There are some things that make individual sports seasons great. Opening day/night is always a sight to see and the playoffs are obviously arguably the best times to watch said sport.
One thing, however, that may go above the rest is the trade deadline.
And for the NBA, it's a time that typically sees a lot of big names players head to different cities.
By the looks of things, this season will be no different. Players like Tyreke Evans and Jahlil Okafor can be buy-low candidates that can help elevate a team that is looking to make a postseason push. Veterans like Brook Lopez and Wesley Matthews can be the missing link for certain organizations. And although he has a full no-trade clause, you know Carmelo Anthony will be generating headline as the 4 o'clock deadline nears. For the third year in a row, the Cavaliers and the Warriors are favored to make the NBA Finals, so other teams will have to do something to ensure that doesn't happen. Will it be via a big deadline move?
Will there be blockbusters moves that take place in less than a month? Certainly. Let's take a look at 15 big moves that have the potential to go down at the NBA trade deadline.
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15 Pistons and Heat Swap Starting Point Guards
In one of the bigger trade rumors making the rounds on the internet, it looks like Stan Van Gundy is ready to move on from point guard Reggie Jackson, a player the Detroit Pistons just gave a five-year, $80 million contract to last season. While Ricky Rubio seems to be the player linked on the other side of a potential trade, there is another lead guard who may do a better job with the Pistons.
Like Jackson, Goran Dragic, too, signed a lucrative free agent contract last offseason. But the Miami Heat haven’t lived up to their own expectations and are looking to blow things up. In swapping Jackson and Dragic, the Pistons get a veteran point guard who can work as a floor general while the Heat would receive an uber-athletic youngster that can slide in perfectly next to Hassan Whiteside and Justice Winslow.
14 Greg Monroe Finally Lands in Charlotte
Ever since Greg Monroe signed a three-year, $50 million deal with the Milwaukee Bucks, it’s all been downhill. Despite his superb ability as a low-post scorer, Monroe doesn’t fit into the long and up-tempo play of the Bucks, thus relegating him to the bench.
One team that could be a great for him, however, is the Charlotte Hornets. Still looking for a scorer next to Kemba Walker, Monroe could come in and take the burden off of the enigmatic point guard, all the while giving Buzz City one of the better one-two punches in the NBA. In return, the Bucks can look to players like Jeremy Lamb and Spencer Hawes — two talents that have been mentioned as a potential package for Monroe — as they can both come off the bench and help in the Bucks’ scoring efforts.
13 The Hawks Ship Tim Hardaway Jr. to the Grizzlies
Despite sitting at 26-18 and ranking fifth in the Eastern Conference, the Atlanta Hawks seem dead-set on blowing up their roster and starting fresh. The front office already began that process by sending Kyle Korver to the Cleveland Cavaliers while also having a number of other talents on the trade block. One of those players is Tim Hardaway Jr.
After struggling throughout his career, Hardaway Jr. is having a career season in 2016-17 as he’s averaging nearly 12 points per game and is shooting at a career-high 35% clip from beyond the arc. In the Western Conference, the Memphis Grizzlies are in the playoff hunt but can use a reliable scorer off of their bench. By bringing Tim Hardaway Jr. into the fold, the Grizzlies could get a player that can play both guard positions while turning him into a Sixth Man of the Year candidate.
12 The Jazz Bring in Wesley Matthews to Solidify the Starting Five
After years of acquiring young talent and drafting strongly, it looks like the Utah Jazz have put it all together and are ready to compete in the West. When looking up and down their lineup, it looks very strong — George Hill is a savvy veteran point guard while Gordan Hayward, Derrick Favors, and Rudy Gobert make up an impressive core of forwards.
A need, however, comes at the two guard. Head coach Quin Snyder is intent on bringing Rodney Hood off of the bench while starting Joe Ingles at the position. With the Dallas Mavericks floundering, the Jazz front office should put in a call to acquire Wesley Matthews. While the Mavs would ask for young talents like Trey Lyles and Alec Burke in return, Matthews would be worth it. His supreme defensive ability, knack for three point shots, and ability to get to the rim would do wonders for the Jazz and could put them in the upper echelon of the Western Conference.
11 Phil Jackson Pairs The Unicorn with The Manimal
By all accounts, the New York Knicks have, once again, underwhelmed. Despite bringing in veteran talent to help compete for a playoff spot, a lack of defense and intensity has put the team in a position to have yet another losing season. Looking towards the future, the Knicks need someone to pair with Kristaps Porzingis long-term. One man that can do that is Kenneth Faried.
