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NBA Daily: Three Under-the-Radar Trade Deadline Acquisitions

After 46 players were moved at the 2021 NBA trade deadline, Tristan Tucker takes a look at 3 acquisitions that have flown under the radar.

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Everybody’s favorite NBA holiday, the trade deadline, came and went on a day that saw a league-record 16 deadline trades. 46 players were involved in trades, with big names like Nikola Vucevic and Victor Oladipo on the move.

However, with 46 players being moved, some are bound to fall through the cracks and go largely unnoticed. But who? Without further ado, here are three of the most underrated acquisitions at the deadline.

Troy Brown Jr., Chicago Bulls

The Chicago Bulls were one of the outright winners of the trade deadline, securing two-time All-Star Nikola Vucevic for relatively minimal cost. Then, the team went out and got Troy Brown Jr. and Daniel Theis along the way.

Brown is going to thrive for a Bulls team that will give him more of an opportunity with the ball in his hands. The Washington Wizards critically underutilized Brown during his tenure in Washington, failing to realize his potential as a do-everything guard. Brown can easily play one-through-three and, in a pinch, could play the four-spot. He can make plays, score in bunches, rebound and, most importantly, guard a team’s best player.

After thriving in the bubble last year, Brown was questionably banished to the bench, seeing his minutes per game evaporate from 25.8 to 13.7. In the bubble, Brown averaged 15.3 points, 7.3 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.1 steals per game. Obviously, that’s an eight-game sample size, but the potential is there.

Brown has a long way to go until he’s a starting-caliber wing, but the Bulls can offer Brown the chance to help run the second unit alongside Coby White with Tomas Satoransky on the bench. Outside of Ryan Arcidiacono, Brown is one of the more capable playmakers on Chicago’s bench, if not the outright best.

Lineups that feature Brown alongside Vucevic and Zach LaVine are going to be a ton of fun. Vucevic will act as a play-making anchor in the paint, while Brown can open up a lot of scoring opportunities for LaVine, who may see yet another uptick in his scoring output. There’s a lot to like about the addition of Brown. 

Tony Bradley, Oklahoma City Thunder

If he remains in Oklahoma City, the Thunder got one of the biggest steals at the trade deadline and gave away virtually nothing of value. Bradley, still just 23-years-old, is playing tremendous basketball this season, averaging 5.5 points and 5.2 rebounds in 14.4 minutes per game.

Bradley’s best work came when the Philadelphia 76ers were without Joel Embiid, with Bradley starting in his place. The center posted multiple strong showings, including an 18 point, 11 rebound and 2 block performance on perfect shooting against the Golden State Warriors.

The Thunder already have young big men that are going above and beyond expectations. Isaiah Robey, Darius Bazley and Aleksej Pokusevski are showing a lot at the forward positions. Meanwhile, two-way contract player Moses Brown is exploding onto the scene, while averaging 16.3 points and 15 rebounds per 36 minutes.

According to reports, Bradley hasn’t yet reported to the Thunder but, if he does, it’ll add another significantly talented young big on a roster that is identifying its long-term foundational pieces.

R.J. Hampton, Orlando Magic

Aaron Gordon’s market value seemed to be set at two first round picks and that’s essentially what the Orlando Magic got. Landing Hampton, who just turned 20-years-old, is a huge get. Hampton won Denver Nuggets fans over quickly with his speed and overall athleticism, though he only played sparingly.

Hampton sat in the top-10 of a lot of big boards leading into the 2020 NBA Draft before falling to the Nuggets at pick 24. Like LaMelo Ball, Hampton played professionally overseas in the NBL before coming to the NBA. That experience will help propel Hampton’s career, as will the fact that he’s playing with a rebuilding Magic team that will be able to play him significantly.

Hampton’s best game as a Nugget came against the Sacramento Kings in early February, posting 7 points and 10 boards, four of which came on the offensive glass. He followed that up by scoring 9 points with 2 steals and a block two games later.

