The trade deadline is fast approaching, and there hasn't been much movement regarding some of the top players in their positions. Rather, it has mostly been a lot of talk without action for some top contending teams including the Los Angeles Lakers, Philadelphia 76ers, and Boston Celtics. But if there is one thing we are aware of, it is the fact that teams like to wait until the trade deadline is around the corner before striking their deals in order to see what else is out there and to keep their options open.
While we expect to see the same thing this season, we also expect to see at least ten very capable players moved this season. While it would be unlikely that every single one of these players is moved at once, it wouldn't be surprising considering the expectations of some of the league's top teams. Here are the players from every team who are most likely to play on new teams before the trade deadline.
Atlanta Hawks - Danilo Gallinari, Cam Reddish
The Atlanta Hawks exceeded expectations by making the Eastern Conference Finals led by their superstar Trae Young last year. The roster has incredible pieces that fit together, but they need to focus their core on Young, John Collins, and Clint Capela. The Hawks also need to clean their roster up, because they cannot afford to pay everyone. Gallinari has regressed, and Reddish is the most attractive trade piece not named Trae Young on the team right now. Atlanta should try to move some pieces around for another win-now player.
Boston Celtics - Marcus Smart, Al Horford
The Boston Celtics made it clear that they are all-in on building around Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Marcus Smart is key to what Boston does on defense, but he will likely be sacrificed in favor of another piece to improve Boston’s starting lineup. Not to mention, Smart’s comments earlier this season have made him a player the franchise can do without. The key for Boston is moving Smart (and Horford if possible) with valuable first-round picks for a third All-Star player because the team is not performing well.
Brooklyn Nets - Joe Harris, Blake Griffin
The Brooklyn Nets are the most talented team in the NBA when Kyrie Irving plays. With Irving limited to away games, the Nets need to find Kevin Durant and James Harden some help. Patty Mills has been a blessing, but Joe Harris and Blake Griffin have not. Harris is making ridiculous money so it will be hard to move him, but pairing him with Griffin could bring in a role player that can help right now (perhaps Gary Harris from Orlando).
Charlotte Hornets - PJ Washington
The Charlotte Hornets have an untouchable in LaMelo Ball but the roster can be improved by moving PJ Washington, a young player with a lot of upside. The Hornets are onto something with Miles Bridges and Gordon Hayward on the court with LaMelo, but moving Washington for a player who can help the team make a playoff push could be the right strategy for Michael Jordan’s team.
Chicago Bulls - Coby White, Derrick Jones Jr
The Chicago Bulls made a massive move to acquire All-Star DeMar DeRozan to pair with Zach LaVine, and the team is on track to push for the Eastern Conference Finals. The Bulls have one of the best starting lineups in the NBA right now with Lonzo Ball and Nikola Vucevic completing a “Big Four”. Chicago does have one odd man out, Coby White. White is not finding enough minutes thanks to Alex Caruso’s presence, so he might be moved along with Derrick Jones Jr for the benefit of the franchise.
Cleveland Cavaliers - Kevin Love
The Cavaliers have been shopping Kevin Love for long enough now. A former All-Star and NBA champion, Love has plenty of experience to bring to teams. Cleveland are currently pushing for the playoffs so Love’s presence could help, but if they can find a capable guard to fill the voids left by the injured Collin Sexton and Ricky Rubio, they will make that trade asap.
Dallas Mavericks - Jalen Brunson, Maxi Kleber
The Dallas Mavericks have a top-10 superstar in Luka Doncic, which means everyone on the roster is available. The most valuable asset other than Doncic is Kristaps Porzingis, a player who has been playing decently well this season. The Mavericks seem to continue to believe in Porzingis, which means they will look to add a third piece to add to their star duo. Jalen Brunson is one of the best role-playing guards in the NBA, so he could be paired with Maxi Kleber for a trade before the trade deadline.
Denver Nuggets - Monte Morris
The Denver Nuggets literally cannot survive without Nikola Jokic on the floor, as they lose leads and enter deficits whenever he heads to the bench. Of course, the franchise has not had the best of luck with injuries to key players including Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. Denver need to find a way to add a starting-caliber wing or big, and that could come at the cost of Monte Morris.
Detroit Pistons - Jerami Grant
The Pistons are in rebuild mode, so moving players not fitting their plans is the goal this offseason. Jerami Grant is nearly 28 years old and is in the middle of his prime, but Detroit might prefer to move up in the 2022 draft as they build around Cade Cunningham. The Pistons need to focus on the draft because almost every contending team are drooling over the thought of Grant joining their ranks. The versatile forward is an excellent win-now player, so the Pistons could milk teams for picks and young players to move him.
Golden State Warriors - James Wiseman, Jonathan Kuminga
The Warriors have a lot of excitement generating around them regarding the return of Klay Thompson. The sharpshooting of Stephen Curry and Thompson will make headlines very soon, especially with the way the team has been playing this season. Moving their future assets in James Wiseman and Jonathan Kuminga in a blockbuster deal could bring a legitimate star to Golden State. The Warriors own first-round picks along with Wiseman and Kuminga, starting a great package for a team willing to take the bait. Golden State are truly one of the best-run franchises in sports and their assets prove that.
