B/R NBA Insiders: Final 2021 Trade Deadline Rumors and Predictions
The 2021 NBA trade deadline lost some of its luster back in December when Giannis Antetokounmpo signed a supermax extension with the Milwaukee Bucks, taking himself off the market. Signs of a quiet deadline became even clearer in January when the league's top target, James Harden, landed with the Brooklyn Nets.
Lucky for fans in all 30 markets and beyond, the rumor mill never actually stops churning even as the league's top-tier stars seem to settle into place.
With key names like Kyle Lowry and Lonzo Ball surfacing in active discussions just hours ahead of Thursday's 3 p.m. ET deadline, and Nikola Vucevic off the board in a trade sending him to the Chicago Bulls, Bleacher Report asked three NBA reporters to share final predictions for those stars and more based on what they're hearing.
Will Aaron Gordon's days in Orlando come to an end? Will it be "Battle: Los Angeles" for a certain buyout-market big?
Our insiders have their thoughts. Hit the B/R app to share yours.
Gordon Finally on the Move
As of this writing, the Boston Celtics remain very engaged in Aaron Gordon talks. However, the Denver Nuggets have emerged as the leading candidate to acquire the 25-year-old forward, according to league sources.
Gordon indeed submitted a trade request in February, sources said, and the Minnesota Timberwolves, Houston Rockets and Portland Trail Blazers all remain interested.
Boston's proposed deal has involved Marcus Smart and a first-round pick, sources said, and could even grow to include a second first-round selection plus Boston's trade exception. It would also then send Evan Fournier to the Celtics.
Yet Denver's deal, centered around Gary Harris, a first-rounder and one of Denver's young players (RJ Hampton, Zeke Nnaji and Bol Bol), seems to be gaining momentum as Wednesday turns into Thursday.
Lowry Proves Too Expensive
This situation has ebbed and flowed more than any on the trade market. It seems both Los Angeles teams, the Philadelphia 76ers and the Miami Heat all remain in pursuit for Kyle Lowry. Each contender would have to part with a rather lofty haul in order to acquire the veteran point guard's services from the Toronto Raptors, though.
To both match the All-Star's $30 million salary and return a value worthy of parting with a franchise icon, the Sixers would likely need to send two of Danny Green, Seth Curry and Tyrese Maxey. The Heat would need to move Goran Dragic, plus another big salary and one of Kendrick Nunn, Duncan Robinson and Tyler Herro. The Clippers and Lakers are both strapped of much future draft capital.
Though the momentum seems to be pushing Lowry out of Toronto, the safe money is on the Raptors keeping their veteran past the deadline.
Hawks Keep the Collins Experiment Going
The Atlanta Hawks have a difficult decision ahead with John Collins, who will be a restricted free agent this offseason. Back in December, ESPN's Brian Windhorst reported that Collins turned down an extension offer "in excess of $90 million" because he "was seeking something at or near the max."
While an offseason negotiation with Collins may be contentious, the Hawks will choose that path over dealing the 23-year-old forward/center to another team at the deadline.
Knicks Show They'll Pay to Play
The New Orleans Pelicans are hesitant to pay Lonzo Ball what he'll seek this offseason as a restricted free agent. He's "hoping to make approximately $20 million annually on his next deal," per Sam Amick of The Athletic.
The New York Knicks, meanwhile, project to have significant cap space this summer with few viable impact targets in free agency. Ball would give head coach Tom Thibodeau a defensive-minded guard and offensive accelerator who would fit in nicely with young scorer Immanuel Quickley and All-Star point forward Julius Randle.
The cost for New York could be something like Frank Ntilikina, Kevin Knox and, if needed, the 2021 first-round pick from the Dallas Mavericks.
Redick Hits the Buyout Market, Reunites with an Old Friend
The New Orleans Pelicans have made shooter JJ Redick available via trade for some time, but no suiters have been willing to give up draft assets or young prospects for the veteran.
Redick is in the final year of his deal at $13 million. If the Pelicans are unable to find a trade, they could save a little money in a buyout.
Redick could return to his old haunts with the Philadelphia 76ers, but look for him to join former Los Angeles Clippers teammate Chris Paul on the Phoenix Suns.
Oladipo's Future May Spook Suitors
While there is an undeniable level of interest in Victor Oladipo from a handful of teams, his departure isn't likely to come before the deadline.
Teams with the assets necessary to acquire Oladipo are hesitant to pursue him aggressively both because he'll be an unrestricted free agent this summer and because he has reportedly shown a liking for both the Miami Heat and New York Knicks.
Those teams will be aggressive in their pursuit this offseason but are reluctant to put real assets on the table for a player they can potentially acquire outright in a few months.
Drummond Saga Ends in Los Angeles
In this day and age, adding a big man who can't stretch the floor is a gamble. That's why a number of teams, while interested in adding Andre Drummond to their roster, are willing to roll the dice that he'll get bought out and can then choose his next destination.
Multiple league sources believe he is the top buyout target of the Los Angeles Lakers, who could use a bona fide center with Anthony Davis' Achilles injury.
Keep an eye on Los Angeles' other team, though. The Clippers could make an eleventh-hour push.
Knicks Land a Star
The New York Knicks have been looking to make some kind of splash for what seems like forever.
That day may finally be here.
New York is involved with a number of players, but acquiring DeMar DeRozan is near the top of its wish list. He's a consistent scorer, he's durable, and he would provide the veteran presence the Knicks are intent on adding to the mix to solidify their presence as a playoff contender and a team on the rise.