Relatively Quiet NBA Trade Deadline Passes Ahead of Salary Cap Increase


[Author’s note: I want to credit and thank ACAA writers Joe Stephens and Matt Speakman for their excellent live coverage leading up to and through Thursday’s deadline.]

Markieff Morris (11) was traded Thursday from the Phoenix Suns to the Washington Wizards.

Recent NBA trade deadlines have been a mad flurry of insane rumors and even wackier actual trades, but the 2016 deadline was not quite as earth-shattering as years previous. Just 9 trades hit the books before the 3 PM ET deadline, none of them seemingly featuring star players who would have a significant impact with championship contenders.

Why no big blockbuster deals this year? It has a lot to do with the huge increase in the NBA salary cap expected following the NBA season when free agency begins this summer. The cap is expected to be greater than $90 million for the 2016-2017 season, which would be a large enough increase for a team even at max salary to potentially add another max contract (~$20 million) and another superstar.

Most teams seemed comfortable holding out on making any big moves until they have the extra room to spend money on free agent contracts this summer. This also gives teams the ability to negotiate the terms of the contracts of their new players as opposed to taking on their current, possibly unfavorable contracts before the ongoing season ends.

With that being said, there were some important trades for some playoff teams around the league. Here are all of them from Thursday.

Houston Rockets, Detroit Pistons
To Houston: Joel Anthony, 2016 first-round draft pick (top eight protected)
To Detroit: Donatas Motiejunas, Marcus Thornton

New Orleans Pelicans, Miami Heat
To New Orleans: Jarnell Stokes, cash considerations
To Miami: Protected second-round draft pick

This trade leaves New Orleans with too many players on its roster, so they will likely waive Jarnell Stokes.

Cleveland Cavaliers, Orlando Magic, Portland Trailblazers
To Cleveland: Channing Frye (from ORL)
To Orlando: Jared Cunningham (from CLE), Cavaliers’ future second-round draft pick (from POR)
To Portland: Anderson Varejao (from CLE), 2018 Cavaliers’ first-round draft pick (top 10 protected)

This trade was all about cap space for Cleveland and Orlando. Portland absorbed the large contract of the lesser-used Varejao, whom they will likely waive, while receiving a lottery protected first-round pick from Cleveland. Cleveland gets a piece it wanted in Channing Frye while also saving them millions of dollars in luxury taxes. Orlando will waive Cunningham while having lots of cap room to move forward after dealing Tobias Harris to Detroit for Brandon Jennings and Ersan Ilyasova just days ago.

Utah Jazz, Atlanta Hawks, Chicago Bulls
To Utah: Shelvin Mack (from ATL)
To Atlanta: Kirk Hinrich (from CHI)
To Chicago: Justin Holiday (from ATL), Hawks’ future second-round draft pick (from Utah)

Oklahoma City Thunder, Denver Nuggets
To Oklahoma City: Randy Foye
To Denver: DJ Augustin, Steve Novak, two second-round draft picks

Portland Trailblazers, Miami Heat
To Portland: Brian Roberts, future second-round draft pick
To Miami: Cash considerations

Why would the Miami Heat willingly give up a good backup guard and a second-round draft pick for next to nothing? This trade gives Miami the ability to dump Roberts’ contract and save millions of dollars in luxury taxes. Portland gladly agreed to take on the contract as they are one of the few teams with a large amount of cap space and they get the second-round pick out of the deal, too.

Phoenix Suns, Washington Wizards
To Phoenix: Kris Humphries, DeJuan Blair, 2016 first-round draft pick (top 9 protected)
To Washington: Markieff Morris

Morris seems poised to start at power forward for Washington as a stretch-four, finally ending his plagued timed in Phoenix since his twin brother Marcus was traded to Detroit. This is a great opportunity for both Morris and the Wizards, who find themselves just three games out of the playoffs in the Eastern Conference.

Philadelphia 76ers, Houston Rockets
To Philadelphia: Joel Anthony (again)
To Houston: Rights to Chukwudiebere Maduabum

Memphis Grizzlies, Los Angeles Clippers
To Memphis: Lance Stephenson, first-round draft pick (lottery protected)
To Los Angeles: Jeff Green


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Featured image credit: Matt York/AP 


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