The NBA Trade Deadline was set for this past Thursday (Feb 10, 2022) with seemingly no blockbuster deals in the works. In a season that is so tight-knit in the standings, it was to be expected that few teams would be sellers at the deadline. Stray reports were coming out here and there, but nothing was sticking until the report came out that James Harden wanted out of Brooklyn.
Allegedly, Harden stated that he didn’t formally ask for a trade out of fear of the backlash that comes with asking for a trade away from his current team in two consecutive years. However, two hours before the deadline, news broke that James Harden along with Paul Millsap will be shipped to Philadelphia for Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Andre Drummond, a 2022 first-round pick, and a 2027 first-round pick.
This was the blockbuster trade we were craving. This trade benefits both sides in astronomical ways. For Philadelphia, they received a former MVP with high scoring volume that can take the pressure off MVP frontrunner Joel Embiid. On paper this is perfect, the only concern lies with Harden’s commitment to taking a backseat. Since his departure from Oklahoma City, Harden has had cooperation issues with multiple superstars including Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, and now seemingly with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.
As for Brooklyn, they now have the ability to mold Ben Simmons into the kind of player he wants to be. With superstar influence present in Durant and Irving, Simmons will have less pressure on his back than he had in Philadelphia which, with the right coaching and guidance, should allow him to improve his game. In addition, Brooklyn snags a very consistent three-point shooter in Seth Curry along with desperately needed frontcourt help with the rebound machine Andre Drummond.
This trade deadline in fact did have two teams that chose to sell in the Portland Trail Blazers and the Indiana Pacers. With both teams experiencing down seasons after almost a decade of consistent lower-end playoff seeding, it appears Portland and Indiana are attempting a retooling.
This cannot be referred to as a rebuild as both teams have come forth stating that they aimed to free up cap space and land big free agents this offseason. For Portland their first trade came on February 4, sending Norman Powell and Robert Covington to the LA Clippers for Eric Bledsoe, Justise Winslow, Keon Johnson, and a future second-round pick.
The Blazers followed this trade with another on February 8; sending CJ McCollum, Larry Nance, and Tony Snell to the New Orleans Pelicans for Josh Hart, Tomas Satoransky, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Didi Louzada, a 2022 first-round pick, and two second-round picks. Satoransky and Alexander-Walker were later flipped to the Spurs and Jazz respectively for Joe Ingles, Elijah Hughes, and a second-round pick. With the plethora of players that have now departed from Portland and the numerous expiring contracts they obtained, Portland can now afford to sign multiple high-value free agents this offseason. If they don’t hit their targets, the next player to depart may be their superstar, Damian Lillard.
The Indiana Pacers started their trade extravaganza by sending Caris LeVert along with a second-round pick to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Ricky Rubio, a 2022 first-round pick, a 2022 second-round pick, and a 2027 second-round pick.
Their blockbuster came a few days later, sending All-Star Domantas Sabonis, Jeremy Lamb, Justin Holiday, and a 2027 second-round pick to the Sacramento Kings in exchange for Tyrese Haliburton, Buddy Hield, and Tristan Thompson. They later additionally sent Torrey Craig to Phoenix for Jalen Smith and a second-round pick.
For a team that was already primarily younger players, these moves seem more of a shuffling of the cards than a rebuild. I believe Indiana did this deadline right. Myles Turner is now the solidified starting center with a budding star in Haliburton and Hield, a scorcher, in adding to this young core, the Pacers seem to have a promising future.
A team that struck late this deadline was the Washington Wizards. They only made two trades and both came within the final hour before the deadline. For a team that just lost their star Bradley Beal for the rest of the season and seems to be on a decline, moves were necessary. Their first trade made little sense when it first debuted: sending Montrezl Harrell to the Charlotte Hornets for Ish Smith and Vernon Carey Jr. However, their following trade would answer all the questions as, out of left field, the Wizards snagged Kristaps Porzingis from the Dallas Mavericks for Spencer Dinwiddie and Davis Bertans, explaining that the Harrell trade was meant to free up space for the Porzingis contract.
Other Notable Trades:
A 4-Team Trade sent Marvin Bagley to the Pistons and Donte Divincenzo to the Kings.
Daniel Theis returns to Boston in exchange for Dennis Schroder.
Derrick White joins Theis in Boston, sending Josh Richardson to San Antonio.