The NBA trade deadline has officially come and gone. While we have seen more active deadlines in the past, this year’s version still brought no shortage of action. Some players many expected to be traded stayed put, while we did also see a few eyebrow-raising deals, as well.
As usual, the deadline activity has caused several shifts in the NBA futures betting markets. A number of teams have seen their odds to win their conference or the NBA title improve overnight, while others have seen their chances take a hit. How have the odds shifted since before the deadline?
Denver Nuggets NBA Championship Odds Improve
Pre-deadline title odds (+2500)
Post-deadline title odds (+2000)
The Denver Nuggets haven’t attracted too many headlines this season despite advancing to the Western Conference Finals in the bubble last summer. Denver lost a key cog when Jerami Grant fled for greener pastures, and the Nuggets weren’t able to do much to replace him. Until now, that is. It took a few months, but Denver was finally able to land a Grant replacement in the form of ex-Magic forward Aaron Gordon just before the deadline.
Not only is Gordon a natural replacement for Grant, but he’s also likely an upgrade. The Arizona product has put up relatively modest averages of 14.6 points and 6.6 rebounds this season, but he has also improved in a couple of areas. Gordon is shooting a career-best 37.5 percent from three-point range while dishing out a career-high 4.2 assists per game. Gordon will bring shooting and playmaking to the offense while also upgrading the team’s defense on the wing.
Orlando ➡️ Denver
Aaron Gordon is officially heading to the Nuggets, a source told @wojespn. pic.twitter.com/o2Xh07Hykp
— ESPN (@espn) March 25, 2021
Gordon’s arrival likely slides Will Barton or Michael Porter Jr. back to the bench, which helps Denver’s overall depth. Nikola Jokic has put up an MVP-caliber season, while we know what Jamal Murray is capable of doing come playoff time.
Few have been taking the Nuggets too seriously as a legit contender out of the West, but that may change after trading very little (Gary Harris, RJ Hampton) to pry Gordon out of Orlando.
In a more underrated move, the Nuggets also nabbed JaVale McGee from the Cavaliers. McGee won’t play a huge role here, but the move does give Denver a capable backup behind Jokic. At the very least, McGee can give the Nuggets 10-15 minutes of quality rebounding and rim protection whenever Jokic has to rest. The offseason departure of Mason Plumlee left the team without a quality alternative to the All-Star center.
Given the uncertainty of the Western Conference these days, it’s not impossible to think this Nuggets team could make some noise in the playoffs. Their odds to win the conference have also improved from +1200 to +900 after their deadline wheeling-and-dealing.
Chicago Bulls Odds to Win the NBA Finals Increased
Pre-deadline title odds (+20000)
Post-deadline title odds (+8000)
The biggest move of the deadline was quite the unexpected one. Few thought the Magic would actually part ways with All-Star center Nikola Vucevic, who has been one of the very few bright spots for Orlando amid a lost season. However, the Bulls apparently came along with the right offer. Chicago was able to nab Vucevic and Al-Farouq Aminu in exchange for Wendell Carter, Otto Porter Jr., and a pair of future first-round draft picks.
Don’t look now, but the Bulls suddenly have a pair of All-Stars on the roster together. Vucevic should form a natural inside-out partnership with Zach LaVine, who has been looking for a co-star ever since arriving in Chicago himself. The Bulls have gotten dreadful play from their centers all year, with Carter having failed to live up to his lofty draft expectations at this point. The 30-year-old Vucevic instantly brings the Bulls a ton of credibility at the position.
Welcome to Chicago, @NikolaVucevic! pic.twitter.com/J09IvHQymP
— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) March 25, 2021
Chicago has lacked a consistent scoring option next to LaVine, but Vucevic will solve that problem. He’s averaging 24.5 points per game this season, and he has completely transformed his game since adding a reliable three-point jumper. Vucevic has the game to match any offensive system, which should make him a natural fit next to LaVine in Chicago.
