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SUPER SMALL, SUPER EFFECTIVE: Last night, after the hoopla of the trade deadline had finally settled, a fascinating basketball game broke out, one featuring an elite Lakers team that has battered opponents with bruising frontcourt play and a Rockets team that has essentially said screw it, we don’t need a true big man anymore, traded away Clint Capela and didn’t bother acquiring a center to replace him. And lo and behold, this super intriguing experiment by Houston got off to a rousing start, as the Rockets beat the Lakers 121-111, in Los Angeles, no less, and despite getting a complete stinker out of James Harden, who had 14 points on 3-of-10 shooting for the evening.
Of course, the Rockets didn’t lose Capela for nothing; his replacement, Robert Covington, is the prototypical modern 3-and-D wing, and was excellent in his Rockets debut, dropping 14 points off the bench to go with eight rebounds, four assists, two steals and two blocks while posting a plus-16 in 30 minutes. Covington’s production resembled an upgraded version of the production Houston used to get out of Trevor Ariza, which the team has sorely lacked since the veteran forward’s departure.
We’ll see how this grand experiment pans out for the Rockets, and there will likely be nights where they need minutes out of Tyson Chandler, Isaiah Hartenstein or the newly acquired Bruno Caboclo. Regardless, for now, Houston looks like they might turn into a must-watch team, just to see if the next extreme of small-ball basketball is actually able to take off.
MINNESOTA GETS THEIR GUY: After what felt like an eternity of rumored interest, the Timberwolves finally executed a trade for D’Angelo Russell, shipping Andrew Wiggins, a protected first-round pick and a second-round pick to the Warriors to get their man.
Karl-Anthony Towns seems happy (haven’t been able to say that much this season) to be playing with his friend now, going as far as to wait at the airport for Russell’s arrival. It’ll be fascinating to see how that partnership pans out.
A SHOCKER: Heading into the day of the trade deadline, nearly no one thought Andre Drummond would get dealt. Detroit’s asking price was too high and contenders weren’t interested. So what happened?
A non-contending Cavs team pulled off an absolutely stunning trade for the two-time All-Star, and it came insanely cheap, costing Cleveland just Brandon Knight, John Henson and a second-round pick. The Pistons were reportedly worried about Drummond opting into the final year of his deal, 2021-22, so they decided to ship him off for next to nothing. Who knows? Kevin Love and Drummond could be fun.
RICH GET RICHER: The Los Angeles Clippers came out as the winners of the Marcus Morris sweepstakes, landing the floor-spacing power forward in exchange for Moe Harkless, their 2020 first-round pick, a 2021 first-round swap option and a second-round pick. Morris’ shooting and defensive versatility will make an already scary Clippers team even scarier.
For what it’s worth, the Lakers, who ended up not making a move yesterday, bowed out of the race after they realized it would have cost them Kyle Kuzma, Danny Green and draft capital. Solid decision.
ONE FOR TWO: The Heat came into trade deadline day hoping to land both Andre Iguodala and Danilo Gallinari, but wound up going one-for-two there, acquiring the 2015 Finals MVP but missing on the sharpshooting Italian. The issue with Gallinari wasn’t Oklahoma City’s asking price, but rather the 31-year-old swingman wanting a long-term extension from Miami, one that the Heat couldn’t offer him due to their need to keep near-max cap space available for the 2021 offseason.
Along with landing Iguodala, the Heat also got Jae Crowder and Solomon Hill from Memphis, sending away Dion Waiters and James Johnson, two of their worst contracts. Maybe not the day Miami was hoping for, but still a very productive trade deadline for the Heat.
FORMER LOTTERY PICK WANTS OUT? Reports surfaced yesterday that Lauri Markkanen might want out of Chicago. The Bulls are an absolute mess right now.
FULL RECAP: Our own Alex Kennedy is joined by the Washington Post’s Ben Golliver to analyze every move that was made at the deadline. Fun listen.
ON TO THE BUYOUTS: With the trade deadline behind us, now is the time that teams look to the buyout market to make improvements to their rosters. We broke down some of the top guys who could come available.
SALARY QUIZ: WHO’S THIS NBA PLAYER? 🤔
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