Please for the love of God stop reading this. The 2024 deadline has absolutely no pulse. Do not confuse volume of trades made with value. I repeat. Do not confuse volume of trades made with value. This is the Al Capone’s vault of trade deadlines. Instead of Woj Bombs, Adrian Wojnarowski is dropping trade pellets into the Twitter-sphere. Shams Charania is feeding the masses grains instead of the usual pre-trade deadline beef. NBA GMs need to tip their waiters and information brokers better this trade deadline season
The trade deadline used to be a gravity-altering day rife with fireworks, tense negotiations coming down to the wire and five-star basketball cuisine. Twenty years ago, the Atlanta Hawks executed a trade package that sent Rasheed Wallace to Detroit in a deadline day deal that altered the course of NBA history. Hell, a year ago Kevin Durant had the NBA world on pins and needles until a midnight train from Phoenix whisked him out of the Brooklyn Nets tumult.
A year later, the spiciest name being tossed around in trade deadline slop is Atlanta Hawks guard Dejounte Murray. His name was tossed around like wagyu beef on a hibachi chef’s table. However, the Lakers have put a pin on that order since D’Angelo Russell started cookin’ at the beginning of January and he’s since been thrust back into the starting lineup. Typically, LeGM James and Rob Pelinka are furiously performing a reconstruction on the fly. Not this year.
What happened to our great deadline? There’s no greater sign of the health of the NBA than the trade deadline. It’s a reset period for franchises looking for new hope, tanking teams to drop anchor and an opportunity for contenders to boost their rosters. However, there’s no one to tank for this summer in what may be a historically weak draft, and parity, in addition to Miami’s Finals berth, has made the top eight teams in each conference cling to slim odds of a playoff breakthrough.
Additionally, the the most significant deals have already been closed. James Harden was ejected well ahead of schedule back in September. The Raptors grew tired of playing games with Pascal Siakam and sent him to Indiana in January. The Knicks acquisition of OG Anunoby occurred at the end of December when the Knicks volunteered RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley. Terry Rozier was shipped to Miami two weeks ago.
A meniscus injury to Joel Embiid may have also scuttled Daryl Morey’s deadline appetite and Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine’s season-ending surgery put the same kibosh on his flight to a playoff team. This trade deadline has observers fiendin’, but NBA execs are leaving information brokers empty plates because there’s nothing in the supply chain.
Denver is sitting pretty and standing packed as defending champions. Morey is showing no urgency. The Warriors are sellers for the first time in years at the deadline. Chris Paul and a comatose Andrew Wiggins aren’t piquing anyone’s interest. Wiggins is only interested when it’s a contract year and Paul is too expensive for a contender over the apron to bring into the fold. Klay Thomspon has too much sentimental value to believe he’ll be pawned off at the deadline.
You’d think LaVine’s teammate DeMar DeRozan would demand a nice haul in exchange for his expiring contract, and yet according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst on this week’s hoop collective podcast, “There is not an expectation that DeRozan is gonna get traded.”
DeRozan not being on the move is disappointing. He’s the type of addition that could give a contender a ‘Sheed in 2004-type lift. The Philadelphia 76ers, for example, should be smacking some sense into Chicago brass to give up DeRozan before he dips in free agency. DeRozan’s clearly dwindling, so it’s inexplicable that neither he nor Chicago have realized that the trade deadline should be his last stop with the Bulls. The Knicks are heading back to Toronto for talks for another defensive stopper in Bruce Brown, but that’s not going to raise anyone’s blood pressure outside the five buroughs.
This is the time of year where the investment in Woj and Shams pays off, but this trade deadline is looking like more of a bust than Ben Simmons. If you’re a GM who’d like to donate earth shattering NBA scuttlebutt, reach out to Shams, Woj, Chris Haynes or yours truly, please do so in the next 24 hours. There’s no talent over-30 who can shift the headwinds of this season.
The most intriguing 30-plus hoophead to watch will be Indiana guard Buddy Hield. The Pacers sharpshooter is the active leader in games played without a playoff appearance and was granted a window to explore trades before the season began. Since then, his role has diminished and now that Indiana is finally on the precipice of a postseason, Hield could be traded to Philadelphia —who likely lost Joel Embiid for the postseason and is careening towards the play-in. If so, it would be the second time he exited a team right before they scraped themselves off the lottery floor.
Pray for Buddy Hield and for your favorite NBA information broker.
Follow DJ Dunson on X: @cerebralsportex