Aaron Gordon is headed to the Nuggets. Denver acquired the should-be Slam Dunk champ Thursday in exchange for Gary Harris, RJ Hampton, and a protected first-round pick, according to ESPN. Gordon, 25, is averaging 14.6 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 4.2 assists per game for the Magic this season, while shooting a career-best 37.5% from three. Harris is on an expiring contract, while Hampton was selected with the 24th pick in the 2020 draft. Let’s grade the deal for each team.
I don’t think this is a home run deal for Denver. The Nuggets have been playing their best basketball of the season with Michael Porter Jr. playing the four...and that’s the exact position Gordon needs to be playing. I’m not quite sure how Gordon fills the gaps here yet. He’s not a consistent enough shooter or so fleetfooted to be a 3-and-D guy. And with Porter playing so well, how comfortable will Gordon be as the fourth option on offense? Moving Harris, a team and fan favorite, made sense after a series of injuries zapped much of his shooting ability. But Hampton was a decent prospect, and he had potential as a rotation guy in the backcourt. On the plus-side, Gordon is still young, and his contract is both affordable and desirable. Denver will have a good chance to gauge his fit with the current group, and he can always be moved again if it doesn’t click.
I have full respect for the Nuggets trying to capitalize on their championship window. I’m just not sure Gordon is the guy who unlocks the roster’s potential.
This is fine for Orlando. Harris could maybe be brought back on a smaller deal, though I see him going to a contender eventually. Hampton, once a prized high-school prospect, should be given more room to actually grow here, and he can turn into a nice player. The draft pick adds to the war chest being built with all the other trades the Magic made Thursday, even if it eventually falls into the back half of the first round. Personally, I’m just a little upset Orlando could never manage to tap into Gordon’s potential. For too long they had him playing with too many other guys at his position, and now they had to sell low on someone who was still coveted by many around the league. Maybe Gordon won’t blow up with the Nuggets. But the Magic have hopefully learned a lesson about building around their own players now that they’ve parted ways with their former No. 4 overall pick.