NBA Trade Deadline Talking Points: Lakers’ ‘elephant in the room’ as Knicks emerge as the ‘big winner’

    A total of 15 deal were made as 39 players changed teams in yet another action-packed NBA trade deadline.

    One of the busiest days on the NBA calendar in teams’ final chance to tweak their rosters this season, the fortunes of many sides changed — for good, bad and indifferent.

    Read on for all the key NBA trade deadline Talking Points!

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    Warriors take down Embiid-less 76ers | 00:47


    You can feel the basketball buzz in the Big Apple from the other side of the globe. For there was one clear trade deadline winner on Friday morning — the New York Knicks.

    They did it all in one foul swoop too, landing Bojan Bogdanovic and Alec Burks from Detroit in the same deal at a very modest price, handing back Evan Fournier, Quentin Grimes, Malachi Flynn, Ryan Arcidiacono and two second-round picks.

    Yep, that was all they gave up …

    Of the Knicks that were sent out, only Grimes was a minor part of their rotation, while Bogdanovic and Burks, who played two seasons in New York from 2020-2022, are set to have key roles to play to significantly bolster their bench and make them one of, if not the, deepest teams in the NBA.

    It addressed multiple needs for Tom Thibodeau’s team, which has emerged as a genuine to come out of the East since landing OG Anunoby and been led brilliantly by MVP smoky Jalen Brunson —going 9-1 over its last 10 games.

    The Anunoby trade gave the Knicks new-found defensive tenacity and versatility. But they did lose scoring and playmaking after the departures of RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley — voids Bogdanovic and Burks will help fill as particularly useful additions while Julius Randle recovers from a shoulder injury.

    Bogdanovic had been traded to the Knicks (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)Source: FOX SPORTS

    Indeed, it’s important to note New York also traded for Anunoby, which, just like the James Harden trade, was technically part of this trade period — without giving up a single first-round pick for any of its recruits — in an ultra aggressive approach that’s already paid massive dividends.

    And now, the Knicks are even stronger, with a core of Brunson, Julius Randle, Anunoby, Bogdanovic, Josh Hart, Isaiah Hartenstein, Mitch Robinson, Donte DiVincenzo and Burks that you sense could compete with anyone.

    Plus, in a deadline where not many other teams made major moves, it puts greater value on the Knicks’ upgrades.

    “The second-best team in the Eastern Conference, they made moves all season long … they’re stacked as a roster, they’re led by a hell of a head coach in Tom Thibodeau, they have an identity and they’re legit title contenders,” former NBA player Kendrick Perkins told ESPN’s NBA Today.

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    The Knicks were winners in more ways than one.

    One of the teams with the most overall assets — with claim of all their first-round picks and owed some from other teams — they’re as well placed as anyone to make a big plays for superstars that might become available down the track, having been constantly linked to Donovan Mitchell.

    Despite getting significantly stronger at the deadline, it hasn’t affected their long-term plans. In fact, it’s actually made them better placed.

    Not only are the Knicks are more attractive destination for superstars on the move, they’ve added tradeable contracts that could be used to help them retool, if necessary, and land a big name.

    Take Bogdanovic for example — he has a partially guaranteed deal for next season at $19 million (or could be waived for just $2 million), though it’s most likely they’ll invest in his contract with the potential to flip him for a bigger star.

    Former NBA player Richard Jefferson said the Knicks have done things “absolutely perfect” in recent years, while WNBA star Chiney Ogwumike called them “by far the biggest winners” of the deadline.

    “This is not even starting this year, this is the past few years, they’ve added key pieces to build a championship team,” Chiney said.

    “Today they bolstered that. B0jan Bogdanovic is one of the best shooters in the NBA. They lost Quickley, now you bring in a backup point guard (Burks) that can play combo roles.

    “They just look well-rounded, all the players look like they have their specific utility. They’re all dogs.”

    A huge, huge W.


    It wasn’t necessarily a huge swing, but Josh Giddey’s OKC Thunder made a key, win-now move nonetheless and overall upgrade.

