NBA Trade Deadline Handicapping: Buyers and Sellers
The NBA trade deadline is approaching - trades must be completed by 3 p.m. ET on Feb. 7. Some years we see a whole lot of drama and excitement leading up to the deadline - like last year, for example, when big names were flying around. But this year doesn't feel like it is going to be like that. Things could change in a hurry if the Pelicans decided the time is right to move Anthony Davis, but they very likely won't. So, we are more likely to see support moves to add depth than blockbusters that will shake the foundation of the league. Here's a look at some of the teams that could be open for business and some of the more interesting players who could be in action.
Memphis: This is an interesting situation. The Grizzlies have struggled badly of late and aren't going anywhere. Rumors are flying now that Marc Gasol could opt out of the last year of his contract and become a free agent after this year. If that is true, then the Grizzlies could look to get some value back from him. And if they are going to do that, then they might look to really burn it to the ground and move Mike Conley Jr., who has two years left, as well. Both guys are getting older - Gasol in 33 and Conley is 31 - but they would be in demand if they are available and could be the biggest prizes of the market.
Dallas: Luka Doncic has been such a success in Dallas that Dennis Smith Jr., the point guard picked in the first round in 2017, has gone from young franchise centerpiece to expendable piece in half a season. Doncic has proven himself as a ball handler, so they don't need Smith, and the guard hasn't shown a willingness or ability to adjust his game to coexist with the Euro star. The Mavs will be selling for pennies on the dollar now that the situation has gotten ugly, but there will still be plenty of demand for the youngster - most likely among non-contenders looking to build their core for the future. The Suns and Magic have been among those most discussed.
Sacramento: The Kings are only a half game out of a playoff spot right now and are feeling hope like they haven't had in a very long time. If they feel like the playoffs are a real possibility, then they could look to add some pieces. The Kings have a couple of attractive expiring contracts to move and could be active - though they won't likely mortgage their future because even they are smart enough to know that making the playoffs is a lot easier in the West than winning a series. The one player who has been named as a target is an odd one - the team reportedly has interest in Jeremy Lin even though they have no shortage of decent guards already on the roster.
Atlanta: Lin isn't the only guy that could probably be had from the Hawks if the price is right. Lin will be in demand, but so will guys like Kent Bazemore and Dewayne Dedmon. The Hawks will likely be open for business.
New York: If the Knicks are ready to deal, they could have a very attractive piece as well. Enes Kanter is doubly attractive for teams - he is averaging a double-double on a terrible team, so he can help out on the court. And he is also on an expiring contract, so he doesn't cause long-term headaches. He's a bit of a dream rental, and a lot of teams are reportedly asking about him. If the Knicks start listening, then this could be a market maker heading to the deadline.
Orlando: The Magic are a brutal 19-24 on the season, but they are only a single game out of a playoff spot - that's how bad the bottom of the East is right now. If the Magic decide that they don't care about making the playoffs only to get swept in the opening round, then they could really be open for business. And there probably isn't too much they wouldn't at least consider doing. Terrence Ross and Jonathon Simmons are the most likely targets, but anyone, including Aaron Gordon or Nikola Vucevic, could probably be had if the price is right and the team decides to deal.
Miami: Wayne Ellington is a shooter, and teams love adding shooters in the stretch run, so the market will be strong here. The Lakers have been a recurring team that is named as they try to hold on to a playoff spot, and they won't be alone. Ellington's status allows him to veto any trade, so that adds a wrinkle.
Chicago: The season has gone as poorly as it possibly could for the Bulls so far, and they have a couple of pieces that are logical to move. Robin Lopez is working to negotiate a buyout - though the Bulls aren't super enthusiastic about it right now. If and when that happens, Lopez will be very popular. He will be harder to trade given his contract, though. And Jabari Parker has washed out already in Chicago and isn't playing, so he could be had easily - though it's tough to imagine a lot of teams that would want him right now.
Cleveland: J.R. Smith is still in limbo and likely still very much available. But he isn't getting any younger and hasn't been great the last couple of years, so you have to wonder if a contender would have any interest in dealing with his baggage.
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