Lightning Round: NBA Trade Deadline Day, Where WTF Happens

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At 2:01 p.m. ET, the Grantland staff began an email thread about NBA trade deadline day. Ninety minutes later, the landscape of the league had changed and 100 emails had been exchanged. Here is that thread, condensed and edited for clarity and sanity, even though there was nothing sane about what happened today.

Bill Simmons: Yes or no, would you believe this tweet?

@WojYahooNBA Sources: Suns-Knicks talks for Dragic derailed because of Phil Jackson’s spotty cell phone service in St. Bart’s.

Kirk Goldsberry:


Jason Concepcion: No, simply because St. Barts is the kind of place Roman Abramovic and Lorne Michaels go to hang out, and people that rich would never go anywhere with spotty cell service.

To me, it’s more like: @WojYahooNBA Sources: Suns-Knicks talks for Dragic derailed due to the continuing radioactive fallout from the Bargnani deal.

Although you could make the case, this being the Knicks, that those picks would’ve been sent somewhere else for someone else terrible long, long ago.

Chris Ryan: St. Barts is a stretch, but I would believe that Phil Jackson is drunk somewhere in the basement of the Algonquin Hotel.

Incidentally, the Heat are trying to make the trade that I suggested in the Goran Dragic Lightning Round, more or less — Birdman, Norris, McBob, and some picks. McBob could be a decent Channing Frye replacement (albeit next year).

Andrew Sharp: Pat Riley is what Illuminati power really looks like. Pat Riley is Tywin Lannister. Pat Riley is Kevin Spacey at the end of Usual Suspects and we’re all about to drop the coffee cup. Pat Riley is really going to steal Goran Dragic, isn’t he?

Trade: Denver sends Arron Afflalo and Alonzo Gee to Portland for Thomas Robinson, Will Barton, Victor Claver, and a 2016 lottery-protected first-round pick

Trade: Denver sends JaVale McGee, the rights to Chukwudiebere Maduabum, and a protected 2015 first-round draft pick to the Sixers for the rights to Cenk Akyol

Simmons: I liked the Afflalo deal for Portland, but thought they blew it by not offering the same package for Jeff Green last month. Green would have allowed them to play small ball, with Aldridge at the 5. Is it weird that I’m pissed Boston didn’t trump Philly’s offer of “Absolutely nothing for JaVale McGee and OKC’s protected pick”? Why didn’t the Celts offer “Nothing” or even “99 percent of nothing”? Sam Hinkie totally outwitted us.

Concepcion: Fair point, but the thing about acquiring JaVale is that you then have him. Underrated drawback. ​I think it’s very important that the Sixers do everything in their power to make sure JaVale can’t speak, text, see, or in any way contact or influence Nerlens Noel and Joel Embiid.

Minnesota Timberwolves v Philadelphia 76ersMitchell Leff/Getty Images

Danny Chau: Surprise, but I am obsessed with this Sixers deal. The fact that they absorbed JaVale McGee’s eight-figure contract without flinching. The fact that, even with McGee in tow, they are still $8 million under the cap. The fact that the rights to Cenk Akyol and Chu Chu Maduabum, basically NBA apparitions, changed hands. Look at those names. This trade is the single greatest endorsement of the Sam Hinkie era in Philly. This is a process, and process looks a lot like the rights to Chukwudiebere Maduabum. What a day to be alive.


Simmons: If Pat Riley gets Dragic for a bunch of spare parts and a couple of picks in the 20s, I’m gonna be vehemently pissed off. I’m just warning you now. Is Dragic-Wade-Bosh-Deng-Whiteside kind of terrifying or am I crazy? Although … can you imagine if that trade happens and they beat LeBron in Round 1? We might see like 12,000 Heat fans at some of those Cavs games. WHITE OUT! I am suddenly getting into this trade deadline!

Sharp: If the Knicks, Celtics, or Lakers had pulled off a Dragic deal, I was fully prepared to spend the rest of the week mocking them for talking themselves into Dragic as a franchise cornerstone. Same with Houston trying to make it work with Harden in the backcourt. But Dragic in Miami with Bosh, Whiteside, and maybe a healthy Wade by the playoffs? That’s fantastic. How did this happen? And how can Adam Silver rig the first round to get us Cavs-Heat in eight weeks?

