Dejounte Murray [608x342] - Copy
Dejounte Murray [608x342] - Copy (Credit: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Yankees place Trevino quad on 10-day IL

The NBA offseason is here, and teams are wasting no time gearing up for the upcoming season.

The first two-night NBA draft brought us plenty of trades but it was the action before the draft that got the offseason rolling. A day after the second-round of the NBA draft that brought one of the biggest deals of the early offseason as the Atlanta Hawks traded guard Dejounte Murray to New Orleans for forward Larry Nance Jr., guard Dyson Daniels, forward E.J. Liddell and two future first round picks.

One night ahead of the 2024 draft, the Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks made a splash. The Nets traded forward Mikal Bridges and a 2026 second-rounder to the Knicks for Bojan Bogdanovic, four unprotected first-round picks (2025, 2027, 2029, 2031), a 2025 protected first-rounder via the Milwaukee Bucks, a 2028 unprotected pick swap and a 2025 second-rounder, sources told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

Soon after the Bridges deal, the Houston Rockets turned a draft pick and swap into two future draft picks and two future swaps. The draft assets give the Rockets the flexibility to possibly trade for a star player to add to their young roster. The trades for both of those pre-draft deals can be found here. 

Earlier in the offseason, the Chicago Bulls landed Josh Giddey from the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for Alex Caruso in the first trade of the offseason. Caruso is in the last year of his current deal and in six months will be eligible for a four-year, $80 million extension. The Thunder's goal in bringing Caruso in is to keep him for the long term, according to Wojnarowski.

These might be the first trades this summer, but there are plenty more to come as teams look to solidify their rosters for next season, so stay tuned as we grade them all below: 

 Free agency grades | Buzz 

FREE AGENCY TRADES Thompson to Dallas on a sign-and-trade

Charlotte Hornets get:

F Josh Green

Dallas Mavericks get:

G Klay Thompson (via sign-and-trade)

Golden State Warriors get:

2025 second-round pick (via lesser of Philadelphia and Denver) 2031 second-round pick (via Dallas)

Dallas: B-

After shooting just 32% from 3-point range during their five-game NBA Finals loss to the Boston Celtics, the Mavericks have taken bold steps this offseason to ensure that won't happen again. Adding Thompson, who ranks sixth in league history in made 3s, is by far the biggest and most fascinating move for Dallas.

We've never seen Thompson play for anyone but the Warriors, a 13-year run -- including two entire seasons lost to injury -- that resulted in five All-Star appearances and four NBA championships. The last of those came in 2021-22, after Thompson returned midseason from an ACL tear followed by an Achilles rupture, a combination largely unprecedented in NBA history. Yet Thompson still averaged 19.0 points in the playoffs en route to the title.

Since returning, Thompson hasn't been the same kind of defender, and his occasional lapses in shot selection became a greater source of friction last season. For the first time since his rookie season, Thompson came off the bench after the All-Star break. Ultimately, Thompson and Golden State split, putting the Mavericks in position to pounce via sign-and-trade.

It will be interesting to see whether Dallas sees Thompson as a starter on the wing. He's getting more money than fellow newcomer Naji Marshall, who agreed to a three-year, $27 million deal Sunday to fill the role played by incumbent Mavericks small forward Derrick Jones Jr. Starting Thompson would maximize the floor spacing for Dallas stars Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving at the expense of defense.

The Mavericks want to hide Doncic as much as possible defensively, and although Irving was strong individually throughout Dallas' run to the Finals, asking him to defend high scorers during the regular season is unreasonable. Thompson is no longer capable of being a primary wing defender, which might suggest Marshall as the better fit in the starting five with Thompson as sixth man.

However the Mavericks line up to start games, Jason Kidd will have plenty of options. With Thompson replacing Green, Marshall replacing Jones and Quentin Grimes swapped in for Tim Hardaway Jr., Dallas goes 11 deep in terms of rotation-caliber players with a variety of strengths and weaknesses. Grimes and Dante Exum give Kidd strong defenders off the bench, while Hardy and Thompson will juice the team's offense. The depth should help the Mavericks manage the regular season while Kidd sorts out the best rotations for the playoffs.

Ultimately, Dallas surely came back to all those Finals 3-point misses in pursuing Thompson. With Boston capable of staying home on wing shooters and containing Doncic and Irving one-on-one, the Mavericks neither got up enough 3-point attempts (they didn't attempt more than 27 in any of the first three games, all losses) nor made enough of the shots they did try.

Thompson's contested 3-point making will be a massive upgrade for Dallas. Per Second Spectrum tracking, Thompson shot the 10th-best 3-point percentage (39%) among players with at least 500 attempts on the sixth-hardest shot diet among those 26 players. Based on Second Spectrum's quantified shot quality measure, we'd have expected an average shooter to make just 34% of Thompson's 3-point attempts because of their location, shot type and distance to nearby defenders.

