The Denver Nuggets have picked up power forward Aaron Gordon and forward Gary Clark in a trade with the Orlando Magic that will net Orlando shooting guard Gary Harris, rookie RJ Hampton, and a protected 2025 first round draft choice.
Orlando Magic general manager John Hammond must have had a 1pm tee time on Thursday, because he was getting all his deals done early-doors. Gordon, big man Nikola Vucevic, and combo guard Evan Fournier were all long gone by 12:30pm on deadline day, leaving Hammond a solid half hour to get to the links.
But seriously, Hammond pretty much did as good a job as you can do in setting yourself up for a proper tank on Thursday. The Magic now have no veteran talent of note besides Terrence Ross and have amassed three first-rounders and a pair of second-rounders from their trio of early deals.
This trade also saw two of the three guys named ‘Gary’ in the NBA swapped, while the third, Gary Trent, was traded later in the day. It was indeed moving day for Gary on Thursday.
But I digress, neither Gary was the centerpiece of this deal, that was Gordon, the high-flyer who is probably best known for getting snubbed at the 2016 Slam Dunk Contest and finishing runner-up after he completed an unprecedented under-the-legs dunk among other insane stuffs.
However, he has turned into quite the all-around player since those dunking days. He’s still known to flush one with authority from time to time, but he’s really filled out the rest of his game over the past few seasons. The San Jose native is averaging 14.6 points and 6.6 rebounds in 25 games, but it’s his career highs in three-point shooting (38 percent) and assists (4.2) that have really expanded his impact.
Despite all of the significant injuries around the league over the past few weeks, the Nuggets have managed to remain healthy and with this big addition, they seem like a real contender for that Western Conference crown if LeBron James can’t get back in time. Denver, who is currently sitting in fifth in the West standings, is holding the fourth spot on 888sport’s odds table with +1,100 NBA odds to win the Western Conference.
The Gordon move became inevitable earlier this week when the 25-year-old voiced his displeasure with the losing ways and direction of the Magic as a franchise.
“There’s been times where I just expressed my frustration to management,” Gordon said. “Frustration with the losses, the injuries, the way we’ve been playing and how many losses have accumulated over the years. So it’s just my frustration kind of boiling over, I would say. … I think a lot of people share that sentiment with me, of frustration.”
The Magic have only gone to the postseason twice during Gordon’s tenure, making a first-round exit in both instances. Safe to say he won’t be experiencing a playoff series drought like that in Denver.
Headed to the Nuggets with Gordon is Clark, who has started in 11 of his 35 appearances this year. He’s averaging 3.4 points and 3.2 rebounds in 18.2 minutes per game this season.
Meanwhile, the veteran Harris heads to the rebuilding Magic where he will hopefully be able to emerge from the injury haze that has eaten up most of his last three campaigns. When he’s on and healthy, Harris is a solid shooter, a decent scorer, and a lockdown defender.
The rookie Hampton has not seen much action yet, putting up 2.6 points and 2.0 rebounds in 9.3 minutes per game this year.