2755215, 2022 NBA trade deadline: What to watch and potential deals for all 30 teams|
Posted by guru0509, Thu Jan-13-22 12:15 PM
With the 2022 NBA trade deadline less than a month away (Feb. 10, 3 p.m. ET), there hasn't been much trade activity in the 2021-22 regular season.
Only three trades have occurred since Oct. 6, and while the Cleveland Cavaliers acquired Rajon Rondo to replace injured guard Ricky Rubio, there has been a financial motivation for at least one of the teams involved in all three trades. That includes the Rondo deal, which helped trim the Los Angeles Lakers' luxury tax bill.
Most rosters were hit hard by players entering COVID-19 health and safety protocols in December, putting a hold on any major trade activity.
Will that change with the Feb. 10 deadline on the horizon?
Team executives whom ESPN spoke to predicted that we could see lots of trade activity in February because of a weaker-than-usual free-agent class coming up in July and a lack of salary-cap space among teams leaguewide to even pursue those free agents.
With that in mind, we've broken down what to watch for all 30 teams: what kind of moves they can make, what we're hearing, front-office trade histories and trade restrictions to note. We've also identified one trade we would like each to see from each team between now and the deadline.
Note: Teams have $5.8 million cash to send out and receive in trades unless otherwise noted.
MORE: 2021-22 trade tracker
What to watch: The future finances.
In the offseason, Atlanta doled out more than $300 million in new contracts for Trae Young, Kevin Huerter, John Collins and Clint Capela, investing in a roster that was two games away from the NBA Finals. Combined with the spending spree of the 2020 offseason that brought in Danilo Gallinari and Bogdan Bogdanovic, the current (and underachieving) roster is trending toward the luxury tax in 2022-23.
"Certainly, Tony is willing to pay the tax if we are going to be a contender," general manager Travis Schlenk told the Atlanta Journal Constitution in the offseason. "I'm probably more conscious of it than Tony is, to be honest with you. It's my job to manage his money. He's got a lot more of it than I do, so I worry about it more than he does."
While a significant tax penalty is still a year away, Atlanta will face decisions this July on rookie extensions for Cam Reddish and De'Andre Hunter, along with Gallinari's $21.5 million partially guaranteed contract. Keeping all three would put the Hawks over the tax line for the foreseeable future.
That matters because Atlanta faces a balancing act starting at the trade deadline. The Hawks want to remain a competitive win-now team but also keep an eye on the future. In the short term, Atlanta is one of a few teams that still has all its first-round picks available. The Hawks also have $20 million in expiring contracts (Lou Williams, Delon Wright, Solomon Hill and Gorgui Dieng) along with one of its top young prospects in Reddish to explore the trade front.
The Hawks have been inconsistent this season, and after a loss to Portland, Schlenk voiced his displeasure with the roster to 92.9 The Game.
"Maybe it wasn't such a great idea to bring everybody back, that's on me," he said. "We have a few weeks here at the trade deadline, and that's what I need to figure out ... it's my responsibility to put a product on the floor that can win. Right now I'm questioning whether or not I have done that."
Front-office deadline history: GM Travis Schlenk has made 10 deadline deals during his tenure.
Last regular-season trade: Acquired Lou Williams and $1.35 million from the Clippers for Rajon Rondo (March 25, 2021).
Impact transaction: Clint Capela from the Rockets as part of a three-team, 12-player trade.
Trade we would like to see: Solomon Hill and a 2022 first-round pick (top-15 protected) to the Thunder for Kenrich Williams. The Thunder will receive second-round picks in 2022 and 2024 if the first-round pick does not convey this year.
The Hawks are $1.9 million below the luxury tax.
Capela cannot be traded because of the extension restriction in his contract.
Hill and Williams have a one-year Bird restriction and have veto power on any trade.
Young and Huerter signed rookie extensions and have a poison-pill restriction in their contract.
Bogdanovic has a 15% trade bonus in his contract.
The Hawks own all their draft picks and have a top-14-protected first-rounder from the Thunder in 2022. It will turn into 2024 and 2025 second-round picks if not conveyed.
Atlanta has a $1.8 million trade exception.
What to watch: Dennis Schroder, a $17.1 million trade exception and the luxury tax.
Schroder is averaging a career-high 32.6 minutes and is on trade watch because he signed a one-year contract last offseason. The Celtics are restricted in what they can offer him (up to $7.1 million) in a new contract in July.
The Celtics could hold on to Schroder or move him for either multiple second-round picks or a player who has a few years left on his contract. Any team that trades for Schroder will have the same limit in re-signing him, unless that team has cap space or the full non-taxpayer midlevel exception in the offseason.
Trading Schroder, combined with the likelihood that Jaylen Brown will miss out on his bonuses (All-Star and team achievement), would put the Celtics under the tax threshold.
Like last season, the Celtics once again have one of the larger trade exceptions heading into the trade deadline. The $17.2 million exception (they also have $9.8 million and $5.1 million exceptions), created as part of the Evan Fournier sign-and-trade deal to New York, does not have a Feb. 10 expiration date, and the Celtics can wait until the offseason to use it. Using the exception this season would come with a significant financial penalty because Boston is in the luxury tax.
We also have hit a point to the season where there have to be realistic expectations with this roster.
There is no denying that the Celtics have underachieved this season, but that does not mean they should trade two young stars -- Brown and Jayson Tatum -- who have not even hit the prime of their careers and are under contract for the foreseeable future. The Celtics' failure to put an adequate supporting cast (either via free agency or the draft) around both players has been the bigger problem.
After a win against New York, Brown was clear that he and Tatum can play together.
"I think we can play together," he said. "We have played together well for the majority of our career and things like that. The last year or so hasn't gone as expected, but I think a lot of the adversity that we're kind of going through now is going to help us grow and get better in the future. If we get over this slump and continue to learn, I think there's a lot of good basketball on the other side of this. I only can control what I can control. I understand everybody has to do their jobs, but me and JT talk. We talked after the game, communicated with each other and things like that. So we're on the same page. I get where all the other frustration comes from, but as long as I'm on the same page with him and he's on the same page with me, that's where we're most focused on."
Whether Tatum and Brown can coexist is an argument for the offseason after Brad Stevens has had a full 82 games to evaluate the roster.
Besides trades that trim around the edge (Schroder, trade exceptions), the focus for Stevens should be exploring what a package of Marcus Smart, Josh Richardson and draft picks could bring back.
Front-office deadline history: This is the first trade deadline for Brad Stevens in his role as president of basketball operations. The former Celtics head coach has made five trades since taking over in June.
Trade we would like to see: Dennis Schroder into the Mavericks' $10.8 million trade exception. The Celtics would get back the Mavericks' second-round picks in 2022 and 2024. This trade would put the Celtics under the luxury tax.
Boston has an open roster spot.
The Celtics are $3.7 million over the luxury tax (not including the Brown bonuses) and have a projected tax bill of $5.5 million. Boston is not subject to the hard cap and can exceed the $143 million apron.