Yet I wonder about the cost to the Mavericks' defense. Going from Jones and Green as primary perimeter defenders to Marshall and Thompson is a massive drop-off only partly offset by adding Grimes. If Thompson is going to finish games at small forward alongside one of Dallas' two strong centers (Daniel Gafford and Dereck Lively II), that will probably compel P.J. Washington to defend wings with size. Washington struggled in that role before enjoying more success defending power forwards once Jones moved into the Mavericks' starting lineup after the All-Star break.

Adding Thompson undoubtedly makes Dallas a more interesting team. I'm not totally convinced it makes the Mavericks a better one.

Charlotte: B+

I like Green as a value pickup for the Hornets in exchange for a second-round pick that's almost certain to fall at the end of the draft. He's just starting a three-year, $41 million extension signed ahead of possible restricted free agency next summer. That pays him less than the non-taxpayer midlevel exception over that span and takes him through age 26.

In Dallas, Green always had to deal with the specter of the wings the Mavericks passed on to draft him No. 18 in 2020: first fast-starting Saddiq Bey, then later TCU product Desmond Bane. Several years younger than both of them, Green has slowly progressed into the 3-and-D wing Dallas envisioned. He has shot 39% from 3s over the past two seasons and is capable of credibly guarding all three perimeter positions and some smaller power forwards.

The latter skill should come in especially handy for the Hornets, the 29th-ranked defense on a per-possession basis last season. Green would fit well alongside former No. 2 overall pick Brandon Miller, giving Miller room to operate on offense and taking the toughest defensive assignments off his plate.

Entering the first year under a new lead executive (Jeff Peterson) and head coach (former Boston assistant Charles Lee), Charlotte isn't likely to be competitive on the court next season. Still, consider Green another young piece in place for when the Hornets are ready to take the next step in their development a season or two down the line.

Golden State: B

Although this is undoubtedly a sad day and the end of an era, once the Warriors decided to move on from Thompson, a sign-and-trade deal was a win-win for both parties. Thompson gets slightly more than the non-taxpayer midlevel exception he likely would have been limited to seeking from contending teams, while Golden State ends up with a pair of second-round picks and a $16 million trade exception out of the deal.

If the Warriors are hoping to avoid paying the luxury tax this season as repeaters after agreeing to a deal with free agent De'Anthony Melton on Monday, the trade exception won't help them much this summer. Down the road, however, they could use it next summer for a sign-and-trade of their own in order to offer more than the non-taxpayer midlevel exception to a free agent or save their midlevel for use elsewhere.

POST-DRAFT DEALS

New Orleans Pelicans get: G Dejounte Murray

Atlanta Hawks get: C Larry Nance Jr. F E.J. Liddell G Dyson Daniels 2025 first-round pick (via Lakers) 2027 first-round pick (least favorable of Milwaukee/New Orleans)

New Orleans Pelicans grade: B+

This may yet be an A trade for the Pelicans, who dramatically upgraded their shot creation without giving up any of their own future first-round picks. However, there are still questions for New Orleans to answer.

Primarily, we need to know what happens with Brandon Ingram, who no longer fits either in the Pelicans' starting five or in their salary structure. New Orleans may need to save money in an Ingram trade to avoid pushing into the luxury tax to sign a center with Nance in Atlanta and Jonas Valanciunas a free agent.

I'm also curious about the Pelicans' vision for CJ McCollum. The optimized New Orleans starting five probably has Herb Jones and Trey Murphy III on the wings flanking Murray and Zion Williamson, but coming off the bench may be a tough sell to McCollum.

That's a lot of questions, all of which New Orleans may have already answered internally. The rest of us must wait to see how this roster comes together.

Atlanta Hawks grade: B+

The Hawks had to trade one of their guards after finding last season that Murray and Trae Young were far less effective together than on their own running a team.

I would have preferred to keep Murray, who signed a below-market extension last year that pays him less than the average point guard. (Immanuel Quickley, for example, agreed to a deal Friday that will pay him more than Murray over the next four seasons.)

At the same time, other teams also have access to Atlanta's cap sheet and may have valued Murray more than Young in the trade market for the same reasoning. If the Hawks were going to deal Murray, this is strong return, netting them two first-round picks, a recent lottery pick and getting them out of the luxury tax.

Hornets get Jackson, three picks from Nuggets

Charlotte Hornets get:

G Reggie Jackson  2025 second-round pick 2029 second-round pick 2030 second-round pick

Denver Nuggets get:

TBD

Charlotte Hornets grade: A

The structure of the new NBA collective bargaining agreement gives the Hornets multiple options for how to make this trade, none of them possible until the moratorium period ends July 6. At that point, Charlotte could create cap space by renouncing the rights to free agents and waiving Davis Bertans, whose 2024-25 salary is just $5.25 million guaranteed.

The Hornets could take Jackson's salary into their cap space. Alternatively, they could become the first team to take advantage of a new provision in the collective bargaining agreement allowing teams to use their midlevel exceptions to add salary in trades. If Charlotte was to re-sign free agent Miles Bridges, the Hornets could stay over the cap and take in Jackson with the non-tax midlevel. Or the Hornets could use their cap space to sign a more expensive free agent, then deal for Jackson via the room exception.

