Tag Archives: Austin Rivers

Winners and Losers of the 2021 NBA Trade Deadline

The NBA was setting up to have a rather ho-hum trade deadline as the only deal was the Sacramento Kings trading Cory Joseph for the Detroit Pistons Delon Wright. The Cleveland Cavaliers also traded Javale McGee to the Denver Nuggets but that was it,

Then, suddenly, things changed shortly after 11 a.m. on the East coast as the Orlando Magic sent Nikola Vucevic (along with Al-Farouq Aminu) to the Chicago Bulls in exchange for Wendell Carter Jr and Otto Porter Jr and a pair of lightly protected first-round picks.

The move not only sent all of See Red Nation into a frenzy but also seemingly set the rest of the league in motion.

2021 NBA Trade Deadline Winners and Losers

To the Victor…

Chicago Bulls Fans

This is just too good to pass up for a once-proud fan base. After nearly 20 years of mismanagement, a new regime has given the roster a much-needed facelift. Vucevic (24.5/11.8/3.8, .480/.406/.827) is an All-Star but won’t solve the Bulls defensive issues inside but he doesn’t have to.

Chicago flipped Mo Wagner (acquired in a separate deal) to the Celtics for Daniel Theis who’s averaging a block per contest in a platoon role in Boston.

The Bulls also added Troy Brown and Javonte Green in the Wagner deal. They, along with Aminu, give Chicago a trio of capable wing defenders.

That the Bulls got value for Chandler Hutchison is a miracle. Even without landing a point guard Arturas Karnisovas is making a run for Executive of the Year.

Disgruntled Players

Two tales of misery (to varying degrees, of course) finally come to a resolution. We’ll start with Aaron Gordon (14.6/6.6/4.2, .437/.375/.629) who has been toiling away down in Orlando since 2014; making the playoffs just once.

He’s been vocal at times about wanting out as the Magic spun their wheels and his individual development stagnated. Going from all of that to a situation in Denver where he can just be the ultimate “glue guy” with his multifaceted game is a boon.

Victor Oladipo has been going through it since he hurt his quad while a member of the Indiana Pacers. Reports of broken trust soon turned into a blockbuster, four-team mega-deal that saw him land in Houston.

But Oladipo (20.8/5.0/4.7, .411/.333/.767) made it clear he was not long for H-Town. He heads to Miami where they’ve gotten by on grit as embodied by Jimmy Butler. Oladipo gives the Heat a proven scorer and capable closer with a mentality very much like Butler’s in that regard.

Can’t Win Em All

Luck of the Draw

Look, many people will tell you that Danny Ainge and the Boston Celtics got better with the deals they made. You will not get that here. Evan Fournier (who was acquired for a song) is a nice player; averaging 19.7 points per game and chipping in 3.7 assists. Mo Wagner has length, is a decent scorer, and brings good energy.

Neither of those guys is doing a thing for the interior defense of the Celtics which has been a major issue. Kudos for stealing Fournier, but Ainge gets docked for not addressing the team’s most troublesome area.

Boston has lost its glow as the talking heads have begun to point out all of the near-deals they’ve been involved in over the last few years. Ainge was holding out for Anthony Davis but once that fell through there weren’t many ways to pivot.

Suspect drafting only exacerbated the situation. Now it seems as though the plan is to try to outscore everyone. But, as is always the case in these situations, there’s only one basketball.

A New York Minute

How did the Knicks decide to proceed while in the midst of a resurgent season? They’re fifth in the East heading into Thursday’s games and have already won more games than they did in either of the last two seasons.

So, in typical Knicks fashion, they obviously had to stand pat, right? Technically, they did move Austin Rivers and get back Terrance Ferguson but, c’mon.

Tom Thibodeau’s squad is facing a second-half schedule that is among the 10 toughest in the NBA. Added to the wear and tear he puts on his players and the Knicks, who are 4-5 in the month of March, could be in for a rough tumble on the other side of their big first half.

They’ve gotten by with the 28th-ranked offense by having the top-ranked defense. That’s a razor-thin margin to live by.

The Caveats

These weren’t all of the good moves, just some personal favorites. For example, the Rajon Rondo for Lou Williams is solid. But for all that Rondo brings to the table, it hasn’t always worked out which is part of why he’s on his eighth team.

Norman Powell for Gary Trent (and other pieces) was good too. But was it enough of an upgrade to make Portland a legitimate threat in the West? This is probably their best-constructed team in quite some time when everyone is healthy.

2021 NBA Trade Deadline Has Come and Gone

This was a surprisingly active trade deadline. Not only because it slow-rolled into the last-minute flurry. But also because this was supposed to be a seller’s market with the expanded playoff field leaving more teams in the mix.

Just think what this summer could be like.

Even with a limited free-agent crop, teams could be more inclined to make deals with renewed revenue. Don’t be surprised to see deals like Lauri Markkanen for Lonzo Ball re-visited.

