NBA Rumors: Hottest Gossip Ahead of 2021 Trade Deadline

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistMarch 23, 2021

NBA Rumors: Hottest Gossip Ahead of 2021 Trade Deadline

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    John Raoux/Associated Press

    The 2021 NBA trade deadline is now roughly two days away. The market will officially close at 3 p.m. ET on Thursday, so teams looking to make in-season deals should be active over the next 48 hours.

    While there isn't one big-name trade target looming over the market—as Anthony Davis did a couple of years ago—a few notable players have been circling the rumor mill. Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry and Orlando Magic forward Aaron Gordon are chief among them.

    According to Jared Weiss and Sam Amick of The Athletic, Gordon requested a trade through his representatives in February. According to The Athletic's Shams Charania, both the Miami Heat and Philadelphia 76ers are in on Lowry.

    Here, we'll take a closer look at their situations and the rest of the latest trade buzz with the deadline quickly approaching.

Celtics, Rockets in Pursuit of Gordon

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    Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

    If Gordon does want out of Orlando, there's a good chance that he'll get his wish. At least two teams have reportedly made offers for him.

    According to Charania, the Houston Rockets have had talks with the Magic.

    "The Rockets and Magic have engaged in talks on a Gordon deal to Houston for two first-round draft picks, sources have told The Athletic," he wrote. "No deal is imminent on this front as of this writing, but there have been significant talks."

    The Boston Celtics have also made an offer, according to Matt Moore of The Action Network:

    "The Boston Celtics are considered the frontrunners to add Orlando Magic forward Aaron Gordon via trade, multiple sources confirmed to The Action Network Monday night. While the framework of a deal is in active discussion and considered the leading offer, sources say no deal has been agreed upon and the Magic are expected to continue to take offers up until Thursday’s deadline."

    Weiss and Amick also noted that the Celtics have been in talks with Orlando.

    It feels likely that Gordon will be moved before Thursday's deadline, but Orlando can and should take its time. As long as two or more teams are in on Gordon, a bidding war could ensure.

Three Options on the Table for Lowry

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    Jacob Kupferman/Associated Press

    The 76ers and Heat are in on Lowry, and the interest could be mutual in Miami's case.

    According to The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor, Miami would be a preferred destination if Lowry must be dealt.

    "Lowry recently said he wants to retire with the Raptors even if he needs to sign a one-day contract. But if he gets dealt, league sources say his preferred destination is Miami because of his close friendship with Jimmy Butler," O'Connor wrote.

    If Lowry would indeed prefer to stay in Toronto or land with the Heat, he too could get his wish.

    According to ESPN's Brian Windhorst, Lowry is expected to get an extension from Toronto or with the 76ers or Heat after a trade.

    Windhorst said the following on The Hoop Collective (h/t Bleacher Report's Rob Goldberg):

    "Kyle Lowry's free agency is happening right now. The expectation is that Kyle Lowry is going to have a new contract by the end of this week. It's either going to be to stay in Toronto—whether it's signed or an understanding that it's going to happen—it's going to be Miami or it's going to be Philadelphia. Those are the three options."

    It'll be interesting to see if a Lowry trade happens and if a move to Philadelphia or Miami is enough to make his new team a legitimate title contender.

Bulls Listening to Offers for Lauri Markkanen

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    Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

    While perhaps not as hot of a trade target as Gordon and Lorwy, Chicago Bulls forward Lauri Markkanen is drawing interest.

    According to Charania, the Bulls are listening to offers.

    "Teams have expressed interest in Bulls forward Lauri Markkanen, and Chicago is listening to potential suitors, sources said," Charania wrote. "... Markkanen will be a sought-after restricted free agent this offseason."

    According to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago, there has been some buzz about a trade involving Markkanen and New Orleans Pelicans point guard Lonzo Ball. Per Johnson, however, that buzz is largely unfounded:

    "There have been whispers throughout the league all season of a potential Markkanen for Lonzo Ball swap. But one league source indicated this week that such speculation is mostly centered on the fact that both players are headed to restricted free agency and theorized that Ball's strong play would almost certainly lead to the New Orleans Pelicans asking for additional assets if any such talks occurred."

    A straight-up player-for-player swap involving these two feels unlikely. However, this doesn't mean that it won't happen or that one or both players won't be moved.

    Ball is reportedly drawing his own interest ahead of the deadline.

Ball Drawing Trade Interest

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    Matthew Hinton/Associated Press

    According to O'Connor, the Pelicans aren't necessarily eager to move Ball now, but teams are interested.

    "There's skepticism around the league that the Pelicans will move Lonzo Ball ahead of the deadline, but that won't stop teams from trying. League sources say the Bulls and Hawks are both in pursuit," O'Connor wrote.

    Even if the Pelicans aren't actively looking to deal Ball, they would be wise to listen to offers. He'll be a restricted free agent in the offseason and may fall out of New Orleans' price range.

    According to Amick, Ball will be seeking a deal worth at least $20 million annually.

    "one source who has discussed the Lonzo dynamics with New Orleans said the 23-year-old guard is hoping to make approximately $20 million annually on his next deal," Amick wrote.

    If the Pelicans aren't willing to pay Ball at that rate, they may be better off maximizing their value with a trade in the coming days.