    They added former All-Star Gordon Hayward, who’s on an expiring $31 million contract and set to become a free agent at the end of the season, in a trade with Charlotte in exchange for Tre Mann, Vasilije Micic, Davis Bertans and draft compensation.

    Hayward, 34, despite no longer being in his prime, was still solid for Charlotte this season, particularly when it was undermanned with injuries early in the season. In 25 games, Hayward has averaged 14.5 points, 4.7 rebounds and 4.6 assists.

    The main concern with Hayward is health. The veteran forward has been sidelined since late December with a calf issue to continue a grim run of injury setbacks in recent years.

    As such, it’s hard to rely on Hayward to stay on the court, but when he is, he’s a valuable contributor.

    It importantly provides a young Thunder side — that’s unexpectedly shot into title contention — a veteran presence who should fit perfectly into its professional culture, and gives Mark Daigneault another option to stagger with his line-ups — or even play a key role in it.

    “I like it, I don’t love it. I feel like this is a move because Josh Giddey has not been that great this season. I think they’re filling in a void to help out SGA and Jalen Williams,” former NBA player Kendrick Perkins told NBA Today.

    Given the other teams at the top of the West were quiet at the trade deadline, ESPN journalist Zach Lowe also thinks it’s a win for the Thunder.

    Hayward will provide a veteran presence to the Thunder (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)Source: FOX Sports

    “(Perkins) mentioned Giddey being up and down, Lu Dort has been up and down. Hayward can play the three and the four, he can shoot, he can work off the dribble and he fills every need the Thunder had,” Lowe told NBA Today.

    “Yes, his health is a big question. But I’m told he should be ready to play very soon, if not immediately.

    “The Thunder did it — they went out and made a win-now move. Their team has earned this respect from the front office and to really go for it.

    “It’s not the sexiest move, but it’s a big move by their standards. The top of the West has a contender that fortified itself.”

    Though Hayward clearly helps the Thunder, the bigger question is perhaps whether it was the right one given there’s a view the team needs to add another big to play alongside star rookie Chet Holmgren and help their rebounding.

    OKC, of course, has an inordinate amount of draft picks to use on prospective targets, so much so it could essentially dwarf any other offers for superstars in trades.

    With that in mind, the Thunder could pretty well land anyone for the right price, while Dallas acquired Wizards centre Daniel Gafford, who could’ve helped OKC, for just a first-round pick.

    Former NBA player Richard Jefferson thinks the Thunder “got better but not what they needed” — a big — that he said could’ve “pushed them over the top” in the West, questioning how they’d fare in the playoffs against bigger teams with star centres like Denver and Minnesota.

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    The prospect of OKC adding an impact big could’ve made them scary without really compromising their draft hand at all.

    It’s however worth noting that OKC general manager Sam Presti has embraced patience and playing the long game with the Thunder. So even despite the team’s unforeseen rise to the top of the West, it’s fair to assume they’d want to see how far this team can go before trying anything too bold.

    “This is a short-term move and long-term move,” NBA insider Brian Windhorst said of OKC’s Hayward addition on NBA Today.

    “They positioned themselves to also re-sign Gordon Hayward at the end of the season, he’s a free agent, and they can use him as trade asset next year.

    “The other thing with this move is, they are about $9 million under the tax still and they have two open roster spots. I think they still have 34 tradeable picks.

    “The good, smart organisations make moves to give them flexibility … this is a move that helps the Thunder now and later and doesn’t take on any bad money. It’s just a smart move by a smart front office.”


    Philadelphia sort of hedged its bets at the deadline as it navigates a tough stretch without Joel Embiid.

    The Sixers added sharpshooter Buddy Hield in a deal with Indiana that only cost them three second-round picks and back-end players to give Nick Nurse’ sides another offensive weapon to help with its playoff push, plus multiple roster spots to go shopping with on the buyout market.

    Philly was in an awkward position given uncertainty surrounding Embiid’s health for the second half of the season due to his MCL injury — one the superstar centre has history with.

    Should the Sixers have gone all in for a title push despite Embiid’s injury?

