The trade deadline is next Thursday and, as always, this a wild time in the NBA with rumors flying around. In this piece, we look at some players in the Southwest Division that might be traded as we inch closer and closer to March 25.
LaMarcus Aldridge, San Antonio Spurs
It has been reported that Aldridge’s and the Spurs’ decision to part ways was mutual. The 14-year veteran has spent the last six seasons with the Spurs but, at this point, he is looking to be on a surefire championship contender. While the Spurs are having a better year than many thought they would, they are far from the sure thing they once were come the postseason.
The post player has shown he can still offer a team a veteran presence off the bench in the right situation. In the last two seasons, Aldridge has shot 35 percent from behind the three-point line on over three attempts per game. At 35-years-old, he may not be someone that can come in and play consistent starter minutes, but Aldridge would be a good second unit option that can take advantage of mismatches and carry the scoring load in spurts for almost any contender.
In the last year of his contract, his $24 million salary wouldn’t be the easiest to match, but two mid-level contracts should be able to get any acquiring team close there. The Spurs have never been one to take on bad contracts so they would likely have to be pieces that they feel would have an opportunity to crack the team’s rotation.
Trey Burke, Dallas Mavericks
Kristaps Porzingis’ name has been thrown around a lot recently. But, given his inconsistent play, injury history and large contract, the Latvian center might be more difficult to trade than anticipated. That said, if the Mavericks look to move a player and or recoup an asset, look for Trey Burke to be someone they consider moving.
Burke is having a solid season for Dallas, serving as the team’s third point guard behind Luka Doncic and Jalen Brunson. That said, he’s shown himself capable of a greater opportunity and, on a deal worth next to nothing, could easily be moved to any team looking to add a player that can move the ball and contribute on the outside; Burke has shot 39.1 percent from three this season.
The team may not snag a long-term piece by trading him, but they could certainly swap for someone that might further compliment Doncic, Porzingis and the rest of Dallas’ roster.
Lonzo Ball, New Orleans Pelicans
It would appear to be just a matter of time before the Pelicans trade Ball. The fourth-year guard has played for two different teams and in his young career has not been able to find stability.
Ball’s shot was a big concern when he entered the NBA, but the last two season he has shown he can be effective from deep, as he’s shot 37.9 percent from deep. He’s also shown some consistency as a spot-up jump shooter, whether from deep or inside the arc. His vision down the court, meanwhile, is something you just can’t teach. Defensively, Ball is a strong presence on the floor with room to grow.
What’s concerning now, however, has been Ball’s inability to get downhill and attack the basket. That said, it’s a safe bet to say that Ball, 23, isn’t done developing and, if he can improve in that area, he might just prove himself a serious two-way force for whichever team that might acquire his services.
Victor Oladipo, Houston Rockets
With PJ Tucker being moved earlier this week to the Milwaukee Bucks, Oladipo is likely to be the next domino to fall for the Rockets. Earlier this season, Oladipo turned down an extension from the team, making it clear he didn’t plan to stay with them long-term. Now, having lost each of their last 20 games, Houston would appear to be on the verge of a fire sale.
It shouldn’t be difficult for a team to cobble together a package that might net them Oladipo. What teams may be concerned about, however, is their ability to re-sign him after the season. It’s long been rumored that Oladipo, whether now or as a free agent, would like to join the Miami HEAT; would any team part with anything of real value to acquire him if that proved to be the case?
As we approach the trade deadline, something to keep is the fact that, with the adoption of the play-in games, teams need only reach the 10-spot in their conference to have a shot at the postseason. The only team in the Southwest that would appear incapable of reaching even that would seem to be the Rockets — and it’s something that may impact the way a number of on-the-fence teams approach the trade deadline this season.