Now that the dust has settled on the 2020 NBA Trade Deadline, here’s a look at the biggest winners and losers from around the league.
The 2020 NBA Trade Deadline has come and gone, and while there weren’t as many high-profile deals as in years past, there were a couple of blockbusters and several significant trades worth our attention.
From the Minnesota Timberwolves finally getting their hands on D’Angelo Russell to the Miami Heat snagging Andre Iguodala, there were two-, three- and even four-team deals to digest in the days, hours and even minutes leading up to Thursday’s deadline.
In order to sort all the madness out, here’s a look at the biggest winners and losers from this year’s NBA trade deadline.
Winner: Minnesota Timberwolves
Loser: Golden State Warriors
The Timberwolves badly needed to make a winning move. While dumping Robert Covington in a four-team swap before the deadline had things looking shaky for a minute, the Wolves rebounded nicely by shedding additional unwanted salary. Landing D’Angelo Russell to make Karl-Anthony Towns happy is great; getting Andrew Wiggins off the books is another win in and of itself.
Dumping Gorgui Dieng in the Andre Iguodala trade only helped matters even more. Over the past few weeks, Minnesota turned Covington, Wiggins, Dieng, Jeff Teague, Shabazz Napier, Noah Vonleh, Jordan Bell, Treveon Graham, Keita Bates-Diop, a top-three protected 2021 first-round pick and a 2021 second-round pick into Russell, Malik Beasley, Juan Hernangomez, Evan Turner, Allen Crabbe, Jarred Vanderbilt, James Johnson, Jacob Evans, Omari Spellman and a 2020 protected first-rounder from the Brooklyn Nets.
Minnesota’s work is far from done. In fact, they’re probably worse off for this season. But the Timberwolves got KAT a certified star (and personal friend) to play with. That makes this team’s 13-game losing streak easier to swallow, and by getting younger and lighter on the salary cap sheet, the future looks a lot less bleak than it did just a few weeks ago.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the Warriors, who are taking a massive risk that a change of scenery, more floor-spacing and playing for a winning franchise will help Wiggins curb some of his worst tendencies.
Wiggins is actually pretty dynamic as a cutter, but as of now, he still represents one of the worst contracts in basketball. His red-hot start from 3 this year took a quick nosedive into his normal, below-average career numbers (around 33 percent). He still takes too many long 2s, settles into ill-fated isos and is nowhere near the defender he should be.
If anyone can fix Wiggins, it’s the Warriors. Maybe he’ll be the wing they want. But after limiting their flexibility last summer by signing-and-trading for Russell, shipping D-Lo off for only one (admittedly valuable) first-round pick and having to take on Wiggins is far from encouraging.
Winner: Memphis Grizzlies
Winner: Miami Heat
Sometimes, a trade can be effective for both teams for wildly different reasons. That’s the case here, though it also includes the Timberwolves, who were looped in as the third team (and already covered above).
Turning Andre Iguodala’s absence into Justise Winslow is a massive victory for a Grizzlies front office that’s nailed all of its moves lately. Getting Gorgui Dieng adds a capable backup who thrived while KAT was sidelined this season, and although he and Dion Waiters are on the books for a combined $30 million next season, it’s not like Memphis has been a premier free-agency destination anyway.
Waiters is a buyout or waive candidate, while Dieng can actually bolster the Grizzlies’ frontcourt depth. The real win, though, is landing a 23-year-old Winslow. Availability is his biggest concern, but he’s something of a Swiss Army knife when healthy and will be a terrific defensive fit if he can stay on the court. Losing useful, tough-minded veterans like Jae Crowder and Solomon Hill hurts the locker room, but between all of this and Dillon Brooks‘ extension, this front office is on fire.
Although the Heat didn’t get their hands on both Iguodala and Danilo Gallinari, pivoting into Iggy, Crowder and Hill is an inspired bit of creativity that gives Miami more ball-handlers, shooters and physical defenders to throw at opposing stars in a playoff series.
Throw in the fact that Miami shed additional salary by dumping Waiters, Johnson and the perpetually injured Winslow for expiring contracts in Crowder and Hill, and Miami managed to get better while creating cap flexibility for this summer and next.
Loser: Detroit Pistons
Loser: Cleveland Cavaliers
Some trades are wins for both parties. Others are losses for everyone involved, and that’s what the Andre Drummond trade was.
Because the Pistons didn’t want Drummond to exercise that $28.8 million player option this summer, they had to dump him somewhere. Unfortunately, there weren’t many takers for their franchise player because of his notable flaws in this small-ball era, and they wound up having to settle for a package of Brandon Knight, John Henson and a 2023 second-round pick. That’s a terrible return for any two-time All-Star, especially one who’s still only 26 years old.