Simmons: I am making this point for the second time this week: Dragic was the fourth-best guard in basketball last season. I voted him second-team All-NBA. There were legitimate reasons why his numbers dropped this year that had nothing to do with him and everything to do with the bizarre but lovable roster that Phoenix slapped together. Miami becomes a title contender if it can get him without touching its top four … at least until we remember that Dwyane Wade couldn’t play 38 MPG for four straight rounds even if Anthony Bosch, Brian McNamee and Ivan Drago’s trainer were training him. But we won’t remember that until, like, late April, right?



Sharp: Me, five minutes ago: I want to know what secret, alternate deal Sam Presti is trying to pull off right now. Is there an option out there that’s actually more underwhelming than Brook Lopez?

Five minutes later: We have an answer!

Concepcion: In retrospect, shouldn’t we now view a team acquiring a core player’s non-twin brother, in order to make that core player feel more comfortable, as a red flag? Zoran is this generation’s Chris Smith.

Simmons: I wish I had an undeserving black-sheep brother who I could ram down everyone’s throats at Grantland. Oh wait, I have Joe House. (Just kidding, House! I knew this was the only way I could get you to stop working and contribute to the thread. Congrats on Ramon Sessions, by the way. Even though he’s been on 11 teams, I kind of like him. I think it’s also gonna help the Wiz to have a backup point guard who can go coast-to-coast in less than 17 seconds. That’s my expert opinion.)

Joe House: Holy sweet mother of Jesus, I just got Rip Van Winkled. I go offline for two hours and when I reconnect THE WHOLE WORLD IS DIFFERENT.  I bet $1,000 that Pat Riley did a trust fall with Goran AND STEPPED AWAY TO LET ZORAN DO THE CATCHING.

I just spent 10 minutes reviewing the Kings–Almost Bullets deal and encountered a series of Ramon Sessions descriptors like: “career lows,” “struggling,” “poor season,” and “poor fit.” All I know is the home team got 10 years younger at backup PG, which is … something?  FARE THEE WELL, PROFESSOR.

Sharp: And if Chris Smith and Zoran Dragic can get paid, why can’t Taylor Griffin and Seth Curry get any love? When do Blake and Steph stage a mutiny for the sake of the family?

Simmons: What would happen if The Players’ Tribune hired Isaiah Thomas to write a piece for them? Would half of their staff just quit? How far do his powers extend? By the way, I keep picturing the Dragic brothers hitting South Beach dressed like Martin and Aykroyd in the famous “Wild and Crazy Guys” sketch. Can’t we Photoshop the heads of the Dragic brothers on them for a GIF with South Beach behind them? Or would a straightforward Miami Vice Photoshop make more sense?

Goldsberry: Dragic is really good with the right guys. Last year, Vogel called the Dragic-Frye pick-and-roll “maybe the hardest to cover in the game.”

I want him to land in Miami so bad. I think he and Bosh would be a nightmare to defend.

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Ryan: Man, Presti is really going to pull Billy King’s pants down here, isn’t he?

Concepcion: Next on Catfish: Billy King. “He seemed like he really wanted to do the deal.”

Ryan: Brook Lopez basically walking — or hobbling — around Brooklyn without a winter coat like Llewyn Davis right now.


There goes Garnett.

Trade: Brooklyn sends Kevin Garnett to Minnesota for Thaddeus Young

Concepcion: I’M COMING HOME

Sharp: The opening press conference will just be KG and Sam Mitchell screaming at each other in front of a stunned Andrew Wiggins.

Goldsberry: Man. Anthony Bennett is going to hate practice all of a sudden.

Simmons: How sad is it that the greatest Timberwolves moment in 11 years — seriously, 11 years — is bringing an ancient KG back home to play his final two months on a terrible basketball team? And yet, I love it! Who doesn’t love emotional reunions? I can’t wait to go back to Digital City Boston for two months in 2035.

