Many expected this year’s NBA trade deadline to come and go quietly, but nothing could have been further from the truth. Betting has become a big part of the fan experience in recent years, and the trade deadline changes have turned the championship odds upside down. Many top sportsbooks offer promotions to new clients, giving them a chance to wager on their favorite teams without a significant investment. With the NBA’s landscape changing and new favorites moving up the ranks, the second half of the season promises to be exciting, and fans are going to want to get in on the action.
The first sign that something big was happening was when Kyrie Irving requested a trade from the Brooklyn Nets. His relationship with the team had been rocky, but most expected him to stay put until at least the end of the season. However, that wasn’t to be. Irving was quickly traded to Dallas, where he joined Luka Doncic, creating a formidable duo in the West. While the league was shocked by the sudden news, nobody expected the Phoenix Suns to pull off a last-minute deal to land Kevin Durant, a generational talent many consider among the top five players in the NBA.
A lot has happened in the past week. With all that in mind, we’ve compiled this list of the biggest winners and losers of the NBA trade deadline.
Winner: Phoenix Suns
The Suns are hands down the winner of this year’s trade deadline. The Durant trade immediately changed the championship odds, with Phoenix becoming a favorite overnight. Fans on social media have not stopped talking about the trade, with many predicting Phoenix will win their first championship after a 50 plus year drought.
The Suns didn’t get Durant for free. They had to give up unprotected first-round draft picks in 2023, 2025, 2027, and 2029, plus swap rights for a 2028 first-rounder to pull off the deal. That’s not all; they also sent Mikal Bridges, James Crowder, and Cam Johnson to Brooklyn as part of the package.
Still, the Suns got to hold on to Devin Booker, Chris Paul, and Deandre Ayton, the players that make up the core of the team. With the addition of Durant, the Suns have become a super club. Having two of the league’s best shooters, Durant and Booker, on the same team will make the Suns almost impossible to stop. It’s going to be exciting to watch this unfold.
Loser: Brooklyn’s Championship Closes
It’s hard to imagine that only a couple of years ago, Durant, Irving, and James Harden played on the same team. Many believed a dynasty was underway when Durant left the Golden State Warriors in 2019 to form a super team in Brooklyn. However, it wasn’t meant to be. The three superstars only played 16 games together, never living up to the hype.
Experts and fans have debated why a team that was supposed to waltz to the finals crashed and burned so badly. It was a combination of ego, injuries, and the weight of expectations.
The Nets held onto Durant as long as they could, convincing him to stay after he demanded a trade from the team last summer. It appeared the relationship was on the mend, with Durant putting up MVP numbers until he got hurt, with Irving keeping the team afloat his injury.
Things fell apart just over a week ago when the Nets failed to reach a deal to extend Irving’s contract and he asked to be traded. The writing was on the wall; Durant didn’t have a reason to continue in Brooklyn without Irving.
So, the Nets’ owner did what he had to do and traded the heart and soul of the team. He was able to regain some of the draft capital he lost to construct the super team. The Nets are now back in rebuilding mode.
Winner: Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers are an example of what can go wrong when a team tries to win a championship by building a super team. With four veteran hall of famers, one would have expected The Lakers to at least make the play-in tournament in 2022, but it didn’t happen, disappointing fans who were used to cheering for the winning team.
The Lakers have continued to struggle during the current season, so it’s not surprising they decided to make some moves before the trade deadline. When their attempt to acquire Iriving fell through, they traded Russell Westbrook and added a few solid players, including Jarred Vanderbilt, D’Angelo Russell, and Malik Beasley.
Given how strong the Western Conference is, nobody thinks this is enough to transform the Lakers into a championship-contending team. However, it does make them better, and they only had to give up one of their future first-round draft picks in the process. If Anthony Davis stays healthy, the Lakers should be able to move up a few seeds and make a run in the playoffs.
Ja Morant has not been able to live down the “Nah. I’m fine in the West” statement he made during an interview with ESPN in December 2022 when talking about the Grizzlies’ chances of making it to the finals.
After the Suns’ acquisition of Durant, the Mavericks trading for Irving, and the Lakers strengthening their lineup, Morant may be getting a little nervous. Memphis added Luke Kennard before the trade deadline, and while he’ll help shore up some of the team’s shooting issues, acquiring him was not a game-changer.
The Grizzlies have already been struggling lately, and with a stronger Western Conference their slide will likely continue.
Winner: Milwaukee Buck
The Bucks have had a strong season, sitting at number two in the Eastern Conference and playing great basketball. Nobody would debate that Giannis Antetokounmpo and company were already contenders; however, they were looking for that missing piece that would put them over the top.
The team had been hoping to pick up Jae Crowder for some time, and the pieces finally came together when the Suns sent him to Brooklyn as part of the trade package to acquire Durant. With Crowder on their team, they have a veteran 3-and-D wing on their side.