The mammoth All-Star break is over, and it gave way to one of the more exciting trade deadline days in recent memory. Most notably, the Phoenix Suns moved Goran Dragic, and the Oklahoma City Thunder parted ways with Reggie Jackson. There were so other many moves, however, that your team probably did something, and it was probably confusing. Let’s talk about it. Elsewhere, Zach LaVine dismantles the Slam Dunk Competition, garnering Vinsanity comparisons along the way.
1. The Phoenix Suns trade Goran Dragic to Miami, and Reggie Jackson joins the Pistons: Yesterday in the NBA came in like a lamb and went out like a hurricane. Nobody expected the basketball inquisition which occurred. Basically, the NBA trade deadline went like Buck Swope buying donuts:
Deadspin did an excellent job of exploring all eleven of yesterday’s transactions in depth right here. Depending on your affiliation, arguably the two biggest trades of the day saw the Suns ship Goran (and Zoran) Dragic to Miami in a three-team deal, and the Thunder moving the mercurial sixth man Reggie Jackson to the Detroit Pistons in a separate three-team exchange (Other fun things included Kevin Garnett returning to Minnesota to ride into the sun, and the same happening for Tayshaun Prince and Detroit). For their troubles, the Suns netted some draft picks, and the Thunder added depth. Dragic had to get out of Phoenix, and the Suns added Brandon Knight while also moving Isaiah Thomas. Phoenix can’t handle only having one true point guard in its fold. The Thunder needs bench parts like Enes Kanter and Kyle Singler, and having capable players will prove to be huge down the stretch, particularly because it is a whole new world for Scott Brooks. The loss of Kendrick Perkins is all the more manageable when Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are playing with as much anger as they are now.
2. Sam Hinkie’s machinations continue to disrupt the very foundation of basketball as a sport: The Philadelphia 76ers have been in a long-term rebuilding plan since they exited the 2012 playoffs. General Manager Sam Hinkie has the kind of free reign typically reserved for dictators and Kanye West, and the latter might appreciate his deconstruction of roster assembly in the grand scheme of basketball. Hinkie traded probably his two best young players, Michael Carter-Williams and K.J. McDaniels, for an assortment of draft picks, making the Sixers’ theoretical arsenal akin to something out of a Cold War arms race film. The problem, however, is that “theoretical” word. Exactly how long is the Sixers’ rebuilding process supposed to take? It has been a year and a half already, and it must be said that roster flexibility is as important now as it ever has been, particularly with an expected salary cap increase coming when the new TV deal kicks in. Carter-Williams was last year’s Rookie of the Year, and even as dubious as that distinction was in light of last year’s subpar draft class, he is still a solid player. McDaniels, too, is a bright young talent, maybe better than MCW, and though he has a restricted free agency approaching, the Sixers are having trouble staying above the salary floor. Wasn’t one of these guys worth taking a chance and giving a medium- to long-term contract?
Cut to the Sixers winning the 2018 NBA Championship with players I haven’t even heard of yet. Sam Hinkie, you maniacal genius, you.
3. Zach LaVine destroys the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest in a Michael Jordan Toon Squad jersey: Going in, a lot of people, myself included, expected the 3-Point Contest to be the highlight of All-Star Weekend. That lineup was incredible, and unlike the Slam Dunk showcase, it is better at attracting the kind of players people want to see participate in it (Steph Curry won, beating out the likes of, among others, Kyle Korver and teammate Klay Thompson). This year’s Slam Dunk Contest surprised us all, and Zach LaVine was a big reason why:
We’ve seen Superman and Kryptonate, but dawning an homage to Space Jam might be the greatest theatrical move of them all. That LaVine’s dunk delivered was almost immaterial, but it does make it that much better. Afterward, many compared his performance to Vince Carter’s legendary 2000 Slam Dunk victory, which we all need to stop doing. Vinsanity was unique, perhaps even a zeitgeist for the league at the time, and we need to let LaVinesanity flourish in its own right. Take a bow, Zachary. We’re glad you didn’t get traded.