During trade deadline season, most of the attention goes to the big-name stars who get dealt. And for good reason, as those moves will have the biggest impact on the league. However, throughout the week, and especially on deadline day, there are a number of under-the-radar moves that get done.
Here are the grades for each team:
Sacramento Kings: C
- Caleb Swanigan
The Sacramento Kings are putting together their best season in over a decade, and have a real chance to make the playoffs — something they haven’t done since 2006. At the deadline, they made a number of moves to bolster their roster as they make a playoff push, acquiring Alec Burks and Harrison Barnes. Those moves should each have a fairly large impact heading down the stretch.
On the other hand, it’s unlikely that this Labissiere-for-Swanigan swap is going to do the same. The 28th overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, Labissiere was in his third season with the Kings. While he showed flashes at times, and started 40 games during his tenure, he was never able to break through. This season, in particular, he got lost in the frontcourt shuffle, playing just 113 total minutes.
It’s clear he didn’t have a future in Sacramento, so it decided to give him a fresh start in Portland and take a look at another frontcourt prospect. Similar to Labissiere, Swanigan was a late first-round pick in 2017. Unlike the lanky Labissiere, however, Swanigan has much more of a power game than a finesse one.
It’s probably unlikely that Swanigan earns many minutes for the Kings down the stretch, but it can’t hurt for them to get a look at a different frontcourt prospect.
Portland Trail Blazers: C
- Skal Labissiere
The Portland Trail Blazers are right where everyone expected them to be this season: in the middle of the pack in the Western Conference, fighting for home-court advantage in the first round. A few days ahead of the deadline, they made a move to try and bolster their wing depth, picking up Rodney Hood for Nik Stauskas and Wade Baldwin. Now, they’ve swung another deal, though this doesn’t figure to move the needle very much.
In the 2017 NBA Draft, the Trail Blazers took two big men in the first round: Zach Collins and Caleb Swanigan. While Collins has carved out a nice role for himself, Swanigan was never able to break into a frontcourt rotation that already features Jusuf Nurkic, Myers Leonard and Collins. He appeared in just 45 games, and now they’ve decided to move on, swapping him for Labissiere.
The deal works in the same way for the Trail Blazers as it does for the Kings. They got a few years with a big-man prospect and decided it wasn’t working, so they’re taking a fresh look at a new one. Labissiere has showed a decent shooting touch, and probably has more upside than Swanigan, but it’s also unlikely he plays much of a role for the Trail Blazers down the stretch.
Maybe he blossoms with a new franchise, and if not, it didn’t cost them much.