7 takeaways after the NBA trade deadline

Movie quote of the day:

“Got us a German here who wants to die for country. Oblige him!”

– Lt. Aldo Raine, “Inglourious Basterds” (2009)

Since football season is over, I figured it’s time that I finally write something about basketball. Let’s start in the NBA. The trade deadline ended a few days ago and I’ve decided to break down some of the moves that happened around the league. Here’s my seven takeaways:

Indiana SF Paul George was rumored to be on the trading block this week.
Indiana’s Paul George was rumored to be on the trading block this week, but the Pacers decided to keep the All-Star.

1. Fairly uneventful week, in my opinion

Outside of Lou Williams to Houston, DeMarcus Cousins to New Orleans, and Serge Ibaka to Toronto, not very many big names were moved before the deadline. I say that the week was fairly uneventful considering that players like Paul George, Jimmy Butler, Andre Drummond, Jahlil Okafor, and Derrick Rose were all rumored to have been shopped around by their teams. Hopefully this means we’re going to have an entertaining offseason.

Former Sacramento C drives by New Orleans PF Anthony Davis in a recent game. New Orleans acquired Cousins via trade this week.
Former Sacramento C DeMarcus Cousins drives by New Orleans PF Anthony Davis in a game this season. New Orleans acquired Cousins via trade this week.

2. Keep an eye on the Pelicans

New Orleans made the biggest move – and steal – of the trade deadline when the Pelicans acquired DeMarcus Cousins from the Sacramento Kings for basically a stick of gum. Now, New Orleans has the best frontcourt in the NBA with the duo of Cousins and Anthony Davis. The trade was beneficial for both Cousins and Davis because neither player has played with someone to the caliber of the other during their careers. However, the problem that I have with this move is that Cousins is known to be a headcase in the locker room. Will he be fine with stepping aside and letting Davis – who is the face of the Pelicans – be “the guy?” Also, the NBA is a guard-driven league but New Orleans decided to have two talented big men instead of guards – not a lot of scoring is done by big men in the league. That being said, New Orleans is a team to watch as we enter the homestretch of the regular season.

Houston acquired 30-year-old veteran Lou Williams via trade this week from the Los Angeles Lakers.
Houston acquired 30-year-old veteran Lou Williams via trade this week from the Los Angeles Lakers.

3. Lou Williams is a perfect addition for the Houston Rockets

Houston gives up 107.8 points per game defensively – the most among teams currently in the playoffs. The Rockets could’ve used some defensive help, but that’s not Mike D’Antoni’s style. He’s all about playing a lot of guards, playing fast, and scoring a lot of points. Lou Williams fits that type of style. He’s a career 40 percent field-goal shooter. Also, he’s been playing the best offensive basketball of his career the last three years averaging 16.5 points per game – the highest of his career. He’s a great addition to the Rockets – who have to play in a very guard, offensive-heavy Western Conference. This trade isn’t going to put them over the top but it makes them more competitive.

Dallas traded for talented center Nerlens Noel from Philadelphia, who was buried on the 76ers' frontcourt depth chart.
Dallas traded for talented center Nerlens Noel from Philadelphia, who was buried on the 76ers’ frontcourt depth chart.

4. Dallas made the most underrated move after trading for Nerlens Noel

Nerlens Noel was once considered to be the top prospect in the 2013 NBA draft, but a gruesome knee injury caused him to fall to New Orleans at the No 6 pick, where he was later traded to Philadelphia and he missed his rookie season because of knee surgery. This caused Philadelphia to draft other talented big men like Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor with lottery picks in the following two years after acquiring Noel – causing him to be buried on the depth chart. However, injuries haven’t really been a problem for Noel in recent years, he’s played in 171 regular season games the last three years and has averaged 10.2 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks per game during that stretch. Now, he finally gets a chance to be the starting center for a Dallas team that has been needing a solid rim protector the last few years. He’s still a very talented player that was overshadowed by Embiid and Okafor in Philadelphia. I’m not sure he’ll become an All-Star for the Mavericks, but he’s still developing as a player and will be a solid contributor.

Boston head coach Brad Stevens has the Celtics in second place in the Eastern Conference.
Boston head coach Brad Stevens has the Celtics in second place in the Eastern Conference.

5. Boston’s decision to stay the course isn’t the worst thing in the world

Boston was rumored to be in trade discussions for several star players this week, and everyone expected general manager Danny Ainge and the Celtics to make a move – but they decided to stay the course instead. A lot of people probably bash Boston’s front office for this decision, but I don’t think it’s the worst thing in the world. Would a star player be beneficial for the Celtics? Absolutely. However, would it propel them to being the best team in the Eastern Conference? Probably not. The Celtics have a talented, young roster with great chemistry that is overperforming and they’re sitting at second place in the East right now, they have a bright, young coach, and still have plenty of assets to trade away if they wish. It’s far from the end of the world for Boston. This team is still in fantastic shape for the future.

Serge Ibaka was traded for the second time in eight months to Toronto in exchange for Terrence Ross and a first-round pick.
Serge Ibaka was traded for the second time in eight months to Toronto in exchange for Terrence Ross and a first-round pick.

6. Serge Ibaka isn’t saving Toronto

Toronto needed a third player in its starting lineup to help take some of the attention away from guards Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. Serge Ibaka is a big name and a few years ago this would’ve been a major acquisition. However, Ibaka isn’t the same player he was a few years ago, in my opinion. There’s a reason he was traded from Oklahoma City – a team that was thin power forward but was still willing to give up Ibaka last summer. The Raptors are currently sitting in fourth place in the Eastern Conference, and I really don’t see this move improving the team that much.

Cleveland's LeBron James has been vocal about wanting Cleveland's front office to get another playmaker, but the Cavaliers didn't make a move this week.
Cleveland’s LeBron James has been vocal about wanting Cleveland’s front office to get another playmaker, but the Cavaliers didn’t make a move this week.

7. Cavaliers, Warriors are still the teams to beat in their respected conferences

Cleveland and Golden State have proven to be the top teams in the NBA the last few years. Neither team had the assets to make a move this week, which left the door open for other teams to gain some ground. However, not many great players were traded and I don’t think any team significantly closed the gap on the Cavaliers or the Warriors. I would prepare for another Cleveland-Golden State meeting in the NBA Finals in June.

Thanks for reading

Shane Price
Follow me on Twitter – @priceisright53

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