NBA: The 6 big winners and losers of the trade deadline

Nikola Vucevic (Photo by Alex Menendez/Getty Images)
Nikola Vucevic (Photo by Alex Menendez/Getty Images) /
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Orlando Magic
Orlando Magic Evan Fournier (Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports) /

Looking back at the big winners and losers from the 2021 NBA Trade Deadline. 

Light a cigarette and take a deep breath, people. The NBA Trade Deadline has come and gone and it did not disappoint. Sure, expected goners like Lonzo Ball and Kyle Lowry ended up staying with their teams, but we still got surprises, blockbusters, and a multitude of trades.

And naturally, we have some winners and losers from today’s events.

NBA Trade Deadline winner No. 1: Orlando Magic

You know what? Good for them. The Orlando Magic were clinging to this painfully barely above-average roster for far too long. Being stuck in the NBA purgatory (not good enough to do anything in the playoffs but not bad enough to get franchise-changing draft picks) is among the worst hells (ironic because purgatory…whatever I laughed) that an NBA franchise and its fans can be stuck in.

The Magic got out! And they went out on their own terms. After a one-point victory over the contending Phoenix Suns earlier this week, the Magic cashed out.

Gone are All-Star center Nikola Vucevic, young two-way forward (and two-time runner up to the annual ‘Mr. Jump High’ competition) Aaron Gordon, and swingman Evan Fournier. Arguably the three best players on the roster. Also gone is Al-Farouq Aminu, who had been an effective 3-and-D wing before arriving in Orlando.

The cumulative return for those players adds up to:

  • Jeff Teague (immediately waived)
  • Gary Harris
  • R.J. Hampton
  • Wendell Carter Jr.
  • Otto Porter Jr.
  • Nuggets’ 2025 first-round pick (top-five protected), Bulls’ 2021 first-round pick (top-four protected), Bulls’ 2023 first-round pick (top-four protected)
  • Two second-round picks

That’s pretty solid you guys! Carter Jr. certainly has not lived up to his draft slot, but there have been enough flashes to not denounce him as a bust just yet. Plus this should be about getting Mo Bamba minutes more than anyone else at center. R.J. is a legit prospect and the other two players are solid veterans that can be flipped in the future or serve as cap savers when their contracts expire.

That combined with five total picks (three firsts) is a nice day at the office. Look at what Houston (stay tuned) ended up with the Harden trade and you should feel good about what the Magic pulled off. The cherry on top: Orlando has the third-worst record in the league and just gutted its roster. Top pick comin’ your way, Magic fans. Enjoy.