Trade Deadline day in the NBA is always wild and yesterday was no exception. Here are just a few of the biggest winners.
After making the NBA finals last year, the Heat have struggled. They dealt with positive Covid tests early on and injuries have nagged them ever since. They made two notable moves, first of which was acquiring Nemanja Bjelica, a 6’10” veteran forward known for his shooting ability. He has not shot as well this season as in previous years but if he can get hot for them then it will be a solid pickup.
The second move of the day for MIami was trading for Victor Oladipo who is averaging 20 points a game on decent efficiency. He has dealt with a multitude of injuries in the past few years but has shown he can still provide value when healthy. It’s a low risk, high reward type of move. Because the Heat didn’t give up that much in the trade, and if it doesn’t work out then Oladipo will walk in free agency. But if he finds a groove as the 3rd or 4th scoring option then he could be just what they need to get to the top again.
Portland Trail Blazers + Toronto Raptors
In a bit of a surprise move the Blazers moved Gary Trent Jr and Rodney Hood in exchange for Norman Powell. At first this was seen as a bit of a lateral move given that Trent and Powell are similar players but upon closer inspection it can be seen as a win for both sides. Trent gives the Raptors an effective younger guard who has shown potential on both sides of the floor. The risk factor for them is that he’s a free agent this off-season. If he decides to leave then Toronto traded Powell away for very little. But if they’re able to re-sign him then they’ll have a key piece for a long time to come.
Powell was one of the most sought after targets of the trade deadline having the third best three point percentage and averaging 19 points per game for the Raptors. Landing him is a big win for the Blazers who are in win now mode. Lillard is in his prime but who knows how long that will last. Powell could leave in free agency but if he gets them even a little closer to playoff success then the move is worth it. He’s more athletic, a better ball handler than Trent, and may even be a slight upgrade as a defender. He should fit right in the backcourt with Lillard and McCollum.
The Celtics are another underperforming team this season. They currently sit at the 8th spot in the east after falling just short of a finals appearance last year. At the deadline they added a couple of young big men in Wagner and Kornet. But the most notable of their moves was adding Evan Fournier at the cost of only a pair of second round picks.
Adding a 19 point per game scorer will give any team a boost. And the Celtics should find themselves a few spots higher in the standings for it. But the move may not be enough to reclaim playoff success. One of their glaring issues was their defense going from top 5 in the league last year to bottom ten this year. Fournier doesn’t fix this problem, but all the same it’s a good acquisition for a struggling team at a low cost. And it gives them a fourth high level scorer to go alongside Tatum, Brown, and Walker.
Aaron Gordon has finally been moved from the Magic and the Nuggets were the ones who got him. It wasn’t cheap, the move cost them longtime Nugget Gary Harris. But they hope the move will be worth it.Gordon has been a fairly consistent performer throughout his career with the Magic. He is a hyper athletic forward who averages 14 points and 4 assists per game. He has the potential to be a great 3rd option alongside Murray and Jokic.
Another solid move by Denver was picking up three time champion Javale McGee. The backup center played a role in both the Warriors and Lakers championship teams. And he was giving the Cavaliers productive minutes this season. McGee adds rim protection and versatility to a Nuggets team that has championship aspirations with their star player in the midst of a MVP caliber season.
The Orlando Magic are in the bottom five teams in the league, and that was before they traded away their three best players yesterday. Aaron Gordon, Evan Fournier, and Nikola Vucevic have been a trio on the Magic since 2014. And while they’re all talented players who are often fun to watch, they found very little success in their time with the team.
Yesterday marked the end of that trio as they were all traded and all to different teams. The Magic received some interesting players in return but I think the biggest point here is that Orlando is rebuilding. They spent years fighting for low playoff seeds or not making them at all. And now they’re in for a few years at the bottom. But with the right moves and some competent drafting they could come out the other side better for it.
The trade deadline is always a hectic time. And none of these moves can be accurately judged until at least the end of the season. But from where things stand right now, these teams were yesterday’s winners.