While acquiring Vooch does make the Bulls better right now, oddsmakers are still bearish on this team overall. Chicago’s title odds did improve massively from +20000 to +8000 overnight, but +8000 still puts this team right in the middle of the league overall. The 19-24 Bulls also have some work to do just to get into the playoffs. Chicago is 1.5 games behind the Celtics for the No. 8 seed in the East entering play on Friday.
That Wasn’t the Only Deal Chicago Made
Daniel Gafford and Chandler Hutchison were sent off in a three-team deal that landed Daniel Theis and Troy Brown Jr. with the Bulls. Theis will serve as a solid backup to Vucevic, but that deal likely has little-to-no impact on the Bulls’ playoff hopes.
Betting on the Bulls to make a serious run this season may not be the smartest course of action, but at least the team finally seems to be trending in the right direction.
NBA Title Odds for the Miami Heat Improved
Pre-deadline title odds (+3500)
Post-deadline title odds (+3000)
The Heat made a Cinderella run to the Finals last year, but they haven’t quite lived up to expectations so far this term. Injuries have played a role, and the Heat have admittedly looked better since the beginning of March. Most still expected Miami to be aggressive around the trade deadline, and Pat Riley ultimately swung a deal for Victor Oladipo.
The key thing here is that the Heat didn’t have to give up much of anything. Kelly Olynyk and Avery Bradley are the only players heading to Houston in the deal. Olynyk has been a starter for most of the season, but the Heat filled his shoes by acquiring Nemanja Bjelica from the Kings earlier in the day.
OFFICIAL: The Miami HEAT have acquired guard Victor Oladipo from the Houston Rockets in exchange for Avery Bradley, Kelly Olynyk and a 2022 draft pick swap. https://t.co/ESXBySbkHi
— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) March 26, 2021
Whether Oladipo is actually a positive asset is debatable. He has shown the ability to defend at a high level, but his shooting has fallen off a cliff since suffering a serious quad injury two seasons ago. Across 30 total games between the Pacers and Rockets this season, Oladipo is shooting just 42 percent from the field. His shot selection should improve in Miami where he won’t be the No. 1 option, but I’m also skeptical that Oladipo is a player that will truly help take the Heat back to the next level.
In the end, Miami’s fate will be decided by guys like Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. Considering how little they had to give up, the Oladipo trade was likely a worthwhile gamble for Miami. And, if he does play well, the team can always re-sign him as a free agent this summer. This is a no-risk, high-reward type of move, but the Heat still face an uphill climb to get back to the Finals out of the surprisingly top-heavy East.
Trail Blazers Go Up to +5000 Odds
Pre-deadline title odds (+6600)
Post-deadline title odds (+5000)
The Raptors were expected to be major players on deadline day. They surprisingly decided to keep Kyle Lowry, but Norman Powell was shipped to Portland. The Trail Blazers sent Gary Trent Jr. and Rodney Hood back to Toronto for the Raptors’ trouble.
Powell has become one of the NBA’s best shooters. He’s 10th in the league in three-point percentage (43.9) this season while averaging a career-high 19.6 points per game. He has put up quality shooting numbers on high volume, and he’ll instantly make the Blazers an even more dangerous offensive team.
The problem here is that offense isn’t the problem in the first place for the Blazers. Portland already has the sixth-best offense in the league, per offensive rating. The issue is on the other end of the floor, where the Blazers rank 29th out of 30. Powell isn’t much of a defender at all, so this move did literally nothing to help the Blazers’ woeful defense.
Powell will be a nice fit next to Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum offensively, and his addition should move Derrick Jones Jr. to the bench to help with depth. Everyone loves Lillard, but we’re still waiting for him to lead a legitimate championship contender. The Blazers have a nice roster, but they’re still not serious championship contenders in the West. Fade Portland all day, especially now that their title odds have shortened.
The Clippers NBA Title Odds Remain the Same
Pre-deadline title odds (+600)
Post-deadline title odds (+600)
The Clippers swapped Lou Williams with Rajon Rondo on deadline day. As you can see, that trade didn’t do anything to help or hurt LA’s odds to capture the NBA title for the first time in franchise history. They were at +600 heading into the day, and they’re still at +600 the day after.
