Trade Deadline Arms Race in the East

The 2016 Trade deadline has come and gone with a whimper. Kevin Love, Dwight Howard, Blake Griffin, Al Horford and Carmelo Anthony all stayed put. Moves were made but none by the top teams in the NBA. The more interesting moves came from teams fighting for the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

The standings in the East are extremely tight, with two and half games in between the sixth to the ninth seed. It is very possible teams can free fall with a bad run of games and/or other teams can get hot and fly up the standings.

*Standings as of 2/20/16

6. Indiana Paces 29-25 0
7. Charlotte Hornets 28-26 1
8. Chicago Bulls 28-26 1
9. Detroit Pistons 27-28 1.5
10. Washington Wizards 25-28 3.5

Charlotte and Detroit started making moves a few days before the deadline. Charlotte kicked everything off with a three-team trade that brought them a three and D player in Courtney Lee. Who is great fit for the Hornets, having played for Coach Steve Clifford when he was an assistant with the Magic the year they went to the finals. This familiarity with each other will undoubtedly help Charlotte in their playoff push.

Detroit made a bigger splash on the same day, moving Brandon Jennings and Ilyasova to Orlando for Tobias Harris. This is an intriguing move for the Piston’s as they add more depth to their bench. Harris is shooting 31.1% from three and averaging seven boards a game. At 6’9” he has the ability to play both the small and power forward positions for the Pistons and fits into their offense very easily.

This was not the only deal the Pistons attempted to make. They agreed to deal Joel Anthony and their 1st round draft pick in the upcoming NBA draft to the Rockets for Donatas Motiejunas and Marcus Thornton. They rescinded the trade due to Motiejunas’ bad back. If healthy he could have provided spacing with his ability to shoot and has a solid post up game. The Pistons were extremely aggressive this trade deadline as they make a push for the playoffs this season.

Not to be left out of the arms race, the Wizards made a move right at the trade deadline buzzer by adding Markieff Morris from Phoenix. Morris does bring with him a ton of baggage; a felony assault charge, publicly demanding a trade after the Suns traded his twin brother, mailing in the first half of the season, a towel throwing incident, and most recently a fight with a teammate during a game; making this quite a risk for the Wizards. However when motivated properly like last season, he is a bargain at 8 million a year for the next three years. Morris will be able to stretch the floor for Wizards and give them another weapon for when John Wall drives the lane. Two and a half games out of the eight spot, the Wizards have some ground to make up.

Although this trade deadline lacked any huge moves, it was filled with some chess moves from the teams in a tight race for the East’s last playoff spot. These three teams seized the moment to make a run at those spots and are hoping these moves will pay off in the end.

Random Note:

The lack of action by teams in this deadline to shake things up has been reported as “Warrior Paranoia”. Essentially teams giving up on winning it this season because they cannot compete with the Warriors. The more realistic reason is that the majority of targets that were available at this deadline all likely to become free agents this summer or the next summer. Add in the fact almost every team will have a ton of cap space due to the skyrocketing cap; teams chose to keep their assets and try to sign these targets in the offseason.

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