We are approaching a monumental shift in balance, as far as the NBA is concerned; yes, I am talking about the trade deadline. The deadline is when contending teams solidify their roster by trading for players who can fit their scheme and further enhance their identity. Teams stuck in the middle trade assets who have no place on their roster for potential pieces that can help them reach the top in the near future. While the franchise found at the very bottom of the totem pole often trade expiring contracts, veterans who can contribute to championship teams, and second round picks for a chance to move up on draft night this coming June. To put it simply, teams find their final form as far as this season goes post traded deadline. While it does not always work out, the fun surrounding the deadline is a yearly tradition that fans have come to embrace.
The trade deadline is the make or break portion of the season. While there are teams that found success after a completed trade like the Los Angeles Lakers trading for Pau Gasol in 2009 or the Detroit Pistons trading for Rasheed Wallace in 2004, there are also those who regret ever considering the transactions made, like the New Orleans Pelicans trading several players, including Buddy Hield, for DeMarcus Cousins back in the 2017 trade deadline.
Today we take a look at the potential trade targets of each team. Note that trading is an intricate process with many factors in play, so the actual trade won’t be included. Here are each NBA team’s potential trade targets.
30 Atlanta Hawks – Nikola Vucevic
As it stands the Atlanta Hawks have a weak center rotation. Miles Plumlee, Dewayne Dedmon, and Alex Len all share the responsibility of manning the paint, but none of those guys are starters in the NBA. As long as John Collins fails to show the ability to play the five position, they need someone to help them out in the short term.
Enter Nikola Vucevic. Not only will Vucevic give them a massive boost in scoring, but he will also be a legitimate center for a short amount of time. Vucevic is having the best year in his career yet it feels as though he has no job security in Orlando.
29 Boston Celtics – Kent Bazemore
As weird as it sounds, the Boston Celtics lack depth at the shooting guard position. Most of their talents are funneled towards the small forward and the power forward spot in their rotation with Gordon Hayward, Marcus Morris, Jaylen Brown, and Jayson Tatum all being juggled from two to four.
Kent Bazemore is a real shooting guard and plugging him in Brad Stevens revolutionary offense can do wonders. Bazemore is an athletic shooting guard that can score from anywhere on the court, a natural fit in Stevens' dynamic offense.
28 Brooklyn Nets – Tristan Thompson
The Brooklyn Nets have a weird roster that works for them this year. They have a bunch of talented guards, quality small forwards, and a couple of great defensive big men, but they have no true power forward. Jared Dudley is their starting power forward and while he has been good in a couple of games, it’s hard to imagine it being sustainable.
Tristan Thompson, on the other hand, provides a nice energy boost off the bench. He is going to come in and gobble up rebounds. He does not provide outside shooting but with Shabazz Napier, Allen Crabbe, and DeMare Carroll coming off the bench that should not be an issue.
27 Charlotte Hornets – Thaddeus Young
At this point in the season, the Charlotte Hornets can’t be picky when it comes to players. The Hornets need a lot so bargaining for someone serviceable might be enough to keep Kemba Walker happy. As far as team construction goes, the Hornets as much help as they can.
Thaddeus Young would be the perfect fit next to Kemba as he provides everything you want from a role player. Young can score, defend, and rebound plus his energy is something teams look for during the playoffs.
26 Chicago Bulls – Jae Crowder
You have to give credit to Gar Forman and John Paxson, often called GarPax, for assembling a fun and exciting young team in Chicago. Zach LaVine, Lauri Markannen, and Wendell Carter as a group is a good foundation going forward.
The Bulls need perimeter defense and as good as Ryan Arcidiacono and Kris Dunn are, they can’t defend small forwards. If the Bulls give an offer for Jae Crowder, they get a perfect 3-D player to complement the young guys. Plus Crowder is only 28-years-old; he has more than enough time to develop with the team.
25 Cleveland Cavaliers – Tim Hardaway Jr.
The Cleveland Cavaliers are not trying to hide what they are doing as far as their rebuild goes. The Cavs are one of the worst teams in the NBA and this will ultimately give them a higher chance of getting Zion Williamson. Cleveland has had numerous years of struggle as far as their sports teams go and this short rebuild is nothing compared to what the fans went through in recent history.
