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NBA Trade Deadline: Eastern Conference Contenders Reload

By Norm Elrod

(CBS Philadelphia/CBS Local) -- The NBA trade deadline has officially passed, and Anthony Davis is still with the New Orleans Pelicans. But plenty of other players will be donning different jerseys the next time they take the court. Much of the action comes out of the Eastern Conference, where three legitimate contenders -- the Milwaukee Bucks, Philadelphia 76ers and Toronto Raptors -- all tried to improve their playoff chances.

Let's look at the deals and what they mean.

Nikola Mirotic #3 of the New Orleans Pelicans looks on against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Smoothie King Center on January 09, 2019 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Nikola Mirotic (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Milwaukee Bucks-New Orleans Pelicans Trade

Bucks get:

  • Nikola Mirotic

The Milwaukee Bucks (40-13) are humming right along in the East, thanks to better coaching and an influx of veteran talent, not to mention the MVP-caliber exploits of Giannis Antetokounmpo. They dropped 148 points on the hapless Washington Wizards the other night while barely breaking a sweat. But bigger obstacles await, and Nikola Mirotic can certainly help put them over the top. The 6'10" power forward comes in averaging 16.7 points per game and shooting a healthy 36.8% from three-point land. His presence should open up the floor a little more for Giannis and give the Bucks another scoring option.

Verdict: The Bucks just keep improving, which is hard for a team this good to do.

Pelicans get:

  • Jason Smith
  • Stanley Johnson
  • Milwaukee's 2019 second-round pick
  • Milwaukee's 2020 second-round pick
  • Washington's 2020 second-round pick
  • Washington's 2021 second-round pick

This is not the New Orleans Pelicans (24-31) trade the world was hoping for. But Anthony Davis will certainly be gone by next season, and the Pelicans will be in full-on rebuild mode. That means reducing the payroll and amassing picks. Moving Nikola Mirotic now for something in return is certainly preferable to losing him to free agency this summer for nothing. Stanley Johnson, a former top-10 pick with the Detroit Pistons, still has potential, in theory. And four second-round picks could help the Pelicans build out their squad in the years to come.

Verdict: The Pelicans put themselves in a better position to rebuild.

Marc Gasol #33 of the Memphis Grizzlies plays the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center on December 10, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. Marc Gasol (Photo Credit: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Memphis Grizzlies-Toronto Raptors Trade

Grizzlies get:

  • Jonas Valanciunas
  • Delon Wright
  • CJ Miles
  • Memphis's 2024 second-round pick

Many speculated that Mike Conley might be on the move at the trade deadline. Alas, no. But the Memphis Grizzlies (22-34) did part ways with Marc Gasol, the team's other linchpin, after 11 seasons. Jonas Valanciunas will capably fill the void for now, but probably not long-term. Delon Wright is also a decent defender and ball-handler. Regardless, the Grizzlies have improved their position as the team attempts to return to relevance.

Verdict: The Grizzlies got some value for an aging veteran, and lowered their payroll in the process.

Raptors get:

  • Marc Gasol

The Toronto Raptors (40-16), sitting second in the East, already looked poised for a deep playoff run. But with the Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers bolstering their rosters near the trade deadline, the Raptors felt compelled to keep pace (and possibly keep Kawhi Leonard happy). Marc Gasol, at 34 years old, is well past his prime as an NBA center, but he still can add value. Gasol is putting up 15.7 points and pulling down 8.6 rebounds this season, both of which exceed his averages over an 11-year career with the Grizzlies. And he still plays defense, which will certainly help in the playoffs.

Verdict: The Raptors add a proven veteran for a playoff run, and at a reasonable price.

Otto Porter Jr. #22 of the Washington Wizards celebrates after hitting a three pointer against the Detroit Pistons in the first half at Capital One Arena on January 21, 2019 in Washington, DC Otto Porter Jr. (Photo Credit: Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Chicago Bulls-Washington Wizards Trade

Bulls get:

  • Otto Porter Jr.

The Chicago Bulls (12-42) are going nowhere fast and have little hope of attracting top free agents. That said, Otto Porter is a solid NBA player, even if his contract exceeds his value. A career 40% three-point shooter, Porter has nevertheless failed to become a consistent scoring option. He's averaged 10.7 points per game over his career, but never more than 14.7 in a season. A capable defender and a positive locker-room presence, Porter has struggled to stay healthy and had recently been demoted to second team. He's still a step up for the Bulls.

Verdict: The Bulls will continue to lose -- a lot -- but Porter can at lease fill some holes in their lineup.

