The 2021 NBA trade deadline has been pushed back this season, as all 30 franchises will have until March 25 to tinker with their rosters through deals with other teams.
We’ve already seen of several blockbuster shockers so far, with perennial All-Stars like Russell Westbrook, James Harden, John Wall, Victor Oladipo, and Chris Paul all changing zip codes since the end of last season.
While most of the attention will be centered around stars like Bradley Beal, Zach LaVine, and Andre Drummond, there will be plenty of other helpful players on the block.
Let’s have a look at some of the hidden gems that could change teams before the 2021 NBA trade deadline.
Rockets — P.J. Tucker and Eric Gordon
Tucker and Gordon are the few remaining remnants from the James Harden-led Houston Rockets team of seasons past. These two veterans are not expected to be part of H-Town’s long-term plans as they begin a new era centered around Wall, Oladipo, and Christian Wood (though Oladipo’s future is in question as well).
A lot of contenders are already lining up to get a shot at Tucker and his expiring $7.9 million deal ahead of the NBA trade deadline. Plus, it seems that the 6-foot-5 forward is already as good as gone from Clutch City, given his frustrations with his current contract. Tucker’s ability to defend multiple positions and stretch the defense remains enticing for other teams.
As for Gordon, other contenders could also use his leadership and shooting prowess. However, his large contract might be trickier to move before the deadline.
Pelicans — JJ Redick and Lonzo Ball
The New Orleans Pelicans have openly shopped around Redick and Ball in a bid to free up minutes for their young backcourt of Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Kira Lewis Jr.
Given that shooting is a premium these days, a lot of suitors are already closely monitoring the Redick situation. His remaining one-year deal is perfect for contenders looking to clear room next season. The former Duke standout is the perfect rental for teams looking to add more firepower to their bench.
Ball, meanwhile, is a wild card at this stage of his career. He has had an uneven start to this season ahead of his restricted free agency, so there are questions about his long-term future and how much to pay him on his next deal.
However, the Pelicans guard is still a young, intriguing option for teams looking for help in the backcourt.
Pistons — Derrick Rose and Wayne Ellington
Rose has been pegged as one of the most viable trade pieces ever since the season began, so it would be no surprise to see him moved before the NBA trade deadline. The youngest MVP in league history, after all, is on the final year of a budget-friendly contract.
While he is no longer the same franchise player he once was, the 32-year-old speedster is still a lethal scorer and dependable playmaker. Moreover, the three-time All-Star has no qualms about being a sixth man at this stage of his career, making him a perfect target for teams needing a boost with their second unit.
Ellington, on the other hand, is enjoying career-best numbers in his 12th NBA season. While his stats are probably just inflated by playing for a bad Detroit Pistons team, contenders could always use a floor-spacing specialist like him on their second unit.
Clippers — Lou Williams
Speaking of instant offense off the bench, Sweet Lou is still a great option. The Los Angeles Clippers are reportedly exploring their options with the three-time Sixth Man of the Year winner, making him an enticing candidate for suitors.
His usage rate has dropped significantly this season as he plays on an $8 million expiring contract. It’s looking like he’s not in LA’s future plans.
Williams’ efficiency has also taken a hit this year, but a change of scenery and new role with a different team might just be what he needs.
Bulls — Thaddeus Young
Young is enjoying a bounce-back season with the Chicago Bulls after a disappointing 2019-20. The 32-year-old has embraced a role as a point forward/center, averaging a career-high 4.3 assists per game off the bench while shooting nearly 59% from the field.
The 6-foot-8 forward is a versatile player who could be of use for playoff-bound teams down the stretch. The Bulls are a young team that has relied heavily on Young for his veteran presence, but they could look to trade him if they can get a strong return.
Young isn’t slated to hit free agency until 2022, so teams looking to acquire his services won’t have to worry about him being an expensive rental player. His partially guaranteed contract in 2021-22 does offer some flexibility, though.
Magic — Aaron Gordon
It seems like AG’s name has been part of the rumor mill for several seasons now, but it looks like this might just be the year the Orlando Magic move him. Gordon’s points per game are down for the third consecutive year this season at just 13.8.
His stock is at an all-time low at the moment thanks to an ankle injury, making it the perfect opportunity for teams to trade for him without losing much in return. Gordon should be healthy again right before the 2021 NBA trade deadline, so he should be good to go down the stretch of the season.
The 25-year-old high-flyer is also under contract until 2022, and he’s making just over $18 million this season.
Kings — Marvin Bagley III
Bagley’s father infamously demanded his son be traded elsewhere earlier this season. Considering the Sacramento Kings still have struggled to figure out how to utilize him, they might as well dangle him on the market to assess his value at the moment.
While the former second overall pick hasn’t exactly lived up to his billing yet, it seems too early to label him a bust at this time. The 21-year-old former Duke standout still possesses a unique mix of height, speed, and athleticism.
Plus, it shouldn’t be too hard to find takers for a promising guy who is still on his rookie contract. Contending teams might not take a risk on an unproven talent like Bagley, but there are still plenty of squads that could put him to good use.
Thunder — George Hill
The Oklahoma City Thunder are in a rebuilding phase. Plus, they are already geared for the future with the huge amount of assets they have collected so far. The Thunder can add to their treasure trove of draft assets by moving a solid veteran in Hill.
The guard could be the perfect backup for teams looking to add depth in their guard rotation. While a role player over the years, his defense and 3-point shooting are still a vital asset.
Hill is currently out after thumb surgery, but he’s only expected to miss about a month.