Last week we covered the Eastern Conference after the New York Knicks traded Kristaps Porzingis to the Dallas Mavericks.
With the trade deadline at 3 p.m. ET Thursday, everyone seems to be waiting to see what the New Orleans Pelicans do with five-time All-Star Anthony Davis.
As usual, each team sorts into one of four categories:
Buyers: Teams that are actively looking to add pieces
Sellers: Teams that are actively looking to trade players for future assets
Either: Teams that have some pieces to sell, but will buy in the right deal
Neither: Teams that will just sit out the deadline and do their work in the summer
Here’s where each of the 15 Western Conference teams sits as the deadline approaches:
Neither. Dallas was poised to be a seller before it made the big trade for Porzingis. Now, the Mavericks will likely just sit out the rest of the deadline. It’s unlikely they’ll try to flip Tim Hardaway Jr., Courtney Lee or anyone else. It’s about building for the future by continuing to let Luka Doncic grow and getting Porzingis healthy, while saying a likely farewell to Dirk Nowitzki during the rest of the season.
Neither. The Nuggets are one of the deepest teams in the NBA. No matter who is out of the lineup, and injuries have been plentiful for Denver, it just keeps chugging along. While many would love to see the Nuggets jump in on Anthony Davis, they’re unlikely to give up their depth in a deal. Denver is focused on getting healthy, while continuing to battle Golden State for home-court advantage in the West.
Golden State Warriors
Neither. The Warriors have no real trade pieces. Everyone that has a contract that could get them an upgrade is already a key rotation player. At most, maybe the Dubs move a small contract to lessen their luxury tax bill, but that seems unlikely. Instead, as it has for the last several years, Golden State will likely sit out the deadline and focus on buyout season.
Buyer. Houston is always active at the trade deadline and this year will be no different. It has already made a couple of tax-related moves, which opens things up a little bit to take on some salary in trade. The Rockets have Brandon Knight’s contract to move and are willing to trade a draft pick — if it gets Houston an upgrade — to get a team to take on the second year of Knight’s money. Houston swinging a Knight-and-a-pick deal for Kent Bazemore has been rumored so long that it might almost make too much sense at this point.
Los Angeles Clippers
Buyer. The Clippers are best termed a “cautious buyer,” as they won’t take on any money that extends past this season. They’re battling for a playoff spot, but have big plans for their cap space this summer. If L.A. can get an upgrade for the rest of this season in the form of an expiring contract, expect it to jump on it. And if they can move Danilo Gallinari’s contract while getting something helpful for the rest of the year, the Clippers would be open to that as well.
Los Angeles Lakers
Either. The Lakers don’t have anything going on, do they? Oh right, we all know about the Anthony Davis dreams. Los Angeles is putting the hard sell on New Orleans for Davis, but nothing has come together just yet. The Lakers also have high hopes for this summer. They’ve kept their cap sheet clean of bad money and are going star-chasing this summer. If they can have Davis in the fold before then, so much the better. If not, the Lakers could move out pieces for small assets, as they attempt to pile up a bounty to offer the Pelicans this summer. If the dreams of Davis die for this season, L.A. could transition to bringing in some help for a playoff push. No matter what, it will only be expiring money for the Lakers.
Seller. Memphis is already taking offers on Mike Conley and Marc Gasol. It will also listen on Garrett Temple, JaMychal Green and Shelvin Mack. The Grizzlies are kicking off a rebuild around Jaren Jackson Jr. If they can acquire even small assets to get that moving, they’ll do it. And keep in mind Memphis owes a first-round pick to Boston sometime in the next few years. If the Grizzlies can get one back to replace that one, they’ll be all over it in a trade.
Neither. The Wolves made their big trade early in the year when they mercifully moved Jimmy Butler to the Philadelphia 76ers. There has been some chatter that Minnesota is listening on a few of their players, but nothing concrete. The team has also played better as of late and is hanging around the fringes of the playoff race. It’s unlikely much happens at the deadline for the Wolves, but it could be a summer of change, as this expensive group continues to underachieve.
New Orleans Pelicans
Seller. The deadline starts and ends with the Pelicans. It’s all about Anthony Davis, and multiple franchises are tied up in the saga. Davis will be traded, that’s a certainty. The question is if it will happen this week or this summer. Beyond Davis, New Orleans says it wants to keep Jrue Holiday, but are openly listening on every other player on the roster. And while they want to keep Holiday, if a team blows them away with an offer, the Pelicans would probably be willing to move him, too.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Buyer. Oklahoma City is trying to add another big and some more shooting. It recently cleared a roster spot and lessened its tax bill by dumping Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot on the Chicago Bulls. The Thunder aren’t positioned to make a big move, but something small is definitely in the cards for a team that usually is very active at the deadline.
Either. The Suns are buyers and sellers … kind of. They aren’t going to move any of their young players, as they want to see that nucleus grow together. But if they can collect anything for one of their vets, even something small, Phoenix will do it. And, as they have all year, the Suns will be in on any available point guards. Watch for Phoenix to try to be the third team in a trade, especially if it nets the team the lead guard it has wanted.
Portland Trail Blazers
Buyer. The Blazers already swung a deal for wing help by adding Rodney Hood, but they aren’t done. Portland gave up minor pieces to get Hood. It still has some bigger contracts it can move to improve. If they can get a shooting big or a 3-and-D wing, expect the Trail Blazers to make a move.
Either. Sacramento is looking for upgrades, but isn’t sold on doing anything. The Kings would love to make the playoffs this year, especially since they don’t own their own first-round pick, but the Kings aren’t going to mortgage the future for a playoff appearance. They’ll look at either expiring deals or players who fit in well with the young core. Sacramento has some vets that have drawn a little interest in trades. And it is the only team in the NBA that has cap space, at about $11 million. If the Kings can pick up an asset or two by eating a contract from a team looking to move money, they’ll do it.
San Antonio Spurs
Neither. The Spurs never do anything at the trade deadline. They’ll get involved in buyout season on occasion, but in-season trades aren’t really the Spurs’ M.O. San Antonio was interested in Kristaps Porzingis for sure, but it’s likely to be quiet at the deadline.
Buyer. Utah has already made one move this season, acquiring Kyle Korver to shore up its perimeter shooting. The Jazz have been linked to Mike Conley and have some expiring and pseudo-expiring deals that will have them linked to other players as well. The Jazz also know they aren’t a free-agent destination. That makes Utah more likely to take on money in trades than a lot of other franchises. Combine that with just how well this group is playing as it approaches the deadline, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Jazz swing a big deal.
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