Basketball Daily Dose

NBA Trade Deadline Grades

by Steve Alexander
Updated On: March 26, 2021, 9:52 am ET

We survived another NBA Trade Deadline and if any of us thought it was going to be a quiet day, it was anything but. Rather than break down all the minute details of each trade (you can get that anywhere), I’m going to focus on the fantasy impacts of the bigger deals and grade how each team came out on the big day. I’ll also throw in some notes from Thursday’s games where appropriate. Let’s go.

Atlanta Hawks – A
They unloaded Rajon Rondo’s ridiculous contract and added Lou Williams to an already stocked Hawks’ roster. Even though Williams is going to back up Trae Young (and play some SG) it probably hurts Kevin Huerter’s fantasy value more than any other Hawk. Williams’ usage and productivity aren’t likely to go up in Atlanta, but it was still a nice get for the Hawks, who might be the deepest team in the East now.  

Boston Celtics – B-
The Celtics picked up Evan Fournier from the Magic and managed to ship Daniel Theis to the Bulls. Fournier is going to have to compete with Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown for touches and it’s hard to imagine his productivity not dropping. And with Theis out of the way the hope around here is that Robert Williams, the Time Lord, has officially been cleared for takeoff. If he wasn’t a must-have player before this deal, he certainly is now.  The Celtics also picked up Moe Wagner on Thursday and it will be interesting to see if he can assume some of the Theis role.

Charlotte Hornets – NA
They picked up Brad Wannamaker from the Warriors and he’ll help fill in for LaMelo Ball, whose season is in jeopardy with a broken wrist. Devonte’ Graham should be the man here and the arrival of Wannamaker looks like nothing more than some point-guard insurance.  

Chicago Bulls – A+
The Bulls were able to move Wendell Carter Jr. and Otto Porter Jr. for All-Star Nikola Vucevic who will give the Bulls a huge upgrade at center. The Bulls go from having a displaced Thaddeus Young and an underappreciated WCJ at center to having one of the best bigs in the game. And I wouldn’t be surprised to see Vuc start blocking more shots in Chicago. I love this deal for the Bulls and if I roster Vuc, I set up for a bit of a sputter as he settles in and then think he’ll bond with Zach LaVine and keep doing what he does. In reality, I’m not convinced they can offer enough defense to pull the Bulls through the playoffs, but this is a fantasy column. The Bulls also got Daniel Theis on Thursday giving them a complete overhaul in the middle. This will kick Young out of the center role so he’s going to play more at both forward spots and could hurt Lauri Markkanen and possibly ruin Patrick Williams. The Bulls also added Troy Brown Jr., who showed flashes in Washington over the last few years but fell out of the rotation. I think he’s a better player than he showed for the Wiz recently so just keep an eye on him in Chicago. They also added Al-Farouq Aminu from Orlando and he was just starting to come on for the Magic. Consider that part over, at least for now.

Dallas Mavericks – B-
The Mavs picked up a couple shooters in the form of J.J. Redick and Nicolo Melli and said goodbye to James Johnson and Wes Iwundu, who were basically out of the rotation. Redick is the interesting factor here and he avoided being bought out by the Pelicans. He’ll love playing with Luka Doncic, but I don’t know how much he’s going to play. Maybe I’m biased, but I feel like Josh Richardson has had a nice bounce-back season and is doing a good job of shooting the ball for the Mavs when he’s left open. Richardson is shooting 32.3 percent from downtown this season, while Redick is at 36.4 percent, his worst percentage since 2012-13. Add to that the fact that J-Rich plays stellar defense and can handle heavy minutes, and it looks like Redick won’t be anything more than a designated 3-point shooter for the Mavs. However, I also believe he’ll shoot it better in Dallas than he did New Orleans, because a new environment can have that kind of effect on a shooter. In the end, I like the fact the Mavs added a potential sharpshooter (or two) to the mix. Melli will hit some threes off the bench but is not someone to target in fantasy right now. But if Maxi Kleber or Kristaps Porzingis go down, that could change.

Denver Nuggets – B
The Nuggets added Aaron Gordon, JaVale McGee and Gary Clark, and lost Gary Harris and RJ Hampton to the Magic. I don’t think this is going to hurt Michael Porter Jr., as he’s simply a better player than Gordon and they’ll play different positions. Maybe I’m wrong, but I’m really not worried about it. However, Paul Millsap is likely toast and the Nuggets have too many power forwards in the mix right now. McGee is a solid backup for Jokic, especially given that Joker will likely need some rest down the stretch to get ready for the playoffs. Will Barton gets a boost without Harris in the mix, although Harris had played in just one game since January, so they won’t even really know he’s gone. Gordon needed a change of scenery and it will be interesting to see how he does in Denver. But he’s not going to get all the touches he was getting at Disney so he’s likely to take a fantasy hit with his new team.

