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The best moves of the NBA trade deadline

The Spurs were not the only one who didn’t make big trades but some teams shook things up and improved and others made surprising moves at the deadline.

NBA: Detroit Pistons at Utah Jazz Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

Do you agree with the Spurs’ decision to not make a big move at the deadline?

Marilyn Dubinski: I do. This is a lost season in terms of postseason hopes, and there was not a move to be made or a player available that would speed up the rebuild without costing the Spurs an arm and a leg. That being said, the trade they did make made me more sad than anything, just because I like Doug McDermott, and it was for virtually nothing (Marcus Morris, who will be waived, and a distant second round pick). Maybe they were doing him a favor by sending him to a playoff team, but I won’t be able to say I liked that trade unless/until they do something productive with the presumably open roster spot, be it signing a decent player off the waivers or giving it to Dominick Barlow. (On the upside, they may not have to use their injured player exception on Charles Bassey.)

Mark Barrington: Yeah, the Spurs are playing the long game, so adding a veteran to help them play better this season makes no sense, since the team is on track for a high draft pick this summer. I’m sure that if a promising young player were available for what the Spurs had to offer, the Spurs would have tried to make a deal, but in the real world, teams don’t let go of promising young prospects often, and when they do, they would ask for assets in return that the Spurs just don’t have to trade away.

Jacob Douglas: Totally. It doesn’t seem like any players that would have helped them long term were available. The biggest name moved at the deadline was... Bojan Bogdanovic? P.J. Washington? No need to give up assets for role players. Keep stacking the deck, draft well, and find the next piece to add to this core.

Jesus Gomez: I do. It’s completely understandable to want to see better basketball, but this season is over in terms of postseason hopes and there are still players in the roster who are adjusting to new roles. Any big change could have threatened the fragile sense of continuity the team currently has and potentially impeded the progression of one of the young players. I would have loved a small trade bringing in a young forward to take the Osman minutes, but I can’t blame the Spurs for either not finding the right target or simply deciding to wait until the offseason to use assets.

Which team improved the most at the deadline?

Dubinski: Considering not many teams did much, it has to be the Knicks just because they did the most to improve their roster by adding Bojan Bogdanovic and Alec Burks. Is that enough to push them from playoff team to true title contender? We’ll find out, but the window is certainly open for a Conference Finals run with Joel Embiid’s status up in the air and the Bucks sputtering.

Barrington: It’s the Knicks. It would be great to see them make a run at a title after so many years of futility, and this is the best team they’ve had in a while. They’d need a little luck to make the finals, but the Heat made it to the finals last year, so anything can happen.

Douglas: It’s hard to find a team that did better than the Knicks. Bogdanovic and Burks give them some much-needed bench scoring. Doing that without giving up any first round draft capital is great, because they still have the assets to make a big move in the offseason. Brunson, Anunoby and Randle + shooters and defenders will be a tough team in the East. They’ll give Boston and Milwaukee a run for their money.

Gomez: The Mavericks added P.J. Washington and Daniel Gafford, two rotation-caliber frontcourt players that should make their offense even deadlier. Those two are clear upgrades over Richaun Holmes and Grant Williams and Washington might even be one of their starters. If they also get Spencer Dinwiddie after he clears waivers, they will have added three guys who can probably give them good minutes in the playoffs, which is impressive. The Knicks also improved significantly but I’m taking the Mavs over them here.

Which team made the most surprising trade?

Dubinski: I was surprised that after making trades earlier that seemingly indicated they would bottom out, the Raptors were making moves yesterday that may actually improve them just enough to hand their top-6 protected first round pick to the Spurs. They currently own the 7th worst record in the league, with only the injury-depleted Memphis Grizzlies close enough behind them to threaten to surpass them. Lottery day may have just gotten a lot more interesting for the Spurs.

Barrington: Given how underwhelming and low-wattage most of the trades were, it’s pretty hard to get excited, surprised, or even care about most of them. I guess I’m surprised the the Wizards traded Gafford, who I think is a future star in this league. They did get Richaun Holmes and a late round first in return, but it seems like a bad trade for them, since good bigs are so hard to find in this league.

Douglas: Toronto really confused me. The Pascal Siakam and Anunoby trades indicated they would bottom out to end the season. Yet they moved a first-rounder at the deadline for Kelly Olynyk and Ochai Agbaji. Those two make them better today. Plus they basically dumped Schroeder for nothing, and held onto Bruce Brown. All of a sudden this looks like a team closer to the middle than the bottom. I guess that’s good for the Spurs, who own the Raptors first round pick if it falls out of the top-6.

Gomez: There were a couple of surprising ones. Toronto adding veterans was not something I expected after the Siakam and Anunoby trades. The 76ers trading Jaden Springer to the Celtics for a second-rounder is a tiny move but Springer was showing promise as a defender. But the most surprising one, just because of how unique it was, is the Mavericks getting a first-rounder from the Thunder to send to Washington by agreeing to a pick swap in 2028. That’s a creative deal that I don’t remember seeing before.