Trade Deadline Watch List: Eastern Conference (free article)
With the trade deadline just three days away (Thursday, February 7th at 3 PM ET), I wanted to take a stroll through the league to touch on all the players who could find their opportunity and value increased if a trade happens. I was hoping to jam this all into one article, but it was getting too long, so here's the Eastern Conference, and I'll post the Western Conference on Tuesday morning.
Lottery Teams: Sellers
The Hawks have been better than expected this season, but they still aren't sniffing the playoffs, so they should remain open to trading most of their veterans to clear more opportunity for their young core going forward.
Hawks to watch: Jeremy Lin, Dewayne Dedmon, Kent Bazemore, Alex Len, and Taurean Prince could all be moved. I'd bet Lin and Bazemore would end up in bigger roles on other teams, while it seems more likely that Dedmon would end up in a lesser role on another team. If any of these players aren't moved, they might be candidates for buyouts in some regard (Dedmon, Lin) or could just end up in more limited roles the rest of the way.
The Hawks have already been committed to playing their young players big minutes, and Omari Spellman should get more run next to John Collins the rest of the way. Having said that, if Dedmon is moved, there remains the chance that the Hawks will give Len a long look in the starting lineup for the second half of the season, and Len would be very interesting there.
Most likely to be traded: Lin, Dedmon, Bazemore (hard to trade due to $19 million player option for next season)
The only two players that are safe on the Bulls are Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr.. Everyone else, even Zach LaVine, is a trade candidate.
Bulls to watch: Bobby Portis's role could grow on the Bulls or if he gets traded elsewhere. Jabari Parker's $20-million contract means he's more likely to be bought out and to sign somewhere else, but I have a hard time seeing a team that would play him a bunch. Wayne Selden and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot could end up with bigger roles but will likely remain limited to streaming and deep-league value.
There have been some murmurs around Kris Dunn, so maybe he gets moved and minutes open at PG. However, I'd think that'd turn into a timeshare between Ryan Arcidiacono, Shaq Harrison, and Antonio Blakeney, and I wouldn't be too interested in any of them beyond Harrison's steals potential. He's on my watch lists.
Most likely to be traded: Robin Lopez (into likely a limited bench role)
The only Cavs that probably aren't on the trade block are Cedi Osman and Collin Sexton. Everyone else should be available for the right price.
Cavs to watch: Cedi Osman (assuming his ankle is OK) should already be picked up as a flier by some team in most leagues. He's been playing great and getting big minutes while finally also showing off more aggression on offense and his passing skills. Don't sleep on Osman if you can afford to stash him for the next week.
David Nwaba has some interest for deeper leagues because he appears to be a favorite to step into the starting lineup and could play decent minutes the rest of the way, though his per-minute production is usually lacking.
Larry Nance Jr.. and Ante Zizic are important players to track in the frontcourt in case their roles grow and become more secure down the stretch. A trade of Tristan Thompson could help open at least regular enough minutes for deeper leagues to use Zizic consistently, and Nance's upside is well known if ever gets big minutes from night to night.
Most likely to be traded: Jordan Clarkson ($13 million next season), Alec Burks (expiring), Tristan Thompson ($18.6 million next season).
New York Knicks
The Knicks already made their big trade of Kristaps Porzingis to the Mavs, clearing a ton of money for this summer to pursue big-name free agents like Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, so they won't be looking to add long-term money and are likely focused on trying to flip both Wesley Matthews and DeAndre Jordan before the deadline to try and get more future assets (picks, young players).
Knicks to watch: Jordan could be bought out if he isn't traded, and you'd have to think he'd have a few suitors from playoff teams, which could lead to a starting role or a more limited bench one. His value is up in the air at the moment.
Matthews was brought off the bench in his first game with the Knicks. Steve Mills already has his hand on the small of Matthews' back, pushing him out the door to his next team, which it sounds like will be a competitive squad like the Sixers, who would put Matthews in a limited-ish bench role most likely.
Dennis Smith Jr.. should be rostered in all standard leagues. I expect him to carry the load for the Knicks as both a scorer and facilitator. Enes Kanter is worth watching in most leagues in case he ends up in a place that gives him big minutes, but I'd expect Kanter to end up getting bought out and signing with a team that uses him situationally, like Greg Monroe is used for the Raptors.
Mitchell Robinson and Luke Kornet should be watched closely in case their roles grow and become more defined, but we still don't know if Jordan will remain on the team, which would squash most of Robinson's and Kornet's potential this season.
I have Allonzo Trier, Damyean Dotson, and Mario Hezonja on watch lists in case their fates become more clear and consistent, but that's hard to believe in on the Knicks with Fizdale's rotation changing so often.
Frank Ntilikina should be on watch lists in most leagues in case his role grows down the stretch, though it seems he'd be better suited if he gets traded to another franchise.