However, sooner or later, you will have to find talent. Tim Hardaway Jr. can be the go-to guy for a couple of years until the younger players are ready to step up and lead.
24 Dallas Mavericks – Khris Middleton
Luka Doncic has been the star everyone expected him to be. He’s been hitting sick step-back jumpers, making slick passes, and he’s been the wonder boy that people saw in Europe. However, Luka is not the type of player that can lead a franchise by himself similar to LeBron James; Doncic needs a solid supporting crew and Khris Middleton might be the perfect fit.
Middleton brings everything you want from the number two option. He can shoot, defend, occasionally score, and lead. The weaknesses he has can be covered nicely by Doncic.
23 Denver Nuggets – Tyus Jones
The Denver Nuggets have been the best-kept secret of the NBA for a couple of years now. People ignored a budding superstar in Nikola Jokic in his first three seasons and even today they still disregard his abilities. Jamal Murray and Gary Harris both have an argument for being the most underrated guard in this guard-heavy league. Mason Plumlee can also be called the best backup center in the NBA today.
Even though the talent is clearly there, the lack of point guard play has hurt the Nuggets. With Isaiah Thomas coming back, this issue may be addressed, but to be safe, they still need to trade for one and Tyus Jones might be the perfect fit.
22 Detroit Pistons – Dion Waiters
Year after year, we get treated to a weird Detroit Pistons roster. A combination of young, talented, and outright headaches has been the formula for the Pistons in the first half of the 2010s. This year, however, we finally get to see some balance with Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond leading the pack.
Yet the Pistons need so much more as they lack perimeter talent. Dion Waiters could be a potentially great pickup as he provides a bad-boy swagger that is always welcome in Motown and he is an above average scorer, something the Pistons need.
21 Golden State Warriors – No one
We are witnessing history with this current Golden State Warriors team. No team has ever been this dominant as far as a jump-shooting team goes; led by Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant, this team is definitely the most talented roster on paper.
With the talent they currently have, it is hard to imagine who can come in and make the Warriors better which is why they do not need to rush anything on the deadline. The Warriors will still be the dominant team they were for years now with or without a trade.
20 Houston Rockets – Al-Farouq Aminu
With the departure of Trevor Ariza this past summer, the Houston Rockets have definitely felt the ill effects of missing a key role player. This Rockets team has struggled all throughout the year, especially with shooting and perimeter defense.
Al-Farouq Aminu is cut from the same cloth as Ariza. Aminu provides shooting and defense and quite frankly, the Rockets could use as much help that comes their way with how disappointing the season has been so far for them.
19 Indiana Pacers – Jabari Parker
Domantas Sabonis has done the heavy lifting for this Indiana Pacers team, especially the bench unit. Sabonis is the front-runner for Sixth Man of the Year as he has been a menace on the boards and a matchup nightmare for any backup big.
The lack of bench depth could hurt Indiana in the playoffs. Jabari Parker brings them a good offensive burst; Parker won’t have to play more than 20 minutes for them as long as he gets his touches on the offense. It’s a win-win for both parties if the Pacers decide to go this route.
18 Los Angeles Clippers – Jabari Parker
The Los Angeles Clippers are surprisingly the best team in L.A. They have a legitimate shot at the Western Conference Finals, barring any injuries. But the Clippers need a bit more firepower since Lou Williams is constantly hurt.
It may seem weird that Jabari Parker is highly touted, given the lack of playing time he is receiving in his hometown Chicago, but Parker definitely has talent. He might well be a sieve on defense, but offensively, he can light up a defense in a blink of an eye; a trait that goes a long way in the playoffs.
17 Los Angeles Lakers – Zaza Pachulia
It’s hard to put a finger on what the Los Angeles Lakers are missing exactly. They have a superstar in LeBron James, a couple of young stars in Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart, and Brandon Ingram, plus solid veterans like Rajon Rondo and Tyson Chandler, yet they have struggled this season.
