The NBA trade deadline is less than a month away, which is quite funny. A year ago, everyone in Sixerland was counting down the days as the Ben Simmons trade saga ultimately came to an end. This year, the Sixers have yet to be linked to any legitimate trade rumor — a stark contrast.
Outside of Sixerland, trade candidates and talk have slowly heated up. We’re still multiple weeks away, but let’s check in on some of the most recent updates from players around the league.
Suns interested in Charlotte’s Jalen McDaniels
Shams Charania reported that the Phoenix Suns are interested fourth-year player Jalen McDaniels. The Hornets don’t get much attention due to their team being not good, but McDaniels has quietly put together a career year across the board. The 6-foot-9 forward is capable of guarding multiple positions and has figured things out offensively — averaging nearly 11 points and shooting a respectable 34.2 percent from three.
So, why would the Hornets even consider moving off of a 24-year-old showing promise and filling a valuable need? That would come down to his contract, which is expiring at the end of this season. Unlike most young players, McDaniels will be an unrestricted free agent. This means Charlotte won’t own his rights, and he can walk for nothing if he comes to an agreement with another team.
Charania specifically mentioned the Jae Crowder trade saga, and how a three-team deal between the Hornets, Suns and another team could make sense.
McDaniels should have multiple suitors in free agency, and the Hornets might consider offers if he gets priced out or they’re confident he might walk for nothing. Factoring in Miles Bridges possibly never playing a NBA game again, and one could argue the Hornets should prioritize McDaniels with their large amount of cap space.
As of right now, there’s nothing concrete to say the Hornets are even thinking of moving their promising forward. In fact John Gambadoro, who is very tuned into everything Suns, downplayed the legitmacy of Shams original report:
Contrary to a recent report the Suns have not had any discussions about Charlotte PF Jalen McDaniels. It is not true. His name has not come up and there have been no recent talks between the two teams.— John Gambadoro (@Gambo987) January 10, 2023
Bigger names have been floated in trade rumors, but McDaniels has been incredibly underrated thus far. Keep an eye on his name in the coming weeks.
Things boiling over in Houston
You don’t need to look too much further than their 10-31 record to realize things are rough in Houston.
It seems like the on-court frustration has boiled over, with their veteran, Eric Gordon telling the media that not much as changed from their early season struggles.
Eric Gordon asked about #Rockets improvement from when the season started:— Jackson Gatlin (@JTGatlin) January 1, 2023
"There's no improvement." pic.twitter.com/WWB8Gf3wdI
A lot of people have pointed towards Houston’s backcourt duo of Kevin Porter Jr. and Jalen Green as the primary problem. On paper, the Rockets don’t have enough personnel in their starting five to be considered a good defensive team. They should have enough offensive firepower to be good, however — which they haven’t been. They rank 29th in the league in offensive rating.
While KPJ has shown flashes of playmaking, the point guard experiment has been lackluster as best. His 5.7 assists per game are solid, but he’s turning over the ball nearly four times a game. Jalen Green has never been labeled as a playmaker, either.
There’s been a shocking amount of players speaking out about the Rockets and how they should play; including Minnesota’s Austin Rivers and Denver’s Nikola Jokic.
“Someone needs to teach KPJ and Jalen how to play the right way, you know what I mean? They need those vets. I like those guys, they’re super talented, they can really score. ... They need someone to help them take that next step.”— NBACentral (@TheNBACentral) January 9, 2023
- Austin Rivers
(Via https://t.co/52QVf8oINc) pic.twitter.com/wAQfYnNVMj
Nikola Jokic says the Houston Rockets should run their offense through Alperen Sengun— NBACentral (@TheNBACentral) November 29, 2022
“I think they should play through him more. Because sometimes they seem too stagnant as a team. Especially when they focus on shooting a lot of threes.”
(Via @Eurohoopsnet) pic.twitter.com/BSSqi5HhUF
The Rockets desperately need a proven playmaker and some stability in the locker room. We’ll see if they address either of those things before free agency.
All eyes are on the Raptors
The Raptors have a ton of talent: Scottie Barnes, Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby, etc. Their abundance of talent, however, hasn’t translated to on-court results. Currently they sit at 18-23, looking from the outside in on the NBA’s play-in tournament.
It appears the Raptors will have a huge decision to make in the coming weeks in regards to what direction they want to take their franchise. Do they add to their core, and hope to bounce back next year? Or do they go young and build around Scottie Barnes?
The Raptors could very well be the biggest swing team at the deadline, especially with the Chicago Bulls playing better as of late. Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby, in particular, would fetch quite a haul for their rebuild if they chose to go that direction. Siakam would be a MVP candidate if his team was better, and Anunoby would be a good fit on any team in the NBA.
This coming draft features great depth, with two prospects headlining it: Victor Wembanyama and Scoot Henderson. Landing a top-two pick is a huge if right now, but either would be a great fit with Scottie Barnes.
The Raptors schedule in between now and the deadline is somewhat balanced, but there is a stretch that features the Hawks, Knicks (twice), Bucks, Celtics, Kings, and Warriors. How they do during this stretch very well might determine how big of a splash they make at the trade deadline.
Indiana Pacers appear to be buyers ahead of deadline
Yahoo Sports’ Jake Fischer reported that there's a sense that the Pacers will look to bolster their roster ahead of the deadline with their surprising early season success. He also noted that the results of Tyrese Haliburton’s injury could play into their decision making. Unfortunately, Haliburton left their previous game on crutches with a knee injury.
More specifically, Fischer pointed to Indiana looking at power forwards — a position they’ve been trying to get for a few years. John Collins, who is clearly on the trade market, could make sense for Indiana. A huge factor in any Collins-to-Indiana pitch is the fact the Pacers wouldn’t have to match Collins’ salary if they take him into their cap space.
Other names that could make some sense for Indiana bolstering their forward depth could be Toronto’s OG Anunoby, Charlotte’s P.J. Washington, or Utah’s Jarred Vanderbilt.
There’s also the Myles Turner dynamic that’ll be a thing to watch with time. Turner is having a career season offensively, and there’s reportedly interest to extend his contract and keep him a Pacer. If contract talks stall, Fischer listed the Raptors, Knicks and Clippers as potential suitors.
Utah Jazz to be one of the biggest sellers
In less surprising news, the Utah Jazz will be open for business ahead of the deadline. While they’ve had solid success, they’re young into their rebuild and it’ll be the better long-term play to sell high on some of their veteran players.
Fischer listed Jarred Vanderbilt and Malik Beasley as two players that they’ve received many calls on, with the ask reportedly being a first-round draft pick. Jordan Clarkson, on the other hand, isn’t believed to be available, per Fischer.
Trade talk is starting to bubble, and there’s a good chance we’ll see even more names and rumors pop up in the coming weeks.