NBA Trades 2021: Post-Deadline Roundup and Twitter Reaction

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistMarch 25, 2021

Orlando Magic center Nikola Vucevic (9) looks to pass against the New York Knicks during the second half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, March 18, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger, Pool)
Adam Hunger/Associated Press

Kyle Lowry didn't get traded.

Everyone else? Yeah, they're pretty much gone.

Thursday marked a wild trade deadline across the NBA, with deals beginning in the morning and not stopping until the very last minute at 3 p.m. ET.

Here's a look at how things shook out, along with reaction from around the league. 


The Magic Blow It Up

Rob Perez @WorldWideWob

The Orlando Magic https://t.co/C5AhyicwJs

The Trades

Magic Receive: Gary Harris, RJ Hampton and a 2025 first-round pick
Nuggets Receive: Aaron Gordon and Gary Clark

Magic Receive: two second-round picks
Celtics Receive: Evan Fournier

Magic Receive: Otto Porter Jr., Wendell Carter Jr. and two first-round picks (2021 and 2023)
Bulls Receive: Nikola Vucevic and Al-Farouq Aminu

These trades could be viewed on their individual merits, but the overarching theme is that the Magic are rebuilding right now.

It's fair, and potentially even correct, to say Orlando could have waited until the offseason to move Gordon and Vucevic and gotten a better haul. The Vucevic trade in particular seems like one that could have waited for the offseason, especially given the number of draft picks that have been flying around in recent offseasons. The Pelicans got five picks (including pick swaps) in exchange for Jrue Holiday, who doesn't have an All-Star appearance to his name. The Magic got two for Vucevic, who has made two of the last three All-Star Games.

Orlando clearly has a high view of Carter, who has struggled to make much of an impact in his three NBA seasons. The Magic could ultimately be right, but Carter plus a couple of middling first-round picks feels light.

#RingerNBA @ringernba

Mo Bamba seeing Nikola Vucevic get traded only to find out Wendell Carter Jr. is coming in return https://t.co/mdARZWtlkd

The Bulls have locked themselves in as a solid Eastern Conference playoff team building around Vucevic and Zach LaVine, but it's fair to have concerns about their ceiling. Neither Vucevic nor LaVine have shown themselves capable of being a 1A on a good team. If the Bulls are satisfied winning 45-48 games and hanging out in the No. 3-6 range in the conference, this trade is a win. If they're expecting more, there's going to need to be a third acquisition at some point.

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Aaron Gordon pulling up to Denver *NSFW* https://t.co/INK2Lvr2uK

How the Magic fared in the Gordon trade likely depends on your evaluation of Hampton, a 2020 first-round pick who has received limited playing time as a rookie. Hampton was considered one of the best players in his high school class before being largely unimpressive in a one-season stint in Australia and then being drafted No. 24 overall. 

Harris has missed most of this season because of injuries and his $84 million rookie extension proved to be an overpay, but it wasn't long ago he was considered a cornerstone of the Nuggets franchise. He's only 26 and capable of rebuilding his trade value on an inexperienced Magic team when he's healthy.

The Fournier deal simply must have been the best Orlando could have gotten. It is, however, a surprise no team was willing to give up a protected first for Fournier's shooting prowess.


Rockets Trade Victor Oladipo to Miami for...Not Much?

Rockets Receive: Avery Bradley, Kelly Olynyk and a draft pick swap
Heat Receive: 
Victor Oladipo

In a word: woof

The Rockets simply could have kept Caris LeVert in the James Harden trade. Instead, for reasons that were inexplicable at the time and have only gotten worse, they flipped LeVert (and draft compensation!) to Indiana for Oladipo's expiring contract.

pickuphoop @pickuphoop

Fertitta turned Harden to LeVert to Oladipo to Avery Bradley. God bless Rockets fans https://t.co/duIJabZKqw

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

"The Rockets traded me for WHO?" https://t.co/iSWlf3kIZf

haley o'shaughnessy @HaleyOSomething

the houston rockets (2021) https://t.co/Gqw9ceqgk8

A couple of months later, Houston has flipped Oladipo again for the finest scraps off the Heat roster. Olynyk and Bradley are on expiring contracts who won't be part of the team's future; it wouldn't be a surprise if either (or both) wind up being bought out. Oladipo was essentially traded for a pick swap, which may wind up moving the Rockets up five or six slots in the 2022 draft.

