How the Brooklyn Nets Won the Trade Deadline Without Making a Single Move
The trade deadline is always filled with a rush of excitement and anxiety. Fans and players alike wait with bated breath for that next Woj or Shams tweet notification. Will a team be big sellers? Which franchise player or fan-favorite be moved to help foster a rebuild? Will a team make that move that puts them over the hump for a title run? All questions that race through the minds of NBA fans and, of course, Brooklyn Nets fans.
This year’s trade deadline was no exception. In one of the more anticipated deadlines in recent memory, March 25th was a day filled with mixed emotions from a plethora of fan bases. The Brooklyn Nets were no exception, and although Brooklyn didn’t actually execute a trade at the trade deadline they still walked away winners. Here’s how.
Most of the time when talking about trade deadline winners and losers you assess what that team gained or lost and how it improves said roster currently or for the future. In Brooklyn’s case, it was assessing what other teams around them did. The reason the Brooklyn Nets were one of the winners at the trade deadline is simply due to the fact their immediate competition didn’t improve to where they would be viewed as a more serious threat than before the deadline.
First, let’s start in the East. When you look up the definition of a clearance sale in the dictionary you’ll find a picture of the 2020-21 Orlando Magic. In the span of a few hours, Orlando traded away three of its “cornerstone” pieces. They started off by sending Nikola Vucevic to Chicago. Followed by shipping Evan Fournier to Boston and Aaron Gordon to Denver. Denver acquiring Gordon had to be a big blow to the cult of Nets fans who have been begging for him to come to Brooklyn the last few years.
Fournier’s arrival in Boston comes as a much-needed one for the Celtics who have had a disappointing season so far. Although Marcus Smart has returned to the lineup the talent after him and Kemba at the guard position is scarce. Rookie Payton Pritchard is a solid player but doesn’t seem equipped to run an NBA offense as of right now. Veteran Jeff Teague hasn’t lived up to expectations so far on the year either which is most likely why he was also dealt at the deadline. At almost 20 ppg this season, Fournier provides Boston with another scoring option. Measuring in around 6’7, Evan can play both the off guard and even some small forward if Boston decides to go small. Yes, the addition of Fournier should take some pressure off of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown while also providing a lift to the second unit. Boston also flipped Daniel Theis for Mo Wagner from the Wizards at the deadline. However, these moves don’t catapult Boston into the same stratosphere as Brooklyn currently.
The other “big” move in the East was the Miami Heat’s acquisition of Victor Oladipo from the hapless Houston Rockets in exchange for Kelly Olynyk and Avery Bradley. On its surface, this seems like a huge get for Miami. Acquiring a two-time All-Star to go alongside Jimmy Butler. However, Oladipo isn’t exactly the same player that the Pacers thought they’d build around. Although he’s averaging 20.8 ppg and 5.0 rpg, Vic is shooting a subpar 41.1% from the field and 33.3% from long range. Perhaps Victor may have a resurgence with a change of scenery in a place he actually has a chance to compete for a postseason spot. Oladipo should provide more wing depth and perimeter defense. His ability to guard multiple positions should go a long way for Miami as well. This certainly enhances the Heat’s capabilities of moving up in the standings but unless Oladipo magically turns into his 2017 self, this is only a needle mover for playoff seeding.
In terms of the more immediate contenders in the East, the Bucks and Sixers pretty much sat pat. Philadelphia did make a small move, however, acquiring George Hill in a three-team trade. Hill gives the Sixers more 3-pt shooting which they’ve desperately needed. Seth Curry has been very solid for Philly, shooting to the tune of 43.6% from deep on just under 5 attempts per game. Furkan Korkmaz is another guy the Sixers rely on for shooting as he shoots around 37% from distance. Where the Nets did catch a break is the fact Philadelphia did not acquire Kyle Lowry from the Raptors. For the 48 hours leading up to the trade deadline it almost felt like Lowry’s return to the Philadelphia area was a sure thing. Lowry joining the Sixers would’ve definitely altered the landscape atop the Eastern Conference. Luckily for the Brooklyn Nets that isn’t the case as Lowry remains in Toronto – I mean Tampa.
Looking out west the spiraling Lakers weren’t players at the deadline which came as a surprise seeing as how bereft of talent the team appears to be without the services of LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Los Angeles is however one of the big players in the buyout market and the expectation is that they’ll sign someone to bolster their frontcourt. The Clippers on the other hand acquired an interesting asset in Rajon Rondo from the Hawks. Rondo gives the Clippers the floor general that they’ve needed for a while. This isn’t a knock on Patrick Beverly or Lou Williams who Rondo was traded for. However, Williams’ primary objective is to score and Beverly is there to be a pest on defense. Now Kawhi and Paul George can play off the ball while Rondo facilitates. An upgrade? Yes. Upgrade enough to scare the Nets? No. Even if “Playoff Rondo” strikes twice.
The Brooklyn Nets by no means are a perfect team. Although Nicolas Claxton is living up to the hype, Brooklyn still needs help at the center position. They, along with a few other teams will be players in the buyout market. With each passing game, it’s clear DeAndre Jordan just isn’t the answer. The addition of Blake Griffin has worked out alright so far although the sample size is minuscule. It does come off as a bit “homerish” saying this team was a winner at the deadline despite no transactions. ut with Harden and the team playing as well as they have, all without Durant and Irving, it almost seems unfair when they return to the lineup. With no team putting themselves in a position talent-wise that rivals a healthy Nets squad, you can chalk this trade deadline up as a win for Brooklyn.