Western Conference Trade Deadline Winnersby Garrett Brooks March 26, 2021 1 comment
With the eastern conference trade deadline winners already covered, next up is the western conference. There were some solid moves made, good moves made and potential game-changing moves made in the west. Unlike in the east, none of the winners are teams looking to rebuild immediately.
That gives the Orlando Magic the sole spot in the trade deadline winners that is a team not aiming for at least a playoff spot. The competitive west has winners but all of them are aiming higher than a team like the Magic is. There are a few honorable mentions in the west that can be added but certainly don’t make my cut.
That includes a team like the Oklahoma City Thunder, who added to their never-ending stockpile of upcoming draft picks at this year’s deadline. Given their strategy at the moment, one could argue they got exactly what they wanted so they are winners. That’s fine, but not here. These winners are solely for teams seeking the moves that help them in their progression. The Thunder simply do not qualify.
Western Conference Deadline Winner: Los Angeles Clippers
This likely will surprise some readers but it really shouldn’t. Although the Clippers didn’t make a blockbuster trade or add a player that will be talked about all week, they addressed their biggest need. They did so in a manner that qualifies them to be winners at the trade deadline. By acquiring Rajon Rondo from the Atlanta Hawks for Lou Williams the Clippers got a player that is much more useful to their roster down the stretch.
Williams will likely help more in the regular season but Rondo will be needed come playoffs. No, not because ‘playoff Rondo’. It’s about them needing a traditional point guard who can make life easier for Kawhi Leonard and Paul George in big games. Rondo may not do a ton of things great anymore. One thing he has always done well and will always do well is getting the ball to players where they’re most comfortable.
The difference in that sense between him and someone like Patrick Beverley or Reggie Jackson is massive. The Clippers, in a way, lucked into this spot as a winner because this is a roster issue they should have addressed long ago. In fact, this writer specifically viewed Rondo as a fit with this team and now months later we are going to see how it works.
Western Conference Deadline Winner: Portland Trailblazers
The Trailblazers are once again going to be a team that generates a lot of hype as an upset pick once the playoffs roll around. This year it will almost certainly be more logical of a pick than it was last year when the team found themselves overmatched in the first round of the playoffs. Why’s that? Offensive firepower.
Not the same offensive firepower the Trailblazers have had for years with their dynamic backcourt of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. Now it goes a step further after the Trailblazers made the aggressive move to add Norman Powell ahead of this year’s deadline. Powell went from a solid two-way player that can get hot last year to a great 3-and-D player that is capable of putting up nearly 20 points per game this year.
Portland is going to look to outscore opponents but it makes sense why they approach it that way. They have a number of lethal ball handlers and we haven’t even discussed big man Jusuf Nurkic yet. If this team gets hot they are more than capable of beating anyone. That’s in large part due to the addition of Powell.
The team sent out Gary Trent Jr. and Rodney Hood to make the deal happen. That is not something they are going to find themselves looking back at anytime soon. By adding another great scorer to their rotation in addition to the two elite scoring guards they have, the Trailblazers made themselves a team absolutely no one wants to see in a playoff series.
Honorable mentions that don’t make my cut: