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4 winners and 4 losers from 2021 NBA trade deadline – Sportsnet.ca

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The 2021 NBA trade deadline is officially in the books with a number of transactions seen throughout the day that may or may not shift the balance of power around the league.

Two of the biggest names that were anticipated to be on the move — Aaron Gordon and Victor Oladipo — did in fact end up moving on, while the biggest name who was rumoured to be available, Kyle Lowry, ended up staying with the Toronto Raptors until at least the end of this season.

In total, there were 16 trades made throughout the day. To help better understand these transactions so far, here’s a look at the winners and losers of this year’s trade deadline.

Winners

Toronto Raptors
Coming into deadline day all eyes were on the Raptors as they appeared to hold the keys to everything with two of the most hotly-contested trade targets in Lowry and Norman Powell.

There was a lot of debate among Raptors fans about why they should sell and trade both of those players or just stand pat and keep the two of them, and what the club ended up doing was actually a combination of both.

As mentioned off the top, the Raptors ultimately decided to keep Lowry, but before that, they opted to flip Powell to Portland Trail Blazers for Rodney Hood and Gary Trent Jr.

This looks like a half-measured approach from the Raptors, but looking holistically at the two transactions you’ll understand why making these two decisions will ultimately steer the team in the right direction.

Because the Raptors were mired in a nine-game losing streak before their win Wednesday night, the natural reaction heading into deadline day was that the Raptors were going to be sellers because their season was already going down the drain.

But while they entered deadline day as the No. 11 seed in the Eastern Conference, they’re also only 1.5 games back of the No. 10 and final spot in the play-in tournament. Not to mention, this losing streak they underwent was mainly because the team was decimated by COVID protocols and not entirely indicative of what the club’s actual potential was.

And this is why the moves the Raptors made at the deadline are positives. The notion that the Raptors were going to sell and tank was never on the table because this is a team that has viewed itself as a competitive club all season and there was no chance they were going to look to tank.

And so, in that sense, keeping Lowry was fitting. Toronto played hardball with any packages for Lowry because nothing they would get back in return would be able to match his productivity anyway.

Yes, the Raptors will have to deal with this all over again this off-season when he’s a free agent, but they’ll have his Bird rights and the possibility of re-signing him will remain.

As for Powell, he was always the more likely candidate to be on the move because the nature of his contract made it easier to do so.

With him also likely to be a free agent this summer at a price Toronto likely wouldn’t be able to afford, the Raptors had to make a move and made one with an eye towards possibly getting back into things this season and for their future.

The acquisition of Rodney Hood and his non-guaranteed contract gives the Raptors, essentially, a free look at a player who has flashed potential in the past and bringing in Gary Trent Jr. gives the Raptors a dynamic shooter and scorer — who’s similar to Powell in a lot of ways, and still on his rookie contract.

Throw in the two other transactions the Raptors made — dealing Matt Thomas to the Utah Jazz and Terence Davis to the Sacramento Kings both for second-round picks in moves that restock some of their draft picks and opens up a pair of roster spots to potentially be players in the buyout market — and you have a tidy piece of business done by the Raptors.

It didn’t address the hole they still have at centre, but it’s a deadline day that’s giving this current group a chance while opening up some future flexibility.

Chicago Bulls
The Bulls are big deadline winners because of the big move they made for Nikola Vucevic from the Orlando Magic, as well as the sneaky transaction they made with the Boston Celtics for Daniel Theis.

Chicago hasn’t made the playoffs since 2017 but looks to remedy that situation this season with their big move for two-time all-star Vucevic, whose combination of post and perimeter skills figures to add another layer of lethality to a Chicago offence that features a core of Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen and Coby White.

Better yet for Chicago, Vucevic is under contract until 2022-23 so he figures to be a big part of the Bulls’ future as well, and all it cost them was young big Wendell Carter Jr. — who’s game is like a younger, less mature version’s of Vucevic’s — the expiring contract of Otto Porter Jr, and two first-round picks which the team is counting on not being in the lottery.

And then, by adding Theis, a great defensive centre who can knock down the occasional three, the Bulls have shored up a major weakness of theirs at little expense.

