The Pacific Division has been one of the most competitive divisions in the entire NBA this season. The Phoenix Suns, Los Angeles Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers all appear to be serious title contenders. The Golden State Warriors are still fighting for a playoff spot while the Sacramento Kings are seemingly headed toward another high-lottery finish.
With the trade deadline less than a week away, every team aside from the Kings should be in the mood to buy. But just how might the deadline shake out for the Pacific? Which teams should do what? Let’s take a look.
Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers are currently third in the Western Conference, but their final position in the standings shouldn’t matter to them. Their main concern should be getting Anthony Davis completely healthy and back on the court for the postseason. So long as they have a healthy Davis and LeBron James, they will and should be favored to go back-to-back.
Of course, that doesn’t preclude them from their due diligence at the trade deadline; they face a tight cap situation with little to trade away, but the team should do what they can to add a bit more depth in the coming weeks.
While they may be quiet at the actual trade deadline, the Lakers figure to be serious players in the buyout market. Already littered with intriguing names, the Lakers might just have a battle-tested vet that wants to win a ring fall into their lap, the kind of player that could address their depth issue and give them an even greater chance to repeat as champions. With even more names expected to become available in the coming days, expect the Lakers to be aggressive.
Los Angeles Clippers
The other Staples Center tenant could also be considered a title favorite. Fourth in the Western Conference, the Clippers seem to have made positive strides after last year’s playoff meltdown. The addition of Serge Ibaka and the surprise play of Nicholas Batum has also helped solidify their rotation. Still, they too should look to be aggressive at the trade deadline.
But what’s the most pressing need for the Clippers? Point guard; they should look to add one and they have the assets to do so. Patrick Beverly has missed significant time due to injury and, beyond that, isn’t the typical creator expected at the position. Reggie Jackson is a serviceable backup but has struggled at times as a starter. Ricky Rubio and George Hill are likely available and should be easy targets for the Clippers.
One of the worst teams in the clutch this season, another seasoned veteran could also aid their woes. An insurance big to play behind Ibaka or Ivica Zubac and keep players such as Patrick Patterson or Mfiondu Kabengele on the bench could also prove useful.
The Suns have been one of the most surprising teams in the NBA this season. Second in the West, Phoenix has a lot of reasons to stand pat at the deadline — if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. That said, they’ve already made a minor move, acquiring Torrey Craig from the Milwaukee Bucks. Craig should fit into the role of a defensive wing and can provide quality minutes in the right matchup. His ability to play either forward position should also give the Suns another piece to play with when setting their lineups.
Going forward, Phoenix should look squarely at depth pieces like Craig.
Golden State Warriors
The Warriors have the potential to be one of the more aggressive teams at the deadline. They have the assets in James Wiseman and the Minnesota Timberwolves’ first round pick this season to go out for anyone they see fit. They are also paying a lot in the luxury tax and could also look to ship off someone like Kelly Oubre Jr. to save money.
The Warriors should do what they can to improve their roster and maximize Stephen Curry’s prime. However, there aren’t many guys worth pushing all the chips in with Bradley Beal and Zach Lavine seemingly unavailable.
That said, there are plenty of players the Warriors could target that would move the needle or, at the very least, help them secure a spot on the playoffs. They could take a swing at John Collins or Nikola Vucevic and hope they can work something out but, at this point, they would seem set to acquire more of a secondary option as opposed to another alpha alongside Curry. It was recently reported that the price for Houston Rockets guard Victor Oladipo was “too steep” for the Warriors, but players like Aaron Gordon and Harrison Barnes could likely be had at a more reasonable cost and aid the Warriors considerably.
The Kings should be one of the deadline’s biggest sellers. They have appealing pieces up-and-down the roster that could bring back young players, draft picks or both to pair with their backcourt of the future in De’Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton.
Barnes and Buddy Hield are both under contract beyond this season, but both have garnered interest and should be traded. Richaun Holmes, set to be a free agent after the season, is one of the more underrated bigs in the NBA and should draw plenty of interest as well. Sacramento also has some veterans that could be traded or bought out if no deal is found in Cory Joseph, Hassan Whiteside and Nemanja Bjelica. With seemingly more parity than ever across the league, the Kings have a real opportunity to take advantage of a buyers market and build something special; expect them to take advantage.