The trade restriction for Smart gets lifted on Jan. 25.
Robert Williams III signed a rookie extension and has a poison-pill restriction in his contract.
Tatum has a 15% trade bonus but that would be voided because it exceeds the maximum salary allowed.
The Celtics received $110,000 from New York in the Fournier sign-and-trade deal. They are now restricted to receive no more than $5.7 million in a trade.
What to watch: The $11.5 million and $6.3 million trade exceptions, luxury tax and buyout options.
Despite using most of its draft assets to acquire James Harden last January, Brooklyn is sitting on two valuable trade exceptions that are worth $11.5 million and $6.3 million. However, to use either one, the Nets would need to waive a player or send one out in a trade, and have ownership sign off a significant addition to the luxury tax bill.
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For example, if the Nets acquired a player like Indiana Pacers forward Justin Holiday, their luxury tax bill would increase from $110.4 million to $142.4 million.
The Nets were one of the more active teams in the buyout landscape last year, signing Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge. Because they do not have an open roster spot, the Nets would need to either trade a player before a deadline or waive someone to do that again this year.
If the Nets do create an open roster spot, look for them to possibly convert the two-way contract of David Duke Jr., who has started recently but would not be eligible for the playoffs if he remained on a two-way deal.
Front-office deadline history: Nets GM Sean Marks made the Harden trade during the regular season last year but is not known for shaking up the roster at the deadline. Marks has made three deadline trades since taking over in 2015.
Impact transactions: This was not a deadline deal, but Brooklyn acquired Harden, a former MVP, during the regular season last year. The trade cost Brooklyn Jarrett Allen, Caris LeVert and Taurean Prince (in addition to many draft picks). In 2019, the Nets acquired Greg Monroe and a 2021 second-round pick from Toronto. That pick was sent to Detroit in the 2020 trade for Bruce Brown. The Monroe trade is also the last time Brooklyn made a deadline deal.
Trade we would like to see: Dorian Finney-Smith from Dallas for a 2028 unprotected first. The Nets are clearly all-in, and this would be a huge risk considering that it is unlikely Kevin Durant, Harden and Kyrie Irving will be on the roster in 2028. The positive is that Finney-Smith is an elite level defender and Brooklyn inherits his Bird rights, allowing them to re-sign him in the offseason.
Brooklyn is $35.3 million over the luxury tax and has a projected $110.4 million penalty.
The Nets sent $5.8 million to Detroit as part of the DeAndre Jordan trade and are not allowed to send cash out in a trade.
Brown and Griffin have veto power on any trade because they signed one-year contracts.
The 15% trade bonus for Durant would be voided because it exceeds the maximum salary allowed.
Kyrie Irving has a 15% trade bonus in his contract. Because his contract is below the maximum this season, the bonus is valued at $2.9 million.
The Nets owe Houston unprotected first-round picks in 2022, 2024 and 2026. They are allowed to trade an unprotected first in 2028. The Rockets also have the right to swap a first in 2023, 2025 and 2027.
What to watch: Mitch Kupchak.
Kupchak and his front office (along with head coach James Borrego) have to decide whether the current roster, when healthy, is more than just a play-in team. If not, is there a deal to their liking that can upgrade the center position? The Hornets acquired Mason Plumlee from the Pistons this offseason, a low-risk move that also saw Charlotte swap second-round picks (from 57 to 37) with Detroit. But it was really just a Band-Aid on a center position that has troubled Charlotte for years.
Sending Plumlee and PJ Washington to the Pacers for Myles Turner works financially, but Charlotte is restricted when it comes to sending out additional draft compensation. The Hornets surrendered a top-18-protected 2022 first-round pick to New York the night of the draft and cannot move a future first until two years after it is conveyed.
Front-office deadline history: Since Kupchak took over as GM in 2018, the lone regular-season trade came last season when the Hornets acquired Brad Wanamaker from the Warriors.
Trade we would like to see: Mason Plumlee and James Bouknight to Indiana for Myles Turner.
The trade restriction for Terry Rozier gets lifted on Jan. 30.
Gordon Hayward has a 15% trade bonus in his contract. The bonus is valued at $11 million.
The Hornets owe New York a first-round pick that is top-18 protected in 2022, top-16 in 2023 and top-14 in 2024 and 2025. They can trade a first but only two years after the pick to New York is conveyed.
The Hornets received $2 million from New Orleans as part of the Devonte' Graham sign-and-trade deal. They are now restricted to receive no more than $3.8 million in a trade.
What to watch: The $5 million trade exception, Patrick Williams and buyout options.
It is hard to see a path for the Bulls to be active at the trade deadline outside of trading their young-but-injured forward Patrick Williams.
Chicago cannot trade any of its own first-round or second-round picks over the next seven seasons and is only $3 million below the luxury tax line, making it difficult to use the $5 million trade exception. The Bulls do have the $9.7 million expiring contract of Derrick Jones Jr.
Would a Jones and Williams package be enough to get Jerami Grant from the Pistons? Grant would give the Bulls a wing who can guard multiple positions and allow DeRozan to slide back to the small forward spot.
Front-office deadline history: Arturas Karnisovas, the Bulls vice president of basketball operations, began to reshape the roster last March when the Bulls traded two future firsts (along with Wendell Carter Jr. and Otto Porter Jr.) to Orlando for All-Star Nikola Vucevic. Besides the Vucevic trade, Chicago was also part of a three-team, seven-player trade that saw it acquire Troy Brown Jr. and Javonte Green.
Trade we would like to see: Derrick Jones Jr., Patrick Williams and Portland's 2022 lottery-protected first-round pick to Detroit for Jerami Grant.
The Bulls are $8.4 million below the hard cap.
Chicago owes Orlando and San Antonio a protected first in future years. It can trade either a 2027 or 2028 first, but only if the protection is lifted on both. The Bulls are allowed to trade the 2022 (lottery protected) first they received from Portland as part of the Lauri Markkanen trade. The first is lottery protected until 2028.
The Bulls sent $1.2 million to New Orleans as part of the Lonzo Ball sign-and-trade deal. They are restricted to sending out no more than $4.6 million.
Chicago received $1.1 million in the Daniel Theis sign-and-trade deal and are restricted to receiving $4.7 million.
Chicago has a $5 million trade exception.
What to watch: Bench depth, first-round picks and Collin Sexton.
Recent trade: As part of a three-team deal, the Cavaliers acquired Rajon Rondo from the Los Angeles Lakers in exchange for Denzel Valentine.
For the first time in the non-LeBron James era, the Cavaliers are not actively looking to shed contracts for draft picks but are looking to improve the roster at the deadline.
While their core players (Darius Garland, Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen) should be off limits, the Cavaliers do have $10.4 million of salary in Cedi Osman and Dylan Windler, along with former lottery pick Collin Sexton, to send out in a trade.
