By Marquis Cooley | Reporter
As always, the NBA trade deadline was filled with surprising moves and plenty of Woj bombs. Although certain players like guards Kyle Lowry and Lonzo Ball, who were expected to be moved, ended up staying put, there were still plenty of trades that will make the rest of the NBA season as well as the postseason exciting to watch. So here are my top five moves of the trade deadline.
5. Celtics Get Tatum and Brown Help
The Boston Celtics traded two second-round picks to the Orlando Magic for guard Evan Fournier. Although the Celtics were hoping to land Aaron Gordon, Fournier is still a solid pick up for them. The Celtics have struggled to get consistent scoring outside of their young stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, which Fournier can help with. Fournier is averaging 19.7 PPG and will help space the floor with his three point shooting, giving Tatum and Brown more abilities to drive to the rim. Fournier also brings depth to the guard position as both Marcus Smart and Kemba Walker have been dealing with injuries. Whether they decide to start him or bring him off the bench, Fournier will have an instant impact on the Celtics.
4. Playoff Rondo Returns to LA
The Los Angeles Clippers traded guard Lou Williams and two second-round picks to the Atlanta Hawks for guard Rajon Rondo. After a short stint with the Hawks, Rondo is returning to Staples Center, only this time he’ll be wearing a Clippers jersey instead of a Lakers one. The Clippers have been looking for a playmaking point guard to pair with forwards Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, and with Rondo they got one of the best in the league. While Rondo may not make much of a difference right now, his presence will certainly be felt come playoff time. Similar to NBA legends hoodie Melo, masked LeBron and untucked jersey Kyrie, playoff Rondo is an all-time great. The two-time NBA champion is known for elevating his game to another level in the postseason, which the Clippers will need to avenge their playoff meltdown from last season and finally get their first NBA championship.
3. Bulls Go All in For Playoff Push
In the first big trade of the day, the Chicago Bulls traded center Wendell Carter Jr., forward Otto Porter Jr. and two first-round picks (2021, 2023) to the Orlando Magic for forward Al-Farouq Aminu and center Nikola Vucevic. The Bulls are currently in 10th place in the Eastern Conference, which with the new rules this season would give them a play-in game for a shot at the 8th seed of the playoffs. And while all-star guard Zach Lavine has been playing the best basketball of his career, he can’t do it alone. Lavine has been willing the Bulls to victories with 28.1 PPG despite the inconsistencies of his young teammates. With all-star Nikola Vucevic, who averages 24.5 PPG and 11.8 RPG, Lavine now has a dependable teammate who can take some of the load off as he tries to push the Bulls to their first playoff appearance since 2017.
2. Denver Establishes Their Young Core
If fans hadn’t realized already, the Orlando Magic made it crystal clear they were in full rebuild mode as their third trade of the day saw them sending forwards Aaron Gordon and Gary Clark to the Denver Nuggets for guards Gary Harris and R.J. Hampton along with a protected 2025 first-round pick. This trade not only helps the Nuggets make a run deep in the playoffs this season, but it also gives them a core that can compete for the next few seasons as Gordon, center Nikola Jokic, guard Jamal Murray and forward Michael Porter Jr. are all under the age of 27. Gordon can slide right into the starting power forward position and be an explosive lob partner for the playmaking Jokic as well as bolster the Nuggets’ 17th ranked defense with his ability to defend in the post. The passing ability of Jokic and the athleticism of Porter Jr. and Gordon may see the Mile High City turn into a new version of the Clippers’ Lob City era that gave fans plenty of highlights on a nightly basis.
1. Oladipo Gets His Wish
In a trade that came right down to the final minute of the deadline, the Houston Rockets traded guard Victor Oladipo to the Miami Heat for forward Kelly Olynk, guard Avery Bradley and a draft swap. It’s been rumored for over a year that Oladipo has wanted to play in Miami alongside forward Jimmy Butler, and it’s finally happening. This trade is huge for the Heat because not only do they get to pair Oladipo with Butler and center Bam Adebayo, but they also get to keep their young sharpshooters in Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson. Oladipo is one of the best two-way guards in the league with 21.2 PPG and 1.2 SPG. He can guard the perimeter with Butler and is able to create his own shot on offense as well as catch and shoot. In a season where the Eastern Conference is as star studded as ever, the Heat made a strong move to boost their chances of a return to the NBA Finals, especially if they can sign forward LaMarcus Aldridge as well.