A struggling team usually needs energy and toughness and Zaza Pachulia brings both. Pachulia was well known with his time with the Warriors where he won a couple of championships; Zaza can bring rebounding energy, which might inject life into this Lakers team.
16 Memphis Grizzlies – Alex Len
The Memphis Grizzlies have looked better this year compared to last year where they lost Mike Conley due to injury. Led by Conley, this Memphis team has been in the mix for a coveted Western Conference playoff spot.
Even though this team has been good, they still struggle in rebounding something Alex Len can bring to the table. Len never lived up to being taken fifth overall in 2013 but he has always been one of the best rebounding bigs in the NBA. If he can come in for Marc Gasol and provide a solid 15-minute run off the bench per game, it should be enough.
15 Miami Heat – Tim Hardaway Jr.
Miami has always struggled with perimeter scoring ever since LeBron James left. They have tried and rotated a couple of guys like Tyler Johnson but to no avail. This year, however, the surprising play of Josh Richardson has eased the pain, but they still need a good bench scorer with Dion Waiters still out.
Tim Hardaway Jr. would be the perfect player for the Heat. Not only would Hardaway provide scoring off the bench, but he’d also be a nice throwback to the time when his father, Tim Hardaway Sr., played.
14 Milwaukee Bucks – Joe Harris
Giannis Antetokounmpo unlocks so many possibilities due to his freakish body and unmatched skillset. The Greek Freak gives the opposing team nightmares when it comes to guarding the paint as he can easily waltz in there and score. However, Giannis still lacks a respectable jump shot, giving him a handicap the Milwaukee Bucks must address at once.
Joe Harris brings a valuable skill in today’s NBA with his shooting. If given a chance to play with Giannis and crew, Harris will provide the spacing needed for the Greek Freak to succeed.
13 Minnesota Timberwolves – Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
It has been quite a weird season for the Minnesota Timberwolves. The drama and controversy surrounding Jimmy Butler has been a storyline since the offseason. Now that they have finally dealt with Butler and his antics, the Wolves need to focus on the playoffs and nothing more.
As of the moment, Karl Anthony-Towns and Andrew Wiggins are still their best players. Those two clearly have defensive issues which translate to close losses. In order to make up for that, the Wolves might target Michael Kidd-Gilchrist who can come in and defend the opposing team’s sixth man. MKG might not be a good offensive player, but defensively, he has made his mark in this league.
12 New Orleans Pelicans – Wesley Matthews
Right now, the New Orleans Pelicans might have bigger issues they need to address. Anthony Davis is receiving calls from almost all the teams in the NBA and the Pelicans might not be in a position to do anything about it.
On the court, however, the Pelicans lack outside shooting and perimeter defense. Insert Wesley Matthews and you’re golden; Matthews has always been the golden standard for a 3-D type of wing and that’s not changing anytime soon.
11 New York Knicks – Ivica Zubac
The New York Knicks have an underrated young core. Alonzo Trier, Kevin Knox, and to some extent Trey Burke have all been magnificent this year and with Kristaps Porzingis getting healthier by the minute you can assume the Knicks are on their way up. However they still lack talent in the center position and while Enes Kanter has been good for them, he is getting up there in age when the Knicks’ young core is in their prime.
Ivica Zubac has been a surprisingly good player for the Lakers in the absence of JaVale McGee. He might provide interior scoring to allow the others to get open looks from deep.
10 Oklahoma City Thunder – Jrue Holiday
Oklahoma City has definitely raised eyebrows this season with their fine play. The Thunder have played with great chemistry and it has earned them a slight edge on top of the Western Conference. Individually, the team is talented with former MVP Russell Westbrook and multiple-time All-Star Paul Geroge leading the pack.
The problem with the team is their lack of passing and shooting; fortunately for them, Jrue Holiday has been excellent at both. Holiday could instantly be inserted into the starting lineup, giving the Thunder a much-needed boost for the playoffs.
9 Orlando Magic – Frank Ntilikina
There are only a handful of teams that make it intentions clear during draft night and one of them is the Orlando Magic. The Magic seek out great defenders with long wingspans like Jonathan Isaac and Mo Bamba, hoping they would turn into serviceable offensive players.
