pick
Bucks acquire: Jae Crowder
Pacers acquire: George Hill, David Nwora, Serge Ibaka, 2023 second-round pick, 2024 second-round pick, cash considerations

What we thought at the time: You might remember, news of the trade broke last night. A lot of people woke up the next morning to learn that Durant was headed to the desert. What an aggressive swing by new Phoenix owner Mat Ishbia. Pairing Durant with Devin Booker was a no-brainer. Even if it meant giving up so much talent and so many assets. The Nets getting two promising forwards in Bridges and Johnson was huge. And controlling the picks of Phoenix for the foreseeable future gives them a lot of assets to manage.

The Bucks snuck in there to grab Crowder for depth, which was a good reunion for them. Plus, Crowder had been sitting out in Phoenix. And the Pacers got involved to grab a couple of second-round picks and some cash.

What it looks like a year later: Incredible move by the Suns, who continued to push chips in and acquired Bradley Beal over the summer. The Nets they got a brilliant haul for Durant. Bridges immediately showed he can really score, and they re-signed Johnson to a healthy deal to provide shooting and versatility. Crowder hasn’t done much for the Bucks, but he’s a necessary piece of depth after they acquired Damian Lillard before this season. The Pacers didn’t really get much for this trade.

Did this really help either team? It absolutely helped the Suns. While it did hurt the Nets because they lost Irving and Durant in the same week, it set them up better for the future. They have a bunch of good wings/forwards from those deals, as well as a ton of draft picks to utilize. The Bucks and Pacers remain relatively unmoved by the deals, but maybe Crowder can provide some good play.

Trade Deadline FOMO score (scale of 1-10): 1 for Suns; 1 for Nets; 5 for Bucks; 8 for Pacers


Deadline Day: Suns move Šarić

Suns acquire: Darius Bazley
Thunder acquire: 
Dario Šarić, 2029 second-round pick, $1 million

What we thought at the time: A curious move by the Suns to move on from Šarić, who was becoming a free agent in a few months. Bazley was a less versatile, worse big man. For the Thunder, Šarić could provide some stretchiness to the frontcourt. It felt like OKC was mostly just taking the cash and a future second because Sam Presti is obsessed with draft picks.

What it looks like a year later: Kind of like a big bag of nothing. Šarić was fine for the Thunder in limited minutes the rest of the season then signed with the Warriors over the summer. Bazley barely played for the Suns and was signed and waived by the Nets this fall.

Did this really help either team? Not really.

Trade Deadline FOMO score (scale of 1-10): 9 for Suns; 8 for Thunder


Deadline Day: Four-team deal swaps role players for Lakers and Nuggets

Lakers acquire: Mo Bamba, Davon Reed, 2024 second-round pick, 2025 second-round pick
Nuggets acquire:
Thomas Bryant
Clippers acquire: Bones Hyland
Magic acquire: Patrick Beverley, 2024 second-round pick, cash

What we thought at the time: A bit of confusion. The Lakers were trying to get a more versatile backup big man option by swapping out Bryant, who famously called for the ball in the post as LeBron James broke the all-time scoring record, for Bamba, who has never really found his role in the NBA. Denver was letting go of a promising young backup guard in the hopes that Bryant would provide a more reliable backup big man option. The Clippers were taking a swing to see if they could develop Hyland into a viable point-guard option off the bench. And the Magic were essentially just grabbing a second-rounder and some cash.

What it looks like a year later: The Lakers struck out because Bamba gave them nothing and isn’t on the team anymore. We’ll see what they do with the seconds. The Nuggets won the title, but Bryant played less than a minute in the playoffs. Hyland hasn’t quite taken off for the Clippers. And the Magic waived Beverley.

Did this really help either team? I’m not sure it helped anybody here, except for the Magic’s bank account.

