The play-in tournament has more teams in the thick of the playoff race than ever. While that might make for more compelling games as the season winds down, the downside is that there are fewer teams willing to sell at the trade deadline.
That said, there are, for sure, teams that have no chance to even make the play-in and should look to sell. But who, exactly? Let’s take a look.
The Kings have quite a few interesting pieces that playoff contenders should be interested in. Harrison Barnes may be their most appealing trade candidate, as he is only 28-years-old, is under contract past this season and is having a career year. He can play either forward position while being a plus-defender and shoots the three-pointer at a nice clip.
The Kings also have a decision to make on Richaun Holmes, who is set to be a free agent this upcoming offseason. Sacramento has played significantly better when Holmes has been on the floor, but he’s due a new contract and, given his play, it’s expected to be a hefty one — will they look to cash out or keep him long-term? Either way, he should continue to contribute at a high level for whichever team he might play for after Thursday.
Buddy Hield and Marvin Bagley III are some other names the Kings might look to move were the right deals to come along.
Other pieces that the Kings could move for significantly smaller returns or even buyout include Cory Joseph, Nemanja Bjelica and Hassan Whiteside. If they decide to throw in the towel on the 2020-21 season, Sacramento could be one of the busiest teams at the deadline.
The Magic have seemingly been in this spot for a few years now, but things could be different this season. It is unlikely they move All-Star big man Nikola Vucevic, but the Magic have plenty of other appealing names to offer up. The Boston 0Celtics and Houston Rockets are both rumored to be interested in Aaron Gordon, who has requested a trade. Gordon has been in trade rumors for a few seasons now and this may be the year Orlando looks to move him.
The Magic are likely to trade Evan Fournier as well. Set to be an unrestricted free agent this offseason, Fournier and his ability to shoot and score will entice plenty; expect any in need of some offensive pop to take a look at him. Terrence Ross could also be traded, but he is under contract past this season and the Magic might just hang onto him for now.
The Rockets have already begun selling off their pieces. They sent PJ Tucker to the Milwaukee Bucks last week, but they are not done just yet. Victor Oladipo will more than likely be shipped off, perhaps the New York Knicks or Miami HEAT, as he rejected an extension offer from the team prior to the season and isn’t expected to re-sign. The problem is that his value is arguably at its lowest right now, due to past injuries and his relatively poor play this season. Would a team give up a first round pick for him? Maybe, but Oladipo’s rumored interest in Miami might scare potential suitors away.
Eric Gordon is another name that could be moved, but his contract would make it quite difficult to do so. The same could be said for John Wall, who has looked solid after he missed most of the 2018-19 season and all of the 2019-20 season due to injury. Danuel House could also be on his way out, as his two-way ability and size will be something teams could use down the stretch.
The Raptors are in the midst of a nine-game losing streak. They are rapidly falling out of the playoff race and could look to acquire assets for the future. It is unclear how willing they are to sell, but if they are, they’d garner plenty of attention ahead of the deadline. Kyle Lowry would be the best name available and could bring back a significant haul, despite the fact that he’s a free agent at the end of the season. Lowry wants to retire a Raptor, so any decision with Lowry is likely to be a mutual one.
Norman Powell is another name they could move. In the midst of a career-year, he has a player option for next season that will he will likely decline. That said, Powell could be a key piece on the bench of a team just trying to make the playoffs or seriously win a title. The Raptors are just two years removed from an NBA championship and, while either of these moves wouldn’t likely signal a full rebuild, a re-tooling of the roster is certainly in order.
New Orleans Pelicans
The Pelicans have been one of the more confusing teams this season. As talented as they are, they’ve struggled constantly. Lonzo Ball’s name has been up in the air, as he’s set to hit restricted free agency where he’s expected to demand a major raise, one the Pelicans seem reluctant to pay him. The Knicks, Atlanta Hawks and Chicago Bulls, among others, could all throw their names in the hat for Ball.
J.J. Redick is also available — and it would seem more likely that he will be bough out than traded. Eric Bledsoe is someone the Pelicans would probably love to move, but he has a rather expensive contract that goes beyond just this season.