However, just because the Cavs get to take Drummond on a three-month test drive for nothing but peanuts doesn’t make this deal a win for them either. Yes, they’ll get to see whether he can mesh with the team’s franchise pillars like Collin Sexton and Darius Garland, but then it gets complicated.
If he excels, they risk inking him to a big deal in free agency that winds up being an overpay (ask the Pistons about how far a Drummond-led team can go). If he doesn’t impress, losing him for nothing actually becomes the best option; he could very well opt in for that $28.8 million since there will be a dearth of suitors who have significant cap space and the need for a center. Good luck navigating those tricky waters, Cleveland.
Winner: LA Clippers
Loser: Los Angeles Lakers
One L.A. team got Marcus Morris. One did not. The Clippers only had to give up an underachieving Maurice Harkless, their 2020 first-rounder (likely to be in the 25-30 range), the right to swap picks in 2021 (meaningless unless the Clippers are somehow worse than the New York Knicks next season) and a 2021 second-rounder via Detroit. The Lakers, meanwhile, were being asked to surrender Kyle Kuzma and ultimately refused to cave.
That meant the Clippers got a guy who was averaging nearly 20 points per game on 43.9 percent shooting from deep in exchange for a guy who wasn’t really contributing in his 22 minutes per game. Mook is a tough, physical player with a bit of an edge who will do most if not all of the things Harkless was supposed to do on both ends, but better.
The Lakers, meanwhile, have to turn their attention to bringing Darren Collison out of retirement or giving J.R. Smith a test drive. The Battle for L.A. was always going to be tight, but a move like this could ultimately tip the scales in the Clippers’ favor.
Winner: Clint Capela
Loser: John Collins
The Houston Rockets’ interest in Clint Capela hadn’t felt particularly strong since 2018, when re-signing him took longer than anticipated and his contract clocked in well below his expected value. He’d been the subject of trade speculation for awhile, and it was becoming clear this new Russell Westbrook iteration A) preferred going small and B) played better when it did.
Now, Capela will get to be part of an elite pick-and-roll combo with Trae Young, getting back to his roots as a screener and rim-runner to finish off Young’s perfect passes for alley-oops and easy dunks. He’s still only 25 and fits the Atlanta Hawks’ timeline perfectly.
Unfortunately, this also clogs things up for John Collins, another pick-and-roll partner for Young. Getting a rim protector makes sense for the Hawks because of Collins’ deficiencies on that end, but for the player himself, it caps his ceiling a bit and forces him to become a good 3-point shooter quicker than expected.
Winner: Andre Iguodala
Loser: Andre Drummond
One Andre sat out since July, went on PR tours to promote his preferred trade destinations, got shipped to one of those destinations and promptly received a two-year, $30 million extension with an Eastern Conference contender that will keep him fresh for the postseason (the second year is a team option, but still).
The other Andre got dumped for a second-round pick four years out and the ghosts of Brandon Knight and John Henson, despite averaging a whopping 17.8 points, 15.8 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 2.0 steals and 1.7 blocks per game. His flaws in this small-ball era became glaringly obvious on Thursday, and now he joins a team that already has Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson and Larry Nance Jr. in the frontcourt.
What’s worse is his options moving forward are severely limited. If he opts in for $28.8 million, he’ll have to endure another year with a rebuilding Cleveland team that’s even worse than the one he came from. If he opts out, most the the teams with cap space this summer just traded for new centers or already have starting-caliber centers, with the exceptions being the Cavs, the Pistons and the Charlotte Hornets. Yeesh.
Winner: Dewayne Dedmon
Loser: Maurice Harkless and Isaiah Thomas
Dewayne Dedmon is going from wasting away on the Sacramento Kings’ bench to returning to the place where he enjoyed his most success in the NBA. Though the Hawks now have Capela starting at the 5 and Collins capable of playing backup minutes there too, Dedmon will make his money as a backup 5 who should actually see the floor given his rim protection, 3-point shooting and success he enjoyed in Atlanta during his last stint there.
Unlike Dedmon, who returns to surroundings he’s familiar with, poor Maurice Harkless and Isaiah Thomas were the chief victims of Thursday’s Marcus Morris trade. Harkless didn’t do enough in his role with a title contender and was promptly jettisoned to one of the worst teams and most dysfunctional franchises in the league.
IT, meanwhile, was about to flee the Washington Wizards to join a legitimate title contender for a hot second…until it was reported the Clippers wouldn’t be keeping him. Now his entire comeback season is in limbo, and it’s sad to see for a guy who was a fringe MVP candidate just a few years ago.