New York Knicks v Brooklyn NetsNathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

Concepcion: Somewhere in Shanghai, Steph Marbury raises a dollop of Vaseline to his lips when he suddenly gets a strange feeling.

Tom Gugliotta awakens with a start after strange dreams.

Anthony Peeler uncharacteristically forgets his used-car sales pitch.

Latrell Sprewell, in his yard doing boat repairs, is overwhelmed by strange emotions.



Simmons: Remember in Rounders when they all ended up at the same Atlantic City poker table and Mike McD said, “Welcome to the Chesterfield South”? Then they all stayed at the table, played together and stole the money of every overmatched tourist that sat down at the table? That’s how like 20 NBA GMs feel about Billy King. He’s the overmatched tourist who keeps sitting down at the table as they all sneak smiles at each other. Welcome to the Chesterfield South again, Billy!

Sharp: Trade deadline Twitter is great. Everyone is equally clueless.


Goldsberry: Goran to Miami!

Trade: Phoenix sends Goran Dragic and Zoran Dragic to Miami for Danny Granger, Norris Cole, Shawne Williams, Jordan Hamilton, and two first-round picks




  1. Goran Dragic
  2. Dwyane Wade
  3. Luol Deng
  4. Chris Bosh
  5. Hassan Whiteside

Coach: Erik Spoelstra


  1. Kyrie Irving
  2. J.R. Smith
  3. LeBron
  4. Love
  5. Mozgov

Coach: David Blatt

Chau: My condolences to Toronto, or whoever ends up having to play this team.

Trade: Oklahoma City sends Reggie Jackson to Detroit and Kendrick Perkins, Grant Jerrett, and the rights to Tibor Pleiss to Utah, Utah sends Enes Kanter to Oklahoma City, Detroit sends Kyle Singler and D.J. Augustin to Oklahoma City, Utah sends Steve Novak to OKC. Utah receives a first-round and a second-round draft pick. OKC receives a second-round pick. 

Simmons: My “Pistons over 36 wins” bet loves this trade! I can’t decide if Reggie is overrated or underrated. He was fucking awesome in that season-saving Grizzlies game last spring when KD and Russ were melting down. Do you think he’s on his life raft staring back at Waiters Island and pumping his fist or crying tears of joy?

[Editor’s note: Reggie agrees.]

Concepcion: Billy King, surrounded by papers and charts, his shirt untucked, wandering his office in a daze, a phone in each hand.

Goldsberry: Kanter to OKC!

Fennessey: Kanter to OKC!

Chau: The Thunder just landed one of the most dominant players of his generation. Bow down.

Concepcion: Presti did Billy King like …

Simmons: How funny would it be if OKC gave Kanter the $60 million extension it never gave Harden? Sorry, I had to.

Ryan: This is apparently the control room at the Le Batard Show right now:

They are in Miami, btw.


Ryan: Oh holy shit.

Concepcion: I just blacked out. I don’t even know what’s happening. Also, the SUNS WERE LIKE FUCK THIS ISAIAH THOMAS NONSENSE ANYWAY?!?! WHAT?!?!

Chau: Pray for Zach Lowe.

Ryan: Thomas to Boston!?!?

Simmons: Bob Sarver just reenacted the christening scene in The Godfather. Steve Nash is about to get shot in the eyeglasses during a massage.

Ryan: I don’t know which players play for which basketball team anymore.

Concepcion: [Weeps uncontrollably.] This is for the best.

Ryan: Hinkie is John Wick?

Simmons: Woj and Steiny Mo are going head-to-head right now in The Challenge. We’re about to find out who is CT and who is Johnny Bananas.

Chau: OK, I’m hyperventilating. Let’s all calm down to (new Rocket) Pablo Prigioni stretching his legs to Tinashe’s “2 On.”

Concepcion: Remember when the consensus was that this was going to be a quiet trade deadline? Related: Nobody knows anything.

Sharp: I still can’t process what happened. MCW is a Buck now? Isaiah Thomas is on the Celtics? BUT WHY?


Simmons: Don’t sleep on Dork Elvis somehow swiping K.J. McDaniels from Sam Hinkie. That was a total “look, you fucking owe me and I am cashing in” trade. Daryl just cashed in his Money in the Bank suitcase with Sam.

