Superstars Moved and Teams Altered Before NBA Trade Deadline

Graphic/ Toby Moses

Each year in the National Basketball Association (NBA), the month of February is an eventful one, due to the league’s trade deadline falling on Feb. 9. Many NBA fans expected a relatively quiet trade deadline this year but were instead met with several superstars being dealt to different teams. 

On Feb. 3, Brooklyn Nets superstar point guard Kyrie Irving requested a trade before this year’s deadline. Although Irving has been an extremely controversial figure in the NBA, this trade request caught many fans off guard. This season, when playing alongside fellow superstar Kevin Durant, the Nets started the year 20-4. With Durant injured and the team struggling, Irving wanted out. This trade request comes after Irving’s vaccine controversy and suspension earlier this year for anti-semitism. Irving was dealt to the Dallas Mavericks in exchange for Spencer Dinwidde, Dorian Finney-Smith and three draft picks. The addition of Irving, alongside Dallas’s superstar guard Luka Doncic, gives the Mavericks one of the most dangerous backcourts in the league, and their championship odds have risen significantly as a result. 

The struggling Los Angeles Lakers looked to complete a trade before the deadline and eventually settled on a three-team deal with the Utah Jazz and Minnesota Timberwolves. Russell Westbrook was dealt to the Utah Jazz and Mike Conley, alongside draft picks and other role players, was traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Lakers received D’Angelo Russell, Jarred Vanderbilt, and Malik Beasley— a core of young players that will see many minutes in the Lakers’ struggling offense. Westbrook had been underperforming in the eyes of many Lakers fans, and the consensus is that this trade will improve The Lakers’ chances of making the playoffs. 

Late on Feb.8, the largest trade of the deadline took place, one with the potential to change the landscape of the league. Kevin Durant previously requested a trade from the Brooklyn Nets in June to no avail, with the Nets front office asking for huge packages in return for the two-time NBA Champion. Just a day before the trade deadline and days after Irving’s departure, Durant’s request for a trade was finally fulfilled. Durant and his teammate TJ Warren were dealt to the Phoenix Suns in exchange for three Suns players and four draft picks. Although a substantial trade package from Phoenix, the team retained their core players of Devin Booker, Chris Paul and DeAndre Ayton. While the Suns saw some postseason success in recent years, their playoff meltdown last season left many fans with the impression that Phoenix was done contending for a title. With the addition of a generational scoring talent in Durant, the Suns are expected to make a deep postseason run and compete for a ring. 

Plenty of teams around the NBA shook up their rosters, some teams looking to compete for a high pick in this upcoming draft, and others aiming to elevate their team to championship contention. The 2023 NBA trade deadline was one for the ages— few times before in league history have this many star players been involved in trades. The Western Conference was up for grabs before the trade deadline, but with the revamped Suns and Mavericks squads, the power dynamics in the conference have changed significantly. As the postseason approaches in the coming months, it will be interesting to see how teams like the Lakers, Suns and Mavericks fare.