Predicting the Biggest Buyers and Sellers Ahead of the 2019 NBA Trade Deadline: The Sellers
The trade deadline is an important threshold for any NBA team. It’s a chance for sometimes to beef up and re-imagine their rosters. For others, it’s a chance to shed weight and pivot towards development and the draft. And of course pondering trades is just good fun.
Either way, the deadline is defined by its buyers and sellers. I recently outlined the teams looking to add talent. But what of the organizations on the other side of the equation?
A few clubs in the Association have long abandoned hopes of postseason contention. Rather than ride out the rest of the year, it would be wise to sell valuable parts for future assets. This ensures the best possible lottery odds ahead of the draft while opening up playing time for young players.
Let’s check out a few teams that figure to be big sellers at the NBA trade deadline:
When LeBron James signed with the Los Angeles Lakers this summer, the outlook for the Cavaliers was a surprisingly hopeful one. Cleveland inked All-Star Kevin Love to a big contract, and the club still had a mix of promising young players and NBA champions. Fringe playoff contention wasn’t impossible.
That hope, however, has quickly waned. Love is sidelined with an injured toe, JR Smith is no longer with the team, rookie Collin Sexton has sorely disappointed, and the rest of the roster has been an underwhelming mess.
The Cavaliers already own the NBA’s worst record, and certainly have fielded calls regarding some of their veteran players. Tristan Thompson, Rodney Hood, or even Love could be an intriguing get for a team on the bubble or looking to land a star ahead of this summer’s contentious free agency period.
Short of Sexton, I would imagine even the Cavs’ young players like Larry Nance Jr and Jordan Clarkson are available, too. Cleveland isn’t a top destination in the NBA; the team is going to need to load up on future assets to prepare for a true rebuild.
New York Knicks
While the Cavaliers have the makings of a budding dumpster fire, the Knicks have held that status for years. Why would 2019 be any different?
New York’s roster is a conglomerate of the forgotten and the overpaid. With Kristaps Porzingis recovering from an ACL tear, the team has fielded a confusing and inept roster, to the benefit of a better shot at Duke’s Zion Williamson.
Beyond that, the Knicks have aspirations to lure a star or two next summer. They may have the cap space to do so, but New York’s front office will undoubtedly look to free up as much salary as possible.
In fact, New York may be so set on adding All-Star talent that the team attaches future draft picks to ship out Tim Hardaway Jr. and his massive contract. Same with a Courtney Lee or Lance Thomas, all of whom could help a playoff team improve it’s bench.
Kristaps Porzingis, Kevin Durant, and Zion Williamson. That’s a scary thought. If New York plays its cards right, there’s a great shot at fielding a big-three that looks something like that. Even the Knicks should have a tough time screwing this up, but it starts with shipping out some of their veteran pieces at the deadline.
After a hot start to the 2018-19 season, the Memphis Grizzlies are sort of in freefall. As of this writing, the team has lost 12 of its last 15 games. By pure coincidence, only the Cavaliers and the Knicks have posted worse records in that time.
Following a tough loss to Boston this Friday, Marc Gasol and Mike Conley reportedly requested a private meeting with Grizzlies majority owner Robert Pera. The two stars have seen their fair share of ups and downs in Memphis. Maybe this is just another hiccup.
At the same time, the Grizzlies are rapidly falling behind in an already crowded playoff race. The club’s 2019 first-round pick is top-8 protected. The sun may finally be setting in Memphis.
Trading away Gasol and Conley would be a massive pivot for the Grizz. Both players could yield a first-round pick and more, however, giving Memphis enough to embark on a solid rebuild. Outside of Chandler Parsons, the team would be off the hook for any major financial obligations as well.
Like Cleveland, Memphis will be a tricky sell for free agents. The team will need to be very deliberate when amassing future assets. All the same, pairing Jaren Jackson Jr with lottery talent could be the start of an intriguing new core for the Grizzlies.