We’re quickly approaching trade season in the NBA, with the deadline set for February 9. NBA teams tend to be classified as buyers or sellers depending on their position in the standings but this season is a bit different. Some teams have underperformed early in the year but still have playoff aspirations. Others have defied expectations but likely want to make backwards moves for a better future. Here’s a look at which teams are likely to be buyers and which ones will sell at the deadline.
The top of the East will be interesting to watch. The Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Philadelphia 76ers, Milwaukee Bucks and Cleveland Cavaliers are largely set in terms of their rosters. The Miami Heat don’t have much room to make a big move, while the rest of the East is in chaos.
In the West, the Denver Nuggets, Memphis Grizzlies and New Orleans Pelicans are all likely to be buyers. The Sacramento Kings, Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Clippers will tap into the market but are unlikely to have the pieces to make a big move. The Golden State Warriors might shift some things around the edges of the roster. The Los Angeles Lakers are also looking to buy but don’t have much to offer.
More Likely to be Buyers
The Portland Trail Blazers and New York Knicks fall in this camp. Both teams have some assets to deal but the trade market might not be out there for them. The Atlanta Hawks fall into this realm as well, although they are trying to do their buying by selling some rotation underperforming pieces off.
Should Stay Put
The two teams that come to mind here are the Toronto Raptors and Chicago Bulls. These teams are unlikely to get requisite value back for their best players and are close enough to the East playoff picture to stick it out. The Bulls have more incentive to sell with a top-4 protected pick but the Raptors should hope shooting regression to the mean benefits them. The Washington Wizards also fall in this category as they don’t have much to deal. The same goes for the Minnesota Timberwolves.
More Likely to be Sellers
The Indiana Pacers and Utah Jazz have been better than expected this season but both teams have decent pieces capable of helping the franchise add some future assets. Myles Turner and Mike Conley are sure to be on the trade block, while Buddy Hield and Jordan Clarkson could also help contenders.
The San Antonio Spurs, Houston Rockets, Charlotte Hornets and Detroit Pistons each have some intriguing pieces worth dangling on the trade market. The Oklahoma City Thunder already have a lot of draft assets, so they’re going to sit tight. The Orlando Magic will likely keep their core intact. The biggest assets here from a player standpoint are Keldon Johnson and Bojan Bogdanovic. Those two players could instantly help a contender.