Thursday’s NBA trade deadline will put an end to what’s been one of the most movement-heavy regular seasons in awhile. Several prominent names––Rajon Rondo, Jeff Green, Dion Waiters, JR Smith––have already been dealt this season, and there are more prominent names currently on the block, meaning there’s a chance we could see more contending teams turn into buyers at the deadline.
The league-leading Warriors, currently sitting pretty at 42-9, haven’t been very active in working the trade market, but they’re just about the only team that hasn’t. Most of the teams racing for the playoffs are positioning themselves to add to their rosters to fix a small kink or two, and if they find the right price before Thursday, expect teams to pull the trigger.
Reports are trickling in that guys like Enes Kanter and Ty Lawson will only be available if an amazing offer is presented, so here’s a shopping list of needs, along with realistic solutions, for contenders looking to perfect their rosters.
Atlanta Hawks: “Three-and-D” wing player — Many believe the Hawks could use an extra big, citing their low offensive and average overall rebounding rates. However, the low rate on offensive boards is by design in coach Mike Budenholzer’s system, which holds ORBs in low regard, preferring instead to get back on defense.
What Atlanta could use is another shooter/defender type who rebounds the ball at the defensive end of the floor to replace Thabo Sefolosha. While it seems Sefolosha might never regain the shooting touch he once had, he has still played great defense and rebounding his position extremely well for the Hawks this year, which is all they’ve asked given their ability to space the floor at every other position on offense. If he’s out for an extended period, they’d like to replace him with another wing who can swallow up possessions on defense.
Chicago Bulls: shooter — While Tony Snell has given the Bulls some nice play while recently filling in for Jimmy Butler, regression suggests he won’t be able to sustain it, which means Chicago will need to find another shooter on the wing. When Mike Dunleavy went down, Chicago’s offensive spacing took a real hit, demonstrating his value to the team.
Chicago has a few intriguing assets, and they’ve been linked to Arron Afflalo as well. One of those assets is Doug McDermott, the rookie who has missed most of the season after undergoing knee surgery in November, so perhaps the Bulls could find the answer on their own roster.
Los Angeles Clippers: wing player — Zach Lowe touched on this recently, but the Clippers could really use another three-point shooter on offense, as teams don’t respect Matt Barnes as a floor-spacer despite his average three-point percentage. That affects LA’s spacing just as much as someone who can’t shoot, but unfortunately, the team doesn’t have the assets available to fix that problem. Expect them to be scouring the buyout market and even take a chance on a guy who creates positional matchup issues such as Andray Blatche. Doc Rivers has shown he’s not averse to taking on difficult personalities.
Memphis Grizzlies: fourth big man — After Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph, and Kosta Koufos, the Grizzlies have Jon Leuer, and he has not played well. Memphis has given the former Wisconsin player many opportunities to thrive off the bench, and he has proven unable to contribute in any meaningful way. He’s unable to stretch the floor on offense, and on defense, his bad footwork makes it difficult to guard quicker stretch-fours, while stronger power forwards will simply destroy him on the block. Leuer is just OK at some things, which means he’d be better suited as an end-of-the-bench big.
The Grizzlies already patched up their wing issues by adding Green, so expect them to be similarly aggressive in filling one of this team’s few flaws, perhaps looking at someone like the Kings’ Jason Thompson or even Quincy Acy from the Knicks. Another note to consider: Memphis has a reclamation project in Tyrus Thompson cooking in the D-League.
Oklahoma City Thunder: wing scorer — We saw what the Thunder were going for with their Dion Waiters trade from a few weeks ago, but after a brief honeymoon there, Waiters’ play has plateaued, leaving OKC still looking for a secondary ballhandler to lead their second unit and score the ball. They thought they had that with either Reggie Jackson or Waiters, and now it seems questionable if either will be up for it.
The team has already been linked to Arron Afflalo, whom the Nuggets are believed to be seeking multiple first-round draft choices for, and Denver is dangling Wilson Chandler for a similar price. Given that the Thunder already dealt their first-round pick away in the Waiters deal, it seems like those two teams might have to get creative to finish a deal. Alex Kennedy from Basketball Insiders tweeted that both are being aggressive, though, and suggested the two parties could resort to compromising with one another should they fail to get anything else done.
Toronto Raptors: fourth big man — Toronto’s pursuit of David West seems dead at this point, but they’d still like to replace Tyler Hansbrough with a better fourth big. Their options will be similar to the Grizzlies, though it seems like the Raptors might be seeking a big of an even higher caliber. If they can close a deal this week, Terrence Ross could be the kicker; Toronto has long been unwilling to include Ross in any deal.
Washington Wizards: backup point guard, shooter — The Wizards are believed to be seeking a quick backup for John Wall since Andre Miller has fallen off. The team has allegedly inquired about Jameer Nelson from Boston, but outside of Nelson, there doesn’t seem to be many options like that available. The Pistons just resorted to signing John Lucas III in their quest for a similar guard. The Wiz might have a tough time finding either a backup PG or a rotation shooter at a fair price, and might be forced to resort to the buyout market or the recent influx of players from the conclusion of the Chinese Basketball Association’s season.