Grading Moves from the 2021 NBA Trade Deadline
Aaron Gordon to Denver:
- Denver Nuggets Receive: Aaron Gordon, Gary Clark
- Orlando Magic Receive: Gary Harris, RJ Hampton, 2025 1st round pick
Denver Nuggets (A): The Nuggets looked poised to make a strong push this season after their remarkable playoff run last season. Currently sitting at the fifth seed, they have simply not been able to meet their expectations so far. The most obvious reason for this is the loss of starting forward Jerami Grant who has made a name for himself this season in Detroit, putting up near All-Star numbers. Aaron Gordon, just like Grant, is an ultra-athletic four who can be a second or third scoring option alongside Jokic and Murray. After this deal, the Nuggets definitely have the talent to make a run to the Conference Finals again, hopefully with a different outcome this time around.
Orlando Magic (D+): I’m not really sure what the Magic were thinking with this one. Gary Harris’s stats have been in a freefall over the past three years, only averaging 10 points on 44% from the field this year. He doesn’t score, pass, rebound, or defend at anything near an Aaron Gordon level. RJ Hampton is an unproven rookie and has only been playing in garbage time. Hopefully, with more playing in time in Orlando, he will be able to develop into a good player. The 2025 1st round pick won’t be very valuable unless the Nuggets fall off heavily over the next 4 years and considering that they are by far the best young team in the NBA, I don’t see this happening. Overall, the Magic lost this trade without a doubt. If they had kept Gordon for the rest of this season, it would allow his stats to inflate, increasing his trade value in the offseason, where they could look for better deals.
Nikola Vucevic to Chicago:
- Chicago Bulls Receive: Nikola Vucevic, Al-Farouq Aminu
- Orlando Magic Receive: Wendell Carter Jr., Otto Porter Jr., 2021 1st round pick, 2023 1st round pick
Chicago Bulls (B-): The Bulls made this trade to show Zach LaVine that they are trying to build around him instead of making him carry their poor roster to the playoffs. However, adding an aging All-Star center while losing two very valuable first-round picks is a very questionable decision. This move looks to secure the Bulls into no man’s land for the foreseeable future with no playoff appearances or high lottery picks if LaVine and Vucevic don’t gel as expected.
Orlando Magic (A+): The Magic found a great deal here with Chicago. Not only did they get two very valuable first-round picks, but they also got Wendell Carter Jr., a young forward with a decent upside though he has been disappointing this year. With more minutes on a horrible Orlando team for the rest of this season, he may be able to develop with a higher usage rate.
Evan Fournier to Boston:
- Boston Celtics Receive: Evan Fournier
- Orlando Magic Receive: Jeff Teague, Two 2nd round picks
Boston Celtics (A+): The Celtics really just threw together two wads of chewing gum in an empty bag of chips and got a twenty-point per game scorer. The Fournier deal positions Boston to make a run for the championship, as they were looking desperately for a wing scorer to add next to Tatum and Brown. Fournier will be able to remove some of the offensive load that both Tatum and Brown carry, and work as another threat from anywhere on the field. Though Fournier may leave the Celtics this offseason, they basically gave up nothing for an additional offensive weapon, which is a huge win in my book.
Orlando Magic (C-): It is completely baffling that the Magic didn’t get a better offer for Fournier than what they accepted from Boston. Fournier was a much desired asset that many fringe contenders wanted to bolster their roster with, and there is no doubt that there was another team offering a better package than a washed up Jeff Teague and two low second rounders. In addition, I believe that the Magic waited much too long to trade Fournier. With only half a season left on his contract, they couldn’t have been expecting a great package as Fournier will likely be a half-season rental.
Norman Powell to Portland:
- Portland Trailblazers Receive: Norman Powell
- Toronto Raptors Receive: Gary Trent Jr., Rodney Hood
Portland Trailblazers (B+): Portland has finally made a significant addition to their team this trade deadline, one that can yield great playoff success. Powell has been a very underrated player during his tenure with the Raptors. He will be an excellent third option behind Dame and CJ. The Blazers have previously shown that they are capable of making a strong playoff push as they made the Conference Finals in 2019. With Powell now on the team, if the Lakers face injury struggles, the Blazers might be able to sneak into the Conference Finals once again in a tough Western Conference.
Toronto Raptors (A-): Gary Trent Jr. is a very promising young player who can make an immediate impact in a Toronto Raptors system that prefers younger, athletic players. Giving up Powell was a surprise, but a deeper look explains why this trade benefits the Raptors. Trent Jr is slightly less productive than Powell, but is five years younger. With his potential, he can eclipse Powell’s Toronto production in the near future.
Rajon Rondo to Los Angeles:
- Los Angeles Clippers Receive: Rajon Rondo
- Atlanta Hawks Receive: Lou Williams, Two 2nd round picks
Los Angeles Clippers (B): Acquiring Rondo brings a much needed locker room change to the Clippers as well as an elite playmaker. After the Clippers’ collapse in last season’s playoffs, it was evident that a culture change was needed desperately. Lou Williams has had a sharp decline in production since the 2018 season. This year, he has only been putting up 12 points per game, which isn’t a factor that the Clippers depend on with incredible scorers like Kawhi and Paul George on the roster. Rondo will be able to share the ball between the two while also bringing exceptional basketball IQ to clutch situations, which will hopefully prevent a 3–1 collapse in the playoffs again. With that being said, I do think that the Clippers did not need to trade two picks alongside Lou Williams. Those picks could’ve been very valuable assets for a future trade, and I believe Lou Williams for Rajon Rondo straight up is a very even trade.
Atlanta Hawks (B): The Rondo acquisition in this past offseason didn’t make too much sense from the start. Atlanta had their franchise player and clear starting point guard in Trae Young. They also had an abundance of young guards like Kevin Huerter, Kris Dunn, and Bogdan Bogdanovic. Rondo didn’t really add anything to the fringe playoff Hawks team. Lou Williams adds a veteran presence that the young guards mentioned previously can learn from.
Victor Oladipo to Miami:
- Miami Heat Receive: Victor Oladipo
- Houston Rockets Receive: Kelly Olynyk, Avery Bradley, 2022 1st round pick swap
Miami Heat (A+): It has been no secret that Oladipo has wanted to join the Heat for a few years now, so this fit is basically a match made in heaven. The Heat have been having a down year until recently, but with Oladipo, they now have three legitimate All-Stars that can make a deep run in the playoffs. Oladipo fits right in to the Miami Heat culture with a humble, smart, yet outgoing personality. Since his injury in early 2019, Oladipo has seen a significant drop in efficiency, but now that he will be a second or third scoring option in the Heat offense, he will see many more open looks, boosting his efficiency and the team’s performance as a whole. Furthermore, the Heat were able to nab Oladipo without giving up any important assets. Neither Olynyk or Bradley were major contributors to the team, and the second round pick has minimal value, as the Heat will continue to be a great playoff team through next season.
Houston Rockets (A-): I gave the Rockets an A- here because they had no choice but to trade Oladipo, as he would definitely leave this offseason for nothing as the Rockets have been nothing short of a trainwreck this season. Though this was an underwhelming return and I do completely believe that the Rockets should’ve kept LeVert instead of trading him for Oladipo, at this moment, the Rockets made the best decision they could with Oladipo by trading him. After this deal was finalized, the Rockets received Avery Bradley, Kelly Olynyk, four first round picks, and five first round pick swaps for James Harden. This haul is still impressive, and definitely not as disappointing as NBA Twitter makes it out to be.