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Sports Card Winners and Losers From the NBA Trade Deadline

A superstar wasn’t moved at the deadline, but that doesn’t mean some of the hobby’s favorite players weren’t impacted.

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While Thursday’s NBA trade deadline failed to deliver a superstar to a title contender, it did see plenty of moves that could provide much-needed depth to several of the league’s top teams.

Of all the trades before the deadline, it’s also hard to point to a single player on the move that also features a robust sports card market.

Despite the lack of star power changing teams, there’s plenty of hobby favorites that benefited in a major way — and, of course, some who desperately needed some help and didn’t get any.

Here’s six hobby winners and losers from the trade deadline that could see market shifts in the coming months.

Winner: Jalen Brunson

Few teams had a better trade deadline than the New York Knicks. Already big winners after trading for OG Anunoby, New York managed to add some serious scoring on the wing while securing Bojan Bogdanović and Alec Burks from the Detroit Pistons.

The Knicks did ship out popular hobby targets RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickly in the Anunoby swap, but they managed to hold onto other key assets on Thursday. From a hobby perspective, Jalen Brunson is the final key player standing.

Players like Anunoby, Julius Randle and Mitchell Robinson have seen various levels of hobby interest over the years, but the current roster has Brunson as the clear star with a strong supporting cast.

According to Market Movers, Brunson’s graded rookies are up 17% collectively over the last 14 days — that bump has been heavily driven by his 2018 Prizm Silver PSA 10 and PSA 9.

Relatively inexpensive for a key short-printed rookie, Brunson’s 2018 Prizm Silver PSA 10 is up 63% over the last two weeks and is now trending around $245.

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Loser: LeBron James

Only a handful of teams were expected to make a move more than the Los Angeles Lakers, but LA failed to find a swap before the deadline. There were plenty of rumors around players like Dejounte Murray, but LA’s stance on keeping Austin Reaves and insistence on including D’Angelo Russell complicated things.

Now just 27-26 coming into Friday, the Lakers will instead have to rely on key rotation players like Jarred Vanderbilt and Gabe Vincent getting healthy to provide reinforcements — something that leaves LeBron James as a loser after the deadline.

James’ legacy in the hobby is pretty much secured, but his cards still see plenty of movement on a regular basis. In fact, James’ graded rookies tracked by Market Movers are down 25% collectively over the last 365 days.

Looking at his most popular rookies, James’ 2003 Topps Base PSA 10 is down 24% over the last year and last sold for around $1,600. His 2003 Topps Chrome Base PSA 10 is also down 28% over that same period and is now trending around $4,700.

While it’s fair to assume that James’ cards will go up once he retires, it’s also acceptable to believe that uneven play from the Lakers could continue to drive his prices down. It’s unclear how much longer James will play, but Los Angeles is expected to have significantly more assets to trade next offseason, meaning 2025 might be his next title window.

Hobbyists looking to add James to their collection could have plenty of opportunities ahead, assuming the Lakers don’t become drastically better in the coming months despite not making any changes to the roster.

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Winner: Tyrese Maxey

Philadelphia needed to make a move with Joel Embiid now expected to miss extended time and managed to add one of the NBA’s most lethal shooters in Buddy Hield. A big like Andre Drummond would have likely helped, but the Sixers added talent without compromising the team’s flexibility next offseason.

Hield won’t help the Sixers defensively — teams will likely target him, in fact — but his shooting and overall gravity should create additional space for Tyrese Maxey. Already shooting 45% from the floor and 38% from 3 this season, Maxey could see even better looks with defenses forced to chase Hield around the court.

Hield’s addition will certainly help Embiid too, but Maxey likely benefits the most right now.

Maxey’s graded rookies tracked by Market Movers are actually down 8% collectively over the last 30 days across over 400 sales, but a title run could help shift those prices into a positive direction.

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His 2020 Prizm Silver PSA 10 has been a popular target over the last month but is down 16% on 17 sales. Maxey’s 2020 Optic Base PSA 10 is also down 12% on nine sales over the last 30 days.

