The Rich Get Richer

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Drummond (above) may prove valuable to a Lakers team anchored by its defense and in need of frontcourt depth. (Courtesy of Twitter)

Jeffery Yang, Contributing Writer

An all-time record of 46 players were traded on Thursday after the trade deadline; that’s more than 10% of the NBA. This extended list of transactions demonstrates that teams around the association are at different stages. Some are preparing for a championship run, while others threw in their towels and began the rebuilding process. 

One cannot deny that several trades surrounding star players came as a surprise. Before the trade deadline, many had speculated that Houston Rockets guard Victor Oladipo would not complete the season with the team and look to be moved. The Miami Heat were rumored to be one of the teams to pursue him with a potential trade package surrounding its young guard Tyler Herro. However, a few minutes before the 3:00 p.m. EST deadline, the Rockets finalized a deal sending Oladipo to the Heat for Kelly Olynyk, Avery Bradley and a 2022 pick swap. 

Many were shocked that the Heat were able to pull off a trade for Oladipo without including Herro. The acquisition of the two-time all-star provides more defensive and offensive prowess to the team. Under Pat Riley’s management, the organization has equipped itself with a more potent roster aiming to hopefully repeat its miraculous championship run in last year’s NBA Bubble.

The theme of title contention teams adding significant pieces without sacrificing valuable assets continued in the buyout market. Much of the conversation circulated San Antonio Spurs’ veteran LaMarcus Aldridge and Cleveland Cavaliers’ center Andre Drummond. After having their contracts bought out by their respective teams, many predicted that they would join a title contention team. 

Contrary to many predictions, Aldridge agreed to sign with the Brooklyn Nets. With a star-studded lineup combining for a resumé of 41 all-star appearances, the Nets have distinguished themselves as the clear favorites to win the eastern conference. Averaging 19.4 points and 8.3 rebounds per game for his career, Aldridge’s addition will be advantageous during the playoffs as the 35-year-old veteran can provide consistent scoring with his all-around game. In a seven-game playoff series, it is difficult to imagine any team with the ability to defend and compete against such an offensive powerhouse that can score on multiple levels. 

In the west, the reigning champion, Los Angeles Lakers, remained silent but made their ultimate move by acquiring Drummond in the buyout market. With its stars, Anthony Davis and LeBron James sidelined, the team’s interior defense has been severely challenged, signing the 27-year-old addresses a significant concern for the Lakers.

Titled the league rebounding leader on multiple occasions and leading the league in second-chance points five times, Drummond offers an undeniable and dominating paint presence that will anchor the Laker defense. Currently ranked first in defensive rating, inserting the two-time all-star into their roster will allow them to confidently compete with western powerhouses like the Utah Jazz and Phoenix Suns, top two in the league. 

Assessing the aftermath of the trade deadline and the acquisitions from the buyout market, it is evident that title-contending teams have separated themselves from the rest. The rich got richer. Will the playoffs be ruled by the richest of them all?