Expecting deals as NBA trade deadline nears
February 06, 2018 3:03 AM
by Tony Mejia
It’s NBA trade deadline week, where contenders separate themselves from pretenders by pillaging them for assets. Teams put up or shut up.
The objective is to determine whether you can realistically win this June if you secure a boost now or whether it’s best to remain patient, preserve or acquire assets and save a little money if you’re dealing with the luxury tax.
Those who were inspired by Eagles coach Doug Pederson’s approach of throwing caution to the wind will have options with which to improve their teams, which means you’ll likely see futures altered by a few transactions this week. We’ll see if the books determine whether a splash significant enough to alter numbers is made, but there are a few teams worth keeping an eye on.
Oklahoma City GM Sam Presti always finds a way to give his team a chance, which will require some ingenuity this time around. The need is there, because the Thunder lost top defender Andre Roberson, whose ability to blend in perfectly with the team’s four other starters might be impossible to duplicate unless someone on the level of Avery Bradley can be secured.
Fortunately, Bradley is said to be available after just being acquired by the Clippers in the Blake Griffin trade to Detroit. L.A. is rebooting and simply looking for the best return it can get for its current pieces as the franchise takes a wrecking ball to the most successful group the team has assembled in decades.
It’s clear Clips owner Steve Ballmer understands it’s going to be nearly impossible to beat Golden State as things stand now, so building from scratch is the way to go. It’s absolutely the right move to get the most for DeAndre Jordan and Lou Williams, game-changers who should be able to fetch a nice return.
While the Warriors are rightfully a huge favorite – it’s hard to imagine a team beating them three times in a series, much less four – the teams that reach the Western Conference Finals and championship round are going to have the chance to let sports happen.
If an arms race breaks out this week, there are going to be some fun names switching hands. There isn’t a team out there that is satisfied with their rosters as is. Every team has a mistake to clear up or an upgrade in mind. The Clippers are sellers, while the Bulls have already made one move and will likely make at least another.
New Orleans, unwilling to allow DeMarcus Cousins’ season-ending injury end its pursuit of a second playoff berth led by Anthony Davis, added Nikola Mirotic. The Pelicans are going to have to outscore teams more given their new look, but clearly understand the need to assure Davis they’re willing to roll the dice to try to compete.
The Bulls are building with a young nucleus and have made center Robin Lopez available, so he’s another player who could join a playoff team’s rotation as a rim protector. Since Cleveland looks so vulnerable at the moment, it will be interesting to see which Eastern Conference teams decide to go for broke and try to snatch LeBron James’ crown off his head. Be it with the Cavs or Heat, he’s won an East title every season since 2011, but his team has never looked as vulnerable as it does today.
They’re obviously looking to do some restructuring and should have a busy week, but it remains to be seen how many teams smell blood in the water and come for the King. Danny Ainge still has young pieces other teams covet that can fetch some veteran help for Boston in addition to Greg Monroe, who the Celtics were able to sign after he was waived by Phoenix. Washington has little flexibility, but should find a way to improve its depth.
Toronto has pieces it can work with. The same can be said for Milwaukee, which also gets a boost with Jabari Parker returning from his latest knee injury. If he can stay healthy, the Bucks can really be a factor. Indiana has been surprisingly improved despite being forced to trade Paul George and hasn’t even had a healthy Myles Turner over the past month.
The Pacers could find a way to make the most of a second-half run. Detroit made its major move in acquiring Griffin, but now may find other pieces to build around him.
Houston and San Antonio, the two teams most likely to dethrone the Warriors, are also likely not done tweaking their rosters.
The Rockets are said to be testing the market for Ryan Anderson, which means they’re open to exploring all avenues. The Spurs’ hopes hinge on Kawhi Leonard and Rudy Gay returning to health, but they could always use additional firepower.
Count on there being plenty of news by Thursday, so if you haven’t made a move on an NBA future and are looking to do so now that the Super Bowl is over, be sure to wait to see how the week shakes out. It promises to be one of the wildest weeks of the season.