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NBA trade deadline: Who are biggest winners, losers?

Feb 08, 2019

Washington (USA) Feb 08: The NBA's annual time bomb expired Thursday and we can all breathe a little now, while surveying the ensuing carnage.
When things happen at a rapid pace and on a hard deadline, there will be those who overplay their hand, and others who hold their nerve and make out big.
Anthony Davis and all that surrounds him was by far the biggest story line, yet there was no shortage of heavy-hitting activity all around the league. Major League Baseball this is not. Everyone is tussling for position and it is no place for the meek and hesitant. Time will tell which transactions were the most effective.
USA TODAY Sports' NBA reporters Martin Rogers and Jeff Zillgitt examine the most triumphant and tepid deadline deals:
LOSER: Los Angeles Lakers
No one truly won in the situation that saw Davis remain in New Orleans with his future in limbo but it hurts Los Angeles the most. The Lakers have lost a chance to be relevant now, and will be in a weaker bargaining position this summer when free agency begins. They have lost the aura of being able to muscle through whatever situation they come across, even with an almighty assist from the player involved.
They now are forced to revisit the reality that Davis was an exception when it comes to big-name players who want to play with James and are left with a disgruntled cadre of young starters who were first told they were trade bait - and then that they weren't collectively valuable enough to land one star in return. Tough times.
WINNER: Philadelphia 76ers
Is there a better starting five east of the Bay Area? Tobias Harris is a sneaky awesome acquisition and Philly looks primed for a run. First-year general manager Elton Brand has been bold and decisive, and what was a good postseason team last year has since added near-All-Star Harris, Jimmy Butler, and has seen improvement from Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid.
However good Markelle Fultz hopefully turns out to be, he had no future at the 76ers, who will like the pair of picks they gained in return. A dangerous team just got more dangerous and Brand has some serious momentum behind him.
LOSER: New Orleans Pelicans
They threw a spike in the Lakers' plans and showed they wouldn't be bullied, but at what cost? Yes, the Boston Celtics can now enter the trade fracas for Davis but New Orleans puts itself at the mercy of whatever tricks the player and his camp can dream up. What might that look like? Use your imagination. Everything from having his dad say he shouldn't play in Boston (already happened) to announcing on TMZ that he'll quit basketball to become an eyebrow model if he doesn't get sent to the Lakers. OK, probably not, but you get the point.
Interested teams will be taking a huge risk if they throw major assets to the Pelicans for what might be a one-year rental. New Orleans has likely seen the best offer it will get, and passed on it.
WINNER: New York Knicks
The New York Knicks lost Kristaps Porzingis and Tim Hardaway Jr. and definitely didn't get equivalent parts in return. But what its blockbuster swap with the Dallas Mavericks does is open up the possibility a spectacular path where (likely) Kevin Durant and (in a dream scenario) Kyrie Irving could be leading a Garden revival next season.
With that outcome not assured, how can we anoint the Knicks as a winner? Well, when a franchise has struggled so much for so long, baby steps aren't going to haul it out of the ashes. Kudos here to New York for taking its best shot with the most courageous move of the deadline, with potentially the biggest upside.
LOSER: Washington Wizards
Rough week for the Wizards. They learned John Wall is out at least a year. Then, they traded Otto Porter Jr. to Chicago for peanuts to cull salary. They signed Porter to a four-year, $106.5 million contract in 2017, but that salary became an albatross as Washington loses sight of a playoff spot. The Wizards also traded Markieff Morris to New Orleans so they could get under the luxury tax and must now choose whether or not to go into full rebuild mode and trade Bradley Beal in the off-season. Another kicker, Wall's four-year extension worth $170 million sets in at the start of next season: they'll be paying him $46.8 million-per by the end of it.
WINNER: Toronto Raptors
Raptors president Masai Ujiri loves making deals, and he pulled one off right before the shot clock expired, acquiring Marc Gasol from the Memphis Grizzlies. It gives the Raptors a quality two-way big man who can anchor the defense and facilitate on offense. Yes, the Raptors gave up a lot for Gasol. Sometimes, an executive needs to take chances if he wants his team to get to the next level. Also, after watching first-place Milwaukee strengthen its roster, Ujiri couldn't let the deadline pass without making a move that gives Toronto a chance to get to the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history.
WINNER: Sacramento Kings
Harrison Barnes probably felt like a loser and had the NBA Twitter-verse either mocking or pitying him when he got traded mid-game on Wednesday night. But Sacramento, widely expected to be abysmally bad just a few months back, continues to seem like a place where good things are happening. The Kings didn't give up a lot to Dallas unless you believe Justin Jackson is going to suddenly sprout superstar wings, and Barnes should team nicely with Buddy Hield and De'Aaron Fox. Adding Alec Burks has some intrigue, too. It is not easy to be above .500 in the loaded West, as a couple of teams mentioned above can attest, and the Kings just got better.
LOSER: The NFL
Yes, really. All the drama and the plot lines turned this year's trade deadline into a thrilling soap opera, even with the biggest potential move never getting particularly close to happening. During Super Bowl week, there was more talk of potential moves and gossip on (or off) the hardwood than of Tom Brady and his quest for six. The NFL owns Sunday. The NBA owns social media.
Source: USA Today