MIAMI — Most of the top NBA playoff contenders stayed out of the down-to-the-wire frenzy at the trade deadline.
Miami and the Los Angeles Clippers beefed up instead.
And a slew of other teams — including the Golden State Warriors — made moves with short-term finances and long-term ramifications in mind.
The NBA’s 3 p.m. deadline Thursday for trades to be consummated did not arrive quietly, with a flurry of deals getting struck in the final hour and at least one other notable move falling apart before reaching the finish line. Deals that included at least 41 players and 15 future draft picks were struck on Wednesday or Thursday — the biggest move likely being the one Thursday that saw Andrew Wiggins going from Minnesota to the Warriors so D’Angelo Russell could leave Golden State and finally be paired with his good friend Karl-Anthony Towns with the Timberwolves.
Here’s how busy the Timberwolves were at trade-deadline time: They announced the jersey numbers of eight new players Thursday night.
Former Celtic Marcus Morris leaves New York for Los Angeles, going from the woebegone Knicks to the title-hoping Clippers — who added a piece many teams wanted.
“My brother back with me. It’s on,’’ the Clippers’ Patrick Beverley wrote on Twitter, one of many players expressing their happiness with Morris joining the West contenders.
The Washington Wizards dealt former Celtic guard Isaiah Thomas to the Clippers in exchange for Jerome Robinson as part of a three-team trade and sending veteran swingman Jordan McRae to the Denver Nuggets for former UConn star guard Shabazz Napier, according to people familiar with the transactions.
As part of the three-team Thomas trade, Washington will also send the draft rights of 20-year-old Ukrainian point guard Issuf Sanon to the Knicks.
Three-time champion Andre Iguodala is ending his exile after not playing for Memphis at all this season and is going to join the Heat along with former Celtic Jae Crowder and Solomon Hill, with Miami sending three players — Justise Winslow, Dion Waiters, and James Johnson — who’ve combined to score a mere 254 points this season out in the deal. Johnson was flipped by the Grizzlies to Minnesota for Gorgui Dieng.
“Today is a very good day because we think the acquisition of Andre, Jae, and Solomon will help us with our versatility and create a more balanced roster,” Heat president Pat Riley said. “Today is also a sad day because we lose three very good players who have been part of our family. We wish Justise, James, and Dion nothing but the best in the future.”
NBA rebounding leader Andre Drummond got moved by Detroit to Cleveland, then took to Twitter to express his dismay with the trade process.
“If there’s one thing I learned about the NBA, there’s no friends or loyalty,” Drummond wrote. “I’ve given my heart and soul to the Pistons, and to be have this happen with no heads up makes me realize even more that this is just a business! I love you Detroit ... .”
The Warriors decided to make the Russell-for-Wiggins move, giving Wiggins a fresh start that he likely needs — the former No. 1 overall pick will get to reap the benefits of playing alongside a healthy and rejuvenated Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green starting next season. And by throwing in a couple extra players, the Warriors also will likely escape the luxury tax this season. That’s not an insignificant point for a team that will go from five straight NBA Finals to the bottom of the Western Conference this season and, it hopes, back to title contention starting next year.
Miami’s trade with Memphis also lowered the Heat’s potential tax bill, and Portland made a minor trade with Atlanta with a lower tax in mind as well.
Most of the trades were finalized Thursday. The only one from this week that got NBA approval before the deadline was a four-team, 12-player, three-pick swapping between Atlanta, Houston (which notably sent Clint Capela to the Hawks), Denver, and Minnesota.
Meanwhile, the three top teams in the East — Milwaukee, Toronto, and the Celtics — as well as the West-leading Los Angeles Lakers all remained out of the trade mix. It remains possible, and probably even likely, that at least some of those teams could look to bolster their rosters by adding free agents or when players become available through buyouts in the coming weeks.