Looking Back at the Biggest NBA Offseason Moves


Photo Credit: TheSportsRush.com

Even during the times like these where day to day life continues to be unpredictable, one thing was still for certain in 2020: that the NBA offseason will always bring excitement and fireworks as the action on the court is put on hold. Last fall's offseason did not disappointment, as big trades and big signings still dominated the NBA landscape. Now that we have reached the All-Star break, a look back at the biggest moves from the past offseason and how they 've worked out for all parties involved.

 

Chris Paul Lands in Phoenix

Photo Credit: Barry Gossage/NBAE

OKC Thunder trades: G Chris Paul, F Abdel Nader

Phoenix Suns trade: Kelly Oubre Jr. (later traded to Warriors), Ricky Rubio (later traded to Timberwolves), Ty Jerome, Jalen Lecque, 2022 first-round pick


Chris Paul showed why he's still an elite point guard in the NBA at 35 years old, having a spectacular 2019-20 season while leading a young Thunder team to an unexpected 5 seed in the competitive Western Conference. After losing to the Houston Rockets in a thrilling 7 game series in the 1st round of the playoffs, OKC committed to a full-on rebuild.

Paul was traded to the Phoenix Suns, another young team on the rise after a stunning 8-0 performance in the NBA Bubble.


Now led by The Point God and Devin Booker, the Suns are reaching their full potential as a squad, sitting at 24-11 record placing them 2nd in the Western Conference. The duo of Paul and Booker in the backcourt, along with strong contributions from a supporting cast highlighted by Mikal Bridges, Cameron Johnson and DeAndre Ayton have unlocked a Suns team that could make some noise down the road against the powerhouses of the West. Paul was named an All-Star for the 11th time, and his impact to his team on and off the court is tremendous. Paul is averaging 16 points, 4.7 rebounds and 8.8 assists a night as the conductor of the 8th best offense in the NBA. The Suns are the only team outside of the Utah Jazz that is top 10 in both offensive and defensive rating, and could prove even more dangerous as the season moves into the second half.

For the Thunder, they continued to stockpile draft assets after the Paul move, flipping Kelly Oubre Jr. to Golden State for another future first rounder. OKC has still remained reasonably competitive after an offseason that saw them trade away veterans Paul and Steven Adams (more on that later), and young star guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is having a tremendous season that garnered him All-Star consideration. This has all the looks of a rare trade where both sides benefit either in the short term and/or the long term futures.

 

Hornets Acquire Gordon Hayward

Photo Credit: Chris Carson/AP

Celtics Trade: Gordon Hayward, 2023 & 2024 second round picks

Hornets Trade: Conditional 2022 second round pick, signed Hayward to 4 year, $120 million contract


Not only was this one of the more surprising moves of the offseason, it was also one of the most criticized for both sides. The Celtics received heat after the deal became official after a rumor surfaced that Boston declined a similar sign-and-trade deal with the Pacers that would have sent Hayward to Indiana and center Myles Turner to Boston. However, much of the criticism was placed on Charlotte, for giving out such an expensive long term deal to a player with injury concerns and would be on the wrong side of 30 in the last years of his contract. However, the Hornets have surprised the league with their play this season, notching a 17-18 record at the break that is good enough for the 7th seed in the Eastern Conference. Hayward has been a big part of the team's success to this point, putting up numbers similar to his lone All-Star season in Utah as the leading scorer of a young Hornets squad that is exciting to watch night in and night out.

Hayward's presence has allowed the team to remain competitive as young talents LaMelo Ball and PJ Washington continue to flourish and develop. While it still could prove to be a big overpay down the road, for now the Gordon Hayward era in Charlotte is off to a solid start.


As for Boston, GM Danny Ainge has faced plenty of criticism over the years for not executing trades for available players and even superstars on the trade market. We do not know how valid the Myles Turner rumors were, but it's a bad look for the Celtics if a deal was in the works and opted to work something out with the Hornets instead. Boston has been a slight disappointment, sitting at 19-17 and 4th place in the Eastern Conference during an up-and-down season where they were expected to contend for a top-3 seed. Outside of All-Star wing duo Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum along with veteran guards Marcus Smart and Kemba Walker, the roster is one of the thinnest among playoff teams in the league. Especially at the center position, where a 3-man rotation of Daniel Theis, Tristan Thompson and Robert Williams III have produced uninspiring results so far. We're only two weeks away from the trade deadline, so the Celtics could look for more pieces to add in order to even out their roster. While not overpaying Hayward was the right move, the team hurt themselves by not making the right deal.

