The NBA Trade Deadline is just two days away, but the hype leading up to it began weeks – months? – ago. Some teams are looking for one more piece to put them over the top, while others are looking to cut salary and build toward the future.
Players and fans are equally on edge as GMs kick around offers behind closed doors.
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Here are five teams most likely to make a move by Feb. 21:
Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers are done playing second fiddle to the Lakers, and realize they have a team that’s one or two players short of winning the title this season. Eric Bledsoe, the team’s backup point guard to Chris Paul, is their bait, and they’ve already reportedly tried dangling him to the Celtics (with Caron Butler, for Kevin Garnett) and the Jazz (for Paul Millsap). It doesn’t look like the C’s are biting on that offer, but it makes sense for the Jazz, who could certainly use a point guard, and could lose Millsap to free agency after the season. Regardless of where, Bledsoe could certainly be out of LA by Thursday night.
It seems like Josh Smith has been included in trade talks for the past few years (because he has). Why does it make sense to trade him now? Well, unless the absolute improbable happens, Atlanta doesn’t seem to be going far with him as its centerpiece. He’s due for a max deal or close to one over the offseason – whether he deserves it or not – and the Hawks may not be interested. Both the Celtics and Nets, among others have come up as suitors, but the Nets are also reportedly interested in Millsap.
Phoenix understands it needs to unload some players and hope it pays dividends down the road. Marcin Gortat is a big man who can help out just about any team, as could Luis Scola. Swingman Jared Dudley is by all accounts a great locker-room guy (and can play). Michael Beasley plays in spurts, and could scare teams away if the Suns include him in potential deals.
An 8-1 stretch has probably killed all Paul Pierce/Kevin Garnett trades – unless the C’s are blown away by an offer. But don’t count out a smaller trade to bring in a backup guard or big man.
The Bucks have a decision to make: Monta Ellis or Brandon Jennings? They can’t sign both, and may elect to trade one or the other by Thursday.