    Or preserve their assets for the off-season — where the have multiple tradeable first-round picks and are projected to have over $50 million in cap space to sign a superstar free agent (they’re reportedly targeting Paul George), while they’ll also need to re-sign Tyrese Maxey to a mega extension.

    Ideally, they’d have a bit each way, which the Hield move essentially does.

    It would’ve been negligible to not try something with the success they’ve had with Embiid, prior to his setback, utterly dominant and in the best form of his career.

    The Sixers have added sharpshooter Buddy Hield (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)Source: FOX SPORTS

    Reports have suggested they’re planning to get Embiid back at some stage, and a supporting cast of Maxey, Tobias Harris, De’Anthony Melton, Nicholas Batum, Kelly Oubre Jr and Hield is a potent one that could challenge Boston in the East.

    Critically, Hield is also on an expiring deal, so taking on his contract doesn’t affect the Sixers’ off-season cap space at all.

    Philly also swapped backup point guard Patrick Beverley with Milwaukee’s Cameron Payne and got a second-round pick in the process, so technically, the Hield trade only cost it two second-rounders.

    “Overall I think the Sixers have done something that allows them to stay in this race … what they picked up with Buddy Hield and getting away from Patrick Beverley, I think keeps them in the mix for Nick Nurse,” ESPN’s Clinton Yates told Around the Horn.

    “I’m surprised the Pacers were willing to come off Buddy Hield. Overall, I think the Sixers are still in this hunt as far as personnel.”

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    The trade deadline has come and gone, but there’s still one big name still on the board — Spencer Dinwiddie.

    After being traded to Toronto for Dennis Schroder, the Raptors are reportedly waiving Dinwiddie’s expiring deal in a move that clears up cap space — and has come as a big surprise.

    No one was expecting a player of Dinwiddie’s caliber — he’s averaged 12.6 points from 48 games this season and six assists — to be available on the open market to sign as a free agent.

    As such, there’s no shortage of suitors.

    Reports say the Lakers, 76ers, Mavericks and Pelicans all have interest in Dinwiddie in one of the most fascinating storylines to follow post the deadline.

    One team is set to get a big boost and largely a free hit to help with their playoff campaign.


    The Mavericks were certainly active on the deadline, moving a first-round pick to pick up Daniel Gafford and then using another one, as well as a pick swap, to add P.J. Washington.

    Let’s start with Gafford, who the Mavericks landed while sending Richaun Holmes and a 2024 first-round pick to Washington.

    Gafford gives the Mavs another athletic big who can be a lob threat for Doncic and Kyrie Irving while also offering rim protection on the other side of the floor.

    With Dereck Lively II injured Gafford can step in and deliver NBA starter-level production immediately for Dallas while he will also ease the pressure on the rookie come the post-season.

    The only question is whether it was worth paying up that much for a player who is either going to be a back-up centre or take minutes away from Lively II, who impressed early in his rookie campaign.

    It really depends which way you look at it.

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    As for Washington, he brings added athleticism and defensive versatility around Doncic and could benefit from the change of scenery away from Charlotte.

    More than anything, both moves are proof to Doncic that Dallas is serious about making improvements to its roster and building around him, even if it doesn’t end up paying off in the end.

    “I heard Jason Kidd say something about a week ago about how you have to do everything possible when you have a player like Luka Doncic on your roster as far as finding the most talent the surround him,” ESPN front office insider Bobby Marks said on ‘NBA Today’.

    “I know they were two first-round picks that went out but when you get Daniel Gafford and P.J. Washington in a trade and that upgrades your roster, I look at Dallas as a big winner.”


    There were few teams under more pressure entering the deadline than the Lakers.

    That is what happens when LeBron James first posts an hourglass emoji of all things on social media before later refusing to make any guarantees on his future as he enters the summer with the possibility of becoming a free agent for the first time in his career.

    Despite all of that, the Lakers did not make a single trade on Friday morning.

    There still could be movement on the buyout market, with the Lakers reportedly among the leading contenders to sign Spencer Dinwiddie alongside the 76ers, Mavericks and Pelicans.