 

Bucks Swing Big for Jrue Holiday

Photo Credit: Barry Gossage/NBAE

Bucks acquire: Jrue Holiday (via New Orleans), Sam Merrill (60th overall pick via New Orleans)

Pelicans acquire: Steven Adams (via OKC), Eric Bledsoe (via Milwaukee), two future first round picks (via Milwaukee), right to swap two additional first round picks (via Milwaukee)

Thunder acquire: George Hill (via Milwaukee), future first round pick (via Denver), Zylan Cheatham, Josh Gray, Darius Miller, Kenrich Williams (all via New Orleans)

Nuggets acquire: R.J. Hampton (24th overall pick via Milwaukee)


After a disappointing second round exit to the Miami Heat in the playoffs, the Bucks went into the offseason knowing they needed to reload in order to get over the hump and make a run at the title. Enter Jrue Holiday, one of the best two-way guards in the game and coming off another great year as a member of the New Orleans Pelicans. Needing an upgrade on the perimeter after Eric Bledsoe's subpar performance in the playoffs, the Bucks went out and gave up a substantial haul of assets to acquire the two-time All Defensive Team player. Milwaukee has not had the same dominant regular season success of the past couple seasons, but they still sit at 22-14, the 3rd seed in the Eastern Conference. Holiday's impact and value to the team are notable as well. Per Cleaning the Glass, the Bucks have a defensive rating of 109.4 when Holiday is on the floor during non garbage-time minutes. That rating goes up 5 points when Holiday is off the floor, which is the difference between a top-10 defense and a bottom 5 defense. Milwaukee also went 5-5 during Holiday's absence in February due to testing positive for COVID-19. Holiday has been a strong presence for the Bucks on both ends, serving as the third scoring option on offense behind Middleton and Giannis Antetokoumpo, while guarding the opposing team's best perimeter player on defense.


The Pelicans did a solid job at getting value back for a player of Holiday's caliber, who has a greater impact for a contending team such as Milwaukee than a middling team. However, the new acquisitions for New Orleans have not panned out so far, playing a role in an inconsistent season that has them sitting at 15-21, 11th in the Western Conference. Bledsoe's scoring output has decreased from the previous season for the 4th straight season, averaging 12.6 points on only 43.5% shooting from the field. His typically stout defense has also slipped this season, ranking 114 out of 118th qualifying 2-guards in ESPN's defensive box plus-minus, which estimates a player's on court impact on a team's defensive performance. The Pelicans' defense is also 5.3 points worse per 100 possessions with Bledsoe on the floor, further attesting to that point. Steven Adams is having a solid year in the middle, but his fit next to Zion Williamson make for clunky spacing on offense, as neither of the two are capable of spreading the floor on the outside. Individually the pieces that the Pelicans got back are solid, but it hurts if they do not fit the pieces on the team that were already in place.

 

The John Wall and Russell Westbrook Swap

Photo Credit: Cato Cataldo/NBAE via Getty Images

Rockets trade: Russell Westbrook

Wizards trade: John Wall, protected 2023 first round draft pick

The biggest blockbuster deal of the offseason saw Wizards franchise icon John Wall moved to Houston for future Hall of Famer Russell Westbrook. Westbrook was disgruntled with t-*he Rockets organization, and the Wizards stepped in making a very bold, but potentially promising move at the time. Wall had not played a game of NBA basketball in nearly 2 years at the time, and Russ was coming off another dominant season making the All NBA 3rd team.


However, for various reasons, the trade has not worked out all that well for both sides on the court. From Washington's standpoint, health, injuries, and just overall inconsistency on both ends have all played a role in the team's 14-21 record (12th in the East). Bradley Beal is having the best season of his career, leading the league in scoring with 32.5 points a night, but his backcourt mate Westbrook has not lived up to his billing, starting out slow and turning the ball over at a scarily high rate (TOV rate of 18.7 this season). To their credit, the Wizards season isn't totally lost; they are 8-4 in the their last 12 games, which included wins over the Celtics, Lakers, Clippers, Nuggets and Trailblazers. Westbrook has also gotten healthier and improved his play as of late, and the team is playing with more consistency on defense: 7th best in defensive rating (110.8) during this stretch. A team headlined with an electric backcourt of Westbrook and Beal should be a playoff team, especially in the weak Eastern Conference, so if the Wizards can keep up their play lately, they will finally look like the playoff team most expected them to be before the season.


Moving on to the Rockets, their offseason had no shortage of adversity, with the backcourt of Russell Westbrook and James Harden requesting trades after fizzling out against the Lakers in the second round in the Bubble. Longtime GM Daryl Morey left for Philadelphia, and head coach Mike D'Antoni was ousted for former Mavericks assistant Stephen Silas. It all came to a head when James Harden was traded to the Brooklyn Nets in a deal that brought Victor Oladipo to Houston. At first, the trio of new Rockets-- Wall, Oladipo, and Christian Wood looked like the core of a playoff team in the West, rattling off six straight wins. Fast forward to today, where the Rockets have lost 14 straight games - directly coinciding with Christian Wood missing 14 straight games due to an ankle injury; and it is clear Houston is in a freefall. Wall has looked good after not playing in 2 years after an Achilles injury in 2019, and the Rockets did notch a draft pick from Washington in the deal, but it's hard to determine a clear winner in a trade where both teams don't seem to be better off as of right now. But like everything in the world today, things could very well change.

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