The 2021 NBA trade deadline came and went on Thursday with plenty of action, if no top-shelf superstars changing places. Several All-Stars were traded as contenders improved and teams out of the playoff race waved the white flag on their playoff hopes.
Here is a look at who won and lost the trade deadline in the Eastern Conference...
After making the NBA Finals last season, Miami has teetered around the middle of the Eastern Conference so far this year, battling injuries and inconsistency. But at the deadline they helped themselves in a few different ways, most notably by acquiring Victor Oladipo in a trade with the Houston Rockets. The Heat gave up Kelly Olynyk, Avery Bradley and a pick swap for Oladipo, who had been rumored to want to sign with Miami this upcoming offseason in free agency.
Given the Heat didn't give up a ton to get Oladipo, and seemingly have a chance to keep him long-term, that's a big win. He should raise the ceiling of their team as long as he can stay healthy. Miami also brought in Nemanja Bjelica, who is a decent backup four.
Toronto sold high on Norman Powell, who is putting up really good numbers so far this season, by trading him to the Blazers who sent back Gary Trent Jr. and Rodney Hood in exchange. With Powell facing a player option after this year, the Raptors must have been pessimistic they would be able to keep him. So, they struck a deal that was mostly about acquiring Trent, who has become a really good three-point shooter at just 22 years old.
Powell should help the Blazers as they gear up for a playoff run. Meanwhile, the Raptors may look really smart over time if Trent continues to develop. He was a great find by Portland, as a second-round pick in 2018, and it's a bit surprising they would let him go this soon.
Winner: Daniel Gafford
The Wizards didn't do much at the trade deadline with the exception of one minor move that swapped two struggling young players for two others. But the centerpiece of their return, big man Daniel Gafford, just landed in what should be a fairly good opportunity for him. The Wizards were seeking athleticism and defense in their frontcourt and he provides those things.
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While there was a bit of a logjam for Gafford in Chicago, now he should have a clearer path to minutes. He has a chance to grow on a roster that has a long-term need for rim protection, which is his biggest strength. The key for Gafford will be finding consistency, as that plagued him with the Bulls.
Philadelphia, as in the city, not the team. The Sixers got George Hill, which wasn't a major move, but could still help them in the longrun. But their trade deadline was defined more by the player they didn't get, as Kyle Lowry stayed put in Toronto.
Not surprisingly, the asking price was high and that seems to be why Lowry didn't go to the Sixers. But if he did, it would have been a perfect match between team and player, as Lowry is from the Philly area and played college ball at Villanova. He would also fit their defensive mindset as they hope to have enough to best the offensive juggernaut that is the Brooklyn Nets.
Loser: Guys going to the Magic
The Orlando Magic seemed to make the right call in blowing it all up and getting a solid return for Nikola Vucevic, Aaron Gordon and Evan Fournier. Now they will enter what looks to be a fairly significant rebuild, and it's hard to blame them given how things were going. But that might not be an ideal situation for some of the players they got back in return to walk into.
Gary Harris and R.J. Hampton were playing for a very good Denver Nuggets team with a chance to win a championship, and now they are joining a team that is tanking. The same goes for Jeff Teague, who came in from the Celtics, and to a certain extent Wendell Carter Jr. and Otto Porter Jr., who arrived from the Bulls. They all left teams currently holding playoff or play-in spots to join a team racing to the bottom.