NBA trade deadline: Some are happy, others are Lakers
Li Xiang

The 2018-19 NBA regular season reached trade deadline on Thursday, leaving the league's 30 teams in different moods depending on their market actions. CGTN picked seven teams in three categories over what they've achieved from their transactions.

Teams that improved their franchise

Marc Gasol of the Memphis Grizzlies was traded to the Toronto Raptors on February 7, 2019. /VCG Photo

Marc Gasol of the Memphis Grizzlies was traded to the Toronto Raptors on February 7, 2019. /VCG Photo

The Toronto Raptors sent Jonas Valanciunas, Delon Wright, C.J. Miles and a 2024 second-round pick to the Memphis Grizzlies in exchange for Marc Gasol.

The team settled their biggest weakness: lack of big men. Though Valanciunas is finally recovering from injury and did well in rebounding and post-up offense in the paint, and matches Joel Embiid, Gasol could do all of that while offering something Valanciunas cannot: 3-pt and passing.

As the front-court commander of Memphis, Gasol can become the second orchestrator for Toronto with his screen-setting and passing. With his three-pointer shooting, Gasol could stretch out space for his teammates. With his arrival, the Raptors did not have to rely too much on speedy small-ball combination (Kawhi Leonard+Pascal Siakam+Serge Ibaka) on offense but have more options including height advantage.

Nikola Mirotic of the New Orleans Pelicans was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks on February 7, 2019. /VCG Photo

Nikola Mirotic of the New Orleans Pelicans was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks on February 7, 2019. /VCG Photo

The Milwaukee Bucks received Nikola Mirotic via a three-team trade that involved the New Orleans Pelicans and the Detroit Pistons.

Some saw Mirotic as an upgraded version of Ersan Ilyasova because he's a 2.08-meter power forward who has reliable 3-pt shooting skills and could move the ball in offense. Yet Mirotic is more than that. He is stronger than Ilyasova and thus can match most 4-position players in defense, better protect the rebounds and score via individual offense.

With Mirotic in the team, Milwaukee can have Giannis Antetokounmpo play as center when their game is on the line and chase for the win with the following five: Eric Bledsoe, Malcolm Brogdon, Khris Middleton, Mirotic and Antetokounmpo. This squad is not only faster than their first-lineup, but also has better space on the court.

Jonathon Simmons of the Orlando Magic was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers on February 7, 2019. /VCG Photo

Jonathon Simmons of the Orlando Magic was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers on February 7, 2019. /VCG Photo

The Philadelphia 76ers sent Markelle Fultz to the Orlando Magic in exchange for a protected first rounder (from the Oklahoma City Thunder), a second rounder and Jonathan Simmons.

Having acquired Tobias Harris in the six-player trade with the Los Angeles Clippers, Philadelphia did not have much space for further franchise adjustment but the team did their best. They would not wait for the 2018 No.1 overall pick Fultz to grow and replaced him with Simmons, a swingman who could defend 1-4 positions and score from the bench.

With one of the best first-lineups in the league, the 76ers focused on improving their backup players. Simmons was just the first move and more were expected to come as teams waived players that were not part of their future plan.

Teams that are eyeing the future

Luka Doncic #77 and Kristaps Porzingis #6 will become the franchise players of the Dallas Mavericks. /VCG Photo

Luka Doncic #77 and Kristaps Porzingis #6 will become the franchise players of the Dallas Mavericks. /VCG Photo

The Dallas Mavericks were in the best position after they got rid of four players from their first-lineup, Dennis Smith Jr., Wesley Matthews, Harris Barnes and DeAndre Jordan, leaving enough opportunities for Luka Doncic to grow as the team's leader while waiting for Kristaps Porzingis to return from injury. Moreover, Dallas also had enough money to find quality help for the two young stars.

The New York Knicks had a simple goal: to try to make room on their payrolls so they will have enough space to offer big contracts on the free-agent market in 2019 summer. If Smith Jr. began to cash in on his talents and New York managed to get the top 3 picks for the 2019 NBA Draft, they can make themselves more attractive to Kyrie Irving or Kevin Durant.

The Los Angeles Clippers achieved the most in the deals they made. First they received young men like Landry Shamet and Ivica Zubac who are still in rookie contracts and thus will not have an impact on the team's future plan. Second, they built up enough cap space to recruit one super star. Third, the Clippers collected multiple future picks and short contracts that will come due in 2020 summer.

Lakers may be the biggest loser

LeBron James will need to carry the Los Angeles Lakers on his own, at least for this season. /VCG Photo

LeBron James will need to carry the Los Angeles Lakers on his own, at least for this season. /VCG Photo

Since Anthony Davis asked the New Orleans Pelicans to trade him, the Los Angeles Lakers put themselves under the spotlight but gained nothing except humiliation. By putting all their young men on the table to trade for Davis, the purple and gold succeeded in hurting players' feelings and making the locker room too worried to concentrate on the game. Meanwhile, sending Zubac, a promising young center, and Michael Beasley, a one-year contract, to the Clippers for Mike Muscala was also a confusing move for people to understand.

From now on till 2019 summer, the only puzzle with the Lakers is perhaps whether they will sign Carmelo Anthony, which won't matter anyway.