The 2013 and 2014 NBA trade deadlines were notoriously uneventful. 2015? Not so much.
A flurry of deals occurred in the final ten minutes of the deadline, which involved several marquee players. Isaiah Thomas, Goran Dragic, Brandon Knight, Kevin Garnett, Reggie Jackson, Michael Carter-Williams, and Enes Kanter all moved teams Thursday. Twitter exploded as blockbuster after blockbuster went down, changing the entire landscape of the NBA for years to come.
The New York Knicks, surprisingly enough, made a move. They traded 39-year old point guard Pablo Prigioni to the Houston Rockets, in exchange for sharpshooting Russian guard Alexey Shved, and second round picks in 2017 and 2019.
This isn’t the biggest trade by any means, but it does open up some more cap space for this summer. Shved has a player option that Phil Jackson will likely decline unless he proves himself a valuable commodity during the remaining 28 games of the season.
The two second round picks are encouraging. Phil Jackson has already made it a priority to reclaim the Knicks string of lost draft picks, and this trade only enforced that philosophy. At the very least, Jackson has earned two new assets that he can throw into future trades. Overall, a low risk trade that could pave the way for major rewards in the future.
The Prigioni deal was actually a minor transaction compared to the rest of the day. The Knicks saw not one, not two, but three impending free agent point guards move destinations, and possibly move out of the free agency window.
First, Goran Dragic was traded to the Miami Heat. The scoring-specialist point guard openly admitted that the three teams he wanted to be traded to were Miami, the Knicks, or the Los Angeles Lakers. An impending free agent, Dragic said that he would only re-up with those three teams.
The Heat simply offered the best package – two first round picks, Danny Granger, Josh McRoberts, and Justin Hamilton – so Phoenix pulled the trigger. New York tried to flip Tim Hardaway Jr., Jose Calderon, and a 2018 first rounder for Dragic, but the Suns never really considered.
Dragic is now a member of a Heat team that is significantly better than the Knicks (you will see that first hand Friday). He joins Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Luol Deng, and Hassan Whiteside in a talented starting five, and is very likely to re-sign with Miami in the offseason.
New York showed a lot of interest in Dragic, but ultimately, their roster was too bare to scrape together enough assets to acquire him. As a result, don’t expect him to be a Knick anytime soon.
Next, Reggie Jackson. An explosive point guard who was being severely underused by Scott Brooks and the Oklahoma City Thunder. Jackson showed a lot of promise in the 2013 playoffs when Westbrook went down with injury, and again in November, when the former UCLA Bruin was hurt again.
At 24, Jackson still has plenty of years left, and would make a great addition as a starting point guard. He’s capable of blossoming into a great NBA player, he just needed the right team to do so.
The Thunder decided to respect Jackson’s request for a trade, and sent him to the Detroit Pistons, where he’ll immediately take over the starting job (Brandon Jennings is out for the season). Jackson is a restricted free agent this summer, which means Detroit has the capability to match any offer sheet the Knicks, or any team for that matter, throw at him.
It’s possible that Detroit lets him go and sticks with Jennings, but they can also just keep them both in the same backcourt. Detroit wouldn’t have traded for Jackson without the intention of keeping him, however, and with Greg Monroe set to become a free agent, it’s likely that their new point guard will remain with the team.
Finally, Brandon Knight was dealt to the Phoenix Suns in a three-team trade that saw the Philadelphia 76ers ship reigning Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams to Milwaukee.
Knight was clearly snubbed from the All-Star Game, and is averaging 17.8 points per game, and has accumulated an impressive 18.56 PER. Knight was also set to hit the free agent market this summer, and at 23, has the most upside and longevity out of any of the point guards the Knicks were eyeballing.
So by standing pat, for the most part at least, New York watched as three of their potential targets this summer get traded and effectively taken off the market. Oh, but it gets worse.
Apart from point guards, the Knicks were also considering going after Portland power forward LaMarcus Aldridge in free agency. Aldridge expressed that he would be content playing in New York during All-Star Weekend. The Blazers must have taken note, because they acquired a stud shooting guard in Arron Afflalo early this morning.
Afflalo instantly makes the Blazers bench better, and might even catapult them into the conversation for championship contenders. And that means that Aldridge should feel less inclined to leave a young contender like Portland for a team as out of sorts as the Knicks.
A silver lining? The Knicks are bad, and did nothing to become significantly better today. That means that they should continue to tank, especially without their superstar (New York are 0-13 without Anthony in the lineup this season), and should continue to push toward the #1 overall pick in the draft.
While the team with the NBA’s worst record seldom wins the draft lottery, having the worst record gives you the best odds, a glimmer of hope Knicks fans might be willing to take. Even if they don’t get the number one pick, they’ll surely get a top five pick, which gives them a good shot at Emmanuel Mudiay, D’Angelo Russell, Karl Anthony-Towns, and Stanley Johnson.
Other than a minor trade with Houston, the Knicks were quiet on deadline day, and their indecision may have cost them a chance at a quick rebuild during free agency this summer.