NBA Trade Season: Winners and losers from a wild offseason Tuesday

So … that escalated quickly. 

Tuesday in the NBA got out of hand in a hurry. With the season having been over for only a week, executives seem to have thrown caution to the wind and embraced an aggressive pursuit of wheeling and dealing. From
Paul George
to
Dwight Howard
, the NBA world was sent reeling from one minute to the next Tuesday. Here’s a rundown of what went on, the winners, and losers, from a wild Tuesday a full 10 days before free agency even starts.

WINNER:
Indiana Pacers

The market for Paul George has exploded, and that’s a good thing for the Pacers, who needed to develop a market for a player who has told the team he won’t re-sign and has major interest in one team (the
Los Angeles Lakers
).

But as talks involving the
Cleveland Cavaliers
continued, and after the
Los Angeles Clippers
popped up in rumors Monday, the Lakers became involved in reported trade talks for George on Tuesday. The Lakers had indicated earlier in the week they wouldn’t deal their younger players in a deal for George. But then they moved
D’Angelo Russell
in a separate deal, clearing cap space for 2018, which seems to indicate a push for star players like George. That could open the door for Indiana to acquire
Julius Randle
in a potential deal, and if that happens, the Pacers will have made lemonade from moldy lemons. 

The expanded market for George, which has come to include a reported half-dozen teams at this point, improves a compromised position of leverage for the Pacers as they seek to make a deal before the draft before their position worsens considerably.

LOSER: CLEVELAND CAVALIERS

Things heated up when the Cavs were reportedly involved in talks for Jimmy Butler, but then word surfaced that Butler wants to stay in Chicago and wouldn’t commit to signing long term with Cleveland

To make matters worse, with rumors swirling about a potential
LeBron James
departure in 2018, word came that Kyrie Irving could look to demand a trade if James decides to take his talents elsewhere, which would set up a complete rebuild. Meanwhile the Lakers came back into the Paul George trade talks and Cleveland looks not a bit closer to narrowing the gap between themselves and the
Golden State Warriors
.

Oh, and they fired their championship GM … Report: Mutual interest between Cavaliers, Chauncey Billups for front-office role

WINNER:
Brooklyn Nets

The trick with the CBA since 2011 has been that expiring contracts are difficult to move. Since contracts in general are shorter, teams have cap space sooner and don’t have to sacrifice to generate it. So it’s notable that though the Nets surrendered their best player in
Brook Lopez
, but did so on an expiring contract, and got their franchise centerpiece point guard in D’Angelo Russell. Russell comes with baggage, but none of it on-court. If he outgrows his maturity issues, he’ll be the kind of guard you need in today’s NBA. If he doesn’t … well, they gave up a single season of 30-year-old Brook Lopez in a lost season. Their trade for Russell was a no-brainer.

LOSERS: LAKERS FANS WITH PATIENCE

The new regime has preached patience and letting the young group grow together. And maybe that’s still the case. They still have
Brandon Ingram
 and Julius Randle, and presumably Lonzo Ball coming Thursday in the draft. But the Lakers also cleared
Timofey Mozgov
‘s cap space, and while erasing that horrendous albatross of a deal is a win no matter what, it also seems to indicate their intentions to pursue big-name free agents.

This is a bold path, and could be great if they land George and another star, with LeBron James even mentioned. But if they swing out, there’s disaster around the corner. Lakers fans who wanted to see the youngsters grow together might be facing a new reality, and while it could bring them back to the championship level they crave, it’s still a departure from the stated plan, if indeed that’s their intention. 

WINNER:
Charlotte Hornets

Charlotte gave up nothing for Dwight Howard, and while you can argue that this might be a case of subtraction by addition, Howard still had some great moments on defense last season. He gives
Kemba Walker
a finisher around the rim and will help with their rebounding and rim protection. For what they gave up, this was a tremendous trade for the Hornets. Seriously, they gave up second-rounders and
Miles Plumlee

Even for Dwight, with a franchise that took such a step back last season, it’s a gamble worth taking. 

LOSER: ANYONE TRYING TO FIGURE OUT WHAT THE
Atlanta Hawks
ARE DOING

Does the Dwight trade mean that they’re going to let Millsap go? Are they going to re-sign him? Who starts at center? Where is this team going? Are they going to shed more payroll? How is it that after everything that happened Tuesday, it’s the Hawks that were the most confusing?

LOSER:
New York Knicks
FANS. POOR, SAD, PITIFUL KNICKS FANS

Why on Earth would they consider trading Kristaps Porzingis? Why would they let that info leak, damaging an already damaged relationship with their star forward? The asking price for Porzingis is thought to be “extremely high” but that does not change the fact that they are poisoning a vital well. Dealing him would set the franchise back a decade and might drive half the fan base to Brooklyn, and I’m only half-kidding. 

Watching the Knicks slam into the wall at high speed over and over again has gotten less and less humorous over the years. Enough. If Phil Jackson trades Porzingis, he has got to go, and should never get another job in the NBA as a front office executive ever again.

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