I’ve been through a lot in my life: heartbreak, a strained relationship with my parents, a brush with death when somebody poisoned my grits by sprinkling sugar in them, literally going to war when I got deployed after 9/11 (yes, I was in the military), but yesterday was a fucking lot.
For those wayward souls who are reading this and aren’t rabid sports junkies like the rest of us, Thursday was the NBA’s trade deadline; a joyous occasion in which a flurry of trades and transactions take place as teams try their damndest to acquire assets and bolster their rosters before the playoffs begin. Unless, of course, you are the Orlando Magic; the same team that I foolishly swore my life-long allegiance to as a naive nine-year-old.
I rue the day.
So let’s gather around the campfire and take a gander at which teams emerged triumphant after the NBA trade deadline, and which teams completely shit the bed and gave their fanbases a generous helping of hypertension with a complimentary ulcer.
Back in September, when the Bulls brought in coach Billy Donovon to help Arturas Karnisovas, their brand spanking new executive vice president of basketball operations, right the ship, there was dare I say...optimism that the Bulls would rid of themselves of their Jerry Reinsdorf ways and finally resemble a competent franchise. At 19-24, it’s been a bumpy ride so far this year, but there’s still plenty of season left to miraculously turn shit to sugar.
By acquiring All-Star center Nikola Vucevic from the Orlando Magic (ugh!) in exchange for Wendell Carter Jr. (ehhh), Otto Porter Jr. (huh?), and two future first-round picks, the Bulls not only have their best big since Joakim Noah, but have a very solid foundation to build around with Vucevic, high flyer Zach Lavine, and Lauri Markkanen. Don’t be surprised if they trip and stumble into the playoffs.
I refuse to bury the lede. Let’s just get this shit show out the way.
After being mired in mediocrity and trotting out one of the most nonsensical rosters in the entire league for years, my Orlando Magic finally—finally!—realized enough was enough and it was time to blow it all up. Cool. Bet. I’m fine with that. But when hosting a garage sale, what you don’t do is exchange your broken lamp for a musty mattress and a pile of Atari 2600 controllers.
This is exactly what my Orlando Magic did.
You would think they’d be able to get a solid return in exchange for handing out starters Aaron Gordon, Evan Fournier, and Nikola Vucevic—an All-Star enjoying a career year—like Halloween candy, but nope! Apparently, favorable trades are a birthright reserved for the Danny Ainges, Los Angeles Lakers, or Sam Prestis of the world.
In place of the aforementioned individuals, the Magic now have a bunch of drafts picks they will inevtiably fuck up, a pair of soon-to-be expiring contracts in Gary Harris and Otto Porter Jr., aaaaaaaaaand a Wendell Carter who on his absolute best day will never become the Nikola Vucevic he was traded for.
Can somebody please explain to me why in the hell I became a fan of this team again? Our front office is about as reliable as Teddy Riley’s wi-fi.
The Heat went from having Kendrick Nunn, Tyler Herro, Jimmy Butler, and Duncan Robinson on the wings to having all of the above and adding Victor Oladipo.
And at the low low price of Avery Bradley, Kelly Olynyk and a 2022 pick swap? How is this even fair? If they can get their chemistry right post haste, don’t be surprised if they end up going to war with the Nets in the conference finals.
Okay, sure. Evan Fournier was a good pickup from the Magic, especially in exchange for Jeff Teague (blah) and two second-round picks (ugh!). But as erratic as they’ve been playing all season—between injuries, COVID-19 obstacles, and whatever the hell else—y’all really think Fournier is the answer?
SPOILER WARNING: Nope.
Thankfully, Boston is still good enough to lock down a 3rd or 4th seed in the East, but considering they had the biggest trade exception in NBA history (at $28.5 million), Fournier feels more like a participation trophy than an actual prize.
Say what you want about the Nuggets’ up and down season thus far, but they’re still only a couple of games out of 2nd place in the West—the exact place they were when they entered the playoffs last season. They’ve missed Jerami Grant, who defected to the Detroit Pistons in the offseason, a lot more than they care to admit. But with the arrival of Aaron Gordon from the Magic (ugh!), in exchange for a grossly overpaid Gary Harris, RJ Hampton, and a 2025 first-round pick, their 20th ranked defense could receive a much-needed jumpstart. And with Michael Porter Jr. coming into his own within the offense, this team seems prized for another lengthy postseason run.
Every team and their mother was tripping over themselves trying to get a deal done for Kyle Lowry.
Yet for some inexplicable reason, instead of cashing out his 35-year-old ass while his stock was still insanely high, the Raptors instead opted to keep their floor general. Maybe they found it too difficult to find a team willing to match salaries, maybe it was their undying loyalty to the player many regard as the greatest Raptor ever, but now they’re stuck with an All-Star guard who can abandon the team this summer as a free agent.
Or even worse, he might demand a buyout and go sign with the Lakers, 76ers, or Heat for pennies on the dollar this season when the Raptors could’ve gotten something in return had they pulled the trigger on similar deals before the trade deadline.
Masai Ujiri and company definitely took an L on this one.