NBA offseasons provide a number of different ways for teams to upgrade their rosters, including the draft, trades, free agency, and waiver claims. Some clubs use different methods than others, but there aren’t many that make it through the offseason without completing at least a single trade with one of their 29 rivals.
Between the end of the 2012/13 regular season and 2013/14’s opening night, 25 of 30 NBA teams made one trade or more. Only the Bulls, Magic, Bobcats, Lakers, and Spurs failed to make a deal, and at least half that list makes sense. The Spurs were in the Finals, so there was no need for any significant shake-ups. The Bulls and Lakers, meanwhile, are two of the NBA’s tax teams, which likely limited their flexibility when it came to making deals.
Of the 25 teams to make deals, six Eastern Conference teams completed just a single swap: The Cavaliers, Heat, Knicks, Nets, Pistons, and Raptors. That leaves 19 NBA clubs, including 13 Western teams, that finalized multiple trade agreements this offseason. Here’s the full breakdown, with the help of Hoops Rumors’ complete list:
- 6: Milwaukee Bucks, Philadelphia 76ers
- 5: Boston Celtics, Phoenix Suns
- 4: Dallas Mavericks, Golden State Warriors, Memphis Grizzlies, Portland Trail Blazers, Utah Jazz
- 3: Atlanta Hawks, Denver Nuggets, Minnesota Timberwolves, Oklahoma City Thunder
- 2: Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Clippers, New Orleans Pelicans, Sacramento Kings, Washington Wizards
Now, there are a few things we should make note of here. First of all, these tallies include all draft-night trades, which were typically far less consequential than deals consummated in July. For instance, the Hawks technically completed three offseason deals, but all three came on draft night, and two involved sending out 2013 second-round picks for future second-rounders — not exactly blockbusters. Additionally, our count includes the agreement that sent a first-round pick from the Clippers to the Celtics in exchange for letting Doc Rivers out of his contract, even though that wasn’t an official trade.
So what does this list tell us? Well, it may suggest which general managers are among the league’s most aggressive. It also reveals one thing we probably would have guessed: Of the four teams that made the most trades, three – the Sixers, Celtics, and Suns – were expected to be at or near the bottom of the standings. There’s no guarantee that the Bucks won’t be down there with them, but for Milwaukee, the turnover was the result of key players hitting free agency, rather than a desire to trade current pieces for future assets.
The list also shows that the front offices for the Warriors and Grizzlies should be commended for their aggressiveness. Both teams advanced beyond the first round of the playoffs last spring, but neither was content to stand pat and hope for the best this season, as they each made four trades. None of the Grizzlies’ four deals represented a huge splash, but the Warriors’ move to dump salary and add Andre Iguodala certainly qualifies.
We’ll have to wait until season’s end to see if there’s any rhyme or reason to how offseason trades affected teams’ playoff chances. I wouldn’t count on seeing a direct correlation, but it certainly looks like most of 2014’s title hopefuls were content to make no more than one or two deals with rival teams during the 2013 offseason.