A late trade deadline review: the Dragic trade

Posted: 02/22/2015 by levcohen in Basketball

I was originally going to post a reaction to the trade deadline on Thursday. But that was before the deadline was as hectic as it’s ever been, which is even more surprising given that most people thought it would be a quiet deadline. In total, about 8% of the league (39 NBA players) changed teams on Thursday, including a huge number of starting-caliber point guards. Now that we are a few days removed from the bedlam, it’s a good time to give a more rational opinion on the biggest trades of the day. For the sake of time (and my fingers), I’m going to skip over some of the smaller trades, but I’ll recap all of the big ones, starting today with the trade that saw the best player dealt move from Phoenix to Miami:

Phoenix trades: Goran and Zoran Dragic (no joke)
Miami trades: top-seven protected 2017 first round pick, 2021 first round pick

A few things right off the bat here: first of all, how crazy is it that we’re talking about 2021 picks getting moved? Goran Dragic (and presumably Zoran) might not even be in the NBA at that point, Pat Riley may well be retired, and who knows how many coaching changes the Lakers will have made. Oh, and the players who will be at the top of that 2021 draft are likely now in seventh grade. But at the same time, that’s what makes these picks under valued, especially by fans. Teams target these far-in-advance picks for two main reasons: firstly, win-now teams won’t care about them as much as they care about their upcoming picks. Secondly, there’s much more of a chance that Miami will be really bad in 2021 than in 2016, which makes the pick more likely to be in the lottery.

This trade also has been kind of overshadowed by Chris Bosh’s season-ending injury, a blood clot in his chest. Clots can be life-threatening, and while it looks as if Bosh will make a full recovery, it’s certainly a serious situation. Looking at it from a basketball standpoint, the injury probably eliminates any chance the Heat might have had at making a run in the playoffs.

With all that being said, it’s time to look at the actual trade. This was not one of the more surprising deals of the day, since Dragic had forced the Suns’ hands in the days leading up to the deadline by saying he didn’t trust Phoenix’s front office anymore and wouldn’t re-sign with them after the season under any circumstances. He also said that the three places he wanted to go were LA, New York, or Miami. That really limited Phoenix’s trade market, since no other team would have given up much to get a guy they thought was likely to leave after the season. That’s why I think the Suns did very well in this trade. Two first round picks might not seem like enough for a guy who was a third team All-NBA player last year, but the Suns were operating under very tough circumstances, and I was actually surprised that they got two picks that have a chance at being in the lottery.

Meanwhile, I think the Heat did fine, but I wouldn’t call them huge winners. It’s not that I don’t like Goran Dragic or that the Heat will now be wasting a roster spot on Zoran Dragic simply because he’s Goran’s brother. The issue is that now the Heat are going to give Dragic a max contract, which basically locks in the core of Dragic, Dwyane Wade, Luol Deng, Bosh, and scrub-turned-Hakeem-Olajuwon Hassan Whiteside. Assuming Whiteside is at least somewhat legit, that lineup looks pretty good, but Deng, Wade, and Bosh are all on the decline, and Dragic is approaching 30, which means that the window won’t be open for very long. Next year might be the best chance for this Heat team to be a real threat. I still think it was a risk worth taking for Miami; whenever you can get a guy like Goran Dragic at a depressed price, you’d better get him. But it will really sting if the Heat stink in the 2020-21 season.

Final trade grades:
Phoenix: A-
Miami: B+

I won’t spend a whole post on each trade, but I figured I would with this one since it was probably the biggest of the day.

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