    But despite showing interest in Dejounte Murray, the Lakers ultimately decided a trade for the Hawks guard was not going to be the kind of needle-mover that would vault them into Western Conference contention.

    Part of that comes back to the fact that the player they were likely going to have to trade to land Murray, D’Angelo Russell, has been on a tear as of late.

    Russell has averaged 24 points and 6.5 assists in his last 13 games while shooting 46.6 per cent from deep.

    While that sort of production may not be sustainable and Murray would have been an upgrade on defence, it may not have been enough to warrant sending Russell away along with a first-round pick.

    The Lakers stood still at the trade deadline. Was it the right call?Source: FOX SPORTS

    The other issue is that if it wasn’t Russell it had to be Austin Reaves, who the Lakers had been reluctant to include in trade talks and was such a crucial part of the team’s Western Conference Finals run last season.

    “The Lakers essentially saw the market place as marginal upgrades on what they had. The price to pay for that was just too high,” ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said on ‘NBA Today’.

    “Especially considering it would probably take them out of the market place in the summer. Where they think they’ll have an opportunity to go out and get a significant player – perhaps another star or more than one good player.

    “Right now they have one-first round pick they can offer in trades. That changes July 1, they’ll be able to offer three first-round picks, that really changes the calculus of what you’re able to do.”

    For the time being, the Lakers will stand pat and instead target a bigger name in the summer when they have three movable draft picks at their disposal.

    That follows reporting from ESPN’s Dave McMenamin before the deadline, claiming the Lakers had internally discussed packaging the three picks, along with players, for a “bona fide star” such as Cleveland’s Donovan Mitchell or Atlanta’s Trae Young.

    Bill Reiter of CBS Sports also reported on Thursday the Lakers believe they are a chance of landing Mitchell in the off-season.

    Of course, the risk the Lakers run is that James – who has a $51.4 million player option for the 2024-25 season – is not even on the team in the summer.

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    ESPN’s Malika Andrews described it as the “elephant in the room” for the Lakers, although NBA insider Brian Windhorst said L.A.’s mature approach at the trade deadline was the right one.

    “They’re not acting like they’re petrified,” he said on ‘NBA Today’.

    “I think that’s because they think the best course of action to keep LeBron and the Lakers competitive is to do what they’re doing right now. And I’ll also say this. I just don’t believe LeBron is opting out of $51 million.”

    Could a poor stretch of play at the end of the season, which results in the Lakers missing the playoffs, change his mind? ESPN’s Zach Lowe believes it is worth the question.

    “I’m watching the Lakers even more closely than usual for these last two months and the play-in and the playoffs if they get there because we all know the truth. LeBron has a player option for next year. If this team doesn’t play well he has outs if he wants to leave,” Lowe said on ‘NBA Today’.

    “I don’t think he wants to leave. I think he wants to remain a Laker the rest of his career but the contract is what it is. This team is what it is and they’d have competition in the summer… this team has to prove itself to LeBron and to itself in the coming two months.”


    If there was one team that didn’t make a move but should have before this year’s deadline it was the Chicago Bulls. Although the fact they did nothing hardly comes as a surprise.

    After all, the Bulls have now not made a trade involving a player since August 2021, or in more stark terms — 30 months.

    They also haven’t been anything more than a play-in tournament contender in recent years, having made the playoffs in the 2021-22 season before being bounced 4-1 in the opening round by Milwaukee.

    It seems like the Bulls are OK with settling for being good enough to be a consistent playoff-calibre team without ever making the leap towards actually threatening to do anything of consequence in the post-season.

    As NBA insider Brian Windhorst put it earlier in the week on ESPN’s ‘NBA Today’, “I think they’re in a rebuild and they don’t know they’re in a rebuild”.

    Of course, there have been factors beyond their control, starting with Lonzo Ball’s constant injury setbacks. The same goes for Zach LaVine given the size of the contract he signed.

    “That is just terrible misfortune but the Bulls are an organisation that historically has been OK with being in the middle and they seem to be content with being in the middle, making the playoffs and trying to put something together,” Windhorst added.

