NBA Rumour Roundup: What moves could Raptors and Lakers make on home stretch?

Steve Jones Jr. joins the Raptors Show with Will Lou to talk about what contending teams in the market should be prioritizing ahead of the NBA trade deadline, emphasizing the way a player fits the roster over getting the best player available.

What final tricks could Masai Ujiri and co. have up their sleeves in the final days of the trade deadline?

After pulling off two massive deals with the OG Anunoby and Pascal Siakam trades, looking at the rest of the roster, it’s hard to see anything nearly as league-shattering taking place now.

However, Ujiri said at a press conference following the blockbuster deals that the team isn’t walking away from the negotiation table, with the phones still very much open for business right up until the Feb. 8 deadline.

As it stands, the player most likely to be dealt is Bruce Brown, who has been mentioned in rumours since being dealt to Toronto as part of the Siakam trade.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said on his podcast that there’s a “very good chance he moves,” and looking around the league, contenders like the New York Knicks, Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers are shaping up to be the primary suitors for his services.

According to Yahoo’s Jake Fischer, the New York Knicks have pivoted away from other targets such as PJ Washington from the Charlotte Hornets as they’re likely more interested in Brown.

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He added that the Raptors are searching for a return in the range of a first-round pick, potentially adding onto the three first-round picks they acquired in the initial deal with Indiana.

Fischer also mentioned that the Bucks may have joined the Bruce Brown sweepstakes, but have limited options after their mega-deal for Damian Lillard cleared out their remaining draft capital, leaving them without any future first-round picks to deal. He said that forward Bobby Portis would have to be included should they want to go after someone like Brown.

Meanwhile, the Lakers were looking at Brown as a target in free agency last off-season. They hoped to sign him with their mid-level exception, and according to Wojnarowski, have renewed their interest in the wing leading up to the deadline.

Elsewhere on the Raptors, Chris Boucher seems likely to be dealt ahead of the deadline with the veteran forward falling out of the rotation and remaining benched in losses to the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder.

Raptors point guard Dennis Schroder has also been mentioned in trade rumours, having drawn interest from both the Lakers and more recently the Minnesota Timberwolves, as a report from The Athletic’s Jon Krawczynski outlined numerous targets for a Minnesota squad lacking point guard depth past veteran Mike Conley.

With their two big deals this season, the Raptors acquired players that they view as part of their core for the future and draft capital, replenishing what they spent in previous years.

Though the rest of the potential moves they could make won’t net them nearly as much, the Raptors seem intent on capitalizing on a market centred around them and their roleplayers, eking out whatever value they can from the guys they don’t view as part of the team going forward.

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Business as usual for 76ers despite Embiid injury

Despite Joel Embiid reportedly being out for 6-8 weeks following surgery on his meniscus, the Philadelphia 76ers see no reason to dampen their lofty expectations for the rest of the season.

Though surges from the Cavaliers and Knicks have pushed them into fifth place in the East, reports from around The Association view the 76ers as nothing short of buyers in the final days ahead of the deadline.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported on NBA Today that they’re looking to acquire players, with backup centre being a big target for them.

“They’re out, they’re aggressive. They know they have a tight window with Joel Embiid, they know there’s risk in doing a deal and then he doesn’t come back this season or he’s not himself,” Wojnarowski said. “I think they’re willing to live with that risk because they have the reigning MVP, and if they can have him healthy enough, they want to have a group around him that gives him a chance.”

Paul Reed has been serviceable in games that Embiid has missed, averaging 10.5 points and 6.7 rebounds in 13 games as a starter, but the 76ers are looking for more dependability from the position and could look to reunite with Andre Drummond from the Chicago Bulls.

Drummond has been more than steady this year, averaging 14.0 points and a ridiculous 17.4 rebounds in the seven games he has started for the Bulls this season. In their latest game against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday, he started alongside everyday big man Nikola Vucevic and finished with 16 points and 16 rebounds, showing that he could bring lineup flexibility even once Embiid returns to the fold.

The 76ers may have to act fast though as HoopsHype’s Michael Scotto has reported that Drummond has drawn interest from the Celtics, Mavericks, Lakers and Suns.

If not a big, then Yahoo’s Jake Fischer reported that the Sixers are in the market for some additional shooting at the wing and have inquired about Buddy Hield from the Indiana Pacers and Bojan Bogdanovic from the Detroit Pistons, two players who also don’t carry long-term salary and give Philadelphia room to operate should they want a clean slate going into next season.

Quiet deadline ahead for Lakers?

Maybe the real trade deadline target was the friends we made along the way.

The Lakers, against all odds, could actually end up holding relatively steady at the trade deadline because of the re-emergence of D’Angelo Russell in recent weeks punctuated by a three-game win streak that includes victories against the Boston Celtics and New York Knicks on the road.

According to Wojnarowski, the Lakers trade deadline approach has changed because of how much better Russell has looked running the point, playing some of the best basketball of his career. In the past 16 games, he’s averaging 22.2 points, 6.4 assists and is shooting 46.3 per cent from the field and 44.9 per cent from deep. The Lakers are 10-6 in that stretch.

“About a month ago he was very available,” Wojnarowski said on an appearance on SportsCenter. “Right now, I think the Lakers look at the landscape and think it’s hard to imagine, given what’s available, they would be a better team by trading D’Angelo Russell.”

Wojnarowski added that the Lakers are still involved in conversations for players like Atlanta’s Dejounte Murray and Toronto’s Brown, players they were looking into before Russell found his groove, but Rob Pelinka and the rest of the Los Angeles front office don’t see there being many “difference-makers” on the market right now.

The ESPN insider added that they don’t want to be in a position that handicaps them long-term and takes away flexibility going into the off-season.

Notably, Murray signed an extension last summer through 2027-28 with a player option in the final season, meaning the Lakers wouldn’t have the cap flexibility they may be looking for should they make a deal for him.

They could also choose to stand pat because of their lack of future draft capital, with their only tradeable first-rounder coming in 2029. However, should they choose to wait for the off-season to go after a third star, they’ll have three future first-rounders to put on the table instead.

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Fast Breaks

• The Phoenix Suns remain interested in Miles Bridges of the Charlotte Hornets, and according to Yahoo’s Jake Fischer, are willing to add wing Josh Okogie to a package with Nassir Little and two second-round picks to get the deal done. However, the Hornets are still hopeful to get first-round value out of the forward or could simply re-sign him in the off-season and look for a suitor then.

• The Hornets are one of the big sellers to look out for, as forward PJ Washington is also a player generating some buzz. According to Fischer’s report, the Mavericks and Clippers could be two teams to watch.

• The Warriors are in a tough spot, with Andrew Wiggins’ value seemingly deteriorating day by day. However, Fischer reported that the Dallas Mavericks and Milwaukee Bucks are two teams that have considered making a move for the Canadian wing. Otherwise, Golden State has made it clear that Kuminga is untouchable after the third-year has enjoyed the best stretch of basketball of his career, and a potential trade with Klay Thompson remains far-fetched with the club viewing him as too much of a franchise icon to deal him away.

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