This was one of the craziest trade deadlines in recent memory. I read somewhere that close to eight percent of the league’s player pool switched teams on Thursday. It was interesting to see teams who have been on the verge of being contenders drop out, or other look to bolster themselves for a playoff run. It became very clear which teams thought they had a shot and which teams were throwing in the towel this year to build for the future.
Out in the Eastern Conference we saw two teams really make a push to bolster their roster in hopes of making a playoff run. It is widely known that the East is weaker and that point was highlighted Thursday with Milwaukee and Miami landed two big name point guards. The Bucks snagged Michael Carter-Williams from the 76ers in a three-team deal. Miami acquired former Sun Goran Dragic also in a three-team trade.
For the Bucks, this is their chance to make a run at a top four spot in the East. Milwaukee currently sits just one and a half games behind Washington for the fifth spot in the conference. The Bucks could also catch Cleveland or Chicago who are only two and two and a half games ahead of Milwaukee respectively. Having home court advantage in the playoffs in the NBA can make a major difference who advances. Milwaukee’s lineup now will feature talented guards with MCW, Giannis Antetokounmpo and O.J. Mayo to carry this squad. This also bodes well for next season, as the Bucks will receive a nice boost with Jabari Parker’s return. This team now has a solid young core to build around in Parker, Antetokounmpo and Carter-Williams. The Bucks made a very solid investment as they continue to take advantage of a very weak Eastern Conference.
For Miami, the impact of their move to land Dragic is mellowed by the news breaking that Chris Bosh is likely done for the rest of the year. Bosh in many ways has carried this Heat team with Dwayne Wade nursing an injury so his loss will come as a major blow. However, Miami has to be happy to land Dragic. This allows the Heat to move Mario Chalmers to the bench. Dragic has proven to be a dynamic scorer and solid floor general in his time in Phoenix. This will be a much-needed injection to a Heat offense that will surely struggle with Wade and Bosh sidelined. Dragic can also shift to shooting guard at times to play alongside Chalmers. The Heat just landed a very versatile piece that will likely help them hold onto their seventh spot in the standings. The Heat, who only sit one game above Brooklyn Nets and half a game above the Charlotte Hornets, do not have much breathing room right now.
On the flip side of the Heat trade, out west we saw the Suns blow up their current core. Not totally but Phoenix shipped off two of its four leading scorers. They also sent three young prospects packing along with them. The Suns acquired a solid point guard in Brandon Knight, veteran depth in the form of Marcus Thorton and some expiring contract. The biggest thing for Phoenix is the acquisition of three future first round draft picks. The Suns have realized that they simply cannot compete quite yet with the rest of the Western Conference with as deep as it is. The plan right now is to stock pile picks and wait for talent to develop. The West is too stacked right now. With the number of potential big name free agents in the 2016 offseason, it looks like Phoenix is banking on a power shift opening up some room for them to compete out in the desert.
The Nuggets began their remodeling process on Thursday. Denver traded away Javelle McGee, Aaron Afflalo, Alonzo Gee, the rights to Chukwudiebere Maduabum and a top-18 protected first round pick. The Nuggets received a couple of young pieces in return and a protected first round draft pick for 2016. The reason why this is just the start for Denver is because of the rumors swirling the front office is looking to trade Ty Lawson and Wilson Chandler. My guess is they did not find a deal and were smart enough not to force a subpar one. This Denver team will continue to take shape during the offseason. This Denver squad has gone through a lot of change in the least three seasons since the Carmelo Anthony trade. Right now, the team is still searching for a new identity and unfortunately for Nuggets fans, it will probably be a few years before they manage to find one.
It is interesting to me how different the dynamics in each conference are. Denver was just about out of the hunt for a spot before the trades were made anyway but Phoenix was right in the thick of the race. Rather than stay the course, the Suns are looking to rebuild. In the East, Miami is in the same position as Phoenix and instead it made a move to hang on to their playoff hopes. The Heat believe they will have a shot against any opponent in the Eastern Conference. The Suns know they have some work to do first. 2016 might change all of that but that is still a long time away.