NBA 2021: trade deadline, every deal, trades, analysis, winners and losers, Miami Heat, Houston Rockets

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The NBA trade deadline has come and gone, and all that’s left to do is try and figure out what the deals actually mean.

For some, like the Miami Heat, the final rush of business was kind. For others … it wasn’t.

Here are the winners and losers from a chaotic deadline day.

Fri, 26 Mar

Friday March 26th

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WINNERS

Miami Heat

This one is simple.

The Miami Heat got a whole lot better, and didn’t have to give up much to do it.

After being linked with Victor Oladipo for months in the lead-up to the trade deadline, the Heat finally got their man, without entering into a bidding war for the soon-to-be free agent.

Pat Riley didn’t have to give up either Duncan Robinson or Tyler Herro — two in-demand trade pieces — and was able to nab a 20 point-per-game scorer as Miami looks to return to the NBA Finals.

The Heat also landed Nemanja Bjelica for close to nothing and will lead the pack in the chase for LaMarcus Aldridge, who has secured his buyout from the San Antonio Spurs.

Miami went hard for Kyle Lowry, but didn’t get a deal done for the veteran guard. The good news? They didn’t lose out to any other contender, with the 35-year-old staying in Toronto.

Denver Nuggets

Nikola Jokic has been playing MVP-level basketball all season, but things haven’t been easy in Denver, who occupy the fifth seed in the West.

After losing the two-way production of Jerami Grant and elite defence of Torrey Craig in the off-season, the Nuggets were missing a high-level piece on that end of the floor.

And they may have just found it in Aaron Gordon, who represents that puzzle piece every contending team is looking to add at the deadline.

While Gordon’s numbers this season — 14.6 points, 6.6 rebounds, 4.2 assists — don’t scream ‘star’, his versatility, on both ends, will allow the Nuggets to take on some of the West’s best with a bit more confidence.

Departing Magic stars

Nikola Vucevic, Evan Fournier, and Aaron Gordon all got out of Orlando on deadline day. That’s a win any which way you look at it.

Oklahoma City Thunder

Quietly, but also not-quietly-at-all building up an arsenal of assets, the Oklahoma City war chest got a couple extra pieces today as they acquired another two second-round picks for their part in a three-team deal that saw George Hill head to Philadelphia.

Sam Presti and the Thunder are projected to own 34 picks — 17 in the first round, 17 in the second round — over the next seven seasons. That’s ridiculous.

Lonzo Ball

Lonzo Ball has been traded once. And while he might not like it enough in New Orleans to stay long-term, the 23-year-old should be happy to stay a Pelican until the end of the season.

Why? Ball is in a purple patch right now. His form was good enough for New Orleans to backflip on their decision to test the trade waters on him, and if he keeps it up, will be good enough to cash in when he becomes a restricted free agent at season’s end.

Changing teams now would have thrown another variable at Ball as he looks to secure a big-money contract and more importantly, find a team that will allow him to settle.

Oh, and being traded twice before the end of your fourth season in the league is a bad look.

Magic City

Lou Williams can feast on those wings whenever he likes now.

Everybody wins.

LOSERS

Houston Rockets

Hold your nose, because this one stinks.

There are organisations that have been sunk in a sea of misery for longer, but right now it’s hard to find a franchise more depressing than the Houston Rockets.

And on Friday (AEDT), as the deadline came and went, and Oladipo went with it, the reality of Houston’s hole became so much clearer.

Realistically, the Rockets were losers the moment James Harden pushed his way out. Then, they were losers when Oladipo turned down the extension they offered him.

But today, as Houston received just Avery Bradley, Kelly Olynyk and a pick swap for a two-time All-Star, the Rockets became the biggest loser of them all.

Going back to the Harden trade, the Rockets chose Oladipo over Caris LeVert, who they sent to Indiana as part of the four-team deal. They also watched Jarrett Allen land in Cleveland.

Then you remember they chose that Nets package of Philadelphia’s offer, which included Ben Simmons.

“I talked to [Rockets owner] Tilman Fertitta the day they made the Oladipo trade. He was excited for Oladipo, to get him here with John Wall, another All-Star,” ESPN’s John Granato said recently.

“I think they thought they could change his mind. I don’t think they were familiar with his thinking. They made a mistake bringing in Victor Oladipo. I think if they could do it again they’d take Caris LeVert and Jarrett Allen.

“They should have done that. But Rafael Stone came up under Daryl Morey. He taught him that you’ve got to trade for a star. He was a two-time All-Star. They always chase big names and Oladipo was a bigger name than either of those guys.”

LeVert is back from his health scare and doing great things in Indiana already, while Allen looks the goods in Cleveland. Houston has no Harden, no Oladipo, a bunch of picks, but seemingly no plan.

Gross. 

Boston Celtics

Evan Fournier is a fine acquisition.

But fine won’t be enough for a Boston Celtics side that looks worryingly off the pace in the Eastern Conference.

To this point in the season, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown have played about as well as anyone could have expected, and yet the Celtics are 21-23 and sitting in the eighth seed.

Boston had a $28.5 million trade exception to play with after Gordon Hayward’s departure, and while Fournier offers good scoring, he doesn’t fix their problems. Aaron Gordon was linked. As was John Collins. Both would have made more sense than Fournier.

The Celtics also sent Daniel Theis out the door in exchange for Moritz Wagner, while their big man problem persists.

Danny Ainge and co. will likely sniff around in the buyout market, but you can’t help but feel Boston hasn’t done enough to surround their two All-Stars with the necessary talent to challenge the top dogs in the East.

Los Angeles Clippers

The Los Angeles Clippers needed help in the back-court, and they got it. But they didn’t exactly put the NBA on notice.

Rajon Rondo arrives in a trade that will see Lou Williams head out the door as the Clippers replace scoring with ball-handling and playmaking.

The Clippers were said to be interested in Kyle Lowry and Lonzo Ball, but landed neither, so Rondo represents an underwhelming answer to a real question for one of the West’s best teams.

Austin Rivers

He’s an easy target, but Austin Rivers playing just 21 games for the New York Knicks after signing a three-year deal this off-season, before being traded to Oklahoma City is somewhat amusing.

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