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How last year’s playoff teams got boosted by the NBA trade deadline

Here’s what the Phoenix Suns could look back on from contending teams who made moves last season

2022 NBA Playoffs - Dallas Mavericks v Phoenix Suns Photo by Kate Frese/NBAE via Getty Images

Even if/when everyone comes back healthy, the Phoenix Suns need to make a change quickly — especially as it pertains to holdout Jae Crowder.

They have lost nine of their last 11 games and will be hanging onto their playoff hopes by a single fingernail by the time Devin Booker returns to the court in early February. In the last two games, a full 7 of the Suns top 8 rotation players have been sidelined due to injury or holdout. SEVEN OF EIGHT.

Eventually, those guys will get healthy and return. Probably by Feb 1, the whole team will be back on the court with a chance to make a run over the last 30+ games.

But even then, they’re still going to have to make some improvements. Even a full team is missing some reliable tertiary playmaking and some second-big rebounding, and we still don’t even know what Chris Paul is going to look like in May.

The Suns need to make a trade or two to supplement playoff hopes.

Last season, the NBA had multiple teams who made acquisitions at the trade deadline in hopes of winning a championship. Some worked very well, and others had no impact at all.

What can the Suns do before the trade deadline Feb. 9? We wrote previously how the team has been linked to Washington Wizards forward Kyle Kuzma, and there are other options out there.

Bright Side of the Sun will take a look here at moves teams made before the trade deadline last season and how they panned out.

Derrick White to Boston Celtics for future first-round pick — GRADE: A

Milwaukee Bucks v Boston Celtics Photo by Brian Fluharty/Getty Images

Last February, the Celtics acquired White in exchange for forward Josh Richardson, shooting guard Romeo Langford and a 2022 first-round pick, which turned into the No. 25 selection for former Notre Dame guard Blake Wesley, who is playing for the Austin Spurs of the NBA G-League.

At the time of true trade, Boston was 31-25. It finished the season 20-6 — the second-best mark in the Eastern Conference — and defeated the defending-champion Milwaukee Bucks in the second round of the NBA playoffs, the first-placed Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals and then fell to the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals.

White was a very solid contributor for the Celtics in the regular season but inconsistent in the postseason. He averaged 11.0 points, 3.5 assists and 3.4 rebounds over 26 regular-season games on 40.9 percent from the field. In the playoffs, he averaged 8.5 points, 2.7 assists and 3.0 rebounds on 36.4 percent shooting.

He had a six-game stretch over Games 4-7 of the Eastern Conference Finals and Games 1 and 2 of the NBA Finals in which he averaged 15.0 points, 3.7 assists, 3.3 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game on 44.1 percent shooting and 43.8 percent from 3-point range.

Daniel Theis to Boston Celtics for Dennis Schroder, Enes Freedom and Bruno Fernando — GRADE: D

2022 NBA Finals Practice and Media Availability Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

Theis played for the Celtics from the 2016-17 season until 2020-21, before he was traded to the Chicago Bulls and then the Houston Rockets. Boston brought him back in this trade when it traded Schroder, Freedom (formerly Kanner) and Bruno Fernando, which aided its center depth and maybe chemistry with a former player.

The trade did not seem to help or hurt the Celtics. Theis averaged 7.9 points and 4.7 rebounds on 59.8 percent shooting in 21 games played for Boston in the regular season, and he did not even play in the final four games of the NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors.

Spencer Dinwiddie, Davis Bertans to Dallas Mavericks for Kristaps Porzingis, protected 2022 second-round pick — GRADE: A

Portland Trail Blazers v Dallas Mavericks Photo by Tim Heitman/Getty Images

Suns fans won’t like this one. The Mavericks notably sent an All-Star forward, Porzingis, to the Washington Wizards for Dinwiddie, who notably had 30 points on 11-of-15 shooting (5-of-7 from 3-point range) in Phoenix’s 123-90 loss to Dallas in Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals.

