With the February 23 trade deadline fast approaching, several NBA teams are pressed to make major moves. Contenders such as the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Los Angeles Clippers are looking to add more pieces to get deep in the playoffs. Middling teams, meanwhile, are looking to get rid of high-prized assets and some are even looking at a complete rebuild. Here are some of the teams that are looking to trade:
1) New York Knicks – Knicks president Phil Jackson has been vocal in his attempt to trade the team’s erstwhile superstar forward Carmelo Anthony. Despite his obvious scoring prowess and ability to play multiple positions, Anthony simply doesn’t have the leadership and killer instinct needed to go deep into the playoffs. He is arguably one of the best players never to play in an NBA Finals game. Anthony has been involved in several trade rumors the past few weeks but it would be difficult at best to move him. For starters, he has a no trade clause. Second, teams are simply not willing to let go of any superstar for Anthony. The drama continues in New York!
2) Boston Celtics – Several years into their rebuild, the Celtics are coming into their own and are arguably the second best team in the Eastern Conference. However, Danny Ainge and his brain thrust know that they simply don’t have enough firepower to match up with the Cleveland Cavaliers come playoff time. The Celtics were smart enough to parlay their ageing stars namely Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce for draft picks, shortchanging the Brooklyn Nets in the process. The Celtics have a lot of young talent (and draft picks) to trade away and get another superstar to partner with center Al Horford. Happy days are back in the Garden.
3) Los Angeles Clippers – The Clippers have been the second best team in the Western Conference and their road to the NBA Finals got bleaker when the Golden State Warriors acquired Kevin Durant in the offseason. As it stands, the Clippers are once again banking on their trio of superstars (Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan) to bring them to the promised land, a method that has failed time and again. To contend, the Clippers need to bring in more talent. The Knicks are reportedly interested in making a one-on-one trade for Blake Griffin for Carmelo Anthony, a scenario that I don’t see happening. Why pay in full, when you can get Anthony for a big discount.
4) Philadelphia 76ers – After years of tanking or deliberately losing games to get high draft picks, the 76ers are now loaded with young bigs, creating a logjam at the center position. The 76ers have Joel Embiid, Nerlens Noel, and Jahlil Okafor to trade and they are reportedly shopping Okafor for a true point guard to make their team more balanced (and competitive). Philadelphia has more talent coming in soon once the league’s No.1 draft pick Ben Simmons returns from injury. Look for them to trade for Jrue Holiday of the Pelicans or Brandon Knight of the Suns.
5) Denver Nuggets – Like the Celtics, the Nuggets have a right collection of young talent and veterans to make a deal before the deadline. The Nuggets are one of a handful of teams that are below the NBA’s salary floor of $85 million with a payroll of just under $77 million. This means they have the flexibility to absorb more contracts and still not pay the luxury tax.