One of the most strained trade deadlines in history


As if the 2023 NBA season had not been insane enough, with 71-point performances and the Western Conference’s tight playoff race, the recent trade deadline was one for the record books. 28 of the 30 NBA teams were involved in different deals, including many star swaps and cap space buyouts. At this point, many fans are contemplating every possible scenario heading towards the playoffs.

To take another glance at Ja Morant’s iconic “I’m fine in the West” comment in an interview with ESPN, the Western Conference has truly stepped their game to the next level, most notably the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, Dallas Mavericks and Phoenix Suns. The Lakers revamped their entire bench, in particular sending Russell Westbrook to the Utah Jazz, Patrick Beverley to Orlando, while receiving crucial players such as Jarred Vanderbilt and D’Angelo Russell.
The Los Angeles Clippers sent their shifty guard Reggie Jackson to the Charlotte Hornets, receiving center Mason Plumlee in return and also received Bones Hyland in a multiple-team trade. The team would also wind up picking up the bought-out Russell Westbrook.
The Dallas Mavericks secured star Kyrie Irving to accompany Luka Doncic, likely allowing them to make a serious playoff push. In return, the Mavs gave up several key role players, such as Spencer Dinwiddie and Dorian Finney-Smith, to the Brooklyn Nets.
Last but not least, the Nets also traded superstar Kevin Durant to the Suns, solidifying the franchise as a current super team, with a starting lineup of Devin Booker, Chris Paul, Deandre Ayton, Torrey Craig and Durant. However, acquiring a top player in the league would result in a high cost as the Suns gave up top role players including Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson. “[Durant’s] itching to get out there,” Suns coach Monty Williams said. (ESPN) The team set to start Durant on Wednesday, Feb. 29.
“Is he supposed to play Wednesday?” Devin Booker asked a reporter. “I hope so. I hope so,” Deandre Ayton replied on Twitter, unable to wait for Durant’s debut. “We feel like fans wondering how this is going to look,” he said. “We feel more anxious than the fans. That’s how I feel.”
Over in the East, it has been rather quiet, although many teams are making arrangements to rebuild themselves,as star players are traded for younger or more role-fitting lineups, such as the Nets and New Orleans Pelicans. The Chicago Bulls are making efforts to switch up lineups in a more unusual way, centering around hustling player Alex Caruso. “Alex Caruso brings everything needed on both ends of the court,” Fan Nation Pelicans Scoop said. “Nikola Vucevic is making 37.4% from beyond the arc and grabbing 11 rebounds per game. Both will be on a contending team soon. The Bulls ain’t that. Caruso is a known commodity. Vucevic would be more of an experiment given how he adapted from Orlando to Chicago.”

As a whole, the highest level of basketball is shifting in all directions. Variables like injuries are not predictable, but everyone is taking all precautionary measures possible when heading into the postseason to have the best shot at a title.