It’s that time of the year again. The NBA trade deadline is nearly here, and it couldn’t come soon enough for some teams.
Below is a list of six buyers and six sellers actively seeking trades at next week’s deadline.
It’s no secret that Boston needs to find scoring help for Kyrie Irving. Having the league’s best defensive rating is all well and good, but the Celtics won’t get very far this season if they continue to have issues scoring the ball. Boston’s offensive struggles have been especially noticeable when Irving goes to the bench.
Via Chris Forsberg of ESPN:
Boston owns an offensive rating of 108.2 with Irving on the floor this season, according to NBA Advanced Stats. That’s tied for the best on-court rating on the team with Al Horford, and is nearly four points higher than Boston’s season average.
But when Irving goes to the bench, Boston’s offensive rating dives to a team-worst 97.2. That means Boston is 11 points better per 100 possessions with Irving on the floor.
Lou Williams and Tyreke Evans are among the top available scorers on the trade market, capable of providing instant offense off the bench in Boston. If the Celtics are all in on winning a championship this season, they’ll swing a trade for either one.
Things have gone from bad to worse for Cleveland following a recent loss to the Detroit Pistons. On top of losing for the seventh time in 10 games, the Cavaliers were dealt a serious blow to their starting lineup in the form of an injury to Kevin Love, who will likely miss 6-8 weeks with a fracture in his left hand, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst.
Love’s injury will mean increased playing time for Jae Crowder, Channing Frye and Jeff Green, neither of whom can replicate the five-time All-Star’s production at both ends of the floor. In 48 games this season, Love leads the team in rebounding and is the second-leading scorer behind LeBron James. That being said, the Cavaliers figure to be one of the most active teams ahead of the trade deadline, as they look to capitalize on the championship window that is closing fast.
A little more than halfway through the season, the Mavericks own the worst record in the Western Conference, and will likely miss the playoffs for a second straight season, giving them free rein to pursue trades oriented toward the future. As an added bonus, Dallas can afford to take on additional salary at the trade deadline, assuming, of course, it brings draft picks or young talent in return.
At the same time, it’s worth mentioning that the Mavericks have players to sell as well. Devin Harris, Nerlens Noel and Salah Mejri are on expiring contracts, and all three could provide a contending team with minutes off the bench. Wesley Matthews is also in the conversation to be had, though it’s been reported by the New York Times‘ Marc Stein that Dallas wants a first-round pick for the veteran guard. Still, don’t count out the Mavericks as sellers ahead of the trade deadline.
When the Bucks traded away Greg Monroe last November in the deal to acquire Eric Bledsoe from Phoenix, they essentially sacrificed rebounding for more scoring, and it worked. The Bucks are the eighth-ranked team in offensive rating this season, according to NBA Advanced Stats. Problem is, they’re also the worst rebounding team in the league.
So it comes as no surprise that Milwaukee is exploring trade options for an upgrade at center. Basketball Insiders’ Steve Kyler reports the Bucks “have been linked” to Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan and “continue to be mentioned in NBA circles as having eyes for Miami’s Hassan Whiteside.” Either one of the those players would benefit the Bucks immensely this season as they look to move up in the Eastern Conference playoff standings.
New Orleans Pelicans
The recent loss of DeMarcus Cousins to a season-ending injury will no doubt put pressure on Pelicans GM Dell Demps to keep the team’s playoff hopes alive with a move at the trade deadline. In fact, the Pelicans had a deal in place to bring Nikola Mirotic from the Chicago Bulls to New Orleans in exchange for Omer Asik and a future first-round pick, but talks fell through when Mirotic, who has a no-trade clause in his contract, was unwilling to approve the deal without assurance that his $12.5 million team option for next season would get picked up, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
New Orleans was understandably hesitant to commit to Mirotic’s option for next season, knowing it might interfere with the team’s plans to re-sign Cousins in the offseason. It’s obvious the Pelicans need to do something ahead of the trade deadline. It’s just a matter of finding a deal that works for them.
