NBA Trade Deadline: The 3 Most Impactful Under-the-Radar Moves Made on Deadline Day

The NBA trade deadline has now officially come and gone and the rumor mill has stopped spinning until the summer. James Harden and Ben Simmons were finally swapped for each other in a move between the Philadelphia 76ers and Brooklyn Nets, a trade that will reverberate around the league for years.

Kristaps Porzingis was sent packing from the Dallas Mavericks to the Washington Wizards in the day’s biggest surprise. The Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks did nothing, of course.

But plenty of smaller trades came together as well before 3 p.m. ET on Feb. 10.

Which of those under-the-radar deals could have the most significant impact on teams during the final stretch of the regular season and in the playoffs?

The Boston Celtics swapped defensive-minded guards to land Derrick White

The trade:

Boston receives: Derrick White

San Antonio receives: Josh Richardson, Romeo Langford, 2022 first-round pick, 2028 first-round pick swap

The Spurs get to take a flyer on a former lottery pick in Langford who hasn’t seen the court much in Boston, and San Antonio gets a first-round selection — possibly two — as the franchise continues a rebuild with the future in mind.

Richardson parlayed a career year with the Miami Heat in 2018-19 into a four-year, $42 million deal that he has never lived up to. He became a legitimate three-and-D wing in South Beach, averaging 16.6 points per game along with 1.1 steals on 36% shooting from deep on more than six attempts.

He’s now on his fourth team since he signed that contract and averaged fewer than 10 points a game with the Celtics this season.

White has been a better, more consistent player than J-Rich since he entered the league in 2017. The 6-foot-4 guard is averaging 14.4 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 5.5 assists in 2021-22, though his shooting efficiency has taken a dive.

The most significant tradeoff between Richardson and White is the latter’s ability to play as more of a combo guard in the backcourt rather than strictly as a shooting guard.

Boston could use another player with some passing skills and unselfishness to help set the table for stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. He and Marcus Smart will be relatively interchangeable in the Celtics’ backcourt

The Charlotte Hornets filled a frontcourt need with Montrezl Harrell

The trade:

Charlotte receives: Montrezl Harrell

Washington receives: Vernon Carey Jr., Ish Smith, 2023 second-round pick via Boston

LaMelo Ball and the Hornets should be locked into at least a spot in the play-in tournament this year, barring a catastrophe. Charlotte is 29-28 going into a Feb. 12 matchup with the Memphis Grizzlies.

Melo is leading the league’s No. 1 scoring offense, but his team has been searching for an upgrade at the center spot. Harrell won’t turn them into a championship contender, but he’ll help the Hornets on the glass, where they rank 17th in the league, and is athletic enough to keep up with Ball and Co. when it’s time to get out and run.

The 28-year-old has career averages of 13.0 points and 5.3 rebounds. His best season came in 2019-20 when he was the league’s Sixth Man of the Year and the Hustle Award winner. In top form, that’s what Harrell will provide Ball and the Buzz — energy, hustle, athleticism, and attitude.

The biggest get for Washington is a flyer on Carey, a 6-foot-9 20-year-old center from Duke.

If that’s the price Charlotte had to pay to grab Harrell, it’s a steal.

The Milwaukee Bucks acquired Serge Ibaka in a four-team trade

The trade (bear with me):

Milwaukee receives: Serge Ibaka, second-round pick via the Sacramento Kings, second-round pick via the Detroit Pistons, cash

Los Angeles Clippers receive: Rodney Hood, Semi Ojeleye, Vanja Marinkovic

Sacramento receives: Donte DiVincenzo, Josh Jackson, Trey Lyles, David Michineau, second-round pick via Detroit

Detroit receives: Marvin Bagley III

The headliners of the trade are Ibaka and DiVincenzo. Donte has long been the defending champions’ biggest trade chip, and they finally cashed him in for the 32-year-old veteran.

DiVincenzo and Milwaukee were unlikely to agree on a rookie extension, while Hood and Ojeleye were bench players who weren’t seeing much action with the Bucks, so the franchise didn’t give up a ton to land the Clippers’ forward.

And if there’s anything left in the tank, Serge could play an important role as Milwaukee pushes toward back-to-back titles. Starting center Brook Lopez has been gone since the first game of the year after back surgery, and his return status is still unknown.

Ibaka will be another interchangeable piece in the Bucks’ frontcourt with Giannis Antetokounmpo and Bobby Portis. His role will be concrete: space the floor, knock down open threes, and play defense. If he can do that at an adequate level, he will be a rotation regular during the postseason.

Sacramento, meanwhile, adds a young, athletic, two-way guard with starting-caliber potential. Detroit gets to take a flyer on Bagley, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2018 draft. The Clippers grab some cap space.

A win-win-win-win.

All statistics and trade details courtesy of

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