With the NBA trade deadline approaching, there are teams that should be very active on the trade market. The Kristaps Porzingis trade has shocked NBA fans, but more are sure to come. These teams are all competing for a playoff spot, but need another push to be taken seriously. All of these teams are being reported to have interest in making a move before the NBA trade deadline. In this article, I break down what players they should be looking for and what affect trades could have on these teams.
As the Hornets remain on the edge of the playoffs, they look to add pieces to bolster their chances. The biggest move they’re trying to make is a Marc Gasol trade. Although Gasol may be past his prime, he is still a talented two-way player. The Hornets desperately need an upgrade at center given they currently are starting Cody Zeller and Bismack Biyombo is his backup.
Unless the Pistons make an insane run and the Hornets start playing sub-500, it’s unlikely the Hornets miss the playoffs, even without Gasol. Unfortunately, getting past the first round is the real challenge. With Gasol, the Hornets would be able to shore up their below average defense. Zeller may not be a disaster on defense, but Gasol outranks him in every defensive category (blocks, rebounds, steals, defensive win shares, defensive box plus-minus). Additionally, Gasol ranks 6th in defensive win shares and 14th in defensive box plus-minus, the two major advanced stats for defense. By acquiring Gasol, Charlotte can relegate Zeller to a bench role and no longer need to play Willy Hernangomez or Bismack Biyombo. Getting a better defensive center is the best way to improve a team’s defense. With this move, Charlotte defense should significantly improve.
Offensively, Kemba and Gasol could be a fun duo. They won’t be Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant, but they will be a good combo nonetheless. Cody Zeller’s extremely limited offensive skill set limits what Kemba can do on the court. If they run a pick and roll Zeller can’t pop out to shoot and isn’t a great finisher. On the other hand, Gasol finishes 68% of his baskets around the rim and is a capable outside shooter. This season Gasol is shooting 34.4% from behind the arc on 4.2 attempts a game. Zeller is attempting 0.5 three-pointers a game and making 0.1 a game. Gasol would no doubt make the Hornets better on both ends of the court.
Reports have mentioned increasing interest for the Jazz in a Mike Conley trade. This would be a huge move for the Jazz and push them into legitimate contention. Well, maybe not against this year’s Warriors, but against every other team. A deal for Conley would likely include Ricky Rubio and Derrick Favors as well as a first-round pick. It’s possible Dante Exum gets thrown in as well, but I would doubt it. Rubio and Favors are both on expiring deals, giving the Grizzlies great cap flexibility. The first round pick gives them some future assets.
This deal is likely the best they’ll get because, frankly, there’s not much of a market for Conley. Many teams already have their point guard and don’t want to take on his contract. Utah is one of the few teams that need a point guard and isn’t a big enough market to sign a star free agent, so Conley’s contract doesn’t matter. Conley would be a great fit because of his two-way ability. Conley should fit right into the Jazz’ defense-first mindset.
More importantly, Conley gives Utah much needed help on offense. Right now, Donovan Mitchell is the only player who can create his own shot on the Jazz. This has caused them to rank 20th on offense. Mike Conley is averaging 20.3 PPG on the team with the slowest pace in the NBA. Pairing him with another shot creator and a team that is above average in pace will only help Conley. Although Conley is usually ball-dominant, he can play off the ball as well. He is shooting 36% from three and has
The 76ers already have three All-Star caliber players in Jimmy Butler, Joel Embiid, and Ben Simmons. The problem the 76ers face is depth. Luckily, the Pelicans are looking to move their pieces and other pieces will be on the move this deadline. Nikola Mirotic and Julius Randle are two pieces the 76ers could use. Mirotic offers floor spacing and Randle would be a significant upgrade on the bench compared to Amir Johnson. Other pieces that could be available include Taurean Prince or Terrance Ross. If the Sixers don’t make move, they could look towards the buyout market. Last year they picked up Ersan Ilyasova and Marco Bellinili from buyouts. This year they could look for Wesley Matthews or J.R. Smith.
As a side note, the Lakers will likely come out of the trade deadline without a big move made. The Pelicans demanded too much for Anthony Davis according to reports, and the Lakers pulled out of the deal. Not being able to complete this deal is a huge blow to team chemistry. Some players are already mad at Luke Walton, and having names thrown around in trades certainly doesn’t make them feel any better. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Lance Stephenson or Michael Beasley get moved. They were both in trade talks and might become a problem in the locker room.