Portland Trail Blazers
If Damian Lillard’s recent meeting with team owner Paul Allen is any indication of what to expect from Portland ahead of the trade deadline, then it sounds like the Trail Blazers are prepared to be buyers. Lillard reportedly met with Allen to discuss the direction of the team along with players to target in trades, per ESPN’s Chris Haynes.
Portland has made the playoffs in each of the past four seasons but has yet to advance to the second round. Among other things, the Trail Blazers could use some additional scoring off the bench, as they currently rank 25th in that category.
After a steady 10-year run in the playoffs, Atlanta is probably looking at a bottom-three finish in the Eastern Conference. All the more reason to unload the expiring contracts of Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova, both of whom could make an impact on contending teams.
Belinelli is averaging 11.1 points off the bench this season, and Ilyasova isn’t far behind with 10.9 points as a starter for the Hawks. As Basketball Insiders’ Michael Scotto reported, Atlanta is seeking a high second-round draft pick for either player, which would aid the team’s rebuilding efforts going forward.
Despite the trade for Mirotic to New Orleans falling apart, Chicago is still in a position to get a deal done for him ahead of the deadline. The Utah Jazz, who were in serious talks to bring Mirotic to Utah before the botched trade to New Orleans, will “continue their pursuit of the forward,” according to The Salt Lake Tribune‘s Tony Jones. The Bulls are eager to continue acquiring young assets after trading away Jimmy Butler this past offseason, and the return for a Mirotic-to-the-Jazz deal would help them do just that.
Los Angeles Clippers
In a surprising move that sent shock waves throughout the NBA, Los Angeles dealt superstar Blake Griffin to Detroit. Whether the Clippers are making room in free agency this summer or hitting the reset button altogether is unclear, but it’s only a matter of time before the rest of the dominoes fall. Jordan and Williams are among the top trade targets for several teams, and the Clippers are more than willing to move both veterans in exchange for young players and draft picks, according to Wojnarowski.
The amount of change that’s taken place on the Clippers’ roster as of late has been unreal. First Chris Paul, then Griffin, and before you knew it the best era in Clippers history had officially ended.
Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers would probably prefer to get this season over with and fast forward to free agency where they are expected to be huge players in the bidding for such stars as James and Paul George. But before that can happen, LA needs to shed some salary, and the front office is hoping to accomplish that by trading away some of the team’s younger players.
According to Wojnarowski, the Lakers have made Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle and Larry Nance Jr. available in trade talks. Clarkson is having another solid year in Los Angeles, and both Randle and Nance are averaging career-highs for scoring this season.
The loss of Mike Conley early on has made it virtually impossible for the Grizzlies to compete for a playoff spot in the West this season. Memphis appears destined for the lottery instead of a seventh straight playoff appearance, and it goes without saying that Evans is the team’s biggest trade chip.
At $3.29 million, Evan is the best bargain on the trade market, but be warned, he won’t come cheap. Memphis is reportedly seeking a first-round pick for the veteran guard. According to Keith Pompey of Philly.com, the Celtics, Cavaliers, Pelicans, Thunder, Heat and Rockets are among the teams that have contacted the Grizzlies about acquiring Evans’ services. It looks as if Memphis is exactly where it wants to be ahead of the trade deadline, dangling a sought-after asset for way more than he’s worth.
New York Knicks
Kristaps Porzingis wants the Knicks to be buyers at the trade deadline to improve their chances of making the postseason, but that’s unlikely to happen with so many of New York’s players garnering trade interest around the league. As Ian Begley of ESPN reported, several teams have expressed interest in Willy Hernangomez, Kyle O’Quinn, Enes Kanter and Courtney Lee.
The Knicks have yet to prove they’re a playoff team this season, so it only makes sense for them to sell at the trade deadline and build up their assets, which they don’t have very much of right now.