Osman has three years left on his contract (the last year is non-guaranteed) and is shooting a career-high 41% from three this season.
Sexton is out for the season with a knee injury, but despite that, he could have significant trade value. Sexton will be a restricted free agent this summer, and any team acquiring him in a trade has the ability to give him a qualifying offer, which will give it the rights to match any offer sheet. The team would also acquire his Bird rights, meaning it could exceed the cap to re-sign him.
The Cavaliers are also one of a handful of teams that still have access to all of their first-round picks in the next seven years.
One thing to keep an eye on is the Cavaliers luxury tax situation. The Cavaliers are $3.3 million below the threshold and have prioritized staying under this season.
Front-office deadline history: GM Koby Altman is known to be aggressive during the regular season, making 12 trades since he took over in 2017.
Impact transaction: Cleveland was the one of the winners of the four-team, seven-player trade that saw James Harden land in Brooklyn. As part of the trade, the Cavaliers sent a 2022 first-round pick (via Milwaukee) to Houston and acquired center Jarrett Allen from Brooklyn.
Last regular-season trade: Traded JaVale McGee to Denver for Isaiah Hartenstein and two future second round picks (March 25, 2021).
Trade we would like to see: Ricky Rubio and a 2022 lottery-protected first-round pick to Houston for Eric Gordon.
The Cavaliers are $9.7 million below the hard cap and $3.3 million below the luxury tax.
Cleveland has $4.3 million, $1.8 million and $858,000 trade exceptions.
What to watch: The $10.9 million trade exception.
The Mavericks continue to tread water in the middle of the Western Conference, but they have a valuable trade asset: the $10.9 million exception created last offseason.
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Dallas is well positioned below the luxury tax ($16.4 million of room) and can target additional backcourt help for Luka Doncic at the deadline (hello, Dennis Schroder) or wait until the offseason to use the exception.
The rest of the roster outside of Jalen Brunson (a free agent this summer) and Dorian Finney-Smith does not have significant trade value (sorry, Tim Hardaway Jr., Dwight Powell and Reggie Bullock) unless of course Dallas is willing to attach a 2025 or 2027 first-round pick.
Dallas could trade both of those picks, but only if it amends the top-10 protection on the 2023 pick that is owed to New York.
Front-office deadline history: This is the first deadline for Mavericks GM Nico Harrison. The lone trade during his tenure is the deal that sent Josh Richardson to Boston in July for center Moses Brown. The trade helped the Mavericks create their $10.9 million trade exception.
Trade we would like to see: None. Save the trade exception until the offseason. The lone transaction should be Dallas waiving Willie Cauley-Stein (or possibly finding a trade partner) and using the open roster spot to sign Marquese Chriss.
The Mavericks are $16.4 million below the luxury tax.
Doncic has a poison-pill restriction in his contract.
Bullock and Kristaps Porzingis each have a 5% trade bonus. The bonus for Porzingis is voided because it exceeds the maximum salary allowed.
Trey Burke has a 7.5% trade bonus.
Dallas owes New York a first-round pick that is top-10 protected in 2023, 2024 or 2025. The Mavericks are allowed to trade a future first but only two years after that pick is conveyed.
What to watch: Patience.
Recent trade: Acquired Rodney McGruder and a 2022 second (via Brooklyn) from Detroit for Bol Bol. The trade gave the Nuggets some additional savings below the luxury tax and a draft asset.
It is hard to preach patience considering that Nikola Jokic continues to play like an MVP.
However, with Denver hovering around .500 while missing the injured Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr., a roster shake-up is likely not coming.
For starters, because of the prior trades with Oklahoma City (rights to R.J. Hampton) and Orlando (Aaron Gordon), the Nuggets are not allowed to trade a first-round pick.
Second, taking Jokic, Murray, Porter and Gordon off the trade board leaves starters Will Barton and Monte Morris, reserves Jeff Green, JaMychal Green (has to approve a trade) and Facundo Campazzo, and young players Bones Hyland and Zeke Nnaji as the lone trade options.
Denver could make a minor move and trade P.J. Dozier (or waive Rodney McGruder) and cash to open up a roster spot. However, if the injured Dozier is moved, the Nuggets would lose full Bird rights on him.
Keep in mind that because of the extensions for Porter and Gordon, the Nuggets are a luxury tax team and likely do not have an appetite to take back additional salary that stretches into the 2022-23 season.
Front-office deadline history: Since taking over as president of basketball operations in 2013, Tim Connelly has made 14 trades during the regular season.
Last regular-season trade: Last March, Denver acquired Aaron Gordon and Gary Clark from the Orlando Magic for Gary Harris, Hampton and a future first-round pick.
Impact transaction: Traded Arron Afflalo and Alonzo Gee to Portland for Will Barton, Victor Claver, Thomas Robinson and a 2016 first-round pick (turned into Malik Beasley). Barton has averaged double figures in scoring every season and is now the full-time starter at shooting guard. Beasley was traded to Minnesota as part of the four-team, 12-player trade in 2020.
Trade we would like to see: For Denver to waive McGruder and convert the two-way contract of Davon Reed into a standard deal.
The Nuggets are $2.4 million below the luxury tax.
Gordon cannot be traded because of the extension he signed.
Green and Austin Rivers each have a one-year Bird restriction and have veto power on any trade.
Porter has a poison-pill restriction in his contract.
The Nuggets owe a future first to Oklahoma City (either 2023, 2024 or 2025) and Orlando (either 2025, 2026 or 2027). As a result, Denver is not allowed to trade a future first.
The Nuggets have $2.2 million and $1.7 million trade exceptions.
What to watch: The cost of trading away players.
Recent trade: Acquired Bol Bol from the Nuggets for Rodney McGruder and a 2022 second-round pick (via Brooklyn).
Having one of the worst records would seem to make it obvious that Detroit should be looking to see what it can get from other teams for its players at the deadline.
However, the Pistons have multiple players either on their rookie-scale contracts or who have a team option for next season. In fact, the Pistons have 12 players earning less than $6 million and each one of them is under contract for next season. The only player on the roster who earns more than $20 million is forward Jerami Grant.
Detroit is also already projected to have north of $20 million in cap space next offseason. Given a free-agent class that is average at best, the Pistons don't need to prioritize creating more cap space.
Grant is out with an injury but has the most trade value. He plays a position of need and is under contract through the 2022-23 season.
Front-office deadline history: Four of the current Pistons players -- Cory Joseph and Hamidou Diallo and the draft picks used to select Isaiah Livers and Luka Garza -- were part of the three regular-season trades that GM Troy Weaver made last season.
Trade we would like to see: Grant to the Grizzlies for Kyle Anderson, Brandon Clarke, Jarrett Culver and two first-round picks (from the Jazz and Warriors).
The Pistons received $5.8 million from Brooklyn as part of the DeAndre Jordan trade and cannot take back money in a future transaction.
