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4 winners and 4 losers from 2021 NBA trade deadline –



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.


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.


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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Coyotes trade Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Conor Garland to Canucks – Arizona Sports



Oliver Ekman-Larsson #23 of the Arizona Coyotes during the NHL game against the Montreal Canadiens at Gila River Arena on October 30, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona. The Canadiens defeated the Coyotes 4-1. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The Arizona Coyotes traded captain and defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson to the Vancouver Canucks, as well as forward Conor Garland, the team announced Friday.

Arizona Sports’ John Gambadoro first reported talks of the deal.

In return, the Coyotes will get forwards Jay Beagle, Loui Eriksson, Antoine Roussel and the 9th overall pick in the 2021 NHL Draft that was used to select Dylan Guenther. Arizona also receives a 2022 second-round pick and a 2023 seventh-round selection.

“On behalf of the entire organization, I would like to thank Oliver for everything that he has done for the Coyotes the past 10 years,” Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong said in a press release. “He is a tremendous player and person and we wish him and Conor the best of luck in the future.

“We are very pleased to acquire the ninth overall draft choice in this year’s NHL Draft along with Loui, Antoine and Jay. Loui and Jay are both Stanley Cup champions and along with Antoine, they are all solid veterans who will provide us with great leadership and experience.”

Ekman-Larsson, 30, has spent the entirety of his NHL career with the Coyotes after being selected sixth overall in the 2009 NHL Draft. The defenseman has 128 goals and 260 points over his Arizona career, for a total of 388 points.

Last season, Ekman-Larsson recorded three goals and 21 assists in 46 games. He has been the captain of the team for the last three seasons.

The Coyotes signed Ekman-Larsson to an eight-year, $66 million extension in the summer of 2018, a deal that has six more seasons left on it for $8.25 million each year. According to Gambadoro, Arizona will pay for roughly $1.2 million of that salary each of the next six years.

The 25-year-old Garland has been one of the Coyotes’ primary goal scorers in the previous two seasons. The winger had a team-high 22 goals in the 2019-20 season and 12 last season.

Garland is a restricted free agent this offseason.

Beagle, 35, had five points in 30 games last season while the 31-year-old Roussel contributed four points in 35 games. Lastly, the 36-year-old Eriksson played in only seven games.

Roussel is on an expiring deal worth $3 million next year, as are Beagle ($3 million) and Eriksson ($6 million).

The 2021 NHL Draft takes place on Friday.

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Sabres select Owen Power with No. 1 pick in 2021 NHL Draft –



The NHL draft turned Michigan maize and blue Friday night. And there’s a Hughes sibling reunion set to happen in New Jersey.

The Buffalo Sabres opened the draft by selecting Wolverines defenceman Owen Power with the top pick, and were immediately followed by the expansion Seattle Kraken choosing Michigan centre Matthew Beniers at No. 2. It marked the first time since 1969 that teammates went with the first two selections.

Three picks later, the Wolverines became college hockey’s first program to have three teammates go in the first round after the Columbus Blue Jackets selected Michigan winger Kent Johnson fifth.

“Extremely excited for Owen, Matty and their families. Its’ already a great night for Michigan Hockey. Go Blue,” Michigan coach Mel Pearson texted to The Associated Press after the Kraken made their selection.

That’s not all, however. Luke Hughes, who is committed to playing at Michigan, was chosen fourth overall by the the Devils, where the defenceman is united with brother Jack, who was the No. 1 pick in the 2019 draft.

Hughes watched the draft on his family’s living room couch with both of his NHL-playing brothers, rounded out by Quinn, who was selected seventh overall by Vancouver in 2018. Jack Hughes immediately jumped up and began hugging Luke upon hearing Devils GM Tom Fitzgerald announce the pick.

Ontario junior centre Mason McTavish was the only player without Michigan ties to round out the top five, after he was selected third overall by Anahiem.

The draft was held remotely for a second consecutive year due to the coronavirus pandemic, with commissioner Gary Bettman hosting the draft in New Jersey, where he introduced teams to make their selections from their home arenas.

On a day the Sabres traded Rasmus Ristolainen to the Philadelphia Flyers, general manager Kevyn Adams continued his offseason bid to overhaul a struggling franchise by choosing the stalwart defenceman’s heir apparent. Power is listed at six-foot-six and 213 pounds and was the NHL’s Central Scouting Bureau’s top-ranked North American prospect. After scoring three goals and adding 13 assists in 26 games during his freshman season at Michigan, the 18-year-old Power cemented his draft stock by helping Canada win the world hockey championships.

From Mississauga, Ontario, Power is leaning toward returning to school for his sophomore season, something Adams has said would not play a factor into his selection.

“Not thinking about it too much right now, trying to enjoy the night. That’s something I’ll worry about later,” Power said of his future, while surrounded by his family and friends in his backyard.

