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The Step-back 3

NBA Trade Deadline Review

by Aaron Bruski
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:09 pm ET

The NBA Trade Deadline was saved by some last-second drama but for the second straight year it was more sizzle than steak.  Let’s get right to it.


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The griping had already begun about a seemingly more active deadline than last year, but with the lessons learned from the prior year folks were ready to turn on the ‘deadline’ and why not, for a while it was amazing and now it’s clearly not.  I think part of that was the fact that GMs weren’t moving second round picks, and though this draft is great and so are rookie scale players it feels like the all-or-nothing tank or be-tanked philosophy is too much.  Perhaps the heat of the 24/7 magnifying glass has shrunk these once mighty titans of swag, or maybe it’s purely circumstance – I don’t know. 


As the buzzer expired, though, there was one deal that still needed to go down and it was a big one – Danny Granger got dealt for Evan Turner


This is the type of deal that fires me up.  Aside from having big fantasy implications in the land of steroidal statistics that well-adjusted people call ‘Philadelphia,’ one has to think that Pat Riley was cursing like he slammed his finger in the car door.  Sure, he may have a trick up his sleeve for the buyout market, and plenty of names are already being kicked around like Caron Butler, Antawn Jamison and even Granger (wouldn’t it be something to see him play against his old mates).  But Riley isn’t going to get a young, mid-level player with the type of athleticism that Turner brings to the table.  He’ll get the aging, veteran types that may play well to the narrative crowd, but he won’t get a difference maker for the second unit with that type of talent. 


I liked Indiana to win it all before this deal, with or without Granger, but the only negative thing that can be attributed here is the fact that the Pacers will be a team that’s not incredibly stocked with shooters.  Opponents will pack in the defense and force guys like Turner to beat them over the top. 


I for one can’t wait for the NBA Championship to take place in the good old Leastern Conference. 




The Spencer Hawes trade, the aforementioned Granger/Turner trade and trades with the Clippers and Wizards created quite a bit of movement for Philly (draft picks excluded here). 


TRADE 1:  Spencer Hawes to Cavs; Earl Clark and Henry Sims to Sixers


TRADE 2:  Evan Turner and Lavoy Allen to Pacers; Danny Granger to Sixers


TRADE 3:  Byron Mullens to Sixers


TRADE 4:  Andre Miller to Wizards; Jan Vesely to Nuggets; Eric Maynor to Sixers;


***Let’s take a look at what went in and what went out for the Sixers.***


Philly GETS: Danny Granger, Earl Clark, Byron Mullens, Henry Sims, Eric Maynor


Philly GIVES: Spencer Hawes, Evan Turner, Lavoy Allen


***This leaves a depth chart that looks something like this:


  • MPG listed in parenthesis, (+) indicates potential extra minutes after a Granger buyout on either low-end or high-end of the scale or both, (!) for Moultrie indicates that he is playing himself back into shape – workload could increase as he goes.  A zero means the player might not be in the rotation followed by an expected mpg.



These estimates could obviously shift based on who excels, injuries and big events like Granger’s potential buyout or Richardson’s eventual return.  But they give us a starting point for assessing value, and we’re going to take each guy one by one.


Michael Carter-Williams is a top 45-100 value on the year (8/9 cat) and unfortunately for him things aren’t going to get much easier.  As he continues to struggle with the rookie wall everything else will come harder, even if he’ll be utilized much more if he continues to be healthy.  Will the corresponding gains in counting stats offset increasing field goal shooting and durability issues?  Again, only if he’s healthy.  The only big opportunity here is for owners punting field goal percentage and/or turnovers, as folks might not see this as a big change in value for MCW thinking he’s already leveraged to the tilt. 


Quickly on Evan Turner – he did everything for the Sixers.  He constantly gobbled up the ball and went into his offense and his usage percentage was at a whopping 24.2 percent.  Other guys will be forced to handle the ball and both Carter-Williams (26.2%) and Thaddeus Young (22.9%) are already close to tapped out.   


Tony Wroten’s usage of 28.1 percent is downright impressive.  Unfortunately it means that what we see is what we get with him.  There is no real way to climb further up the ladder.  He has value outside of the top-200 in standard leagues despite playing 24 mpg on the season.  We’ve seen what it looks like when he plays a boatload of minutes and usually it’s good for late-round value on the strength of big popcorn numbers and weakness of poor shooting and peripherals.  That said, he is a pretty good bet to do that regardless of Granger’s status.