Whatever the mechanics of this trade, Jackson probably isn't long for Charlotte. With LaMelo Ball back healthy along with Tre Mann and Vasilije Micic both as options at point guard, the Hornets may simply waive Jackson to clear a roster spot and collect the second-round picks as a strong fee for taking on just $5.25 million in salary.

It is worth noting that the 2029 and 2030 second-round picks are contingent on the Nuggets delivering the top-five-protected first-round pick they owe Oklahoma City by 2029. If not, those picks could go to the Thunder instead in a long-shot scenario.

Additionally, Charlotte will have to send something of value to complete this trade. That could be cash, a top-55-protected second-round pick or the rights to an unsigned pick.

Denver Nuggets grade: C

This trade is the costly result of the Nuggets giving Jackson a 2024-25 player option as part of the contract when he re-signed last summer. With Jackson picking up that $5.25 million option, Denver was over the lower luxury tax apron before considering re-signing starting shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope as a free agent.

Should Caldwell-Pope return, shedding Jackson's salary gives the Nuggets a better chance of wiggling under the second luxury tax apron and avoiding having their 2032 first-round pick frozen from trade. If Caldwell-Pope leaves, Denver would comfortably have access to the projected $5.2 million taxpayer midlevel exception this summer.

Depending on how confident the Nuggets are in 2023 second-round pick Jalen Pickett as a replacement for Jackson after Pickett played just 122 minutes as a rookie, the tax midlevel might be ticketed for replacing Jackson. It wouldn't be difficult to upgrade that spot. Although Jackson played well as a starter, filling in for an injured Jamal Murray, his overall .521 true shooting percentage was inadequate for a modern point guard.

The cost for Denver was all the team's remaining second-round picks. After sending three second-round picks to the Phoenix Suns to move up from No. 28 and No. 22 in the first round in pursuit of DaRon Holmes, this trade has exhausted the Nuggets' store of second-rounders. They're also unable to trade a first-round pick outright, which will make it difficult for Denver to upgrade this group during the season. As a result, the pressure is on the Nuggets' recent draft picks to step up in pursuit of the team's second championship in three years.

Pistons get Hardaway Jr., picks from Mavericks for Grimes

Dallas Mavericks get: G Quentin Grimes

Detroit Pistons get: G Tim Hardaway Jr. 2025 second-round pick (via Raptors) 2028 second-round pick 2028 second-round pick (via lesser of Clippers/Hornets)

Dallas Mavericks grade: A

There's a lot to like about this trade for the Mavericks, who cashed in almost every remaining second-round pick to both shave nearly $12 million off their 2024-25 salary and potentially upgrade the backup wing spot.

Saving money was the primary goal of trading Hardaway because Dallas needs access to its non-taxpayer midlevel exception to make a competitive offer to re-sign starting small forward Derrick Jones Jr. The Mavericks got such a good deal on Jones at the veteran's minimum last offseason that re-signing him using non-Bird rights would have been impossible.

Using the midlevel exception, Dallas can offer Jones up to a projected $55 million over four years. A team with cap space could beat that, particularly in terms of per-year salary on a shorter deal, but this trade likely signals confidence from the Mavericks they will be able to re-sign Jones -- keeping together the core of last year's team that reached the NBA Finals.

Along that playoff journey, Hardaway fell out of Jason Kidd's rotation, playing barely more than 60 total minutes across the Finals and Western Conference finals. If Hardaway wasn't making 3s at high volume, his defensive limitations at age 32 made it tough to keep him on the court. Jaden Hardy stepped up in the conference finals, but Dallas had a tougher time filling Hardaway's spot against the Boston Celtics.

Enter Grimes, who has the defensive chops to hang in high-level playoff series. I've never bought into the hype of Grimes as a starting-caliber 3-and-D wing, but playing off the bench behind Jones, he's a strong fit with the Mavericks. A 37% career 3-point shooter, Grimes is more reliable in that regard than Hardy and Dante Exum.

It will be interesting to see whether Dallas looks to extend Grimes. His bargain $4.3 million salary was a key selling point in this deal, but Grimes is in the final season of his rookie contract and eligible for an extension ahead of restricted free agency next summer. If Kyrie Irving gets a raise using his 2025-26 player option, the Mavericks could start to run up big tax bills and potentially begin dealing with second-apron restrictions by bringing back Grimes.

At the same time, restrictions on tax-paying teams will also make it hard for Dallas to add anyone as talented as Grimes, so extending or re-signing him might be worth the cost. For now, the Mavericks should be able to offer Jones the full non-tax midlevel if necessary and still be safely clear of the resulting hard cap at the lower luxury-tax apron.

Detroit Pistons grade: C-

Hardaway to the Pistons was a natural fit, given their ample cap space unlikely to be used in free agency and his local ties as a product of the nearby University of Michigan. Including Grimes made sense as a carrot if Detroit could induce Dallas to give up a valuable first-round pick in 2031, the only year the Mavericks can currently trade one.

Instead, the Pistons settled for second-round picks of more modest value. Given Grimes was the key return when Detroit sent Bojan Bogdanovic and Alec Burks to the New York Knicks at the trade deadline, that's something of a disappointment. Taking on Hardaway's contract alone should have been worth at least one second-round pick.

