Grading All of the NBA Trade Deadline Moves

Now that the dust has settled on the 2021 NBA Trade Deadline, it's time to hand out grades to every squad that made a significant move Thursday.

Victor Oladipo Rockets Raptors 2021
USA Today Sports

Feb 26, 2021; Tampa, Florida, USA; Houston Rockets guard Victor Oladipo (7) point as he makes a three point basket against the Toronto Raptors during the first half at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Victor Oladipo Rockets Raptors 2021

The NBA trade deadline always has the potential to be one of the most consequential days on the league’s calendar. This year’s version featured a mixture of significant transactions that can change the fortunes of several notable playoff contending teams, drastically transformed the future of one Florida franchise, and featured a bunch of smaller deals that NBA die-hards will pick apart. What it didn’t feature were moves involving Kyle Lowry (shockingly), Lonzo Ball, John Collins, Andre Drummond, and a few other notable names who were rumored to be on the move.

After cavassing all the transactions that were reported by the most tuned-in NBA insiders, we did what we always do: offered up grades for all the headline grabbing moves basketball fans will be discussing for the next 24 hours.

Bulls Acquire Nikola Vucevic

Nikola Vucevic Magic Hawks 2021

Nuggets Acquire Aaron Gordon

Aaron Gordon Magic Kings 2021

Nuggets Acquire JaVale McGee

JaVale McGee Cavaliers Nuggets 2021

Celtics Acquire Evan Fournier

Evan Fournier Magic Pacers 2021

Grade: A-

Dealt: Two second-round picks to Magic

Fournier wasn’t the name most Celtics fans were probably hoping the team would acquire in order to jump start their run to the postseason. Aaron Gordon would’ve been a lot sexier for sure and fit in nicely in Boston, but the Celtics honestly need all the help they can get and, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, acquired a very solid guard who will provide some desperately needed scoring (19.7 PPG, 56.9 EFG%) off the bench. Fournier is making $17 million this season on an expiring deal so he clearly fits into the $28.5 million trade exception Danny Ainge had at his disposal. Fournier, about to play meaningful basketball the rest of the season, got off a joke on his way out of Orlando:

Heat Acquire Victor Oladipo

Victor Oladipo Rockets Bulls 2021

Heat Acquire Nemanja Bjelica

Nemanja Bjelica Kings Lakers 2021

Clippers Acquire Rajon Rondo

Rajon Rondo Hawks Timberwolves 2021

Mavericks Acquire JJ Redick

JJ Redick

Grade: B

Dealt: James Johnson, Wes Iwundu, and 2021 second-round pick to Pelicans

The 36-year-old 3-point specialist is slightly damaged goods—he’s been sidlined since March 3 with a right heel injury.​​​​​​—and did not have the kind of impact with the Pelicans both the player and team would’ve have hoped for this season. I’m sure Redick would’ve preferred to have been shipped to a playoff contender in the Northeast closer to his home in Brooklyn. But at least he ended up with a playoff team (Redick was dealt to Dallas along with Nicolo Melli). The Mavericks picked up another shooter and they certainly could use Redick—shooting a career-low career-low 36.4 percent from deep​​​​​—considering Dallas is a middling 3-point shooting team this season (36.3 percent this season, 15th in the NBA). While Redick is a liability on defense, it’s easy to justify getting the reserve guard since there’s no such thing as having too many shooters.

Blazers Acquire Norman Powell

Norman Powell Raptors Cavs 2021

76ers Acquire George Hill

George Hill Thunder Nuggets 2021

Raptors Acquire Gary Trent Jr, Rodney Hood

Gary Trent Jr Blazers Nuggets 2021

Magic Acquire Otto Porter Jr., Wendell Carter Jr., Gary Harris, RJ Hampton

Otto Porter Jr Bulls Knicks 2021

Kings Acquire Delon Wright

Delon Wright Pacers Pistons 2021

Grade: B+

Dealt: Cory Joseph, 2021 second-round pick (via Lakers), and 2024 second-round pick to Pistons

As first reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski early Thursday morning, Wright’s an upgrade over Joseph in terms of production and what he brings to the table as a taller, more versatile reserve wing. Averaging 10.5 PPG, 4.6 RPG, and 5.1 APG, Wright will provide a bigger punch for Sacramento than Joseph did. Does his acquisition all of a sudden push the Kings into the Western Conference playoff picture? Not necessarily, although they are currently only three games behind Golden State for 10th place in the West. But give Sacramento some props for making an improvement. The most important piece of this deal, that broke early Thursday morning, for the Pistons will probably be the two second-round picks they acquired. Late-round selections have become increasingly valuable commodities around the NBA and the Pistons gave up a four of them when it they traded Luke Kennard to the Clippers during the offseason.​​​​​​​ 

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