Biggest Winners and Losers of NBA Trade Deadline 2021

Published 03/26/2021, 2:00 AM EDT
Feb 20, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Lakers head coach Frank Vogel (right) talks to his team during a timeout in the fourth quarter of the Lakers 96-94 loss to the Miami Heat at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

It’s time to catch up with the trend of analyzing every move NBA teams have made, now that the trade deadline has expired. Based on what a franchise required, there will be some winners and some losers in the trade. Let’s have a look at who improved their roster and who ended up making it worse.


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NBA Trade Deadline Winners and Losers

Winner: Miami Heat


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Getting Victor Oladipo without giving up a lot makes them one of the biggest winners. In exchange for the former All-Star guard, they let go of Kelly Olynyk, Avery Bradley, and a draft swap.

Initially, Miami was said to be in talks to bring in Kyle Lowry, but since that didn’t transpire, they got a third scorer to play alongside Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo.

The biggest upside is that Oladipo will enter free agency this summer. This will give Miami enough time to evaluate how he fits in their roster before they make any long-term commitment.

Jan 22, 2021; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Houston Rockets guard Victor Oladipo (7) dribbles past Detroit Pistons center Mason Plumlee (right) during the first quarter at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Loser: Houston Rockets

It is a given that the team that lost Oladipo will be the clear loser of the trade. They could have bagged better players in return for someone who is averaging career-highs in the 2021 campaign.

Not only that, but not keeping Caris LeVert or even Jarrett Allen when they traded James Harden to the Brooklyn Nets has landed the Rockets with nothing now.

Winner: Denver Nuggets

The team lost Jerami Grant in the offseason, but they have now found the perfect player to fill that void. They got Aaron Gordon from the Orlando Magic, and also JaVale McGee from Cleveland Cavaliers, who has championship experience that they desperately need.

This came at the cost of Gary Harris, who wasn’t doing justice to the contract given to him, along with a protected first-rounder and R.J. Hampton to Orlando. The Cavs received a few second-round picks with Isaiah Hartenstein.

Winner: Orlando Magic

Orlando didn’t have an option left but to trade Gordon, who demanded it. However, the team is focused on building something around their young stars Jonathan Isaac and Markelle Fultz. So, adding Garry and R.J. doesn’t look as bad.

The only trade Orlando was criticized for was sending Nikola Vucevic and Al-Farouq Aminu to the Chicago Bulls, in exchange for protected first-rounders and young Wendell Carter Jr. Even though Otto Porter Jr. was also included in the deal with Chicago, he might be a buyout prospect instead.

They even gave Evan Fournier to the Boston Celtics for Jeff Teague and two second-round picks. Looks like they have focused on ridding themselves of veterans and adding youngsters.

Winner: Cleveland Cavaliers

They were able to add Hartenstein and two second-rounders by sending McGee. This screams a clear win. They gave up Alfonso McKinnie and Jordan Bell so that they have a 2026 second-round from the Los Angeles Lakers.

However, the downside of it all was not being able to trade Andre Drummond. Drummond was rumored to be on the target list for many teams. But now, he will be headed towards the buyout market.

Winner: Chicago Bulls

Although they gave up Wendell, Porter, and two picks to bring Nikola Vucevic, his addition automatically makes them the winner. Aminu shows potential as a wing defender, as long as he stays healthy.

Their other moves included sending Chandler Hutchison and Daniel Gafford to the Wizards and getting Luke Kanter and Troy Brown Jr. from them. Even Moritz Wagner was part of the deal, but he was immediately traded to the Boston Celtics for Daniel Theis and Javonte Green.

Feb 17, 2021; Orlando, Florida, USA; Orlando Magic center Nikola Vucevic (9) moves to the basket as New York Knicks center Taj Gibson (67) defends during the second quarter at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Loser: Boston Celtics

Was Fournier the best that the Boston Celtics could do? It doesn’t seem like he is the answer to their problems.

Even though he wasn’t expensive if they had placed a better first-round compensation on the table, could they have gotten a better player?

Theis was an integral veteran center. Wagner and Kornet have to show consistency to be able to prove that they can fill his shows.

Winner: Washington Wizards

Not only did they let go of two players, Wagner and Brown Jr., that weren’t major contributors to them, they ended up adding two players, Gafford and Hutchison, that show a lot of promise.

Winner: Dallas Mavericks

Bringing in JJ Redick, with tremendous playoff experience, along with Nicolo Melli will be helpful in easing the burden off of Luka Doncic. This didn’t cost them heavily either. They had to part with James Johnson, Wes Iwundu, and a second-rounder.

Jan 13, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; New Orleans Pelicans guard JJ Redick (4) shoots against the Los Angeles Clippers during the first half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Loser (for now): New Orleans Pelicans

Getting a second-rounder in place of Redick sounds reasonable. But the crux of the situation revolves around Lonzo Ball. Unable to get a deal for a player that is going to be a restricted free-agent can be troubling. For now, they are losers.

However, if Ball stays beyond this season and gets them to winning ways, this will be a win for the Pelicans without even doing anything.

Loser: Toronto Raptors

Good for the Raptors for not giving up Kyle Lowry and getting something that doesn’t match his value. But if he ends up walking in free agency, this will all be for nothing. The decision that got them Trent Jr., in exchange for Norman Powell, was a smart one.

Loser or Winner?: Portland Trail Blazers

While Powell is a better contributor to the scoreboard than Gary Trent Jr, both of these players will be free-agents soon and their value in the market will end up determining whether the Blazers picked better or worse.

Winner: Philadelphia 76ers

Philly paid a very mediocre price for getting a solid point-guard, George Hill. The 76ers are leading the Eastern Conference and Hill will only prove to be an asset for them. They parted with Terrance Ferguson, Tony Bradley, and Vincent Poirier to bring him in.

Loser: Los Angeles Lakers

With LeBron James and Anthony Davis sidelined because of injuries, the Lakers should have gotten Kyle Lowry into their team by hook or by crook. Giving up Caldwell-Pope and Horton-Tucker would have been worth it because their ceiling is still not clear. Whereas Kyle Lowry has shown what he does on his best days and that’s exactly what the Lakers needed.


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Dec 22, 2020; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) and forward Anthony Davis (3) wait to enter the game against the LA Clippers in the third quarter at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

While all this is just speculation, we’ll only know how beneficial or harmful these trades have been for the respective teams once they start playing together on the court.

Read also- From Lakers’ Dry Spell to Heat’s Win, Twitter Reacts to the NBA Trade Deadline Winners and Losers


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Yashima Bhatia

1122 articles

Yashima Bhatia is an NBA writer for EssentiallySports who specialises in providing nuanced predictions and updates for matches. She has a Bachelor's degree in journalism and mass communication. Yashima's love for playing the game came up at a young age, when the excitement of the games coupled with the intensity of the Playoffs had her hooked.