NBA trade deadline: Will basketball be rocked by a blockbuster trade?
Robbie Purves | February 10, 2016
As the All-Star weekend drew to a close and Russell Westbrook lifted his second consecutive All-Star game MVP trophy, the eyes of basketball turned to the trade deadline.
It’s the time of year when the imagination of fans run wild with the thought of a blockbuster trade to their team. Could your team land a superstar? Could your team make a move that propels them to be Championship contenders?
Most trades happen during the last hour or two before the deadline, so clear your schedule and get dreaming.
Let’s take a look at some of the potential movers in the market come deadline day.
Boston Celtics could bide their time
When it comes to trade currency, the Boston Celtics are loaded.
General Manger, Danny Ainge, is sitting on a heap of valuable draft picks, and their roster is mostly comprised of intriguing prospects, particularly Marcus Smart and Avery Bradley.
The shamrocks have been crying out for a superstar since the likes of Kevin Garnett left and Boston have the assets and cap space to do it. Linked with the likes of Kevin Love, Al Horford and DeMarcus Cousins, the C’s could be potential deadline day headline makers.
Al Horford is probably the most likely to head to the Celtics this week and would propel the team to another level. Boston sit third in the Eastern Conference and are a superb 25/1 to win to conference with Coral but with the addition of a superstar, could overtake LeBron James’ Cavaliers and have a reasonable postseason.
However, the Celtics don’t have to make a move. They can bide their time and wait for a potential superstar in the draft or free agency. Kevin Durant, anyone?
Brooklyn need to hit the reset button
Brooklyn Nets sit second bottom of the Eastern Conference and are a 1000/1 rank outsiders to finish top in the East; that tells you a lot.
After the infamous 2013 Celtics swap in which Brooklyn traded their future away for ageing stars Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce for postseason success, the Nets were in a mess. A mire they are yet to get out of.
Brooklyn need to reset. They desperately need to trade, but are nearly completely devoid of assets.
Center Brook Lopez is one name they could potentially trade. In return, the Nets should look to reclaim some of the draft picks they lost or young prospects that could turn into players they could trade in the future.
However, Lopez’s expensive contract and declining value weakens Brooklyn’s negotiation position and limits potential suitors.
Cavaliers try to catch Warriors
Cleveland Cavaliers are far behind Golden State in terms of overall talent and, in their search to overcome the Warriors in the coming Playoffs, may be busy come deadline day.
As Timofey Mozgov falls out of rotation, Cleveland need some interior defensive strengthening. The Cavaliers already have enough scoring in the form of Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving and LeBron James and could easily support a specialist rim protector.
A real must for Cleveland is an outside scorer with three point sniper Kyle Korver being a potential target. He may be out of their price range but it is crucial they widen their attacking portfolio.
Cleveland are second-favourites to win the NBA Championship at 11/4, but will have some difficulty catching the flying Golden State.
Howard heading for Houston exit
He may be the biggest name in the trade rumour mill, but Dwight Howard isn’t the most talented.
With an injury-plagued back and bad knees, the 30-year-old seems to be heading for the exit door. Houston Rockets are struggling and, with Howard likely to hit free agency in summer, they have started offering the eight time All-Star around.
Houston would be wise to move on Howard this week and not risk losing him in summer for free. The Rockets already have a replacement in Clint Capela. Boston has been speculated as a potential destination, but Danny Ainge is reluctant to deal any of their valuable assets for an ageing star.
Knicks search for point guard
Carmelo Anthony is unlikely to leave New York Knicks, despite rumours he was to be involved in a three-way trade that would involve Love moving to Boston and Anthony heading to Cleveland.
He possesses a ‘no trade clause’ in his contract, so he will be in New York as long as he wants to.
The Knicks struck gold when they picked Kristaps Porzingis in last year’s draft and hasn’t looked out of place next to Anthony. To take this team to the next level, they need a quality point guard. Their starter in that berth, Jose Calderon, is among the worst in the league when you factor in his abysmal defence.
Someone like Jeff Teague or Brandon Jennings would raise both Anthony and Porzingis’ game and put them into conference contender territory. The Knicks are currently 100/1 to win the Eastern Conference but a deal for quality point guard could seriously change their prospects next season.
Thunder search for defensive sharpshooter
The Western Conference is so immensely competitive at the moment. Oklahoma City Thunder posses two of the NBA’s top five players, yet the gap between them and the Warriors is huge.
Kevin Durant will stay in Oklahoma and is committed to causing problems for the Spurs or Warriors, come Playoff time.
However, Durant could move in the summer. The Warriors could be a destination but may not want to tinker with something that is working so well in Oakland. Los Angeles could be another possible destination, as the Lakers look to build post Kobe Bryant.
Oklahoma should look for a mixture of what they already have. Anthony Morrow’s sharpshooting, Dion Waiters’ athleticism and Andre Roberson’s defence. They need one person to do that job, not three.
The problem is there just isn’t many players on the market that can do that and, when a three point shooter and defensive specialist comes on the market, there is fierce competition. Someone like Courtney Lee will be within their budget and do a job.
The Thunder are 9/1 to win NBA title and could cause some trouble for the Warriors or San Antonio Spurs in the postseason.
Will the two titans tinker?
San Antonio Spurs have been one of the best run franchises in the league and this season will be no different. San Antonio are 45-8, have two 2016 All-Stars and three future Hall of Famers beside them. Gregg Popovich’s men are in such a great place they can afford to give this deadline a miss.
Popovich continues to produce great teams and will not want to tamper with a winning formula.
Golden State are firm favourites to win their second consecutive NBA Championship at 5/4 and are on track to do it. The Warriors are likely to be quiet on the trade front and stick with the superb line up that has them at 48-4.
What will be interesting is how the Warriors react when Kevin Durant becomes available this summer, will they want to change a historically dominant team? Durant could take them to an even higher level, a level never seen before. However, it may cause disruption within the team but is a risk they may take.