Trade deadline day in the NBA gave some players an entirely new outlook, and may have even reshaped the start of the playoff push as well.
NEW YORK — Bojan Bogdanovic left Detroit to join a now even-more-formidable contender in New York. Gordon Hayward is leaving Charlotte for one of the league’s best surprise stories this season in Oklahoma City. Doug McDermott was once traded by Indiana to San Antonio, and now, the Spurs have traded him back to the Pacers.
None of those shooters were making playoff plans when Thursday started.
Trade deadline day in the NBA gave them and plenty of other players an entirely new outlook, plus may have even reshaped the start of the playoff push as well.
The Knicks made some big moves with eyes on contending in the Eastern Conference, Philadelphia added a sharpshooter in Buddy Hield with hopes that it can get back on track when — or if — reigning MVP Joel Embiid returns from injury, while Phoenix and Dallas added frontcourt depth. The Suns landed Royce O’Neale from Brooklyn and the Mavericks are bringing in P.J. Washington from Charlotte.
“Lots of people got better!!! That’s fun for competition…” Embiid wrote on social media.
Bogdanovic was averaging 20.2 points this season with the Pistons, who have the NBA’s worst record so far at 7-43. He and Alec Burks are headed to the Knicks, a team that entered Thursday a game out of the No. 2 spot in the East and managed to add without really subtracting — the price was Quentin Grimes, Evan Fournier and Ryan Arcidiacono.
Grimes began the year as a starter, then played off the bench. Fournier only appeared in three games and Arcidiacono made 20 appearances — without scoring a single point in any of them.
Hayward joins a Thunder team that started Thursday as the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference. They’re 35-16, entering the day with tiebreaker edges over two other teams — Minnesota and Denver — with the same record and a half-game up on the Los Angeles Clippers at 34-16.
Hield left Indiana in a trade to the 76ers, and the Pacers seemed to try and replace his shooting by bringing back McDermott in a move with San Antonio. McDermott spent three seasons, 2018 through 2021, with Indiana, so the trade was a homecoming of sorts.
Another homecoming: Kelly Olynyk is headed back to his native Canada, the veteran forward getting acquired by Toronto in a deal with Utah.
Milwaukee made a couple of notable moves, one by landing Patrick Beverley from the 76ers and pairing him with Bucks guard Damian Lillard; those two exchanged some heated words during last season’s playoffs. The Bucks then sent center Robin Lopez to Sacramento; it is expected that Lopez will be waived by the Kings.
“I enjoyed being teammates with Patrick Beverley for all of an hour and 45 minutes I’ll never forget those times,” Lopez wrote on X, the social media site formerly known as Twitter.
Meanwhile, Dejounte Murray — maybe one of the most talked-about players over the past few weeks of trade speculation — remained in Atlanta, and plenty of other teams stood pat on Thursday. Defending NBA champion Denver didn’t make a move on deadline day, nor did reigning East champion Miami, though the Heat did their trade-season work a couple weeks ago by bringing in Terry Rozier from Charlotte for Kyle Lowry.
LeBron James’ Los Angeles Lakers didn’t make any trade-deadline deals, nor did a Golden State team that entered the season with championship hopes and finds itself in a dogfight at the bottom of the West playoff picture.
Another team that didn’t make a trade: Cleveland, which has won 15 of its last 16 games to move to No. 2 in the East.
“Sometimes you don’t want to mess up a good thing,” Koby Altman, the Cavs’ president of basketball operations, said on a conference call shortly after the deadline passed. “So, we’re going to roll with what we have.”
Adding to the challenge of deadline day is this: Only five teams entered Thursday more than four games out of the final play-in tournament spots in the East and West. That means that 25 of the NBA’s 30 clubs either can reasonably believe they’re headed to the playoffs, or still can realistically say they have a shot.
“I can only focus on us,” Altman said. “The bulk of our work was done in the offseason. We will certainly monitor the buyout market. Is there a depth piece in there to help? It has to be a character fit as well.”
The Lakers and Warriors — and plenty of other teams — will now likely be active in the buyout market. Lowry would be in high demand if he accepts a buyout from Charlotte, and Spencer Dinwiddie will be on the market as well. He was traded from Brooklyn to Toronto on Thursday for Dennis Schröder and Thaddeus Young, and the Raptors waived him immediately.