The Utah Jazz acquired Toronto Raptors sharpshooter Matt Thomas in exchange for a second round pick, league sources confirmed to The Salt Lake Tribune about an hour before the NBA’s trade deadline on Thursday.
Thomas, a 6-foot-4, 190 pound guard from Iowa State, was able to find the floor for the Raptors sparingly in two seasons with the team, playing a total of 67 games over the last two seasons. Without a doubt, Thomas’ superlative skill is his 3-point shooting: he averaged 45.7% from deep in his last two NBA seasons, while averaging 47% in his time overseas.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski was first to report the deal.
There’s an argument to be made that Thomas is one of the very best shooters in the world, thanks to his consistently high percentages. His nickname of “Mr. 99%” reflects his effective field goal percentage on open catch-and-shoot threes at Valencia in the Spanish ACB league, but shooting at about 45% year-after-year in his career has impressed observers.
The deal includes a 2021 second round pick from Golden State sent to Toronto, a pick the Jazz earned in trading center Derrick Favors to New Orleans in the summer of 2019.
The 26-year-old Thomas found minutes tough to come by in his NBA season with the Raptors, starting the season in coach Nick Nurse’s rotation and then falling out of it after the season’s first three games. Nurse was looking for more defense out of his bench players, and Thomas doesn’t qualify as an impact player on that level.
“They’re our two best shooters, probably,” Nurse said of Thomas and fellow wing Terence Davis then, “but they’re coming out fouling and giving up boatloads of points in short minutes, and they can’t get that many back.”
That being said, with Rudy Gobert behind him, Thomas’ defensive issues are less of an issue. By all accounts, he works hard on that end of the floor, it’s just a matter of size. And the Jazz have had some success at turning lightly-defending shooters into something of value, see Joe Ingles.
This marks the fourth consecutive season in which vice president of basketball operations Dennis Lindsey has made a trade, albeit the first time he’s done so on trade deadline day since 2017-18. Then, the Jazz traded Joe Johnson and Rodney Hood to the Cavaliers for Jae Crowder in a 3-team deal.
And league-wide, the deal was a minor piece of a flurry of activity around the deadline. Regional rivals Denver upgraded with two trades: they moved Isaiah Hartenstein and two second-round picks for Cleveland’s Javale McGee, giving them a rim-rolling threat at center they had missed since Mason Plumlee’s departure in the offseason. Then, they made a splash at the power forward position, trading Gary Harris, last year’s first-round pick R.J. Hampton, and a future first round pick for Orlando’s Aaron Gordon and Gary Clark. The deals could see Denver, currently the West’s No. 5 seed, move up.
Portland acquired Toronto scorer Norman Powell for two guards, Gary Trent Jr. and former Jazzman Rodney Hood. The Clippers also made a move, though there was some debate on whether it was likely to constitute an upgrade: they moved perennial Sixth Man of the Year candidate Lou Williams and two second round picks for Atlanta’s Rajon Rondo.
Dallas upgraded their shooting, sending James Johnson, Wes Iwundu, and a second-round pick to the Pelicans for J.J. Redick and Nicolo Mellli. The Kings upgraded at point guard, trading Cory Joseph and two second round picks for University of Utah man Delon Wright.
In the Eastern Conference, Chicago took advantage of Orlando’s fire sale, acquiring All-Star Nikola Vucevic and Al-Farouq Aminu in exchange for former No. 7 pick Wendell Carter Jr., Otto Porter Jr., and two future first round picks. Those could be valuable draft assets for Orlando, one of which will likely be a 2021 first rounder. The Bulls also picked up Troy Brown from the Wizards, and Daniel Theis and Javonte Green from the Celtics, sending Daniel Gafford and Chandler Hutchison to Washington and Mo Wagner and center Luke Kornet to the Celtics.
Boston, meanwhile, used the Traded Player Exception acquired in Gordon Hayward’s departure to take on the salary of Orlando’s Evan Fournier in exchange for two second-round picks, giving them another scorer to bolster their disappointing supporting cast this season.
Philadelphia got OKC shooting PG George Hill, another former Jazzman, in exchange for Austin Rivers, Tony Bradley, and two second round picks. Terrance Ferguson also went to the Knicks in the deal.
Miami went bargain shopping to get Houston’s Victor Oladipo, who hasn’t yet returned to form after injury, in exchange for Avery Bradley, Kelly Olynyk, and a draft pick swap. The Heat also picked up Sacramento’s Nemanja Bjelica in exchange for wing defender Mo Harkless and Chris Silva.
There were also more minor deals, like Utah’s Thomas acquisition. Among them, the Warriors traded former lottery pick Marqueese Chris to the Spurs for Cady Lalanne, and sent Brad Wanamaker to the Hornets in exchange for cash. The Raptors sent Davis to Sacramento for a future second round pick. The Pacers waived Jalen Lecque, and the Kings waived Mfiondu Kabengele.
The NBA’s trade deadline is also the start of the league’s competitive buyout market. The biggest name on that market is either Cleveland’s Andre Drummond or San Antonio’s LaMarcus Aldridge, both of whom will look for new teams on the open market. Porter has been mentioned as a buyout candidate now that he’s arrived in Orlando, and Memphis’ Gorgui Dieng could be on that list as well.
By virtue of acquiring Thomas, the Jazz have a full roster though at 15 players. That means they’d need to waive someone on a guaranteed contract in order to participate in the buyout market.
This story will be updated.