The 2019 NBA trade deadline was so engulfed in fake news, the real stuff became hard to digest.
Amid the smoke: A team nobody is taking seriously (Milwaukee) got a little more dignified. A club everybody thinks is too young (Philadelphia) got a little older. And the Kings turned out to be kings after all.
Other than that, there was no goodbye for Anthony Davis, but a hello to an attempt to inject interest into a post-Super Bowl month of slow sports news. and a slew of NBA buyouts
Here’s my Take Five on the happenings and non-happenings at the deadline:
1. No doubt, the biggest loser when the horn sounded at 3 p.m. Eastern on Thursday was Pelicans general manager Dell Demps. He had to see this coming. It’s been that kind of a year.
First off, ex-commissioner David Stern basically labeled Demps a buffoon when going public with his REAL reasons for blocking the Chris Paul-Lakers deal.
Then, Davis asked Demps and the Pelicans for a divorce.
And just when it seemed like the Lakers were offering a majority of the players LeBron James deemed attractive enough to join just seven months ago, someone said no. It might have been LeBron. Chances are, it was Pelicans ownership, which finally got around to asking itself: Why are we letting this guy dictate our future when he has no future here?
2. A handful of teams improved.
Some did so by adding guys they hope you’ll be watching into May. Like the Bucks with Nikola Mirotic, the 76ers with Tobias Harris and the Raptors, to a far lesser extent, with Marc Gasol.
Some did so by paving the path to a potentially brighter future. The Knicks and Mavericks stand out in this area.
And then there’s the real winner: Sacramento. The California capital is so insignificant in the pro sports world, it requires a state designation in its dateline in most news reports. That’s what happens when your pride and joy fails to make the playoffs pretty much since Chris Webber stopped dictating NBA fashion.
Adding Harrison Barnes and Alec Burks doesn’t make the Kings a contender. But it does make them a likely playoff team in the West, where if you can avoid the Warriors in the postseason, anything’s possible.
3. Ah, the buyouts.
The NFL has reviewing pass interference on its offseason agenda, and baseball is still dealing with speeding up its game. And now the NBA’s decision-makers have something to talk about this summer — how the real powers in the game are no longer major players at the trade deadline, because more attractive assets become available basically for free shortly thereafter.
Effective 3:01 p.m. Thursday, Davis became a nobody (until the summer, anyway). Now the NBA news-gatherers have started flocking to DeAndre Jordan. Or a “source,” such as Jordan’s agent.
“Hello, Dell. This is Aaron Mintz. Julius Randle wants a buyout.”
Surely, so do Jordan, Derrick Rose, the Lopez twins, Jeff Teague, Taj Gibson, the Matthews boys (Wes and Wilson), Elfrid Payton, Kent Bazemore, Terrence Ross, Garrett Temple.
Kanter and Wes Matthews got a goodbye gift from the Knicks already.
And let’s not forget Carmelo Anthony, who has already beaten these guys to the “NBA markdowns” line.
Here’s the best part: You get these guys basically for free. Basically, there are no restrictions.
So now the Warriors, Thunder, Rockets and Celtics are all players. This could get exciting.
Or once again, maybe not.
4. My choice for most underrated move: The Wizards getting Bobby Portis and Jabari Parker from the Bulls for Otto Porter, Jr.
Yeah, I know. To this point in their careers, Portis is best known as the guy who slugged Mirotic and Parker as the worst No. 2 overall pick in ages.
Whoa. Anybody planting that label on Parker clearly is not familiar with the ugly history of second picks. Among the other guys selected No. 2 since Kevin Durant in 2007: Michael Beasley, Hasheem Thabeet, Evan Turner, Derrick Williams and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
So let’s admit it: Parker is actually UNDERRATED. The perfect guy to acquire in the final year of his deal (2020 is a team option). A guy who once averaged 20 points a game. A real wild card.And then there’s Portis, another potential free agent who packs some basketball punch, too.A team with John Wall, Bradley Beal, Parker and Portis in an era of high-scoring basketball sure beats what the Wizards are putting on the floor now. If Wall ever plays again, that is.
5. And in the What In The World Are They Doing category, I offer up the Los Angeles Clippers.
First, Davis lets it be known that the Clippers are on his short list of possible future destinations. That’s hard to believe, but it did make for a nice headline.Then the Clippers swallow it whole, sell off their best player (Harris) basically for peanuts, and start preparing for a glitzy future.All while their present wasn’t so dull.You’re ahead of the Lakers in the standings, for crying out loud. What more do you want?Fake news. It’s an epidemic.
–By David Del Grande, Field Level Media