Denver Nuggets
The biggest impact trade of the day goes to the Denver Nuggets’ acquisition of Aaron Gordon.

Denver did have to give up a promising player in Gary Harris to make it happen, but given Harris’ health concerns the risk looks like it was worth it because you now have a talented Denver team adding a great athlete and playmaker in the frontcourt in Gordon.

The imagination can run wild thinking what kind of lob combination Nikola Jokic might be for Gordon, and Jamal Murray now has another big who’s adept at finding re-locating shooters and cutters.

And in a separate transaction, the Nuggets made a deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers for JaVale McGee for a pair of future second-rounders. McGee isn’t exactly a game-changing player, but he’s a guy with championship experience and figures to be a needed veteran for Denver’s playoff push.

Magic City
Lou Williams is heading to the Atlanta Hawks and, more importantly, will basically be right next to gentlemen’s club Magic City, renowned for their famous chicken wings and a Williams favourite.

Going back the other way to the Los Angeles Clippers in this transaction is Rajon Rondo, who figures to be a needed voice in that locker room, but the real big winner of this transaction is definitely Magic City.

Business will be booming.

Losers

Orlando Magic
Though it was expected, the Magic’s teardown on deadline day that saw them trade Vucevic, Gordon and Evan Fournier is still disappointing nonetheless.

The return the Magic got in each of these transactions was alright — except perhaps only getting a pair of second-round picks for Fournier — and it’s true this is a team that’s been spinning its tires for the last little bit before falling off a cliff this season, but anytime a professional sports organization feels the need to take a step back and trade away all of its core pieces in an effort to begin anew, it’s never good news.

Houston Rockets
The Rockets were successful in trading Victor Oladipo right at the buzzer of the deadline, but the return they got back for him was pitiful.

Avery Bradley, Kelly Olynyk and a pick swap that’ll probably never come to be just isn’t good enough.

But as bad as the haul is, the real reason why the Rockets are losers at the deadline is because this just may have been all Oladipo could’ve got them anyway.

Oladipo hasn’t been anywhere near the same player he was after suffering a ruptured quad tendon in his knee a couple seasons ago and the Rockets should’ve known that when they initially acquired him and not Caris LeVert in the James Harden deal at the beginning of the season.

Harden, of course, put Houston in a precarious position, but they had an option to take either LeVert from the Brooklyn Nets or Oladipo from the Indiana Pacers and chose the latter.

And what you saw Thursday is the sad result of that.

Canada Basketball

The very first trade made on deadline day was a minor-looking deal between the Sacramento Kings and Detroit Pistons as the Pistons swapped Delon Wright for Cory Joseph and a pair of second-round picks.

Though small on the NBA scale, this transaction could have big implications for the Canadian men’s national team because his contract isn’t guaranteed for next season, there’s a strong likelihood that Detroit might waive him in the off-season making him a free agent.

This would be problematic for Canada Basketball because guys usually want to take care of their professional situation before committing to the national team.

Olynyk will also become an unrestricted free agent in the summer, meaning Team Canada might not have two of its most senior members for the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Victoria.

Great Kyle Lowry scrums
On Wednesday night when so much was uncertain about his future, Lowry held court with the media for a little over 23 minutes.

It was spectacular and had an air of finality to it.

Well, Lowry is still a Raptor for the time being so what are the chances such an epic press conference may happen again anytime soon?

Likely pretty slim.

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Boston Bruins Add Offense With Solid Taylor Hall Trade – Boston Hockey Now

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The Boston Bruins clearly understood they had serious deficiencies on their NHL roster this season and credit them for going and doing something about it.

The B’s finished off their Sunday night fireworks ahead of the NHL trade deadline by sending a second round pick and Anders Bjork to the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for top-6 winger Taylor Hall and bottom-6 forward Curtis Lazar. TSN’s Darren Dreger, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman and ESPN’s John Buccigross were the first to report about the completed deal between the Bruins and Buffalo Sabres in the hours following the B’s getting stomped by the Washington Capitals, 8-1, at TD Garden.

The Buffalo Sabres retained half of the $8 million salary that Hall signed for prior to the start of the 2021 hockey season.

