SANTA MONICA, CA – With the NBA trade deadline officially come and gone, the two biggest winners, who improved their chances of dethroning the defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers are the Denver Nuggets and the 2020 NBA Finals runner-up, Miami Heat.
Denver, currently fifth in the Western Conference acquired C JaVale McGee from the Cleveland Cavaliers for Isaiah Hartenstein and two future second-round picks, added some much-needed depth behind new NBA MVP front-runner in C Nikola Jokic. The Nuggets, who lost to the Lakers in the West Finals also landed F Aaron Gordon—along with Gary Clark—for Gary Harris, R.J. Hampton and a protected first-round pick, in a move to beef up their front court if they should have to contend with the likes of LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard.
In the East, the Heat added to a defending Eastern champion roster that already has Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, Tyler Herro and Goran Dragic in trading for former All-Star guard in Victor Oladipo. A naturally gifted scorer, who is also very athletic in the open court, the addition of Oladipo—and the possible buyout addition of C LaMarcus Aldridge—make the Heat the sleeper pick to come out of the East over Brooklyn, Philadelphia and Boston.
While other contenders Portland landed additional pieces such as Norman Powell, Milwaukee adding P.J. Tucker and the Bulls landing Nikola Vucevic and Al-Farouq Aminu, the Bulls may have gambled away their future in trading away former first rounder Wendell Carter Jr. and two protected first-round picks. Chicago also added former Boston Celtics forward Daniel Theis, so the Bulls put themselves in prime position to make the playoffs.
The forementioned Lakers and Brooklyn Nets stood pat, with the Lakers deciding to not match the reportedly high asking price of the Toronto Raptors for G Kyle Lowry, while the Purple and Gold didn’t make any moves, they are considered the front runners to land recently-bought out Cleveland Cavaliers center, Andre Drummond
With James reportedly out another 3-5 weeks, and the return of Anthony Davis uncertain, and the trade deadline moves made by their rivals in the West, the Lakers landing Drummond is a must at this point.
Buckle up, NBA fans, as the playoff push has now officially begun, so grab your popcorn and enjoy the show.