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Four Potential Trade Destinations For Aaron Gordon

Liam McKeone
Mar 15, 2021, 11:57 AM EDT
Aaron Gordon
Aaron Gordon | Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images
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Aaron Gordon has not made much of an impact this NBA season, playing only 20 games before spraining his ankle. He got hurt on January 31 and missed 15 games before returning to the lineup on March 11. Still, he might be on the move. The Athletic's Shams Charania reported on Monday morning that the Orlando Magic were listening to trade calls for the high-flying forward:

"The Magic have been open to listening to calls on Gordon, sources said, and Minnesota and Portland are among the teams showing interest. Gordon has so far spent his entire seven-year NBA career in Orlando and is under contract through 2022. The 6-foot-9 forward suffered a severe ankle sprain but returned to the lineup following the All-Star break."

Aaron Gordon

Despite the fact that he is undoubtedly one of the NBA's great dunkers, Gordon's on-court impact is fairly minimal. He's averaging 13 points, seven rebounds, and four assists per game this season while shooting the three at a decent 36.5 percent clip. He often plays out of position with the Magic; Gordon has always been far better off at the four rather than the three, but Orlando's excess of big men has made it difficult for him to play in the frontcourt. If playing to his strengths, Gordon is a fine defender on the wing with the strength to battle big men and can use his quickness to fly by any potential mismatches on offense while shooting just well enough from three to force opponents to guard him closely.

All that is to say that Gordon is a decent player who could be a good contributor in the right situation, but he isn't making or breaking anyone's title hopes. His $18 million salary must be matched in any potential trade, which isn't impossible but isn't particularly easy, either. Here are four possible destinations for probably the most famous dunk contest runner-up in basketball history.

Portland Trail Blazers

One of two teams mentioned by Charania as being interested in Gordon, the Blazers are perpetually in need of frontcourt reinforcements due to poor injury luck. Gordon would fit that bill. The team lives and dies with Damian Lillard and the front office is exploring every avenue to lighten his load even slightly, as they should. Gordon could slot in next to Jusuf Nurkic in the starting lineup or come off the bench as an offensive spark plug.

He doesn't fix the Blazers' substantial defensive issues, but could prove extremely valuable come postseason when teams lock in on Lillard and McCollum. In previous seasons, the Blazers didn't have a creator dangerous enough to capitalize in those situations. Gordon could be that. The money will be difficult to match, though, without giving up a key wing player like Robert Covington or Derrick Jones Jr., even with a small trade exception on the books.

Minnesota Timberwolves

The other team mentioned by Shams, the Wolves are in the midst of a horrid season marred by injuries to D'Angelo Russell and Karl-Anthony Towns. A Gordon trade would not be for the now. It would be to prove to Towns that Minnesota will do anything they can to surround their franchise centerpiece with some help. In terms of on-court fit, Gordon would thrive in the open paint space afforded by Towns' shooting and would give the Wolves a legit five-out lineup where everyone can shoot the three at a good-to-great clip.

Similar to Portland, Gordon's presence would only make Minnesota's defensive issues worse, but unlike Portland, they aren't competing this year. If it makes Towns happy, there's no reason for Minnesota to not pull the trigger. A Ricky Rubio-Gordon swap makes a lot of sense for both teams, given Rubio isn't super happy with Minnesota's trajectory this season and the Magic need someone to bring the ball up the court more than anything in the world right now.

Boston Celtics

The Celtics have a big $28 million trade exception from the Gordon Hayward trade sitting around right now, which essentially means they don't have match for any trade where the incoming salary is below $28 million. Gordon should be on the list of possible candidates Boston would use that exception to bring in. The Celtics have their stars and their closing lineup. They don't need Gordon in the same way the Blazers or Wolves might need him. They just need someone who can come off the bench and score points to keep things afloat while the stars sit. Gordon could probably do that. He fits well next to any of the three bigs the Celtics like to play at center and is good enough to be effective as a secondary creator to play off any of the three main ballhandlers in Boston.

The issue is that he's under contract for $16 million next season and Danny Ainge probably doesn't want to take on more salary as Jayson Tatum's contract extension kicks in unless he feels it will put the team over the top, which Gordon will not do. Still, if Gordon's scoring in bench minutes is the difference between a five and a three seed in Boston, they should make it happen. Absorbing Gordon into the trade exception while giving up someone like Carsen Edwards or Javonte Green and a second-round pick would make sense if Orlando really wants to get rid of their former lottery pick.

Memphis Grizzlies

This one is really just for the League Pass enjoyment factor. Putting Gordon and Ja Morant on the same team, even with Gordon coming off an ankle injury, would be a blast to watch. They both love dunking in excess and Morant is an extraordinarily talented passer who matches up as the perfect alley-oop partner for Gordon. The Grizzlies probably want to compete for at least a play-in game at the bottom of the West after nearly making the postseason in the bubble in Orlando, and Gordon's scoring ability paired with the fact that the frontcourt is slim with Jaren Jackson Jr. on the shelf makes him a logical target.

Memphis also has Gorgui Deng and his $17 million salary on the roster and are looking to trade him, as noted by Charania in the same column he mentioned Gordon. A straight-up Deng-for-Gordon trade works money-wise. Let's make Memphis a dunkapalooza with Morant, Gordon, and Brandon Clarke, because why not?

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