Williams has been a useful scoring option off the bench over the years, but his usefulness has waned since the team brought in Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. The Clippers clearly needed to make a move to address their lack of playmaking at the deadline. Rondo surely wasn’t at the top of their wish list, but their interest was hardly a surprise after reportedly pursuing him in free agency last offseason.
Five takeaways from the Clippers’ trade deadline move, from Rondo to Lou to Zu: https://t.co/aeF3AjYJcR
— Andrew Greif (@AndrewGreif) March 25, 2021
Rondo had some big games for the Lakers amid their title run in the bubble, but he hasn’t done much of anything this season in Atlanta. The two-time champ is averaging a modest 3.9 points, 3.5 assists, and 2.0 rebounds in about 15 minutes per game off the Hawks’ bench. He has also played in just 27 games after spending much of the season injured.
As is the case with most teams, the Clippers’ championship hopes lie in the ability of their stars to get the job done. Leonard and George both faltered last year in the bubble, but this is still one of the deepest and most well-rounded teams in the league. The Clippers’ bubble failures may have sapped the public’s confidence in their chances this year, but LAC shouldn’t be overlooked as a legitimate contender. The Rondo trade doesn’t help them much, but it won’t kill them, either.
Boston Celtics Odds Decreased to +3000
Pre-deadline title odds (+2800)
Post-deadline title odds (+3000)
The Celtics were one of the few teams whose title odds actually worsened after the trade deadline. Some expected Danny Ainge to make a big, splashy move in an attempt to bolster his struggling roster. Instead, he moved a couple of second-round picks to Orlando in exchange for Evan Fournier, while also shipping Daniel Theis to Chicago.
While I do think Fournier helps the Celtics, it’s also fair to suggest that this team just doesn’t look like a real contender. Boston is clinging to the eighth and final playoff spot in the East as of now.
Fournier will come in handy as a useful shooter off the bench, while the departure of Theis will clear the way for Robert Williams to earn more playing time.
Kemba Walker hasn’t played particularly well this season, while Jayson Tatum has struggled a bit since coming down with the virus earlier this year. Tatum and Jaylen Brown should still have Celtics fans excited for the future, but this doesn’t seem to be the year. Boston enters play on Friday having lost five of their last six games, with the lone win in that span coming over a miserable Magic squad.
The Celtics could use the deadline as a rejuvenation period, but I wouldn’t bet on it. Pass on the Celtics.
76ers Remain at +1200 Odds to Win the NBA Championship
Pre-deadline title odds (+1200)
Post-deadline title odds (+1200)
Daryl Morey’s 76ers have been linked with James Harden and Kyle Lowry in trade rumors this season, but Philly has ultimately come out with neither of them. The Rockets wound up passing on Morey’s trade offer for Harden, while the Raptors’ asking price for Lowry was reportedly a bit too tall. Instead, the Sixers moved reserve big man Tony Bradley to Oklahoma City in exchange for veteran guard George Hill.
Philadelphia is acquiring OKC’s George Hill for Tony Bradley, Terrance Fergusson and two future second-round picks, sources tell ESPN. Austin Rivers goes to OKC as part of a three-way deal.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) March 25, 2021
Morey has never been one to shy away from making a big move, but he probably didn’t have to pull the trigger on one at this point. Philadelphia is already the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, and they have played exceedingly well even without Joel Embiid in recent games. The Sixers are in the driver’s seat for the top seed in the playoffs with a well-rounded, talented roster already in place.
Hill has missed a few months with an injury, but he should be back before the playoffs. If nothing else, he will slot in as a useful combo guard off the bench that adds even more shooting. Teams can never have enough shooting these days, which makes him a workable piece for a contender. Philadelphia was already a great title value at +1200, and I see no reason to think any differently now. The 76ers are still worth a flier at surprisingly long odds.
Taylor Smith has been a staff writer with GamblingSites.org since early 2017. Taylor is primarily a sports writer, though he will occasionally dabble in other things like politics and entertainment betting. His primary specialties are writing about the NBA, Major League Baseball, NFL and domestic and international soccer. Fringe sports like golf and horse racing aren’t exactly his cup of tea, bu …
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