The likes of Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls and Denver Nuggets acquired key pieces. The Philadelphia 76ers and New York Knicks were also involved in moves for role players. Then there were the Golden State Warriors and Toronto Raptors who got some salary off their books.
While there will be debates on who the winners and losers of these trades were, we can all agree that not everything went according to plan on Thursday. On that note, let's look at the three biggest surprises from NBA trade deadline day.
#1 New York Knicks don't make a significant move before NBA trade deadline
The New York Knicks are in the mix for a playoff spot for the first time in more than half a decade. Even though Julius Randle has played at an All-Star level, many expected the Knicks to supplement him with additional role players ahead of the NBA trade deadline. They were also linked to some of the big names, such as Lonzo Ball and Andre Drummond, on deadline day.
The New York Knicks didn't make any significant move and ended up playing an auxiliary role in a three-team trade that sent George Hill to the Philadelphia 76ers. The Knicks did add Terrance Ferguson and Vincent Poirier, but the latter is expected to be waived. Tom Thibodeau's unit needs some shooting depth but Ferguson is better known for his defense.
New York got rid of Austin Rivers' contract in the process, but that barely helps their playoff aspirations. The front office could certainly strike a deal in the buyout market, but most NBA fans expected the Big Apple outfit to make a big play on deadline day.
#2 Toronto Raptors keep hold of Kyle Lowry
When Kyle Lowry spoke to the media after Toronto's win against Denver on Wednesday, it felt like he had played his last game for the Canadian franchise. The Raptors were also engaged in talks with multiple contenders regarding Lowry, namely the LA Lakers, Miami Heat and Philadelphia 76ers. Ultimately, a deal for the six-time All-Star could not be reached.
While the Sixers fell out of the race early on NBA trade deadline day, the Miami Heat and LA Lakers were in the running until the very last moment. The Raptors also made a couple of moves to clear roster spots which hinted that a move for Lowry would be forthcoming, but they ended up keeping him.
The main contention on Toronto's part was that they weren't happy with the assets being offered by either team. They wanted Talen Horton-Tucker but the LA Lakers were unwilling to part with their wing player. Meanwhile, the Miami Heat had offered Duncan Robinson but the Raptors wanted Tyler Herro. None of the parties budged eventually.
It'll be interesting to see what direction the 2019 NBA Champions take from here. They've lost nine of their last 10 game but can't officially start tanking games due to Kyle Lowry's presence on the team. They'll also have to sort out his impending free agency situation.
#3 Boston Celtics use their trade exception on Evan Fournier
The Boston Celtics acquired Evan Fournier from the Orlando Magic for Jeff Teague and two second-round picks. Now Fournier isn't a bad player by any means. He's averaging a career-high 19.7 points per game this season and is on an expiring contract. He can create his own shots and isn't a bad defender.
At the same time, acquiring Fournier won't get the Boston Celtics over the hump. More importantly, Boston decided to splurge part of their massive $28.5 million traded player exception to acquire a player on an expiring contract.
Most fans expected the Cs to use this exception to sign a star or a role player with decent upside – Aaron Gordon or Harrison Barnes, for example. Neither of the two happened and the Celtics have potentially dropped the ball on an asset they could've used to upgrade for the long haul. GM Danny Ainge avoided the luxury tax situation for now, but he'll have to find other ways of shaking up a roster that is clearly dysfunctional.