To some extent, this might reflect the cost of changing team management this offseason. New president Trajan Langdon inherited Grimes, acquired by predecessor Troy Weaver, and might not have valued him the same way. If the Pistons knew they were considering a change, letting Weaver run the trade deadline was surely a mistake.

On the plus side, Hardaway should provide more on-court help than last year's trade addition using cap space, Joe Harris. Hardaway's 3-point volume (10.1 attempts per 36 minutes, which would have led Detroit last season) will help create more space for the Pistons' young guards to operate. Still, given the return, I probably would have hung on to Grimes and signed a veteran like Hardaway in free agency.

DRAFT DEALS

Sacramento Kings get: F Jalen McDaniels

Toronto Raptors get: G Davion Mitchell F Sasha Vezenkov Rights to No. 45 pick 

Sacramento Kings grade: B+

Although the Kings are getting McDaniels, this trade is mostly about the financial element for them. Sacramento was slightly over the projected luxury-tax line after agreeing to re-sign sixth man Malik Monk last week, and moving a pair of guaranteed salaries gives the Kings far more breathing room.

Counting Keon Ellis, whose salary is non-guaranteed, Sacramento now has 12 players under contract and a little more than $7 million below the luxury-tax line to spend. Barring additional moves, the Kings can choose between filling out the roster with three minimum salaries or keeping 14 players and paying one of them a little more using the midlevel exception.

McDaniels could help Sacramento as well. I'm not sure how things went so far south for McDaniels in one season north of the border. He shot just 45% on 2s and 17% on 3s in 538 minutes, far below his career marks of 53% and 32%, respectively. The version of McDaniels we saw in 2021-22 and 2022-23 would be a nice fit with the Kings as a backup three, a spot they've often filled with either shooting guards or power forwards playing out of position.

Although Mitchell and Vezenkov not panning out is disappointing for Sacramento, the Kings didn't have to pay too heavy a price to move off both contracts.

Toronto Raptors grade: A-

The most interesting question for the Raptors is whether this trade signals they might choose to stay over the cap this offseason rather than clearing cap space. Adding more than $8 million in salary takes Toronto's maximum cap room down to about $17 million, at which point the Raptors might be better off maintaining Bird rights to free agents and using the projected $12.8 million non-taxpayer midlevel exception -- which now could help take back salary in trades in addition to signing free agents.

Gary Trent Jr. could be the swing player in that decision, since his cap hold would take Toronto over the cap if he returns. The Raptors have now drafted shooting guards in back-to-back drafts between Gradey Dick and Ja'Kobe Walter, which could make Trent expendable.

Besides getting the pick used on Shead, Toronto has to believe in the possibility of getting value from Mitchell and Vezenkov. Mitchell has been as advertised as a perimeter defender. He actually shot 36% on 3s last year as well, but still lost his rotation spot at times because of limited playmaking.

I've got more hope for Vezenkov, who was maybe the most productive player in Europe before signing with Sacramento last summer. There's a track record of international players struggling from 3-point range as rookies before adapting to the longer line in Year 2. If Vezenkov shoots even better than last season's 37.5% from beyond the arc, the Raptors may be more willing to live with his defensive shortcomings.

Vezenkov is also more important to Toronto because he has a guaranteed $7.0 million salary for 2025-26, whereas Mitchell's contract is expiring.

Atlanta Hawks get: Rights to No. 44 pick 

Houston Rockets get:  F AJ Griffin

Atlanta Hawks grade: B

After playing well in the first half of his rookie season, when he averaged 9.3 points on 39% 3-point shooting, Griffin never seemed to connect with new Hawks coach (and fellow Duke product) Quin Snyder. The 1,122 minutes Griffin played before the All-Star break as a rookie were more than twice as many as he's totaled since -- just 460. In limited action last season, Griffin shot poorly (26% on 3s, 35% on 2s) and missed the season's final 14 games due to an ankle injury.

At this point, a fresh start is probably best for both Griffin and Atlanta. The Hawks, currently over the projected luxury-tax line, couldn't afford paying $3.9 million for a player Snyder wasn't willing to use. Dealing Griffin doesn't entirely take Atlanta out of the tax, but gives the team more wiggle room with additional trades to come.

The Hawks took the No. 44 pick they acquired in this trade and moved up one spot, taking Serbian guard Nikola Djurisic.

Houston Rockets grade: A

Dealing for Griffin extends the Rockets' series of draft moves that align with my projections. He ranked fourth in the 2022 version before going No. 16 overall to Atlanta. (Houston took Tari Eason, who ranked eighth in my projections, one pick later.)

That makes Griffin a great second draft candidate for the Rockets, who will get a chance to look at him in training camp before deciding on a $5.7 million team option for 2026-27 by Oct. 31 this year. Because Houston is between the salary cap and the tax, there's little downside to adding Griffin's salary.

Detroit Pistons get: Rights to No. 37 pick G Wendell Moore Jr.