James Anderson, on the other hand, doesn’t handle the ball a whole lot and has played much better without Evan Turner on the court.  That’s because Turner was typically looking for his own shot and then the pass rather than getting Anderson involved.  Anderson is going to be on the shortlist of players that can score at the NBA level and a season-long top-150 value over 28.4 mpg is all but certain to improve into the top 100-120 range with some upside beyond that.  He’s a must-add player in 12-team formats and 10-team owners may want to consider getting their hands on a guy figuring in heavily to Philly’s offense. 


Hollis Thompson has the worst usage rate (11.7%) of anybody on the team and it’s no surprise that he has also rated outside the top-200 despite playing 21.1 mpg on the year.  He’s not blessed with tremendous offensive skills, but he can hit a few threes and steal the ball at an average rate.  The question becomes whether or not he can handle additional shot opportunities or if he’ll only see a proportional rise with whatever minute increase he gets.  He has late-round upside for standard leagues in reasonable best case scenarios, but that’s just flier territory and if you’re not ready to take that risk he’s really only worth a look in 14-16 team leagues. 


Though Elliot Williams has a bit more offensive skill than Thompson, they are very similar from a fantasy perspective in that they don’t bring a lot of versatility or peripheral stats to the table.  Williams is also an injury risk and will probably be brought along slowly in a backup role.  Still, he might have more upside than Thompson if he gets let loose since he could join in on some of the fastbreaking fun.  I’d consider him a cut below Thompson even when you factor in his upside, but upside hunters may want to simply ignore that in those deep leagues and take a stab. 


This is me burying the lede with Danny Granger.  This guy is a mess.  With a usage percentage just under 20 percent on a team well-stocked with talent he, like many of these Sixers, was ranked outside of the top-200 despite playing a healthy 22.5 mpg.  His 35.9 percent shooting from the field was the big killer and while all of his numbers were down he’s still hitting threes (1.1), steals (0.3) and blocking (0.4) at a somewhat respectable rate.  Getting those minutes up to full-time status would make him a threat for 1-1-1 status, especially in a system that has seen numbers inflate on the defensive end. 


In summary he was your everyday spot-up shooter with about half of his attempts (7.7) from deep (3.2), which explains the field goal percentage drop.  He’s not doing himself any favors by hitting five points worse from beyond the arc compared to his career 38.2 percent mark, but none of this is terribly concerning if we’re looking at him as a reclamation project.  The big question, other than whether or not he will be bought out, is whether or not he can handle a heavy workload. 


Despite how slow he is and the general lack of athleticism, he’ll still be a better offensive weapon than all but about 2-4 guys on that team.  If he’s healthy enough to maintain his workload first and then extend it, he should see a higher percentage of his touches in creator mode and therefore he’ll add some looks heading toward the hoop.  Factor in the system and he could look like a poor man’s version of what he once was.  That makes him worth an add over any low-upside guy providing somewhat consistent late-round value.  Somebody has to produce the stats and he’s as good of a candidate as any, and there is the added bonus that he will be playing for his next contract. Taking a risk on a potential late-mid round upside guy is just good business in 12-team leagues. 


Look for Thaddeus Young to make like Paul Millsap and take things over.  Owners sweating out the deadline can only hope that he doesn’t call it an early year. 


Arnett Moultrie profiles similarly to Granger in that he’s one of the upside plays of this group.  Brett Brown made him wait until he had lost enough weight to return to the floor and he’s going to play himself into shape.  He’s on the shortlist of guys that have some playmaking skills for the Sixers, but he’s going to struggle to post the peripheral stats needed to offset major deficiencies or simply low popcorn numbers.  Unless he magically can log a lot of minutes right off the bat, he could be a tough guy to hang onto as he splits time with Byron Mullens


We said that we like Moultrie to start over Mullens but I have a hard time getting behind that knowing that one has history doing that and the other doesn’t.  Mullens’ value will likely look a lot like it did in Charlotte.  Up and down but in the end with the boost due to the Sixers’ system he could have some late-mid round upside.  That’s good enough to call him a low-level add that could be upgraded real quick if Brown takes to him quickly or news is otherwise positive.  


The good news is that he might hang around the waiver wire for a little bit, or be added and dropped after a slow start.  But either way like Granger I have no problem trying to establish a core player in the Sixers’ jackpot system, so adding him as a stash/flier in 12-14 team leagues isn’t off the table.  Just realize we have no clue how this experiment is going to turn out team-wide.  They could get blown out by 30 every night and have garbage-time stats that are extremely prohibitive to their baseline values. Or it could just be your typical bad players on bad teams getting their numbers. 


