Day One of Silly Season: NBA Trades So Far

And so it begins… NBA trade season. Often of more interest than the NBA season itself, yesterday saw the league’s trade window open, and a flurry of deals immediately follow. While the biggest names in the trade rumors at the moment came out of relatively no-where: i.e. the two superstars in Houston who apparently one out… Day one of Silly Season did not disappoint. Here you’ll find the quick catch-up you needed to stay up to date with the ever-changing dynamics of the National Basketball Association.

The Big Guns:

The biggest name to move so far was that of Chris Paul. The future Hall of Fame point guard has been rumored to be on his way out of Oklahoma practically since the Thunder exited the playoffs in September, and the latest stop in CP3’s NBA career will be in Phoenix … (Oklahoma to Phoenix huh?Bizarre on the surface, but a hell of a lot more fun than his time in Houston I’d say.) Here’s to the players who are so fun to watch, or to root against, that they overcome names as boring as Chris Paul. It’s a pleasure and a privilege to watch Paul surgically dismantle defenses with his elite passing; leave the league’s big men twirling like ballroom dancers with his cruel dribble moves; preserve your grumpy uncle’s faith in mid-range jump shots as a starting 5 member of my screw-analytics-cos-I-do-what-I-want team [Erm right then… CP3, Demar, Kahwi, Middleton (? OK this is a small ball team, leave it alone), Aldridge… 6th man Melo because I can do what I want with my hypotheticals]. Even his Jack-Russell attitude to defending and/or any call given against him can make for some real fun viewing.

THAT’S NOT FAIR
IT’S JUST NOT FAIR!!!

The real winners from this trade, however, are the rest of the Phoenix Suns. DeAndre Ayton will never be as good as Luka, nor as exciting as Trae Young, but that doesn’t mean he can’t trend in an Embiid-lite direction at the offensive end of the court at least. He can be physically dominant while remain exceptionally mobile, which combined with a soft touch around the basket and a confident (possibly too confident?) jump-shooting game should see the 2018 number one pick having All Star ambitions sooner rather than later. The kind of easy looks CP3 can get Ayton, along with the wealth of basketball knowledge the vet can teach could see Ayton’s productivity leap this year. Devin Booker's scoring and play-making resume speaks for itself as the budding-Superstar looks to continue his ascension and alongside two young wings, Cam Johnson and Mikel Bridges, the Suns have a starting 5 go be genuinely enthusiastic about. Add one of a range of exciting prospects they could add with the 10th pick in this year's draft, and it should be fun to watch in the year to come.

I love Jrue Holiday. Ask any NBA player or media member who the most underrated player in the league is, and Holiday is in the conversation. Does that make him then, in fact, properly appreciated? I say nah. We should still be talking more about this man… And now that he’s out of New Orleans and on a title contender in Milwaukee, maybe we will do just that. An elite defender, and solid playmaker and scorer, he’ll fit right in with the Bucks. While some of those skills might also be used to describe Eric Bledsoe (who’s on his way out as part of the same trade), I think that the upgrade in quality is indisputable. After back-to-back seasons of disappointing playoff exits, and with Giannis’ mega contract extension as yet unsigned, the Bucks needed to shake things up. Giving up the players and draft assets they did for Holiday does exactly that.

GREAT DEFENSE IS HIGHLIGHT WORTHY!

It seems that Holiday’s back-court partner will also be a new addition to the Bucks’ roster: the wonderfully named Bogdan Bogdanovic. Bogdanovic is a player that can easily have slipped under the radar of many casual NBA fans as, unfortunately for our man BB, he’s spent his entire NBA career with the Sacramento Kings. Bogdanovic has, however, built himself a committed following of fans longing for him to escape Sac-Town with shot-making like this:

Bogdanovic and Holiday together can both ease the play-making burden currently upon Giannis and Middleton, while possessing the size and skill to maintain the elite defensive performance the Bucks have displayed over the last couple of seasons. [Sacramento sidenote: please, if there is a basketball higher power, let Marvin Bagley (who’ll also never be as good as Doncic, nor as exciting as Young) have himself a healthy season… D’Aaron Fox deserves better than Kings purgatory].

