The NBA trade deadline has come and gone, and as the dust settles, a new Western Conference landscape comes into view. In the short-term, it is unlikely to look much different, but off on the horizon, there's the potential for some big changes.
There was plenty of action leading into Thursday's noon PT deadline, but most of it didn't involve teams you would refer to as current West contenders. Of the top-two teams, only the Los Angeles Clippers made a move of significance, acquiring Marcus Morris and Isaiah Thomas in a three-team trade with the New York Knicks and Washington Wizards. The Los Angeles Lakers didn't do anything.
The current fourth-place team -- the Houston Rockets -- made a deal hoping to boost their arsenal for the playoff push. It's questionable if they achieved that, as one could absolutely argue the Rockets are worse off now after essentially swapping center Clint Capela and their 2020 first-round draft pick for forward Robert Covington in a massive four-team, 12-player trade.
The Denver Nuggets made some solid bench additions, but they're unlikely to move the needle much in either direction in terms of them winning the 2020 NBA title. The Sacramento Kings definitely aren't winning the championship this season, and the two trades they made are unlikely to significantly alter the franchise's trajectory.
If we look further down the line, though, some Western teams are set up far better to contend than they were entering the deadline, and vice versa.
The most notable trade of the deadline involved the Warriors and Minnesota Timberwolves, and one could argue both teams are in better shape after the headline-making swap. The T-Wolves got the point guard they had long been in pursuit of in D'Angelo Russell, who just happens to be best friends with franchise cornerstone Karl-Anthony Towns. That should make Minnesota better for the rest of this current lost season, but also for the next few in which Towns will need to be appeased. Getting the Brooklyn Nets' 2020 first-round pick in a separate trade -- and then not having to include it to get Russell -- was a great get, too.
From the Warriors' perspective, they continued to effectively overhaul their roster with the aim of an expedited turnaround. Andrew Wiggins fits as a main piece for the duration of his current contract and beyond, not to mention he will remain an attractive trade candidate should Golden State decide to eventually ship him elsewhere. The Warriors also got Minnesota's 2021 first and second-round draft picks, further restocking what were once bare draft coffers. Factoring in the four second-round picks Golden State received in the trades for Alec Burks, Glenn Robinson III and Willie Cauley Stein, the team undeniably has far more flexibility to acquire the pieces that will get it back to being a championship contender.
Whereas the Rockets went all-in for the present at the cost of their future, the Memphis Grizzlies did the opposite. In exchange for a veteran who refused to play for them all season and wasn't going to, the Grizzlies got two pieces that fit with their young core in Justise Winslow and Gorgui Dieng. However, they not only diminished their chances of qualifying for the postseason this year, but also eliminated the vast majority of cap space available to the team this summer. Memphis has a nice young core, and the Grizzlies will continue to be dependent on it.
So, in terms of the 2020 NBA title, the events of the trade deadline won't do much to determine the effect the race in the West. The Clippers' trade for Morris has to be considered the one with the highest potential to do so, particularly considering the Lakers reportedly also were in pursuit of the big man. Moving forward, though, some current bottom-dwellers could find themselves near the top of the standings before long, and some of the biggest names around the league could have different homes within the conference sooner rather than later.