10 Realistic Predictions for 2020 NBA Trade Deadline
The NBA trade deadline is Feb. 6, giving teams less than a month to agree on deals during the 2019-20 season.
Plenty of big names could be moved, but most come with asterisks attached.
Chris Paul and Kevin Love would almost certainly be traded if not for their massive contracts, while offseason additions D'Angelo Russell, Al Horford, Derrick Rose and JJ Redick could already be looking for new homes.
Teams such as the Cleveland Cavaliers, Detroit Pistons, New York Knicks and New Orleans Pelicans have massive seller potential, given their poor records and number of veterans who could be valuable rotation pieces on contending teams.
With just weeks to go, here are 10 trade-deadline predictions for this campaign.
Most Deals Won't Happen Until Trade-Deadline Day
While trade-deadline day itself can be quiet, this year's version will be different.
There are clear buyers that have already been inquiring about talent, but teams on the other end may not be ready to throw in the towel yet.
Only four of the 30 teams sit more than five games out of the playoffs with 40-plus contests to go. Even the New Orleans Pelicans, who are next-to-last in the Western Conference at 14-26, are just four games out of the eighth seed.
In the East, a Chicago Bulls team that's lost six of its last seven games to fall to 14-26 is only 4.5 games behind the Orlando Magic for eighth place.
With the last seed in the West (and final two in the East) wide-open, teams may hold off on trading players until the last minute. This situation is unusual, given the Los Angeles Clippers claimed the final playoff spot in the West with a 48-34 record just last year, with the next-closest team nine games back.
While some teams are significantly below .500, it's tough to trade off talent if the playoffs are within reach.
Expect the majority of deals to get done close to and right on deadline day.
Warriors Hang On to D'Angelo Russell...for Now
Whether Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson are able to return this season or not, the Golden State Warriors' eyes should be on 2020-21 given the team's Western Conference-worst 9-32 record.
For Russell, this means staying put. At least for now.
Sam Amick of The Athletic reported "a source with knowledge of the Warriors' thinking deems it 'unlikely' that he will be moved" and that any rumors of a Russell and Aaron Gordon swap with the Orlando Magic were a "hard 'no.'"
There's no reason to deal the 23-year-old All-Star, especially since he leads the Warriors with a career-high 23.2 points per game. Golden State is 29th in offense (103.8 points per 100 possessions) and could move veterans Alec Burks (15.8 PPG) and Glenn Robinson III (12.2 PPG) at the deadline, per Shams Charania of The Athletic, making Russell's scoring and playmaking even more valuable.
With franchise staple Draymond Green struggling this season (8.6 points, 5.6 assists, 38.7 FG%, 27.2 3P%), the Warriors need someone to put the ball in the basket, by far Russell's best quality.
This wasted season in Golden State takes pressure off finding a trade partner for Russell, at least until the Warriors see how he meshes with Curry and Thompson.
Knicks Trade Marcus Morris to Heat
While they won't go for one of the big fish in Kevin Love or Chris Paul, the Miami Heat won’t be silent at the deadline.
Marcus Morris would be a perfect fit at power forward, given his toughness, defensive versatility and playoff experience.
His expiring $15 million deal means Miami won't have to worry about his contract taking up cap space in the summer of 2021, when players such as Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George could hit free agency.
Morris leads the New York Knicks with 19.1 points per game and is second in the NBA with a 46.9 percent success rate from three.
Miami should be willing to include a first-round pick (with 2025 being the first year it can do so) even on what could be a rental, if the Knicks are willing to take back the contract of either Dion Waiters or James Johnson. While neither would benefit the rebuilding Knicks yet, both turn into expiring contracts that could be flipped next season.
The Cleveland Cavaliers and Milwaukee Bucks executed a similar deal last year, with the Bucks giving up a future first to not only add George Hill, but rid themselves of the contracts of John Henson and Matthew Dellavedova as well.
The 30-year-old Morris doesn't fit the timeline of the rebuilding Knicks, and he should draw plenty of interest from contending teams before ultimately landing in Miami.
Thunder Trade Danilo Gallinari, Keep Chris Paul and Steven Adams
After trading three starters this past summer, it appeared the Oklahoma City Thunder could sell off more veterans before the deadline.
Instead, they are 22-17 and comfortably sitting in the No. 7 seed in the West, with Chris Paul serving as a leader both on and off the court. Given his strong play and monstrous remaining contract (three years, $124.1 million including this season), Paul will be in OKC past the deadline.
This doesn't mean the Thunder won't try to add to their league-leading collection of first-round picks, of course.
Danilo Gallinari, acquired from the Los Angeles Clippers in the Paul George trade, is on an expiring $22.6 million contract. If the Thunder aren't willing to commit sizable money to him this summer (they shouldn’t be), trading him for something now would be the smart play.
The Clippers pulled a similar move last February, dealing Tobias Harris and his expiring contract to the Philadelphia 76ers in a package that netted two first-round picks.
Look for CP3 and fan favorite Steven Adams to stay put, with a team like the Portland Trail Blazers calling for Gallinari's services. Portland needs help at the forward positions, and Gallinari gives them a 6'10" floor-spacer that can play either spot.
Grizzlies Send Andre Iguodala to Dallas Mavericks
The Memphis Grizzlies find themselves in playoff contention even without Andre Iguodala, who joined the team via a trade with the Warriors. With no change of heart in sight from the 35-year-old forward, it's time for the two sides part ways.
Teams that need a defensive wing with championship experience will be interested in Iguodala, but his $17.2 million salary will be difficult to match for most organizations.
One young, playoff-hungry squad that has the salary to send out? Dallas.