The 29-year-old Hall is having a terrible season in Buffalo with just two goals and 19 points in 37 games along with a minus-21 rating after he chose to sign a one-year deal with the Sabres during the offseason. But he brings legitimate offensive talent as a former No. 1 overall pick and Hart Trophy winner to a Boston Bruins team that’s ranked in the bottom third of the NHL offensively all season.

The Bruins were one of the suitors for Hall prior to him choosing the Sabres months ago, and now they get him for a deep discount while keeping their own first round picks after making their deadline deals.

Holding onto their own first round pick was a priority for Boston Bruins GM Don Sweeney after spending first rounders at the deadline in two of the last three deadlines in trades for damaged goods Rick Nash and Ondrej Kase.

The 26-year-old Lazar has five goals and 11 points in 33 games as a bottom-6 forward for the Sabres this season and is signed for $800,000 for next season. It seemed clear that something was going on with the 24-year-old Anders Bjork over the last couple of weeks as he was a healthy scratch for five straight games, including Sunday night against Washington, and heads to Buffalo hoping to further develop a game built on speed and skill level that hasn’t translated into offense as of yet.

Hall should fit right into the top-6 with the Bruins as a skilled winger for playmaking center David Krejci, but it remains to be seen how he’s going to fit as another left winger on a team with Nick Ritchie and Jake DeBrusk.

Either Ritchie or DeBrusk is going to have to play the off wing with a Krejci/Hall combo, but that’s a problem that Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy will gladly figure out after being forced to piece together lineups all season due to injuries and offensive inconsistency. With the acquisition of Hall, Lazar and left-handed defenseman Mike Reilly on Sunday night, it would appear the Boston Bruins are largely done with deals ahead of Monday’s NHL trade deadline.

Interestingly enough, the Boston Bruins are set to play the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday night at TD Garden.

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Drouin must return to mentality that’s led to success this season – Sportsnet.ca

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It was something Dominique Ducharme said after his Montreal Canadiens played an abysmal game against the Ottawa Senators last week, something that only truly resonated after they lost 3-2 to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday — a game that emboldened the struggle Jonathan Drouin’s currently enduring.

“Ninety per cent of the mistakes we made were mental, and the rest of it was above our shoulders.” the coach said after the 6-3 loss to Ottawa last Saturday, somewhat channelling New York Yankees legend Yogi Berra with this bit of wit and wisdom.

It was hard not to think of those words watching Drouin play the way he did on Wednesday. For much of this season, the talented left winger has played a primary role in Montreal’s success. He’s led them with 19 assists, been tenacious on the forecheck, physically engaged all over the ice, cerebral as always in his execution and, as he’s said on several occasions, relatively unconcerned by whether or not his name has been featured on the scoresheet.

But it seemed clear, after watching Drouin dump a breakaway into Jack Campbell’s chest with one of 32 shots the Maple Leafs goaltender turned aside to set a franchise record with his 10th consecutive win, he had diverted from that. And that affected the way he played the rest of the game.

It was Drouin’s fifth in a row without a point, his 18th without a goal, and he’d have to be a robot not to be suffering the mental wear of not seeing the puck go in more than twice since the season started, the torment of seeing only three per cent of his shots hit the back of the net through 36 games after 10 per cent of them resulted in goals through the first 348 games of his career.

“It is weighing on me where, when I have a chance and miss the goal, I might be trying to score too much,” Drouin said. “It’s something I obviously think about — every player would — and I’ve just gotta put it past me and just keep shooting pucks.”

Ideally, the 26-year-old wouldn’t be thinking about any of this. These are thoughts that weigh a player down and right now the Canadiens are in tough without Brendan Gallagher for the rest of the season and Drouin needs to be light and free to help account for that loss. And in order for him to do that, he needs to focus on what he does best.

Because the reality is that even though Drouin can score more, scoring isn’t what he needs to do in order to be at his best and really help this team.

“When his feet are moving and he’s making plays, Drou’s a pass-first guy,” explained Jake Allen, who made 29 saves in Carey Price’s absence. “When his feet are moving, his head’s always in it. When his feet are moving, he’s controlling the play, controlling the puck. He’s a guy who really can control the play for a whole line. You want the puck on that guy’s stick and let the other guys do the dirty work and he’ll find them.”

