The NBA’s Feb. 18 trade deadline is less than two weeks away and the chatter has really picked up. Here are some of the biggest rumours from around the league.
Raptors, Suns looking to swing a deal?
Analysis: Firmly in second place in the Eastern Conference, the Raptors do not appear to be content with standing pat at the trade deadline. Toronto has four first-round picks in the next two drafts, and realistically cannot absorb that amount of youth onto the roster as it currently has a number of players developing with Raptors 905. However, those picks would be valuable for a team looking towards the future.
Enter the Suns, who have completely fallen off the rails. Morris has been unhappy with the team since before the season even tipped off, Eric Bledsoe is out for the year, Brandon Knight has gone down with an injury and coach Jeff Hornacek has been fired. Since Earl Watson took over, the team has focused on showcasing Morris to rebuild his trade value. His 30-point, 11-rebound performance against the Raptors last week would have only widened Masai Ujiri’s eyes.
Stein believes Phoenix would demand a first-rounder for Tucker, which is probably too much of an ask for a guy who likely wouldn’t see much playing time in Toronto once DeMarre Carroll returns to the lineup. Despite personality issues, Morris is certainly the more intriguing option and would be an immediate upgrade over Luis Scola or Patrick Patterson at power forward. He also possesses a team-friendly contract as the 26-year-old is slated to earn $32 million through the 2018-19 season.
It’s also possible the Raptors could pick up both by sending a draft pick or two, Patterson and maybe even Norm Powell or Delon Wright to Phoenix.
76ers inquire about Griffin
Analysis: Well this is a curveball. If the 76ers are truly interested in landing the star power forward, it would represent a complete shift in team philosophy. With a piece like Griffin, Philadelphia would have to scrap ‘The Process’ and focus on the present seeing as he only has two years left on his contract after this season. With a legitimate superstar, the 76ers would have to go for it while they have a perennial all-star in his prime. But even if they are going to commit to winning now, are the youngsters they would be surrounding Griffin with good enough to compete for a championship?
From the Clippers’ perspective, trading Griffin to the City of Brotherly Love (or anywhere, really) doesn’t seem to make sense. Los Angeles’s championship window is open right now. Moving its best player to a team with an excess of young talent does not seem to fit in with its current plan.
Adding a package of something like Nerlens Noel, T.J. McConnell, Nik Stauskas and a couple draft picks seems counterintuitive to a team that is not that far away from being one of the NBA’s top three contenders.
Bucks shopping Monroe, Carter-Williams?
Analysis: One of the NBA’s biggest surprises a season ago, the Bucks seem to have taken a step back in their development in 2015-16. Already possessing a strong core, Milwaukee inked Monroe to a three-year, $50-million deal in the off-season, obviously believing he would be an important piece of the team’s present and future. The big man has been very solid in his first year with the team, averaging a career-high 16.5 points to go along with nearly 10 boards per night. But for all of his offensive contributions, Monroe remains a poor on-ball defender and doesn’t offer much in the way of rim protection.
In terms of Carter-Williams, he simply has not taken that next step forward the Bucks front office thought he would when they acquired him last year. His scoring numbers are down and his three-point shooting remains suspect. It would be surprising if both players are moved at the deadline, but as we witnessed last season with the Knight deal that brought Carter-Williams to Milwaukee, the Bucks aren’t shy about trading away big names.
Nets, Pistons discussing Young-Jennings swap?
Analysis: On the surface, this trade seems to be a good fit for both teams. The Pistons, a team with legitimate hopes of reaching the playoffs in the Eastern Conference, would bolster their frontcourt while trading from a position of depth.
Young would immediately slot into Detroit’s starting lineup, likely shifting Ersan Ilyasova to the bench. Young is a strong scoring threat who plays good defence but one problem would be his poor three-point shooting. A stretch four might make more sense for the Pistons as they try to open up more space for Andre Drummond down low.
The Nets would be receiving a dynamic playmaker in Jennings, and would give them a solid one-two punch with centre Brook Lopez. Brooklyn also has a hole at point guard after losing Jarrett Jack for the rest of the season due to injury.
Trying to throw some water on this rumour, Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy has called Sheridan’s report false. Additionally, a couple weeks ago, the Nets seemed to be making a priority of stabilizing their front office before making decisions on player personnel.