NBA Rumors: Analyzing League's Top Trade Candidates

Martin FennFeatured Columnist IMarch 22, 2021

NBA Rumors: Analyzing League's Top Trade Candidates

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    Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

    The NBA trade deadline is set for Thursday, but it remains to be seen just how active the market will be.

    This is the last chance for contenders to make a splash or bolster their rosters with key role players. Sellers can try to move stars for draft capital or young talent.

    There has not been a whole a lot of real action. But the rumor mill is beginning to churn. Here are the latest rumors regarding some of the top trade candidates ahead of Thursday's 3 p.m. ET deadline.

Victor Oladipo

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    Michael Wyke/Associated Press

    The Houston Rockets might have hoped Victor Oladipo could be a real piece for them in the post-James Harden era.

    However, the Rockets' astonishing 20-game losing streak might mean the team will look to move Oladipo, who is on an expiring contract.

    Marc Stein of the New York Times reported Oladipo is "increasingly regarded" as one of the more accomplished players likely to be on the move in the coming days. But there is some uncertainty on that front.

    Kevin O'Connor of The Ringer reported it was previously believed Houston wanted a first-round pick for Oladipo. However, O'Connor said teams have been "reluctant" to part with a top pick, adding playoff teams are hesitant to trade for Oladipo and noting rebuilding teams "don't want him long term."

    It is incredibly difficult to pinpoint Oladipo's value. He has the pedigree of a tremendous two-way talent capable of creating his own shot while also making plays for his teammates. But there is no denying Oladipo's Rockets tenure has been a struggle.

    The 28-year-old is getting his numbers. He was averaging 21.1 points, 4.9 assists and 4.7 rebounds in his first 19 games prior to Sunday's loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Those scoring numbers are not coming efficiently, though, as Oladipo is shooting just over 40 percent from the field and 32 percent from beyond the arc.

    Time will tell what value the Rockets can get for Oladipo given the he has not returned to past All-Star form and will be an unrestricted free agent this summer.

Aaron Gordon

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    John Raoux/Associated Press

    Where Victor Oladipo's market is a bit murky, Orlando Magic forward Aaron Gordon is attracting a lot of interest from around the league.

    Kevin O'Connor of The Ringer reported the Rockets, Golden State Warriors, Boston Celtics, Minnesota Timberwolves and Portland Trail Blazers have all engaged the Magic in talks for Gordon.

    The former Arizona product has been one of Orlando's most versatile players. Gordon came into Sunday's game against the Celtics averaging 14.8 points, 6.8 rebounds and a career-high 4.1 assists. He was also shooting over 41 percent from beyond the arc before going 2-of-7 from deep against Boston.

    Gordon can play either forward spot and use his athleticism to explode past slower defenders. His efficiency from the three-point line has been especially encouraging considering he had not shot above 35 percent in a single season prior to the 2020-21 campaign.

    It seems telling that Gordon's suitors include contending teams and rebuilding franchises. Interestingly, O'Connor reported the Rockets and Magic have discussed an Oladipo-for-Gordon swap, though he noted Houston would likely have to give up a first-round draft pick.

    The Magic might be just as intent to keep Gordon. Things have not gone well for Orlando this season, but it has been without Jonathan Isaac and Markelle Fultz. Perhaps the Magic keep things intact and add a top NBA draft prospect to the mix this summer.

    Gordon is under contract through next season, so there is no rush to move him. Michael Scotto of HoopsHype reported the Magic are seeking a first-round pick and a young player for Gordon.

    Then again, with such a crowded market, perhaps one of the above teams will pay the steep price.

John Collins

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    Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

    Atlanta Hawks forward John Collins is another versatile player attracting quite a bit of trade interest.

    Kevin O'Connor of The Ringer reported the Hawks are receiving "significant" trade interest in Collins from the Celtics, Timberwolves, Sacramento Kings, Dallas Mavericks and Detroit Pistons. Atlanta is hoping to get a strong young player and a first or a package of first-rounders, per O'Connor.

    Collins has had a bit of a strange season. He reportedly turned down a $90 million extension prior to start of the season, guaranteeing he will be a restricted free agent this summer. Chris Kirschner and Sam Amick of The Athletic reported in January that the 23-year-old had some complaints about Atlanta's offense with Trae Young running the show.

    There appeared to be some turmoil regarding Collins' future in Atlanta. But he has nonetheless been an important part of the team's success.

    The former Wake Forest standout is averaging 18.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.1 blocks through his first 42 games. Collins is also shooting 37.7 percent from beyond the arc on 3.5 attempts per game. He is a three-level scorer for a Hawks team on a roll.

    Atlanta ran its winning streak to eight games after Saturday's win over the Los Angeles Lakers. The Hawks are fourth in the Eastern Conference, and they seem to be thriving under interim head coach Nate McMillan. Does it make sense to deal Collins now?

    Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN previously suggested the Hawks would keep the young forward because of the inability to get proper value for his talent and rookie contract. Wojnarowski also pointed to McMillan as a reason the Hawks and Collins could figure out a deal after the season.

    Of course, the Hawks seem to have a number of potential trade partners, plus a bit of a crowded frontcourt. But it seems like it would take something massive to pry Collins from Atlanta.


    All stats obtained via Basketball Reference unless otherwise noted.