5 NBA Teams Most Likely to Make a Trade at the Deadline

D.J. FosterContributor IFebruary 7, 2014

5 NBA Teams Most Likely to Make a Trade at the Deadline

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    Chris Szagola/Associated Press

    Although we've already seen quite a few trades in the 2013-14 NBA season, the action should ramp up even more at the Feb. 20 deadline.

    With very little ambiguity about which teams are buyers and which teams are sellers, mutually beneficial deals should be available for teams that want to make a move.

    In particular, teams with expiring contracts that are looking to make the playoffs may be ready to cash in on those deals and bring on a player to help make a final push. For teams that are in "tank" mode, selling off players for any future asset makes sense.

    With that in mind, here's a look at five of the most likely teams to make a trade before Feb. 20.   

Charlotte Bobcats

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    As a team with a sub-.500 record, the Charlotte Bobcats don't have the traditional profile of a "buyer" at the deadline.

    Given the shaky state of the Eastern Conference and the unexpected performance of Charlotte's defense under first-year head coach Steve Clifford, though, the Bobcats could be looking to add some offensive firepower to make a playoff push.

    Charlotte is currently 27th in offensive efficiency but sixth in defensive efficiency. Finding a scorer or two shouldn't be all that difficult, as the team has all of its future draft picks beyond this year to deal.

    Aside from the picks, the Bobcats can offer a trading partner plenty of cap relief with Ben Gordon's expiring deal worth $13.2 million.

    According to Alex Kennedy of BasketballInsiders.com, many around the league have pegged the Bobcats as a buyer at the deadline.

    I’ve heard from rival executives that the Bobcats are going to be buyers at the deadline. This is an organization that is tired of losing games and they’d love to make the playoffs this year.

    Whether they are willing to give up future cap space or draft picks for a playoff appearance is yet to be seen, but this summer's signing of Al Jefferson would indicate that Charlotte might be ready to have some real success as soon as possible.

Philadelphia 76ers

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    Chris Szagola/Associated Press

    The Philadelphia 76ers are quite clearly playing for lottery balls at this point, so it would make sense that veteran center Spencer Hawes and swingman Evan Turner would be available at the deadline. Here's ESPN's Marc Stein with what the asking price for either player may be.

    The Sixers, sources say, continue to hold out hope that they can acquire a future first-round pick for either forward Evan Turner or center Spencer Hawes before the Feb. 20 trade deadline. Both players become free agents in July.

    Getting a first-round pick for Hawes or Turner is going to be difficult, but it's not a completely unattainable goal. Hawes could be nothing more than a rental for an acquiring team due to his unrestricted status in free agency, but 7-foot centers who shoot 41 percent from behind the arc don't come around all that often. 

    Hawes fills a very specific niche, which should make him the more attractive acquisition. 

    That being said, any team that trades for Turner will have the ability to match any offer he receives in restricted free agency. That might not seem like a huge deal, but at least any team giving up a first-round pick will know it can keep him on the roster going forward. 

    Whether any team really wants to acquire Turner is another question entirely. Further, there's a strong possibility Philadelphia won't offer Turner a qualifying offer this offseason, which would make him unrestricted and available to sign wherever he pleases. Teams may be better off waiting the Sixers out.

    We'll see if Philadelphia lowers the asking price, but perhaps the Sixers can at least acquire the option to swap picks with a team down the line as a secondary option.

Phoenix Suns

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    The Phoenix Suns should be another buyer, even if getting Eric Bledsoe back in the lineup will almost certainly be the biggest acquisition.

    It seems like the Suns are plenty capable of doing damage in the postseason at full strength, but there are holes to fill, particularly in the frontcourt. Suns GM Ryan McDonough has also gone on record about possibly wanting to make a move. Here's what he told Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com earlier this year:

    We’re obviously all looking for stars and we feel like we can put together a package as good, if not better, than any other team in the league if and when a star becomes available. That’s kind of generally what we’ve wanted to do, not only with our draft-pick situation but also with the cap space that we’ve acquired.”

    Luckily, the Suns have one of the very best trade chips in the league thanks to Emeka Okafor's expiring deal worth $14.4 million.

    The thing about Okafor's deal is that any team that acquires it will only have to pay 20 percent of his remaining salary, as insurance will cover the rest due to Okafor's neck injury.

    By moving Okafor, the Suns have the chance to turn zero contribution into something substantial. So long as general manager Ryan McDonough can convince ownership that whomever he's acquiring will be worth the passed-up salary savings, the Suns should be able to find someone out there who fits the bill. 

    Whether it's a big piece like Pau Gasol or something smaller, expect the Suns to buy at the deadline. 

Detroit Pistons

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    The Detroit Pistons are in need of a trade. General manager Joe Dumars is in the final year of his contract, and his team is currently on the outside of the playoff picture in the ugly Eastern Conference.

    With Greg Monroe likely demanding a max offer in restricted free agency this offseason, Dumars may need to take advantage of a few assets and possibly make the playoffs in order to keep his job.

    Would the Pistons actually consider moving Monroe to add shooting on the wing and a better fit next to Josh Smith and Andre Drummond? According to ESPN's Marc Stein, maybe not yet. 

    Sources briefed on the situation told ESPN.com this week that the Pistons have been telling teams with Monroe interest that the restricted free agent-to-be -- no matter what you've heard -- is not available. 

    Even if a Monroe deal isn't in the cards, the Pistons still have other means to acquire the badly needed wing help. Rodney Stuckey and Charlie Villanueva are both on expiring deals worth $8.5 million, which could bring back an established player.

    Unless the Pistons can finish as one of the league's worst eight teams, their 2014 first-round pick is headed to the Charlotte Bobcats. Right now, they are hovering right in the middle of that point and the playoffs.

    Given Dumars' and Monroe's contract situation, it would be a surprise if the Pistons didn't buy at the deadline, even if it were just for a minor piece. 

Sacramento Kings

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    The Sacramento Kings likely already made this year's biggest trade by acquiring Rudy Gay from the Toronto Raptors, but the work here is far from done. 

    It's a little hard to define Sacramento's role going into the deadline, as the team could be a buyer and a seller simultaneously. With no cap space coming this offseason, Sacramento may look to make another big acquisition at the deadline instead while also swapping out bad fits for good ones.

    It wouldn't be a surprise to see the Kings try to dump Jason Thompson, Carl Landry or Marcus Thornton. They have plenty of room to upgrade on the wing and in the frontcourt, and none of those players may be seen as viable solutions, especially considering their contract lengths and sizes. 

    The Kings have certainly been active over the last few months, and it would be a surprise if that didn't hold true at the deadline.