While the Utah Jazz weren’t one of the teams making huge waves as Thursday’s NBA trade deadline passed, there were quite a few moves that could impact the Jazz and will certainly impact the Western Conference moving forward.
First let’s talk about the lone Jazz deal made on Thursday. The Jazz sent a 2021 second-round pick to the Toronto Raptors (via the Golden State Warriors) in exchange for guard Matt Thomas to take up the Jazz’s 15th and final roster spot, a move that required very little, if no risk at all, for a player that has a lot of upside.
Thomas, a sharpshooting guard out of Iowa State, went undrafted in 2017, played for the Los Angeles Lakers summer league squad and then spent some time playing in Spain before signing with the Raptors during the summer of 2019. Though Thomas has played just 67 NBA games over the course of the 2019-20 campaign and the current season, in mostly limited minutes, his 45.7% career 3-point shooting stands out.
The Jazz already have their main rotation ironed out and it’s unlikely that Thomas would see significant time with the Jazz this season, but he provides even more shooting depth for the Jazz, who lead the league in 3-pointers made and are second in 3-point percentage behind only the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Jazz could certainly choose to empty out a roster spot for someone that they find on the buyout market but at this point it seems as if the Jazz aren’t looking to make any big-time moves that would impact their rotation ahead of the playoffs, signaling that the team believes that its current makeup is enough to take them deep into the postseason.
As has been said many times before, the Jazz value the continuity and chemistry of their current team, a luxury that many teams did not have heading into this season. By standing firm with their core through the trade deadline the Jazz avoid upsetting any of the chemistry that has been built upon.
There were much bigger deals being made around the league as the Jazz made their minor deal. In the Eastern Conference, which won’t have much impact on the Jazz, the Orlando Magic sent Nikola Vucevic to the Chicago Bulls, who also picked up Daniel Theis from the Boston Celtics. Victor Oladipo was moved from the Houston Rockets to the Miami Heat, and George Hill was moved to the Philadelphia 76ers in a three-team deal with the Oklahoma City Thunder and New York Knicks.
There were other deals made in the East, but those are the most important moves.
Out West there were three major deals that went down that will have an impact not only on. some of the top-tier teams but could really impact the Jazz.
Again, there were other moves made that could carry some significance — JJ Redick was traded to the Dallas Mavericks from the New Orleans Pelicans, Norman Powell was moved from Toronto to the Portland Trail Blazers — but there were three moves (two deals and one deal that didn’t go through) that could have the most direct impact on the Jazz.
Rajon Rondo to the Clippers
- The Clippers sent Lou Williams to the Atlanta Hawks in exchange for Rajon Rondo in a move clearly intended to bolster the Clippers postseason play.
- Rondo has earned the nickname “Playoff Rondo” for his reputation of exceeding expectations and performing well during the postseason. Though Williams has served the Clippers well for years as an overperforming sixth man, Rondo helped in the Lakers championship run last season and gives the Clippers a dynamic guard that could disrupt the play of Mike Conley or Donovan Mitchell if the Jazz and Clippers were to meet in the playoffs.
Aaron Gordon to the Nuggets
- The Magic gave up Aaron Gordon in exchange for Gary Harris, R.J. Hampton and a future first rounder.
- With Michael Porter Jr. struggling on the defensive end and often targeted for his lack of strength on that end and with Paul Millsap on the tail end of his career, the Nuggets, fifth in the West, now have a well respected forward in Gordon, who will be less of a defensive liability.
Kyle Lowry remains in Toronto
- On Wednesday night when the Raptors played the Nuggets it was like an unofficial farewell tour for Kyle Lowry who, in many more words, said goodbye to the Raptors. Lowry was one of the main players who was expected to move on Thursday.
- It was long believed that the Lakers were going to be the team to land Lowry. There were other suitors in the Sixers and the Heat, but those teams went in other directions on Thursday as the Raptors continued to move players in what seemed like they were clearing room for a big deal. But nothing materialized and Lowry will remain with the Raptors and become a free agent at the end of the season.
- The Lakers have already been considered the title favorites for most of the season and adding Lowry to the mix would have probably boosted their odds even more. The Lakers are still going to be a tough out for any team that comes up against them in the postseason, but not getting Lowry does make things a little more tenable for other teams in the West.