But when Drouin’s feet aren’t moving, there just isn’t enough of that other stuff happening.

When Drouin’s feet weren’t moving, he lost a battle for the puck in the offensive zone and allowed the NHL’s leading goal scorer to start the rush that resulted in the winning play of Wednesday’s game.

Auston Matthews to Mitch Marner, back to Matthews, off Allen and slammed into Montreal’s net by Zach Hyman with 9:39 remaining in the third period, with Drouin watching from just inside his own blue line.

“You give a 3-on-2 to the Matthews line and it’s the kind of play they’re going to make you pay on,” said Ducharme.

Was Drouin still thinking about that shot he didn’t bury in the second period?

It’s understandable if he was, but those are the kind of thoughts he needs to shake right now.

“He wants to do well, and I’m sure it’s getting a little bit in his head,” said Ducharme. “I think the best remedy for him is to be scoring that goal or making that big play, and I think he’s going to be energized by that and less thinking, more acting.

“It is a fine line. Those kind of thoughts is not something that you want to happen. But when you receive that puck and you see the opening and stuff, (the slump) comes back to (your mind). That’s why the mental part of the game is something that’s very tricky. It’s not his will to be thinking that way. Every player who’s going through a time like that will have that thought and scoring that goal will take him to a different level. At those kind of times you need to make it even simpler and being even more inside going at the net and finding a garbage (goal) right there and you put it in and sometimes you go on a little run. It might be that kind of goal that he needs to get that monkey off his back.”

It’s the kind of goal Corey Perry scored twice to give the Canadiens a chance in this game.

But Drouin isn’t Perry, who rightly pointed out after the game he’s made a career of scoring goals that way. And even if Drouin can borrow from what Perry does next time he has a chance like the one Brett Kulak set him up with for that breakaway, there are other ways he can positively impact the game.

You can appreciate that Drouin said he’s putting pressure on himself to score more and help make up for the goals the team will be missing with Gallagher sidelined, but that might not get him to where he needs to be mentally to contribute as much as he already has this season.

What would, though, is a sharp turn towards the mentality he described just days ago. The one that’s enabled him to be a much more consistent player this season than he has in seasons past.

“When I was younger, I’d stay on one game or stay on one play for too long and wouldn’t be able to let it go for a bit or a couple of days,” Drouin said. “But I think for me now it’s can I look at myself in the mirror after a game and did I give my good effort? Was I a part of this game? Was I doing something right in a lot of areas?

“That’s what I do now. I think points are there, goals are there, assists are there, but it’s just about playing that real game and playing to help your team win.”

Drouin’s done a lot of that this season and has a chance to get right back to it when the Winnipeg Jets visit the Bell Centre Thursday.

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Scioscia to lead U.S. baseball bid for spot at Tokyo Olympics

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(Reuters) – Mike Scioscia, who won World Series both as a player and manager, was named manager of the U.S. men’s national baseball team on Tuesday, as they seek a spot at the Tokyo Olympics.

After 19 seasons as manager of the Anaheim Angels, guiding them to their only World Series win in 2002, Scioscia will make his international coaching debut in June when the United States hosts the Baseball Americas Qualifier in Florida.

For the tournament the U.S. will be grouped with the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and Nicaragua in Pool A while Canada, Colombia, Cuba, and Venezuela will make up Pool B.

The top two teams from each pool will advance to the Super Round, where the country with the best overall record will earn a spot in the Tokyo Olympic tournament.

Second and third-place finishers will advance to a final qualifier, joining Australia, China, Taiwan, and the Netherlands.

“Mike’s tenure with the Angels’ franchise was nothing short of spectacular, creating and celebrating a culture of success with six division titles, an American League pennant, and its first-ever World Series title,” said USA Baseball Executive Director/CEO Paul Seiler in a statement. “More impactfully, his leadership, integrity, and character are unparalleled in our game, making him the perfect fit for the USA Baseball family.”

The Olympic tournament will take place from July 28-Aug. 7 in Fukushima City and Yokohama.

Hosts Japan, Israel, South Korea, and Mexico have already secured a berth in the six-team field.

 

(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto. Editing by Toby Davis)

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