Diallo, Frank Jackson and Joseph each have a one-year Bird restriction and can veto any trade.
Detroit owes Oklahoma City a first-round pick that is protected from 2022 to 2028. Because the pick has protection in the next seven seasons, Detroit is not allowed to trade a future first unless the protection is modified.
Golden State Warriors
What to watch: Team continuity.
The Warriors have made deadline deals in each of the past two years, but during their five consecutive trips to the Finals from 2015 to 2019, Bob Myers and his front office made no regular-season trades. Expect that trend to resume in 2022.
The Warriors' biggest in-season additions are the returns from injury of All-Star Klay Thompson and former No. 2 pick James Wiseman. Considering that Golden State did not have to give up anything, the return of both players is better than any trade the Warriors could make.
Front-office deadline history: Before the trade that saw D'Angelo Russell head to Minnesota in 2020, Golden State had not made a regular-season trade in six years.
Last regular-season trade: In two separate transactions, Golden State sent Marquese Chriss to San Antonio and Brad Wanamaker to Charlotte. The trades helped save the Warriors $21.6 million toward the luxury tax.
Impact transaction: In what was seen as a lopsided trade at the time, the Warriors sent All-Star Russell to the Timberwolves for Andrew Wiggins and a lightly protected (top three) first-round pick. Golden State would select Jonathan Kuminga with the seventh pick in the 2020 draft.
Trade we would like to see: None. The Warriors will certainly explore their trade options, but there is no single trade that can improve a roster that is already championship ready.
The Warriors are $39.3 million over the tax and have a league-record $170.3 million penalty.
Golden State has three trade exceptions: $2.3 million, $1.9 million and $1.8 million.
Curry, Thompson and Draymond Green each have a 15% trade bonus. The bonus for Curry would be voided.
Golden State owes Memphis a first-round pick that is top-four protected in 2024, top-one in 2025 and unprotected in 2026. The Warriors are allowed to trade a 2022 first and a future first but only two years after the pick to the Grizzlies is conveyed.
What to watch: Kevin Porter Jr., Christian Wood, Eric Gordon, John Wall and D.J. Augustin.
The first question that the Rockets need to answer is if Porter is part of the team's future.
There have been multiple instances in both Cleveland and now in Houston in which his immaturity has overshadowed his on-court play. However, he is still only 21 years old and is not a free agent until 2023. The big decision will come not at the trade deadline but when the guard is extension eligible in the offseason.
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As for the rest of the roster, the Rockets are clearly in the retool phase. A balance on the court has to be struck between young players such as Jalen Green and Alperen Sengun and veterans such as Gordon, Augustin and Wood.
The Rockets went 5-16 in the early part of the season with Porter and Green getting the bulk of the minutes in the backcourt. When both missed extended time in December, the Rockets played their best basketball, going 5-6.
Green is part of the future and it is important to give him freedom on the court. However, moving Augustin and Gordon now should be taken into consideration if doing so would accelerate the development of the team's young core.
Gordon is under contract through 2023-24, but his contract is nonguaranteed in the last year. Augustin has $333,000 of his $7.3 million contract guaranteed in 2022-23.
Wood is having an All-Star-type season, is on a team-friendly contract ($13.7 million and $14.3 million) and will not become a free agent until 2023. However, he was recently suspended for one game for conduct detrimental to the team. Like with Porter, the Rockets have a decision on whether to build around him. Wood can sign an extension this offseason worth up to $77 million over four years.
As for Wall, it is hard to see a taker for his contract ($44.3 million this year, $47.4 million next year), unless, of course, the Rockets want to reacquire Russell Westbrook from the Lakers.
Front-office deadline history: In only two seasons, GM Rafael Stone has made 12 trades, including four during the 2020-21 season.
Last regular-season trade: Traded Victor Oladipo to Miami for Kelly Olynyk, Avery Bradley and the right to swap Miami's first-round pick (top-14 protected) with Brooklyn's in 2022.
Impact transaction: The James Harden blockbuster is the most notable, but acquiring Porter for a top-55-protected second-round pick has had the biggest impact.
Trade we would like to see: Wood to the Knicks for Mitchell Robinson, Kemba Walker and two first-round picks (Dallas and Charlotte).
The Rockets are $7.3 million below the luxury tax.
They sent out $1.2 million in the Daniel Theis sign-and-trade deal and $110,000 to Brooklyn. They are restricted to $4.6 million to send out.
Garrison Mathews has a signing restriction and cannot be traded.
Theis has a 15% trade bonus in his contract.
Houston has a $1.8 million trade exception.
The Rockets are owed unprotected first-round picks from Brooklyn in 2022, 2024 and 2026. The Rockets have the right to swap Brooklyn's 2022 first for Miami's (top-14 protected). They also have the right to swap with the Nets in 2023, 2025 and 2027. They also have an unprotected pick from Milwaukee in 2023. The Rockets owe the Thunder top-four-protected first-round picks in 2024 and 2026. In addition, Oklahoma City has the right to swap picks in 2025 (top-10 protected; OKC has the right to swap with the Rockets or Clippers).
Who to watch: Kevin Pritchard.
Instead of listing the names of Domantas Sabonis, Myles Turner, Jeremy Lamb and Caris LeVert as the players to watch at the deadline, all eyes are on the head of basketball operations, Kevin Pritchard. The longtime executive is tasked with improving a roster that is average at best, without going into a full-scale rebuild.
"I don't want to see ," owner Herb Simon told Bob Kravitz of The Athletic. "If I don't want to see it, the fans don't want to see it. Why would we want to go through a rebuild when we can build on the go? That's the talent. Donnie did it all the time. Larry did it. Kevin will do it. We can do it."
Since the 2010-11 season, the Pacers have missed the playoffs only twice: in 2014-15, when star Paul George missed most of the year because of a broken leg, and last season, when they lost to the Wizards in the second play-in game. Indiana has prided itself on being able to adjust without taking a giant step back.
If that same plan is to continue, Pritchard will have to parlay Turner or LeVert into draft picks and players who can help now and in the future.
Front-office deadline history: The LeVert trade last January was the first time that Pritchard made a regular-season trade since 2014. Besides LeVert, the Pacers also acquired two future second-round picks as part of the four-team trade with Brooklyn, Cleveland and Houston.
Trade we would like to see: Turner to Minnesota for Jarred Vanderbilt, Taurean Prince, a 2022 first-round pick (top-nine protected) and the right to swap firsts in 2023 (top-five protected).
Indiana is $2.3 million below the tax threshold and has an open roster spot.
Malcolm Brogdon cannot be traded because of the extension he signed in October.
Indiana has three trade exceptions: $7.4 million, $4.0 million and $2.4 million.
The Pacers sent Washington $1 million as a part of the Aaron Holiday trade and have $4.8 million available to send out in a trade.
What to watch: Serge Ibaka and the luxury tax.