Minnesota Timberwolves get: No. 53 pick

Detroit Pistons grade: A

I like this as a flier for the Pistons. Moore, who turns 23 in September, is younger than four players taken in the first round of this year's draft. The No. 26 pick two years ago, Moore has played sparingly for the Timberwolves, totaling just 228 NBA minutes. After playing well in the G League as a rookie, Moore struggled in eight games last season, making 35% of his 2s and 29% of his 3s.

Taking on Moore's $2.5 million salary takes a nibble out of Detroit's projected $50-plus million in cap space, and the Pistons were rewarded by moving up 16 spots in the second round to draft Bobi Klintman, who will bring some shooting ability to the roster. 

If the Pistons don't like what they see from Moore in training camp, they can always waive him ahead of an Oct. 31 decision on his 2025-26 team option and walk away owing him just $2.5 million. With so much cap space to spend and few impact free agents likely to change teams, we'll probably see more trades like this from Detroit over the next week or two.

Minnesota Timberwolves get: B

Although Moore's salary is inconsequential for the Pistons, it was meaningful for the Timberwolves -- especially after they added money to their books with Wednesday night's deal to add No. 8 pick Rob Dillingham. Merely replacing Moore with a player making the veteran's minimum is enough to save Minnesota about $2.6 million in salary and luxury-tax payments, depending on their final bracket.

Dillingham's arrival, along with fellow first-round pick Terrence Shannon Jr., also pushed Moore further down the Timberwolves' pecking order when it came to development. The odds were against Moore ever playing any significant minutes for Minnesota.

Wizards trade Avdija to Blazers for lottery pick

Washington Wizards get: Malcolm Brogdon 2024 No. 14 pick (Bub Carrington) 2029 first-round pick (second-most favorable of Boston/Milwaukee/Portland) Two future second-round picks

Portland Trail Blazers get: Deni Avdija

Washington Wizards grade: B+

A rebuilding team trading away perhaps its biggest success story from last season is certainly surprising, but the Wizards' management under president Michael Winger has been signaling a long view since adding 18-year-old Bilal Coulibaly with the No. 7 pick last year. Washington ended up using the No. 14 pick acquired in this deal on another young player, Pitt guard Carrington, who won't turn 19 until next month.

There's much to be said for a team-building strategy of simply picking the youngest reasonable prospect in each draft, something the Philadelphia 76ers did pre-Process that netted Thaddeus Young and Jrue Holiday in a three-year span from 2007 to 2009.

Besides turning Avdija into a pair of first-round picks, the Wizards could reap more benefits down the road to take this deal from good to great. Washington lands Brogdon on a $22.5 million expiring contract and can either trade him to add picks or have an additional $14.4 million in cap space in summer 2025 to command draft compensation for taking on bad salaries.

If the Wizards' philosophy seems familiar, it should. Winger and GM Will Dawkins both spent time with the Oklahoma City Thunder, who have been as aggressive as any team since the Process Sixers about stockpiling draft picks. Although Washington didn't have the luxury of starting this rebuild with the extra picks and built-in star Oklahoma City had in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, the Wizards are working hard to find value wherever they can.

Portland Trail Blazers grades: C+

Quietly, Avdija took a massive step forward in his fourth season, adding 5.5 points to his scoring average primarily through improved shooting accuracy. He made both 2s (56%) and 3s (37%) at career-high rates, boosting his true shooting percentage from .535 in 2022-23 -- 8% below league average, per Basketball-Reference.com -- to 3% better than average at .597.

Avdija also took on larger responsibility creating offense on the rebuilding Wizards, pushing his usage rate from 17% to 20% and handing out a career-high 4.6 assists per 36 minutes. Combined with Avdija's already strong play on defense, that was enough to make him one of the league's better 3-and-D contributors at age 23.

Conveniently for Washington, that breakthrough came after the Wizards signed Avdija to a four-year rookie extension that pays him $55 million, nearly identical to the current non-taxpayer midlevel exception. Because Avdija's salary will decrease yearly, by 2027-28 he'll be making just $11.9 million for his age-27 campaign.

All of that combined to give Avdija considerable value in the trade market. Given the choice between Avdija on his current contract and using the No. 14 pick on an experienced prospect such as Tennessee's Dalton Knecht, who ended up going 17th and is just three and a half months younger, I'd much rather have Avdija. I'm not sure, however, I'd value the difference enough to give up a second first-round pick, plus toss in a couple of second-rounders.

The big question with Avdija's value is just how much you believe in his improvement as an outside shooter. He shot 31% from beyond the arc over his first three seasons with no discernible improvement over that span and took a limited volume of shots in 2023-24 (a career-low 3.7 attempts per 36 minutes), and his career 74% accuracy at the foul line is somewhat worse than the league average of 78%. As a result, the Darko projection system pegs Avdija's true talent as a 3-point shooter at a below-average 33%.

If Avdija isn't the plus shooter he was last season, he's no longer nearly as good a fit next to the Blazers' young backcourt of Scoot Henderson, Shaedon Sharpe and Anfernee Simons, although he can take on the responsibility of handling the toughest perimeter defensive assignment when Toumani Camara is not on the court.

Either way, Avdija's modest salary will fit in well as Portland's young talent starts to graduate to more expensive extensions. The Blazers also took advantage of Washington's financial flexibility to save nearly $7 million in 2024-25 salary, enough to take them below the projected luxury-tax line and allowing the team to take back extra money in future trades if necessary.

New York and Washington swap picks

New York Knicks get: Rights to No. 26 pick (Dillon Jones)

Washington Wizards get: Rights to No. 24 pick (Kyshawn George) No. 51 pick

New York Knicks grade: B+

Sliding back two picks was the first part of a series of trades for the Knicks. Because picks in the 50s have produced so little historically, my draft trade chart suggests New York actually got less value in return for moving down two spots.

Given the Knicks were busy working the phones, however, they probably had a good idea they could get a similar package from the Oklahoma City Thunder for the No. 26 pick as No. 24. That makes the No. 51 pick more or less found money as well as a tool for navigating a hard cap following the Bridges trade.

Second-round picks making the minimum count at their salary ($1.16 million) for tax and apron purposes, whereas an undrafted rookie making the same amount counts as the veterans minimum ($2.1 million). That minor difference could affect New York's flexibility in filling out the roster. The Knicks added the No. 51 pick to a second-rounder they already held, No. 38 overall.

Washington Wizards grade: A-

It's unclear whether another team would have stepped in to stop George's slide by trading for one of New York's back-to-back picks at Nos. 24 and 25, but the Wizards paid little to ensure they got the ninth-ranked prospect in my stats-based projections.

Given George was 20th in the top 100 by ESPN's Jonathan Givony and Jeremy Woo and went 19th in their final mock draft, going as high as I had him ranked was never realistic. But George fell a little past that, allowing Washington to swoop in with the pick the team added in exchange for Daniel Gafford at the trade deadline.

After this trade, the Wizards will no longer have a pick in the second round. Washington's three first-round picks Wednesday night -- all of them projected in my top 15 -- give the team plenty of rookies on a rebuilding roster.

Minnesota trades for No. 8

Minnesota Timberwolves get: 2024 No. 8 pick (Rob Dillingham)

San Antonio Spurs get: 2030 first-round swap (top-1 protected) 2031 first-round pick

Minnesota Timberwolves grade: B

After tonight, when the Timberwolves draft at No. 27, they control just one of their next five first-round picks because of the Rudy Gobert trade. Minnesota further depleted its future pick resources in an aggressive move up for Dillingham, betting heavily that he is the team's point guard of the future and a better prospect than anyone the Wolves could potentially draft during Anthony Edwards' prime.

Point guard loomed as the biggest long-term need for the Timberwolves. Mike Conley will turn 37 just before opening night, and while he's aging gracefully thanks to his strong outside shooting and decision-making, Minnesota needs to plan for an eventual post-Conley future.

Dillingham is an interesting fit in that role. Many scouts pegged him as more of a bench scorer than a starting point guard, but Dillingham did average 6.6 assists per 40 minutes in his lone season at Kentucky. The Timberwolves don't necessarily need a traditional point guard because Edwards will so often have the ball in his hands. In that regard, Dillingham's 44% 3-point shooting is a crucial fit with Edwards.

Defensively, Minnesota is better positioned than nearly any other team to compensate for an undersized player such as Dillingham -- who weighed in at just 164 pounds at the NBA draft combine, the lightest of any player -- at point guard. Conley, who's listed at 175 but might play lighter than that, is of similar size. The defensive versatility of Edwards and Jalen McDaniels allowed the Timberwolves to hide Conley on the opponent's weakest perimeter player.

If Dillingham doesn't prove to be Minnesota's point guard of the future, the cost of this deal could be painful. Financially, taking on the $6.3 million first-year salary for the No. 8 pick means adding $22 million in luxury taxes, per ESPN's Bobby Marks. The Timberwolves will presumably save some money and let backup point guard Monte Morris walk after he played sparingly in the playoffs as a deadline pickup.

More importantly, Minnesota can no longer trade a first-round pick until the 2026 draft night: The Timberwolves will be able to deal the 2026 pick they end up with from the Utah Jazz swap as well as their 2033 first-rounder. The Timberwolves are all-in on this core and need Dillingham to become part of it.

San Antonio Spurs grade: B

This isn't the kind of win-now move we expected from the Spurs on draft night, and San Antonio is betting heavily against Minnesota. San Antonio will now have two swaps in 2030, having already acquired the right to swap picks with the Dallas Mavericks, meaning the Spurs get the best pick out of all three teams as long as the Timberwolves don't win the lottery. San Antonio also adds an unprotected Minnesota pick in 2031. If the Timberwolves are rebuilding by then, the Spurs could make out from this trade.

This move also seems to indicate San Antonio wasn't particularly high on the No. 8 pick after drafting Stephon Castle No. 4 overall earlier Wednesday. The odds are against either the pick or the swap being higher than eighth, so the Spurs surely valued this less than the typical No. 8 pick.

