While Mid-February might seem bleak for those of us in Hamilton, for the NBA it’s a pivotal point in the season: the trade deadline. February 19 came and went, and with it more trades during a deadline than ever before. After the 3 P.M. deadline, 37 players had shifted teams, along with numerous draft picks. Some teams are motivated to make a run into the playoffs this year, some are looking to rebuild for the future, but everyone looks to improve their outlook in some fashion.
In one of the more notable moves of the day, NBA veteran Kevin Garnett was traded back to the team that drafted him as a high school kid, the Minnesota Timberwolves. While Garnett isn’t the force on the low post he once was, he will surely provide leadership to younger players like Andrew Wiggins and Slam Dunk Champion Zach LaVine. Philadelphia continued their seemingly never-ending rebuilding process, trading the 2014 Rookie of the year Michael Carter-Williams to the Milwaukee Bucks for a first round draft pick. Through other minor trades on the day, Philadelphia has the potential to have nine draft picks in the upcoming draft, nearly 15 percent of the entire draft.
The trade deadline does, however, come with its winners and losers, and this year it seems as if the Miami Heat might be that loser. Fresh off the heels of losing LeBron James to the Cavaliers, the Heat began revamping their team, led by Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade, to win in a different way. With the emergence of the monstrous Hassan Whiteside, Miami fans have begun to slowly believe in their team again. In a mediocre Eastern Conference, the Heat’s front office executives decided to build for a playoff run this year, acquiring point guard Goran Dragic from the Phoenix Suns for two first-round draft picks in the coming years and current point guard Norris Cole. Dragic is a severe upgrade over Norris Cole and gives Miami a true point guard to facilitate the offense. However, this trade comes at a price of mortgaging the future.
Unfortunately for Miami fans, and truthfully basketball fans everywhere, just hours after the trade deadline passed, Chris Bosh was discovered to have possible blood clots in his lungs and will be out for the season. While the health of Chris Bosh is a priority, the basketball implications for Miami are massive. Goran Dragic has an option to opt out of his contract at the end of the season and become a free agent, where he will surely receive a large offer. Without Chris Bosh, with an aging Dwyane Wade and no first round draft picks in the immediate future, Dragic could choose to opt out of his contract and seek a max deal with another contender. If this were to occur, Miami would have lost its promising young point guard in Norris Cole and two first round draft picks for half of a season with Goran Dragic.
The Suns were not finished revamping their backcourt with the Dragic trade. They also traded bench spark plug Isaiah Thomas to the Boston Celtics and acquired guard Brandon Knight from Milwaukee to try to replace the losses of Dragic and Thomas as they continue to fight for a playoff spot in the West.
Out in the ultra-competitive Western Conference, the Oklahoma City Thunder had an eventful day acquiring Enes Kanter, Steve Novak, D.J. Augustin and Kyle Singler in a three-team trade. The deadline could not have gone better for Kevin Durant and the Thunder, who added several scoring threats to a once-decrepit bench. In the torrid Western Conference, with teams like Golden State, which can play ten good players every night, Oklahoma City needed to improve their depth if they wanted to compete. Enes Kanter is a sizeable upgrade over Kendrick Perkins, giving Oklahoma a great post threat off their bench, an area in which they had been lacking. Kanter is able to effectively pass the ball from the inside, complementing Oklahoma City’s playmakers like Durant and Russell Westbrook.
Along with the various additions, Oklahoma City unloaded the dysfunctional Reggie Jackson and underperforming Perkins in these trades that will surely improve the locker room chemistry. With the added bench depth, the Thunder should surge up the Western Conference standings behind their two superstars and their new-look second line. Elsewhere in the Western Conference, the Portland Trailblazers traded for veteran shooting guard Aaron Afflalo. Afflalo provides much needed depth for a Trailblazers team that is looking to make a long playoff run this season.
The 2015 trade deadline was historically active, and it just goes to show how much the landscape of the league can change in a single day. It will be exciting to see the transformation of teams like Oklahoma City and Miami as they push for the final playoff spots. While fans will not see immediate results from teams such as Philadelphia who are rebuilding, the trade deadline provided an opportunity to prepare to compete in the future.