Trade Deadline FOMO score (scale of 1-10): 8 for Lakers; 5 for Nuggets; 5 for Clippers; 9 for Magic


Deadline Day: Hawks and Rockets shuffle role players

Hawks acquire: Garrison Mathews, Bruno Fernando
Rockets acquire:
Frank Kaminsky, Aaron Holiday, 2024 second-round pick, 2025 second-round pick

What we thought at the time: Other than the family members and friends of these four players, I’m not sure anybody really registered thoughts on this deal. The Hawks were just bringing in different size and more of a wing to provide some shooting. Houston was grabbing a more versatile big man and a decent backup point guard option. Really, the Rockets were looking for more second-round picks.

What it looks like a year later: Not much happened here. Mathews and Fernando are still on the Hawks. The Rockets renounced their rights to Kaminsky in the summer, and they re-signed Holiday on a small deal. This was mostly about the second-round picks for Houston.

Did this really help either team? It really did not. Just some shuffling of role players.

Trade Deadline FOMO score (scale of 1-10): 7 for Hawks; 7 for Rockets


Deadline Day: Four-team deal brings GPII back to the Warriors, James Wiseman to Detroit

Warriors acquire: Gary Payton II, 2026 second-round pick, 2028 second-round pick
Blazers acquire:
Kevin Knox, 2023 second-round pick, 2024 second-round pick, 2025 second-round pick, 2026 second-round pick, 2028 second-round pick
Pistons acquire: James Wiseman
Hawks acquire: Saddiq Bey

What we thought at the time: The Warriors are punting on Wiseman for a reunion with Payton! And there are almost too many second-round picks being thrown around to get this deal done. The Warriors bringing Payton back, despite his injuries, was to get some perimeter defense in the mix. The Blazers were simply accumulating as many second-round picks as they could to jettison Payton. The Pistons were going to see if they could turn Wiseman into a contributor, like they sort of did with Marvin Bagley III, a fellow big selected No. 2 overall. And the Hawks were grabbing wing/forward depth with Bey.

What it looks like a year later: I think the Hawks did the best out of the four this deal. Payton hasn’t really done much, playing in just 23 regular-season games since. Wiseman hasn’t done anything for the Pistons, with whom a parting of ways seems imminent. Bey has been a really nice contributor in Atlanta. Portland used the 2023 second-round pick on Rayan Rupert (43rd).

Did this really help either team? It helped the Hawks, and I think that’s it.

Trade Deadline FOMO score (scale of 1-10): 5 for Warriors; 5 for Blazers; 4 for Pistons; 3 for Hawks


Gary Payton II celebrates after a play against the Spurs. (Kyle Terada / USA Today)

Deadline Day: Celtics bring in Mike Muscala

Celtics acquire: Mike Muscala
Thunder acquire:
Justin Jackson, 2023 second-round pick, 2029 second-round pick

What we thought at the time: Boston is just grabbing some extra size, presumably so we don’t have to watch Luke Kornet do that dumb “jump straight up in the paint while someone shoots a 3-pointer 20 feet away” move. The Thunder were just grabbing some second-round picks.

What it looks like a year later: The most that Muscala contributed to the Celtics was him being moved in the Kristaps Porziņģis trade. The Thunder used that 2023 second on Keyontae Johnson, a wing who has mostly contributed in the G League so far.

Did this really help either team? Legally, it did help the Celtics, since they ended up with Porziņģis. Let’s see if the Thunder can develop Johnson into anything.

Trade Deadline FOMO score (scale of 1-10): 8 for Celtics; 7 for Thunder


Deadline Day: Clippers add Mason Plumlee

Clippers acquire: Mason Plumlee
Hornets acquire: 
Reggie Jackson, 2028 second-round pick, $1 million

What we thought at the time: With Hyland in tow from a previous trade, the Clippers were willing to part with Jackson to get more size on the roster in case they had to battle Nikola Jokić in the playoffs. The Hornets were not expected to keep Jackson, so really, they were just collecting a check and a second.

What it looks like a year later: Exactly what we thought. Plumlee has been some bonus size for the Clippers, even though they haven’t gotten a chance to use it against Denver yet. Charlotte immediately waived Jackson, who signed with the Nuggets, with whom where he won a ring.

Did this really help either team? It didn’t help the Hornets, but nothing rarely does. The Clippers have benefited a little.

