Home » news » Nba Trade Deadline Watch Central Division


NBA Trade Deadline Watch: Central Division

A look at players who could be on the move in the Central Division.

John Zitzler profile picture



We sometimes use affiliate links in our content, when clicking on those we might receive a commission – at no extra cost to you. By using this website you agree to our terms and conditions and privacy policy.

This week we’ve been taking a look around the league, division by division, at players that may be on the move in our Deadline Watch series. So far we’ve covered the Southeast, Pacific and Northwest divisions. Today, we take a closer look at the Central Division.

The Central is headlined by two of the tougher teams in the East in the Chicago Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers. Both made big splashes this off-season with aspirations of a championship run. Elsewhere in the division, the Bucks look to remain in the playoff picture with the Pistons pushing to join them. Lastly the Pacers will have some big decisions to make and could see significant roster moves prior to the deadline.
With that said let’s take a closer look at each team and their current situation…

Cleveland Cavaliers

Expiring deals: Shawn Marion and James Jones

Potentially expiring deals: LeBron James (Player Option), Kevin Love (Player Option), J.R. Smith (Player Option), Timofey Mozgov (Team Option), Tristan Thompson (Restricted), Mike Miller (Player Option), Iman Shumpert (Restricted), Brendan Haywood (Non-Guaranteed) and Matt Dellavedova (Restricted).

Could be shopped: Brendan Haywood and Joe Harris.

After a slow start the Cavs decided they weren’t going to wait until the trade deadline to make some major changes. First, the team shipped out erratic scorer Dion Waiters, sending him to Oklahoma City in a three-team deal that netted Cleveland J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert. Just two days later the Cavs went out and got Timofey Mozgov, adding a much needed interior defender to their frontcourt.

Those moves have really started to pay dividends over the last couple weeks, as the Cavs have strung together nine-straight wins. Having Mozgov down low has added a different dimension and really helped them protect the paint.

Looking ahead the Cavs will have their sights set on a title. They have addressed many of the holes in their roster already, but even so may not be done yet. Adding depth at point guard is one area the Cavs make look to improve. Matt Dellavedova has been the primary option behind Kyrie Irving, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Cavs attempt to bring in a more experienced player to serve as their backup point guard. However, their roster is lacking in terms of tradable pieces. Brendan Haywood is expendable and has a uniquely-structured contract that could be valuable for a team looking to cut salary. Alone, though, he won’t net much. Rookie Joe Harris has fallen out of the Cavs’ rotation and is a prospect that may draw some interest. It’s unlikely the Cavs would move any of their veteran bench players, many who followed LeBron James to Cleveland to make a run at a title.

Chicago Bulls

Expiring deals: Mike Dunleavy, Nazr Mohammed and Aaron Brooks

Potentially expiring deals: Kirk Hinrich (Player Option), Jimmy Butler (Restricted), E’Twaun Moore (Non-Guaranteed) and Cameron Bairstow (Non-Guaranteed)

Could be shopped: Tony Snell

The Bulls, like the Cavs, went into this season with the goal of a deep playoff run. They added Pau Gasol over the summer, pairing him alongside Joakim Noah, to form one of the top frontcourts in the East. Gasol has been everything the Bulls could have hoped for. He has the highest PER on the team at 22.1, is the leading rebounder (12.2) and third leading scorer (18.2). Derrick Rose has finally been able to stay healthy for the majority of the season and Jimmy Butler has exploded onto the scene, averaging career best numbers across the board.

Everything seemed to be going according to plan during the first 33 games season, the Bulls were 23-10 and looked again to be one of the top teams in the East. It was in the 33rd game of the season when Mike Dunleavy went down with an ankle injury and has been sidelined ever since. During Dunleavy’s 16 game absence the Bulls have a record of just 7-9, struggling without their starting small forward. The injury to Dunleavy has exposed the Bulls’ lack of depth on the wing and it’s one issue they may seek to correct prior to the trade deadline. Without Dunleavy their offense has bogged down due to their inability to spread the floor. Coach Thibodeau has experimented with a number of different lineup combinations, but has been unable to find a regular replacement for Dunleavy. Tony Snell has played inconsistent minutes throughout the season and been unable to prove that he is the answer behind Dunleavy. Adding another wing that can regularly knock down shots from the outside is something that could really help the Bulls going forward.

Milwaukee Bucks

Expiring deals: Kendall Marshall

Potentially expiring deals: Jared Dudley (Early Termination), Brandon Knight (Restricted) and Khris Middleton (Restricted)

Could be shopped: Ersan Ilyasova

After finishing last year with just 15 wins, not much was expected of the Bucks this season. Sure, they have some nice young pieces, but most anticipated they would finish near the bottom of the Eastern Conference once again and be sellers at the trade deadline. However, at 24-22, the Bucks shockingly seem destined for a playoff berth.

