The NBA trade deadline is a month away, and there is plenty of chatter circulating among league executives about what might happen before the Feb. 9 deadline.
Several teams are maneuvering – trying to improve their rosters, reduce their payrolls, acquire draft picks, figure out if a player on an expiring contract is worth keeping or trading.
What will the Los Angeles Lakers do? Is Kyle Kuzma the most sought after player and will the Washington Wizards trade him? What’s going on with the Toronto Raptors?
Let’s take a look at some of the prominent teams and players ahead of the trade deadline:
Los Angeles Lakers
Interesting times for the Lakers. LeBron James, who is playing great regardless of his age, seems to want the Lakers to make a move. But with Anthony Davis injured and the Lakers in 13th place in the West (but just three games from fifth place), is there a deal that makes the Lakers anything better than a play-in participant and first-round exit? The time to make a deal was before the season. Will the Lakers make one ahead of the deadline or be content to celebrate James passing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on the NBA’s all-time scoring list and use their expected salary cap space in the summer to build a contender for 2023-24?
The Raptors are a hot topic. Will they blow it up? Make minor moves? Do nothing at all? It’s another interesting situation because the Raptors have players other teams want, including Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby, Fred VanVleet and Scottie Barnes, the 2021-22 Rookie of the Year. Adding intrigue is the contract situations: Siakam and Anunoby can become free agents in 2024, VanVleet a free agent following this season and Barnes is looking for a significant raise on a rookie extension. The 17-23 Raptors have financial decisions to make at some point. Keep this in mind, too: Under team president Masai Ujiri and general manager Bobby Webster, the Raptors are not known for major deals at the trade deadline. VanVleet is worth watching, and with his name linked to a possible Lakers deal, don’t discount a sly move for VanVleet by Orlando.
Kyle Kuzma and Kristaps Porzingis,
Kuzma and Porzingis are having career-best type seasons. They can become free agents after this season and can help a contending team. The Wizards have decisions to make. Keep them and try to re-sign them or make a deal for one or both at the trade deadline. While the Wizards aren’t tipping their hand privately or publicly, Wizards GM Tommy Sheppard is known for doing his due diligence. If Sheppard wanted to trade one and try to re-sign another, his best bet would be trading Kuzma and trying to convince Porzingis DC and the Wizards are for him.
The Hawks are willing to move forward John Collins for a shooting big, which is … what Collins is. Or used to be. Collins shot 40.1% on 3-pointers in 2019-20, 39.9% the following season and 36.4% last season. But he’s just at 22.9% this season. Changes are afoot in Atlanta. Travis Schlenk stepped down as president of basketball operations just before Christmas, and star guard Trae Young has clashed with head coach Nate McMillan. Two seasons removed from playing in the East finals, the Hawks are a play-in team headed toward the trade deadline. There is a market for Collins, and that includes Utah, Brooklyn and Dallas.
The Heat are notoriously tight-lipped about their plans. But around the league, it’s believed the Heat are willing to shed Kyle Lowry’s contract, which pays him $29.6 million in 2023-24. The Heat, who reached the Finals in 2020 and the conference finals last season, are 21-20 and in eighth place. Lowry is another player who has been linked to a potential deal with the Lakers, and Minnesota sending D’Angelo Russell to Miami for Lowry would net the Heat an expiring contract.
Following their fourth title in eight seasons, the Warriors have struggled with injuries, replacing key players and developing new rotations. Steph Curry returned Tuesday, but the loss to Phoenix dropped the Warriors to 20-21 and eighth place in the West. The Warriors believe they are title contenders until it’s proven they are not so they’ll explore roster improvements. But the bigger question surrounding the Warriors: Can they retain president of basketball operations Bob Myers, whose contract expires after this season? Warriors owner Joe Lacob says the franchise has made Myers two contract offers. There is speculation around the league that Myers, who has been instrumental in the Warriors’ roster building for the past decade, will become a free agent in the offseason and explore other NBA jobs.
Other news and nuggets
If teams are looking to take a flyer on 3-point specialist Joe Harris, who is shooting below his career average from deep, Brooklyn might be willing to do a deal. … Charlotte’s Jalen McDaniels is attracting attention from multiple teams, including the struggling Phoenix Suns, according to The Athletic. … The Utah Jazz are open to trades except deals that include potential All-Star Lauri Markkanen and rookie Walker Kessler. … The Los Angeles Clippers are in the market for a back-up center. … Detroit’s asking price for available players, including shooter Bojan Bogdanovic, is high, giving teams pause on a possible deal. … The upstart Cleveland Cavaliers are looking for that final piece – a 3-and-D wing.
Follow Jeff Zillgitt on Twitter @JeffZillgitt
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Lakers, Raptors, Heat could make moves at NBA trade deadline