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With the NBA trade deadline approximately a week away (February 9th), the impetus is growing for teams looking to make roster changes via trade(s), to do so. The lack of trades made this season is abnormal, there have only been two — (1) Spurs-Celtics, headlined by Noah Vonleh to the Spurs. (2) Lakers-Wizards, headlined by Rui Hachimura to the Lakers — the latter of those trades, the only one carrying discernable value. Compare this to last season, in which there were approximately 16 trades made. A causal explanation for this odd phenomenon is a similarly odd scenario in which the league finds itself…that is, most teams still feel competitive. Typically, midway through the season, more-or-less where we are at right now, teams have played enough games and standings have solidified enough to either make teams buy-in for competing or sell their valuable players for future prospects (draft picks, young players, money, etc.). However, the league is uniquely open this season, for instance, in the Western Conference, only five games separate the #3 seed from being out of the playoffs. Compare that to this time last season, where that same difference was 16 games. Because there is no clear distinction between what is sometimes called, the “contenders and pretenders”, teams that would otherwise flip their valuable players for future assets, are clinging onto their roster in hopes they can make a playoff run. Regardless, odds are that we will see at least a couple of trades go down — if not more — before next week’s deadline. With that, I will be giving my analysis of some mock trades I have stumbled upon. These trade concoctions range everywhere from prominent sports outlets like ESPN, to random dudes on Twitter. Regardless, trade ideas do not require the same source discrimination as rumors do. Without further delay, let’s get into it!
Note: My apologies for any incontinuity within the text, I had some trouble with the word publishing platform.
Oklahoma City Thunder gets: Jacob Poeltl
San Antonio Spurs gets: Mike Muscala, OKC’s lottery-protected 2023 first-round pick, and LAC’s unprotected 2024 first-round pick
Analysis: Truth be told, I don’t like this trade for either side. Sure, the Spurs get some draft capital (something they are no doubt seeking) for an expiring deal which Jacob Poeltl is, however, I’m under the impression that if the Spurs do want to trade Poeltl, they can find a more lucrative deal. Despite, theoretically, being a rebuilding team, the Thunder are still in playoff contention, and getting Poeltl would probably elevate their chances of making the postseason. However, again, Poeltl is on an expiring contract — meaning he’s eligible to hit free agency this upcoming summer. So, if the Thunder pull off this trade, there’s a strong possibility they would just have Poeltl on a rental until the end of this season. Furthermore, I don’t even think Poeltl fits the long-term picture if they were to try to resign him. For these reasons, plus the fact the Thunder would be losing their sole veteran player to teach the young guys, Mike Muscala, I don’t think either team will, or should, make this trade.
Analysis: For starters, I like this trade because it moves players currently disgruntled or who want off their current team, to go to a new team. What I’m talking about is Jae Crowder, who hasn’t played all season… not because of injury, but because the Suns told him before the season he wasn’t going to start — he didn’t like that — so he and the team reached an agreement that he won’t play until he’s traded. In this scenario, he would be going to a finals contending team, the Bucks, a team he has a short history playing against (knocking them out in the Conference Semi-Finals with the Miami Heat in 2020 and losing to them in the 2021 Finals with the Suns). Also in this discussion of players and teams wanting to part ways — the Bucks and Serge Ibaka mutually agreed that he be traded — that understanding is followed through in this scenario with Ibaka going to the Knicks. While I’m not sure of Derrick Rose’s attachment to New York, it’s been reported the Knicks are willing to trade him, but, only if the team Rose gets sent to is a good situation for him (aw, so kind of them). The destination for D-Rose in this mock-up, the Suns, despite being underwhelming for the past month or so, are still a good situation and when Devin Booker returns soon, will be back to contending again. The Bucks give up a decent amount of picks in this trade (four second-rounders), but they are also, arguably, the biggest winner on-paper — assuming Jae Crowder is still the stud 3 and D player he’s been the past couple of years. The Suns quietly improve their roster, only giving up Shamet really, considering Crowder hasn’t played for them this season, they could use the guard play which Rose can presumably help with. Also, Reddish, I think a lot of people see untapped potential in him and he’s pretty much lost his spot in the Knicks’ rotation, so this change of scenery could be what allows him to blossom. This move makes the Knicks marginally better…if at all, the real value is the two second-round picks they receive. While this isn’t a blockbuster trade by any stretch of the imagination, I think it is certainly a realistic package that all parties could get behind — I wouldn’t be surprised if this, or a variation of it, happens.
Los Angeles Lakers gets: Chris Paul, Rudy Gay, Jae Crowder
Phoenix Suns gets: Mike Conley, Jordan Clarkson, Jarred Vanderbilt
Utah Jazz gets: Russell Westbrook, Lakers’ unprotected 2028 first-round pick, Phoenix’s unprotected 2024 first-round pick
Analysis: Out of all the trades compiled in this article, this one is undoubtedly the most monumentous. I really don’t see this happening — yes , the Lakers have been underperforming once again with Westbrook, however his contract is up after this season and if you’re the Lakers, is it really worth depleting your draft assets even more just to slightly increase your odds to make the playoffs. Don’t get me wrong, this trade definitely improves the Lakers’ roster in the short term, at least on paper, however, this trade doesn’t put the Lakers back into championship contention. While I understand the thinking behind this trade for the Suns — Chris Paul is noticeably regressing and has a couple of years left on a massive contract — I just don’t see the Suns making such a drastic move as moving Paul would be… or at least doing so midway through the season. Additionally, while the Suns could use guard play, I don’t know how much more Clarkson and Conley do for them than Chris does. Vanderbilt has been great for the Jazz this year and would definitely help the Suns, yet, his playstyle doesn’t fit with Ayton and he would therefore be relegated to a bench role. Ultimately this deal doesn’t go through, mainly, because of the Jazz. This is for two reasons: (1) They are in the playoff hunt and could very well keep their assets and continue to fight for a spot in the postseason. (2) If they do choose to make some trades, they could certainly get more lucrative packages — especially for Clarkson and Vanderbilt — probably 3-4 first-round picks.
3-team Mock Trade. Utah Jazz blow it all up in 1 move to tank.
-1 FRP from LAL
-1 FRP from PHX
who says no🤔
(via @SpencerKeele ) pic.twitter.com/rvXE7a8Nyq
— NBA Mock Trades (@nbamocktrade) February 2, 2023