This year’s trade deadline is quickly approaching, and while we’ve already seen some blockbuster deals go down, there are still plenty of things to be on the lookout for ahead of the February 8th deadline. For some teams, the trade deadline offers a chance to make those final roster moves that may vault them into contention.
For others, the deadline serves as an opportunity to hit the reset button and part ways with valuable assets that might be more coveted elsewhere. Regardless of their situation, every team will at least look to explore the market over the next week, searching for a way to bolster their roster or draft capital. Here’s a look at the teams and players to watch at this year’s trade deadline:
Teams to Watch
This Nets team just feels like it was made to create drama at the trade deadline. The roster clearly lacks star power, and is basically a group of high-level role players thrown around an overstretched Mikal Bridges. The good thing about high-level role players?
Everyone wants them. Dorian Finney-Smith, Royce O’Neale, Spencer Dinwiddie, Dennis Smith Jr., and even Nic Claxton will all be hot commodities at this year’s deadline.
However, the Nets seem to be reluctant to trade them. Since Brooklyn owes their 2024 first-round pick to Houston as a result of the James Harden trade, they have no real incentive to trade away all of their vets and throw the towel in on this season.
The Nets vision after the trades of Irving and Durant were of a “retool”, not a rebuild. It doesn’t seem like they are too motivated by the idea of starting from scratch, and I think they want to stay competitive in hopes of luring in the next superstar that enters free agency or requests a trade. Keep an eye on how the Nets decide to handle their veterans at the deadline, and how high their asking prices might be.
Los Angeles Lakers
You can officially check “struggling LeBron James led Lakers team looks to make big moves at the trade deadline” off your 2023/24 NBA bingo card. In what seems like an annual tradition, LeBron’s Lakers once again find themselves needing a big mid-season move to truly be taken serious as contenders.
Although Rob Pelinka saved the season with a masterful deadline last year, this one seems a bit trickier. Austin Reaves is the most valuable asset on the team not named LeBron James or Anthony Davis, but the Lakers would only want to move him if they got a bonafide star in return. D’Angelo Russell has caught fire as of late and has put the Lakers front office in a real bind.
He’s seemingly been on the trade block ever since his plane landed in L.A., and now the Lakers need to figure out whether a guy like Dejounte Murray is a big enough upgrade worth trading for. Besides Reaves and Russell, the Lakers don’t have anyone that could bring in a star level player, so they will likely do most of their work around the edges of this roster, much like last year.
Outside of a Conference Finals run in 2022, Luka Doncic’s Mavericks have made a living in the middle of the Western Conference. There has always been a significant talent shortage around Doncic, but this year feels a bit different.
Kyrie Irving is playing at an All-Star level (when healthy), Tim Hardaway Jr. is having the best season of his career, and rookie Dereck Lively II brings a level of athleticism to the frontcourt that Luka has never had. It makes me wonder if they are ready to take a swing at a third “star” and really make a push towards the top of the conference.
Jerami Grant and Kyle Kuzma are a couple of names that could provide the Mavs with a little extra firepower alongside their two stars. Dallas has a plethora of tradeable contracts in the 2-12 million dollar range, and they don’t seem to be hell-bent on keeping any of them around. Andrew Wiggins could be a nice buy-low candidate for the Mavs as well. Even if Dallas doesn’t take that big swing, I expect them to be active over the next few days.
Other team that might be active: Utah Jazz, Golden State Warriors, Sacramento Kings
Players to Watch
Derozan is quietly having another really solid season in Chicago. The 34-year old will enter unrestricted free agency this summer, and all signs point to him leaving the Bulls. Chicago’s front office has found a way to stretch out the Lavine/Derozan/Vucevic experiment long enough, and trading Derozan right now seems like a no-brainer.
Even if they can’t quite get the value they want out of him, anything is better than nothing. Derozan is still good enough to net Chicago some legitimate draft capital or a few young players to kickstart their impending rebuild. This all sounds pretty simple, but gets tougher when you think about how many teams would really want to trade for him right now.
He is most valuable on a team that might be one piece away from contention (think Lakers, Warriors), but among that group of teams, very few have the desire or capital to make that move. Be on the lookout for a Derozan trade, and if there is one, don’t be surprised if the return is less than you thought.
Dejounte Murray might be the most popular player on the market this year. Atlanta has made it public knowledge that Murray is on the trade block along with the majority of their roster. He is an enticing player, and one of the few on the market that has a chance to tip the scale for a middling team.
He’s not the defender he once was, but is still an elite midrange scorer and someone that could thrive in a tertiary offensive role. There’s also reason to believe his defense will pick back up if he gets surrounded with other good defenders, something the Hawks don’t have.
The Lakers and Warriors have been rumored to be interested in Murray, looking for that missing piece that could cure their disappointing seasons. A couple of first-round picks and a decent young player seems like enough to pry Murray out of Atlanta, and is something that both the Lakers and Warriors could offer.
Brown was dealt to Toronto a few weeks back as a part of the trade that sent Pascal Siakam to the Indiana Pacers. While Brown is an extremely solid, championship-proven player, there doesn’t seem to be a need for his services in Toronto right now. The Raptors have hit the reset button and it’s unlikely that Brown is a long-term piece for them.
It would be in their best interest to flip Brown for another young player or some draft capital, and I doubt they would have a hard time doing that. After last season’s playoff run in Denver, Bruce Brown established himself as one of the most dependable role players in the league, something every championship contender would want.
There will be a countless number of teams calling about Brown’s availability, and it makes sense for Toronto to be open for discussion. A first-round pick and some salary filler might be enough for a team like the Clippers to bring him in, and that’s a low asking price for a player who could get you over the top. I fully expect Brown to be in another jersey by this time next week.
Other players to watch: Andrew Wiggins, Bobby Portis, Grant Williams, Jerami Grant, Malcolm Brogdon, Miles Bridges, Alec Burks, Harrison Barnes
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