Long on the trading block of the Denver Nuggets, Faried’s ferocity, defense, and motor would play perfectly as a front-court pair with Porzingis. With the Nuggets fighting for a playoff spot, they can use an upgrade at shooting guard. The Knicks have veteran Courtney Lee to offer, as he can be a reliable scoring threat for the team. While Jackson would probably need to part with more than just Faried for Lee, no one is off limits. And that potential front court pairing could finally have the Knicks trending in the right direction.
10 The Mavericks Begin to Look Towards the Future
The Phoenix Suns are having a tough time getting out of the doldrums of the West. They have a bevy of young talent but do need to reshuffle the deck. One way to do so is to get young players like Tyler Ulis and Marquese Chriss more playing time, and one way to do so is by getting Brandon Knight out of the desert.
If and when he is available, the Dallas Mavericks should come calling. Like the Knicks, they have tried to retool around aging star Dirk Nowitzki but to no avail. With the chance to rebuild around Harrison Barnes, Knight could be the perfect complement. Noted as both a scorer and playmaker, Knight could help take the burden off of Barnes while also giving the Mavs two players that are under 26 years old and are locked up full time. Meanwhile, the Suns can use this as a chance to free up salary space so they can lock up some of their up-and-coming talents.
9 Paul Millsap Heads Up North
As it was spoken about just a few slides ago, the Hawks are ready to enter a new phase of their franchise. With Korver now gone, Paul Millsap is the next player on the roster that many believe will be traded. And it makes too much sense for the Toronto Raptors to not only inquire about Millsap but to pull the trigger on a deal.
Clearly, the Cleveland Cavaliers are the class of the East. But the Raptors are one of the very few teams that have the chance to knock them off — and by getting Millsap, they’d have an even better chance. The power forward is, by all accounts, the ultimate teammate and can score, pass, rebound, and do the little things. Unfortunately, however, Millsap is on the final year of his contract, so a trade package wouldn’t be as good as if a move went down last year. But if the Hawks can pry Terrence Ross and Patrick Patterson away from the Raptors, it should be a done deal.
8 The Boston Celtics Double Down on the Front Court
When the Boston Celtics signed big man Al Horford this past offseason, it seemed as though the organization was going to join the Raptors as a team that stood a chance against the Cavs. While he’s been effective, he’s also had trouble staying on the court — and even though the Celtics are 26-17, they could be even better.
Some think Carmelo Anthony is the answer, but Jae Crowder is a huge part of the team’s identity. One player who could help, however, is Nikola Vucevic of the Orlando Magic. While he and Horford have similar playing styles, that also makes them a strong pair. Both men can defend, rebound, shoot, and play their back to the basket. By having both men in the front court, the Celtics would boast a tandem unmatched by many. For the Magic, they could take a flier on someone like Jaylen Brown. While the third overall pick is still raw, the Celtics can deem him expendable — and that could entice Orlando to take a flier to try and groom him.
7 Brook Lopez Finally Moves On
One of the biggest disappointments of the 2016-17 season has been the Portland Trail Blazers. With the backcourt of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum being one of the best in the NBA, they were bound for future success. But the team is an underwhelming 19-27, and reinforcements are in order.
One man the organization can look to is long-time New Jersey/Brooklyn Nets star Brook Lopez. Despite averaging 20 points, five rebounds, and two blocks per game, he’s buried in the league's worst organization. The veteran deserves better, and pairing him with Lillard and McCollum could give the Blazers an impressive trio. The Nets, of course, will be looking for young talent in return. They team tried to sign Allen Crabbe this past offseason, so he can be a centerpiece of the trade. Portland can also add in Noah Vonleh, a former first-round pick who has yet to get a real chance at the NBA level.
6 Tyreke Evans Attempts to Reinvent His Stock in OKC
By and large, the Oklahoma City Thunder have done a pretty good job this season. Sure, when you lose one of the best players in this generation, you’re bound to take a step back — but with Russell Westbrook leading the way, they’ve been able to stay in the playoff picture all year long. Andre Roberson, however, isn’t cutting it at the small forward position. One buy-low candidate that the Thunder should take a chance on? Tyreke Evans.
Ever since his fantastic rookie campaign, Evans has yet to look like that same player. In the final year of his contract, his poor play couldn't have come at a worse time as he’s averaging just 10 points while being buried on the depth chart. A move to a contender, however, could boost a player’s morale — and since Evans can play three positions and can flat out score, he could be a good fit next to Westbrook and Oladipo. The Pelicans are in need of point guard depth and can ask for Cameron Payne in return, and to match salaries, can add Kyle Singler as well.
