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3 Must-Watch Narratives After the NBA Trade Deadline

Some stuff went down at the deadline. Some stuff did *not* go down

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February 9, 2019

So, there was a trade deadline yesterday—if you were in the continental United States, you probably heard LaVar Ball shouting about it somewhere off in the distance. While the most anticipated trade—the Lakers' hypothetical deal for Anthony Davis—didn't end up happening, plenty of power shifted yesterday. The landscape has changed, and by God did people have takes about that. Landscape, we hardly knew ye!

 

We have takes too! On that note, here are the three most major storylines for the rest of the 2019's NBA season, which will set the stage for quite possibly the most insane offseason ever.

The East is Everything

A couple of the top teams in the East got busy. The Bucks got Nikola Mirotic, a versatile shooter and playmaker to add further depth to an already low-key-intriguing bench. Marc Gasol appeared headed to Charlotte until—plot twist—the Raptors dealt for him, upgrading a key position and possibly dusting off the version of Marc Gasol that just wrecks shit. Tobias Harris is a Sixer, a jaw-dropping move that gives the Sixers the best starting five outside of Oakland.

 

As these three teams double-downed on Finals campaigns, the East semifinals just became the most intriguing round in the entire postseason. Philly, Boston, Toronto and Milwaukee all have a real shot at playing for a championship—Nate Silver wrote that the Bucks’ chances doubled by adding Mirotic. For whoever gets dispatched, the fall-out could be landscape-altering; if Boston loses, is Kyrie out the door? Ditto for Kawhi? If the Bucks aren’t in the Finals, do they pay Khris Middleton and keep their core together? Will the Sixers actually pay to keep their Big Four together?

 

All of the sudden the East is everything, to the extent that fans are actively wishing the playoffs be conceded and a non-Warriors-including bracket be filled. If only.

 

-Corban Goble

Where Do We Go From Here, the Words Are Coming Out All Weird

Honestly, this is sort of comical. Despite LeBron’s willingness to risking it all for AD, and AD publicly demanding a trade that inferred collusion, nothing happened. So now, LeBron has to play out the season with teammates who know that LeBron wanted to trade them in exchange for Anthony Davis who has to play the rest of the season with teammates that know he wants to leave. (I love it!)

 

So where do we go from here? After a slight edge in the 2019 Cold War with Klutch Sports, Dell Demps has now allowed the Celtics back into the AD sweepstakes. Historically, when teams trade All-NBA caliber players, they never receive a compensatory return. They may net a fringe/over-the-hill All-Star plus a mix of expiring contracts + first rounders, but very rarely do they ever draw a package of the same value of the stud.

 

Among all the tensions at play, look for Demps to haul the largest return for a player in modern NBA history. It’s the perfect storm. Two bullish franchises, stacked with assets—the Lakers, pressured to capitalize during LeBron’s gradually closing window; and the Celtics, who have been building towards a free agent crescendo since Bron was on the Heat.

 

-Jacob Forchheimer

The Ballad of Markelle Fultz

Despite all that's happened—including a shocking "what's best for everyone" trade to Orlando 20 months after getting selected #1 overall—Fultz is going to be good.

 

While it's absolutely a bummer that the Sixers broke Process protocol to trade up and nab him in the draft, Fultz needed the change in environment. Philly—who are actively trying to capitalize on a contention window while Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid and Jimmy Butler are on the same roster—was no longer tenable for a player looking to rebuild his career. It's made for a modern saga, one that involved a seemingly-worldwide tour of doctor's offices. But now he's in Orlando, and the pressure is off. If he ends up playing well (or playing at all) during the second half, it has a chance to be one of the coolest stories in the NBA. We're rooting for him.

 

-Corban Goble

 

Read more: Shooters Shoot: How Joe Harris Made Himself Indispensable

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