Detroit Pistons – C-
They lost Delon Wright in exchange for Cory Joseph from the Kings. Dennis Smith Jr. and Saben Lee have become relevant again and it’s not out of the question that the Pistons will kick the tires on CoJo and see what he can do. We’ll finally get to see Hamidou Diallo for the Pistons on Friday and it will be interesting to see what that means for Saddiq Bey, Wayne Ellington and Josh Jackson, as things are getting crowded on the wings for the Pistons. There are no big winners here and Detroit lost a good player in the process.

Houston Rockets – D
The Rockets turned Victor Oladipo into Kelly Olynyk and Avery Bradley, as Oladipo will take his talents to Miami. I doubt journeyman Bradley makes much of an impact in Houston, while Olynyk takes a fantasy hit in his new home. Having said that, it’s possible the Rockets could love Olynyk’s game and start him at power forward. He’ll need to win the starting job to maintain his fantasy value but could become very relevant if Christian Wood goes down again. Olynyk can play both power forward and center and while my confidence isn’t all that high, I’m not going to drop Olynyk until we see how this plays out. The fact that Dipo’s trade value is so low is worrisome, but maybe he’ll use it as motivation in Miami.

Indiana Pacers – NA
The Pacers were quiet on trade day, but it was announced that T.J. Warren (foot) won’t play again this season. Doug McDermott, Justin Holiday and Jeremy Lamb should remain relevant the rest of the way.

L.A. Clippers – D
The Clippers did the Hawks a solid and took on Rajon Rondo’s contract. Patrick Beverley has been banged up for much of the season while Reggie Jackson went off for 28 points on Thursday. Rondo will likely hurt Jackson and Beverley but I’m not expecting any miracles from Rondo with his new team and am not sure he’ll end up higher than Jackson on the depth chart. Then again, it’s also possible the Clippers could decide to start Rondo since they’re paying so much, so just keep an eye on them over the next 10 days.

L.A. Lakers – NA
The Lakers didn’t make any moves, but Kyle Kuzma went off on Thursday with 25 points, nine boards and three 3-pointers in a team-high 42 minutes. He should continue to go off with LeBron and AD out indefinitely.

Miami Heat – A+
They sent Kelly Olynyk and Avery Bradley to Houston purgatory and got Victor Oladipo for next to nothing. Oladipo’s injury ups and downs are a buzzkill but when he plays, he’s a difference maker. A starting lineup of Kendrick Nunn, Oladipo, Jimmy Butler, a power forward to be named later and Bam Adebayo is nothing to sneeze at as the Heat now have their version of the Big 3. And with guys like Tyler Herro, Goran Dragic, Duncan Robinson and Trevor Ariza coming off the bench, the Heat are going to be tough to beat on any given night in the East, especially if Oladipo can stay healthy. As for power forward, without Olynyk there, it looks to me like Nemanja Bjelica, who the Heat picked up from Sacramento, might get a chance to start in Miami. Ariza and Precious Achiuwa can also play there, but I wouldn’t be shocked if they give Bjelica the first crack at the job. And if they do, you’ll want to keep a close eye on him. But in all likelihood, the Heat will just go with small lineups and keep Bjelica in a smaller role, but anything is possible. With Oladipo’s arrival Duncan Robinson likely takes the biggest hit, assuming Dipo will play every night.

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New Orleans Pelicans – C-
The Pelicans were quiet on trade day and ended up holding onto Lonzo Ball. A starting lineup of Ball, a struggling Eric Bledsoe, Brandon Ingram, Zion Williamson and Steven Adams with Kira Lewis, Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Josh Hart off the bench is formidable. The Pels did add Wesley Iwundu and James Johnson, and lost J.J. Redick and Nicolo Melli, but that shouldn’t have much of an impact on the team whatsoever. Somehow, the Pelicans are just 19-24 on the season and didn’t get better yesterday. They’ll need to start winning games in a hurry if they’re going to get into the playoff/play-in race.   

New York Knicks – NA
The Knicks were quiet on Thursday but got a huge comeback win over the Wizards. Immanuel Quickley, RJ Barrett, Alec Burks and Taj Gibson played the entire fourth quarter as the Knicks stormed back from 17 down for the win, and Quickley, Barrett, Burks and Gibson all played well on a night when Julius Randle was quiet. Randle suffered a right thigh injury (contusion?) and you’ll want to make sure he’s playing in the next one. But Randle came in late to hit a couple big shots and the Knicks got a possibly season-altering win. Burks and Quickley should be hot pickups and Barrett is starting to look like a poor-shooting fantasy force. Gibson is just as likely to play 30 minutes as he is to sit out three games in a row, so I’m not messing with him. Burks is ruining Reggie Bullock. The Knicks did flip Austin Rivers for Terrance Ferguson in a yawner of a trade.