The trade worked in the interim for the Mavericks, as Porzingis battled injuries with the team and they got another scoring guard, Dinwiddie, and a big man who is known for his 3-point potency, Bertans.

Dallas took the Los Angeles Clippers to six games in the 2020 NBA postseason and then seven games in 2021 before it advanced to the Western Conference Finals last season against the Golden State Warriors, which it lost in five games.

Dinwiddie averaged 15.8 points, 3.9 assists and 3.1 rebounds in 23 regular-season games for the Mavericks. He then had at least 15 points in nine of 18 postseason games for Dallas.

Bertans was not a high-volume contributor for Dallas but had four and three 3-pointers, respectively, in Games 3 and 4 against the Suns.

Norman Powell and Robert Covington to Los Angeles Clippers for Eric Bledsoe (I don’t wanna be here), Justise Winslow, Keon Johnson and 2025 second-round pick — GRADE: C

Milwaukee Bucks v Los Angeles Clippers Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

The Clippers seemed to be a championship contender after they acquired Kawhi Leonard and Paul George before the 2019-20 season, but they only have had one conference finals appearance in that stretch while those two star players battled injuries.

Leonard did not appear in the 2021-22 season due to an ACL injury, and Los Angeles was 27-29 at the time of the trade deadline. The Clippers sought to make a move as they awaited George’s return from injury and perhaps make a playoff push once he returned.

It worked in the short term, as they went on a five-game winning streak shortly after their acquisition of Powell and Covington. They also had a five-game winning streak to end the regular season but lost both of their play-in games and were subsequently eliminated from playoff contention.

Powell only played in five regular-season games and the two-play in contests with the Clippers after he suffered a stress fracture in his left foot. Covington averaged 10.4 points, 5.1 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 1.2 blocks in 23 regular-season games for the Clippers.

CJ McCollum, Larry Nance Jr. and Tony Snell to New Orleans Pelicans for Josh Hart, Tomas Satoransky, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Didi Louzada, 2022 first-round pick (unprotected), and two future second-round picks — GRADE: A

New Orleans Pelicans v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

The Suns saw how scrappy the New Orleans Pelicans were in the first round of the 2022 Western Conference playoffs, and McCollum was a big reason why.

One of the big scorers for the Portland Trail Blazers outside of point guard Damian Lillard, he averaged 22.8 points. 6.7 rebounds and 4.8 assists in the series against the Suns. The Pelicans qualified for the NBA play-in and then won both games to qualify for the No. 8 seed in the playoffs.

He has averaged 21.3 points, 5.8 assists and 4.8 rebounds for the Pelicans this season and has done an excellent job covering for the injury losses of Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson at various points this year.

Tyrese Haliburton, Buddy Hield and Tristan Thompson to Indiana for Domantas Sabonis, Justin Holiday, Jeremy Lamb, 2023 second-round pick (protected for Nos. 56-60) — GRADE: B

Indiana Pacers v Sacramento Kings Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images

The Kings swapped a really good young player for Sabonis in a desperate effort to make the 2022 playoffs but it failed miserably. Sabonis is a good player, but dropping him onto a team playing a scheme not centered around his playmaking leaves him just kind of... there.

However, this turned out to be an incredible future-play for both teams. A year later, Sabonis is an All-Star lock in the West, throwing up a near triple-double stat line for a Kings team that are all the way up at 4th in the West with a 23-18 record. They look like they will definitely break that 15-year playoff drought, so let’s give the Kings a belated B for a trade grade despite giving up a guy who looks like a perennial All-Star for the Pacers in Haliburton.

Pacers: A. Kings: B. Everyone’s happy.

The trade deadline might not include All-Stars very often (no, we didn’t discuss the Harden/Simmons trade because it was a fail for both sides in year 1 before working out well so far in year 2), but trades made in late January and early February can definitely make a difference in a playoff run.

Let’s hope the Suns can make an impactful move like Derrick White, CJ McCollum or Spencer Dinwiddie.

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