Houston Rockets - John Wall, Christian Wood, Eric Gordon, Kevin Porter Jr
The Houston Rockets are in rebuild mode with their future lying in the talents of Jalen Green. Eric Gordon, a successful piece to the Rockets' success over the years, is 33 years old and does not fit with the young squad Houston is trying to build. Similarly, John Wall will not suit up for the team despite itching to get back on the court after averaging 20.6 PPG and 6.9 APG last year. Meanwhile, Christian Wood and Kevin Porter Jr were supposed to be untradeable, but their attitude has not been great as reported last week. Moving both players for picks could be the best strategy for a tanking Rockets side.
Indiana Pacers - Domantas Sabonis, Caris LeVert, Myles Turner, Jeremy Lamb
The Pacers have a ton of tradeable pieces on the roster, but Domantas Sabonis is easily the most valuable asset on the team. Sabonis is averaging 18.7 PPG, 11.9 RPG, and 4.5 APG and could be the next solution to a team needing size on their roster. Myles Turner could also be moved for a mix of picks and players because the Pacers are willing to blow everything up at this point. Finally, Caris LeVert and Jeremy Lamb are excellent perimeter players who could improve any team they end up on. The Pacers are deeply in the trade market, so they could be making moves very soon.
Los Angeles Clippers - Eric Bledsoe, Luke Kennard, Serge Ibaka
The Clippers are in an interesting position because they had Paul George playing like an MVP in the absence of Kawhi Leonard before his injury. Los Angeles were expected to end up missing the playoffs, but news has come out that Kawhi Leonard is actually close to returning. If that is true, and Geroge recovers as well, the Clippers are right back in the mix. They need to move dead weight for players that can help them win now, meaning Eric Bledsoe, Luke Kennard, and Serge Ibaka should be immediately available.
Los Angeles Lakers - Russell Westbrook, Talen Horton-Tucker, Kent Bazemore, DeAndre Jordan
The Los Angeles Lakers are on a winning streak at the moment thanks to the brilliance of LeBron James, but they are not scaring any of the top teams in the league. James is getting older and will eventually start getting tired of carrying a team that has suffered with inconsistencies from Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook. Davis is untouchable, but Westbrook certainly isn’t. The Lakers need to move him to any team willing to absorb his contract, with Horton-Tucker possibly dangled as bait. Kent Bazemore and DeAndre Jordan have also been ineffective, so they should be dealt as well.
Memphis Grizzlies - Tyus Jones
The Memphis Grizzlies have a budding superstar in Ja Morant and that means the team needs to build a strong team as soon as possible. Jaren Jackson Jr is another piece who can defend and score, and the team is well-coached. Tyus Jones is averaging 8.0 PPG and 4.1 APG this season as a backup point guard and has potential as a 25-year old with a ton of experience already. Memphis could move Jones (and draft considerations) for a player who can help the franchise climb the West with the hopes of a playoff push.
Miami Heat - Gabe Vincent, KZ Opkala
Miami is a great team when their starters are on the court together, and Tyler Herro has quieted criticisms about his play. The third-year shooting guard is averaging 20.3 PPG as a 6th man and has pretty much earned a chance to earn big money from the Heat in the offseason. Miami have untouchables in Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, so they could move role players Gabe Vincent and KZ Opkala for a veteran who can play significant minutes in a covid-stricken season for them.
Milwaukee Bucks - Donte DiVincenzo
Milwaukee probably do not need any player to add to their Big Three core, but they could move Donte DiVincenzo for a veteran that can play defense or shoot the ball. The Bucks will miss PJ Tucker, but they added a sharpshooter in Grayson Allen to space the floor. Milwaukee area title contender after winning it all last year, and they might move DiVincenzo in case a team wants to add the 24-year-old to their core.
Minnesota Timberwolves - Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley
Minnesota need to do everything in their power to keep Anthony Edwards on board, and that means moving anyone who is not helping the franchise win games. Karl-Anthony Towns was the franchise cornerstone for a long time, but it might be time to cash in on the 26-year-old. D’Angelo Russell is another name who has All-Star potential but moving him to make space for Edwards makes sense. Meanwhile, Beasley had off-court troubles and might benefit from playing elsewhere as well.
New Orleans Pelicans - Josh Hart, Devonte’ Graham, Nickeil Alexander-Walker
The Pelicans are awful this season and the absence of Zion Williamson is killing the team. The Pelicans probably will not move Brandon Ingram, so every other starter could be moved for the sake of the franchise’s rebuild. Josh Hart is a great role player averaging 12.9 PPG and 7.4 RPG, and Graham has also been solid (14.1 PPG and 4.5 APG), meaning they can be moved for draft considerations. Alexander-Walker has a high upside and could be another name dangled in the trade market.
