This was one of those business deadlines where the biggest names involved managed to keep their company identification cards and didn’t need to forward the mail.
Seriously: Kyle Lowry, Lonzo Ball Y John collins they carried the most weight … and maybe that’s why no one was able to keep them away from the Raptors, Pelicans and Hawks. As usual in these situations, deals can’t happen unless someone wants what you’re selling enough to extend an offer that you can’t refuse. Many of them died at the negotiating table on Thursday.
That’s not to say that nothing happened on the 2021 NBA trade deadline, which was a bit interesting, it could prove beneficial to some teams coming playoff time, and once again, you can’t judge with precision in terms of “winners” and “losers” at this point because future first-round picks were involved in a handful of them.
Here are 10 trade deadline takeaways – what happened and what didn’t, and what it all means (… or could, anyway) to some of the buyers and sellers who made deals:
No more magic in this core
After a series of trades, the Magic will clearly make it … in 2025. Once again, they’re hitting the reset button and admitting their latest rebuild project didn’t work out. As the previous. And the previous one. In reality, ever since Dwight Howard left in a huff, this franchise has been spinning its wheels, not making big decisions on draft day, never building its assets enough to make successful trades, or making itself attractive enough to land the best. free agents.
Interestingly, Nikola Vucevic entered the Howard trade and remained the face of the franchise, and deservedly so; the two-time All-Star became a solid scorer. That said, he, Aaron Gordon and Evan Fournier weren’t good enough to make the Magic a consistent playoff team. Why keep any of them in another season only to see their value drop even further?
That philosophy made sense, and in due course we’ll know if the execution made sense as well. None of the exchanges involving those three got a potential star in return. For the most part, the number of young players and Orlando picks will only drive the next rebuilding process, which will focus on Markelle Fultz, Jonathan Isaac and Wendell Carter Jr. Oh, and because they left their best players now, Orlando it surely will. fall near or bottom of the rankings this season and get a high draft pick. So there is that too.
Oladipo feels the heat
Initially, you can conclude that Miami gave up little to Houston in exchange for a point guard in its prime, and such a reaction sounds reasonable. But then, what, really, is the riddle known as Victor Oladipo?
A few years ago he looked like he was about to be special, but then came injury and a gradual comeback, followed by courage that reportedly sank quite quickly. Understand that this is your fifth team in its eight seasons: The guys who run NBA teams aren’t perfect people, but they aren’t dumb, either.
Some teams freaked out because word through secondary channels is that Oladipo wanted to be in Miami and, as an unrestricted free agent in a few months, he probably would have signed there anyway. Miami will soon know if Oladipo is okay being a secondary option to Jimmy Butler… and Bam Adebayo (… and maybe Tyler Herro) and will price him accordingly this summer.
The frustrating follow-up of the Rockets
Help us understand this: In the James Harden trade, why didn’t the Rockets hold on to Caris LeVert, a good young player who signed for three years with reasonable money, instead of rolling the dice at Oladipo, who was and is it close to unrestricted freedom? agency? This was unfathomable then, and insane now, with LeVert stabbing in Indiana and Oladipo in Miami.
Therefore, the Rockets mostly have future first-round picks (which may drop at the end of the round) to show that they surrendered to an all-time great player in his prime. Again, those picks could produce an asset or two, but LeVert was no draft guess. He was in the flesh and only touched his potential. Again: just weird on the part of Houston.
It’s generally believed, with some historical evidence to support this theory, that you can’t travel very far into the NBA postseason without at least two All-Stars. Well, the Bulls gave Zach LaVine a star company by adding Vucevic, and it should at least be a lot of fun watching these efficient offensive players join the opposition. This is a solid inside-out combo designed to give the Bulls options and make them more balanced.
What’s also good for Chicago is that Vooch is signed for two more seasons and an improvement over Carter in terms of skill and experience. By getting it now, the Bulls are making a serious attempt to be in playoff contention this season, rather than risk getting involved in a Play-In Tournament setting. And if all goes well, they can make some first-round noise this spring.