The problem with the Magic is their lack of talent. Often times they win as a collective effort but most nights it is not sustainable. Adding Frank Ntilikina gives them a good defensive point guard who has the wingspan the franchise clearly adores. Ntilikina, Isaac, and Bamba could potentially form a playoff-caliber defensive trio.
8 Philadelphia 76ers – Danny Green
Philadelphia is on its way to a potential dynasty. Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid are both superstars in the making and it’s only a matter of when. The 76ers have done a good job surrounding the two with talent that complements their playstyle.
The talent, however, is still lacking. The 76ers desperately need perimeter defense and shooting with the departure of Robert Covington. Danny Green provides both and leadership, something a young team like the 76ers need.
7 Phoenix Suns – Mike Conley
The Phoenix Suns have been the lone team in the West not fighting for a playoff spot. With the mismanagement of the Trevor Ariza deal, the Suns quickly found themselves in a tight spot resulting in consecutive losses.
However, there is still hope. If management is committed to winning, they will do any means necessary to get a good point guard. If the Suns want to show fans they are serious about being an elite team, they will have to trade for Mike Conley. Conley fits in nicely next to Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton as he provides defense, passing, and shooting.
6 Portland Trail Blazers – Joe Ingles
The Portland Trail Blazers have constantly found themselves exiting the first or second round of the playoffs. Talent wise, the Blazers should be a constant threat in the Western Conference but they are seemingly stuck inside a bubble.
If the Blazers want to take it all the way this year, they will have to improve their three-point shooting. Joe Ingles has been one of the best outside threats in the NBA since he entered the league. If Ingles was to be added to the mix, the Blazers might have a legitimate chance at making the Finals.
5 Sacramento Kings – Jerami Grant
You have to feel good for the Sacramento Kings especially their fans. The Kings have long been the laughing stock of the NBA, but this year has been different. A once-proud franchise during the days of Chris Webber and Mike Bibby, the Kings look to be back on track.
On the court, they are young and exciting. Their high-octane offense has been a joy to watch with De’Aaron Fox leading the way. If they add someone like Jerami Grant to that offense, they would be instantly one of the best League Pass teams in the NBA due to Grant’s athletic ability.
4 San Antonio Spurs – Paul Millsap
Compared to previous seasons, the San Antonio Spurs have had quite the disappointing campaign. Losing key players like Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, and Kawhi Leonard has rendered the Spurs average in this stacked Western Conference.
The Spurs rely on DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge for the majority of their offense and it hasn’t been sustainable, to say the least. Add Paul Millsap to the mix and you get a trio that could potentially lead the Spurs back to the Finals.
3 Toronto Raptors – Juan Hernangomez
The Toronto Raptors have always had a depleted bench. Lead by Fred VanVleet, the Raptors’ bench has been disappointing outside of VanVleet, which might be an issue that rears its head come playoff time. In particular, outside shooting and a lack of serviceable backup big has been the main issue for the Raptors.
Fortunately for the team, Juan Hernangomez might be available. Hernangomez is a sweet-shooting power forward that could breathe new life in this Raptors team.
2 Utah Jazz – Marvin Williams
Watching the Utah Jazz this year, it is clear that they need a vet that won’t turn the ball over and will provide outside shooting. That vet can be found in none other than Marvin Williams, a former member of the organization.
Williams spent two years with the Jazz a couple of seasons back and they might want to try and see if he is available. Williams provides a veteran presence on and off the court for this young Jazz team looking to make some noise in the playoffs.
1 Washington Wizards – Clint Capela
Quite frankly, the Washington Wizards need a complete overhaul. Bradley Beal and John Wall, despite the latter's season-ending injury and massive contract, have to go, or at least one of them has to. There is no direction with this franchise with the current management. Unfortunately for Wizards fans, their management is quite stubborn when it comes to things like this.
If Ernie Grunfeld wants to tough this thing out he might look at Clint Capela as a potential Dwight Howard replacement. Capela can fit the rim-running, shot blocking center they aspired Jan Vesely to be. Next to Wall, Capela might replicate his production with the Houston Rockets.