Oklahoma City Thunder – D
The Thunder held onto Al Horford, lost an injured George Hill, and added Austin Rivers and Tony Bradley, but the future is now in OKC. Theo Maledon is going to get a boost with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander out indefinitely, Aleksej Pokusevski is going to get plenty of run with Darius Bazley out with a shoulder injury and should play some point guard, and Ty Jerome looks like a strong add with George Hill (Philly) and Hamidou Diallo (Detroit) out of the way. And Luguentz Dort, Kenrich Williams, Isaiah Roby and Moses Brown should all be in line for big minutes for the tanking Thunder. I’d rank the OKC pickups in this order, even with often-resting Horford still around: Moses Brown, Poku, Maledon, Dort, Jerome, Roby, Williams, Rivers.

Philadelphia 76ers – C-
The Sixers sent Tony Bradley to the Thunder for George Hill, but we still don’t know when Hill will be able to play after he underwent thumb surgery. The Sixers immediately missed Bradley when their only healthy center, Dwight Howard, was ejected early against the Lakers on Thursday. Seth Curry is back for Philly and played well on Thursday and Danny Green tied his season high with 28 points and eight 3-pointers in Thursday’s win. Maybe Hill will be able to make a difference down the stretch, but I don’t know if he’s going to get enough minutes with Ben Simmons, Shake Milton and Curry in the lineup.

Portland Trail Blazers – A+
The Blazers were able to flip Rodney Hood and Gary Trent Jr. to the Raptors for Norman Powell. The Raptors will miss Powell and the Blazers will love him, as he’s one of the best 3-point shooters in the league and is averaging 25.8 points, 3.1 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.0 steals and 3.9 3-pointers on 54 percent shooting in March. C.J. McCollum took notice of Powell’s eventual arrival by breaking out of a shooting funk on Thursday with 35 points and eight assists on 14-of-25 shooting with six triples. But Powell is going to make an immediate impact and the Blazers cleared up some rotation room by moving two for one. Derrick Jones Jr. is likely the guy who takes the biggest hit from the arrival of Powell.

Sacramento Kings – B
The Kings mysteriously added Delon Wright for Cory Joseph and the backcourt is suddenly crowded in Sacto. De’Aaron Fox, Tyrese Haliburton and Buddy Hield aren’t going to take a big hit with the addition of Wright, but Wright is going to be in the rotation. My guess is Hield will be the guy taking a hit, although it may not be a significant one. It feels like the Kings haven’t been high on Hield for some time and he has to be nervous about Wright’s arrival. But the bottom line is that Wright takes a hit with the move and we’ll have to see what happens with him and Hield fighting for minutes. But adding to their depth with Wright can’t hurt the team in real life.

San Antonio Spurs – D
The Spurs added Marquese Chriss and bought out LaMarcus Aldridge, who is looking at four teams to potentially join: The Heat, Lakers, Clippers and Nets. It’s possible that Chriss makes a run at Jakob Poeltl and Keldon Johnson for playing time, but I’m not holding my breath.

Toronto Raptors – D
The Raptors traded one of the league’s hottest players, Norman Powell, for a couple of 3-point specialists in the form of Gary Trent Jr. and Rodney Hood. I don’t love this trade for the Raps, but it should mean more touches for Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet, which is a good thing for their managers. But my sense is that the Raptors are going to miss Powell more than they think they will. The surprise move of the day was the fact the Raptors stood pat on Lowry.

Washington Wizards – D
The Wizards moved Troy Brown Jr. and Moe Wagner, and added Daniel Gafford and Chandler Hutchinson to the roster. In addition to Lowry not moving, the Wizards not moving Bradley Beal was a mild surprise. The only fantasy impact in Washington is that Gafford could make some noise at center and challenge both Alex Len and Robin Lopez for minutes. But he’s simply a guy worth keeping an eye on. The Wizards blew a late 17-point lead against the Knicks tonight and Russell Westbrook had the most Westbrook line of all time. He hit 3-of-15 shots, 0-of-5 3-pointers, 7-of-12 free throws and racked up 13 points, 18 rebounds, nine assists, two steals, four blocks and eight turnovers before fouling out. Westbrook literally did something that’s never been done before, missing all eight of his shots and committing six fouls in the second half, which is the first time in 25 seasons that any player has had such a stat line. And with the Wizards quickly falling out of the playoff race, you have to wonder how much Westy and Bradley Beal are going to play down the stretch.

Steve Alexander

Steve "Dr. A" Alexander is the senior editor for the NBA for NBC Sports Edge and a contributor to The 2020-21 NBA season marks (at least) his 20th year of covering fantasy hoops for NBC Sports. Follow him on Twitter - @Docktora.