Ranking buyers and sellers at the NBA Trade Deadline

Anything seems possible for this NBA Trade Deadline, from mass chaos to quiet whimper. Which teams could control the action as buyers and sellers?

We’re about two weeks away from the NBA Trade Deadline and the rumors appear to be building to a crescendo. However, there have also been some signs that it may all be sound and fury signifying nothing. Teams like the Pacers, Jazz, Hawks and Rockets who once seemed destined for lots of action have broadcast a willingness to stay the course.

The number of deals we get may come down to the pressures on just a handful of teams as buyers and sellers. Here’s how I see the teams with the most incentive and the most potential pieces to sow chaos.

Most likely to be active buyers at the NBA Trade Deadline

3. Dallas Mavericks — The Mavericks have precious little flexibility but they also have to do something. Their at risk of wasting another season of Luka Doncic, drawing closer to the end of his contract and, maybe, his patience with the organization. They’ll have to get creative to manage anything significant but they seem almost guaranteed to make some kind of trade.

2. Phoenix Suns — Things have gone off the rails quickly for the Phoenix Suns and they’ve been rumored to be in pursuit of all sorts of players from John Collins to Kyle Kuzma. Any trade would require some big changes but standing pat is looking is increasingly untenable.

1. Los Angeles Lakers — Everyone knows the Lakers will be exploring every option for an upgrade and their 2027 and 2029 first-round picks, the collateral they have to seal any big deal, are likely the most attractive draft assets that could be on the move (considering LeBron is likely to be gone by then). It’s not clear if they’ll decide to actually make a big move but they have the most incentive of any team and the means to make almost anything happen.

Most likely to be active sellers at the NBA Trade Deadline

3. San Antonio Spurs — Everyone knows the Spurs are looking to sell and their college of veterans — Jakob Poeltl, Josh Richardson and Doug McDermott — should have plenty of utility to contenders, both actual and aspiring. They’re currently posturing with some enormous asking prices but they’ll almost certainly move all three before the deadline.

2. Detroit Pistons — The Pistons have a similar set of veterans but with slightly more appealing value. The Pistons have said they’re willing to hold Bojan Bogdanovic but teams are going to throw some big offers at them and Nerlens Noel and Alec Burks could be moved as well.

1. Toronto Raptors — The Raptors have a half-dozen players who will draw significant interest — Gary Trent Jr., Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby, Thad Young — and trading one seems like it would make it more likely that multiple players are traded. If the dam breaks and they start selling it could quickly become a firesale.

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