Denver Nuggets: Acquire Aaron Gordon
Denver made a bold move at the deadline when they acquired Magic forward Aaron Gordon in exchange for Gary Harris, RJ Hampton, and a first-round pick. Gary Harris had been having a less than ideal season for the Nuggets while dealing with injury problems. While it is too bad seeing a first-round pick and a young prospect like Hampton go, Denver has an opening behind Murray and MVP candidate Nikola Jokic to make a real push for the title, so sacrificing a small part of the future is a mandatory evil.
This move was necessary as Denver’s defence has looked weak this season after essentially giving last season’s best perimeter defender in Jerami Grant to the Pistons. Gordon adds some length and crazy athleticism to help defend the Western Conference’s strong wing roster.
So far the Nuggets have taken the roster shakeup in stride, with the five man lineup of Murray, Gordon, Barton, Porter, and Jokic going +48 in just 64 minutes of action. During that time they’ve had the best offensive rating and defensive rating in the NBA. If Gordon can continue bringing what he offers to the table during the playoffs, Denver could easily be looking at another conference finals berth. Score one for Calvin Booth and the Nuggets.
Los Angeles Clippers: Acquire Rajon Rondo
Everyone remembers how good Rajon Rondo was for the reigning Champion Los Angeles Lakers during the bubble last Fall, or at least they should. The guard was an X-factor for the Lakers despite only averaging 8.9 points per contest. Rondo found a way to have his fingerprints all over the game in ways that don’t show up in the box score. He also brought a veteran presence to the court and locker room, having spent significant time in some deep championship runs.
If Rondo is able to replicate the way he played last season again for the Clippers it will greatly boost their odds at making a better run in the Western Conference. Facilitating is not the primary skill of either Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, so the addition of Rondo will take a lot of playmaking pressure off of the two stars. Rondo brings a higher level of IQ to the table than the other Clipper guards which will help to get good looks for their big men on the roll and Kawhi and George on the outside.
Rondo also brings excellent ball pressure to a team with an already elite defensive roster. Averaging 1.4 steals in sixteen playoff games in 2020, Rondo creates easy offence, and if he can get his own offence going, the Clippers will look like a juggernaut in the spring.
Toronto Raptors/Portland Trail Blazers: Norman Powell traded for Gary Trent Jr. & Rodney Hood
They say there are seven stages of grief, so as a fan of the Toronto Raptors this entry is my own stage seven. The stage of acceptance and hope. Norman Powell is absolutely a part of the Raptor’s lore, and he will be for a long time, but boy will he help Portland. Powell is having a career year and has been one of the lone bright spots in Toronto’s season. Averaging just south of twenty points per contest he has been outstanding. Portland fans certainly have to be thanking their GM so far, with Norm shooting 58.3% from outside for the Blazers and scoring 22 in his debut. Even though he is entering unrestricted free agency this summer, what could be a rental for Portland was justified the way Norm is playing this year.
While Portland appears to have won the trade this season, the Raptors might be the victors in the future. Both Gary Trent Jr. and Rodney Hood are young and eager for more opportunity. Trent Jr. bumped his scoring average up to fifteen in his third season and that number has remained the same in his four games with Toronto thus far. Trent’s string of games with his new team included a 31 point outburst against the Thunder where he looked like a prospect overflowing with potential. Trent is coming up on restricted free agency, so hopefully Toronto will be able to retain the 22-year old. This is looking like a successful trade for all parties so far, with both teams headed in different directions heading into April.
Miami Heat: Acquire Victor Oladipo
Oladipo has been witness to a lot of change in the 2020-21 season, having played nine games for Indiana, 20 for Houston, and now starting his journey with the Miami Heat after being traded for the second time this season. Oladipo has not been the same player since suffering a catastrophic knee injury in the 2018/19 campaign. Since then he has not been able to replicate the level of scoring he showed earlier in his career, and has struggled to be efficient from the field. However, Victor Oladipo has the ability to put the clamps on his check.
While his scoring still rounds back into form, he has been able to maintain a high level at the defensive end of the floor, averaging almost a steal and a half a night this season. Miami’s culture of hard-nosed basketball will welcome Oladipo with welcome arms. In his first game with Miami he showed he still defends at a high level with some suffocating defence on Stephen Curry in a one-on-one situation. When you’re giving up very little, for the chance at Oladipo returning to the player he once was, Heat fans have to be excited about this swap after a slow start to this year.