The 2021 NBA trade deadline has passed. The smoke is still clearing as we try to piece together how the landscape of the league has changed. It has been one of the busiest deadlines in recent memory as teams across the league are either going all in, making last ditch moves to make a run at the playoffs/play-in or making the tough decision of folding their cards, waiving goodbye to the season, and looking towards the future, accepting its time to rebuild.
Here are the grades for every 2021 deadline trade:
PORTLAND – TORONTO
Gary Trent Jr
BLAZERS GRADE: A
The Blazers get a clear upgrade over Trent Jr with Powell who is both a more consistent shooter from deep and a better defender. The Blazers solidify their backcourt with Lillard, McCollum, and Powell. They also cleared another roster spot and got further under the tax, that will alow them to sign a player or two off the buyout market and still be under the luxury.
RAPTORS GRADE: B+
The Raptors get the for all intents and purposes, expiring contract (Hood’s next season is unguaranteed and the Raptors will not guarantee it) and the up and coming Gary Trent Jr.
With Lowry gone after the season they will pair Trent Jr up with VanVleet in the backcourt. Though Trent Jr is younger and in that framework fits Vanvleet, Powell is the better player. They will have to pay Trent Jr just as they would have had to pay Powell. A VanVleet/Powell backcourt would have been stronger. They still get a very talented, high ceilinged player in Trent Jr.
CHICAGO – ORLANDO
Al Farouq Aminu
Wendell Carter Jr
Otto Porter Jr
Chicago’s 2021 and 2023 1st picks (1-4 lottery protected)
BULLS GRADE: A+
The Bulls brought a second All-Star to Chicago to pair with Zach Lavine. The Bulls rebuild, after front office and coaching changes, is speeding up. Vucevic will elevate the Bulls and almost guarantee a play-in spot for them. He and LaVine will complement each other and give Chicago a big two to build around for seasons to come.
MAGIC GRADE: C+
Gordon and Fournier were already as good as out the door. Vucevic was more of a surprise. The Magic demolished their team like a casino in Vegas, ending an era with a quick succession of bangs. But, then again not so elegant. The Magic traded one player after the next like it was an everything must go yard sale. Vucevic was the 1st domino to fall.
They got back Wendell Carter Jr, a young prospect who has struggled but is still developing. He will be a part of Orlando’s future plans. The Magic got 2021 and 2023 1sts from Chicago as parting gifts and will use them in hopes of finding a new star in their rebuild.
Otto Porter Jr who also came in the deal will likely be bought out or walk away in FA and does not look to be a part of the Magic’s rebuild plans, though he has reportedly said he will remain with the team for the time being and not immediately seek a buyout.
ORLANDO – DENVER
ORLANDO GRADE: D+
The Magic could have had Ariza, Trent Jr, Collins, and 2 1st rnd picks for Gordon this past offseason and were asking for 2 1sts at the deadline. It seems they played three teams, Denver, Boston, and Portland against each other to try and boost his value, but it backfired as they took an unfavorable package from the Nuggets that didn’t meet their demands.
RJ Hampton is a young project and not a bad piece for a rebuilding team. Veteran guard Gary Harris has had a down season and it likely wasn’t difficult for Denver to part ways with him.
The Magic land another pick to help them in their rebuild. Together, it’s not pretty, and seems no where near Orlando’s asking price.
DENVER GRADE: A+
Denver basically moved some of their less useful contracts and a late 1st rounder for Aaron Gordon. It feels dirty and wrong. The Nuggets definitely got a heck of a deal and improved their front court, hurt this offseason by the loss of Jermai Grant and Mason Plumlee. They take a step up in the west with this move and are primed for a push down the stretch and a playoff run.
ORLANDO – BOSTON
2 Future 2nd round picks
ORLANDO GRADE: B –
Fournier wanted out. He gave the Magic little choice but to trade him when he told them he would not resign with them in the offseason. They should have been able to get a 1st for him at least. As it is, they got two 2nd rounder to help fuel their rebuild.
BOSTON GRADE: A
Boston got a heck of a deal landing Fournier. It only cost them a couple 2nds because they had a TPE left from Hayward leaving in the offseason. Early talks included them sending Marcus Smart. Buy, to get Fournier without losing a key defensive player is smart on Boston’s part. They have been struggling and needed to improve at the deadline.
NEW YORK GETS:
2021 2nd rnd pick (from PHI)
PHI 2025 and 2026 2nd Rnd Picks
PHILADELPHIA GRADE: C+/B-
Philly gets a veteran backup point guard in George Hill, but they gave up three 2nds to get him along with Tony Bradley and Terrance Ferguson. A bit costly. But, it does help Philly bolster their roster for a postseason run.
OKLAHOMA GRADE: A-
The Thunder had no use for George Hill. They got another 2 picks to add to their collection and Tony Bradley someone who can be a solid rotation big for them. Not to mention Austin Rivers. A great haul for Hill.
