Most likely, the Houston Rockets are attempting to trade Eric Gordon to other teams in exchange for draft selections. In all likelihood, Orlando will answer calls for Terrence Ross and Gary Harris. Both Charlotte and Detroit should be willing to listen to offers from older players.
These players were vital, yet they are hardly spoken of outside of February. One may always expect a few deadlines to be extended at the conclusion of any given period.
Even though this is one of the most packed playoff races in league history, there are five clubs who stand out as not just the most likely sellers at the deadline but the pivots of the entire market. The rest of the league is waiting for these teams to make a decision, and if a deal changes the outcome of the championship in February, one of these teams is likely to be involved.
3. Chicago Bulls
This group will never amount to anything. This era of Bulls basketball, ironically, started two days ago when the Orlando Magic reached the same decision and traded Vucevic to the Bulls. It’s possible that this agreement is currently preventing Chicago from progressing.
With just 21 victories, they won’t be able to choose in the first four picks. If not, the Magic will make the selection. From that vantage point, it may be best for the Bulls to simply wait it out and figure out a retool in the winter. Since Vucevic’s contract is up and DeRozan is in his mid-30s, a transfer sooner rather than later is preferable.
2. Washington Wizards
If for no other reason than that, no player who was really content with his present club would say as much on the record about his approaching free agency as Kuzma has, he will likely be dealt before the deadline. He’s the mythical big wing who can shoot, and who won’t hurt you on either end of the court, therefore he should be a perfect match for almost any playoff team. The truth isn’t as cut and dry.
Of course, Kuzma is more of a test than anything else. He plays a position where teams are willing to overlook shortcomings in otherwise good players like himself. In the summer, a team will likely offer a package of lucrative assets in exchange for Kuzma, betting that they will sign him to a large multiyear deal and, in doing so, perhaps setting the market for comparable wings.
1. San Antonio Spurs
Those who can play the position of center or power forward in the playoffs are quite uncommon. Karl-Anthony Towns, in a single game last spring, was able to force Steven Adams off the court due to the extreme need for flexibility. A smaller player at the center who planned to flip screens and make up for offensive losses could get away with it until just lately.
Nikola Jokic has given one conference new planning challenges, while the other has Joel Embiid and Giannis Antetokounmpo to contend with. In order to defeat the incorrect center, all it takes is one mismatch.