When healthy, the Clippers would be considered a Western Conference contender and would be looking to add to the roster at the deadline even if that meant adding to their payroll. Unfortunately, the Clippers aren't healthy. Kawhi Leonard has been out all season rehabbing from a torn ACL suffered in last year's playoffs, and Paul George has recently been sidelined with an elbow injury.
Because of both injuries and a roster that is stuck in the middle of the pack in the standings, the Clippers should take a short-term financial approach with their roster.
By trading Ibaka and his $9.3 million salary, the Clippers would see their $94 million tax penalty shrink to $53 million -- a savings of $41 million. Ibaka will be a free agent this summer and his remaining salary at the time of the trade deadline would be $3.1 million -- just slightly less than the $3.3 million in cash the Clippers have available to send out in a trade.
While the next available first-round pick the Clippers can trade is in 2028, they do have seven future second-round picks they can include in any deal.
The Clippers have $3.3 million available to send in a trade and seven future second-round picks.
Front-office deadline history: President of basketball operations Lawrence Frank has made eight trades during the regular season since taking over in 2017.
Last regular-season trade: Traded Lou Williams, $1.35 million and two future seconds to the Atlanta Hawks for Rajon Rondo.
Impact transaction: Traded Blake Griffin, Willie Reed and Brice Johnson to the Detroit Pistons for Tobias Harris, Avery Bradley, Boban Marjanovic, a 2018 first-round pick and a 2019 second. The trade would help pave the way for the Clippers to sign Kawhi Leonard in 2019.
Trade we would like to see: Serge Ibaka, a 2025 second and $1 million to the Thunder for the rights to Vasilije Micic.
The Clippers are $31.9 million over the tax and are projected to have a $94 million tax bill.
Terance Mann cannot be traded because he recently signed an extension.
Nicolas Batum signed a one-year contract (second year is a player option) and has the right to veto any trade.
Leonard, Ibaka and Reggie Jackson each have a 15% trade bonus. The bonus for Leonard is voided because it exceeds the maximum salary allowed.
The Clippers paid $2.5 million for the draft rights to Brandon Boston Jr. They now have $3.3 million available to send out in a trade.
The Clippers owe unprotected first-round picks to the Thunder in 2022, 2024 and 2026. In addition, the Thunder can swap firsts in 2023 and 2025. The Clippers are allowed to trade a first starting in 2028.
Los Angeles Lakers
What to watch: Talen Horton-Tucker, Kendrick Nunn, DeAndre Jordan, the 2027 first-round pick.
The Russell Westbrook trade in the offseason proved that as long as LeBron James is on the roster, the Lakers will always be a win-now team.
The downside, however, is that the Lakers have backed themselves into a corner on how this team can improve.
If you remove James (untouchable), Anthony Davis (there have been no discussions about moving him) and Westbrook (there is no realistic deal for him that would upgrade the roster) off the trade table, that leaves the Lakers with two assets other teams might want in a trade: Horton-Tucker and their 2027 first-round pick. Because of his $5 million salary, Nunn could be added to the group, but the guard has not stepped on the court this season and has a player option for 2022-23.
Horton-Tucker and Nunn combine to earn $14.5 million, which means the maximum that the Lakers can receive in a trade for the duo is $18.2 million, which is not enough for a player like the Pistons' Jerami Grant unless a player on a minimum contract is included.
Knowing that a 42-year-old James will likely not be on the roster in 2026-27 (and Davis can become a free agent before then as well), the big question is if the front office would entertain moving a 2027 first-round pick, especially since it'd likely have to keep the pick unprotected to bring anything of value back. Since James entered the league in 2003, his teams (Cleveland, Miami and the Lakers) have traded 15 first-round picks in separate deals.
The Lakers created a roster spot with the Rajon Rondo trade and can explore opening up another one if a team is willing to take back DeAndre Jordan. Waiving Jordan is less desirable because of the luxury tax impact. The Lakers can attach cash (they have up to $5.5 million available) or a second-round pick to entice a team to take on Jordan's salary.
Front-office deadline history: In his third year of running the Lakers' front office, Rob Pelinka has not made a trade during the regular season.
Trade we would like to see: Sorry, Lakers fans, it is a minor one. Jordan and $1 million to Orlando for the draft rights of Janis Timma.
The Lakers are $18.6 million over the tax and have a projected penalty of $40.5 million.
The Lakers sent a combined $1.35 million to Memphis and New York in two separate trades. They now have $4.4 million to send out in a trade.
James and Davis each have a 15% trade bonus. The bonus is voided because it would exceed the maximum salary allowed.
The Lakers owe New Orleans or Memphis a first-round pick in 2022. The Pelicans get it if it falls in the top 10; otherwise, it goes to the Grizzlies. In addition, the Pelicans have the right to swap first-round picks in 2023. They also have the Lakers' first-round pick in 2024 and have the right to defer that pick to 2025. The earliest that the Lakers can trade a first is two years after the pick in 2024 or 2025 is conveyed.
What to watch: Straddling the fence of good but not great.
The Grizzlies are in a unique position heading into the deadline. They have the assets in draft picks (10 total) and contracts to go after that second star (or do they have that already in Desmond Bane?) to play alongside Ja Morant.
For example, they could put together an incredible package for someone like the Celtics Jaylen Brown. Or they could stand pat, valuing the depth that has led them to a top-four spot in the Western Conference standings. Because of the position they're in, a tier below Golden State, Phoenix and Utah in the West, the Grizzlies can take a conservative approach to the deadline, waiting until the offseason for the right deal to surface.
Front-office deadline history: Grizzlies GM Zach Kleiman has made 18 trades since taking over in 2019. However, only two of those transactions occurred during the regular season. In 2020, Memphis acquired Dion Waiters and Justise Winslow from Miami in exchange for Solomon Hill, Jae Crowder and Andre Iguodala. Memphis also traded Bruno Caboclo to Houston for Jordan Bell and the right to swap second-round picks in 2023.
Trade we would like to see: Kyle Anderson, Brandon Clarke, Jarrett Culver, a 2022 first-round pick (owed from Utah), and a 2024 first-round pick (owed from Golden State) to Detroit for Jerami Grant, Rodney McGruder and Luka Garza.
Jaren Jackson Jr. has a poison-pill restriction in his contract.
Anderson has a 15% trade bonus.
Killian Tillie is not allowed to be traded.
Memphis is owed a first-round pick from Utah that is top-six protected in 2022, top-three protected in 2023, and top-one protected in 2024. It will also get the Lakers' 2022 first-round pick unless it falls in the top 10 (in which case it will go to New Orleans). Memphis also has a future first-round pick from the Warriors that is top-four protected in 2024, top-one protected in 2025 and unprotected in 2026.
The Grizzlies have a $4.1 million trade exception.
What to watch: The final roster spot and Victor Oladipo.
When healthy and at full strength, Miami is a top-four team in the East. That is why the Heat's trade-deadline additions will likely be internal moves. The two-way contract of Caleb Martin could be converted to a regular contract, and former All-Star Oladipo -- who has been out since April 8 after undergoing surgery on his right quadriceps tendon -- could return.
