With all the attention and hullabaloo surrounding All-Star Weekend, it’s easy to forget that the NBA trade deadline is coming up. In fact, it’s Thursday at 3 p.m. ET.
Thus, the question facing 32 owners and general managers is a simple one: Do we try to improve our team or unload salary? For some teams, this is not much of a debate. But for others, it most definitely is.
Which teams figure to be the most active before the deadline?
“Well after tonight, I think you have to conclude that the Suns are going to be amongst those making a deal,” CBS Sports NBA writer Matt Moore said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “Goran Dragic has informed them that he’s not going to re-sign, so they’re up against a real wall with him with free agency, so they’re likely to make a move with him.”
Phoenix (29-25) has a half-game lead over Oklahoma City (28-25) for the final playoff spot in the West. Dragic, 28, is averaging 16.2 points, 4.1 assists and 3.6 rebounds.
And then there’s the Denver Nuggets (20-33), who are 8.5 games back in the playoff race going nowhere fast.
“The Denver Nuggets are the one team over the weekend that I heard the most noise about,” Moore said. “Almost everyone around the league commented that they feel there’s a fire sale coming in Denver and that multiple players could be on the move.”
Denver’s top players include Ty Lawson, Arron Afflalo, Wilson Chandler and Kenneth Faried. All are averaging double figures, and Lawson is averaging 16.9 points and 10.1 assists.
“Those are players with a lot of value,” Moore said. “They won’t have a hard time finding suitors for them. As long as they can get adequate return, the Nuggets should be pretty active.”
Looking at the East, Brooklyn (21-31) is just a game behind Miami (22-30) for a playoff spot, but no one in his or her right mind considers the Nets legitimate contenders. They’re 10-15 at home, 11-16 on the road and don’t have a legitimate nucleus around which to build.
“The Brooklyn Nets are doing everything they can to stamp out the idea that
They’re looking to make trades,” Moore said, “but that’s typically what they’ve done before they wind up making a deal. They try and (lower) expectations and then pull off something. I think the Nets are going to be talking about Brook Lopez, Deron Williams and Joe Johnson all the way up to the deadline.”
Johnson, Lopez and Williams are the Nets’ top three scorers, averaging 15.5, 15.3 and 12.9 points, respectively.
Moore said there could be a few fringe playoff teams – such as Milwaukee (30-23) and Charlotte (22-30) – that could try to make an upgrade. The Bucks and Hornets are the sixth and seventh seeds, respectively, in the East. Milwaukee, believe it or not, is only two games behind fifth-seeded Cleveland (33-22).
Whatever happens – or doesn’t happen – before Thursday, it figures to be quite interesting.
“There’s going to be a lot of smoke,” Moore said. “We’ll see if there’s any fire.”