Diehlman at Halftime: An NBA column

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Logo for Diehlman at Halftime column. - Graphics Editor / Julia Quennessen

These are exciting times because this week’s “Diehlman at Halftime” is a special edition!

Instead of “Highlight, Lowlight, and Random Stat,” we’ll dive into the top five trades of this past Thursday’s deadline. Before my analysis, however, I threw in an honorable mention. The trades are in reverse order, from pretty good to super important.

Before we get to our featured presentation, though, how cool is it that we witnessed NBA history?

LeBron James is now the all-time regular season scorer, surpassing the nearly 39-year-old record of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. James also already set the record for most points in NBA playoff history. Feb. 7, 2023, is a date we won’t be forgetting anytime soon.

So, who’s raising eyebrows at the moment?

Honorable Mention

Despite many rumors of Raptors forward O.G. Anunoby taking the next flight out of Toronto, he is in fact staying put… for now.

The 25-year-old is under contract for a few more years. He’s a fantastic asset to have on your team, averaging about 17 points and 2.1 steals per game.

Toronto being in the bottom portion of the Eastern Conference means something has to change soon. Maybe an Anunoby departure will be one of them.

The Clippers

The L.A. Clippers wanted to one-up their neighbors, the Lakers, with a few moves of their own.

In a deal with the Rockets, The Clippers received Denver guard “Bones” Hyland, Mason Plumlee from the Hornets, and Eric Gordon, who spent his first three years with the Clippers, is heading back to L.A.

To get these players, Reggie Jackson and John Wall are on their way out, as well as a few picks to certain teams. Since the era of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George has been underwhelming thus far, these trades will help with depth. Let’s see what head coach Tyronn Lue can cook up with his new weapons.

Gary Payton II

After winning a ring with Golden State last season and then signing with Portland in free agency, Gary Payton II has been traded right back to the Warriors. It’s as if he never left!

Golden State is also sending the 2020 No. 2 overall pick James Wiseman to Detroit. Wiseman has been dealing with his fair share of injuries and G-League assignments throughout the season.

Payton II, the son of Hall-of-Famer Gary Payton Sr., is a great defensive addition for the Warriors as they attempt to climb out of the play-in tournament seeds. There were rumors of the four-team trade being voided because Payton II failed his physical, but the trade was completed.

Lakers’ firesale

I guess the Lakers are tired of being No. 13 in the West.

After a disastrous tenure in L.A., Russell Westbrook will be on his fifth team in five seasons! The main part of this three-team deal was sending Westbrook to Utah, while the Lakers received Minnesota’s D’Angelo Russell, who L.A. drafted second overall in 2015, as well as Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt from Utah.

Then, the Lakers shipped Patrick Beverley to the Orlando Magic for Mo Bamba. Thomas Bryant will also pack his bags for Denver in exchange for Davon Reed.

It’s clear that the front office actually wants to help LeBron James and Anthony Davis. They’re getting young talent that can assist right now. But, Westbrook’s departure is a big sigh of relief. The Lakers are closer to a play-in tournament seed than most would think. I give these trades a solid A-.

Kyrie Irving

This one came as a shocker. Just days after Kyrie Irving requested a trade, the Brooklyn Nets shipped him and Markieff Morris to Dallas for Spencer Dinwiddie, Dorian Finney-Smith, a first-round pick, and two second-round picks.

Irving will now play alongside Luka Dončić to arguably create a top-three backcourt in the NBA. However, Irving is an unrestricted free agent this coming off-season. This is significant for two reasons.

First, the Mavericks are betting that this duo will work this season before maybe offering Irving the contract he wants over the summer. Second, this could be the last chance the former No. 1 overall pick gets. He’s been the king of drama for years. Irving told the Cavaliers, Celtics and Nets that he’d resign, only for him to bolt not too long after.

Playing alongside LeBron James, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, James Harden and Kevin Durant over the years has resulted in just one championship. But, this trade doesn’t hold a candle to the biggest move of the deadline.

It Happened

How did this trade deadline get even better? Kevin Durant got traded to Phoenix!

Brooklyn will send Durant and T.J. Warren to the Suns while the Nets will receive Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson, the draft rights to Juan Pablo Vaulet, four first-round picks and a pick swap.

Bottom line — the Nets are officially screwed. Ben Simmons is now their highest-paid player! While the Nets have acquired a chunk of first-round picks and solid players like the aforementioned Dinwiddie and Bridges, the “Big 3” experiment is over. The trio of Kyrie Irving, James Harden and Durant was one of the biggest failures in sports history.

Brooklyn is heading into rebuild mode as they try to recover from this catastrophe. Meanwhile, the Suns are under intense pressure to win a title immediately. Chris Paul, Devin Booker, Durant and DeAndre Ayton will be tough to stop. No more excuses for Phoenix. Get it done, gentlemen!

For comments/questions about this story tweet @TheWhitSports.

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