NEW YORK GRADE:
The Knicks jumped in as a third to make this trade work and got rid of Rivers who was not in their rotation and changed him to Terrance Ferguson, Vincent Porier, and a 2nd in this coming draft. Couldn’t have got better for Rivers and Brazdeikis.
2022 Draft Swap
MIAMI GRADE: B+
The Heat get Victor Oladipo, but does he fit? They loose Olynyk but replaced him in the Kings trade for Bjelica (see below). Avery Bradley was out of the rotation anyway. The Heat didn’t give up much, but will Oladipo fit in, and will he be able to get back to his All Star ways? He hasn’t played the same since his quad injury, but South Beach can be a new beginning for him.
HOUSTON GRADE: C+
Houston should have been able to get a better package for Oladipo. They get a veteran big in Olynk and a veteran guard in Avery Bradley, but really they just wanted to get rid of Oladipo who wanted out and hasn’t worked well since being traded to Houston. The Rockets wish they had taken LaVert in the Harden deal and I don’t blame them.
MIAMI – SACRAMENTO
MIAMI GRADE: B+
Miami needed to replace Olynyk who they traded to Houston. Bjelica does that and shoots a bit better from deep than Olynyk. Olynyk though gives you more athleticism than Bjelica.
Miami didn’t have to give any of their talented youngsters that helped them to the ECF last postseason. Harkless who they signed this offseason and never caught on in Miami and Chris Silva is a small price to pay for Bjelica.
SACRAMENTOS GRADE: C-
The whispers of Bjelica being traded had been bouncing off the walls for a while, but for Harkless? Thry probably won’t even use him.They will probably buy him out. Silva on the other hand could develop into something as Sacramento continues trying to rebuild with their youth.
DALLAS – NEW ORLEANS
NEW ORLEANS GETS:
Future 2nd Round Pick
DALLAS GRADE: A-
Dallas gets a veteran shooter in Reddick to improve their roster. Melli is a big man who can shoot from distance which Dallas, and already sharp shooting team will be happy with. The Mavericks are primed to make a push in the west and try to climb out of the play – in for a guaranteed spot in the postseason.
NEW ORLEANS GRADE: B-
Reddick wanted out and New Orleans made it happen. They got the young wiry athletic Iwundu who will fit far better with the Pelicans and veteran Johnson in return along with a pick. Not too shabby.
CHICAGO, BOSTON, WASHINGTON
Troy Brown Jr
$1.3 mill (CHI), $250K (WAS)
CHICAGO GRADE: B+
The Bulls get the best out of the deal not only landing Theis, but making Boston and Washington pay them to boot. The Bulls also get a bright prospect in Troy Brown and young guard Javonte Green.
BOSTON GRADE: B
Boston offloaded Theis and got further below the luxury tax. They get Wagner who can help off the bench and Kornet who likely won’t make the rotation.
WASHINGTON GRADE: D+
Nor sure why Washington does this trade. Maybe change for the sake of change. Not only do they send out Wagner and Brown but paid Chicago some cash money.
Gafford and Hutchinson are not an improvement. Gafford is a shot blocker and is fun to watch dunk but eh. Hutchinson is oft injured and unproven. Not sure what the Wizards are going for.
ATLANTA – LA CLIPPERS
2 2nd round picks
ATLANTA GRADE: A+
Atlanta wasn’t really using Rondo. He has spent a lot of the season injured. Williams, a renowned force off the bench is a good booster for Atlanta who is trying to get healthy and can use an injection of energy headed into the playoffs. Plus they get two picks.
LA CLIPPERS GRADE: B
Rondo will help the Clippers, especially on the defensive end, but he doesn’t quite have the scoring presence of Lou Williams. He can shoot the 3 though and be a stopper for the best guards in the west. That and he plays especially well in the playoffs. The Clippers trying to get passed the 2nd rnd are hoping Rondo is the answer to that. To give up Williams and picks…feels desperate.
GOLDEN STATE – CHARLOTTE
WARRIORS GRADE: C
A move to get under the luxury tax for Golden State. It doesn’t really hurt them to lose Wanamaker.
CHARLOTTE GRADE: C
Charlotte makes the move for pg insurance with Ball out for the season. Wanamaker proved be an apt backup in Boston but has been having his worst season, shooting only 36% from the field. He has a low turnover ratio and can shoot the three.
GOLDEN STATE – SAN ANTONIO
Rights to Cady Lalanne
WARRIORS GRADE: C
Another move to get under the Luxury tax. Golden State didn’t understandably want to pay the luxury for an injured player and probably wouldnt want to for Chris’s anyway. They get the rights to Lalanne, a Haitian big man who currently plays in Korea and will likely never play in the NBA after being drafted back in 2015.
SPURS GRADE: D+
They take on the injured Chriss, but hey they get paid to do it.