The Philadelphia 76ers hosted Denver on Friday night with a new roster that is primed to push for an NBA championship.
General manager Elton Brand’s actions at the trade deadline have Philadelphia on a direct and accelerated path in the Eastern Conference. There’s no waiting for Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid to continue to grow.
By dealing for Tobias Harris and sending former No. 1 overall draft pick Markelle Fultz to Orlando for bench help and a late first-round pick, the 76ers are all-in this season. The cost for Harris was high — Philly paid more for a few months of his skills than they did for three-quarters of a season of former All-Star Jimmy Butler.
But the trade gives them the most talented starting lineup in the East. It’s a bold play, but the NBA trade deadline is a good time to be bold.
Here are four other deals at the deadline that got the league buzzing:
Toronto acquires Marc Gasol
The move is a bit of a shock to the system for NBA folks because it means they’ll no longer get to see Gasol in a Grizzlies uniform. He’d spent his entire 11-year career with Memphis.
If the move works out, Toronto gets a brilliant passer and player with an immense defensive IQ. Will Gasol, who was a focal point of Memphis’ game plan, be comfortable coming off the bench? Will Serge Ibaka concede his place for Gasol?
Jonas Valanciunas, the 26-year-old center who was sent to Memphis for Gasol, was a popular player in the Raptors’ locker room. The team traded DeMar DeRozan, another very well-liked player, last summer for Kawhi Leonard. Can Gasol, whom teammates loved in Memphis, form new bonds with new players?
It’s a move Toronto had to make. With Leonard set to be a free agent at the end of the season, the time to act was now.
Clippers acquire Garrett Temple and JaMychal Green
After the Clippers sent Harris to Philadelphia for two first-round picks and rookie Landry Shamet, also a first-round selection, it seemed like they were content with falling out of the playoff picture.
If the Clippers land in the lottery they keep their own first-round pick this summer. If they make the playoffs, the pick heads to Boston. Keeping it is an added bonus when you deal one of your best players.
But in the final hours before the deadline, the Clippers struck the deal to acquire Temple and Green, trading Avery Bradley for a pair of rotation pieces while trimming a few million dollars off of next year’s books.
The Clippers are still in the running for the No. 8 spot in the Western Conference, especially if forward Danilo Gallinari returns to form after missing time because of a back injury.
Chicago acquires Otto Porter Jr.
Another puzzler. The Bulls were one of the big sellers at the deadline, a team with no shot at the playoffs and very much in the running for the upcoming No. 1 draft pick.
They moved Jabari Parker and Bobby Portis to Washington, but instead of trading them for young players, cap relief or draft picks, they acquired Porter, who is owed $27.2 million next season and can exercise a $28.5-million option for the 2020-21 season.
He’s a good player — a prototypical three-point shooting wing who provides good defense — but those skills fit best on a good team. .
Chicago probably suspects it ranks too low in the free-agency hierarchy to land a more accomplished player than the 25-year-old Porter.
Sacramento acquires Harrison Barnes
A really fun move for the Kings, who are hoping to push their way into the playoffs for the first time since 2006.
Barnes is the kind of player who can play both forward spots and gives Sacramento some firepower to go with De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield and a rapidly improving Marvin Bagley III. Sacramento probably will not mind if Barnes activates his $25-million player option for next season.
The ratings for the NBA’s televised All-Star game draft showed that the format is sustainable and that people were interested in watching captains LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo go head-to-head in a playground-style draft.
The best part might be the conspiracy theorists who noticed a trend with James’ selections. His first three picks — Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Kawhi Leonard — are expected to become free agents this summer.
James also drafted free-agent-to-be Klay Thompson and Anthony Davis, who wants out of New Orleans by way of trade.