This weekend marks a key time in the NBA in which players that signed free-agent contracts this offseason are now eligible to be traded. That doesn’t necessarily mean that there will be a flurry of moves in the coming days, just that teams are a little bit more flexible now when assessing possible roster moves. As we’re now about a quarter of the way through this season, we start to get a general sense of each team. It’s still rather early though, there’s still the trade deadline and buyout season ahead, but we have a better understanding of each team than we did before the start of the season.
Here at Basketball Insiders, we’re taking a look at each team in the league by division, and seeing which ones — if any — should look to potentially add or subtract from their roster. Here’s a look at the Pacific Division and what each team could do as trade winds start to blow.
Golden State Warriors (5-22) – Sellers
The Warriors came into the season already down Klay Thompson, and they suffered another huge blow when Stephen Curry was lost with a broken hand. They’ve sputtered for the most part and Golden State currently holds the league’s worst record. Surely, they’d love to add some potential pieces for next year when everyone is presumably healthy, but it’s hard to imagine teams beating down the door to help the Warriors any time soon.
That said, they should look to perhaps ship off some of the veterans on the roster. It’s a forgotten season by now and some playoff contender might be willing to part with a draft pick in exchange for a player to help with their postseason push. D’Angelo Russell’s name has come up but, in all likelihood, the Warriors should hold onto him for now. The two players who they might look to ship to a contender are Alec Burks and Glenn Robinson III. Burks has value as a scorer off the bench and Robinson is a 3&D player. Both could surely help a team in the postseason. The Warriors would be wise to see what the market might be for them.
Los Angeles Clippers (20-8) – Buyers
The Clippers made it clear that they’re going all-in for a championship this season. They’ve had a few injuries here and there, but their superior depth has so far allowed them to withstand that and they’ve been good enough to have the second-best record in the West, only four games behind their in-town rival Lakers. As it stands, the Clippers have a championship-caliber roster, but still, they should do their due diligence to see if they can snag an extra big man. JaMychal Green and Patrick Patterson have done a relatively solid job in their roles off the bench, but to match up with the size of the Lakers, it wouldn’t hurt to scour the market for perhaps one more big capable of bodying up defensively in the paint as well as crashing the glass.
Los Angeles Lakers (23-3) – Neither
The Lakers are rolling this season. They’ve been a top-notch offensive team, but they also have been playing good defense. LeBron James and Anthony Davis have played tremendously well off each other and the pieces around them have fit perfectly. This is another team with championship aspirations and they’re certainly playing like it. There really isn’t anything they should look to do at the moment. It’s possible that things could change once the trade deadline gets nearer, but right now it’s tough to pinpoint any particular moves the Lakers should make. It’s as the old saying goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” This group is playing with amazing cohesion right now and doesn’t need to be tampered with.
Phoenix Suns (11-14) – Neither
The Suns are one of the biggest surprises of the season. Head coach Monty Williams has them playing hard and right in the mix for a playoff spot in the Western Conference. Ricky Rubio has shown himself to be the point guard that Phoenix desperately needed. Dario Saric has been relatively solid for the most part in his first season with the Suns. They’ve also got some strong development from the younger players like Mikal Bridges and Elie Okobo. Before his injury, Aron Baynes was a real difference-maker.
Phoenix’s goal for the rest of the season is likely to keep this up and make a real postseason push. They are in a very precarious situation, however. They likely didn’t expect themselves to be as good as they’ve been and they should refrain from making any shortsighted moves in the name of making a playoff run. Let this group determine this season, then re-evaluate in the summer. There’s no need to set the franchise back in the name of instant gratification. Deandre Ayton is due back soon and they should see how this team gels with him in the lineup first.
Sacramento Kings (11-14) – TBD
The Kings are also in an interesting position. After last season’s finish, the expectations this season were that they would improve upon that and emerge as a playoff team. Instead, they’ve been pretty inconsistent. They’ve beaten some decent teams so far, but also have had nights where they lose to the New York Knicks too. Despite that, they’re still in the mix for a playoff spot, and they currently hold the seventh seed in the conference.
What’s tough to determine is what moves the Kings should make. Is there a player available that would increase their chances of making the playoffs? Probably, but at what cost? Kevin Love’s name has been thrown around, but what would it take to acquire him and how much better would that actually make them? If they remain inconsistent, they might be better off shopping some of their veterans like Trevor Ariza and Cory Joseph, rather than adding to their salary. Bogdan Bogdanovic, headed toward a major contract this summer, might need to be moved on from as well, given the Kings’ suddenly sky-rocketing payroll.
And if they start winning a little more consistently, then perhaps they should let this group finish out the year and also –like the Suns — re-evaluate in the summer. No need to make shortsighted moves that will ultimately cripple the franchise.
There obviously will be some teams that end up making trades, especially leading up to the deadline in February. And now that this summer’s free-agent contracts can be moved, expect trade chatter to start getting louder. But ultimately, these teams should only make trades that really make sense and won’t end up harming them in the long-term.
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