By Hocine LOUKKAF on 2/14/2022

A rocky trade deadline with a major move which is creating a rivalry for the years to come between the Nets and the Sixers while the Haliburton’s trade has also shocked many observers.

Winners :

Indiana Pacers : the Pacers decided to rebuild it all and started it by giving up Levert for Rubio and a first rounder (not necessarily a winner there) and sending Sabonis to Sacramento for Thompson, Hield and the jewel Haliburton. The main prize here is obviously Haliburton, probably a better PG than Fox and someone who is already good and has unlimited potential. He could form an elite duo with rookie Duarte as both are good shooters, defenders and unselfish players. His stats with the disappointing Kings are already impressive as he’s averaging 41% from three on almost five attempts while sihsing 7.4 as for only 2.3tos, good for a 3+a/to ratio.

Philadelphia Sixers : despite having a $33m-a-year player on the bench since the start of the season, the Sixers have been in the top 5 of the Eastern Conference so far. Now, with a roster lacking a real playmaker, they obtained one of the best scorers and passers in the League and someone who, even if he needs to feed Embiid, will have far more freedom than paired with Irving and Durant. The question is to know if Harden will show devotion to the management and the team and not complain if he’s not satisfied by his role or the fact that this is Joel’s team.

Brooklyn Nets : After just a few months, the Nets management had to deal with both unvaccinated Irving and Harden’s cases. The execs decided that Harden was the piece to move and got what they wanted with Simmons, one of the best defenders and passers in the League. Despite the heavy price to pay, Simmons’ defense and unselfishness seems much more adapted to pair with the better scoring Irving and Durant. He’s also bringing a notion of big man that the Nets have lacked as Aldridge and above all Griffin may be a bit short despite the nice efforts from Claxton and Sharpe behind them.

New Orleans Pelicans : as much as I respect Hart’s motor and NAW’s potential, the Pelicans have done a good job bringing one of the steadiest scorers in the League, CJ McCollum. With Zion out indefinitely, the Pels needed to find a consistent offensive threat to help Ingram and someone who could also create for his teammates. McCollum has signed a three-year deal this summer and could bring much-needed stability in the backcourt.


Honorable mention :

Charlotte  Hornets : the Hornets needed more toughness inside and may have found the good player with the Tarboro, NC native Montrezl Harrell. Harrell may not be the best rim-protector nor a stretch big but his motor and high-efficiency around the basket make him a potential starter for Charlotte.

Boston Celtics : the Celtics made two solid albeit unspectacular moves. First they traded for Derrick White by sending Richardson and Langford to the Spurs. Capable to play both  PG and SG, White brings passing and offensive consistency even if his 3pt % has slipped under 32% this year. Then, they brought a former Celtic, Daniel Theis, who has been lost in the Houston’s disaster and may find back his motivation in Massachusetts.


Losers :

Kings : why did they do that ???? Why letting your best prospect who is on his rookie contract and a potential top 10 PG leave for a solid vet who can’t neither protect the rim nor stretch the floor. As much as I respect Sabonis’ toughness and scoring ability, he doesn’t have that special upside and versatility which make Haliburton such a tantalizing talent. And the Pacers also got Hield and his declining-salary contract plus Thompson who may want to stay and bring his experience to a talented roster.

Washington Wizards : after a nice start with plenty of good players around Beal, the Wizards have slowly slipped under 50% with apparently locker’s issues rising through the last months. Whatever happened,  the Wizards decided to trade Bertans and Dinwiddie, two players who have disappointed this season, for the too oft-injured Porzingis. Washington needs to find a way to motivate Beal to sign a new contract this summer and took a gamble on Porzingis, who has only played 60% of the Mavs games over the last two seasons and is due to earn $40+m until the 2023 summer with a $36m player’s option for the 2023-24 season. They also gave up one of their best assets inside, Harrell, for the aging Smith and Vernon Carey Jr, who has played only 24 games with the Hornets over the last two seasons.

Portland Blazers : Portland got rid of Powell, Covington and of course McCollum, but for what ??? Bledsoe, Winslow or Hart are good vets but not the kind of pieces you want to acquire for a 20pt scorer like McCollum or even a solid two-way player like Powell. Keon Johnson, Alexander-Walker or the potential first round pick (if between 5th and 14th) from New Orleans are intriguing but will one of them be able to help Lillard reach a Conference semis or finals ? The Blazers have lost Dame’s right hand man but nothing guarantees they will find another one soon.

Knicks/Lakers : the two best markets are having disappointing seasons and didn’t do nothing to change their roster. The Lakers will have to find a way to get something positive from Russ on the court while the Knicks are struggling reaching the 50% mark with the evident lack of an elite talent in a roster where six of the seven best scorers are shooting under 43% from the field.