The 2022 NBA trade deadline came and went Thursday, and boy, was it a doozy.
James Harden muscled his way out of Brooklyn and into Philadelphia, Ben Simmons finally got away from the 76ers, the Dallas Mavericks ejected Kristaps Porzingis, the Kings did *gestures at Tyrese Haliburton trade* and the Los Angeles Lakers admitted defeat but not in the way they wanted.
Meanwhile, the Warriors stood pat, believing that when healthy, their 15 is as good as any in the NBA.
The deadline has passed. The Woj bombs have all gone off. Here are the winners and losers from a frantic day in The Association:
This one is a layup. The 76ers spent months being dragged down by Simmons and his unwillingness to play for a team that rightly criticized him after he had a meltdown during last year's playoffs. Everyone wanted Daryl Morey to sell low, but he refused and finally turned Simmons into the player he wanted all along in Harden.
With Joel Embiid playing at an MVP level, the 76ers had to get Embiid some help. Harden and Embiid will be a terrifying pick-and-roll tandem, and the 76ers now have a legitimate shot to come out of the East as long as those two stay healthy. Giving up Seth Curry in the deal was a tough blow, but the 76ers held on to Tyrese Maxey and Matisse Thybulle and added one of the most talented scorers on the planet. Big win.
Can someone go wake Rob Pelinka up from his nap? Is he in a coma?
The Lakers have been a train wreck this season. Their offseason Russell Westbrook gambit has been a massive failure. The deadline was the Lakers' last chance to wave the white flag on Westbrook and try to salvage the season. Los Angeles did zero. Zilch. Nada.
Admittedly, the Lakers didn't have many options to move Westbrook and his massive contract. Talen Horton-Tucker's value is at an all-time low, Kendrick Nunn has no value since he hasn't played all season, and no one is jumping at the opportunity to help the Lakers clean up the mess they made. There were rumors of a deal centered around John Wall and either Eric Gordon or Christian Wood with the Rockets. But the deadline passed, and the Lakers didn't move Westbrook or improve their roster at all.
What you see is what you get, and it's ugly.
The Kevin Durant-Kyrie Irving-James Harden trio played in just 16 games together. Harden wanted out, and the Nets turned him into an elite defender and 25-year-old All-Star in Simmons, a deadeye shooter in Seth Curry, two first-round picks, and a serviceable center in Andre Drummond.
For all his warts, Simmons should fit in perfectly with the Nets. He will be the ideal small-ball five in a lineup with Durant, Irving, Seth Curry, and Patty Mills or Joe Harris. He should be a lethal roll guy when screening for Irving and will give defenses fits when setting picks for Durant and forcing them into unfavorable mismatches. Simmons also gives the Nets someone to run the offense when Irving is out due to New York's vaccine mandate.
If Simmons can play his role, the Nets made the best of the situation Harden handed them.
The Mavericks took on two bloated contracts in Spencer Dinwiddie and Davis Bertans to get rid of the oft-injured Kristaps Porzingis.
Dinwiddie is two years removed from his best basketball and has been bad this season. He feels redundant with Jalen Brunson. Bertans hasn't been a sharpshooter since he got paid.
Perhaps the Mavericks like their lineup with Dwight Powell and the five, Dorian Finney-Smith at the four, and want Dinwiddie to take Trey Burke's minutes. It's possible Dallas feels Luka Doncic plays his best without Porzingis on the floor, so they made a move to get two players who, in theory, could provide scoring off the bench. A sixth-man role could be what Dinwiddie needs. Bertans could find new life in Dallas. But that's a lot of ifs, coulds and maybes.
Winner: James Harden, Ben Simmons and player empowerment
The great era of player empowerment rolls on.
One year after Harden dogged it in Houston to get traded to the Nets, he forced his way to a new team and a reunion with Morey. Simmons, with four years remaining on his contract, finally got out of Philadelphia. Sure, it took a few months, but in the end, Simmons got what he wanted.
The players run the league. If a star wants out, he's getting out.
Loser: Chicago Bulls
As the Nets, 76ers, Celtics, Cavs, and Raptors got better at the deadline, the Bulls stood pat. Chicago didn't want to include Patrick Williams in any trade, and the Bulls believe that when healthy, they can contend for the Eastern Conference title.
As much as I like the DeMar DeRozan-Lonzo Ball-Zach LaVine-Nikola Vucevic core, I have a hard time seeing them beat the 76ers, Nets, or Bucks in a seven-game series. It feels like a waste of what has been an incredible season from DeRozan. To be fair, was Jerami Grant really going to make a difference?
RELATED: How Harden-Simmons blockbuster impacts Warriors
No, the Warriors didn't make any moves. Despite all the Twitter cries for the Warriors to trade James Wiseman for Myles Turner with the help of an NBA 2K override button, Bob Myers stayed the course.
Do the Warriors need another big? Perhaps. But there were no enticiing, realistic options out there, and Myers wasn't going to deal Wiseman -- who has little trade value at the moment -- Moses Moody or Jonathan Kuminga.
But while the Warriors didn't do anything, neither did any of the West's top teams.
The Memphis Grizzlies were silent. So were the Denver Nuggets. The Utah Jazz picked up Nickeil Alexander-Walker, and the Phoenix Suns brought back Torrey Craig and acquired Aaron Holiday. We went over the Lakers.
While the East was busy making moves, the West was calm, and that's good news for Golden State's title hopes.
At 24-31 and in 12th place in the Eastern Conference, the Knicks needed to do something to fix their sliding roster.
Kemba Walker, Alec Burks, Nerlens Noel, and Evan Fournier were rumored to be on the market. But the Knicks got no bites worth reeling in and ended up being quiet at the deadline.
Look on the bright side, Knicks fans. It could be worse. They could have traded for Westbrook.