Nuggets win the day: Five takeaways at the NBA trade deadline

Orlando Magic forward Aaron Gordon, right, looks to pass as he is defended by Phoenix Suns forward Cameron Johnson
Orlando forward Aaron Gordon, right, is defended by Phoenix’s Cameron Johnson on March 24. Two days later, Gordon was traded to the Denver Nuggets.
(John Raoux / Associated Press)

Five takeaways following the NBA’s trade deadline Thursday at noon PDT:

1. Here comes the West: Denver might be the biggest winner of the day, snagging one of the few credibly athletic players in the league who can match up with Kawhi Leonard or LeBron James in Aaron Gordon. It’ll be exciting to see if he can flourish with Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray taking so much of the attention. I wouldn’t undersell the Portland Trail Blazers getting Norm Powell. Gary Trent Jr. has been great, but Powell is a different tier of third guard, and he’s been fantastic this season.

The Lakers did not make any moves at the trade deadline and will now look at the buyout market. Here are four takeaways from Thursday.

2. Rajon Rondo returns: The Clippers are getting the point guard they need. The Atlanta chicken wing scene gets one of its most enthusiastic customers. Rondo for Lou Williams gives the Clippers a steadying point guard that’s been missing. Can’t undersell the importance of this either — he’s a leadership voice with championship experience. He should quickly fit into the void on a roster where the Clippers’ best players are either quiet (Leonard) or laid back (Paul George). He and Serge Ibaka are big upgrades in the leadership department, a huge criticism of the Clippers over the last season. Williams is way more talented, a better shot-maker and maybe a better off-the-dribble creator, but I think the Clippers had enough offense. They needed intangibles.


3. The Bulls are back! Two All-Stars got traded today, and Chicago shocked the NBA by swooping in and getting involved in the Orlando Magic rebuild. In adding center Nikola Vucevic, Chicago got one of the NBA’s most underrated bigs, an inside-out scorer who along with Zack LaVine gives Chicago a really potent offense. Remember how the Bulls were going to move LaVine? He’s too good now. Instead, Chicago decided to build around him.

4. No deal: The Lakers left the deadline empty-handed despite late flirtations with Toronto over guard Kyle Lowry. While we don’t know the exact particulars, it’s safe to say the team really values Talen Horton-Tucker, the most important young player they had to offer heading into the deadline. Nothing changes for the Lakers — even if they had dealt for Lowry, if LeBron James and Anthony Davis aren’t healthy, they can’t win another title.

Division III Pomona-Pitzer would be a springboard for Gregg Popovich, but the early years — and one game especially — didn’t augur a legendary future.

5. Houston, you got a problem: The key player the Rockets acquired in the James Harden deal was Victor Oladipo, passing on Caris LeVert and Jarrett Allen (who got shipped to Indiana and Cleveland, respectively). The Rockets scrambled to find a taker for the inconsistent free-agent-to-be guard, landing on a Miami Heat trade that netted them no real assets.