It was thought prior to the season that the NBA would be a league of haves and have-nots but the league’s middle of the pack is fighting back. Just about every team except for the Suns is alive for a playoff spot in the Western Conference while the East is deeper than it has been in years. Many of these middle of the road, smaller market teams could be ready to make some blockbuster trades ahead of the trade deadline on Feb. 7, with Washington’s Bradley Beal looming as the big fish. Memphis’ Marc Gasol and Mike Conley could also be attractive for several teams looking to solidify their playoff standing. ESPN’s Zach Lowe and The Ringer’s Bill Simmons recently discussed this on Simmons’ podcast.
Simmons: What if Portland says Evan Turner and Zach Collins for Gasol. We’ll do that right now.
Lowe: I don’t see it. I think Jusuf Nurkic has been better than Gasol and Nurkic is on a bargain deal. It’s four-years, $48 million. I think Portland is going to be aggressive. Al-Farouq Aminu is slumping. Harkless is always in and out of the lineup. I think the Blazers are going to be aggressive in trying to get help but I don’t think it’s at center.
Simmons: I guess for Gasol there might not be a trade team. Most teams have a center they either like or kind of like.
Lowe: I’ve long been interested in the idea of Gasol for Andre Drummond. So Detroit gets out of Drummond’s contract which they’ve been trying to do for several years. Memphis can kind of sell that as well maybe a change of scenery could help. He’s still pretty young. He can catch lobs and do this and that. It’s just interesting to me.
I don’t think Memphis does it because I would bet they view Drummond as almost a negative asset. But then again, it’s not like the Grizzlies are going to get two first round picks and a good young player for Gasol. It’s just not going to happen.
Simmons: Indiana’s got a bunch of expiring contracts. They’re not totally happy with their point guards, and Mike Conley’s from Indiana. I don’t know if there’s something there.
Lowe: Now that I like. I don’t see Indiana doing that just because of the age. But that’s interesting. Indiana is really good but they are somewhat worried about whether they are a better regular season team than a playoff team. That’s an interesting one.
Simmons: The Pacers have $18 million in expiring point guard contracts in Darren Collison and Corey Joseph. They also have Tyreek Evans for one year, $12.4. And they have Bojan Bogdanovic for $10.5. And they have Thad Young for $13.8 expiring. So they’re equipped to make any kind of trade. They’re saving their cap space for guys that are never coming there. I just don’t see a marquee free agent saying you know where I’m going, Indiana. So why not trade for someone who has a couple years left on his contract who is either an All-Star or a borderline All-Star.
Lowe: I was making this point on my podcast last week with regard to the Jazz. I think one of these teams that would otherwise have a lot of cap space is going to make this kind of trade. Where they identify a player with two or three years left on his deal that another team doesn’t necessarily want for whatever reason but is still good and take a shot and say that guy fits in our system. Like I guess the Jae Crowder deal for the Jazz was kind of like that. Even on a bigger scale I could see a team doing that.
Beal would certainly qualify as a bigger scale. The shooting guard has been beefing up his trade value in recent weeks as he’s been playing out of his mind with John Wall still on the shelf.