Was the Vucevic Deal a Good Move for Orlando? Yes
Many can be skeptical of why Orlando would move off its only All-Star of the last couple years at the trade deadline. He was, after all, keeping the team relevant, and getting them to the playoffs. The main reason to move on from Nikola Vucevic is because of his timeline. The Magic want to tear things down so they can build them back up. Vucevic was getting only as far as the first round of the playoffs and is already 30 years old. In order to do a full rebuild the Magic need more draft capital from both themselves and someone else. Which is why trading for picks with Chicago was a good move, a team that hasn’t seen the playoffs since 2017. The Magic are taking a chance but it’s the right move. It’s time to let their youth play either to success or failure, specifically Mo Bamba.
Does Aaron Gordon Move the Needle for Denver? Not enough
Nuggets fans are saying Aaron Gordon is pushing them over the edge, and it no doubt is a huge acquisition. The Nuggets did get to the conference final last year and Nikola Jokic has been the Vegas favorite for MVP as of right now. The problem for Denver is that the rest of the West got better. Yes, the Lakers are dealing with injury problems but other contenders are showing their potential as well. The Clippers traded for Rajon Rondo, Phoenix is proving itself to be disciplined and competent, and Utah still has possibly the best offense in the league. Aaron Gordon absolutely makes the Nuggets better, but its not enough to put them beyond competition of their conference rivals.
Does Rondo Give the Clippers What They Need? Yes
Normally this question would be answered with no; Rondo is too old and won’t make a real difference. I’m not saying that is the case because, after several years of saying just that, I’m tired of being wrong. “Playoff Rondo” is a real thing. He has shown repeatedly that he is simply a different player in the post-season. On top of all that, he is a perfect fit for the Clippers. Before he signed with Atlanta, many of us thought he would sign with the Clippers. On the court he gives them real playmaking to initiate the offense. Off the court he gives them veteran leadership. He is never afraid to call out anyone on not performing. His locker room presence is just as, or possibly more, valuable than what he provides on the floor. Rondo has set himself up for a great finish to his career and just may finish with three rings from three separate teams once he finally hangs it up.
Can Heat Culture Rejuvenate Oladipo? Yes
Since his horrific injury in 2019 Victor Oladipo has been fighting to regain his All-NBA status. Oladipo was offered an extension from Houston but denied it and was subsequently moved to Miami. Given how bad a situation he was in for the Rockets its not surprising he had difficulties. A change of scenery an make a huge difference, especially when that scenery is Miami.
“Heat culture” is known around the league for it’s ability to get the most out of players. After all, the Heat did go to the Finals last season as a 5 seed. Now Oladipo is joining this culture mid season and looking to make the most of his season. The great part of him joining the Heat is, in fact, his situation. No one will ask him to take the heaviest workload like he did in Indiana. The team is winning, unlike Houston, and he has a great staff to make sure he avoids injury.
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Eric Fritts is a writer from Connecticut living in Colorado. He’s covered the Celtics, the NBA in general, and sports cars in his writing experience.