Thursday afternoon’s NBA trade deadline passed with Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins traded away to New Orleans four days earlier and All Stars Jimmy Butler in Chicago and Paul George in Indiana stayed where they were.
From the good to bad and in between, here’s how teams fared:
Cleveland: The Cavaliers didn’t even do anything before the deadline, but they’re big winners after it because pursuers Boston and Washington did either nothing or not enough and the Cavs are in line to sign free agents Deron Williams and Andrew Bogut after waivers and buyouts are complete.
Toronto: Looking to leapfrog over the Celtics and Wizards to go back to being Cleveland’s biggest challenger in the East, the Raptors addressed their biggest needs by acquiring defensive-minded Serge Ibaka and PJ Tucker. To do so, they sent away Terrence Ross, Jared Sullinger and three draft picks, including a first-rounder.
Anthony Davis: The Pelicans’ blossoming superstar got $145 million with a five-year contract signed in 2015. Now he’s going to get some help, presuming he and Cousins figure out if they can fit beside each other.
Oklahoma City: Thunder GM Sam Presti always does something at the deadline and this time he went and got upcoming free agent Taj Gibson, shooter Doug McDermott and a pick to boot from Chicago for three players, most notably guard Cameron Payne.
Dallas: While Dirk Nowitzki plays on, the aging Mavericks have made two savvy moves in the past eight months to get younger, first with Harrison Barnes last summer and now with young shot-blocker Nerlens Noel, provided they can sign him this summer.
Houston: Of course, the Rockets didn’t use the trade deadline to address defensive needs. They just went and grabbed another great scorer. Lou Williams arrived from L.A. and scored 27 points off the bench his first time out.
Willie Cauley-Stein: Sacramento’s second-year big man gets his chance to shine now that Cousins has been traded away and he started off with Thursday’s 29-point, 10-rebound night.
Indiana: They didn’t trade Paul George, did they?
Timberwolves: Coach/president of basketball operations Tom Thibodeau hasn’t made a trade in 10 months on the job — in comparison, David Kahn made 10 deals in his first nine months when he was hired in 2009 — but it seems only a matter of time before he deals starting point guard Ricky Rubio.
New York: Carmelo Anthony refuses to be traded and the Knicks were unable or unwilling to turn Derrick Rose’s expiring contract into Rubio for two more contracted seasons.
Sacramento: The Kings traded an All Star and the game’s most gifted big man — however temperamental — and all they got essentially was lotto pick Buddy Hield and a first-round pick this summer.
Philadelphia: They dangled Noel and Jahlil Okafor, but dealt only Noel for Justin Anderson and likely just two second-round picks because Noel will be a restricted free agent this summer.
Cousins: He got out of Sacramento, didn’t he? But he also lost out on nearly $30 million had he re-signed a max $200-million plus contract extension to stay with the Kings.
Chicago: The Bulls kept Butler, but dealt upcoming free-agent Gibson, McDermott and a second-round pick for Payne and two others. The trade gives them until June to decide whether they completely rebuild.
Boston: The Celtics refused to pay a ransom for George without knowing they can sign him long-term and didn’t land Butler, either. Admire their patience perhaps, but at some point, Danny Ainge needs to turn his many assets into a bona fide star.
Denver: The Nuggets reportedly pursued George aggressively, but didn’t make a deal with anyone using vets Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Kenneth Faried and possibly even young guard Emmanuel Mudiay as bait.
• Now that star center DeMarcus Cousins is gone to New Orleans, Sacramento’s Willie Cauley-Stein promises he’ll step forth into the spotlight and push his team toward the West’s eighth and final playoff spot. He delivered his first time out with a 29-point, 10-rebound performance off the bench in Thursday’s 116-100 home victory over Denver.
“That’s my mission the next 25 games,” he told reporters after Cousins and Omri Casspi were traded away. “You might see a different spark from me. Playing 10, 15 minutes, I didn’t have a lot of say in what we do. Now we just lost two verbal leaders. Somebody else has to step up and be a verbal leader, so why not me?”
• Magic Johnson returned to the NBA and the Lakers last week to run the show after GM Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss were fired.
Former Lakers star and TNT analyst Shaquille O’Neal suggested on Thursday’s doubleheader telecast that Johnson will bring back superstar free agents as well as glory again to L.A. But broadcast partner Charles Barkley isn’t convinced, even if Johnson could bring, for example, Russell Westbrook and Paul George back home.
“They’re both hell of a players, but [Oklahoma City] didn’t win with Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka and Kevin Durant,” Barkley said. “All these guys want to play with each other. It’s a different league now.”
• Cousins when asked at his introductory news conference in New Orleans just how competitive the often penalized star is: “About 17 technicals’ worth.”
WOLVES’ WEEK AHEAD
Monday: 9:30 p.m. at Sacramento
Wednesday: 8 p.m. at Utah
Saturday: 8 p.m. at San Antonio
All games on FSN
Player to watch: Gordon Hayward, Jazz
When he goes, the Jazz go: It’s 26-9 when the first-time All-Star and upcoming free agent scores 20 points and 6-3 when he scores 30.
“Difficulties are meant to rouse, not to discourage. The human spirit is to grow strong by conflict.”
Ricky Rubio’s tweet Thursday, quoting 19th century American theologian William Ellery Channing just hours after the NBA’s trade deadline came and went without him being traded.
Twitter: @JerryZgoda, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, Blog: startribune.com/wolves