Most likely to be traded: Wesley Matthews, DeAndre Jordan, Noah Vonleh, Lance Thomas, Enes Kanter, and Frank Ntilikina
Fringe Teams: Maybe Seller, Maybe Buyers
The only players I don't think the Magic want to trade are Jonathan Isaac and Aaron Gordon. Everyone else should be available, but with the Magic just three games out of the final playoff spot, and with Nikola Vucevic earning a spot as an All-Star, the team might hold firm more than we would have anticipated coming into the season.
Magicians to watch: Isaac should already be stashed as a flier in most leagues with his recently-improved production.
Terrence Ross could be traded, and he'd likely fill a slightly smaller role, though it's possible a team could want him to start in a larger role. Ross should already be rostered in most leagues with his recent production, and he's at least worth a stream/stash ahead of the deadline in case his role grows.
Evan Fournier might get traded, but even if he does, his role would either be the same or smaller. He's been given every opportunity to carry the wand for the Magic over the years, but Fournier is just too inconsistent of a player to be more than a decent scorer. I think his best role would be a sixth-man in today's NBA.
Vucevic is a sell-high candidate in case he gets traded to a better team that would need him to do less, but I also don't think the Magic are going to trade the first All-Star they've had in a long time. The fans would hate it.
If the Magic decide to sell and move D.J. Augustin, Isaiah Briscoe could end up with a bigger role down the stretch this season. Make sure Briscoe is on watch lists. He's already playing over Jerian Grant.
Most likely to be traded: Jonathon Simmons, Evan Fournier, Terrence Ross (expiring), Nikola Vucevic (expiring), Jerian Grant, D.J. Augustin
The Pacers seem as though they'll hold pat for the most part, but with Oladipo out for this season, the front office might have designs to shake things up.
Pacers to watch: Thaddeus Young, Tyreke Evans, Bojan Bogdanovic, Darren Collison, Cory Joseph, and Kyle O'Quinn are all on expiring deals.
Could the Pacers look to flip most of those expiring contracts to playoff teams and just hope to get their young core some run in the playoffs? Maybe, but I doubt it.
If Young or Collison get traded, Domantas Sabonis would potentially start and improve, but the biggest bump would likely go to Aaron Holiday starting at PG. I'd make sure Holiday is on my watch list ahead of the deadline and beyond.
Most likely to be traded: Thaddeus Young, Tyreke Evans, Bojan Bogdanovic, Darren Collison, Cory Joseph, and Kyle O'Quinn
Playoff Teams: Buyers
I originally arranged this article with the “Buyers” as my first group, but as I wrote about the teams that have a good roster already, it became painfully obvious that the good teams are quite boring and unlikely to make big changes in most cases.
The Bucks could use depth on the wings and in the frontcourt, but they have all the pieces they need to compete for the championship as long as their core is healthy. They're buying, but they also don't have much excess pieces to sell.
Bucks to watch: Malcolm Brogdon, D.J Wilson, Sterling Brown, Donte DiVincenzo, and Thon Maker in case they get traded into bigger roles.
Most likely to be traded: Thon Maker (already requested by his agent), Tony Snell
The Raptors don't need anything, but they're all-in this season with Kawhi Leonard on an expiring deal. So, if they see an opportunity to add another super star or two to the mix, I'd think everyone is on the table in pursuit of a run at the championship.
Raptors to watch: Jonas Valanciunas, Norman Powell, Fred VanVleet, Delon Wright, C.J. Miles, O.G. Anunoby are the Raptors' most expendable pieces if they could package them in trades to bring in a a superstar to add to the mix.
On other teams, I'd expect Valanciunas, VanVleet, Anunoby, Wright, and Powell to offer potential big jumps in value, while any move of Miles would likely be into a specialist role.
Most likely to be traded: Jonas Valanciunas, Norman Powell, Fred VanVleet, Delon Wright, C.J. Miles, O.G. Anunoby
Coach Brown has told the media that the Sixers front office is actively trying to improve their bench depth, and it wouldn't be surprising to see them add more help at backup center and power forward. They're also likely looking for some veteran shooting to add to the bench.
Sixers to watch: Markelle Fultz seems unlikely to be a part of the Sixers rotation again this season, but he could get traded to a team that would want to start him and play him big minutes, assuming he's healthy. Make sure Fultz is on all watch lists.
Zhaire Smith, Landry Shamet, Furkan Korkmaz, Jonah Bolden, and T.J. McConnell are almost certainly available and could be traded into larger roles on other teams, so I'd consider at least having Smith, Shamet, and McConnell on most watch lists.
Most likely to be traded: Markelle Fultz, Zhaire Smith, Landry Shamet, Furkan Korkmaz, Jonah Bolden, and T.J. McConnell
While the Celtics will likely hold pat at the deadline, I wouldn't rule out the possibility of them trading anyone if it means they could acquire Anthony Davis. I doubt the Celtics would make any big moves beside that, unless another superstar becomes available that they can't pass up on.
If the Celtics trade for Davis, Kyrie Irving (expiring because of player option) would have to be moved to another team, since there's a weird CBA rule that won't allow Davis and Irving to be on the same team this season.
