The 2018 NBA trade deadline ended up being extremely active, despite the fact that some of the biggest names rumored to be available weren’t dealt. DeAndre Jordan, Kemba Walker, Lou Williams, Tyreke Evans, Aaron Gordon and others who were mentioned quite a bit all stayed put.
However, thanks to a flurry of moves from the Cleveland Cavaliers and some other interesting deals, Thursday afternoon was full of surprises and this deadline lived up to the hype. The Cavaliers blew up their roster, trading away six players (Isaiah Thomas, Dwyane Wade, Derrick Rose, Jae Crowder, Iman Shumpert and Channing Frye) and two picks to acquire Rodney Hood, George Hill, Larry Nance Jr. and Jordan Clarkson.
By parting ways with Nance Jr. and Clarkson, the Los Angeles Lakers can now offer two max contracts to free agents this offseason so the dream of landing LeBron James and Paul George is still alive. They also landed the Thomas (who’s on an expiring contract), with the hope that he can return to form and potentially play off ball alongside Lonzo Ball once he’s healthy.
While plenty of media members have weighed in about Thursday’s events, HoopsHype wanted to know what players around the NBA thought of the trades that went down, the deals that didn’t come to fruition, the talented players who are poised to be bought out and much more. Below are quotes from current and former NBA players (some of whom spoke under the condition of anonymity so that they could share their honest opinions without any backlash).
Eastern Conference guard: “The Cavs and Lakers stand out to me. I think Cleveland got better because they added guys who are hungry. No, they didn’t land a superstar. But they got younger players who will all listen to LeBron and fill their role. And the Cavs can play faster now too. I still think they need another wing defender to take down Golden State or Houston in a series, but maybe they’ll add someone who gets bought out. I love the Rodney Hood pick-up. I know his game well and he’ll really help them. He’s athletic, he can shoot it, he can defend and he’s way better than [Jae] Crowder. George Hill is a two-way point guard; he makes shots, he is a good passer and he’s a solid defender. Larry Nance Jr. is an athletic four man who will help on both ends. And [Jordan] Clarkson is a microwave; he’s instant offense. The East will be a lot more fun now. I was hoping the Thunder would get Avery Bradley, especially after Andre Roberson’s injury, but oh well. Now, I’m looking forward to seeing who signs where [after buyouts]. If Derrick Rose does end up in Minnesota with Tom Thibodeau like everyone is saying, I think it’ll be good. And I’d love Joe Johnson in Houston; I want to see that.”
Trevor Booker, Philadelphia 76ers: “I think the biggest winner of the deadline is Cleveland. They picked up some solid players who can help right now, while also being nice pieces for the future just in case LeBron James decides to leave. I think it’ll take some games for them to [get everyone on the same page], but LeBron tends to make everybody around him better. Memphis was the biggest disappointment, in my opinion. I thought they would have taken the best deal possible for Tyreke Evans. I felt like now was the perfect time to trade him. I guess they weren’t getting the kind of offers they wanted.”
Western Conference forward: “It might be too early to tell who ‘won’ this trade deadline. If we’re talking short-term, it’s probably the Cavs. But the Lakers just paved the way for them to land a superstar or two. If they’re successful in their pursuit of stars, that’s huge. They may be the long-term winner.”
Former player: “The Lakers are the biggest winners, mainly because of what they can do this summer with that cap space. Whoever lands Joe Johnson for their playoff run is also a winner. Joe is the man and people don’t realize how great he is in the locker room. He’s one of the smartest players I’ve been around. It wouldn’t surprise me if he ends up being a coach someday – his basketball IQ is that high. People who don’t know Joe don’t realize the huge impact he’ll have on whichever team he joins. As far as the loser of the deadline, I’d have to say Isaiah Thomas. Man, I feel bad for him.”
Eastern Conference forward: “Cleveland got the same type of guys who fit their style of play, just better and about 8-to-10 years younger. They’re going to be tough to guard. Orlando confused me. What are they doing? What was up with that Elfrid Payton trade? As for the teams that chose not to make a trade, I don’t blame them. You shouldn’t make a move just to make a move at the deadline.”
Western Conference guard: “I just kept wondering if I was going to get traded next (laughs). I think the Cavs did well because they got younger and more athletic. I like what the Lakers did too, clearing cap space for next year. The biggest surprise, to me, is that Tyreke Evans is still in Memphis. I thought he would get moved for sure.”
Former player: “I think Cleveland did a great job, but I still think LeBron James more than likely leaves this summer so this group likely won’t be together very long. It’ll be short lived. The Lakers deserve credit too for clearing out so much cap space. They are getting ready for the LeBron sweepstakes and Paul George sweepstakes. I think most of the other trades were just lateral moves.”
Western Conference guard (shortly after Cleveland’s flurry of moves): “That was CRAZZZYYY. The Cavs have to be the winner of the trade deadline, I think. Rodney Hood is about to show out.”
Western Conference guard: “I think those moves were good for the Cavs because clearly they realized it wasn’t going to work out the way they were set up before. They got younger and these new guys may be better fits. But I’m keeping an eye on the Lakers. They just became players all of a sudden.”
Eastern Conference guard: “Rodney Hood is the real dark horse here. I’m curious to see what he’ll do in Cleveland. But I don’t know if the Cavs [improved]. They look the same, just shuffled around. It’s like eating at Texas Roadhouse. Everything tastes the same no matter what you’re eating.”
Western Conference guard: “To be honest, I don’t really care about the trade deadline. I saw most of the deals as they happened and got all the different notifications on my phone, but I didn’t pay enough attention to the deadline to give it much thought or analyze the deal. All I know is that Cleveland has an entirely new team (laughs).”
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