The one player each team should target ahead of the NBA trade deadline
With one stroke, the Knicks and Mavs sent shock waves reverberating throughout the league as Kristaps Porzingis, Tim Hardaway Jr., Courtney Lee and Trey Burke were sent packing from New York to Dallas. In exchange, the Knicks received Dennis Smith Jr., Wesley Matthews and DeAndre Jordan plus a couple of draft picks.
With the deadline fast approaching, teams are scrambling for that one trade that will bring them closer to their goal—winning a championship, making the playoffs or salary cap savings. Of course, several trades could help some teams but there is that one trade, one player that each team covets.
Who could these players be?
Let me try and suggest a particular player for each team that will take care of their worries heading into the second half of the season. The Feb. 7 trade deadline, roughly three weeks earlier than usual, has made it more imperative for general managers and team presidents to assess their roster much more carefully. For many teams, this will make or break their season.
As you will no doubt notice later, some players would be a good fit for several teams so expect to see a few names listed on a couple of teams’ want list.
Shout out to Bleacher Report’s Dan Favale for his invaluable insight into each team’s needs.
1. Atlanta Hawks
Need: Young center
Player Target: PF/C Bobby Portis, Bulls
The Hawks are in need of a big man who can grow with this young team. A team that would be interested in a small forward like Kent Bazemore should be a good trade partner. That may be the Bulls who have an abundance of frontcourt players but have yet to unload any of them since the season started.
Bobby Portis could be that big for the Hawks who will pair with John Collins in what could be one of the more intriguing young frontcourts in the league. The potential is there but the consistency isn’t yet. If these two mesh well, they could help Atlanta become a playoff contender in a few years.
Need: None, unless it’s Anthony Davis
Player Target: C Anthony Davis, Pelicans
Boston is one of a few teams that doesn’t need to add another player to their overabundance of talent on the roster. If anything, they could use less not more. Nevertheless, for the sake of our projection in terms of that singular player that would make the Celtics make a deal before the trade deadline, Anthony Davis is that player.
However, with Kyrie Irving on the team, Davis isn’t eligible to be traded to Boston. Here’s how Boston.com’s Nicole Yang explains the NBA’s ruling that’s put the clamps on them:
“NBA teams cannot trade for more than one player who has signed an extension under the ‘Rose Rule’ — a limitation that is only applicable when the players are still on their ‘Rose Rule’ extensions. The Celtics acquired Irving via trade in August 2017, so they cannot deal for Davis — or any other player that has signed such an extension — until Irving leaves or agrees to a new deal. Irving will become an unrestricted free agent at the conclusion of this season and has expressed his intention to re-sign with the Celtics. The earliest he can do so is July 1, 2019.”
This means that they can wait until the summer and miss out on one of the premier players in the league or they can choose to let go of an All-Star player and champion who may not be the right leader for their team.
If Danny Ainge can have his way, he’ll likely trade Irving now so he can get Davis for at least half a season and if they win the title this year, he will likely want to defend the title next season. It’s risky, yes, but Ainge is just the GM to do it with a three-team trade that will help facilitate this deal or two separate deals starting with Irving going to a different team.