Sports Take: Winners win big in NBA’s trade deadlines

Dallas Mavericks' Kyrie Irving (2) advances the ball up court as Minnesota Timberwolves forward Jaden McDaniels (3) defends in the second half of an NBA basketball game on Monday in Dallas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

By Gio Gennero | Sports Writer

Last Thursday marked the trade deadline in the NBA, and chaos ensued. Here’s what some of us at the Baylor Lariat thought about the moves made around the league.

Gio Gennero | Sports Writer

The Kyrie Irving trade surprised me the most. Prior to this season, I would’ve put money on Irving not finishing the season on the Brooklyn Nets. Then the team actually started clicking and winning, which resulted in Irving even being named an All-Star starter this year. Out of nowhere, Irving wants to be traded and is gone before the next game. It’ll be interesting to see how he and new co-star Luka Doncic flow together on the Dallas Mavericks, considering both of them are most effective with the ball in their hands.

Irving being traded made it no surprise to me that Kevin Durant also got traded. Durant being traded to the Phoenix Suns is easily going to have the biggest impact on the league. The Suns managed to get a top three player in the league and still kept the same big three that got them to a finals in Chris Paul, Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton. If those four can stay healthy, they’re an obvious favorite to win it all.

Foster Nicholas | Sports Writer

It seems like every year the trade deadline gets better and better, but I can’t see anything ever topping the 2023 version of it. Durant is by far the biggest name ever traded at the deadline and with other sneaky good moves, and the Western Conference is in for a major boost.

While the Golden State Warriors, Denver Nuggets and Memphis Grizzlies all decided to upgrade their depth, the Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, Mavericks and of course Suns, all made moves that will change up their starting rotations. The winners of the deadline are clearly the Suns and Clippers. Durant instantly puts Phoenix back into contention, and I anticipate a much better shooting team than has been shown early on.

The Clippers on the other hand gave up nearly nothing to acquire instant impact players Bones Hyland, Eric Gordon and Mason Plumlee. Now, none of these players are big names, but if Los Angeles wants to have success come the postseason, it’ll need reliable players outside of its stars. By acquiring depth for a smart team, it may be a sneaky good deadline for it.

On the other hand, I have to give the worst deadline to teams like the Boston Celtics, Grizzlies and Milwaukee Bucks, all of which didn’t make any big scale moves that will help a postseason push. These teams are trying to make a push for a big run come summer, but by not getting better, they will be in for a big shock when they see the conference reorganized after a big deadline. Nonetheless, this deadline was historic and will be having a huge impact on the rest of the season to come.

Pierson Luscy | LTVN Reporter/Anchor

The two biggest impacts of the trade deadline were going to be wherever Irving and Durant ended up playing for the rest of the 2023 season. Those two teams happened to be the Mavericks and the Suns, respectively.

Dallas is the big winner at the trade deadline because it upgraded after being a top-four seed in the West with most of its previous personnel. Irving has already shown off why the Mavericks will be willing to bet their future on one person. It relieves the pressure on Doncic and allows the squad to spread out its offense when he is not on the floor.

The biggest loser at the trade deadline is hands down the Nets. After a rough start to the season, the team put its emotions to the side and at one point were the second seed in the East. But the second that Irving requested a trade, the team dynamic fell apart. Now, Brooklyn is stuck with Ben Simmons’ massive contract and the bruised ego of a failed super team experiment that was years in the making.

The most interesting front-office decision at the trade deadline had to come from the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavaliers were one of two teams that failed to make a trade at the mid-season deadline. As of Feb. 14, the Cavaliers sit at the fourth seed in the East and are 16 games over 0.500. They are a very talented group, but the team has concluded that the core they currently have is enough to push past the top-heavy conference enough in order to make it to the NBA finals. Led by Darius Garland and Donovan Mitchell, this group must think that the pieces are already there to win a championship.

Michael Haag | Sports Editor

Durant being traded to the Suns was the clear headliner of the trade deadline. Phoenix immediately became the favorite to make it to the NBA Finals after adding one of the best players in the entire league. Durant gives this team another lethal scoring punch and it puts him in the best situation since his days with the Warriors.

Durant isn’t built to be a leader. When the former University of Texas Longhorn was the No. 2 option with the Warriors, he thrived and won back-to-back Finals MVP awards. He has said it himself: He just wants to go out there and hoop. With Paul running the offense and leading the Suns as the veteran, Durant is going to thrive. Opposing defenses aren’t going to be able to match up with the firepower that Phoenix can dish out on to the court.

Irving to the Mavericks was the most interesting trade to me. He seemed pretty set on wanting to play alongside LeBron James and the rest of the Lakers, but the Nets shipped Irving off to Dallas. Irving now gets to play as the No. 2 option to Doncic, a superstar forward, and this situation could be similar to how Durant is with the Suns. Irving was incredible as the No. 2 with James during their time with the Cavaliers, so the fact that Irving now has Doncic leads me to believe that it could definitely work out well in Dallas.

There are not many athletes in the NBA that can score quite like Irving and Doncic. Those two will be a frightening sight for opposing defenses, and I wouldn’t be surprised if those two can make a deep playoff run, barring injuries or other interruptions.

In my opinion, the Suns had the best trade in acquiring Durant, while the Nets had the worst trade deadline experience. I don’t understand why the Nets didn’t just trade Irving to the Lakers since the return would have been more catered to the future anyway. The haul that Brooklyn got from the Mavericks was nice, but some of those players are actually good and won’t help the team embrace a rebuild that it’s clearly headed toward.