With less than two days before the annual trade deadline window closes, the biggest deal of the season was likely made this past weekend when the Sacramento Kings sent All-Star DeMarcus Cousins and Omri Casspi to the New Orleans Pelicans for Tyreke Evans, rookie Buddy Hield, Langston Galloway, a top-three protected 2017 first-round pick and a 2017 second-round pick.
The likelihood of another blockbuster of this magnitude taking place before the deadline is slim, but that doesn’t mean the level of activity will grind to a halt. Today, we’ll bring you up to speed with the latest and greatest around the Association on the trade front.
What direction will the Boston Celtics go at the deadline?
Two years ago, Boston Celtics’ president of basketball operations Danny Ainge acquired All-Star guard Isaiah Thomas at the trade deadline. At the time, the acquisition didn’t necessarily move the mainstream needle, but Thomas has since emerged as a legitimate MVP candidate for the Celtics over the past 24 months.
Naturally, when it comes to trade talk, the Celtics jump to the front of the list. The team has plenty of young talent, an array of draft picks and solid veterans to include in any package. Plus, Ainge hasn’t exactly been shy about his desire to add another superstar to the roster. But it’s not clear whether the Celtics will pull off a move at the deadline, or hold off until draft night or during the free agent frenzy this upcoming summer.
According to a recent Boston Globe report, the Celtics have had their eye on Pacers All-Star forward Paul George. However, Indiana hasn’t given any indication that the veteran is on the market at this time. The Boston Globe report also mentioned second-year forward Jahlil Okafor. There’s no secret the Philadelphia 76ers have been entertaining trade talks for Okafor, but the report indicates the talented big man isn’t on Ainge’s radar at this time.
If the Celtics make a move, many believe it will be in the reserve unit to bolster its depth. Boston currently has plenty of young players manning important bench roles. While Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier have been productive, title runs are usually fueled with veteran talent when it comes time for the playoffs.
Minnesota Timberwolves open to moving Ricky Rubio?
The Minnesota Timberwolves were a trendy playoff pick to begin the season, but the talented young team stumbled out of the gates. One player to watch as we approach the deadline is Ricky Rubio.
According to Sports Illustrated, the T’Wolves have been actively shopping the veteran point guard around the league. The thought of Rubio being on the block isn’t new. Ever since the team drafted guard Kris Dunn the speculation has been that the franchise would eventually move Rubio for the right price.
However, Dunn has struggled to find his rhythm as a rookie, which should have seemingly slowed down the desire to deal Rubio. But according to the report, Minnesota is still very interested in moving Rubio and is also willing to include swingman Shabazz Muhammad in any potential package.
Atlanta Hawks attempting to create value by using Tiago Splitter’s expiring contract?
Under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, expiring contracts will no longer have the value they once did around the league. But according to Sports Illustrated, this isn’t stopping the Atlanta Hawks from exploring what type of value they can get for veteran Tiago Splitter. The center is in the final year of his current deal and is on the books for $8.5 million. Splitter has played in just 36 games since the team acquired him from San Antonio back in 2015. Back then, the Spurs needed to create salary cap room in order to sign forward LaMarcus Aldridge in free agency. The Hawks, undersized at the time, pounced on the opportunity to add a big – especially one head coach Mike Budenholzer was familiar with from his days with the Spurs. But the deal hasn’t worked out due to a plethora of injury woes that has kept Splitter on the sidelines decked in designer suits.
Indiana Pacers trying to make a run at Jahlil Okafor?
According to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN, the Indiana Pacers have more than a passing interest in Philadelphia big man Jahlil Okafor.
The Pacers could be looking to add size due to the recent injury to forward Thaddeus Young and to bolster depth behind starting center Myles turner. In 38 games this season, Okafor has averaged 11.4 points and 4.8 rebounds in 23 minutes per contest. This is down from his rookie season averages of 17.5 points and seven rebounds. To be fair, Okafor has battled injuries throughout this season so there is definitely an upside, despite some limitations in his game.
The Sixers have been looking to offload some of their young frontcourt talents because of the logjam the team will face once all of the pieces are healthy. Their young frontcourt currently consists of Ben Simmons, Nerlens Noel, Okafor, Dario Saric and Joel Embiid.
More trade rumors and deals will emerge between now and Thursday’s deadline, so be sure to check Basketball Insiders’ trade deadline diary early and often for the most recent NBA news.
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