Kyle Lowry, still a Raptor
Either the selling price was too high or the selling price was too high. Yes, that’s redundant, but it’s actually the only reason Lowry is still a Raptor. The three most logical landing places, Clippers, Sixers and Heat, either didn’t want to part ways with young talent (Tyler Herro) or couldn’t leave enough cap room for it to happen. Remember, with Lowry becoming an unrestricted free agent this summer, teams are willing to give up only so much for a player that could be a three-month rental; they couldn’t talk about money until after the season.
There’s also the slim chance Toronto had a somewhat reasonable offer, but Lowry didn’t want to play for that team, and given what it means for the franchise, Toronto probably gave him that option. And now he can hold out on a team that falls through the ranks, while playing as a peacemaker between Nick Nurse and Pascal Siakam.
Celtics focus on Fournier
There’s no question that Danny Ainge wanted Vucevic, and he has to be upset that Chicago’s offer was deemed better (a comparable from Boston would be Robert Williams, Marcus Smart, and a pick). But the prize behind the No. 2 gate in Orlando isn’t too bad: Fournier is a proven scorer, a dribble shooter who can create on his own and passes reasonably well.
In this situation, if Kemba Walker gets into trouble again, the Celtics can bring in someone who can take over. Also, like Gordon in Denver, Fournier should rejuvenate himself now that he plays for a contender, assuming, of course, that you believe the Celtics still fit that description.
A next level for Aaron Gordon?
After a gradual improvement in his first three seasons, there was reason to suspect that Gordon would eventually be a star. Well, people are still waiting for that, because Gordon’s progress hasn’t taken such a drastic turn. In some ways, he’s still the same as before, a ‘tweener’ forward who lacks the aggressive attitude it takes to be a power player, and the consistent punch needed to live on the perimeter.
In that sense, the first matador has been tempted without realizing the potential, at least in Orlando. But now he’s in a more productive atmosphere, with more at stake, in a better team with championship dreams. Will that trigger a change from within? This seems like a good deal for Denver in a number of ways: Gordon has the size to compete defensively with the great swingmen of the West (LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, etc.), and can be more of a finisher offensively. with the Nuggets, especially with Nikola Jokic instantly becoming the best passing teammate he’s ever had.
Blazers in their favor
The task of trying to find gold in Damian Lillard’s prime continues in earnest with the Blazers adding an upgrade to their three-guard rotation. Norman Powell is a good and aggressive scorer, but not reckless. It should fit in well with Lillard and CJ McCollum, more experienced, if not more reliable, than Gary Trent Jr.
But there is an advantage: Powell has the size and courage to help the Blazers defensively, where they need him most. You can get the toughest assignment and you’ll see a lot of them in the playoffs. It’s too early to say it will make a difference, but give Portland credit for being aggressive. The only downside is that he will be an unrestricted free agent this summer and could become a renter.
Rajon Rondo reconsiders the Clippers.
Last offseason during free agency, the biggest problem was Rondo’s signing with the Hawks. It just didn’t make sense to either the player or the team: The Hawks already had Trae Young and traded him for Kris Dunn, leaving Rondo just a few minutes at point guard. Yes, his leadership was perceived as an advantage, but it is said that some of the Hawks players felt he carried that privilege too far. As for Rondo, why go to a developing team when there were better options, especially at his age when championships should be the main goal?
The Clippers, who were in dire need of a point guard, didn’t want to give Rondo a guaranteed second season last fall. So Rondo went for the money. Well, it turned out that you now have the money and the fit. He will be the point guard on the court in the fourth quarter, when the Clippers become heroes with Paul George and Kawhi Leonard taking turns 1v1. Rondo will have the ball and decide who receives it. Also, the rapid development of Terance Mann made Lou Williams expendable.
Big Man Shopping
Unsurprisingly, no one wanted to offer enough to materialize a commercial market for Andre Drummond or LaMarcus Aldridge. The former is strictly a midfield player blocking the line, the latter is somewhat prone to injury and is no longer a dreaded mid-range scorer. The Spurs already gave Aldridge a check and wished him luck; Drummond is ready to go net.
Drummond would work better with the Lakers, because Anthony Davis hates playing center and will be delighted with a reduced role near the rim, especially on defense. Aldridge could return to Portland, Boston or Miami. But will any of the players be on the court when the game is on, in the final quarter of the playoffs? Probably not.
Shaun Powell has covered the NBA for more than 25 years. You can send him an email here, find your file here and follow him on Twitter.
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