The 2021 NBA Trade Deadline has come and gone, and while the days leading up to the deadline remained extremely quiet, Thursday morning brought the fireworks that many of us had hoped to see, starting with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Denver Nuggets:
Denver is acquiring center Cleveland center JaVale McGee for Isaiah Hartenstein and two future protected second-round picks, sources tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) March 25, 2021
That type of deal was basically a small cup of straight black coffee to start the morning, but was then quickly followed by an all-you-can-eat buffet at the Walt Disney World Resort:
Here's the deal: The Bulls land Nikola Vucevic and Al Farouq Aminu for Otto Porter, Wendell Carter Jr., and two first-round picks. Huge addition for Chicago, who remains in pursuit of Lonzo Ball. The Magic are moving toward a rebuild now with Aaron Gordon deal on deck.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) March 25, 2021
While more trades continued to flow in (more on that in a second), this was hands down the biggest blockbuster of the day. Under new president of basketball operations Artūras Karnišovas, the Bulls finally pulled the trigger on their biggest deal since trading Jimmy Butler to Minnesota, acquiring the All-Star center from Orlando in exchange for a couple of juniors (Otto Porter and Wendell Carter) as well as two first-round picks.
But wait, there’s more!
Teams are finalizing the deal now, source tells ESPN. https://t.co/Rc27IxxhnB— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) March 25, 2021
Before everyone could digest the news of the Vucevic deal, the Magic front office made another splash by sending the expiring contract of Evan Fournier to the Boston Celtics. With Vucevic and Fournier moving on, that left only one final masterstroke for Orlando before they could officially call it a day:
Gary Harris, RJ Hampton and a first-round pick to the Magic for Aaron Gordon, source tells ESPN. https://t.co/VWMUVCokeS— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) March 25, 2021
So in a matter of just a few hours, the Magic completely reshaped their roster by sending out Vucevic, Gordon, and Fournier and brought in multiple picks, RJ Hampton (who was selected with the 24th overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft), Gary Harris, and the two juniors mentioned above.
As you all know, Aaron Gordon was a prime target of the Minnesota Timberwolves, and when looking at the price it took to actually acquire him, it becomes clearer and clearer that the Wolves were simply not going to match that type of offer. It was rumored that Orlando had asked for fellow rookie Jaden McDaniels (who was drafted a few picks after Hampton), but Gersson Rosas and his team have shown no desire thus far to move on from the OTHER J-Mac despite a bevvy of calls over the last week (which I fully agree with).
Back to the action...
Sacramento is finalizing a deal to send Nemanja Bjelica to the Miami. Heat, sources tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) March 25, 2021
Belly reunites with his dear friend (and former Timberwolves teammate) Jimmy Butler down in Miami, and the two will attempt to relive the glory days of their time together up in North Beach:
Nemanja Bjelica and Jimmy Butler reunite in Miami.— Dane Moore (@DaneMooreNBA) March 25, 2021
In 2017-18, Bjelica and Butler shared the floor for 182 minutes and had a net rating of +17.5 (far and away the Timberwolves' most-effective two-man pairing that season).
D-rtg: 94.6 (whew!)
Net: +17.5 pic.twitter.com/AygSOwIunf
The Heat weren’t quite satisfied filling their Belly, as they also successfully landed Victor Oladipo moments before the deadline expired:
Houston is trading Victor Oladipo to Miami, source tells ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) March 25, 2021
Additionally, it was reported later in the day that the San Antonio Spurs were negotiating a buyout with LaMarcus Aldridge, clearing his way to also sign with the Miami Heat. After a sluggish start to the 2020-21 season, the Heat look primed and loaded to make another deep run in the playoffs as they attempt to keep pace with the Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers.
Speaking of Philly:
Philadelphia is acquiring OKC's George Hill for Tony Bradley, Terrance Fergusson and two future second-round picks, sources tell ESPN. Austin Rivers goes to OKC as part of a three-way deal.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) March 25, 2021
Despite their best effort to acquire the hometown kid Kyle Lowry, the Sixers were forced to settle for the services of George Hill, who they obtained via a deal with OKC. The Thunder now own an entire round of picks between now and the time I turn 40:
Oklahoma City now has a projected 34 draft picks over the next 7 years.— Bobby Marks (@BobbyMarks42) March 25, 2021
Maybe the most enjoyable trade of the day occurred minutes before the deadline as well, as the (other) team from Los Angeles shook things up by trading Lou Williams to Atlanta in exchange for Playoff (Rajon) Rondo:
Hawks are trading Rajon Rondo to the Clippers for Lou Williams, source tells ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) March 25, 2021
The deal is enjoyable for two main reasons — for starters, Lemon Pepper Lou Williams returns to the scene of last year’s “crime,” when he famously visited a gentlemen’s club in Atlanta (while on an excused leave from the NBA bubble) to make his own deadline deal for some wings. Secondly, Rondo returns to California to once again help a team from Hollywood secure a championship ring, except this time it’s the team who has a locker room at Staples Center just down the hall from the Lakers.
And finally, the biggest head scratcher of the day (at least for me) was the out-of-nowhere trade between the Toronto Raptors and the Portland Trailblazers:
Toronto has traded Norm Powell to Portland for Gary Trent and Rodney Hood, sources tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) March 25, 2021
It’s not that this deal doesn’t make sense for both teams (because it obviously does), but I am a huge Gary Trent, Jr. fan and really loved the toughness he brought to the Blazers these last couple of seasons. Without getting into the “birthday discussion,” a quick Google search will tell you that Powell (27) is significantly older than Trent (22).
Additionally, Powell also has a $11 million dollar player option next season while Trent will be a RFA. Again, the deal makes sense for both teams (Portland adds shooting and the Raptors get a young 3&D guy who they can match offers on — much like Minnesota did with Malik Beasley), but I think in a vacuum I would have simply preferred to keep Trent and ride out free agency if I’m the Blazers. Either way, a really fun deal and one that very few (if any?) saw coming.
And last but not least, your Minnesota Timberwolves:
The Minnesota Timberwolves are standing pat as the deadline expires. No trades from them, sources tell @TheAthleticMIN— Jon Krawczynski (@JonKrawczynski) March 25, 2021
While the lack of #WojBombs and #ShamsGrenades left us all with a rather bad taste in our mouths, it was honestly not that shocking to see the worst team in the league stand pat at the deadline (hell of a sentence that is, huh?)
As mentioned earlier, the Wolves simply refused to pay the enormous asking price for an Aaron Gordon or John Collins, and while addressing the power forward position is still tops on the team’s list of priorities, they will now turn their attentions to this summer in hopes of providing Karl-Anthony Towns with a proper running mate in the front court.
I *think* that’s it? My apologies for not mentioning other players like Matt Thomas, Daniel Gafford, and Mfiondu Kabengele, all of whom saw their names tweeted out by Woj or Shams prior to the deadline.
With 3:00pm EST on Thursday now officially behind us, the Wolves will look towards their weekend series against the Houston Rockets, which will include welcoming back their own deadline acquisition (of sorts) Malik Beasley on Saturday (not Friday, my apologies). Beasley’s backcourt running mate (D’Angelo Russell) has begun ramping up activities with the team and is expected to return to the lineup as well within the next couple of weeks.
So... what did you think? What was the best trade? Worst trade? And who the hell is Matt Thomas? Let me know your thoughts and opinions below.