NBA PM: Who’s Looking to Make a Trade?
The NBA trade deadline is a little over one month away and teams are beginning to work the phones. Some teams are gauging interest in their own players while others are seeing who might be available as February 21 gets closer.
Here are the teams that have been the most active in recent weeks and seem the most likely to make a move before the deadline.
Mark Cuban has made it very clear that the Mavericks are looking to make a move. He recently said that there’s a “100 percent” chance that Dallas will look for a trade and admitted that he’s even willing to take on salary if the right deal comes along. Cuban has been upset with how his team has performed this season. The roster as currently constructed is in danger of missing the playoffs and that doesn’t sit well with Cuban. The Mavericks have been to the playoffs for 12 consecutive seasons and Cuban is looking to wheel and deal to ensure that the streak stays intact. Don’t be surprised if Dallas makes a blockbuster move or helps facilitate one. They have plenty of expiring contracts and assets to get something done.
It’s been well documented that the Grizzlies are gauging interest in their players, particularly Rudy Gay and Zach Randolph. Memphis is looking to get under the luxury tax and trading Gay’s contract seems to make the most sense. Not only do the Grizzlies want to cut costs, they want to bring in role players that will keep them in contention in the Western Conference. The only problem is that Gay’s trade value may not be as high as Memphis once thought. This season, Gay has been struggling and his numbers are down across the board. His Player Efficiency Rating is just 15, which is the league average. He still has plenty of potential, but teams likely won’t give up a ton for Gay unless he starts playing better. It’s hard to justify paying a player $17.8 million and $19.3 million over the next two seasons if he’s not producing. If the Grizzlies don’t make a move before the deadline, they’ll likely make a trade over the offseason.
The Raptors have been mentioned in trade rumors since the beginning of the season because they have several players that they’re looking to move. Andrea Bargnani hasn’t lived up to the hype and he failed to become the franchise player that Toronto expected him to be. In fact, the Raptors have played better at times when Bargnani wasn’t on the court. Jose Calderon and Kyle Lowry are the other two players that the Raptors will likely shop. They’ll likely trade one or the other before the deadline. Lowry has come back down to earth after playing extremely well early in the season and he has had trouble staying healthy. Calderon, on the other hand, is an unrestricted free agent after this season and will likely walk if he’s not given the starting job. The Raptors will likely have to trade one or the other because their point-guard-by-committee plan hasn’t worked. Trade Lowry and re-sign Calderon as the starter. Trade Calderon and insert Lowry back into the starting lineup. Either way, Toronto has to trade one because it doesn’t make sense to have two starting-caliber point guards on the roster when they have many other holes that need to be filled. The Raptors are definitely a team to watch as the deadline approaches.
Houston finally landed a star player in James Harden and even though Rockets general manager Daryl Morey is saying that the team needs stability now rather than more turnover, he’d likely make a second blockbuster trade if it meant he could acquire a second star to put alongside Harden. In recent years, Morey has been one of the most active general managers at the trade deadline so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him pull off another trade. Houston still has plenty of attractive assets (Chandler Parsons, Marcus Morris, Patrick Patterson, Terrence Jones, Donatas Motiejunas, Greg Smith, etc.) and the flexibility to make a deal.
Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers have been working the phones, but whether they’ll be able to find a trade partner remains to be seen. Pau Gasol has been mentioned the most in trade rumors, but how many executives will pay $19,000,000 this season and $19,285,850 next season for a 32-year-old who’s declining and missing games due to injuries? The Lakers have also explored several minor moves, shopping Chris Duhon (whose contract is non-guaranteed next season) and Steve Blake. Now, with the recent dominance of Earl Clark, do the Lakers look to move him while his trade value is at an all-time high? L.A. is weighing their options and talking to teams, but it’ll be difficult for them to find a trade worth completing. There certainly doesn’t seem to be a blockbuster move out there that can save their season. That is, unless they move Dwight Howard, which sources close to the situation insist won’t happen.
Orlando is an intriguing team to keep an eye on. The Magic could by sellers at the trade deadline, moving veterans like J.J. Redick, Glen Davis, Jameer Nelson and Al Harrington to acquire players that will be part of their long-term plan and ensure more playing time for their young players. Or, the Magic could by buyers at the trade deadline using their $17.8 million traded-player exception and attractive assets such as Nikola Vucevic, Maurice Harkless or Andrew Nicholson to bring in an available star. Few teams have the players and flexibility to go either way at the deadline, but Orlando does. It’ll be interesting to see what Rob Hennigan decides to do. The most likely outcome is that the Magic are sellers, since they’ve slipped in the standings and Hennigan has made it clear from day one that he’s building for the future by developing the team’s young players and stockpiling draft picks.
The Jazz find themselves in the same boat as the Magic. With a mix of young, developing players and notable, proven veterans, Utah has to decide which direction to go in at the trade deadline. Will the Jazz bolster their roster for a playoff push since they sit just half a game outside of the playoff picture in the Western Conference? Will the Jazz trade away Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson and usher in a youth movement? Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter seem ready for more minutes, but Millsap and Jefferson (who will be unrestricted free agents after the season) stand in their way. The Jazz will have some tough decisions to make in the next month and they’re keeping their cards close to their chest. Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey is following the San Antonio Spurs’ model by refusing to talk about the team’s approach to the deadline.
Other Trade Notes
• The Washington Wizards may look to make a deal, but don’t expect them to part ways with Brad Beal. They see him as a cornerstone of their franchise and likely won’t move him.
• The Boston Celtics were very active up until recently. While they could still make a move before the deadline, the team’s current six-game winning streak may have changed their outlook.
• The Phoenix Suns have taken a step back this year and they aren’t happy with their 13-27 record. The Suns could be players at the deadline. Also, Michael Beasley hasn’t fit in and could be moved.
• The Sacramento Kings have been mentioned because of Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins, but don’t expect them to make a blockbuster move or take on any money with the team’s future up in the air.
• The Portland Trail Blazers have said that they’re open to making a trade, but only if it fits into their long-term plan. They aren’t moving any of their young pieces and won’t jeopardize their long-term flexibility.
Hobson Making a Comeback
Darington Hobson, who was drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks in 2010, is healthy and looking to resume his NBA career. Shortly after being drafted by the Bucks, Hobson was complaining of pain in his groin. It turned down he was experiencing the pain as a result of alignment issues with his hips. He needed surgery on his right and left hip, which sidelined him for over a year. Now, he’s healthy and playing with the Santa Cruz Warriors of the NBA Development League. HOOPSWORLD’s Yannis Koutroupis recently caught up with Hobson at the D-League Showcase in Reno. Check out the interview: