By John Henry
With the NBA trade deadline looming, Thursday February 10th, I have compiled a list of the teams who I expect to be the most active next week retooling their roster; some to push for a deep playoff run and some to begin building for a better roster in future seasons.
Chicago Bulls: With Patrick Williams, a promising young forward injured, The Bulls need to address their defensive weakness at Power Forward. Their 4 core guys, Ball, Lavine, Derozan and Vucevic are terrific but as Vucevic is by no means an elite defender and their roster’s lack of Depth at PF and C, the Bulls need to address their one roster weakness. A name floating in trade rumors is Jerami Grant of Detroit. Grant is a quality defender and solid scorer that could help solidify their roster. The most tradeable asset for the Bulls is guard Coby White. Lonzo Ball has obtained his starting role this season and Caruso is a solid reserve defensive guard. The Bulls should look for a move to obtain a solid Power Forward by moving White and other draft assets.
Philadelphia 76ers: Can they obtain Bradley Beal? An all-star shooter to put with Embiid is potentially the one player that could instantly put the 76ers in championship contention. The problem is what will the 76ers have to include in a Ben Simmons package to obtain Beal? Despite having an option to opt out of his contract and become an unrestricted free agent this summer, there will be a very high price tag for Bradley Beal. The 76ers are going to have to be willing to trade future draft capital and a promising young wing in Tyrese Maxie to obtain Bradley Beal. Despite the high price tag, the trade makes sense for the 76ers as they have one of the elite Centers in his prime. Outside of Nikola Jokic, Joel Embiid is likely the best Center in the NBA and surrounding him with another All-Star could help put the 76ers as the elite team in the Eastern Conference. Bradley Beal is the only All-Star in his prime potentially available at the trade deadline and Daryl Morey needs to do whatever it takes to pair him with Embiid.
Charlotte Hornets: Plumlee…Zeller…Kaminsky…these are the names that have been associated with the Hornet’s center position for years. I think it is time for an upgrade! Miles Turner is one of the most undervalued elite defensive centers in the NBA and as the Pacers drift further and further out of playoff contention it might be time to package PJ Washington (an undersized Power Forward) and the Plumlee contract to acquire Turner. The Hornets may have to include some draft capital to make this trade happen but it could be well worth it. The Hornets paid to get Hayward, Miles is having a career season and Lamelo Ball has proven to be a future all-star (possibly even in this season). The eastern conference has improved over the past few years but an improved Hornets’ front line could help them compete in the playoffs.
Memphis Grizzlies: The Memphis Grizzlies have one of the best young guards, Ja Morant, in the entire NBA. The question is what can they do, to acquire enough talent to compete with the Suns and the Warriors in the west. The Grizzlies have a lot of young players on relatively inexpensive contracts they can package to obtain another player to help solidify their roster. Names such Harrison Barnes, Eric Gordan and Brandon Ingram are being involved in trade rumors. I think Ingram will have too high of a price tag to acquire but adding a veteran shooter in Eric Gordon or Harrison Barnes could help solidify their rotation. I think trying to move younger players like Dillon Brooks and Jarrett Culver could be enough to grab Barnes from the Kings. Barnes is a solid shooter and solid defender with ample playoff experience. Adding another veteran with Memphis’s young core could help them advance deeper in the playoffs.
Minnesota Timberwolves: The Timberwolves ‘buyers’ for the first time since they acquired Latrell Sprewell in the summer of 2003. The Minnesota Timberwolves have two expiring contracts (Patrick Beverely 14.3m and Taurean Prince 13.0m) that they could look to move this trade deadline. Packaging an expiring contract or two and draft picks could be enough to grab a veteran shooter like Eric Gordon or Harrison Barnes. The Timberwolves need good shooters to provide spacing around Anthony Edwards, D’angelo Russell and Karl Anthony Towns. Towns is playing the best basketball of his career this season and Edwards is potentially a future superstar. The Timberwolves need to avoid wasting this opportunity and build a stronger roster around their core guys.