As for a message to Sabres fans, he said: “I’m super excited to be part of the franchise and ready to get going.”

Power was the third player drafted first directly out of college, joining Michigan State forward Joe Murphy in 1986 and Boston University goalie Rick DiPietro in 2000. And he became the 16th defenceman to go No. 1 since 1970, and first since the Sabres chose Rasmus Dahlin at No. 1 in 2018.

Power and Dahlin have similar two-way, play-making skills, and will have the opportunity to form the backbone of a retooled defensive unit for years to come.

Beniers was ranked sixth overall among North American prospects. He had 14 goals and 24 points in 24 games for the Wolverines.

In 1969, Rejean Houle and Marc Tardif were Montreal Junior Canadiens teammates, who were selected with the first two picks by Montreal. In 1963, Garry Monahan and St. Michael’s Juveniles teammate Peter Mahovlich were selected first and second.

The Sabres made a splash earlier by adding a second first-round pick, 14th overall, and defenceman Robert Hagg in dealing Ristolainen to Philadelphia.

The trade is part of Adams’ bid to rebuild through youth after Buffalo finished last in the overall standings for a fourth time in eight seasons and extended its playoff drought to an NHL record-matching 10th year.

The acquired pick from Philadelphia is actually 13th in the draft order after the NHL stripped the Arizona Coyotes of their first-round pick, 11th overall, for testing players in violation of league’s combine policy.

The Coyotes, however, moved back into the first round by acquiring the Canucks’ pick, ninth overall, in a five-player trade that sent Arizona captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson to Vancouver earlier in the day.

The first European players selected were from Sweden in back to back selections. Defenceman Simon Edvinsson went sixth to the Detroit Red Wings, followed by under-sized forward William Eklund, who was chosen seventh by the San Jose Sharks.

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More people watched Seattle NHL expansion draft on ESPN2 than Cubs-Cards on ESPN – Awful Announcing



In the grand scheme of things, 637,000 viewers nationally is not a huge number for a cable channel with any level of significant distribution. Most things on broadcast TV not only beat that, but beat it by quite a bit, and that kind of number isn’t usually even amongst the top cable broadcasts. However, the news that ESPN2 pulled that number in for its (NHL-produced, but featuring ESPN figures) coverage of the NHL expansion draft for the Seattle Kraken Wednesday night was certainly interesting, especially as so much of the actual news around that draft was reported in advance, and also given that their main-network coverage of the MLB game between the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals drew fewer viewers. Here’s a comparison of Wednesday night sporting events from John Ourand of Sports Business Journal:

On the negative side, that draft didn’t even draw the numbers of studio show Pardon The Interruption (however, that airs on ESPN rather than ESPN2; they’re similar in distribution, but many people turn on main ESPN first). It also didn’t draw the numbers of early Olympic programming from NBCSN. On the positive side, it outdrew a national MLB game. And it drew more than the Vegas Golden Knights’ expansion draft five years ago (595,000 on NBCSN for a combined broadcast of that draft and the NHL Awards). And it’s a good sign for ESPN, as this is their first big NHL event they aired under their new deal.

And yes, as Ourand noted in a follow-up tweet, that Cubs-Cards game didn’t have regional sports network blackouts, so Cubs and Cardinals fans could still watch it on their local RSNs. And most probably did, so it likely primarily pulled the national audience that didn’t have those RSNs. But it’s still interesting to see an ESPN2 event outdraw an ESPN event, especially when the ESPN event is a live game and the ESPN2 event is a one-team expansion draft (and one where most of the information was previously available to the public).

If ESPN versus ESPN2 programming decisions were made strictly from a standpoint of what they thought would draw more viewers, this result would go against that. That’s not entirely the case here, as the MLB on ESPN package comes with some restrictions on where games can air. But it’s still interesting to see the NHL expansion draft on ESPN2 outdraw a live MLB game between two prominent teams.

That is also perhaps further evidence that draft “spoilers” don’t always damage the ratings that much. That’s long been a debate, from the NFL’s heavy pushes against pick-tipping to the NBA’s more moderate approach (which sees pick-tipping still happen with some different language, and which hasn’t really led to obvious ratings losses).

In the case of this draft, figures who don’t work for expansion draft rightsholders Sportsnet (Canada) and ESPN (U.S.) reported many of the picks early, with Frank Seravalli (formerly of TSN, now of Daily Faceoff) and Pierre LeBrun (TSN/The Athletic) getting many of those, other national figures getting some more, and local reporters getting some others. So a mostly-full picture was available before the broadcast for those who wanted to find it. But that didn’t stop a significant amount of people from watching this, and that maybe shows that the league pushes against pick-tipping aren’t always that impactful.

[John Ourand on Twitter]

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