Kyrie Irving is the NBA’s Broken Clock

“Even a stopped clock is right twice a day”. That quote from Marie von Ebner sticks out as much of the conversation about returning has centered around Brooklyn Nets mercurial point guard, Kyrie Irving. Some peers have responded, but are they even disagreeing? That’s what you would think if you only saw it through the lens of social media.

Tweets get crafted to maximize the impact (see: likes and retweets) all the time. But in this instance, leaving out an entire part of Irving’s comments has led to a backlash that seems fueled more by his reputation than the actual content.

Kyrie Irving, a Broken Clock in the NBA

First, what exactly did Kyrie say?

“I don’t support going into Orlando,” Irving told the players. “I’m not with the systematic racism and the bullshit. … Something smells a little fishy. Whether we want to admit it or not, we are targeted as black men every day we wake up.” – per Shams Charania

His reported words prompted responses from several other players including Los Angeles Clippers guard Patrick Beverley, who said “Hoopers say what y’all want. If @King James said he hooping. We all hooping. Not personal only BUSINESS.” His reference to LeBron James is fair because he regularly practices his activism while playing. But Irving’s comments weren’t really speaking to the ability to do both.

Former players-turned-analysts Jay Williams and Kendrick Perkins also spoke against Irving, with the latter going so far to say “He’s not a powerful voice; he’s a popular voice” and that “All he’s doing is ruffling the feathers for no reason. The NBA is going to continue.” That’s tough coming from a retired player and still misses Irving’s message.

All of this is in addition to some prominent commentators like Stephen A. Smith. But it has been Houston Rockets guard (and coach’s son) Austin Rivers’ reply via a lengthy Instagram post that has gotten the most publicity. The well-stated rebuttal spoke of being able to both play and affect social change. It also said that for the majority of the players in the league, sitting out isn’t feasible as “99% of the NBA hasn’t made the money” Kyrie has.

Rivers wasn’t wrong in anything that he said.

But there is a problem: Irving AGREES with him. And any other player that wants to return, for that matter. It’s just that his reputation has preceded him.

The former Cleveland Cavalier and Boston Celtic earlier opined about the freedoms players would have when in the NBA’s “bubble”. Those concerns included spa treatments and were roundly met with virtual side-eyes.

This time was different, though. Yes, Irving said that he would rather focus on social justice reform. But he also said something else that has gone underreported.

“If it’s worth the risk, then let’s go and do it,” Irving said on the call, sources said. “But if you’re not with it, it’s OK, too. We’ve got options for both ways. Let’s just come to a middle ground as a family.” – per Chris Haynes

In Regards to the Money

Irving said, “There’s only 20 guys actually getting paid, and I’m part of that. Let’s not pretend there’s not a tiered system purposely to divide all of us.” Some say Irving has is backward and that the max contract system keeps the disparity in check, but again they are missing the point. Players who have yet to land that contract would logically be less inclined to rock the boat.

See, an important bit of information to remember is that Irving was voted as vice president of the NBPA. That means raising the concerns of the many, no matter how trivial, to the attention of the few most powerful is quite literally his job. So while you may think some of the points were silly, that doesn’t mean they weren’t brought up in private.

That’s the other part that seems be getting swept away. With all the talk of what the stars want (we already know the likes of LeBron, Kawhi Leonard, Chris Paul, and Anthony Davis want to return), the dissenting voices have already been drowned out.

Lakers big Dwight Howard, well-traveled and mercurial in his own right, has voiced support for Irving. He went even further suggesting the NBA needn’t return until “we get things resolved.” Lakers guard Avery Bradley also spoke up on the call in which Irving aired his grievances.

Other Players Spoke Out Too

Donovan Mitchell spoke about the dangers of returning after a layoff and is pushing for insurance for players. CJ McCollum voted ‘no’ to returning but also warned players of potentially contentious negotiations when the CBA expires should players sit out. Kyle Kuzma is also seeking insurance but flat out said, “Some of us want to hoop and compete don’t get that twisted.” He too seems to have only heard part of Irving’s argument.

That’s what is so telling about the backlash Kyrie has received. It is disproportionate to what he said.

He rightfully expressed issues that, as we see, aren’t necessarily his own. This is especially true with the increase in the number of cases in the host-state of Florida. But even more than that, he left the door wide open to continue the season if that is what the majority want.

But because of his history of being me-first and that whole flat-earth thing, people readily dismissed what he said. The best part is that they are all agreeing with Rivers even though he said the exact reason why Irving was speaking out against returning amid all the civil unrest in the country.

“Not saying that basketball is a cure for that but basketball can maybe provide a distraction.”


The distraction is the part Irving (and Howard) are trying to avoid. And it’s already happening as we see the push to return ramp up even amid continuing concern over COVID-19 and protests. But all the other stuff is true too and that’s the issue. We are so busy trying to pick a side, that we forgot we are all on the same side. No person has embodied that more than Kyrie, the NBA’s broken clock