    That remained the case on Friday, with DeMar DeRozan, Alex Caruso and Andre Drummond all staying put despite rival interest in all three players.

    LaVine will miss the rest of the season (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)Source: FOX SPORTS

    The decision to hold onto DeRozan was particularly perplexing given his impending free agency.

    Now, the Bulls found themselves in a similar position last season with Nikola Vucevic and he ended up re-signing for three years and $60 million before hitting unrestricted free agency.

    So there is a chance that DeRozan stays put. But does that even make sense for the Bulls? If healthy, are they really as constructed good enough to contend in the Eastern Conference anyway?

    Coby White has been a revelation for Chicago this season and looks like the new face of the franchise that the Bulls need to start building around. He is only 23 years old though.

    The Bulls had a chance to trade DeRozan on an expiring contract and would have not been short of suitors given the veteran would lift the ceiling of any contending team.

    Now, Chicago will have a core group of players in DeRozan, Caruso and Vucevic all over 30 years old and is seemingly destined for another season of potentially getting to the play-in tournament and maybe even securing a playoff berth only to make a swift exit after the first round.

    “Chicago fans, let me express – mistake, not trading Andrew Drummond. Mistake, not trading DeMar DeRozan. Mistake, not trading Alex Caruso. Everyone is telling you right now, these were all mistakes you made,” Richard Jefferson said on ‘NBA Today’.

    The Bulls could look into a sign-and-trade with DeRozan this off-season or alternatively he could walk for nothing.

    If anything, while it was misfortune that LaVine’s injury spoiled any hope Chicago had of trading him and being free of his $215 million contract, it should also serve as a reminder that nothing is guaranteed in this league.


    Like the Lakers, the Golden State Warriors found themselves in a tricky situation heading into Friday’s deadline.

    Andrew Wiggins seemed like the most likely player to be moved but that in itself was going to be challenging given he was in the first year of a four-year, $109 million deal.

    Klay Thompson, meanwhile, isn’t the same dependable option he once was and his recent benching down the stretch in favour of rookie Gui Santos, who had only played 61 minutes before Tuesday’s game against the Nets, spoke volumes to Steph Curry’s declining supporting cast.

    It also spoke to Steve Kerr’s willingness to experiment with his rotations and closing line-ups more, giving younger players more minutes which benefits the Warriors not only in the long-term but right now too if they are better options than underperforming veterans.

    A hasty Thompson trade was always unlikely given he can still be a valuable player for the Warriors, currently averaging 17.1 points per game while shooting 37.1 per cent from downtown.

    It isn’t the kind of production we’ve come to expect from Thompson but it’s still good enough to have an important but secondary role in the team with room for more if he can rediscover his past form.

    The Warriors stood still at the deadline despite talk their stars could be on the move (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)Source: FOX SPORTS

    That is a consistent theme for this Warriors team and in relation to Thompson and Wiggins specifically.

    Golden State is holding out on the chance those two key members of its most recent championship-winning team can get close to that sort of level as opposed to selling them at their lowest value.

    Chris Paul was another name to monitor with an expiring $30.8 million salary, although replacing his role as the leader of the Warriors’ second unit was never going to be easy and wouldn’t necessarily make Golden State a better team anyway.

    Then you factor in Golden State’s recent 5-3 stretch, where those three losses came in close fashion.

    One of them was in overtime to the Hawks while it was only a one-point difference against both the Lakers and Kings.

    In other words the Warriors were close to going 8-0 and the return of Draymond Green has a lot to do with that, improving Golden State’s defence to the extent that it boasts a 112.3 defensive rating during that 5-3 period – ranking seventh in the league.

    All of this is to say that there weren’t many real difference makers available via trade and those that were would have required the Warriors to give up too many future assets that could either help the team land a star player in the summer or at least gives Golden State long-term roster flexibility.

    That is consistent with reporting from The Athletic’s Shams Charania on Friday morning, claiming the Warriors had shown interest in two-way Bulls player Alex Caruso but did not strike a deal given Chicago’s asking price.

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