The 2021 NBA trade deadline is Thursday, and teams will have to decide whether they are looking to add players for a playoff push or trade away players for future draft picks.
Key names to watch include former All-Stars such as Andre Drummond, LaMarcus Aldridge and Kyle Lowry, as contending teams will look to add players to potentially get them over the hump come playoff time. Also, will teams like the Houston Rockets and Cleveland Cavaliers decide to punt on the playoffs and make their key contributors available in a deal?
League insiders are predicting a quiet market this year, in part due to the expanded postseason format that includes play-in games for the final two spots in each conference. However, we’ve already seen some movement, at least in the buyout market, as Blake Griffin agreed to give up more than $13 million to leave Detroit and join the Brooklyn Nets.
Get all of the news, intel and analysis from our experts here, including trade grades and potential destinations for the top players on the market.
TRADE DEADLINE RESOURCES: Intel on all 30 teams | Roster breakdowns | Restricted players | Draft assets
March 24 updates
3:00 p.m. ET: The latest trade buzz from the Woj & Lowe trade deadline special:
Don’t rule out the Los Angeles Lakers in the talks for Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry. The Lakers are still without stars Anthony Davis and LeBron James.
Toronto is also fielding offers for Norman Powell, deciding on what kind of package they’d want in return.
The Houston Rockets have engaged the Orlando Magic on the availability of Aaron Gordon, who requested a trade weeks ago. However, in the past 24-48 hours, Gordon has had some second thoughts about that trade request and whether he actually wants to leave Orlando.
The Atlanta Hawks, who’ve won eight of their past nine games, are likely to hold on to John Collins, who will be a restricted free agent this summer.
There are multiple teams looking at Victor Oladipo as a rental, but the Houston Rockets believe they can get back some real value for the former All-Star, who is set to be a free agent this offseason.
Adrian Wojnarowski shares the latest on a possible Kyle Lowry trade and names the Lakers as a potential landing spot.
3:00 p.m. ET: The latest buyout buzz from the Woj & Lowe trade deadline special:
2 a.m. ET: Golden State Warriors swingman Kelly Oubre Jr. continues to be in the middle of trade speculation in advance of Thursday’s deadline. Warriors coach Steve Kerr knows that Oubre’s name will continue to pop up in rumors as teams all across the league try to figure out which moves they want to make.
“I love Kelly,” Kerr said after Tuesday’s 108-98 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers. “He’s a pro. We’ve talked a lot about his circumstances, being a free agent, having his name tossed around. Not an easy position to be in, but this is how it works. This is the NBA. He’s got an expiring deal, he plays a position of need for a lot of teams and he’s athletic and long. He’s coveted.”
March 23 updates
11:34 p.m. ET: Orlando Magic forward Aaron Gordon acknowledged after his team’s 110-99 loss to the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday that he asked the organization for a trade. “Frustration with the losses, the injuries, and the way we’ve been playing, how we’ve been playing and how many losses have accumulated over the years,” Gordon said, explaining why he made his trade request. “So it’s just my frustration kind of boiling over I would say. I think a lot of people share that sentiment with me, of frustration.”
Gordon, who initially asked to be traded back in February, is hopeful that he can be moved in advance of Thursday’s trade deadline.
9:59 p.m. ET: The Toronto Raptors are discussing possible trade scenarios involving Kyle Lowry and Norman Powell as talks are expected to extend all the way until the trade deadline on Thursday. The Philadelphia 76ers and Miami Heat are interested in Lowry, but both have shown restraint in how far they’ll go to get a deal. The Sixers have shown interest in other guards beyond Lowry, including Powell, Lonzo Ball and George Hill.
1:40 p.m. ET: The Miami Heat and New York Knicks, both of whom are projected to have significant cap space this summer, are reluctant to offer the Houston Rockets a premium package for Victor Oladipo, sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. However, a market has developed for Oladipo among capped-out teams offering combinations of young players and first-round picks. One thing has become clear: Houston is likely moving Oladipo before Thursday’s deadline.