The other possibility here is that San Antonio thinks that a 2031 Timberwolves pick will retain more trade value after tonight than whomever they could have picked eighth. The draft surely won't be the Spurs' last opportunity to add veteran talent who can help propel Victor Wembanyama's development, but making a win-later trade now puts more pressure on San Antonio to get something done later this offseason.

Knicks land Bridges for Bogdanovic and collection of picks

Brooklyn Nets get:

Bojan Bogdanovic 2025 first-round pick 2027 first-round pick 2029 first-round pick 2031 first-round pick 2028 first-round swap  2025 first-round pick (via Bucks) 2025 second-round pick 

New York Knicks get:

Mikal Bridges 2026 second-round pick

Brooklyn Nets grade: A

Bridges' combination of production and contract makes him invaluable to contending teams. Unfortunately, his current team was no longer one. The Nets could have hoped going into last season that versatility could compensate for lacking shot creation and elite shooting. A 32-50 finish, which resulted in Brooklyn sending the No. 3 pick in Wednesday's draft to the Houston Rockets via the Harden trade, suggested that optimism was hopeful at best.

Confronting reality made it clear the Nets had to take this kind of package for Bridges while it was available. We've seen draft pick hauls of this size in recent years for perennial All-Stars, but seeing the Nets get five first-round picks -- all but one of them unprotected -- and an unprotected swap for a player who has never made the All-Star Game and will turn 28 next month is unprecedented. 

The odds are against any individual pick Brooklyn got from New York being nearly as valuable as the pick it sent to Houston, let alone the ones the Nets sent the Celtics last decade that turned into Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. Still, it's impossible to hit a jackpot if you never play.

Part of the challenge for Brooklyn trading Bridges for a return built entirely on draft compensation was the Nets not controlling their own picks through 2027 due to the Harden deal. Brooklyn solved that issue with a subsequent, related trade that returned swap rights in 2025 and the team's 2026 first-round pick from Houston.

See grades for Knicks and Rockets, plus more analysis

Oklahoma City trades Giddey to Chicago for Caruso

Chicago Bulls get: Josh Giddey

Oklahoma City Thunder get:  Alex Caruso

Chicago Bulls grade: C-

Let's give the Bulls credit for acknowledging the reality of dealing Caruso ahead of the final season of his contract. This time last year, Chicago was hoping an 11-6 late-season run with Caruso in the starting five would translate to a return to the playoffs. Instead, after the Bulls lost in the play-in for a second consecutive year, they moved Caruso for a player who's nine years younger and under team control on his rookie contract.

We can debate whether Giddey was the right target for the Bulls rather than adding draft picks or other young talent. Before the February trade deadline, ESPN's Zach Lowe said, "It wouldn't shock me if the Bulls ended up with two protected first-round picks" if they made Caruso available. Instead of multiple bites at the apple, Chicago is clearly hoping Giddey -- the No. 6 pick in 2021 -- gives them one special talent.

The jury is very much out on that kind of optimism three years into Giddey's career. Last year's playoffs overstated Giddey's weaknesses, especially on a Bulls team that's unlikely to worry about the crucible of deep rounds in the playoffs any time soon. Giddey hasn't yet shown enough special skills aside from his preternatural talent as an inbound passer to convince he's a star in the making, however.

The case for Giddey would rest on his sophomore season, when he averaged 16.6 points , 7.9 rebounds and 6.2 assists per game at age 20. Giddey showed considerable chops in creating shots at high volume, finishing 25% of the Thunder's plays in addition to handing out 7.1 assists per 36 minutes. However, his .533 true shooting percentage was 8% worse than league average, per Basketball-Reference.com, and only improved marginally last season in a smaller role.

The fear with Giddey is his consistency with the ball in his hands on a regular basis and his lack of help in an off-ball role because of his limited shooting. He did up his 3-point shooting to a career-best 34% in the 2023-24 regular season, but the volume (4.4 attempts per 36 minutes, as compared to 5.9 for Caruso) and below-average accuracy wasn't enough to concern defenses. It's also telling that Oklahoma City, which has had success developing players since adding famed shooting coach Chip Engelland as an assistant, chose to move on from Giddey.

On the plus side, Giddey won't turn 22 until just before next season. He's younger than seven players projected to go in the first round of next week's NBA draft, including likely top-10 pick Dalton Knecht. Shooting and playmaking tend to develop late, and there's a chance Giddey can evolve in the same fashion as Bulls guard Lonzo Ball, a 31.5% 3-point shooter in two seasons with the Lakers who improved to 39% the next three seasons. With his size and passing, Giddey brings some of the strengths that made Ball an excellent fit in Chicago before a knee injury sidelined him for 27 months and counting.

I like the idea of pairing Giddey with Coby White, a score-first guard who is an excellent shooter (38% from 3 on a robust 7.0 attempts per game last season). Both players bring good size to the perimeter, though the Bulls will have to find a stopper to play alongside them. I'm less enamored by Giddey's fit with unrestricted free agent DeMar DeRozan, who often functions as a de facto point guard in the Chicago offense and requires more floor spacing than Giddey would provide at his best.

The other issue for the Bulls is that although Giddey might be young enough to be in this year's draft, he doesn't come with four years remaining on his rookie contract. Chicago will have to decide by opening night whether to extend Giddey ahead of possible restricted free agency next summer. Either way, Giddey is ticketed for a considerable raise, an issue for a Bulls team that might already be in the luxury tax this season if DeRozan returns and won't get considerable cap relief until 2026-27.

As compared to moving forward with Caruso, whose trade value might have diminished ahead of the trade deadline in the final season of his deal, I much prefer Chicago trading for Giddey. Whether the Bulls chose the best possible path in a Caruso trade will depend on how well they can develop Giddey.

Oklahoma City Thunder grade: A

Watching the NBA Finals had to be an interesting experience for the Oklahoma City Thunder, who came the closest of any West team to knocking off the Dallas Mavericks before they lost to the Boston Celtics in five games.

Like Oklahoma City, Boston was able to contain Dallas' star duo of Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving. However, the Celtics accomplished that task without helping aggressively off the Mavericks' role players. The Mavericks averaged just 16.4 catch-and-shoot 3-pointers during the Finals, according to Second Spectrum tracking, as compared to a whopping 25.3 during their 4-2 series win over the Thunder.

Those open looks for Dallas' supporting cast ultimately led to Oklahoma City's demise. The Mavericks hit them at a 41.5% clip in the series, as compared to 36.5% in all other playoff games. And while Boston was able to hold Dallas to more difficult attempts, the difference was marginal.

According to Second Spectrum's quantified shot probability metric, which incorporates the location and type of shot, distance of nearby defenders and shooter ability, shot quality accounts for about one-fifth of the gap between how well the Mavericks shot against the Celtics and the Thunder.

To some extent, then, Oklahoma City can reasonably blame bad luck for what happened against Dallas. But instead of resting on that, the Thunder are also being proactive in trying to replicate the perimeter defense that helped Boston contain Doncic and Irving one-on-one.

Already boasting three starters who received All-Defensive votes last season (stopper Luguentz Dort, league steals leader Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and rim protector Chet Holmgren), Oklahoma City now adds All-Defensive second-team pick Caruso, who finished second behind Herb Jones of the New Orleans Pelicans among perimeter players in the voting.

A first-team pick the year before, Caruso is the rare guard whose defensive impact matches up with the league's best interior defenders. Caruso leads all players in the three-year version of luck-adjusted RAPM from Krishna Narsu, which attempts to isolate an individual's impact on defensive rating while adjusting for teammates, opponents and shot-making variance. Of the next eight players in this metric, seven are big men.

If Caruso replaces Giddey in the Thunder's starting five, it's hard to find a weakness for opponents to hunt. That would leave Jalen Williams, a solid individual defender in his own right, as Oklahoma City's only starter -- or, perhaps more importantly, finisher -- who did not receive All-Defensive votes, similar to the formula the Celtics rode to the title.

Of Boston's five starters, the only one not to receive any votes was Kristaps Porzingis, who was ineligible. Other than the Celtics and Thunder, the Minnesota Timberwolves were the only other team to have more than two players receive multiple All-Defensive votes.

So far, we've focused on defense, but swapping Giddey for Caruso solves an offensive problem for Oklahoma City, too. After all, Giddey logged just 12.6 MPG in the Thunder's loss to the Mavericks because Dallas so aggressively helped on him, shrinking driving lanes for Gilgeous-Alexander and Williams. Caruso hit a career-high 41% of his 4.7 3-point attempts last season, and he's more comfortable playing in the dunker spot as a de facto big man than Giddey.

At 30, Caruso isn't necessarily the long-term fit alongside Oklahoma City's starters whom the team is still seeking. If the Thunder had decided Giddey wasn't that player, however, now was the right time to move on -- he will be in the final season of his rookie contract. And Caruso's versatility should allow him to remain valuable into his 30s so long as he remains healthy. ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported the team could initiate extension talks when extend-and-trade restrictions expire six months after this trade is complete.

Better yet, Caruso's bargain $9.89 million salary in the final season of his contract -- somehow just $3 million guaranteed through June 30 -- doesn't take much out of Oklahoma City's cap space. The Thunder can still create nearly $30 million below the cap, more than enough to make a run at a second-tier free agent such as New York Knicks center Isaiah Hartenstein.

Down the road, Oklahoma City has some spending limitations to consider with Holmgren and Williams due extensions in 2026-27 and Gilgeous-Alexander poised to start a supermax extension the following season. The length of a Caruso extension in years may be far more important than his salary, which is limited to starting at 140% of the estimated average player salary -- approximately $17.6 million, per ESPN's Bobby Marks.

For now, adding Caruso strengthens the Thunder's case as the favorites to win the West next season. They played Dallas to a draw last regular season, and they replaced their biggest liability in that series with a massive defensive upgrade. Oklahoma City will want to limit Caruso's role during the regular season given his past durability issues -- last season's 71 games and 28.7 MPG were both career highs -- but come playoff time, head coach Mark Daigneault will likely rely heavily on Caruso.