Martin is averaging a career high in minutes (22.4), points (8.8) and field goal percentage (50.5%) this season.
Oladipo had surgery in May, and although there is no timetable when he steps on the court, the former All-Star started to travel with the team in December.
"It's a big step," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra told the Miami Herald in December. "It's not about a step of when he'll be back. It's more about just the emotional and mental boost for him. He has been doing all this work behind the scenes, at the arena while we've been on the road. And we've been on the road virtually the entire season. So he hasn't been with us for a large part of it."
Even if Oladipo does not play this season, the Heat have his Bird rights and can sign him to a contract for more than the veteran minimum in free agency.
The Heat do have one roster spot available and can fill it starting on March 25 while staying below the luxury tax, so Miami could look to add a player who is bought out after the trade deadline.
Front-office deadline history: The Heat have been aggressive the past two trade deadlines, acquiring a combination of Andre Iguodala, Jae Crowder, Oladipo and Trevor Ariza.
Last regular-season trade: Acquired Oladipo from the Houston Rockets for Kelly Olynyk, Avery Bradley and the right to swap first-round picks (top-14 protected) in 2022. Oladipo would later injure a knee and miss the end of the regular season and the playoffs. He later re-signed with Miami on a one-year veteran minimum contract, and the Heat have full Bird rights to re-sign him in July.
Impact transaction: As part of a three-team trade, the Heat acquired Iguodala, Crowder and Solomon Hill from the Grizzlies, giving up Justise Winslow and Dion Waiters. The trade added a starter in Crowder and helped strengthen their bench. Miami would go on to lose in the NBA Finals to the Lakers.
Trade we would like to see: None. Instead of making a trade, Miami should convert the two-way contract of Caleb Martin in late March.
The Heat are $166,000 below the luxury tax and $6.6 million below the hard cap.
Oladipo, Dewayne Dedmon and Udonis Haslem signed one-year contracts and have the right to veto a trade.
Butler has a 15% trade bonus.
The Rockets have the right to swap Miami's first (top-14 protected) with Brooklyn's. Miami owes Oklahoma City a first-round pick that is top-14 protected in 2023, 2024 and 2025 and unprotected in 2026. The Heat are allowed to trade a first-round pick but only two years after the one owed to the Thunder is conveyed.
What to watch: Health and the open roster spot.
The defending champions have proved that when healthy (even without Brook Lopez), they are the team to beat in the Eastern Conference.
Milwaukee is 13-3 this season with a lineup of Jrue Holiday, Grayson Allen, Khris Middleton, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Bobby Portis.
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If there is a slight weakness, it is that Milwaukee lacks a wing defender when Antetokounmpo shifts to the center position. The Bucks could also use another big if Lopez does not return.
However, acquiring either such player would likely force them to trade Donte DiVincenzo. The pool of players who fit the Bucks' needs, outside of the Mavericks' Dorian Finney-Smith, is shallow.
Front-office deadline history: In the past three seasons, GM Jon Horst has added P.J. Tucker, Eric Bledsoe, George Hill and Nikola Mirotic in four separate trades during the regular season.
Last regular-season trade: Acquired Tucker, Rodions Kurucs and a 2021 second-round pick (was later traded to Indiana) for D.J. Augustin, D.J. Wilson and a 2021 first-round pick (the rights to Josh Christopher). The Bucks also agreed to move back the 2022 first that they owed Houston to 2023.
Impact transaction: The Tucker trade. The forward started 19 playoff games and played an instrumental role in helping end Milwaukee's 50-year championship drought.
Trade we would like to see: None. This Milwaukee team is good enough to win a second consecutive championship with the current roster.
The Bucks have an open roster spot.
Milwaukee is $20.3 million over the tax and has a $46.2 million penalty.
Allen has a poison-pill restriction in his contract.
Thanasis Antetokounmpo and Portis each have a one-year Bird restriction and veto power on any trade.
Antetokounmpo has a 15% trade bonus that would be voided because it exceeds the maximum salary allowed.
The Bucks received $1 million from Memphis as part of the Allen trade and are restricted to receiving $4.8 million.
The Bucks have two trade exceptions: $1.7 million and $1.6 million.
Milwaukee owes Houston an unprotected first-round pick in 2023. The Bucks also owe New Orleans unprotected first-round picks in 2025 and 2027. The Pelicans have the right to swap firsts in 2024 and 2026. The Bucks are restricted from trading any future first-round picks.
What to watch: The roster outside of Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards.
The Timberwolves are in that in-between stage. The current roster has the ceiling of a play-in team but nothing more.
Minnesota is only $873,000 below the luxury tax line but has more than $30 million in expiring contracts and all of its future first-round picks available to make trades to improve the roster.
The front office has to ask, outside of Towns and Edwards, are there any players on the roster (possibly D'Angelo Russell or Malik Beasley) who have enough trade value to land a third star?
The Timberwolves do have Jarred Vanderbilt and Jaden McDaniels, but both are on controllable team-friendly contracts.
Front-office deadline history: This is the first trade deadline for executive vice president Sachin Gupta in the lead role. Gupta, however, is a veteran, having worked in the front office of Houston, Philadelphia, Detroit and -- in the past three seasons -- Minnesota. In 2020, the Timberwolves made three separate deadline trades that involved nine teams and 23 players.
Trade we would like to see: Terrence Ross from the Magic for Taurean Prince and three second-round picks (their own in 2022 and 2023 and Washington's in 2022).
The Timberwolves have an open roster spot and are $873,000 below the tax.
Minnesota has a $4.8 million trade exception.
Towns has a 5% trade bonus. The bonus is voided if Towns is traded.
New Orleans Pelicans
What to watch: Tomas Satoransky.
At this point of the season, we would have thought that the Pelicans would be looking to upgrade the roster for a playoff push. Instead, injuries (namely Zion Williamson) have the Pelicans languishing in lottery position.
Moving forward, the focus is on the veteran guard Satoransky, who is on an expiring $10 million contract. The Pelicans could trade him and take back salary that stretches past this season if there is draft compensation attached.
Front-office deadline history: Executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin has made a total of 13 trades in New Orleans but only one during the regular season. Last March, the Pelicans traded JJ Redick and Nicolo Melli to Dallas for James Johnson, Wes Iwundu and a 2021 second-round pick (later traded to Philadelphia).
Trade we would like to see: Satoransky and Garrett Temple to New York for Evan Fournier and a future first from Charlotte.
New Orleans has the Lakers' first-round pick in 2022 if it falls in the top 10, but it goes to the Grizzlies if it's 11-30. The Pelicans also have swap rights with the Lakers in 2023, and they can get an unprotected first-round pick from the Lakers in 2024 or defer that pick to 2025. New Orleans has the Bucks' unprotected firsts in 2025 and 2027 and swap rights with Milwaukee in 2024 and 2026.
