NBA trade grades: Nuggets land Aaron Gordon in win-now move

Nuggets fans should be excited about their team’s decision to go “all-in” by acquiring Aaron Gordon. Did the Magic get enough in return?

Aaron Gordon isn’t the type of player who can power the Nuggets to an NBA title all by himself, but that’s not what Denver needs him to do. Slotting him in as a complementary piece alongside stars like Nikola Jokic and Jamaal Murray immediately boosts his new team’s odds at making a deep postseason run.

The Magic side of the deal makes it clear they’re ready to rebuild. They’ll receive Gary Harris, R.J. Hampton, and a 2025 first-round pick in exchange for Gordon and Gary Clark. Harris might be able to revive his career in Orlando but he’s largely in the deal for salary matching purposes.

Hampton and the first-round pick are the two intriguing assets the Magic receive. Neither can help Orlando much in the short-term, but that’s not what they were acquired to do. Their purpose is to help the Magic build a young corps that can eventually make them Eastern Conference title contenders.

Nuggets Get

Aaron Gordon

Gary Clark

Magic Get

Gary Harris

R.J. Hampton

2025 first-round pick

The obvious question to answer is who won the transaction. There are cogent arguments to be made for both sides, but the grades on this trade illustrate a clear winner.

Denver Nuggets: A

The Nuggets have been looking for a versatile wing capable of playing alongside Michael Porter Jr. all season long. Landing Gordon gives the team a clear upgrade over what Jerami Grant gave them in that spot a season ago.

Gordon immediately gives Denver the sort of big wing required to match-up against the best players in the Western Conference playoffs. His main task will be to bother luminaries like LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard in the postseason. The fact that he can also add juice to the Nuggets’ transition game on offense only adds to his value.

There’s a chance Hampton blossoms into a quality player in time but he was never going to beat our Murray to be Denver’s starting point guard. Giving up the first-rounder in 2025 could hurt Denver down the line, but that’s a concern for another day. Add this up and the Nuggets got great value.

Orlando Magic-C-

This isn’t a terrible deal for Orlando but they should have been able to get more for a quality wing starter like Gordon. Their front office must really like Hampton’s chances to develop into a high-end starter to make this deal.

That might be bad news for Markelle Fultz and Cole Anthony in the long run. It will be interesting to see how much Orlando’s coaching staff plays Hampton right away. It might make sense for them to give him immediate reps to help bolster their potential draft pick.

If Hampton doesn’t pan out, it will be tough to make this trade look good in hindsight. The Nuggets might be bad in 2025 but the odds favor them remaining a playoff team due to the age of their core. That means Orlando has likely traded Gordon away for Hampton and a late first.

Receiving good value in a fire sale is difficult and this deal illustrates that to perfection for the Magic. They missed a chance to receive a big haul for Gordon by holding on to him until the last minute.

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