The trade deadline on February 6, 2020, did not disappoint. After a slow start to the week, trades started happening left, right and center as big name players such as D’Angelo Russell, Andre Drummond and Andre Iguodala were dealt at the last minute. After a week of seeing players suit up in their new uniforms and make an impact in their new systems, it’s time to make some sweeping overreactions based on the small sample size of games played in the last seven days.
The Andre Iguodala trade should be renamed the Jae Crowder trade
Since the preseason, there has been a huge amount of noise surrounding the experienced 3-(well, kind of)-and-D veteran Andre Igudoala. The saga came to an end in a three-team deal that sent Iguodala to Miami along with Jae Crowder and Solomon Hill.
Crowder and Hill have been talked about as added extras in the deal, but the former has begun life in Miami outperforming Iguodala. In the first three games with the Heat, Crowder has 18 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 2 steals, playing 30.3 minutes per game, whereas Iguodala is averaging only 4.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 0.3 steals in 21 minutes.
Iguodala is still shaking off the rust as he is playing in his first games all season and he typically improves his production in the playoffs, but it’s undeniable that Crowder is providing the Heat with a bigger and better contribution that they will hope he can maintain throughout the rest of the season.
The miniature Rockets are back in the title race
Daryl Morey and the Houston Rockets have gone all-in on their small ball approach, replacing center Clint Capela with small forward Robert Covington in an elaborate four-team trade. Despite being 2-2 since the trade deadline, the Rockets have shown signs of improving and getting the best out of their star players.
James Harden began the season on a tear, averaging 38.2 points per game before New Year’s Eve and his form has since declined by approximately 9 points, to 29.9 points per game (still second in the league by just 0.1) in 2020 so far. Russell Westbrook has shown the inverse trend, increasing his points per game by approximately 9 points, averaging 24.2 points for Houston in 2019 and 33.1 points in 2020. Adding Covington to the mix should provide more space for both All-Star guards to work inside and outside of the paint, which showed in their impressive victory over the Boston Celtics, when Westbrook and Harden combined for 78 points.
Since losing Capela, the Rockets have won only 44.5 percent of the total rebounds (the Wizards are the worst for the season at 47.9 percent), but have shot the most three pointers in the NBA with 44.3 per game since the deadline. If those shots continue to fall and Harden and Westbrook continue to play well together, the Rockets might have just reintroduced themselves into a title hunt.
The Clippers will regret signing Marcus Morris
On paper, the acquisition of Marcus Morris for the Los Angeles Clippers looked like a win-win. Morris was averaging a career-high 19.6 points per game and three-point average of 43.9 percent in New York. Add to that his tough mindset and underrated defensive ability and it would seem the Clippers added yet another quality piece to their star-studded roster.
However, Morris will not find himself with anywhere near as much responsibility or shot attempts as he was given in New York. While there is a chance he adjusts to falling back into the mould of role player, Morris’ isolation-heavy playing style is not ideal next to Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. Granted we’ve only seen him play in two games so far, but Morris’ three-point percentage has already dropped to 30 percent, his points are down to 11.5 per game and the Clippers looked less than inspiring during their loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday.
The Clippers gave up Moe Harkless, Jerome Robinson and a 2020 first round pick to acquire Morris, which could perhaps have been better spent on an upgrade at the center spot (especially considering Montrezl Harrell is only 6-7). Time will tell whether the chemistry, usage rate and results lead the Clippers to regret signing Morris.
Nobody values centers anymore
The other side of the Covington trade shows just how valuable centers are in today’s NBA. Houston was quick to get off Capela’s deal, as was Detroit with Andre Drummond. Unless your center is a superstar like Nikola Jokić or Joel Embiid, many teams are turning to much cheaper, serviceable big men that can provide size, rebounding and sufficient defense without eating into a chunk of cap room.
On January 3, Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted that Drummond would likely be traded, stating he was unlikely to opt into his $28 million player option in favor of more long-term money. The complete lack of assets sent by the Cleveland Cavaliers for the big man revealed just how little market there was for the league’s rebound leader of the past five seasons (including this year). Reports have since emerged that Drummond will now likely opt into his player option.
Players like Brook Lopez (Milwaukee Bucks; $13 million per year), Daniel Theis (Boston Celtics; $5 million per year), JaVale McGee (Los Angeles Lakers; $4.1 million per year) and Aron Baynes (Phoenix Suns; $5.2 million per year) have proven that starting caliber centers can be found on cost-effective deals. How much the likes of pending free agents Tristan Thompson, Hassan Whiteside and Marc Gasol sign for during the summer will likely substantiate the trend that teams are moving away from paying big money to the big man.
The Memphis Grizzlies won the deadline and the season
What the Memphis Grizzlies have achieved this season is nothing short of miraculous. They have already surpassed their preseason win total prediction of 27.5, are looking all the more comfortable in the eighth seed of the stacked Western Conference and have picked up assets all season long to continue their rebuild. The Grizzlies were given a first round pick to take on Iguodala, who was holding out for a buyout throughout the season, but Memphis stuck to their guns and eventually received Justise Winslow for their trouble.
They have been the fairytale of the season so far. Considering the production from their rookies, future assets received, wins this season and having the best jersey in the NBA, the Grizzlies are on course to be the team of 2019-20.