5 Ricky Rubio Becomes the Point Guard of the Future for the Spurs
It’s hard to remember a time when Ricky Rubio wasn't on the trade block. Once seen as a future cornerstone of the Minnesota Timberwolves, new management has looked at Kris Dunn as the future starter at the position. While Rubio has been linked to the Detroit Pistons in recent weeks, don’t be surprised if Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs come calling.
Is there another player in the NBA that screams “Spurs” like Rubio does? A true maestro, the 26-year-old native of Spain is a pass-first player that would complement both Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge perfectly and would give the organization their heir apparent of Tony Parker. It’s hard to envision what the Timberwolves would ask for in return. But if one thing is for sure, don’t doubt Pop — if he wants someone, he’ll get them.
4 The 76ers and Lakers Help Each Other Out
The Philadelphia 76ers are well-positioned in the front court but can use help at guard. On the flip side, the Los Angeles Lakers have a bevy of young talent in the backcourt but can use a young big man to complement their core. Maybe the two sides can help each other out and swap Jahlil Okafor and Jordan Clarkson.
While Joel Embiid is untouchable, the questions surrounded Nerlens Noel and Okafor. Noel looked like the man who would be outed, but he’s recently become a strong complement to Embiid and now Okafor appears to be the odd man out. In L.A., Clarkson may be the best guard on the roster but because of his flexibility, he comes off the bench. With this trade, Okafor becomes the perfect center to play with D’Angelo Russell and Brandon Graham, Clarkson can be either the point guard or shooting guard of the future for the Sixers, and both teams still continue their rebuilding phases.
3 Carmelo Anthony Goes From the Big Apple to Tinseltown
Yes, Carmelo Anthony has a no-trade clause. Yes, he’s shown his allegiance to the Knicks time and time again. But it seems like Phil Jackson’s goal is to get him out of New York. And by the looks of things, Anthony may eventually give in.
He won’t go to any club, however. As it stands, the two teams that have long been mentioned as organizations he would approve a trade to are the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Los Angeles Clippers. Since it’s unlikely the Knicks ship Anthony within the conference, the most logical landing spot will be L.A. If you’re a Knicks fan, don’t expect the Clippers to surrender Blake Griffin. Despite Anthony scoring nearly 23 points per game, his age and injury history are legitimate concerns. Instead, the package could consist of draft picks and players like Austin Rivers, Wesley Johnson, and Jamal Crawford, among others. For the Knicks, it’ll be addition by subtraction. And when it comes to the Clippers, Anthony could find success under the guidance and leadership of best friend Chris Paul.
2 DeMarcus Cousins and John Wall Reunite in D.C.
When DeMarcus Cousins and John Wall were dominating the collegiate level at the University of Kentucky, many believed both men were destined for superstardom. Sure, both men have become top-tier players in the NBA, but neither of them have been able to accomplish success with their respective teams. Those fortunes can change, however — especially if the Sacramento Kings finally decide to part ways with their center.
While Cousins has pledged his allegiance to his organization, his antics may cause reservations when giving him a long-term deal. When looking across the league, the Wizards can put together a package to acquire the star big man — and since Cousins and Wall are close, a trade can be forced to the Nation’s Capital. The Wizards would have to gut their core, as the Kings would ask for no less than Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, and Marcin Gortat (as a replacement for Cousins). But if the chance to bring the former Wildcats together is there, it's gotta be done.
1 Jimmy Butler Brings the T’Wolves to the Next Level
Like many other teams this season, the Chicago Bulls decided to retool instead of rebuild. Sure, Jimmy Butler is still the main man in red, white, and black; but instead of bringing in young talent to put around him, the Bulls went out and got Dwyane Wade, Rajon Rondo, and Robin Lopez to create an odd yet intriguing core.
Butler is still evolving on offense yet averages 25 points, seven rounds, and five assists and is one of the best defensive wings in basketball. Yet, the Bulls are ready to completely blow things up — which means shipping Butler out of town. Less than 500 miles away, Butler’s old coach, Tom Thibodeau, just became the president and head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves — and he is looking for veteran talent that can come in and elevate his young roster. Karl-Anthony Towns is a star and is untouchable, and Kris Dunn is the point guard of the future.
Despite being a six-year veteran of the NBA, Butler is just 27 years old and would fit right in with the Timberwolves. It would come at the expense of Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine, among others, but putting Butler and Towns on the same roster will compete with the top teams in the West in the very near future.
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