It was a riveting final week of NBA deals ahead of Thursday's trade deadline, as a few notable players changed teams and a couple of playoff-bound organizations stocked up on talent.
Among the big moves were Clint Capela going to the Hawks, Robert Covington going to the Rockets, Andre Iguodala going to the Heat, D'Angelo Russell going to the Timberwolves and Andre Drummond going to the Cavaliers.
Some contenders stood pat, however, apparently feeling their current rosters were sufficient for the postseason. The Lakers were probably the most notable non-movers this week.
Let's break down all of the action with our trade deadline winners and losers.
NBA trade deadline winners
Pat Riley still has the master touch.
Miami's key decision-maker somehow managed to add more depth than any other Eastern Conference rival without sacrificing financial flexibility. He added Iguodala, Jae Crowder and Solomon Hill from the Grizzlies and gave up an injured Justise Winslow, who wouldn't have been able to help the team down the stretch anyway as he tries to get his body right. On top of that, Riley shed the almost $30 million in salary Dion Waiters and James Johnson will make next year.
Heat effectively trade Justise Winslow to acquire Andre Iguodala, and clear $27M off cap sheet next season.
-19-20: Saves ~$3M tax (proj. $1.9M over)
-20-21: Can get to $28M-$40M cap room (based on Olynyk PO), or stay above cap with access to MLE, $7.5M TPE
-21-22: No impact
— Albert Nahmad (@AlbertNahmad) February 6, 2020
The Heat were 34-16 entering the trade deadline. They should easily reach the 50-win mark now, with the potential to push closer to 60 wins after securing only 39 victories all of last season. For reference, 55 wins this season would give them more than they had in LeBron James' final year in Miami.
Iguodala took an eight-month vacation, then got paid a huge sum of money by the Heat. After sitting out the season to this point with the Grizzlies, the 36-year-old signed a two-year, $30 million extension with the second year being a team option. He's also now on a team with NBA Finals ambitions.
CJ McCollum put the situation into perspective Wednesday night:
Bruh you’re a legend @andre . My guy sat half the season. Spent time with his family. Promoted his book. Sharpened up his post retirement plans and cashed out ✊ respect bruh.
— CJ McCollum (@CJMcCollum) February 6, 2020
Memphis has done an impressive job transforming from dead-end franchise stocked with aging veterans to exciting young team ready to race up the Western Conference standings in the next few years. Other teams, such as the Pistons and Magic, should be envious of such a quick turnaround.
This week, the Grizzlies accelerated their rebuild further by dealing expiring contracts to contenders in exchange for long-term assets, and signing rising 24-year-old scorer Dillon Brooks to a palatable contract extension.
General manager Zach Kleiman traded Iguodala, Crowder and Hill for Winslow, Waiters and Johnson, who was then flipped to Minnesota for center Gorgui Dieng. Winslow is the big haul there — at 23 years old he still has time to become the two-way monster scouts believed he could turn into, and he naturally fits into the current roster. Waiters and Dieng are overpaid pills Memphis had to swallow to get the deals done.
Brooks, who is scoring more than 16 points per game this season, signed a three-year, $35 million extension Wednesday night that keeps him under contract until through the 2021-22 season. The deal is very reasonable for the Grizzlies, and it doesn't hamper their ability to re-sign Jaren Jackson Jr. and Ja Morant down the road. Brooks' outside shooting is a great complement to Morant, who is an expert drive-and-kick player at his best with marksmen flanking him.
With Capela in the fold, Atlanta is ready to make a playoff run next year given the underwhelming bottom half of the Eastern Conference. It will have a top-five pick in the coming draft, and while last year's first-round selections DeAndre Hunter and Cam Reddish may not be bound for stardom, they are each at least valuable depth pieces being paid very little.
Atlanta's starting lineup could be juicy next year: Trae Young, Kevin Huerter, Anthony Edwards (potentially), John Collins and Capela. Off the bench, it will have Hunter, Reddish, Dewayne Dedmon and Bruno Fernando, with money available to add to the group with free agent signings.
This should be one of the league's most exciting teams very soon.
The Timberwolves have lost an astonishing 17 straight games in which Towns has played. It hasn't all been his fault — he's averaged 27.1 points and 9.1 rebounds per game over that span.
After Minnesota traded for Russell, his close friend, Towns should finally be on the winning side soon. He has a perfect pick-and-roll partner and renewed hope for the future of this franchise.
NBA trade deadline losers
Golden State offloaded Russell to Minnesota on Thursday for Andrew Wiggins, a future first-round pick and a future second-round pick. The trade was somewhat of a surprise considering team reporters indicated all week that the Warriors were willing to hang onto Russell until at least the summer.
While Wiggins presents a better positional fit than Russell because of his ability to play small forward alongside Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, it's unclear whether he is the best player Golden State could have gotten in return for a 23-year-old emerging guard. As we outlined in our grading of the deal, the future picks could be duds.
Trading away Capela in order to bring in Covington was a major gamble by the Rockets. Covington's shooting touch could help floor spacing and let coach Mike D'Antoni operate in his preferred run-and-gun style. But the lack of a center and extreme small-ball approach could be a disaster, especially with such little time to jell before the postseason.
Until proven otherwise, this transaction reads as a desperation move to salvage Russell Westbrook's floor-shrinking, non-shooting presence in the lineup.
Though the Lakers did not have much room to strike deals, it remained disappointing that they could not fortify their backcourt. The rival Clippers, meanwhile, brought in a solid wing producer in Marcus Morris. The Lakers will now turn to trying to lure point guard Darren Collison out of retirement this month to keep up. JR Smith is reportedly also set to receive an audition.
The Lakers are expected to give free agent guard JR Smith a post-trade deadline audition (perhaps as soon as next week) and remain favorites to sign Darren Collison if Collison elects to make a comeback to the NBA -- in addition to potential pickups on the buyout market
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) February 6, 2020
Don't get us wrong: The Thunder's front-office has generally done a great job getting its team ready for the future, and it's understandable it decided to keep veterans like Danilo Gallinari and Dennis Schroder around to make a playoff push this year. But dealing a couple of assets, as the Thunder reportedly considered, would have made the next couple of years even sweeter for the retooled organization.
Oklahoma City already has the four future unprotected first-round picks it got from the Clippers in its summer trade for Paul George, and it has five current rotation players who are 21 or younger: Darius Bazley, Luguentz Dort, Hamidou Diallo, Terrance Ferguson and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. SGA is considered a star-in-the-making, while the others could at least be solid role players in the coming years.
It just would have been fun to see how much further Sam Presti could have taken his treasure chest of future assets if he dealt Gallinari and Schroder this week.