Sims brings more of a traditional center look to mix when looking at defensive stats and he doesn’t have quite the offensive tools that Moultrie has, and that might be the way that Brown decides to split the duties.  I’d consider him to be a cut or two below Moultrie for the fact that Moultrie has home court advantage and Sims doesn’t have nearly as much upside. 


All in all, owners looking at the Philly situation need to remember they’re buying the system and not the player.  There is a ton of guesswork going on with which guys are going to excel in this tanking environment.  Unless you’re ditching a reliable value, buying a lottery ticket is quick, easy and fun and you can tear it up and throw it away if you lose. 


For the guys that left we knew it would be bad news and that is definitely the case.  Hawes and Turner can both be dropped in standard leagues, though if you want to wait the perfunctory one game be my guest. Anderson Varejao is a guy that I'd hold onto and see how things go when he gets back on the court, because he may just hold late-round value, but Tristan Thompson can't survive the Hawes addition.  He was barely surviving on his own in standard 12-team formats. 






GOLDEN STATE LOSES: MarShon Brooks, Kent Bazemore


Fantasy Impact: Blake owners may want to see how things go in his first game tonight.  After all, Jarrett Jack was able to hold value in the type of role that Blake is envisioned to be in.  It’s also possible that Blake outplays guys like Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes enough to earn 25+ minutes.  But for the most part his value is probably heading south of standard league ownership, so if you see a mid-level free agent you have to make the move.  Brooks and Bazemore are waiver wire fodder in most formats.




As I said on Twitter, especially if they’re a Mets fan too (I can say that because I’m a Mets fan).  Not only have the Knicks destroyed their long-term stability, made idiotic move after idiotic move, been rife with dysfunction, let the wrong people wrest control from the right people, shut out the good media, hidden behind closed doors rather than honestly addressing paying fans and not won anything for more years than I’ve been alive – (deep breath) -- they really blew the sequence of events leading up to this year’s deadline. 


They could have had Kyle Lowry much cheaper than they were pursuing him for over the last two weeks, only to see owner James Dolan call the deal off.  Then, their only real asset to trade with, Iman Shumpert, gets injured on the night of the trade deadline.  We’ll ignore for a second the fact that Tim Hardaway Jr. is being put on the untouchables list like he’s a surefire max contract guy.  The Knicks couldn’t simply put this guy on the bench for one game to make sure all of their legwork and the future plans of the franchise weren’t all for naught.  The maddening part for fans is that Shumpert not only could use the time off, but he has been struggling terribly.  It’s not like he was showcasing himself with his recent play. 


The Knicks had talks with the Raptors, Nuggets and Clippers at the top of their list.  Though those deals may have fallen apart on their own accord because the Knicks are strapped and offering other teams crap, the complicating factor behind Shumpert’s knee injury will be seen as the thing that pushed these deals into the muck.  And chances are that’s an accurate assessment. 


If there was going to be a domino effect that kicked off a semi-exciting trade deadline, Shumpert was the one that needed to fall and that didn’t happen.  There isn’t too much fantasy impact for the Knicks since Shumpert’s two-week absence probably won’t be noticed a whole bunch.  Hardaway was likely to play 25-plus minutes going forward no matter what, but mostly the absence wouldn’t be missed because Shumpert hasn’t been impacting games.  But for the rest of the league and fantasy owners a deal here could have triggered any number of things. 




Gary Neal somehow became the belle of the ball by Wednesday afternoon with as many as six teams interested in him if you believe the Milwaukee-based reports, and two serious suitors in the Bobcats and Thunder by the wee hours of Thursday morning.  Once the Thunder were ruled out as partners a deal was done including Neal and Luke Ridnour would be traded for Ramon Sessions and forward Jeff Adrien.  The deal saves Milwaukee a little bit of money and gets a disgruntled player off their hands, while giving Charlotte some much-needed outside shooting in Neal to help space the floor for Al Jefferson.  Ridnour can run the team in a pinch and help provide stable backup duties.  For a team like the Bobcats looking to cut their teeth in the playoffs, this is a solid move and it’s a solid move all around. 


None of these players will be stepping into immediate fantasy value in their new digs, though it wouldn’t be surprising if Sessions eventually earns some minutes and at a minimum it gives Larry Drew more lineup combinations to scratch off his bucket list.  In that respect, Ridnour wasn’t playing and Neal was in and out of the lineup and doghouse.  The Bucks basically took back a guy that can make bankable contributions versus two guys that are both capable of making contributions that weren’t.  Put that in your hookah and smoke it.



