With the NBA’s competitive landscape taking a sturdier form and the Feb. 19 trade deadline looming, rumors are surfacing regarding who may be buyers and sellers.
The Los Angeles Lakers clearly aren’t heading to the playoffs, and general manager Mitch Kupchak has already admitted he’s been active in exploring options.
The Boston Celtics are currently on the outside looking in, and president of basketball operations Danny Ainge is willing to deal quantity for quality to make a playoff run.
Meanwhile, the Miami Heat are trying to rid themselves of Chris Andersen’s pricey contract to avoid another luxury-tax hit.
Here is a look at the latest trade buzz.
Lakers Exploring Options But Not Expected to Make Blockbuster Trade
The Lakers weathered the worst season in their respected franchise history a year ago, and they are in the midst of a campaign on par with last year’s disappointment.
As a result, speculation has surfaced that the Lakers could move one of their young talents, such as D'Angelo Russell or Julius Randle, though Kupchak indicated prior to Thursday’s game that’s unlikely.
The GM said he’s been active in seeking a potential deal but likely none that would involve any of the team’s top talent, per Harrison Faigen of SB Nation's Silver Screen and Roll:
There was a flurry of phone calls a couple of weeks ago, most of which I initiated … [we] have to be careful with what we do. Most of the teams that would have interest in our players would have interest in our young players and we covet our young players pretty highly right now. So it would be tough for us to move a young player.
Such a strategy seems wise. Once Kobe Bryant retires this offseason, the Lakers will have his $25 million per year off the books and will have the financial ability to add one of the marquee free agents set to hit the market—perhaps even Kevin Durant.
Celtics Looking To Trade Quantity For Quality
The Celtics have a surplus of wingmen on their roster, and Ainge is exploring options to trim the fat. In an interview with 98.5 The Hub in Boston, Ainge said he’d be willing to let more players go than he’d get in return.
"Consolidating quantity for quality right now is sort of something that we're looking to do," Ainge said. "But we like all of our players. We don't have to do anything by the trade deadline. But we're certainly busy trying to find something to upgrade our team."
A. Sherrod Blakely of CSN New England speculated the Celtics won’t burgeon past their spot in the lower echelon of the Eastern Conference without making a move, noting that they possess plenty of disposable personnel to offload.
"Whatever move or moves Boston makes leading up to the Feb. 18 trade deadline, the Celtics have to address the logjam in the frontcourt which consists now of too many guys who don’t fit into the team’s long or short-term plans," Blakely wrote.
Moving Lee makes the most sense, though he comes with baggage in the form of a $15.5 million annual salary as the Celtics’ highest-paid player.
Heat Continue to Shop Chris Andersen
Heat power forward Chris Andersen is seeing minimal minutes yet is elevating the Heat’s luxury tax with a salary of $5 million per year that is well above what it should be given his limited contributions.
"Everyone, including the Andersen camp, is aware that Miami would love to move his $5 million salary to substantially lessen its luxury-tax payment,” wrote Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. "But the Heat hasn’t found a taker."
The Heat already have big men Amar'e Stoudemire and Udonis Haslem and use each of them sparingly as it is.
Part of that is a byproduct of today’s NBA, where teams rely more on their wings and play small.
With the right fit, Andersen’s price tag may be worth adding.
Contract info courtesy of Spotrac.