Back with a trade deadline-centric Friday Five’s. Let’s dive in ⤵️
5.) Busiest Deadline… Ever!
One thing about the NBA trade deadline is, it does NOT disappoint.
Turns out that the adversities that the pandemic present still weren’t a match for the flurry of moves that coincide with the NBA’s trade deadline.
These moves help with the parody that the league possesses, but also goes to show how busy teams are in trying to maneuver with the lack of super teams (sans the Nets). The implementation of the play-in tournament does not seem to have hurt league-wide movement at all, which was a looming question many had.
4.) The Rockets sans Harden
In all, stemming from the James Harden trade, the Rockets ammassed: 4 1st-round picks, 5 1st-round pick swaps, Avery Bradley, Kelly Olynk, Dante Exum, and Rodionis Kurucs.
They have set themselves up both financially and for future asset returns. How they play their cards moving forward will surely be under a microscope.
They have Christian Wood and Kevin Porter Jr. to feature as their franchise faces, who will join them over time as Eric Gordon (who would’ve likely been a trade chip if not for injury) and John Wall remain as the final pieces that could net them more assets.
3.) Portland Trail Blazers
Portland adding Norman Powell (for Trent Jr and Rodney Hood), a battle-tested consistency, will end up being one of the higher ranked moves of this years deadline. A guard, that can operate without either or Dame or CJ, but can also operate with just one or even both in the floor, is completely invaluable. He’s also better defensively than Trent Jr. who he’ll effectively replace.
He’s in the 90th percentile from the corners, and in the 88th percentile overall from three. Needless to say, his attraction speaks for itself especially when you have two elite primary ball-handlers for him to share the court with.
Having their entire complement of talent back in rotation is their first order of business. Once that’s achieved, that’s when we’ll be able to fairly assess this acquisition as well as the team as a whole. As it stands though, then do seem to have upgraded from where they were last season.
On the shoulders of Lillard and McCollum, I expect for the Blazers to be as good as they have been before.
Will that net them a return to the Conference Finals and potentially beyond though?
2.) Denver Nuggets
The Nuggets attained Aaron Gordon and Javale McGee, while giving up RJ Hampton, Gary Harris, a 1st-round pick, Isaiah Hartenstein, a protected 2023 2nd-round pick (through 46), and an unprotected 2027 2nd-round pick.
I have my questions regarding Gordon and Porter Jr as a wing tandem, as both are more-so tweeners than they are specifically small or power forwards. I also still am curious as to if their defense can make a leap back into the top 10 (where they were in 2018-2019).
Nonetheless, anytime you can add a players averaging 14.6 PPG, 6.6 RPG, and 4.2 APG with the dynamic that Gordon brings in athleticism, who’s also enjoying a healthy 3-pt clip of 37.5% on 4.5 attempts, you do it.
The additions of Gordon and McGee help in frontcourt depth, so it’ll be interesting as to how Mike Maloe structures his rotation while he still has JaMychal Green and Paul Millsap to deploy.
The dynamic between Jokic and Gordon is fun in thought, it’ll be very intriguing to see them develop chemistry. By the same measure, in Jokics off minutes, it’ll be interesting watching Murray and Gordon work pick and roll and play with pace in that altitude.
It’s clear cut what McGee will be there for in playing those Joker off minutes. However, what Aaron Gordon can provide as a now primary defender will be very interesting as well. Yes, he’s better than Jerami Grant is and was last season.
Defense is where his true value will be judged. The Nuggets got great and consistent defensive efforts on Mitchell, Kawhi and Paul George, then LeBron and Davis from Craig, Grant, Harris, and Millsap in last seasons playoffs. Only one of those four staples remains. Can they compile enough effectiveness for the loss of those bodies to not be felt this season? Even more, can they get back to the Conference Finals?
One question with a definite answer is that they got a lot more dynamic, and now have 3-4 players capable of detonating for 30+ points at any given moment. And all of them fit together well in sharing the court offensively too.
1.) Miami Heat
The Heat acquired Victor Oladipo and Nemanja Bjelica, while losing just Moe Harkless, Chris Silva, Avery Bradley, Kelly Olynk, 2027 2nd-round pick, 2022 swap rights.
