With less than four days to
go before the NBA trade deadline on February 6, the Twittersphere is starting
to light up with outlandish trade rumors across the league.
This year’s edition of the
annual event that makes front office workers their mountains of cash is
fascinating, in the sense that the fireworks of previous years may not in fact
come to pass. The sheer depth and competitiveness of basketball at this point
in time means there is a serious dearth in teams looking to sell out and look
towards the draft. Both conferences boast 12 (or more in the case of the West)
franchises with legitimate playoff aspirations; there are no (to our knowledge
at least) unhappy superstars forcing their way out and the bona fide contenders
all have salary cap hurdles to clear before they can start to make some trade
That being said, the
landscape as it is contains more than enough intrigue, with the number of
“one-move-away” teams seeming to grow by the day.
Enough talk; let’s get in
to it. Here are the five players we expect to find new homes in the coming
Kevin Love’s relationship
with the Cavaliers turned untenable as soon as his frustration with his younger
teammates became visible for the world to see late last year.
Unfortunately – and
entirely predictably – Love’s enormous four-year $120M contract signed in 2018
is proving to be a pretty unshakeable roadblock for most teams looking to
upgrade at the forward position. That’s seen the market cool significantly for
the 31-year-old, but with the Cavaliers likely to be placing a premium on draft
picks and young players, we’d still be very surprised not to see Love’s
longed-for move to a contender fail to pan out.
Thanks the Trail Blazers
committing the vast majority of their salary cap to the Lillard/McCollum duo
and the Rockets’ lack of tradeable contracts (aside from one which we’ll
discuss later), the Suns are the frontrunner to make a move for Love.
Phoenix can offer a vast
combination and picks and players, but what makes most sense is a deal
involving Dario Saric, Tyler Johnson’s expiring, Mikal Bridges and/or picks. In
Bridges and Saric the Cavaliers get two youngsters to build around, while the
Suns get the missing piece to the Devin Booker/DeAndre Ayton puzzle.
The Suns – hovering around
the 8-10 range in the West – are “a move away” from genuine
contention, and this makes perfect sense to our eye.
Lakers, Miami, Minnesota
It’s time to blow it up in
Detroit; the Pistons are going nowhere fast, and moving Rose is a logical move
for a franchise who needs to start to look towards the future.
Of all their assets, Rose
is the one who is going to get Detroit the most back in return. The 31-year-old
veteran is set to make $7.3M this year and $7.7M next; an absolute steal for a
guy who’s been dominant in the pick-and-roll and is putting up averages of 18.9
PPG (on 49.8% shooting no less) and 6.0 APG.
Importantly, Rose has
started to look at least some semblance of his MVP winning self both in
basketball IQ, but – even more relevantly to his trade value – in
Derrick Rose nasty pic.twitter.com/100P3mHiTf
— NBA Hustle (@Hustle_NBA) January 30, 2020
While the Lakers will no
doubt be looking to add a third star to the LeBron / Davis duo, the more likely
outcome is that they seek to upgrade at the point guard position; arguably
their major glaring weakness. While Alex Caruso and Rajon Rando have both shown
glimpses of competence, the way Rose is playing at the moment is infinitely
Kyle Kuzma has been on the
trade deck for months, and a Kuzma for Rose trade makes a heap of sense. In any
case, we’re sure the likes of Miami and Minnesota – both in dire need of
quality guards – will be battering the doors down in Detroit to get their hands
Like Love, Capela’s
potential as a trade asset has been discussed for months, but until Sunday it
was thought the Rockets could ill-afford to lose the only capable member of
their roster who stands six foot or higher.
Well, think again.
Woj dropped one of his
namesake bombs on Super Bowl Sunday, implying that the Rockets were shopping
their starting centre to a host of Eastern Conference teams. The motivation
appears to be salary-based; the 25-year-old is owed $55M over the next three
seasons, and Houston is already responsible for $145 million in total salary
next year with a luxury-tax threshold of $139 million, per .
Capela’s salary is far from
a disaster, but it’s not ideal for a team squeezed for cap room when their de
facto third star is averaging *just* 13.9 points, 13.8 rebounds and 1.8 blocks
per game, and has already missed several games this season with injury.
The Hawks have made no
secret of their desire to give Trae Young and John Collins some defensive help,
the Cavaliers are likely in play due to their desire to rebuild and get off the
Love contract, while the Celtics are in dire need of an upgrade at the big man
position. We can’t wait to see how this one develops.
Kuzma is – quite clearly –
superfluous to needs in Los Angeles, and it can only be a matter of time before
the title-contending Lakers move him on for a piece that can help them in the
The Kuzma rumors started
around the time the Lakers were looking to bring in Anthony Davis, and haven’t
really stopped. To put it as simply as possible, the Lakers don’t need Kuzma’s
key attribute – his scoring – and they do need a guard, and/or someone who can
The problem on all fronts
is that Kuzma’s salary is just $2M; nowhere near enough to be able to swap for
the kind of veteran with big-game experience that Los Angeles are looking for.
It’s also a problem that Kuzma is averaging just 12.9 PPG and 4.0 RPG. They’re
hardly attractive numbers.
That being said, some
rebuilding team will undoubtedly take a punt on the 24-year-old forward and the
Kings are looking most likely.
Bogdanovic is the obvious
swap, and Kuzma -> Bogdanovic is arguably the most no-brainer trade of the
While any Golden State move
involving Russell may in fact unfold over the summer, we would be shocked if
D’Lo wasn’t at least floated in hypotheticals.
The Warriors will likely
want to see how Russell and Steph Curry interact with each other on the floor
before they make their decisions going forward, but that doesn’t mean they
won’t listen to calls. A combination of an All-Star player and a pick might
just be too much for the Warriors to ignore.
While the Wolves have made
no secret of their desire to pair Russell with Karl Anthony-Towns, a
combination of Andrew Wiggins/Robert Covington and a pick or two just isn’t
enough to get it done, at least right now with the way Russell is playing as he
holds the reigns of the offense in San Francisco.
Miami, on the other hand
could pull something attractive together with Justise Winslow, Goran Dragic’s
expiring and some picks, and it’s hard to argue on their side that Russell
wouldn’t be a more worthwhile investment than taking on Chris Paul’s hefty