New York Knicks - Kemba Walker, Mitchell Robinson, Kevin Knox
The New York Knicks shocked the world by making the playoffs last year, but have not followed their success at all this season. Julius Randle is an All-Star talent, but last season might have been an anomaly because he probably isn’t a superstar. Still, the Knicks need to clean out their roster by moving dead weight including Kemba Walker, Mitchell Robinson, and Kevin Knox. Walker was benched earlier this season, Robinson probably won’t get the money he wants, and Knox has been a flop.
Oklahoma City Thunder - Darius Bazley
The Thunder are in the business of acquiring draft picks left and right, and we could see the same continue by the trade deadline. The Thunder are tanking while they build their core (Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey), so Darius Bazley could be dangled for more draft considerations. The Thunder have an unbelievable amount of first-round picks, so why not add one more?
Orlando Magic - Wendell Carter Jr, Terrence Ross
The Magic blew the team up before the trade deadline last year, and it could continue before the trade deadline. Wendell Carter Jr probably will not be given priority over rookie Franz Wagner, who is putting up 15.8 PPG and 4.7 RPG. Moving Carter Jr for draft picks makes sense, especially since the big man is only 22 years old. Terrence Ross is averaging 12.1 PPG this year and is constantly monitored by teams around the NBA. Ross can light it up when he is feeling it, and could immediately improve a contender’s depth.
Philadelphia 76ers - Ben Simmons, Shake Milton, Furkan Korkmaz
The 76ers will likely move Ben Simmons at some point this season because the team is still quite good without him. Joel Embiid is a superstar, Tobias Harris is consistent, and Tyrese Maxey is showing signs of becoming a starting-caliber point guard for years to come. Simmons must be moved for an All-Star player, although Daryl Morey is probably waiting until Damian Lillard or Bradley Beal become available. Meanwhile, Shake Milton is an intriguing player because he is only 25 years old with nice athleticism and scoring potential. Korkmaz can also space the floor, so Philly could be making moves to improve their roster around Embiid.
Phoenix Suns - Dario Saric, Elfrid Payton
The Phoenix Suns had a fairytale season last year with Chris Paul and Devin Booker leading the team to the NBA Finals. Their goal of making the Finals again this year is within reach, so a roster change could be welcomed by the Phoenix brass. The Suns have a great roster, but moving Dario Saric and Elfrid Payton for another swingman who can defend and shoot could be in the cards.
Portland Trail Blazers - CJ McCollum, Jusuf Nurkic, Anfernee Simons, Robert Covington
Portland will most likely need to blow it all up once and for all. Losing Damian Lillard would kill the franchise, especially since the point swore his loyalty to the franchise. But moving CJ McCollum (20.6 PPg), Jusuf Nurkic (13.5 PPG, 10.1 RPG), Anfernee Simons (13.4 PPG), and Robert Covington (7.0 PPG, 5.2 RPG) would be the first steps. All these players are very tradeable assets because they are effective on the floor, just not together. Expect Portland to make major moves as they try to keep Lillard happy.
Sacramento Kings - Buddy Hield, Harrison Barnes
The Sacramento Kings have De’Aaron Fox as their franchise cornerstone but have been reported to have shopped the point guard. Even if that is true, the franchise will likely not move Fox this season. Rather, they might cash in on Buddy Hield and Harrison Barnes, two swingmen who contending teams would love to have. Both players can shoot and defend, so expect the Kings to make trades before the trade deadline.
San Antonio Spurs - Derrick White, Thaddeus Young
San Antonio is not a good team, and Gregg Popovich knows that. Dejounte Murray is playing at a very high level, which is a good sign, but everyone else isn’t really. Derrick White is still 27 years old, but he has not been that impressive on the court (14.5 PPG and 5.5 APG). Moving White for picks and young players makes sense, while Thaddeus Young is a veteran who is not benefiting the team at all. The Spurs need to tank, and losing these two players makes sense at this point.
Toronto Raptors - Pascal Siakam
The Toronto Raptors are in the playoff mix, but they should not be fooled by that. The team is not very good, and other than OG Anunoby and Scottie Barnes, nobody should be untouchable. Pascal Siakam is an All-Star caliber player, and the franchise might cash in on him for picks and young players. The Raptors have some talented young players, so trading Siakam could be in the cards if contending teams come knocking.
Utah Jazz - Joe Ingles
The Utah Jazz were the best team in the NBA during the regular season last year and the roster is well built on both ends of the floor. Donovan Mitchell should take his game to the next level as the season progresses, and that means Utah should be even better as the playoffs approach. Joe Ingles is a solid wing player, but there were rumors that he was almost traded this year. Knowing Utah’s desire to keep improving the team, the Australian could be moved eventually.
Washington Wizards - Rui Hachimura, Davis Bertans
The Washington Wizards started the season tremendously well, but have played poorly over the last 20 games. Washington are in the playoff race mainly thanks to Bradley Beal, but they need to make moves to keep the shooting guard content with the roster. Rui Hachimura is only 23 years old and could be a nice trade asset to improve the team, or he can be paired with Davis Bertains who is making insane money for average production.