The Winners and Losers of the 2022 NBA Trade Deadline
The 2022 NBA trade deadline has officially passed as several teams sought to refresh their rosters and/or acquire more draft picks for the future. While some franchises like the Philadelphia 76ers and Brooklyn Nets made blockbuster deals to strengthen their squads, other teams made controversial trades causing confusion for fans, coaches and players alike.
Just hours before the 3 p.m. E.S.T. cutoff, arguably the biggest deal of the deadline happened as Brooklyn traded Paul Millsap and former MVP, James Harden to Philadelphia, and in turn received former All-Star, Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Andre Drummond, and two first-round draft picks.
Harden leaves the Nets after just 13 months with the team and only played a total of 16 games in the All-Star trio of Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant. Five days prior, Brooklyn’s head coach, Steve Nash, said “I’ve talked to James and he wants to be here. And he wants to be here long term as well.”
With the 76ers just 2.5 games behind the first seed in the East and Joel Embiid in MVP form this season, the trade seems to benefit Philadelphia’s short-term success as they look to win their first championship since 1983.
However, the long-term benefit of the franchise looks to be at risk as head coach Doc Rivers’ team gave up some valuable pieces in the trade, and potentially more importantly lost two future stars in the draft picks they gave away.
Philadelphia also has a difficult decision to make in offering 32-year-old James Harden a multi-hundred-million-dollar contract in the postseason despite the point guard’s points per game decreasing over the last four seasons.
On the other hand, if Durant stays healthy and Simmons finds a way to contribute alongside Irving, Brooklyn seems like much more of a championship threat over the next five years.
Elsewhere in the league, the Portland Trail Blazers ended the nine-year partnership of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum as they sent Tony Snell, Larry Nance Jr., and CJ to the New Orleans Pelicans for Josh Hart, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Tomas Satoransky, Didi Louzada, and three draft picks (one 2022 first-round pick).
Despite acquiring a promising young talent in Alexander-Walker, the trade seems like a poor move for Portland as they lost a veteran guard in McCollum who averaged 19 points and shot 40% from three-point range in his 564 games for the Trail Blazers.
As for the Pelicans, they seem to be the winners of the deal as they’ve built a strong foundation of young players and added an experienced shooting guard in CJ to compete for a playoff spot. Nonetheless, New Orleans still seems to be banking on 2019’s number one draft pick Zion Williamson’s health.
The 21-year-old averaged 26 points and 7 rebounds through his 85-career games in the league, and would complete a balanced Pelicans lineup featuring McCollum, Brandon Ingram, Jonas Valanciunas, and himself if he’s able to rehab from his metatarsal injury
Lastly, the Sacramento Kings traded for two-time All-Star, Domantas Sabonis, Jeremy Lamb and Justin Holiday via the Pacers in a shocking deal that saw them part ways with Buddy Hield, Tristan Thompson, and second-year guard Tyrese Haliburton.
Haliburton who averaged 14 points and 7.5 assists (most for the team) in the league this season, seemed to be a player the Kings could depend on and look to develop after he promised his loyalty to the franchise.
“I refuse to let the culture of what the Kings have been in the past take over who I am as a person. I'm a member of the Sacramento Kings so I'm gonna help fix this. It ain't gonna be in a day but ima be here and we're gonna make it work I promise that,” Haliburton said after a blowout loss to the Celtics in January.
With all the moves that happened in the days leading up to the deadline, the short and long-term successes of the trades are yet to be seen, but will highlight which players are able to better adapt in new environments and amongst different teammates.
*Pictures courtesy of AP/Getty Images/Ringer illustration