NBA Trade Deadline Recap

Jake Ruderman ‘26

Sports Editor

Kevin Durant Photo credits to

It was a star-studded trade deadline in the NBA this past week, with multiple teams making major ‘swing for the fences’ deals; Brooklyn chose to sell its stars, the Lakers revamped their role-players, and lots of other teams made ‘around-the-edges’ moves. Let’s take a look at some of the biggest trades that happened and what kind of impact they’re going to have on the teams involved.

The biggest question looming at the deadline was the status of the Brooklyn Nets’ star players, after Kyrie Irving demanded a trade early last week. Irving’s demand came after a fallout with the Nets over his upcoming contract negotiations, as the Nets weren’t willing to give him a four year max contract. The Nets pivoted quickly and shipped Kyrie off to Dallas, getting back two solid role players and a future first-round pick. While the average NBA fan might think, “Wow, can’t believe the Mavs got Kyrie for almost nothing,” it’s not as enticing as it appears. Kyrie is a free agent after this season and Dallas is not a premier market; there’s nothing stopping Kyrie from just walking away in the offseason, especially if the Mavs fall short in the playoffs. But, more importantly, Kyrie has built up a reputation as the most tumultuous player in the entire league; he’s made erratic and misinformed decisions over and over the last few years, which have resulted in his suspension from the team on multiple occasions. The idea that Kyrie could simply play winning basketball is very appealing, but the fact of the matter is that it’s far more likely for him to get involved in another scandal than it is for him to help the Mavs make another run to the Conference Finals. As for the Nets, they obviously chose to go in another direction with their team, getting back solid role players on tradeable contracts. They can choose to either flip them this offseason to contending teams, or keep them as valuable low-risk players, but either way are not in any position to contend this year.

After the Kyrie domino had fallen, it seemed increasingly likely that Brooklyn would choose to move off of their main star, Kevin Durant. Durant had been having one of the best seasons to his career up until he got injured a few weeks ago, but had made it very clear he wanted to be on a contending team right now. The Nets chose to pull the trigger, shipping KD off to Phoenix in an absolute bombshell. In return, the Nets received a boatload of picks and young players, headlined by Mikal Bridges. Bridges is an elite “3 and D” player, someone whose best skills are his 3-point shooting and his defense. He’s young, with a manageable contract and plenty of playoff experience, and the Nets will have no shortage of options with him. They also received Cam Johnson, another solid role player, with a slightly more offensively focused game and a fantastic 3-point shot. Like Bridges, Johnson could also be flipped this offseason for picks or young players, or could be kept and built around for the future. The Nets’ true haul of this trade, though, is the four unprotected first-round-picks they received, as they will now sit back and wait to see how the Suns fare with 37 year old Chris Paul and 34 year old KD. Both are aging, injury-prone stars that could absolutely flame out or retire in the next few seasons; if/when they choose to move on, Brooklyn will be waiting, hoping the Suns bottom out. In the meantime, the Suns become immediate title contenders once again, and will try to catch lightning in a bottle with their veteran stars. They made a run to the finals just two years ago and will hope that a rejuvenated KD can help them win one this time.

The other major story of the trade deadline was the uncertainty surrounding the Lakers’ dysfunctional roster. Russell Westbrook had been the farthest thing from a natural fit in LA, Lebron and AD have been frequently hurt over the last few seasons, and their collection of role players was one of the worst assortments in the entire league. But with Lebron’s age, the Lakers were in a now-or-never situation to flip this team around. They chose to move Russ, along with their very enticing 2027 first-round-pick, for D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley, and Jarred Vanderbilt, while also revamping their entire bench with a series of trades; Thomas Bryant was replaced with Mo Bamba, Kendrick Nunn was swapped for Rui Hachimura, and Patrick Beverly was sent away. Beasley is a fantastic shooter, Vanderbilt is a tenacious defender, and Russell has been on an absolute tear for months. All in all, the Lakers made a series of high-upside trades, positioning their roster significantly better for the postseason. But do these deadline moves turn them into a title contender? Absolutely not. Instead, they give the Lakers the chance that if all their stars are healthy, and their bench is clicking, they can give any team a run for their money in April.

Around the rest of the league, the Knicks flipped Cam Reddish and a first-round-pick for Josh Hart; the Clippers restructured their role players, bringing in Eric Gordon, Bones Hyland, and Mason Plumlee; the Warriors flipped James Wiseman for Gary Payton II (with some other steps involved); the Raptors brought back Jakob Poetl and held pat on their other players; and the Sixers moved Matisse Thybulle to Portland. All of these are meaningful moves, in their own way, but none quite as impactful as the blockbusters mentioned above. After one of the most high-impact trade deadlines in years, the NBA will have no shortage of interesting teams, as we near the home stretch and inch closer and closer to playoff time.

Categories: Sports

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