NBA trade deadline winners and losers: No help for Steph

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The NBA trade deadline came and went Thursday, with almost all of the legitimate title contenders staying quiet, save for two.Seeing an opening in the Western Conference, the Denver Nuggets acquired Aaron Gordon from the Orlando Magic, pairing the talented young forward with Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. Meanwhile, the Miami Heat made a trade at the buzzer to acquire Victor Oladipo from the Houston Rockets, giving them another capable scorer alongside Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo.Other NBA title hopefuls did little to improve their fortunes with the Philadelphia 76ers, Los Angeles Lakers, Utah Jazz and Brooklyn Nets all staying quiet.As for the Warriors, their quest to find a way to reload the roster for a title run next season wasn't successful. Not wanting to trade James Wiseman or the Minnesota Timberwolves' 2021 first-round pick for anything but a superstar, the Warriors tried to find a way to turn Kelly Oubre Jr. into a player or players who could help Steph Curry and Co. going forward, but they were unable to find the right trade partner.With the season heading toward the playoffs, here are the winners and losers from the NBA trade deadline.

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The Nuggets saw an opening in the Western Conference and went for it, acquiring Aaron Gordon from the Orlando Magic for Gary Harris, R.J. Hampton and a 2025 protected first-round pick.

Nikola Jokic is having an incredible year for the Nuggets and adding Gordon, an explosive forward, gives them a player who can play alongside Jokic and Jamal Murray and will impact their chase for an NBA title.

Hampton is an intriguing rookie, but he's a project and the Nuggets were able to hold onto Michael Porter Jr. and Bol Bol.

Putting Gordon with Jokic, Murray and Porter Jr. vaults the Nuggets into the upper tier of the Western Conference picture.

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Yes, the Celtics were able to acquire Evan Fournier from the Magic for two second-round picks and Jeff Teague.

But Danny Ainge missed out on the other big names the Celtics reportedly were chasing. Shocked? I'm sure they were really close to a deal but couldn't quite get it done.

Fournier will give the Celtics a boost off the bench as Boston has a huge need for a bench scorer who can knock down 3-point shots.

But the Celtics also needed some help in the frontcourt and some grit, which is why they were interested in Aaron Gordon and Nikola Vucevic. Fournier will be a welcome addition but won't make the Celtics a legitimate title threat.

 

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The Magic are going into full rebuild mode and sold off three of their top players -- Nikola Vucevic, Aaron Gordon and Evan Fournier -- to kick things off.

Orlando dealt Vucevic and Al-Farouq Aminu to the Chicago Bulls for Wendell Carter Jr., Otto Porter Jr. and two first-round picks. The Magic got Gary Harris, R.J. Hampton and a first-round pick for Gordon and they got two second-round picks for Fournier.

As the Magic eye rebuild, they now have a talented young nucleus to build around in Markelle Fultz, Jonathan Isaac, Mo Bamba, Carter and Hampton, along with the draft capital to add talent in the coming drafts.

 

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Both the 76ers and Lakers currently are trying to survive with their ailing stars on the bench. But even when Joel Embiid, LeBron James and Anthony Davis return, both teams would have liked to make a move to elevate their title chances.

The 76ers did acquire veteran point guard George Hill, who will provide them with floor-spacing and shot-making. The 76ers were interested in Kyle Lowry, but Hill is a good Plan B. However, Philadelphia was in need of a 3-and-D wing who can give them another defensive option against the likes of Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving in the playoffs. They were unable to fill that need.

As for the Lakers, their biggest acquisition will be getting James and Davis back healthy, but they could have used another shooter to take the place of the disappointing Wes Matthews. LA also was interested in Lowry but was unwilling to include young wing Talen Horton-Tucker in the deal.

Both the Lakers and 76ers remain two of the top title favorites, but could have done more to strengthen their prospects.

 

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I was a big fan of what the Bulls did at the deadline.

Vice president of basketball operations Artūras Karnišovas put his fingerprints on a roster that was crafted by the previous regime. In dealing for Vucevic, the Bulls get a talented post player who can facilitate from the perimeter and hit 3-point shots. Vucevic is the type of player the Bulls thought Wendell Carter Jr. could one day become and he'll fit nicely next to Zach LaVine.

The Bulls also shipped out Daniel Gafford and Chandler Hutchinson, two high draft picks from the GarPax regime to Washington for Mo Wagner and Troy Brown. The Bulls acquired a big guard in Brown who can defend and give Chicago a dribble-pass-shoot skillset. The Bulls turned around and sent Wagner to the Celtics for Daniel Theis.

Good work by the Bulls' new front office.

 

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The Warriors entered the deadline in the difficult position of trying to reload the roster to give Steph Curry help for a title run next season without sacrificing top assets in James Wiseman or the Minnesota Timberwolves' 2021 top-three protected first-round pick.

Swingman Kelly Oubre was the lone player the Warriors were expected to potentially deal. Oubre, 25, will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. While the young wing has said he likes playing for the Warriors, he could potentially look to join a team that will feature him more prominently in its offense going forward.

With the Warriors set to operate above the cap for the next few years, the only way for them to make big roster changes is to have controllable assets whose salary they can put into potential trades.

Not trading Oubre for a player who is under contract for the next few seasons puts the Warriors in a position to have to pay Oubre $20 million per season or lose him as an asset for nothing. The Warriors, of course, could find a way to orchestrate a sign-and-trade with Oubre this offseason should he elect to leave.

Oubre has been a solid player for the Warriors this season, but Golden State would have been better served finding a way to deal the 25-year-old wing for players who are under contract and can help the 2021-22 Warriors.

The Warriors made minor deals, trading Brad Wanamaker to the Charlotte Hornets and sending Marquese Chriss to the San Antonio Spurs.

 

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