Embiid’s absence could be hurting Maxey’s market some, but things can shift quickly with a single playoff series win.

Loser: Trae Young

The Atlanta Hawks gave up a ton of assets to land Dejounte Murray and the pairing with Trae Young in the backcourt just isn’t working. Murray seemed like he would almost certainly be moved at the deadline — the Lakers, Knicks, Pelicans and Heat all seemed like potential landing spots — but Atlanta couldn’t find a deal.

Unfortunately for Young, Atlanta didn’t make a move at all. According to insiders, it seemed like everyone other than Young and forward Jalen Johnson could be available for the right price, but the Hawks decided to stick it out.

Clint Capela remains despite interest from various teams and backup center Onyeka Okongwu’s new contract hitting next season. De’Andre Hunter is staying, too, despite interest from a variety of teams looking for a 3-and-D contributor.

Young remains one of the best offensive players in the league, but the Hawks have yet to really surround him with strong defenders.

His graded rookie cards tracked by Market Movers are down 18% collectively over the last 180 days across nearly 3,000 sales, though two of his key cards have remained mostly even.

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Young’s key 2018 Prizm Base PSA 10 is about even over the last year across 325 sales. His 2018 Donruss Base PSA 10 has also remained even across over 140 sales.

Despite high hobby popularity over the last few years, Young’s card market could be quickly headed toward make-or-break territory if the Hawks can’t surround him with the right complementary pieces.

Winner: Luka Doncic

Dallas has been trying to find the right fit around Luka Doncic since 2018, and this might be his best team yet. The Mavericks scored big with Dereck Lively II in this past NBA Draft, and they bolstered the lineup by adding PJ Washington and Daniel Gafford at the deadline.

The deal for Washington also allowed the Mavericks to move on from Grant Williams, who hadn’t been the right fit since signing with Dallas this past offseason.

Now, Dallas has some added frontcourt depth and an additional scorer.

Few players are more popular in the hobby — regardless of sport — than Doncic, but that doesn’t mean his market has been bulletproof. In fact, these moves at the deadline might be what gets it trending in a positive direction.

Doncic’s graded rookie cards tracked by Market Movers are down 31% collectively over the last 365 days, and key cards from Prizm and Donruss have been some of the biggest losers.

His signature 2018 Prizm Base PSA 10 has dropped 40% over the last year across 1,500 sales. Doncic’s 2018 Donruss Base PSA 10 is also down 35% across over 800 sales during that same period.

Diving into his most popular rookies overall, his 20 most-sold PSA 10 rookies tracked by Market Movers are all down in value over the last year.

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For Doncic, the key is actually achieving things that might already be cooked into his card prices. For many collectors, Doncic is already an MVP-level player, so anything short of an actual MVP or a title might result in continued price declines.

These moves are a step in the right direction, though, and Doncic and the Mavericks appear more prepared than ever for a title run.

Loser: Cade Cunningham

There’s no way around the fact that the Detroit Pistons are not a good basketball team and Cade Cunningham’s market is suffering because of it.

It’s perfectly acceptable to expect the Pistons to enter a full rebuild, though the deadline trades to move on from Bojan Bogdanović and Alec Burks didn’t exactly bolster Detroit’s pool of future assets.

The good news is that Detroit seems happy with its young core of Cunningham, Jaden Ivey, Jalen Duren and Ausar Thompson. The bad news is that the team isn’t good and Cunningham’s market will continue to decline as that young core (ideally) gets better.

Those deadline deals helped free up cap space, but it’s also fair to wonder what kind of players Detroit can secure with that money.

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In the meantime, Cunningham’s market has collapsed over the last 365 days with his graded rookie cards tracked by Market Movers down 32% collectively over that period.

Focusing on his most popular cards, Cunningham’s 2021 Prizm Base PSA 10 is down 40% over the last year across 267 sales. His 2021 Optic Base PSA 10 is down even more severely with a 54% drop.

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