The net return here is nothing short of a disaster and only further stokes criticism of what's already shaping up to be a poor return for Harden. LeVert is a 26-year-old on a team-friendly contract and arguably as good as Oladipo right now. At the very least, he would have brought back more value than matching expiring contracts and a relatively meaningless pick swap.

The Heat were long viewed as potential Oladipo suitors this summer and can now get a test run with him and Jimmy Butler paired for the rest of the season. Oladipo has struggled to regain his All-NBA-caliber play since returning from a knee injury, but this wouldn't be the first time Miami has bought low on a star at the right time. 


Blazers Acquire Norman Powell in Wings Swap

Raptors ReceiveGary Trent and Rodney Hood
Blazers Receive: Norman Powell

Categorize this one under "trades we really don't understand from a Blazers perspective." Hood has struggled this season and has a non-guaranteed contract for 2021-22, so the deal essentially amounts to Trent for Powell for our purposes.

While most would categorize Powell as the better player at the moment—he's a better attacker of the rim and a veteran defender—the difference seems marginal given the age difference between Trent (22) and Powell (27).

Kevin O'Connor @KevinOConnorNBA

Aaron Gordon would've made way more sense for the Blazers than Norm Powell. With Dame and CJ, Portland already has enough offensive firepower. What the Blazers lack is a switchable on-ball defender who can plug and play on offense, and thrive on the short roll. Gordon was ideal. https://t.co/pds52jfzgg

Trent is also a restricted free agent, whereas Powell will be unrestricted. It's likely going to cost the Blazers a sizable multiyear contract to retain Powell; Trent's market would have been limited by his restricted status. His fit with Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum would be a question if we hadn't just watched Powell easily coexist with Fred VanVleet and Kyle Lowry.

However, it's fair to wonder if the Blazers will send Powell back to the bench with McCollum back in the lineup and how Powell may react.

At the very least, this was a curious trade. 


Clippers Land Rondo After Long Pursuit

Clippers ReceiveRajon Rondo
Hawks Receive: Lou Williams, two future second-round picks 

A trade where the names are significantly bigger than their current-day production. Rondo's short stay in Atlanta was nothing short of abysmal, with the veteran point guard struggling on both ends and the Hawks flailing when he was on the floor. Atlanta was 8.6 points worse per 100 possessions with Rondo on the court this season.

Williams has clearly taken a significant step back from his Sixth Man of the Year heights, though his shooting splits remain in line with previous seasons. The Clippers cut his minutes by nearly seven per game this season, and he hasn't topped 20 points in more than a month. 

Justin Phan @jphanned

Rajon Rondo's teams have been better with him off the court in 10 straight seasons. The Clippers just dealt Lou AND picks for him. https://t.co/z9SWY8ROVg

Draymond Green @Money23Green

Rondo to the clippers.... best trade today

The motivation for moving on is clearly the Clippers banking on Playoff Rondo, a nickname given to Rondo for his penchant for seemingly finding his on-court effectiveness in the postseason. The reality of Playoff Rondo is a little overstated—Rondo was a glaring negative in four of the Lakers' six Finals games last season—but he brings veteran know-how and lead ball-handling skills to a Clippers team that needs it.

The Clippers pursued Rondo in the offseason before he inked a two-year, $15 million contract in Atlanta.

Williams, meanwhile, gets to return to his home state and play for a Hawks team that's set itself up for a playoff appearance since Nate McMillan took over as head coach.


