Last year there was hardly any action in the days leading up to the NBA’s trading deadline. That led some to believe it would come and go quietly.
It couldn’t have been further from the truth.
As the clock ticked down, a staggering avalanche of deals were consummated. When the dust settled, 12 trades involving 39 players clogged the league’s approval process for hours after the deadline passed. So even though this week has been fairly quiet, there is still time leading into the 3 p.m. Thursday final buzzer, which will sound just a few hours before the league resumes play after the All-Star break.
And the less time there is left, the more chances there are for something major to happen.
Charlotte has picked up Courtney Lee and Detroit has added Tobias Harris. But with all due respect to both of them, history says there are bigger deals involving bigger names coming on Thursday. No matter how pragmatic executives try to be as the clock ticks down, and no matter how dominant Golden State appears to be as it steamrolls the rest of the league in pursuit of a second straight championship, the lure of the deal often wins out.
Boston, Cleveland, Houston, Atlanta, Chicago, Sacramento and so many others have been engaging in trade talks all week that figure to only get more heated as the deadline approaches.
The Celtics are looking for a star for coach Brad Stevens, the Cavaliers are looking to bolster their role players around LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love not so much to help them in the East, but to give them a better chance in an NBA Finals matchup against the Warriors or another Western power. The Clippers need bench help to compete with the Warriors, Spurs and Thunder.
Goran Dragic, Isaiah Thomas, Brandon Knight, Reggie Jackson, Enes Kanter and Kevin Garnett were among the notable names to switch teams at the last minute last year. Here is a look at some of the names that have surfaced:
DWIGHT HOWARD: The Rockets have been one of the most disappointing teams of the season, and the chemistry between Howard and shooting guard James Harden appears to be fraying. Rockets general manager Daryl Morey has always been one of the most aggressive dealmakers in the league, and with Howard having the ability to become a free agent this summer, it might be time to part ways.
PAU GASOL: The Bulls All-Star is one of the most skilled big men in the league. But the 35-year-old also can become a free agent in July, and the Bulls could look to get some compensation for him.
JEFF TEAGUE: The Hawks could look to shake things up and give themselves a boost while sitting in the fourth spot in the Eastern Conference. With backup point guard Dennis Schroder showing promise, moving Teague could bring some defensive help in the frontcourt after the Hawks lost big man Tiago Splitter for the season to a hip injury.
RYAN ANDERSON: The Pelicans shooter can be a free agent this summer, so a shooting-starved team like the Cavaliers could bring him in as a rental with the hopes of convincing him to stay for the long term.
AL HORFORD: The Hawks All-Star said Wednesday he expects to remain in Atlanta, and he is the ideal fit for coach Mike Budenholzer’s system. But he will be a free agent this summer, and the Hawks could look to move him if they think they would lose him for nothing in a few months.
KEVIN LOVE: The Cavaliers forward has heard his name in trade rumors for much of the season, but James shot those down in Toronto during All-Star weekend, and it remains unlikely he is moved on Thursday. If the Cavs make a deal, supporting parts like Iman Shumpert and Timofey Mozgov seem more likely to move.