The NBA’s 2021 deadline day has come to a close. and several teams in both conferences made major moves. Some are looking to bolster their title odds for this year, while others are looking to build for the future. We’ll go over some of the notable winners and losers from Thursday’s action here.
The Miami Heat got off to a slow start in 2020-21 but have climbed into playoff contention and rank fifth in the Eastern Conference standings with a 22-22 record. Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo are the Heat’s core pieces, and their front office managed to configure a big three on deadline day by barely giving up anything.
Pat Riley is back in his prime and secured Victor Oladipo’s talents in South Beach by shipping off Avery Bradley, Kelly Olynyk, and a pick swap. Getting an athletic, two-way wing who can score 20 or more points on any given night will amplify the Heat’s title hopes. Miami improved its starting lineup without having to part with young players like Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinson, Kendrick Nunn, or Precious Achiuwa.
The Bulls are set on making the playoffs this year and made that very apparent with their deadline day decisions. While the Lonzo Ball trade many speculated might happen didn’t come through, Chicago snagged a second All-Star to pair with Zach LaVine in Nikola Vucevic. Wendell Carter Jr. was a casualty of the trade but dumping Otto Porter Jr.’s $28.5 million contracts is a bonus. Chicago is moving in the right direction and has a healthy mix of veteran talent to go along with its youth.
The Magic have been ravaged by injuries lately but are preparing for their future the best way they can. Jonathan Isaac and Markelle Fultz have long roads ahead of them, but Orlando has plenty of other young talent to develop. Porter Jr. won’t be worth much on his expiring contract, but Carter Jr. can develop into a valuable piece at center. The acquisition of RJ Hampton shouldn't be underestimated, as both he and Cole Anthony have the potential to form a strong guard rotation.
Philly and Miami were both linked to Kyle Lowry ahead of deadline day, but neither team was able to get a deal done for the Raptors guard. The Sixers sit atop the Eastern Conference for now, but Miami, the Boston Celtics, and Bulls made moves to get better. Philly might regret not parting with some youth to make a run at the NBA Finals.
Things couldn't be worse for the Rockets. Houston sold off Russell Westbrook for a deal that brought in John Wall from the Washington Wizards earlier this year, but now the D.C. transplant is discussing a buyout this season. Victor Oladipo was the most valuable piece Houston brought in when it sent James Harden to the Brooklyn Nets, but now he’s been dealt to Miami for next to nothing. Four future first-round picks, DJ Wilson, DJ Augustin, Avery Bradley, and Kelly Olykyk are what the Nets have to show for the Harden trade right now. The Rockets better draft at least one superstar to make up for their incompetence, or their.
The defending champs are in danger of sliding in the Eastern Conference because of injuries to LeBron James and Anthony Davis but failed to secure a high-quality veteran to aid them in their title defense. The Lakers were one of the many teams interested in Lowry but didn't have the assets to add the veteran point guard. While there’s no doubt that Los Angeles is one of the best teams in the NBA when healthy, their road to the NBA Finals could be more difficult than usual, should play-in games become a factor.