Four most underrated moves from the NBA trade deadline

    The 2024 NBA trade deadline has officially passed, and while we didn’t see any high-profile names get dealt, several teams made impactful moves. Here are four deals that didn’t dominate the headlines but could have significant implications down the road. 

    Mavericks land center Daniel Gafford

    The Mavericks made one of the more notable trades on Thursday by acquiring former Hornets forward P.J. Washington, but the Gafford deal was their best move by far. As part of the agreement, Dallas sent Washington a 2024 first-round pick via Oklahoma City and center Richaun Holmes, who received inconsistent playing time, for Gafford, one of the NBA’s most underrated rim protectors. 

    The 25-year-old averaged 10.9 points, eight rebounds, 2.2 blocks and one steal across 45 games as Washington’s starting center this season but will likely assume a bench role in Dallas. Nonetheless, the move from a lackluster Wizards backcourt to playing with Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving will be a night-and-day difference for Gafford, and his skillset should be an ideal fit with the All-Star guards. 

    Aside from the much-needed rim protection that Gafford will provide for a team allowing the ninth-most points in the paint per game (53.5), his proficiency in pick-and-roll situations will be an excellent complement to Doncic and Irving’s abilities. According to NBA advanced stats, Gafford averages 1.43 points per possession as a roll man this season, the 19th-most in the Association.

    Thunder add veteran forward Gordon Hayward

    Despite already having the pieces needed to make an NBA Finals run, the Thunder decided to pick up a steady veteran in Hayward to shore up their bench without giving up much. Oklahoma City sent Tre Mann, Davis Bertans, Vasilije Micic and two second-round picks to Charlotte to land the one-time All-Star. 

    In 25 games this season, Hayward has averaged 14.5 points, 4.7 rebounds and 4.6 assists while shooting 46.8% from the field and 36.1% from three-point range. Although he hasn’t played since Dec. 26 with a calf issue, Hayward should suit up for Oklahoma City sooner than later, as he was deemed “pretty close” to returning to action by Hornets HC Steve Clifford earlier this week.

    Hayward should serve as a versatile piece on both ends of the floor for Oklahoma City and could be a more efficient shooter now that he’ll likely play fewer minutes than he did in Charlotte. His locker room presence alone is already an invaluable asset to the NBA’s second-youngest roster before it gears up for its first true postseason run, but a healthy Hayward’s impact on the court could swing a playoff series. 

    Nets flip forward Royce O’Neale for draft capital 

    The Nets didn’t make as big of a splash at the deadline as they could’ve, but they did execute two necessary moves, even if they didn’t improve their roster. Acquiring Dennis Schroder and Thaddeus Young from Toronto for Spencer Dinwiddie isn’t particularly noteworthy, but it does free up cap space for 2025. Even so, the return the Nets received for O’Neale in their three-team deal with Phoenix and Memphis is a massive win for GM Sean Marks.

    Brooklyn netted three second-round picks, along with forward Keita Bates-Diop and guard Jordan Goodwin, in exchange for O’Neale. A trio of second-rounders is a significant haul for the impending free agent O’Neale, especially since he was only averaging 7.4 points per game this season while shooting just 36.6% from beyond the arc. It’s also worth mentioning that Bates-Diop has a player option for next season, while Goodwin has a team option, so it’ll be intriguing to see whether either of their contracts will be packaged this offseason in another trade. 

    With additional draft capital at their disposal and ample cap space soon to be available, the path for the Nets to return to the playoffs in the coming years is clearer than it was earlier in the week.

    Timberwolves pick up point guard Monte Morris

    There were plenty of rumors swirling that Minnesota was searching for a backup point guard, and it found its answer on Wednesday, acquiring Morris from Detroit for Shake Milton, Troy Brown Jr. and a 2030 second-round pick.

    On the surface, Morris might not seem like an impactful addition since he has averaged only 4.5 points and 1.3 assists in six games this season after being sidelined for three months with a quadriceps injury. However, if he can return to the level of play he displayed over his five seasons with Denver and for Washington last season, he’ll be a valuable piece to Minnesota’s title hopes. 

    Across his seven career seasons, Morris has averaged 10.4 points, 4.0 assists and 2.5 rebounds per game. Along with the postseason experience he’s offering the Timberwolves, Morris’ three-point shooting (38.9% for his career) will be a welcome addition to a team that ranks 17th in offensive rating (115.1) and struggles to space the floor at times.

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