Thursday should be a fun day in the NBA as teams race to make trades before the 3 p.m. ET deadline. And with that, here are eight teams that will be most active in the coming days.
The Celtics have the goods to make a large trade, namely three first-round draft picks in 2016 from Brooklyn, Dallas and Minnesota. Asked his goals for the deadline, president of basketball operations Danny Ainge told the Boston Herald, “To help our team become better — not short-term better, but short- and long-term better. And not at the expense of wrecking our future.”
“When I’m looking at players out there, I’m looking at players that can make a big difference,” he said, “not players that can win us two games or anything like that. That’s not my objective.” A Western source confirmed the Celtics were one of several teams calling the Los Angeles Clippers to see if Blake Griffin is available. They also reportedly engaged the Houston Rockets in talks about a possible deal for Dwight Howard, according to the Daily News.
Toronto is looking to add big man depth at the trade deadline, sources say. From Marc Stein and Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com:
The Raptors are chasing a power forward this week. Sources say Brooklyn’s Thaddeus Young, New Orleans’ Ryan Anderson, Denver’s Kenneth Faried and the Phoenix duo of Markieff Morris and P.J. Tucker have all been pursued this month by the East’s No. 2 team.
What the Raptors have to offer: a 2016 first-round draft pick from the Knicks and a 2017 first-round draft pick from the Clippers.
New York Knicks
Knicks president Phil Jackson said he hopes to make an impactful trade before the deadline. “We’re looking to improve this ballclub, there’s no doubt,” he said to reporters this month after firing Derek Fisher. “We know that we have some good guys. The chemistry is pretty good. The talent can still be better. It always can, so we’re looking.” Jackson specifically mentioned Carmelo Anthony and rookie Kristaps Porzingis as players on the roster who would be off-limits in trade talks.
Sources say the Knicks are looking to upgrade at point guard. From Stein and Windhorst on ESPN.com:
The Knicks, who also strongly covet [Jeff] Teague in their search for a front-line point guard, are trying their best to get a team interested in Jose Calderon and the $7.7 million owed to the Spaniard next season. Sources say New York is talking up Calderon’s leadership qualities and, in some cases, offering to include big man Kyle O’Quinn to sweeten proposals.
Jackson’s club might need to get a third team — such as the Celtics, with their large stock of draft picks — involved if it hopes to obtain an elite player, Ian Begley of ESPN.com writes.
The Heat finalized a three-team trade Tuesday with the Memphis Grizzlies and Charlotte Hornets that sent veteran center Chris Andersen to Memphis, netted Miami backup point guard Brian Roberts from Charlotte and helped reduce the team’s luxury tax by nearly $6 million, per the Miami Herald. But with Chris Bosh’s return this season questionable due to a blood clot in his calf, the Heat could be looking to do more deals before the deadline.
The New York Daily News‘ Frank Isola reported that the Rockets and Heat are discussing a deal that would include both Howard and Miami center Hassan Whiteside, who is a free agent after this season and could command a max-type contract. Whiteside, 26, will get some attention if the Heat are willing to part with him.
The Mavericks are looking for more depth in the front court, and they could get that from the Denver Nuggets if they’re willing to deal either J.J. Hickson or Kenneth Faried. The problem is: They don’t have assets to wheel and deal like they used to. They traded away their 2016 first-round pick to Boston, and it’s unlikely they trade some of the young talent on their roster such as Justin Anderson or Dwight Powell.
Still, it’s possible we see the Mavericks opt for smaller trades to solidify the bench.
Los Angeles Clippers
Right now, the Clippers are dangling a highly coveted asset in Griffin, who may or may not be available depending on who you ask. But if he is, you can bet there will be several teams looking to nab the All-Star big man. From Isola of the New York Daily News:
The Clippers are making Blake Griffin available even though the injured forward is recovering from a second surgical procedure to his right (punching) hand and may not play again this season, especially if he’s traded to a team out of the playoff race.
Head coach Doc Rivers, meanwhile, maintains that the Clippers aren’t trading Griffin, who injured his hand in an altercation with a team equipment staffer last month. Several teams have come out of the woodwork to inquiry about Griffin’s availability, but it’s no guarantee he’ll be traded. If they do, however, the Clippers can expect a big haul in return, one that might help them in the future if a team is willing to make draft picks a part of the deal.
Disgruntled power forward Markieff Morris wants out of Phoenix, and the Suns are motivated to honor Morris’ desire for a trade, per Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. But the Suns want a first-round draft pick and a younger player included in the package to get Morris, otherwise the Suns could hold onto Morris past the deadline and trade him in the offseason.
League sources say the Cavaliers would covet a star in return if they reached the point of letting Kevin Love go, according to Stein and Windhorst. But Cleveland has maintained that Love is going nowhere. However, the Cavaliers are interested in adding to their bench. From Stein and Windhorst on ESPN.com:
Sources say that the Cavs, though, have been more and more active in recent days in pursuing upgrades to their bench, with center Timofey Mozgov and swingman Iman Shumpert — both in the midst of down seasons after their midseason arrivals in 2014-15 — said to be available. Players who interest Cleveland, sources say, include dream target Kyle Korver (who would naturally be very difficult to pry from Atlanta) and Kings reserves Ben McLemore and Kosta Koufos.
Cleveland needs to make a deal in order to contend with powerhouse west teams Golden State and San Antonio down the road, but moving Love doesn’t seem like the answer. Instead, look for them to build up the back end of the roster to get back to the finals.