Concepcion: Sam Hinkie just hit the NO2 button on his super-tank 500 muscle car. ​


Simmons: Zach just emailed me:

At this moment, my day-old baby is sleeping, Woj just tweeted “good lord,” and it’s unclear what team Isaiah Thomas plays for. Or I might just be hallucinating all this.

Sharp: If Zach was missing an NBA trade deadline, there was a 100 percent chance it was going to be one of the craziest deadlines ever. We should have warned people about this.

Ryan: Is it too late for Zach to change his baby’s name to Top Five Protected Lowe?

Simmons: I can’t tell you how excited I am for the Isaiah Thomas era. We don’t have any players that are good enough to be threatened by him. This is fantastic. We have Marcus Smart, Thomas, Avery Bradley and James Young locked up through 2018 at less than $22 mill a year. That will be like 3 percent of the actual salary cap! We just need two or three actual franchise players and we’re good to go! RED AUERBACH IS SMILING FROM HEAVEN!!!!!!!

Ryan: You guys remember when Arron Afflalo got traded?

Simmons: Forgot to mention: Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley grew up in Tacoma together. They’re best friends. You finally have teammates who like you, Isaiah Thomas!!!! Do you think he can be the first player to lead the league in points and assists since Tiny Archibald? I might be setting the bar too high.

Chau: John Salmons Deadline Trade: A Tradition Unlike Any Other.

Concepcion: Alexey Shved is a Knick! How did we do trade deadline day before Twitter? Does anyone remember? I feel like that happened once, but I can’t recall what that felt like. I have no face right now.

Simmons: Phoenix ends up with a second Kentucky guard (Knight), plus two Miami firsts and a bunch of Miami crap. Milwaukee ends up with two Syracuse guards (MCW and Ennis) plus the Poor Man’s Plumlee. Boston gets Tiny Archibald Thomas. Philly gets the Lakers pick unless it’s top five, a top-18 protected 2015 pick from Denver, a second-rounder from Houston, and Isaiah Canaan. OKC gets D.J. Augustin and two white guys. Detroit gets Reggie Jackson. Houston gets broke man’s Scottie Pippen and Pablo Prigioni’s dad. The Knicks get Alexey Shved and two more useless second-round picks. Miami gets the Dragic brothers and wins the Internet. And all of this happened in 10 minutes while Zach Lowe was sitting in an uncomfortable hospital chair trying to get wireless. Did I miss anything?

Crap, I forgot about Enes Kanter! Welcome to Waiters Island, Enes! Can I freeze you out from a cold beverage?

Sharp: I made fun of it at first, but isn’t adding Kanter a much smarter version of adding Lopez? Neither one changes things that much, but at least Kanter isn’t making $30 million over the next two years, and he won’t command a ton of touches in the playoffs. And he’s not Perk! OKC quietly got itself in much better shape this afternoon. Now it’s time to go pass out.

We are all Joel Embiid.

Goldsberry: Couldn’t agree more. Plus, remember how Derek Fisher played tons of minutes last year in crunch time? Now they have a legit bench, BTW WTF are the BUCKS DOING??


Chau: I’ve had an unhealthy, irrational grudge against the trade deadline, dating back to 2003, when Ray Allen and Gary Payton were traded in a deadline deal between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Seattle SuperSonics. I think I’m finally ready to call that off. Today, narrative arcs were completed, teams were blown up from the inside out, and the Nets got embarrassed on a sweet pump fake from the Thunder. This was a fever dream come to life, the logical extreme of the Trade Rumor Era that Bryan Curtis wrote beautifully about back in July. This was the greatest trade deadline ever.

Goldsberry: Here are my four quick questions coming out of this dizziness …

1. Does Goran Dragic make the Heat much better? I want to believe that unstoppable Dragic-Bosh pick-and-pops propel the Heat to the seventh seed while the Cavs find their way to the second seed. Please make this happen; the Eastern Conference owes it to all of us.