Kendrick Perkins highlights the Warriors as a potential landing spot for Victor Oladipo as the Rockets look to trade him.
March 22 updates
9:40 p.m. ET: The LA Clippers are trading Mfiondu Kabengele, a future second-round pick and cash to the Sacramento Kings for a protected future second-round pick, sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. This puts the Clippers $2.6M under the hard cap ahead of the trade deadline and buyout market.
8:42 a.m. ET: The Miami Heat remain active heading into the deadline. They have kept tabs on Kyle Lowry, sources told ESPN’s Zach Lowe, though it might be hard for the Heat to cobble an attractive enough package given they cannot trade any first-round picks unless they lift protections on the 2023 pick they owe the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Lowe: Everything I’m hearing about the trade deadline
March 19 updates
7 a.m. ET: Several contenders have contacted the Cleveland Cavaliers about center JaVale McGee, but some are gauging the likelihood of a buyout before offering assets. And Hawks power forward John Collins is drawing heavy interest ahead of the deadline, league sources told ESPN’s Zach Lowe.
7 a.m. ET: As the Orlando Magic have sunk in the standings, they’ve sent signals that players are available, sources told ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, and Aaron Gordon is one of several power forwards around the league who have drawn interest.
March 17 updates
7:08 p.m. ET: The Houston Rockets are finalizing a deal to send P.J. Tucker, Rodions Kurucs and a 2022 first-round pick (via Milwaukee) to the Milwaukee Bucks for D.J. Augustin, D.J. Wilson and a 2023 unprotected first-round pick, sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Houston will also get the right to swap its 2021 second-round pick for Milwaukee’s first-round pick unless it falls 1-9. In a corresponding move, the Bucks will send Torrey Craig to the Phoenix Suns.
Trade Grades: Can Tucker get Bucks over the hump?
2:28 p.m. ET: The Oklahoma City Thunder are finalizing a trade to send Trevor Ariza to the Miami Heat for Meyers Leonard and a 2027 second-round pick, sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Leonard must still waive his no-trade clause because of the one-year Bird restriction on his deal, which he’s expected to do for Miami. Once the trade is completed, there’s no expectation that Leonard would be a part of the Thunder moving forward.
Trade Grades: How much can Ariza help Miami?
March 12 updates
8:08 p.m. ET: The Oklahoma City Thunder are trading guard Hamidou Diallo to the Detroit Pistons for forward Svi Mykhailiuk and a 2027 second-round pick (via the Houston Rockets), sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Diallo will be a restricted free agent this summer.
Trade Grades: Who wins the Diallo-Mykhailiuk deal?
3:49 p.m. ET: Houston Rockets guard Eric Gordon will miss four to six weeks with a strained groin, sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Gordon, 32, had been a target of several teams ahead of the March 25 trade deadline, but the injury largely assures that he will finish his fifth season in Houston.
March 11 update
11:55 p.m. ET: Houston Rockets coach Stephen Silas and P.J. Tucker mutually agreed upon the 11-year veteran not playing anymore until both parties can find an amicable solution. “He decided that he was just not really with it, and we decided that that’s a good idea,” said Silas on Thursday. “Let’s move on.” The Rockets have had several concurrent trade discussions with teams in recent weeks involving Tucker as talks are expected to result in a deal before the March 25 trade deadline.
March 10 updates
8:05 p.m. ET: Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry doesn’t know where his future lies after this season or even after this year’s trade deadline. But he is sure of one thing: Whenever his career comes to an end, he will be retiring in a Raptors uniform. Lowry’s name has repeatedly surfaced in recent weeks as a potential trade target for teams.
7:55 p.m. ET: San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said that LaMarcus Aldridge will no longer be with the team. “We’ve mutually agreed for him to work on some opportunities elsewhere,” said Popovich regarding the seven-time All-Star. Aldridge, who averaged 19.5 points and 8.0 rebounds in his six seasons with the Spurs, is in the last year of a three-year, $72.3 million contract extension.
The best LaMarcus Aldridge trade and buyout destinations
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