The Magic are struggling immensely with guard depth, a recurring theme after injuries to both Markelle Fultz and Cole Anthony. With both players still out, Hampton will get a chance to head up both leading guard spots.

With the trade deadline over, teams will pivot to the buyout market until the deadline in April. After that, it’s time for the NBA playoffs. Make sure to follow along at Basketball Insiders for all of the latest news and rumors from the buyout market!

My name is Tristan Tucker and I am a basketball writer currently enrolled at North Carolina State University. I am the school paper's assistant sports editor and have written for SB Nation and Fansided. I joined Basketball Insiders in December of 2020.

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Bulls’ guard Zach LaVine desires respect for new contract

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According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, Chicago Bulls star Zach LaVine wants the respect he deserves for his contract extension. On Monday morning before Team USA’s practice to prepare for Tuesday’s match against Spain, the 26-year-old guard said to reporters, “I just want my respect, that’s the main thing. I outplayed my contract. I’ve been very loyal to Chicago. I like Chicago. I just want my respect. If that’s now or later, it’s something we’ve got to work out internally.” In the 2020-21 season, in 58 games played, LaVine averaged 27.4 points, five rebounds and 4.9 assists per game. He also shot 50.7 percent from the field and was selected to his first NBA All-Star Game.

Regarding the “outplayed my contract” comment, his argument his fair. Last season, with 200 three-point field goals made, he ranked ninth overall in the league. Despite the Bulls finishing 31-41 (.431) last season, he led the team in points and assists. Per ESPN, they are also reporting that Chicago is trying to work out a four-year, $105 million contract extension for their star guard. Though, this deal is expected to fall below his market value. In terms of signing available free agents this offseason, some Bulls fans are speculating the organization will pursue either Knicks’ shooting guard/small forward Reggie Bullock, Lakers’ power forward/center Markieff Morris or Pelicans’ point guard Lonzo Ball.

On July 13, 2018, the 2014 13th pick of the draft signed a four-year, $78 million contract with the Bulls. LaVine earned $19,500,000 last season, and he is set to earn $19,500,000 in the upcoming season. It is not urgent for Chicago to extend LaVine’s contract this offseason. The organization will have the full rights to re-sign him to a new deal for next season in 2022.

However, the guard will also become an unrestricted free agent next year, so the Bulls should work towards fixing their salary cap issues right now. Referencing Spotrac, center Nikola Vucevic has a cap figure of $24 million. Of this amount, his future guaranteed cash is $22 million. One notable 2021-22 cap hold is Lauri Markkanen. His qualifying offer is $9,026,952, and his cap figure is $20,194,524. On March 2, 2020, Markkanen was recalled from the Windy City Bulls of the G League.

Furthermore, on March 25, 2021, center Nikola Vucevic and forward Al-Farouq Aminu were traded by the Orlando Magic to the Bulls in exchange for Otto Porter, Wendell Carter Jr., a 2021 first-round pick and a 2023 first-round pick. This is quite the gamble for the Bulls organization, considering they traded away two future first-round picks. Vucevic is set to earn $24 million for the 2021-22 season. Chicago has $56,679,846 available in cap space. Their current luxury tax space is $29,405746.

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Rockets decline Avery Bradley’s $5.9 million team option

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First reported by Shams Charania of The Athletic, the Houston Rockets are declining Avery Bradley’s team option for the 2021-22 NBA season. On November 23, 2020, the 30-year-old guard signed as a free agent with the Miami Heat. He signed a two-year, $11.6 million deal. On March 25, 2021, the Heat traded Bradley, Kelly Olynyk and a 2022 first-round pick to the Houston Rockets for two-time NBA All-Star guard Victor Oladipo. The 2022 first-round pick is an option to trade for a potential Heat or Nets pick. Plus, Houston received a trade exception, too.