2. Does Oklahoma City have a much better bench now?

Remember last  year when the Thunder lost to the Spurs in part because guys like Derek Fisher were playing big minutes in big games? Remember when they had no bench? Yesterday’s maneuvers might have fixed that.

3. What the hell are the Bucks thinking?

Swapping this:


For this:

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4. Is Amar’e the sneaky big addition?

Dragic and Knight are probably the best players that switched teams, but Stoudemire looms as a guy who could have a huge moment or two come playoff time.

Concepcion: My favorite deal:

Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 4.19.23 PM

Sam Hinkie throwing double middle fingers at the world and going super tank. I think he was secretly threatened by how bad the Knicks are. MCW, K.J. McDaniels, and K.J. McDaniels’s mom are out. JaVale McGee and various draft picks are in. I like imagining Hinkie seeing K.J. sky for a dunk early in the season, then quietly deciding to trade him. Hinkie would sign a dude from ISIS as long as he came with draft picks. Then there’s the subplot of JaVale McGee, whose career is currently at “Make David Aldridge laugh hysterically” level. When Stu Jackson, the guy who destroyed basketball in Vancouver, clowns you, things have gone very wrong. I don’t even know who plays for the Sixers now.

Tangential Takeaways

  • The Warriors and the Hawks are looking at each other from the battlements of their respective castles, satisfied in what they have.
  • Zach Lowe sneaking into the bathroom and away from his newborn child and wife so he can tweet about deadline day.
  • Isaiah Thomas has gone from good player to low-key cancer faster than anyone ever. DeMarcus and Dragic don’t want to play with him; then the Suns trade him away even though Dragic is leaving, acquiring Brandon Knight, who is a looming restricted free agent.

Philadelphia 76ers V Minnesota TimberwolvesJesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

Simmons: What an astounding turn of events for Chris Bosh. Remember when we believed that Bosh willingly passed up four years of contending Rockets teams for an extra $30 million and two more months off a year in Miami? Now he’s playing with Dragic, Wade, Deng and an emerging 7-foot center who’s routinely throwing up 20-20s. That might be a better situation than Houston if Dwight Howard can’t get healthy! What the hell just happened? Chris Bosh is the new Keyser Soze.

Other winners: Goran Dragic’s agent; anyone named Sam; all black-sheep NBA brothers; Bianco’s Pizza for getting more John Calipari visits; Boston’s 8-seed chances; Philly for potentially making history with six top-11 picks in three years; Reggie Jackson for escaping Waiters Island; John Henson’s rebounding totals (more chances now with MCW shooting); K.J. McDaniels’s mom; Le Batard and Stugotz; LaMarcus Aldridge’s summer leverage; any white guy who likes to shoot open 3s and dreamed of living in OKC who can now live vicariously through Kyle Singler and Steve Novak; everyone in Minnesota; Enes Kanter’s mild 1997 Brian Williams potential; the Philly condo market for the Best Available College Star With a Torn ACL Or A Broken Bone Who Can’t Play Next Season; every feature about Avery Bradley and Isaiah Thomas being best friends who grew up together; the mere chance of Miami-Cleveland Round 1; all Phil Jackson jokes; Flip Saunders for turning a first-round pick into 50 games of Thad Young and KG’s retirement tour (but being unable to be fired because he’s his own boss); Skylar Grey YouTube royalties (Garnett AND Tayshaun!); anyone named Chukwudiebere, Tibor or Cenk; more Plumlee-vs.-Plumlee games; Brandon Knight’s agent; Billy King for halfheartedly making an anti-tanking trade for Thad Young only because he created a four-year Nets stretch that’s unequivocally untankable; and, of course, Wade, Riley, Spo and Arison because hot damn, that was a fantastic trade.

Filed Under: NBA, Goran Dragic, Kevin Garnett, Javale Mcgee, Aaron Afflalo, Reggie Jackson, Bill Simmons, Andrew Sharp, Jason Concepcion, Danny Chau, Kirk Goldsberry, Chris Ryan, Enes Kanter, Utah Jazz, Detroit Pistons, Oklahoma City Thunder, Miami Heat, Pat Riley, Phil Jackson, Philadelphia 76ers, Houston Rockets, Daryl Morey