Pelicans Send Redick to Dallas

Pelicans ReceiveJames Johnson, Wes Iwundu and a second-round pick
Mavericks Receive: JJ Redick, Nicolo Melli

The Mavericks made a surprise playoff appearance last season on the back of the single most efficient offense in NBA history. They surrounded Luka Doncic with a bevy of floor-spacers and let him do his thing, and the shooters knocked down their shots at historic rates.

That hasn't carried over to 2020-21. Dallas ranks only ninth in offensive efficiency for the season, though things have turned around in its 7-3 March.

Seemingly looking at their blueprint from last season, the Mavs targeted shooters in adding Redick and Melli to their bench units. Redick could move into the role played in 2019-20 by Seth Curry, who is now plying his trade in Philadelphia. The Duke product is shooting a career-low 36.4 percent from deep, but like the Mavs, he's heated up after a slow start.

Melli's a floor-spacing big who didn't find much love in Stan Van Gundy's rotation, thanks in large part to his abysmal 25.4 percent shooting rate this season. If Melli can find the stroke he showed last season, he's a decent buy-low fit.

Johnson and Iwandu will serve mostly as salary filler for the Pelicans, whose main haul here is the second-round pick. 


Sixers Bring In George Hill

Sixers Receive: George Hill, Ignas Brazdeikis
Thunder Receive: Tony Bradley, Austin Rivers and two future second-round picks (2025 and 2026)
Knicks Receive: Terrance Ferguson

The thing Sixers fans will think most about George Hill is that he is not Kyle Lowry. The Sixers were among the teams in heavy pursuit of the Philly native before the Raptors decided to hold onto Lowry in the biggest surprise of the day.

Josiah Johnson @KingJosiah54

How Austin Rivers looking at Doc after the Sixers traded for George Hill https://t.co/CA63IZKWss

Hill fills the ball-handling and three-and-D roles the Sixers were targeting in Lowry, albeit at a lower level. The Oklahoma City fountain of youth found Hill for the first half of this season, with the 34-year-old averaging 11.8 points and 3.1 assists while shooting 50.8 percent from the floor. Those numbers mostly carry over from his 2019-20 in Milwaukee, where Hill emerged as a solid core veteran in the rotation and locker-room leader.

Giving up Bradley hurts from a Sixers perspective, but he wasn't making the playoff rotation unless Dwight Howard suffers an injury. As it stands, Daryl Morey improved his roster on the margins without giving up any of the team's first-round picks or impressive young talent. 


Heat Add Nemanja Bjelica

Heat ReceiveNemanja Bjelica
Kings Receive: Maurice Harkless and Chris Silva

Bjelica's not going to continue shooting 29.3 percent from three in Miami, and Harkless and Silva were afterthoughts in the Miami rotation.

This should be an under-the-radar smart move to fortify the Heat's floor spacing, provided Bjelica finds his stroke with a change of scenery. If Bjelica continues struggling, it's a no-harm-no-foul move to trade two players who weren't getting much playing time anyway.


Nuggets Bring Back JaVale McGee

Nuggets Receive: JaVale McGee
Cavaliers Receive: 
Isaiah Hartenstein and two second-round picks (2023 and 2027)

It turns out you can come home again. The Nuggets brought back McGee in a trade that will help fortify their big-man rotation behind Nikola Jokic while also providing an indictment of Bol Bol's development behind the scenes.

With the trades for McGee, now a veteran with rings in his mantle rather than a precocious regular on Shaqtin' A Fool, and Gordon, the Nuggets look like a team primed for a potential Finals run. With LeBron James and Anthony Davis on the mend, the West is wide-open. Credit the Nuggets for going all-in while the window is open. 


Bulls Bring In Theis in 3-Team Deal

Bulls Receive: Daniel Theis, Javonte Green and Troy Brown
Celtics Receive: Moritz Wagner and Luke Kornet going to Boston
Wizards Receive: Daniel Gafford and Chandler Hutchinson

Theis should slot in as the primary backup for Vucevic.

That is about all of the analysis necessary for this deal, which amounts to largely a shuffling of low-rotation deck chairs.