The Bucks surprising start has changed their outlook from the start of the season. Going into to this season priority number one was the development of the team’s young talent, most importantly the growth of Jabari Parker and Giannis Antetokounmpo. Although Parker has been lost for the season, new head coach Jason Kidd has done a good job giving significant minutes to the younger players on the roster while still building a winning culture. With the playoffs on the horizon, don’t expect the Bucks to be as eager to move some of their veteran contributors. O.J Mayo, Jared Dudley and Jerryd Bayless have combined to form one of the best benches in the league and have been a major reason behind the Bucks’ turnaround.

One player that had been the subject of trade rumors during the offseason was Ersan Ilyasova. His ability to stretch the floor from the four spot makes him a desirable commodity throughout the league. However, again, while the Bucks may have made Ilyasova available in the past, following their strong start and likely playoff berth they may want to keep their current group together and see how things play out.

Detroit Pistons

Expiring deals: Greg Monroe, Jonas Jerebko and Joel Anthony

Potentially expiring deals: Caron Butler (Non-Guaranteed), Anthony Tolliver (Non-Guaranteed), Luigi Datome (Restricted), Cartier Martin (Player Option) and Kyle Singler (Restricted)

Could be shopped: Luigi Datome, Jonas Jerebko and Greg Monroe.

The start of the season couldn’t have gone much worse for Stan Van Gundy and the Pistons. They were 3-14 at the end of November with little hope of salvaging their season. Less than a month later the Pistons made a move that seemingly gave them new life, releasing Josh Smith just over a year after signing him to a lucrative four-year, $54 million dollar deal.

Following the release of Smith the Pistons went on a tear, vaulting themselves back into playoff contention. Unfortunately their resurgence took a major hit last Sunday when Brandon Jennings suffered a torn Achilles tendon. Jennings had been playing some of the best basketball of his career during the Pistons recent run. In January Jennings averaged 20.9 points and 7.2 assists with a true shooting percentage of 55.9.

The loss of Jennings leaves the Pistons shorthanded at point guard. D.J. Augustin has been moved into the starting lineup and been forced to play heavy minutes in Jennings’ absence. Outside of Augustin the Pistons don’t have any other options with experience playing point guard. If they want to continue their pursuit for one final playoff spots in the East adding another point guard will be crucial.

With Caron Butler, Jodie Meeks, Jonas Jerebko, Luigi Datome, Spencer Diwiddie and Cartier Martin, their bench is flush at the with wings. Two names that have been rumored to be on the block are Jerebko and Datome. It’s unlikely that either Jerebko or Datome would bring much back in return alone, but if the Pistons do make a trade one of the two, if not both, will almost certainly be part of the package. The Pistons will surely receive calls on Greg Monroe. While it seemed very possible he would be moved earlier in the year it now appears likely that the Monroe will finish the season with the Pistons. Even if the Pistons were to agree to deal Monroe, he has the ability to veto any trade. Not only that, but the risk of losing Monroe in free agency would play a major factor for any team considering acquiring the Piston big man.

Indiana Pacers

Expiring deals: Luis Scola, C.J. Watson, Donald Sloan, Lavoy Allen and Rodney Stuckey

Potentially expiring deals: Roy Hibbert (Player Option), David West (Player Option), Chris Copeland (Restricted) and Shayne Whittington (Restricted)

Could be shopped: David West, Chris Copeland, Roy Hibbert, Luis Scola, Rodney Stuckey and C.J. Watson.

Of all the teams in the Central the Pacers may be the most active at the deadline. Despite being just three games out of the eight seed in the East, their chances of making the playoffs are slim. They have a number of experienced players who could be immediate contributors on a playoff team.

The biggest name that could be on the move is center Roy Hibbert. Hibbert has been a vital part of the Pacers’ success of the last couple years, but his time in Indianapolis may soon come to an end. His contract includes a player option to remain with the team through 2015-16 worth $15.51 million, however there is a chance Hibbert will forgo that money in search of a long-term deal this offseason. The Pacers certainly must weigh the possibility of Hibbert opting out as the deadline inches closer. The issue for any team considering making a trade offer for Hibbert will be whether they can sign him to a long-term deal. Even with the possibility of losing Hibbert after this season the Pacers are not just going to sell him for pennies on the dollar.

As you can see, Hibbert isn’t the only Pacer that could be moved. Both David West and Luis Scola could provide immediate help to a team with an undermanned frontcourt. Similarly, C.J. Watson and Rodney Stuckey are both very experienced guards who could help team lacking backcourt depth. Larry Bird will certainly be a busy man over the next weeks and has some big decisions to make in the near future.

The trade deadline is always one of the most exciting times of the year in the NBA. It’s the last chance for potential playoff teams to strengthen their roster, while at the same time an opportunity for rebuilding teams to improve their future. The Central Division has teams that fall on both sides of the equation. Are the Cavs done dealing? Will the Bucks keep their current group together? Who’s staying and who’s going in Indianapolis? Do the Bulls have the pieces to acquire a wing? Can the Pistons find help at point guard? We’ll have an answer to all these questions and many more around the league come February 19.

This is John's second year with Basketball Insiders, after spending last season working as an intern. Based out of Milwaukee, he covers the NBA with a focus on the Milwaukee Bucks and the Central Division.

Trending Now