#IMHO: Trade Deadline Special

Grind City Media’s Lang Whitaker and Michael Wallace have been covering the NBA since shorts were short and socks were long, but their opinions about the League don’t always mesh. #IMHO is their weekly chance to weigh in on the most pertinent news from around the NBA. What’s lit? What’s lame? Find out each week right here.

 

From: Lang Whitaker

Date: Thursday, February 6, 2020 at 2:36 PM

To: Michael Wallace

Subject: IMHO

So the trade deadline has come and gone, and staying close to home, the Grizz have reportedly (as of now) made some moves. We sent Solomon Hill and Jae Crowder, as well as the rights to Andre Iguodala, to Miami, and we get back Justise Winslow and Dion Waiters, as well as Gorgui Dieng from Minnesota. We have also sent Bruno Caboclo to Houston and received Jordan Bell in return.

From a basketball perspective it’s clear that the Grizz are still getting younger while adding talent, as well as finding some contractual flexibility. But at the same time, the Grizzlies have undeniably altered the locker room chemistry that has worked so well for them for the last few months in trading Hill and Crowder.

What’s your takeaway from the trade deadline moves?

 


From: Michael Wallace

Sent: Thursday, February 6, 2020 at 3:07 PM

To: Lang Whitaker

Subject: Re: IMHO

As I mentioned before the deal with Miami was reported, I felt both the Grizzlies and Heat would take on some discomfort in the transaction, but would largely feel like the deal was a win-win for both sides. The Grizzlies clearly see the prize as Winslow, who fits the age, playing style and mentality of the other members of the Grizz young core in Ja Morant, Dillon Brooks, Jaren Jackson Jr., Brandon Clarke and De’Anthony Melton.

But this only works, long-term, if Winslow can get healthy. He’s dealing with a back issue that will require more rehab and conditioning in his initial weeks in Memphis. The Grizz are taking a big-picture view in terms of the potential upside. There’s a high level of belief that this was worth the investment that also required the Grizz to take on the Waiters’ contract. Does this immediately make the Grizzlies better today? I’m not so sure. They were moving along just fine, having won 13 of their last 16 entering the deadline. But could it make them a better team next year as they continue to grow? Absolutely.

Memphis also reportedly picked up a veteran big in Dieng who can rebound, defend and knock down perimeter shots. They needed some insurance in the post behind Jackson, Jonas Valanciunas and Brandon Clarke. Like most everything in the NBA this time of the year, it’s a wait-and-see approach. We won’t know the impact of this move until weeks, or maybe even months, down the road.

Lang, let’s keep it in Memphis. I think the best piece of business the Grizzlies got done during what was otherwise trade deadline season was the move to lock up Dillon Brooks on a three-year extension at a reported $35 million. Few saw this coming, but it was the right move for both sides. I think Dillon has earned the right to a solid payday and he clearly wanted to stay in Memphis. Meanwhile, the Grizzlies get a key scorer, quality defender and key three-point shooter on a very reasonable salary for the next three years. How important in the grand scheme was getting this Brooks deal done right now, all things considered?

 

Justise Winslow on the sideline

From: Lang Whitaker

Date: Thursday, February 6, 2020 at 3:26 PM

To: Michael Wallace

Subject: Re: IMHO

I can’t tell you how many people have texted me over the last three weeks with essentially the same question: Is Dillon good?

Which isn’t to say he wasn’t good previously. But I think coming into this season, and considering how Dillon missed almost all of last season with that weird toe injury, Dillon was essentially seen mainly as a wing defensive specialist, and any offense he was able to provide was a luxury. But he showed up this season a much improved shooter, and has developed a few shots that are go-tos for him: that little step-back on the wing; the drive across the paint into a pull-up jumper. He’s still a bulldog defensively, but now we are expecting his offense each night instead of it being a luxury we stumble upon once every few weeks.

There’s a reason the Grizzlies are 17-1 this season in games where Dillon scores at least 20 points. That’s a fun fact, sure, but it draws a clear line, as well: When Dillon is successful on offense, the Grizzlies win. Actually, you could argue he’s been their most consistent offensive player this season, and I’m not even sure an argument would need to be had.

So yeah, Dillion is good, and considering how much work he put in to become the player he is right now, it’s not far-fetched to consider that he’s going to continue to get better. The Grizzlies signed him to a three-year deal that provides him with financial security, while the Grizz get a young guy at a position of need at a very competitive price. I think it’s a win for all involved.

Let’s zoom out a bit for your final email back: Other than Miami and the Clippers, most of the contenders stood pat at the deadline. Which team do you think needs to be the most active in the buyout market in order to secure their chance at a title?

 

Dillon Brooks looking on

From: Michael Wallace

Sent: Thursday, February 6, 2020 at 3:38 PM

To: Lang Whitaker

Subject: Re: IMHO

In the West, it’s the Lakers. There were in on a few deals to bolster their depth, but ultimately resisted the urge to move on from a young player like Kyle Kuzma at the trade deadline. Now, the Lakers must find a way to take advantage in the buyout market to get another point guard and possibly a wing defender/shooter. They will be the first choice for a lot of guys who are released in the coming days and weeks. I also think Houston and Denver need to do something to help their respective causes, because they took some hits from recent injuries and shook things up as well.

In the East, the Sixers need to figure out their chemistry and consistency issues. They were one of the better home teams in the league, but have even taking a few knocks recently on their own court. There are problems both on the court and, apparently, in the locker room. This team is all in right now with this roster and it just doesn’t seem to always click around Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. Philly seems to be one more piece away from getting themselves in a better spot to pose a serious threat to make it out of the East. Getting a quality addition in the buyout market would go a long way.

Lang, let’s get out of here on this: the trade deadline always generates plenty of drama and buzz, but honestly, to me, the results were largely underwhelming. The biggest players reportedly moved are D’Angelo Russell (Minnesota), Andrew Wiggins (Golden State) and Andre Drummond (Cleveland). And all three went to teams that are significantly out of the playoff picture. So, in your mind, did anyone actual “win” the trade deadline?

 

Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons

From: Lang Whitaker

Date: Thursday, February 6, 2020 at 4:23 PM

To: Michael Wallace

Subject: Re: IMHO

I guess Miami won it? They added three veteran guys who can come in right away and play now, including a former Finals MVP. And all three guys would seem to fit that Heat culture, also—smart players who understand team defense and offense. I’m not sure it gives them enough offensively to get past a Boston or Philly, but it makes them a better team than they were before today.

Memphis did pretty well, also, although a lot of that grade is predicated on Justise Winslow and how he turns out. The Minnesota/Golden State deal to me feels like an even swap, and while I know Minnesota was in something of a tailspin this season, I don’t think Wiggins was the culprit. I like the Clippers reportedly adding Marcus Morris, who has shot the lights out this season. And I have no idea what Houston is doing, loading up to play small ball the rest of the way.

I don’t get why so many the other top teams (Philly, Boston, Milwaukee, the Lakers) didn’t do anything, even around the periphery, to address their issues. Philly really thinks they can win a title with three centers in the starting lineup? Bless ‘em.

But let’s be fair, all of this is snap judgements, when we won’t know for weeks or months how well any of these moves actually fit. Last year Toronto went all in at the deadline, and it worked out pretty well for them. Will Miami be this year’s Toronto?