Wizards get:

  • Bobby Portis
  • Jabari Parker
  • Chicago's 2023 second-round pick (protected)

Too little, too late, which is so often the case with the Washington Wizards (22-32). Parting with Otto Porter, the third pick in the 2013 draft, might have landed them a first-round pick had it happened earlier. Let's not forget that the writing was on the wall last season and certainly before John Wall's first injury this season. But at least the Wizards got something... financial relief as they set about rebuilding and re-signing cheaper talent. As for the players, Jabari Parker, like the Wiz in general, can score but can't play defense. Bobby Portis fills the team's hothead quota, now that Markieff Morris has moved on to New Orleans and been waived, but little else. Both players will likely find their way out of Washington at season's end.

Verdict: The Wizards made the right move at the wrong time. Tell me again why Ernie Grunfeld is still general manager?

Tobias Harris #34 of the LA Clippers stands on the court during their game against the Sacramento Kings at Golden 1 Center on November 29, 2018 in Sacramento, California. Tobias Harris (Photo Credit: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Philadelphia 76ers-Los Angeles Clippers Trade

76ers get:

  • Tobias Harris
  • Boban Marjanovic
  • Mike Scott

The Philadelphia 76ers (34-20) are officially in win-now mode. Currently fifth in the Eastern Conference, they were already rolling toward the playoffs. Adding Tobias Harris, an almost All-Star, to a starting lineup that already includes Ben Simmons, JJ Redick, Jimmy Butler and Joel Embiid, might just make them Finals favorites out of the East. Harris is good for 20+ points per night, and Boban Marjanovic and Mike Scott can produce off the bench. But the Sixers paid a high price, giving up young sharpshooter Landry Shamet and first-round picks in 2020 and 2021. and Harris will be a free agent after the season.

Verdict: This is a strong move that could deliver the 76ers to the promised land. It could also blow up in their face.

Clippers get:

  • Landry Shamet
  • Wilson Chandler
  • Mike Muscala
  • Philadelphia's 2020 first-round pick (protected)
  • Miami's 2021 first-round pick (unprotected)
  • Philadelphia's 2021 second-round pick
  • Philadelphia's 2023 second-round pick

The Los Angeles Clippers (30-26), before trading away their leading scorer, were likely to top out at an eight seed and a first-round exit in the West. They would then be looking at a choice between retaining Harris, who would command a max-contract but likely not carry them any further in the ultra-competitive West, and letting him walk. The Clippers may still make the postseason, but they're also well positioned to make a big splash in free agency next summer. All of their picks would certainly help them land a free agent like Kawhi Leonard or Kevin Durant, who could certainly push the Clippers beyond the eight seed in 2019-20.

Verdict: The Clippers trade mediocrity for a solid chance at future success.

Kristaps Porzingis #6 of the New York Knicks during the NBA game against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena on January 26, 2018 in Phoenix, Arizona. Kristaps Porzingis (Photo Credit: Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Dallas Mavericks-New York Knicks Trade

Mavericks get:

  • Kristaps Porzingis
  • Tim Hardaway Jr.
  • Courtney Lee
  • Trey Burke

The Dallas Mavericks (25-28) just landed another young star to pair with rookie sensation Luka Doncic. Kristaps Porzingis has averaged 17.8 points per game over his career, along with 7.1 rebounds, while shooting 36.1% beyond the arc. The 7'3" unicorn has been sidelined all season with an ACL injury, but he has been medically cleared to play. We'll see when he actually plays. The Mavericks, eleventh in the West, just improved their playoff chances this season, though not enough to matter much. Their best-case scenario is still a first-round exit. But the future looks bright in Dallas, should Porzingis return to form and the Mavericks can get him under contract long-term.

Verdict: The Mavericks build on their bright future, adding an important piece alongside Doncic.

Knicks get:

  • Dennis Smith Jr.
  • DeAndre Jordan
  • Wesley Matthews
  • Mavericks' 2021 first-round pick (unprotected)
  • Mavericks' 2023 first-round pick (protected)

It seems that trading Kristaps Porzingis wasn't that big of a surprise after all. The New Orleans Pelicans reportedly had already spurned offers for Anthony Davis that included Porzingis. The New York Knicks (10-43) are looking to make a big free agency splash, and they're now in a much better position. They've added assets, in the form of first-round picks, picked up a decent prospect in Dennis Smith Jr. and achieved some cap relief. After the season, the Knicks will be in a position to add two top free agents. Whether they'll succeed, of course, is another story.

Verdict: The Knicks clearly see free agency as their way out of the cellar, and they're now in a position to execute on that vision.

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