Brandon Ingram has a 15% trade bonus. It would get voided because it exceeds the maximum salary allowed.
Jonas Valanciunas has a trade bonus that is the lesser of 15% of his remaining contract or $1 million.
The Pelicans traded the draft rights to Brandon Boston Jr. to the Clippers and received $2.5 million. They are restricted to receive $3.3 million in a trade.
As part of the Devonte' Graham sign-and-trade deal, New Orleans sent $2 million to Charlotte. It has $3.8 million available to send out in a trade.
New Orleans has two trade exceptions: $17.1 million and $3.9 million.
New York Knicks
What to watch: Kevin Knox II and Mitchell Robinson.
Despite an underachieving season, the Knicks need to continue to take a long-term approach with this roster. There is no disgruntled All-Star available to turn the Knicks from a team fighting for a play-in spot back into a top-four team in the Eastern Conference.
The front office should put the nine first-round picks at their disposal, lock them away and wait until the right trade materializes rather than chasing a short-term fix.
Instead the focus should be on getting what they can for Robinson and Knox, a pair of 2018 draft picks. Both are set to enter free agency in the offseason, and New York should be looking to trade both of them before that happens, rather than losing them for nothing.
Front-office deadline history: Under the watch of team president Leon Rose, the Knicks have made 11 trades since 2020, including two in the regular season.
Last regular-season trade: As part of a three-team, six-player trade last March, the Knicks acquired Terrance Ferguson, Vincent Poirier and two second-round picks.
Impact transaction: Acquired Derrick Rose from the Pistons for Dennis Smith Jr. and a 2021 second-round pick (the rights to Isaiah Livers).
Trade we would like to see: Robinson and Knox to Oklahoma City for Derrick Favors and a 2022 first-round pick (via Phoenix).
New York has an open roster spot.
The Knicks are $17.5 million below the luxury tax.
Despite being hard capped as a result of the Evan Fournier sign-and-trade deal, New York is not in danger of coming close to the $143 million apron.
New York is owed a first-round pick from Dallas that is top-10 protected in 2023, 2024 and 2025. The Knicks are also owed a first-round pick from Charlotte that is top-18 protected in 2022, top-16 in 2023 and top-14 in 2024 and 2025.
The Knicks sent Boston $110,000 in the Fournier trade and have $5.7 million available.
They received $1.1 million from the Lakers in the Denzel Valentine trade and can receive up to $4.7 million.
Julius Randle has a trade restriction that expires on Feb. 3.
Oklahoma City Thunder
What to watch: The minimum salary floor.
Recent trade: Acquired Miye Oni and a 2028 second-round pick from the Jazz in exchange for cash considerations.
Because teams are required to spend up to 90% of the $112.4 million salary cap, Oklahoma City is in a position to accumulate additional draft assets by taking on unwanted salary from other teams.
The Thunder have a league-low $78.2 million in salary and are currently $23 million below the floor. They also are $33 million below the salary cap.
Keep in mind that only the salary owed at the time of the trade and not the cap hit counts toward the floor. The Thunder also would have to create a roster spot.
If the Thunder do not reach the minimum floor, the shortage is distributed back to the players on their roster.
Front-office deadline history: One of the longest-tenured executives, Sam Presti, has been part of 79 trades since 2007.
Last regular-season trade: Prior to the Oni deal, the Thunder acquired Tony Bradley, Austin Rivers and two second-round picks (2025 and 2026) last season. As part of the trade, the Thunder sent veteran guard George Hill to Philadelphia.
Impact transaction: Traded a first-round pick to Chicago for Thabo Sefolosha. The guard started 367 games in Oklahoma City and was named All-Defensive second team in 2010.
Trade we would like to see: Two first-round picks to the Hawks for Cam Reddish. The picks going out would be the Clippers' first in 2022 and the 76ers' first in 2025 (top-six protected). Oklahoma City would retain the Clippers' first if it falls in the top five of the draft, and Atlanta would receive three future seconds.
Besides their own first (which is owed to the Hawks in the unlikely event it falls outside the top 14), the Thunder have 12 future firsts from nine different teams.
Oklahoma City has two $9.6 million trade exceptions.
The Thunder sent $1 million to the Jazz, and they are restricted to $4.8 million to send out in a trade. They also are restricted to receive no more than $4.9 million in a trade.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has a poison-pill restriction in his contract.
Mike Muscala has a one-year Bird restriction and can veto any trade.
What to watch: $17.2 million trade exception and Terrence Ross.
Just because the Magic sit at the bottom of the standings doesn't mean they cannot add players or picks at the deadline.
Orlando is $22.9 million below the luxury tax and is well-positioned to use the $17.2 million trade exception that was created from the Evan Fournier trade to Boston in March.
Similar to the approach they took with Aaron Gordon and Nikola Vucevic last year, the Magic also should look to move the contract of Terrence Ross.
Although he is shooting a career-low 30.2% from 3, Ross has the versatility to play multiple positions, has embraced the role of sixth man off the bench and has a team-friendly contract ($12.5 million cap hit this year, $11.5 million next season).
Front-office deadline history: The retooling of the Magic roster started in March, when president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman traded Nikola Vucevic, Al-Farouq Aminu, Aaron Gordon and Evan Fournier in three separate deals. In total, Weltman has made 16 trades since 2017, including six in the regular season.
Impact transaction: In two separate deals in March, the Magic acquired three first-round picks. One of the draft choices has turned into Franz Wagner, a 2022 Rookie of the Year candidate.
Trade we would like to see: Ross to the Timberwolves for Taurean Prince and three second-round picks: two in 2022 (Minnesota's and Washington's) and one in 2023.
The Magic are right at the salary cap.
Wendell Carter Jr. has a poison-pill restriction in his contract.
Orlando is owed a first-round pick from Chicago that is top-four protected in 2023 and top-three protected in 2024. The Magic also are owed a first-round pick from Denver that will convey two years after the Nuggets send a pick to the Thunder. The pick is top-five protected in 2025, 2026 and 2027.
What to watch: Ben Simmons.
Daryl Morey has said he is willing to wait the full four years of Simmons' contract to find the right deal for him. We are going to find out in the next month how true to Morey's word the 76ers will be.
Will they let the deadline pass if there is not a trade package to their liking and wait until the offseason? Or will they take the best available deal?
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If the 76ers play the waiting game until this summer, the likelihood is that the current roster will not get past the first round of the playoffs.
However, while taking the best deal available could help the roster now, the 76ers would be losing an All-NBA talent for a short-term fix.
The best option for the 76ers would be for Simmons to remain on the roster and return to the court by the time the deadline passes, but that is unlikely to happen.
Front-office deadline history: Since taking over in 2020, Morey has made a total of five trades. The lone trade that occurred during the regular season was when the 76ers acquired George Hill from Oklahoma City.