Part of everybody’s struggle face was the fact that the deadline looked like it would end on a Nando De Colo for Austin Daye trade between the Spurs and Raptors.  One of the funnier twitter accounts out there is @DidNandoPlay, which chronicles in great detail Nando’s day-to-day progress in the NBA.   There isn’t an add here even in 30-team leagues unless you’re truly bored, but before we pooh-pooh the Daye side of this everybody should recall what happened with Danny Green, who was cut by the lowly Cavs before making a career in San Antonio.  Daye has received much more hype among fantasy owners than he has ever returned in kind, but I’ll be keeping one eye on him to see, if anything, if Gregg Popovich can be a rainmaker once again. 




The Lakers’ Big Three: Jordan Hill and Chris Kaman were as good as gone by late Wednesday night and it appears that the Lakers didn’t want to back off getting second round picks for both – so they kept these guys.  Apparently getting under the tax line wasn’t important to the team, and they’ll need to stay under for the next two seasons to avoid the repeater penalties.  I’d have to imagine they have a plan for that because second round picks shouldn’t be worth that much, even if the early second rounders are the new hot thing in the NBA.  Pau Gasol didn’t get traded either and it’s almost comical how this team went from everybody on the block to a four-headed timeshare.  Look for Kaman to get bounced from the rotation, Hill to play his typical low-minute role and for Robert Sacre to handle the rest.  Pau will play as much as his body will allow and he’ll be a primary shutdown risk. 


Pierre Jackson: Probably the most hype I’ve seen about a D-League player in some time.  I guess that’s what happens when you drop 58 points in a game.  Just remember the name and my guess is that he becomes the indie equivalent of an overhyped band by the time he lands.  Who knows, maybe it’ll be worth paying $39.99 for a T-Shirt when he rolls into a town near you.    


Jarrett Jack was not traded and Kings fans should be happy as his skills appear to be in decline.  He opened up about not handling the ball enough this year and that’s why he’s not worth owning in standard leagues.  Luol Deng probably isn’t thrilled with not being traded and he had the same gripes, which all point back to Kyrie Irving.  I’d hold on for a game or two but if he doesn’t bounce back from his frustrations on the court and off the court then feel free to move on. 


Omer Asik could not be moved and he belongs on waivers.  Jameer Nelson and Arron Afflalo stayed put, so Victor Oladipo enthusiasts will have win their buy-low trades the old fashion way.  The Magic and Jacque Vaughn would have to be crazy not to increase his utilization while pulling Nelson back.    



It would have been nice to see Jordan Hamilton make it to New York to play for their shallow team but instead he got traded to the Rockets for Aaron Brooks.  Unless the Nuggets know something about Hamilton that makes him expendable, I don’t see how they give up a prospect for a guy like Brooks when they should be shopping in the bargain bin for their emergency point guards but that’s another story. 


Hamilton shot his way out of favor in Denver but he has nice physical tools and plenty of upside for Daryl Morey, but he’ll be buried on the roster for fantasy purposes.  Brooks, on the other hand, will be backing up Ty Lawson and taking the old Nate Robinson role while competing for minutes with Evan Fournier.  Fournier is a guy that the Nuggets regularly try to pump up through their various media channels and he has had a few good games, but this will be a hot hand situation and Brooks may be able to carve out some value in deeper leagues.  With low upside, though, owners shouldn’t be racing to the wire to grab him. 


The Heat traded Roger Mason to the Kings for cash considerations and the Kings waived him immediately.  The Kings sent an extremely late second round pick in return. 




JaVale McGee had season-ending surgery to repair the stress fracture in his left tibia.  I did some poking around through medical journals a while ago and that type of injury just doesn’t heal all that fast, so the result was unsurprising nonetheless. 


The Magic are working on a buyout with Glen Davis, which could be the launching point for continually improving Tobias Harris.  The buy low window is probably already shut.  This will also help lower-end guys like Moe Harkless and Andrew Nicholson regain some relevancy. 

Aaron Bruski
Aaron Bruski has covered hoops for Rotoworld since 2008 and has competed in national fantasy sports competitions for nearly two decades. In 2015 he was named FSWA Basketball Writer of the Year. You can also find his work over at ProBasketballTalk, where he received critical acclaim for his in-depth reporting of the Kings' relocation saga. Hit him on Twitter at Aaronbruski.