Indiana Pacers: The Pacers have a solid roster but they are not winning. TJ Warren is injured and the front court duo of Miles Turner and Domantas Sabonis is not working. The Pacers can sacrifice this season by trading Caris Lavert and Miles Turner for some younger players and draft picks to help retool their roster next summer. Sabonis is their best player and they need to build their roster around him. Miles Turner as an elite defensive Center is likely the easiest player to move on their roster. I mentioned above trading him for PJ Washington, an expiring contract and a future draft pick. Teams beyond the Hornets will also be interested in Turner and he could net the Pacers a favorable trade package to help improve their roster for next season. There are too many better teams ahead of the Pacers in the Eastern Conference and the franchise needs to begin focusing on improving their roster for next season.
Washington Wizards: Despite a hot start to the season, the Wizards are currently in 12th place in the Eastern Conference. They got a great deal for Russell Westbrook but unfortunately the trade has not provided consistent winning. The Wizards need to find the team willing to trade the most future first round draft picks and promising young players for Bradley Beal. The team could ultimately be interested in a deal surrounding Ben Simmons but there are many other teams besides the 76ers who will be interested in Bradley Beal. All of the franchises in the western conference are chasing the Suns and Warriors and the teams in the west with the most draft capital could target Beal. A Bradley Beal trade would be blockbuster trade to help energize interest in the NBA with Football ending in two weeks.
Houston Rockets: It is time to flip Eric Gordon for draft assets. Eric Gordon is a good shooter and a good defender who could help round out a playoff team’s rotation. The Rockets are not trying to win right now and Gordon is the easiest piece to move for draft picks. The Rockets could also look to trade Christan Wood to a playoff team seeking a solid front court player. Rebuilding franchises seek expiring contracts, young players and draft picks in trades. A team will not necessarily need to quality players to the Rockets but simply lucrative future assets. Houston might have a fire sale over the next two weeks and all of their veteran players are likely open for trade discussion.
Sacramento Kings: Again, this team is currently going nowhere. They fired their coach earlier this season and they are the one team involved in the most trade rumors. The franchise has some quality veteran players (Harrison Barnes and Buddy Hield) that would appeal to playoff teams. Like Houston, Sacramento will be targeting draft picks and young players in trades. I do not see them putting together a package for Ben Simmons unless desperation forces the 76ers to include multiple first round draft picks. I expect the Kings to make some minor trades to playoff contending teams to help acquire future assets to build around their young and promising three guard rotation of Fox, Mitchell and Haliburton.
New Orleans Pelicans: It just is not working! Zion is constantly injured and the Devante Graham signing was pointless. The Pelicans have two very tradable assets, one a potential league altering blockbuster trade and one minor trade that will likely go under the radar. Brandon Ingram, an NBA All-Star, averaging 22.5ppg, is appealing to any team seeking a solid scoring Small Forward. Ingram is a former #2 overall draft pick and is an elite three tier scorer. Would Memphis go ‘all-in’ to acquire Ingram? Is Ingram the wing scorer the 76ers need to acquire for Ben Simmons? Would Ben Simmons and Zion Williamson work together? There are a lot of questions regarding the Pelicans future but the focus has to be putting the right team around Zion Williamson for next season. I like the idea of a Ben Simmons, Zion Williamson pick & roll offense with shooters and defenders surrounding them. There is a way to win with Simmons, he is an elite passer, rebounder and defender. The 76ers can offer the best trade package for Ingram but they could have their focus solely on Bradley Beal. It will be interesting to see if any team makes a strong enough offer to acquire Brandon Ingram. Now for the boring Pelicans trade, Jonas Valanciunas for an expiring contract and a future first round pick to a team seeking to solidify their front line. Another boring Valanciunas trade is what I fully expect to see at the trade deadline but let’s hope that instead there is a major Brandon Ingram involving three or four teams shaking up the NBA landscape!