Trade deadline & all-star teams filled in
Believe it or not, the 2021-22 regular season is about two-thirds complete. This means the All-Star Break is imminent, and teams are making big decisions ahead of the trade deadline.
A pair of Woj bombs announced on Tuesday, Feb. 8 sent ripple effects through the NBA landscape.
Also, this year’s All-Star reserves were announced, as well as the replacements for those unable to participate.
Let’s dive right in.
All-Star big man headed out west
The Sacramento Kings (20-36) surprised many as the landing spot for All-Star power forward Domantas Sabonis, who was linked to many teams in trade rumors over the past year.
However, it cost them an exceptional young talent in the form of last year’s Rookie of the Year runner-up, point guard Tyrese Haliburton.
The full trade details are as follows: the Indiana Pacers (19-37) traded Sabonis along with forwards Jeremy Lamb and Justin Holiday to the Kings for Haliburton, guard Buddy Hield and center Tristan Thompson.
Sacramento also received a 2023 second-round draft pick.
While Sabonis is the proven commodity in the deal, the Pacers could have gotten the best asset overall in Haliburton.
In his second season, the Iowa State guard is averaging 14.3 points, 7.4 assists and 1.7 steals per game. His assist and steals marks are eleventh and sixth best in the league respectively.
This deal confirms the Kings’ desire to be a postseason threat soon. Currently they’re 13th in the western conference, but only three games out of the last play-in spot.
A strong post All-Star run could give them that opportunity.
Moving Haliburton and Hield opens a huge role for rookie guard Davion Mitchell to fulfill with the Kings. Guard De’Aaron Fox is in year one of a rookie max extension and now has a star big man beside him.
As for Indiana, they doubled down on a rebuild. Over the weekend they dealt starting guard Caris LeVert to Cleveland for draft compensation.
Their return for Sabonis was excellent as Haliburton and Hield are both under contract for several years.
Head coach Rick Carlisle appears to be very excited to have Haliburton on his roster.
Time will tell who got the better end of the deal, but both teams managed to come out with exciting new possibilities.
Pelicans making a remarkable turnaround
The first of the two deals on Tuesday was equally a pleasant surprise.
The New Orleans Pelicans (22-32) acquired shooting guard CJ McCollum, power forward Larry Nance Jr. and forward Tony Snell from the Portland Trail Blazers (21-34).
In return, Portland is getting guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker, small forward Josh Hart, guard Tomas Satoransky, second-year guard DIdi Louzada, along with a protected first-round pick plus two seconds.
The context for this deal is similar to the one mentioned prior. The Pelicans have turned around an awful 1-12 start to the season and now find themselves in contention for the play-in tournament.
This move adds valuable experience and depth to their young roster.
Forward Zion Williamson is yet to make an appearance this season, but the Pelicans are optimistic he will at some point.
Forward Brandon Ingram is having the best stretch of his career, averaging 24 points and a career-best seven assists over the last month.
McCollum can provide great mentorship to Ingram, which bodes well for the Pelicans who still have great concerns around Zion’s long term availability.
Portland on the other hand, made their second deal in a four-day span, shipping away some of their core players in hopes of restructuring the team around Damian Lillard next season.
Lillard is currently out with an abdominal injury which may hold him out for the season. It isn’t a total rebuild in Portland, but definitely a reshuffling of the deck.
On Wednesday they dealt Alexander-Walker to the Utah Jazz and Satoransky to the Spurs in a three-team deal that landed them Joe Ingles.
Ingles will not play for the Trailblazers this year, having recently tore his ACL and with an expiring contract.
Portland has potentially opened up $60M in cap space for the summer which will be used to attract free agents to make a push next year when Lillard is healthy.
Six first-time All-Stars announced as Reserves
Last Thursday, Feb. 3, the league announced the coaches’ picks for All-Star reserves.
In the western conference that included Phoenix guards Chris Paul and Devin Booker, Utah’s Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert, guard Luka Doncic, Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns, and Golden State’s Draymond Green.
The eastern conference reserves are Chicago’s Zach Lavine, Miami forward Jimmy Butler, forward Jayson Tatum, Brooklyn guard James Harden, Milwaukee’s Khris Middleton, Toronto point guard Fred VanVleet, and Cleveland point guard Darius Garland.
Brooklyn starter Kevin Durant and Draymond Green are unable to compete due to injury.
Replacing them as first-time All-Stars will be Charlotte point guard LaMelo Ball and point guard Dejounte Murray from the San Antonio Spurs.
Players will be drafted by team captains LeBron James and Kevin Durant this week.
Congratulations are in order for Murray, Ball, VanVleet, Garland, and starters Ja Morant and Andrew Wiggins on making their first All-Star appearances.
The All-Star game will be held Sunday, Feb. 20 at 8 p.m. EST in Cleveland, Ohio.
More action could occur ahead of Thursday’s trade deadline as well so stay tuned for any last-minute deals.