The NBA trade deadline has come and gone. The last chance (before buy-outs, of course) for teams to shuffle the deck for the remainder of the season to go all-in on a championship run, or unload unwanted players and salary to start a rebuild.
While the biggest name to change teams this year (Blake Griffin) was moved over a week ago, that in no way means the deadline was without its fair share of drama. We’re here to talk about the moves, and how they impact the championship hopes (and odds) of some of the teams in the hunt for the Larry O’Brien Trophy.
Cleveland Cavaliers (10/1)
If you liked the Cleveland Cavaliers at 10-1 to win the title before the trade deadline – why did you like the Cleveland Cavaliers at 10-1 to win the title before the trade deadline? Seriously, this team was a mess. They weren’t able to pull off a trade for a big name superstar like DeAndre Jordan, but they were able to improve with a series of moves that rid them of disgruntled players (Isaiah Thomas), aging underachievers (Derrick Rose, Dwyane Wade, Channing Frye, Iman Shumpert) and whatever it is that Jae Crowder does and brought in some fresh talent and depth.
Bringing in George Hill and Rodney Hood gives them a strong starting defensive backcourt that should mesh perfectly with LeBron James on the offensive side of the floor. Hill’s been desperate to play for a contender and the move to Cleveland should rejuvenate his play. Hood can do a little bit of everything on both sides of the floor and should get the chance to thrive with the Cavs.
Both new additions can knock down the three and don’t need the ball in their hands to thrive, so should fit in perfectly with LeBron running the offense. They can both guard multiple positions and will add a much-needed spark to Cleveland on the defensive side of the floor. The pair will certainly come in handy if and when Cleveland runs into a positionless basketball wonder-team like Milwaukee or their eventual run-ins with Boston and/or Golden State, two teams they’ll need all the wing defense they can get to contain.
The Cavs weren’t content with just bringing in a brand-new starting backcourt either. They also were able to snag Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. from the Lakers while shipping the unhappy Isaiah Thomas, Channing Frye, and their own 2018 first-round pick to Los Angeles. The pair was once thought to be part of the Lakers’ promising young core, but top-pick Lonzo Ball and surprise draft steal Kyle Kuzma gave the Lakers need to ship both 25-year-olds out of town. The pair of young guns gives the Cavs some much-needed depth and athleticism for the stretch run.
Cleveland also brought in Kendrick Perkins to add some depth (and width) to their frontcourt. He’ll be able to knock some bodies around come playoff time, which is always a welcome addition to a championship hopeful team.
Detroit Pistons (80/1)
The Pistons made the biggest splash this trade deadline season acquiring Blake Griffin (and his enormous contract) from the Clippers. While the future of the contract is certainly questionable, especially when factoring in Griffin’s injury history, the move sets the Pistons up to make a serious run at a title this year. We’re serious. Those 80/1 odds are looking really good to us.
The Eastern conference already had a wide open feel to it, with Cleveland struggling, Boston’s youth, and Toronto’s…being Toronto. The Pistons are 5-0 since adding Blake to their roster and made a few solid moves today to sure up their roster for the rest of the season. Jameer Nelson adds a quality backup point guard, who already knows Stan Van Gundy’s system and can immediately come in and contribute quality minutes off the bench. Detroit also added James Ennis, a very solid 3-and-D player to their roster.
The Pistons’ made their big splash last week, and a few very solid aftershock moves today to quietly move the needle towards contention. If they can stay healthy, and continue to mesh like they have in their games with Griffin so far, nobody will want to see them come playoff time.
We’re not saying they’ll win the title, but we don’t think you’ll find a better bet than the Pistons at 80/1.
Golden State Warriors (4/7)
The Warriors stood pat at the trade deadline. Which is a pretty strong move considering they’re one of the greatest basketball teams ever assembled. They didn’t need to make any trades, they’re already strong on both sides of the floor and sport a roster so deep it’s not fair.
And they’re said to be one of the favorites to land veteran journeyman Joe Johnson once he’s eventually bought out by the Kings.
The rich get richer. Waiting for buyouts is a luxury teams like the Warriors have earned, and not having to make a panic move (or series of panic moves) to overhaul their roster at the last minute is part of the good life that comes with being the championship frontrunners.
There’s a reason why the Warriors are still the favorites to win the title this year: they’re still the best team. Everybody’s still chasing them and they’re doing enough to keep the league at a distance – for now.
Houston Rockets (13/2)
The favorites to take down the favorites (if that makes sense) would be the Houston Rockets. Their odds of winning the title have been getting better and better all season, and they certainly look like a team that can hang with Golden State, at least in the regular season. We would have liked to have seen the Rockets make some move at the deadline to add a bit more depth (or any defense at all) to their roster, but they chose to take the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” route. They’ll continue to live or die by the three-point shot for as far as it takes them this season.
Boston Celtics (12/1)
The current king of the Eastern Conference standings wasn’t able to pull off any moves at the deadline either but, along with Golden State, are a favorite to add Joe Johnson when he is eventually bought out.
The Celtics are a team in limbo, even from their current place at the top of their conference. They’re certainly good enough to earn the top seed in the East, and have a strong, deep rotation. But they’re young, and they’re missing Gordon Hayward, and we just don’t think that this year will be their year.
Some of that inexperience will eventually show. And the moves Cleveland made today put them in a much better position to play with Boston’s bevy of talent on the wing.
Sorry, Boston. Your future is bright, but we just don’t see it in the cards for you this year.
Oklahoma City Thunder (25/1)
If you’re looking for a good bet in the “next tier” of teams outside the championship favorites – go with Detroit. If, for some reason, you just can’t put your money down on the Pistons, take OKC and their 25/1 odds. When they’re on, they’re unbeatable, and lately they’ve been on a lot more than they’ve been off.
The Thunder are another team that could have benefitted by making one last all-in move at the deadline and should keep a close eye on buyouts once players become available. They need to do whatever it takes to make a run this year so they can hopefully bring back Paul George and company next season and keep the band together.
Tony Allen would add some grit-n-grind toughness to Oklahoma City, something they certainly need after losing top defender Andre Roberson to injury. The former Grizzly is expected to be bought out by the Bulls soon. Keep an eye on Tyreke Evans as well if Memphis decides to buy out his contract.