Trade Deadline FOMO score (scale of 1-10): 2 for Clippers; 8 for Hornets


Deadline Day: Four-team deal brings Hart to the Knicks

Knicks acquire: Josh Hart, rights to Bojan Dubljević, rights to Dani Díez
Blazers acquire:
Matisse Thybulle, Cam Reddish, Ryan Arcidiacano, rights to Ante Tomić, 2023 first-round pick
Hornets acquire: Svi Mykhailiuk, 2023 second-round pick, 2027 second-round pick
76ers acquire: Jalen McDaniels, 2024 second-round pick, 2029 second-round pick

What we thought at the time: This was a pretty impressive move for the Knicks at the time. I loved the trade because I think Hart is a winning player. He just knows what to do and is a great locker room guy. For the Blazers, maybe they could be the ones to develop Reddish, but Thybulle would potentially be a defensive wing they didn’t really have. The Hornets were just acquiring seconds, and I liked the Sixers potentially buying low on McDaniels.

What it looks like a year later: I was right about the Knicks portion of it. Hart is awesome for New York. The Blazers didn’t do anything with Reddish, but they did re-sign Thybulle, who has been solid in his role. Portland also used its first-round pick in the deal on Kris Murray, who should be a nice role player someday. The Hornets used the 2023 second to flip for the rights to James Nnaji, who plays in Spain. The Sixers did not utilize McDaniels much, leading to him signing with Toronto.

Did this really help either team? It helped the Knicks and Portland. The Sixers and Hornets were not affected much, but maybe those second-round picks will be something.

Trade Deadline FOMO score (scale of 1-10): 1 for Knicks; 2 for Blazers; 8 for Hornets; 6 for 76ers


Deadline Day: Clippers bring back Eric Gordon in three-team trade

Clippers acquire: Eric Gordon, 2024 second-round pick, 2024 second-round pick, 2027 second-round pick
Grizzlies acquire: 
Luke Kennard
Rockets acquire: John Wall, Danny Green, 2023 first-round pick swap

What we thought at the time: Pretty big move by all teams involved. The Clippers were grabbing even more backcourt scoring depth in case their stars weren’t available or 100 percent. A reunion with Gordon is fun for the Clippers. The Grizzlies brought in some much-needed shooting help and a little bit of playmaking with Kennard. The Rockets brought back the contract of Wall and what’s left of Green. Houston’s big priority here was getting the pick swap for the draft.

What it looks like a year later: Gordon didn’t help the Clippers much and left for the Suns in the offseason to complement their big three. Kennard has battled some injuries, but he should still be a viable rotation guy for Memphis. The Rockets ended up with the 20th pick in the draft from this deal, choosing Cam Whitmore after he dropped down the draft boards.

Did this really help either team? It did not help the Clippers. It might help the Grizzlies. It did help the Rockets.

Trade Deadline FOMO score (scale of 1-10): 3 for Clippers; 3 for Grizzlies; 2 for Rockets


Deadline Day: Pelicans grab wing depth

Pelicans acquire: Josh Richardson
Spurs acquire:
Devonte’ Graham, 2024 second-round pick, 2026 second-round pick, 2028 second-round pick, 2029 second-round pick

What we thought at the time: The Graham tax on the Pelicans was heavy. It cost them a first-round pick to sign-and-trade for him in the first place. Then, it cost them four second-round picks to trade him to San Antonio. The Pelicans were acquiring some solid wing help just in case their very deep perimeter suffered a lot of injuries. The Spurs were probably just in it for the seconds.

What it looks like a year later: Richardson didn’t do much for New Orleans but played fine. Graham is still with San Antonio, where he’s mostly helping the team hit the salary floor for CBA reasons. He’s barely played since joining the Spurs.

Did this really help either team? Absolutely not.

Trade Deadline FOMO score (scale of 1-10): 5 for Pelicans; 6 for Spurs


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( Top photos of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Josh Hart: Barry Gossage, David Nemec / NBAE via Getty Images;  Kevin C. Cox / Getty Images)





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