Celtics to watch: If Irving gets traded, we already know that Terry Rozier (as long as he is not traded), would likely start at PG the rest of the way. Make sure Rozier is on all watch lists ahead of deadline. Anyone that from the Celtics that would be traded away in a potential deal would likely improve, including Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Rozier, Robert Williams, Daniel Theis, or Gordon Hayward.
Most likely to be traded: Everyone, in some respects. I don't think any player is safe if the Celtics think they can bring in a better superstar. Marcus Smart seems like the most expendable player they have and has a good contract, so he has some added stashability to his already good value in case he gets traded into a starting PG role on another team where he'd play more minutes.
The Nets are an awkward team that I wouldn't expect to make any big moves, but if they thought they could add Anthony Davis somehow, I'd consider them a darkhorse in that sweepstakes. At least they can offer Davis a big market and a likely spot in the playoffs this season. If they traded for Davis, Jarrett Allen and D'Angelo Russell would almost certainly be gone.
Nets to watch: Caris LeVert should be in an IR spot and potentially stashed on the chance that he could return before the All-Star break. LeVert is probably the safest player on the Nets. I don't expect him to get traded in any deal.
Rodions Kurucs is the best player to continue tracking down the stretch. If the Nets clear out any of their extra depth or simply cut down their rotation over the course of the season, as they did last year, it's possible Kurucs could work himself into a larger and more consistent role as the season goes.
Most likely to be traded: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, DeMarre Carroll, Allen Crabbe, Joe Harris
The Hornets are in the 7th playoff spot right now, 1.5 games up on the Heat (8th) and 3.5 games up on the Pistons (9th), so they'll likely be buyers at the deadline if possible, though we know they've been trying to offload Nicolas Batum for a while.
The only player that I think is safe on the Hornets is Kemba Walker. Everyone else should be available.
Hornets to watch: Malik Monk and Miles Bridges are worth watching in most leagues in case a bigger role opens to them on the Hornets or another team as a result of a trade.
Most likely to be traded: Probably no one, but I'd bet most of the Hornets are available. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Frank Kaminsky, Bismack Biyombo, Nicolas Batum, Dwayne Bacon, Willy Hernangomez, Cody Zeller, Marvin Williams, Jeremy Lamb, Malik Monk, Miles Bridges
They're hanging on to one of the final playoff spots, two games up on the Pistons and 2.5 on the Wizards, who are both out of the playoffs at the moment.
Pat Riley always wants to swing a deal for a superstar, so you can bet he'll be trying his darndest to nose in on Anthony Davis.
Heat to watch: No one is safe on the Heat. There isn't a single player on the roster that Riley would consider untouchable in a trade. Most Heat players are worth having on watch lists in case their roles improve after the deadline, particularly Bam Adebayo and Kelly Olynyk.
Most likely to be traded: Dion Waiters, Hassan Whiteside, Goran Dragic, Tyler Johnson, James Johnson, Kelly Olynyk
The Pistons don't want to take a step backwards. They seem committed to trying to build around Blake Griffin's massive contract, and they've reportedly made trade inquiries for Marc Gasol, implying that Andre Drummond might be on the trade block.
Pistons to watch: Reggie Jackson could end up moved to a team that is willing to play him big minutes every night, so he has some upside to consider if traded. Though it's hard to see many teams wanting Jackson unless he helps them offload even more long-term salary than what he has. A Mike Conley deal around Jackson has been rumored, though seems unlikely.
Luke Kennard and Stanley Johnson could get moved to bring back a more consistent veteran rotation piece, so they're worth watching in case they end up on a team that wants to give them big minutes nightly. Bruce Brown could probably be in that conversation, too, and he should be on watch lists.
Most likely to be traded: It sounds like everyone except Blake Griffin and Reggie Bullock are available. The extra pieces the Pistons have (beside Kennard, Johnson, and Brown) simply aren't good players, so it's hard to expect them to step into bigger roles anywhere else.
The Wizards have been surprisingly competitive without John Wall and are just 2.5 games out of the final playoff spot behind the Heat. I'd expect them to look for deals on both sides, but for the most part, the Wizards will likely continue to try and add more talent for a playoff run this season.
Wizards to watch: Thomas Bryant is already on everyone's radar, but he should be watched closely in case his role grows or solidifies down the stretch. If the Wizards fall out of the playoff chase, Bryant could be in for huge minutes during the fantasy playoffs. If the Wizards want to try and acquire another veteran for a playoff run, Bryant would be their best young trade chip.
The Wizards would like to get off of Ian Mahinmi's contract, but he has another year at $15 million that makes him hard to move.
Otto Porter has also been talked about as a trade candidate, but his big contract makes him hard to move, as well.
Most likely to be traded: Ian Mahinmi, Otto Porter, Thomas Bryant
Thanks for checking out my Trade Deadline Watch List for the Eastern Conference. I'm gonna go take my dog for a walk and then get to work finishing up my thoughts on the Western Conference, which I'll post Tuesday morning.
Let me know in the comments what you think will happen at the deadline.