Moreover, Bradley earned $5,635,000 this previous season; the Rockets declined his 2021-22 team option of $5,916,750 for next season. In other words, both sides have mutually agreed to part ways, so the six-foot-three guard is now an unrestricted free agent. In early February, it was first reported that the Washington native would miss three to four weeks due to a calf strain. Before this injury, he averaged 8.5 points, 1.8 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game for Miami. Furthermore, he also shot a career-high percentage of 42.1 percent from behind the arc last season.

Though, Bradley disappointed both of his teams last season, leading to the Rockets finishing 17-55 (.236), ranking 15th overall in the Western Conference. Last season was the first time since the 1982-83 season that Houston failed to win at least 20 games. Since the 2011-12 season, it was the first time the Rockets had failed to qualify for the playoffs. In only 27 games played, the 11-year NBA veteran averaged 6.4 points, 2.1 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game. He shot 37.4 percent from the field as well.

Likewise, the Miami Heat finished 40-32 (.556) last season, regressing from the team’s 44-29 (.603) record and sixth NBA Finals appearance from the 2019-20 season. Fans across social media are already speculating that the 2010 19th overall pick will end up playing for the Los Angeles Lakers next season. If this happens, he would join the team’s newly established big three: LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Russell Westbrook.

After Bradley signed with the Lakers for the 2019-20 season, he joined the list of players in the league’s history who played for both the Celtics and Lakers. The list includes Brian Shaw, Clyde Lovellette, Mel Counts, Rick Fox, Don Nelson, Bob McAdoo, Isaiah Thomas, Charlie Scott, Gary Payton, Shaquille O’Neal and Rajon Rondo. According to Bleacher Report, the Lakers are also interested in signing Carmelo Anthony this offseason.

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Mavericks will pick up Willie Cauley-Stein’s $4.1 million option

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Per ESPN’s Tim MacMahon, the Dallas Mavericks are planning to pick up center Willie Cauley-Stein’s $4.1 million option for the 2021-22 NBA season. The deadline is tomorrow. Last season, in 53 games played, the seven-foot big man averaged 5.3 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. The sixth-year player also shot 63.2 percent from the field last season.

On July 8, 2019, Cauley-Stein signed a two-year, $4.46 million contract with the Golden State Warriors. Then, on January 25, 2020, Cauley-Stein was traded to the Mavericks for a 2020 second-round pick. If everything goes smoothly, the 27-year-old center is set to earn $4.1 million next season. The 2015 sixth overall pick’s contract consumes less than three percent of the team’s total salary cap.

This news comes right after Dallas received center Moses Brown from the Boston Celtics. Brown is a seven-foot-two, 2019 undrafted player out of UCLA. In 2021, Brown was named to the All-NBA G League First Team and All-Defensive Team. On March 28, 2021, the 21-year-old center signed a four-year, $6.8 million contract with the Thunder.

However, on June 18, 2021, the Oklahoma City Thunder traded Brown, Al Horford, and a 2023 second-round pick to the Celtics for Kemba Walker, a 2021 first-round pick and a 2025 second-round pick. With Boston, Brown was set to earn $1,701,593 next season. Of course, the Mavs organization is finalizing a trade to send Josh Richardson to the Celtics as well. In other news, today is Mavs owner Mark Cuban’s 63rd birthday.

Referencing Spotrac’s 2021-22 luxury tax totals, the Mavs’ current luxury tax space is $52,326,531. The 2021 NBA salary cap maximum is $112,414,000. Their current cap space is $27,595,632. Cauley-Stein’s contract is recognized as a club option, not a player option or guaranteed money. Richardson’s deadline is also tomorrow, so because he is getting traded to Boston, the team will not collect his $11,615,328 player option.

Plus, Jalen Brunson’s deadline is also August 1st. His guaranteed value is $1,802,057. Leading into the 2021-22 season, Kristaps Porzingis has the highest cap figure on the team, which is an amount worth $31,650,600, consuming 22.73 percent of the team’s total salary cap. At the moment, Porzingis is a popular name in trade rumor articles. Bettors and NBA analysts are predicting a possible trade to the Brooklyn Nets, Sacramento Kings or Philadelphia 76ers.

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