The trade deadline is almost upon us, and teams are beginning to formulate a plan of attack for this Thursday. The first question that needs answering is a simple one; to trade or not to trade? Many teams will be thinking about this right now, and it is fair to say that some may not have yet made their decision about what to do.
However, time is ticking and as the deadline approaches, values change and competition on the trade market heats up, you need to have a stance and stick to it, otherwise you could end up chasing a player too much and making a bad trade.
These decisions are all made by the front office at each franchise, although it doesn’t stop fans from all over the world speculating about what will happen. Opinions are the best thing about sport, everyone has one, and around trade deadline day, everyone has their thoughts on what teams and players will do, and perhaps more importantly, what their team needs to do to make them a better franchise.
If you want to know the answer to what we think will happen to the Cavs, Celtics and the Spurs before the all-important 2018 NBA trade deadline, then read on for our take.
The Cavs: Must Trade
The Cavs find themselves in a strange position, they have a ton of questions that need answering over the coming months. How do they get their team performing better on the court right now, what do they do with the Brooklyn pick, what happens to LeBron in the summer, and lastly, where will this franchise be in five years?
Now, we won’t get an answer for all of those questions over the next couple of days, but what they do before the deadline could give us an indication of what the future will look like. Firstly, right now they need to get their team firing, otherwise they are in danger of losing their tag as being the best team in the east. It has been a strange couple of months for the Cavs, and one that has raised a lot of questions.
But the bottom line is that they are not playing anywhere near good enough right now. It may be ok to say they will turn it on in the playoffs, but if the Cavs played the Celtics right now in the playoffs, I’d happily side with Boston to beat them, let alone should they go on to face the might of Golden State.
Secondly, there is the cloud hanging over them regarding the options for LeBron in the summer. So the question is: does he stay, does he go? Who knows, but if the Cavs want him to stay (let’s assume they do) then they have to back him and give him a team to play with. This team right now just doesn’t seem to fit right, and LeBron will know that.
It wouldn’t surprise me if LeBron was expecting a move over the coming days, and if the team wants to keep him happy, then they need to be making a move. While we won’t know until the summer what LeBron is going to do, any move made by the Cavs now to back him and make their team better will work in their favor, and will give them something to talk about this summer.
Lastly, there is the Brooklyn pick to discuss. This is something the Cavs see as insurance over LeBron, if he goes they have a top pick to help their rebuild, the fans know that and I’m sure LeBron himself knows it. That’s why trading it wouldn’t be such a bad idea, because of the message it would send.
LeBron is a star and someone who could give Cleveland more Championships, they need to think of the present, not the future. By trading away the Brooklyn pick, the Cavs would be nailing their colors to the mast, and showing LeBron that they have complete faith in him. The Brooklyn pick is not so much about the pick itself, but more about the direction of the franchise, by trading the pick, the Cavs show intent to LeBron that he is their 100% first choice guy, and they are sticking with him forever.
There’s a ton of reasons for it, and for me the Cavs have to trade before the deadline.
The Celtics: Should Trade
It’s kind of ironic that we go from the Cavs to the Celtics here, from the team currently holding the crown as being the top franchise in the east, to the team who are the main challengers to it, and ready to pick up the pieces.
Eventually, if things go to plan then this young Celtics team is going to take over the east. However, with the way the Cavs are playing right now, it wouldn’t surprise me if the Celtics jumped at the chance to get better before the deadline, and potentially speed up the process.
Let’s say for example the Celtics traded before the deadline, they made themselves a better team, they won the Eastern Conference regular season, and they won the east in the playoffs, beating the Cavs. What sort of a message would that send to Lebron, and to the entire league? It would send a message to tell people that the tide is changing in the east. If the tide changes and the Celtics reign begins, where does that leave LeBron? Wil he want to fight it out all season long with a young and improving Celtics team, or does he decide to move on to another challenge in his career?
For me, the Celtics are the most interesting franchise in basketball right now, because they have the potential to force huge changes in the league. A Celtics domination this season in both the regular season and the playoffs could push LeBron out of Cleveland. If he goes, where does he go? Likely to LA, who then build a team around him to challenge Golden State. There are a lot of pieces that need to be moved for something like that to happen, but one thing for sure is it all revolves around the Celtics and what they do.
While their team is going great, and they have a longer term plan than most with their young core, the Celtics could still trade at the deadline. This is something I would love to see them do, to really turn the screw and try to put the pressure on the Cavs.
The Spurs: Won’t Trade
The San Antonio Spurs are not known for their mid-season trades, and are one of the quietest NBA franchises when it comes to that. Many people have been calling for a trade to happen, to help them out, but I don’t believe we will see anything. One thing they do need is a little extra depth, so a small move would be the only thing I could realistically see happening, if anything at all.
The Spurs are finding things tough without Rudy Gay and Kawhi Leonard, although it is hoped they see more from both of them this season. However, despite needing a little help, now may not be the time to go into the trade market to try and make a short term move. Despite missing their two star players, they still find themselves 3rd in the West, and with those two players hopefully playing a part sometime in the near future, 2nd spot is still a possibility.
Regardless of whether they do or don’t make a move before the deadline, it is highly unlikely the Spurs would have enough to realistically challenge the Warriors in the playoffs, and for that reason it makes sense for them to hang fire with their moves until the summer. That way, they are less likely to be held to ransom and forced into a poor trade, and they have more time to evaluate their options, instead of simply picking from the pool of players who are being shopped around.
There is no doubt that the Spurs could do with some help, but making a trade would not be the right thing for them to do at this deadline. If anything does happen, expect to see a depth player to come in to help them through any injury problems further down the line, but fans should not expect to see a big name come in that some of them have been calling for. That is something that may happen in the summer though, with more targets available to look at, and the potential to spend a lot more time thinking over each move.
It may not be what the Spurs fans wanted to hear, and it may mean that Thursday is a quiet day for them, but I just don’t see a big move coming from the Spurs, it is not part of their strategy. Keep your eyes peeled just in case, but the advice for Spurs fans is to lower expectations when it comes to the 2018 NBA trade deadline.