Trade we would like to see: Simmons and Matisse Thybulle to Boston for Jaylen Brown and Juancho Hernangomez. Remember, this is a deal that we would like to see from Philadelphia's perspective, not Boston's.
The 76ers are $5.1 million over the luxury tax and are projected to pay a $7.6 million penalty.
Joel Embiid cannot be traded this season because of the extension restriction in his contract.
Simmons has a 15% trade bonus in his contract that would get voided because it exceeds the maximum salary allowed.
Tobias Harris has a trade bonus that is the lesser of 5% of his contract or $5 million.
Philadelphia owes Oklahoma City a first-round pick that is top-six protected in 2025 and top-four protected in 2026 and 2027. The 76ers have their own first in 2024 but are not allowed to trade it.
What to watch: Dario Saric, Jalen Smith and future draft assets.
The Suns can find a working balance on improving the roster without trading any of their starters or rotational players.
While Saric was a key component last year, the forward tore his right ACL in the NBA Finals, and he is likely out for the entire 2021-22 season. He is under contract for next season but on a team-friendly $9.2 million contract.
Smith was taken 10th overall in the 2020 NBA draft but saw the third-year option in his contract declined. Despite a limited role in his first two campaigns, Smith has averaged 17.3 points and 9.5 rebounds in four starts this season.
One disadvantage for any team acquiring Smith in a trade is that because his option was declined, it would be limited to offering him a maximum of $4.7 million in first-year salary in free agency this summer, the same amount as what his 2022-23 option would have been. (The Suns have the same restriction if they choose to keep Smith past the deadline and want to re-sign him this summer.)
The Suns do have two things working for them in potential trades, beyond the players on their roster: They are allowed to trade up to three first-round picks in any deal (if the protection is lifted off the 2022 first owed to Oklahoma City), and they are $8.2 million below the luxury tax.
Front-office deadline history: Since taking over basketball operations in October 2018, James Jones has made nine trades, including four during the regular season.
Last regular-season trade: Acquired Torrey Craig from Milwaukee for $110,000 in March.
Impact transaction: Craig averaged 7.1 points after the trade and appeared in 23 playoff games as the Suns reached the NBA Finals for the first time since 1993.
Trade we would like to see: Saric, Smith and two second-round picks (2025 and 2026) to Portland for Robert Covington.
The Suns are $8.2 million below the luxury tax and have an open roster spot.
Mikal Bridges and Landry Shamet have poison-pill restrictions in their contract.
Abdel Nader and Frank Kaminsky are subject to the one-year Bird provision and have veto power on any trade.
Bismack Biyombo cannot be traded.
Phoenix owes Oklahoma City a first-round pick that is top-12 protected in 2002, top-10 protected in 2023, top-eight protected in 2024 and unprotected in 2025. The Suns are allowed to trade a future first but only two years after the pick to the Thunder is conveyed.
Portland Trail Blazers
What to watch: Robert Covington, Jusuf Nurkic and the luxury tax.
One name you will not find on the "what to watch" list is All-Star Damian Lillard. As Adrian Wojnarowski reported in December, Portland has made it known to teams that Lillard is not available in trade talks.
That leaves interim GM Joe Cronin tasked with the job of reshaping the roster around Lillard, starting with Covington and Nurkic. Both players are on expiring contracts, and the value of each depends on whether the acquiring team views him as a rental or as someone they will prioritize signing in the offseason.
Covington was acquired at the 2020 draft for two first-round picks, and he has gone from starter to a role coming off the bench. The forward is averaging 6.5 points and 5.0 rebounds and has the second-worst defensive rating in his career. For a playoff team looking for a wing that can guard multiple positions, Covington is the best name available. However, the Trail Blazers need to be realistic that the return value is likely not a first-round pick but instead ones in the second round.
Nurkic has started every game he has played but one since the Trail Blazers acquired him from Denver in 2017. He also is on the verge of playing his most games since the 2018-19 season.
Even if both players depart as free agents this summer, Portland already has $110 million in committed salary in 2022-23 and is not projected to be a team that has financial flexibility, outside of the $10 million midlevel exception.
Also keep an eye on the Trail Blazers shedding salary to get under the luxury tax. Portland is $3 million above the threshold but will face a challenge to go under because the roster is top-heavy in salary.
Front-office deadline history: This is the first deadline in the lead role for Joe Cronin. However, Cronin has been part of the Trail Blazers' front office the past 16 years.
Trade we would like to see: Covington to Phoenix for Dario Saric, Jalen Smith and two second round picks (2025 and 2026).
The Trail Blazers have an open roster spot.
Portland is $3 million over the luxury tax and has a projected penalty of $4.5 million.
Portland has a $1.8 million trade exception.
The Trail Blazers owe Chicago a first-round pick that is top-14 protected from 2022 to 2028. Because the pick has seven years of protection, they are not allowed to trade a first unless the protection is lifted.
What to watch: The roster.
No one on the Kings' roster should be considered untouchable. Not even De'Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton.
Does that mean come Feb. 10, GM Monte McNair will swap out all 15 players and have a new team? Of course not. The goal is to improve a roster that is competing for one of the final play-in spots and not to have a complete tear down.
The body of work this season confirms that although the roster has individual talent, the parts of the puzzle do not fit, either with former head coach Luke Walton in charge or under interim head coach Alvin Gentry.
Although Sacramento has played close to .500 since Gentry took over, the Kings rank 23rd in offensive efficiency and 26th defensively since Nov. 22. Under Walton, the Kings were 11th in offense and 26th in defense. To be fair, the roster has been besieged by players testing positive for COVID-19.
The Kings already have 12 players under contract for next season, so any big changes in this roster could come at the deadline. They could take a big-picture approach, with a serious look at whether Fox is part of the future. They also could make moves on the margins, such as former No. 2 pick Marvin Bagley III, one of the few pending free agents in Sacramento.
Front-office deadline history: This is the second trade deadline for GM Monte McNair. The Kings have made seven trades under the watch of McNair and four during the regular season.
Last regular-season trade: Cory Joseph and two second-round picks to the Pistons for Delon Wright in March. The Kings would then trade Wright in the offseason for Tristan Thompson.
Impact transaction: The Kings acquired Terence Davis and Maurice Harkless in two separate trades at the deadline in March. Both were re-signed in the offseason.
Trade we would like to see: Haliburton, Harrison Barnes, Thompson and two first-round picks (top-six protected in each season) to Philadelphia for Ben Simmons, Shake Milton and Charles Bassey.
The Kings are $6.3 million below the luxury tax.
They have two trade exceptions: $3.6 and $2.1 million.
Richaun Holmes has a 15% trade bonus in his contract.
San Antonio Spurs
What to watch: Thaddeus Young.
Despite his lack of playing time in San Antonio, Young could give playoff teams another veteran presence who can play either forward position and provide an insurance policy at the backup center position.
He is averaging a career-low 14.1 minutes this season for the retooling Spurs but has still managed to average 6.0 points and sh