The Mavericks are 24-15 and sport the NBA's best offense (116.8 points per 100 possessions). Perhaps the main areas holding them back? Experience and a 17th-ranked defense (109.9 points allowed per 100 possessions).
Even though he's on an expiring deal, Iguodala could make a huge impact on a young Mavericks team led by two players (Luka Doncic, Kristaps Porzingis) who have never reached the postseason.
Dallas can use the expiring contract of Courtney Lee as the base of a deal, and it owns multiple second-rounders in the 2020 draft.
In what could be Iguodala's final season, he'll reach the playoffs for the 13th time.
Pelicans Keep Their Veterans, Make Run at Playoffs
Following the New Orleans Pelicans' pitiful 6-22 start to the season, their good vibes acquired over the summer were quickly fading.
Since then, aided by the return of Derrick Favors and lights-out performances by Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball, the Pelicans are 8-4 and only four games out of the playoffs.
While the names of Favors, Jrue Holiday and JJ Redick have appeared in trade rumors, New Orleans would be wise keep its core together. With 2019 No. 1 overall draft pick Zion Williamson expected to debut this week, the Pelicans should stick with their plan of molding the young talent beside high-character vets while competing for the postseason.
A healthy Williamson should significantly raise the ceiling of this team and bring back the positive buzz.
Even if Redick's 13-season playoff streak ultimately comes to an end, the Pelicans will keep their team together and stay in the postseason conversation until April.
Pistons Trade Andre Drummond...if They Can Get a 1st-Round Pick
With Blake Griffin's season over after knee surgery, let the Pistons' fire sale begin!
First up is Drummond. Per Sam Amick of The Athletic, the big man is "now widely known to be available."
It's difficult to figure out a value for the 26-year-old center. Drummond is on pace to lead the NBA in rebounding (15.9 per game) for the fourth time in five years, and he's recording a career-high 17.6 points per contest. He's also held opponents to 52.1 percent shooting at the rim.
His $28.8 million player option for next season makes it a risk to trade for him, however. Drummond could decline it in hopes of signing a big-money, long-term deal.
The center-hungry Hawks have shown interest, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, but Amick stated that Drummond would be in Atlanta already if the team were willing to include a first-round pick for him.
With Griffin out, the Pistons shouldn't be giving away Drummond for second-round selections, but an offer containing a first-rounder (from New York Knicks or Dallas Mavericks?) will get the deal done.
Sixers Keep Al Horford, Acquire Alec Burks from Warriors
While Al Horford's production has slipped in the first season of a four-year, $109 million deal with Philadelphia, now isn't the time for the 76ers to explore a trade.
With starting center Joel Embiid out following hand surgery, the team needs the 33-year-old big man to take over his spot. Horford has put up 19.0 points, 8.2 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 1.4 steals, 1.3 blocks per 36 minutes when Embiid is off the court. Though keeping him is a must for now, a disappointing playoff run could change that this summer.
But prior to the deadline, the Sixers will look for help on the wing. With no big salaries to send out, bringing in a player like Alec Burks ($2.3 million) fills a few needs.
The Warriors guard is averaging a career-high 15.8 points, 4.6 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.1 steals per game while shooting 36.4 percent from three. He could join the starting lineup with Embiid out (with Tobias Harris moving to the 4) and become the team's sixth man upon his return.
With Embiid hurt, Horford will stay put, while Burks will join his fifth team since November 2018.
Suns, Cavaliers Agree on Kevin Love Trade
While Love has apologized for acting like a "13-year-old" during his recent outbursts, a change of scenery still seems like the best course of action.
The Portland Trail Blazers have been linked to Love the most, but the Suns will land what could be the most talented player to change teams this deadline.
Phoenix general manager James Jones was Love's teammate in Cleveland, and Love said Jones was "the best teammate I've ever had." It wouldn't be surprising if Jones reached out about Love.
The Cavs won't get a huge collection of assets for Love, who has three years and $91.5 million remaining on his contract after this campaign, but they can move him to a playoff contender with a bright future. Phoenix has a player with a big expiring salary in Tyler Johnson ($19.2 million in 2019-20), and it can throw in players like Mikal Bridges and Dario Saric to sweeten the deal.
The Suns sit just a game-and-a-half out of the playoffs, a destination they haven't reached since the 2009-10 season. If Love joined Phoenix, he'd reunite with Ricky Rubio, and he put up career-best numbers with Rubio as his point guard in Minnesota. Add in Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton and Kelly Oubre Jr., and the Suns could be one of the league's best offensive teams.
Derrick Rose Rejoins LeBron James with Lakers
LeBron James-led teams have traditionally made moves at the trade deadline, and this year will be no exception.
James and Derrick Rose will be reunited after Rose played just 16 games in Cleveland during the 2017-18 campaign. That season, Rose suffered a combination of injuries, briefly left the team because of personal reasons and was ultimately traded to the Utah Jazz, who waived him days later.
This version of Rose is far better.
The 31-year-old point guard is averaging 17.8 points and 5.8 assists in 25.4 minutes per game off the Pistons' bench. He's been a far more willing passer, increasing his assist percentage to a career-best 41.9 percent. In Cleveland, it was a career-low 13.0 percent.
Rose gives the Lakers an upgrade over Rajon Rondo and allows James to spend more time off the ball should he need to rest for the playoffs.
In a loaded West that could see deep runs by the Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, Denver Nuggets, Jazz, Houston Rockets or Dallas Mavericks, getting a player like Rose may help separate the Lakers from the pack.
Rose should welcome the move to Southern California and a second chance to be James' teammate.