Oladipo has been ok for the Rockets, averaging 21.8 PPG, 4.8 APG, and 4.4 RPG but his shooting numbers were not up to snuff. Shooting 40.7% from the field and 32.0% from 3 in 20 games with the Rockets.
All accounts seem to believe LaMarcus Aldridge is likely on his way there after reaching a buyout shortly after the trade deadline passed. In all of these transactions, the Heat were able to strategically create two open roster spots while also ducking the luxury tax ahead of a potentially big-time free agency for them.
This was, essentially, a master-class in both manipulating the deadline in your favor, holding tight onto your assets and not panic-trading, while also setting yourself up financially. The Heat got a lot better as a team and improved their finances, that’s a win win and comes as no surprise considering who’s at the wheel of their moves, in Pat Riley.
Considering they just added Trevor Ariza last week, they have flipped their roster into a far more viable version in less than a week essentially. They have veteran presences all over, defenders to stifle the likes of Durant-Harden-Irving, Tatum-Brown, Antetokounmpo-Middleton-Holiday, or Embiid-Simmons.
The wealth of experience alone that they’ve compiled, while also having arguably the best coach come playoff time, stamps the Heat as a Conference Finals contender. From there, it’s certainly not out of the realm for them to represent the East in the Finals again. That’s certainly their ceiling.
Will they reach that level again though? I wouldn’t bet against Spoelstra, Riley, or Jimmy Butler for that matter.
They have viable ball handlers in Butler, Dragic, Nunn, Herro, and of course the point-center Adebayo. Shooters in Dragic, Herro, Robinson, Ariza, and Bjelica.
Even more, they have tried, tested, and true presences in Butler, Iguodala, and Ariza.
Watch out for the Heat!
Entities I’ll Watch For in Response:
- What happens with Kyle Lowry past this season? Rumor is he wants a rather hefty yet short-term deal. There’s only a few teams with contending endeavors that have cap space, namely the Miami Heat
- Will the 76ers regret not attaining Harden or Lowry? I was of the mindset that Houston would not allow for Morey to leave and, for all intents and purposes, take Harden with him to Philly. So the chances there were relatively low, but in the case of them attaining Lowry I am somewhat confused. I get that they may not have wanted to part ways with their depth/young talent, but for a team contending and seeing what others who will be in their way did, I’m curious as to if the ramifications of not executing will hurt them. Adding George Hill wasn’t necessary for them, but will certainly help.
- Though the Chicago Bulls will not be contending, it was refreshing to see them make transactions that are clearly with winning in mind. Attaining Vucevic, Aminu, Theis, Brown Jr., Green, helps modernize their roster and makes them more versatile. What will they do with Lauri Markkanen as the season goes on (does he start next to Vuc for an offensive front or does he come off the bench for Aminu who would do wonders defensively) and will he return after this season concludes? He’ll be a restricted free agent, along with the likes of Lonzo Ball who has been linked to the Bulks for some time now.
- Though the fit is somewhat questionable, will attaining Rondo for the Clippers be all that they need? After failing to sign him just a few months ago, the Clippers traded Lou Williams, cash considerations, and two second-round picks. That’s essentially a hefty bet that the Rondo that has been awful this season will reverse his play and give a semblance of what he brought to the Lakers championship run of last season.
- The Celtics did not make a big-time splash, though absorbing Evan Fournier (in exchange for two 2nd-round picks) into their aforementioned $28.5M exception made a lot of sense. Will they regret not adding a big name to the Tatum-Brown tandem?
- Redick to Dallas along with Melli (for James Johnson, 2021 2nd-round pick, and cash considerations) is a solid move. They have longed to make amends for the loss of the shooting Seth Curry provided, and Redick should suffice in his off the ball movement alone to help unlock their offense. Melli should find a role with this franchise as well, not being burdened with the responsibilities he had in New Orleans. Will Redick help Doncic and the Mavs get out of the first round this season?
- Orlando hit the reset button at the most prompt time, and executed well. They ridded themselves of their three best players (Vucevic, Gordon, Fournier) and netted a return of RJ Hampton, Gary Harris, Wendell Carter Jr, two 2nd-round picks, and an additional 1st-round pick. All to go with Fultz, Isaac, and Anthony. That’s a solid haul to begin your rebuild with there.
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That’s a wrap for this weeks trade deadline-centric Friday Five’s!