In third spot comes the LA Lakers’ acquisition of 27-year-old, German point guard Dennis Schröder. One of the multitude of Lakers’ narratives last season was that they needed additional ball-handling to take some of the pressure to create off of LeBron. Now as it turns out, I’m not sure they needed anything at all more than a few players to perform averagely while LeBron and Anthony Davis performed like the top-5 players that they are. That said, Rajon Rondo’s play-off explosion was a welcome surprise (or not! I see you Rondo truthers) to Lakers fans and was certainly impactful to a number of Lakers wins (the Nuggets series comes to mind, in particular). I think Schröder is an undeniable upgrade. Coming off the best season of his career (in which he finished second in 6th Man of the Year voting), Schröder can score, create for others and have an impact defensively. He’ll be comfortable playing starting minutes, and the maturity and contribution to winning he showed last season in Oklahoma (after years on awful Atlanta Hawks teams) should put him in good stead to perform in LA’s LeBron-centric environment. His career peak may never come close to Rondo’s Celtics years, nor does he perhaps possess the genius Rondo displayed at certain moments of this last playoff run, but Schröder will be of far greater value to the Lakers through 82 games and will contribute substantially, I believe, to another Lakers’ finals run in 2021.

A Few Quick Hitters:

Ricky Rubio and Kelly Oubre are both fun players who’ll offer a few House of Highlights-worthy moments in 2020/2021. They’re joining an Oklahoma City Thunder team who were immensely fun last year. That said I struggle to see an OKC team losing Schröder, Paul and Danilo Gallinari (who’s one of the year’s bigger-name free agents) replicating even close to 2019/2020’s level of performance. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander will remain an exciting prospect whose progress will be worth monitoring; and Luguentz Dort will have acquired some League Pass love with his playoff heroics vs the Rockets; Steven Adams is good for a laugh a few times a year; but the Thunder will likely be one of the few western conference teams without serious playoff aspirations this upcoming season. And this isn’t a bad thing! The Thunder currently have themselves 16 first-round picks through 2026, and are in a strong position to rebuild without bottoming out too hard. Also, these fellas are now on the same team… Tune into the OKC pre-game Twitter feeds I guess.

The New Orleans Pelicans acquired Eric Bledsoe and George Hill in the deal for Holiday: two serviceable, if slightly dull guards. Not to worry though, the Pelicans are going to be great to watch this year no matter the fact that they still won’t be able to defend a single, damn thing. Add the 13th and 24th picks in this year’s draft to a full year of Zion Williamson (I’ll make whatever sacrifice necessary to protect the man’s health), 2020 Most Improved Player Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball dishing alley-oops, JJ Redick continuing to sprint all-game-long sinking ridiculous off-balance 3s. Yeah, they’ll be fun, and they’ll lose, but we can say we had a good time watching it happen. The Pelicans also have substantial draft capital for years to come now, after the hauls they’ve received in the Anthony Davis and Holiday trades. Let Zion develop another year without ridiculous expectation, and if we get pleasantly surprised… who’s complaining?

Honorary mentions belong to Robert Covington who’s been moved to Portland (he’ll fit in nicely doing RoCo type things: shoot 3s, defend whoever, stay out of dominant ball handlers way, etc.), Ariza returning to Houston (for however long that’ll last…), Bruce Brown to Brooklyn (some nice triple-B vibes, Lavar get him sponsored, Big Baller Brand needs a new face), and DJ Wilson/Dante DiVincenzo going to Sacramento (Wilson is the kind of player you watch a few times a season and are impressed by before giving him no further thought for four months; DiVincenzo will always be the MVP of the first college championship game I watched start to finish — shout outs to Villanova 2018.)

Until tomorrow…

P.S. Cristiano Ronaldo won today… but he didn’t score, so it’s not all bad.

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