NBA trade deadline: Biggest winners and losers

Published February 13, 2022, 3:00 PMChuck Araneta, Isaac Go

Another NBA trade deadline has passed. After all the wild deals, which teams got what they needed and which teams could have done better?

For some people, the NBA trade deadline is one of the highlights of the season. Suspense, horror, excitement, shock – fans, players, and teams sit through the emotional rollercoaster that the deals bring. Everyone is glued to their seats, waiting to see which All-Star gets traded, who goes all-in for a playoff push, and who looks to cash in for the future. And even if no significant moves are made, there’s still so much action that people are left satisfied.

This season saw one of the craziest and most exciting trade deadlines in recent memory, with James Harden, Ben Simmons, Kristaps Porzingis, CJ McCollum, and Tyrese Haliburton, among others, being sent to new teams. 

Which turned out to be the biggest winners and losers after the dust has settled?


Indiana Pacers

Received: Tyrese Haliburton, Buddy Hield, Tristan Thompson, Ricky Rubio, Jalen Smith, one first-round pick, and three second-round picks

Lost: Caris LeVert, Domantas Sabonis, Jeremy Lamb, Justin Holiday, Torrey Craig, and two second-round picks 

This is quite the haul for the Pacers. Giving up Sabonis and LeVert may have been painful, but getting Haliburton lets them skip rebuilding from scratch as he is projected to be an All-Star someday. 

They also acquired three expiring contracts and two draft picks, which could be interesting depending on how Indiana chooses to play with them. Overall, Pacers fans should be optimistic about their team's future and expect that for the rest of the season, it is going to be about giving their young players a chance to develop. 

Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers

76ers received: James Harden and Paul Millsap

Nets received: Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Andre Drummond, and two first-round picks

Normally when teams trade their superstars, only one team wins, but in this case, it was a win-win. Both teams traded players who didn’t want to play for them. 

The Ben Simmons saga finally ended in Philadelphia. They were questioned for declining multiple offers, but in the end, their patience paid off with them landing a top 12 to 15 player in the NBA. The price may have been a little steep, giving up two first-round picks and two rotational pieces, but they get an All-Star staple to pair Joel Embiid with. 

Brooklyn also got better with this deal. They are able to bolster their shallow roster, add players who will definitely play a big role on their team, and grant head coach Steve Nash more flexible lineup decisions. This trade overall busted the East wide open and the fans should be excited about the playoffs.  

RELATED: The Brooklyn Nets Big 3: A Eulogy

Boston Celtics

Received: Derrick White, Daniel Theis, one second-round pick 

Lost: PJ Dozier, Bol Bol, Josh Richardson, Romeo Langford, Dennis Schroder, Bruno Fernando, Enes Freedom, one first-round pick, one second-round pick, and a future pick swap with the Spurs

This is a win-now move for the Celtics. Now sitting at the seventh spot in the loaded Eastern Conference, they had to make a move to improve their roster. They got Derrick White who can help Marcus Smart in the backcourt. They also added Daniel Theis, who isn’t a stranger to Boston. He can help stabilize their frontcourt and also serve as an insurance policy for Robert Williams and Al Horford, given their injury history and age. 

What did they give up in exchange? Nothing much, to be honest. They moved on from a lot of young prospects who weren’t gonna help them win now. Plus, the Celtics were also able to move under the luxury tax and open up five roster spots for the buyout market.

Portland Trail Blazers 

Received: Joe Ingles, Josh Hart, Elijah Hughes, Didi Louzada, Keon Johnson, Justise Winslow, Eric Bledsoe, one first-round pick, and two second-round picks 

Lost: CJ McCollum, Norman Powell, Robert Covington, Larry Nance, Tony Snell

The Trail Blazers made moves with only one thing in mind – the 2022 NBA free agency.

Damian Lillard’s extended absence from his abdominal issue made the franchise realize that there is no point in competing now if their No. 1 player is hurt. They now have the financial freedom to make strong offers to upcoming free agents. They also have a chance to reshape their roster to better fit Damian Lillard as the past iterations of the team didn’t pan out. 


Dallas Mavericks

Received: Spencer Dinwiddie, Davis Bertans

Lost: Kristaps Porzingis, second-round pick

By trading Porzingis for two players that basically make the same money, Dallas effectively admitted that the Latvian Unicorn wasn’t working out in his role as a second star to Luka Doncic. The Mavs invested a lot to bring Kristaps to Dallas, but a combination of inconsistent play and consistent injuries limited his opportunities to become the second star they needed to be a true contender. Dinwiddie and Bertans are in the midst of down years, and even coming close to the production of Porzingis will be a challenge.

Los Angeles Lakers

By all accounts, the Lakers tried to do something to improve their team. Anything, really. But no team would bite.

Rumors about a John Wall for Russell Westbrook trade swirled, but it never came to fruition. And who knows what else the Lakers tried to do to improve their situation?

Ultimately, nothing happened. Thus, the team that most desperately needed to make a change stood pat.

Make no mistake about it – LeBron and company are in trouble. 

Damian Lillard

You gotta feel for Dame. 

Not only has he been out indefinitely because of an abdominal issue, he had to see the only team he’s played for in his entire career gutted – an obvious sign that the Portland Trail Blazers are ready to rebuild.

But no one ever wants to say goodbye, even though the writing is on the wall. And if you’re Lillard, no longer having CJ McCollum by your side in the backcourt is going to take some getting used to.

The Blazers are investing in Draft capital, and an emerging Anfernee Simons to cover up the pain of having to trade away one of the steadiest guards in the league. But there’s no way to put a price on saying goodbye to McCollum, particularly if you’re Lillard. 

Sacramento Kings

Received: Domantas Sabonis, Jeremy Lamb, Justin Holiday, one second-round pick 

Lost: Tyrese Haliburton, Buddy Hield, Tristan Thompson

Let’s get some things out of the way:

  • This was not the lopsided trade many have made it out to be.

  • Domantas Sabonis is one of the most conistent big men in the league. He’s a walking double-double, bull-strong, and should have a great opportunity to build great chemistry with De’Aaron Fox. 

That being said….

Man. Really? Tyrese Haliburton?

Haliburton averages 14.9 points per game on 41.9 percent shooting from the perimeter and 7.4 assists per contest. He’s one of the best young players in the league, and he proved that he can run a team when the Kings lost Fox to injury.

This is the guy the Kings were willing to part with? 

RELATED: Was letting go of Haliburton worth it for the Kings?

It’s clear that the mandate for the Kings was to win, and win NOW. With Sabonis, they will achieve this. They might be able to make a late run to the Play-In Tournament, and could even sneak into the Playoffs as an eighth seed.

But time will tell if this move will be worth it. It all depends on Haliburton’s ceiling. And from what we’ve seen so far from him, sky’s the limit.