What Inside Sources Are Saying About Biggest NBA Trade Deadline Targets

Jake Fischer@JakeLFischerContributor IMarch 22, 2021

Houston Rockets guard Victor Oladipo (7) during an NBA basketball game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021, in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

With the introduction of the play-in tournament, amid a pandemic-plagued season no less, it seems NBA teams have been as patient as ever evaluating their rosters ahead of the trade deadline. This should theoretically create a seller's market this week, with more executives than normal considering their chances to reach the extended postseason field. 

Let's jump across the landscape with the latest on impact players who appear truly available before Thursday's 3 p.m. ET buzzer, according to league personnel polled by Bleacher Report. 


Aaron Gordon

Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

We went into great detail on Orlando's overall situation last week, and Gordon's name continues to be mentioned in trade conversations. In addition to the interested parties mentioned last Monday—Denver, Golden State, Houston, New Orleans, Minnesota—Portland remains a team often linked to Gordon. The Blazers considered acquiring Gordon in the offseason, sources said, before Portland chose acquiring Robert Covington instead. 

It seems more likely than ever Orlando may move Gordon before Thursday's deadline, but Evan Fournier and his $17 million expiring contract is an even better bet to be traded. The Mavericks have been the loudest rumored team for Fournier, with one potential package being James Johnson and two second-round picks, according to league sources. 


Victor Oladipo

We discussed the circumstances surrounding Oladipo and the Rockets a few weeks ago, and it does not appear that situation has changed. Houston is still asking for a first-round pick and then some in any deal for Oladipo, sources said, and the Rockets front office has not expressed much interest in taking back long-term money in exchange for the former All-Star guard. They instead continue to seek younger players on value contracts, or even an additional first-rounder. "When they traded him they thought his value was higher than it was," said one Western Conference executive. 

New York and Miami remain the teams most consistently rumored as Oladipo landing spots among league personnel. How much either franchise will be willing to offer, though, remains to be seen. "I think both New York and Miami believe they can get him in free agency," said another rival executive. 

There's also a segment of the Knicks front office, sources said, who are against surrendering draft capital now for any player they could presumably sign this summer. New York, too, has messaged an interest in using its $15 million in salary-cap space to facilitate deals as a third team. 

One latest potential Oladipo suitor to keep an eye on is Atlanta. The Hawks have made Bogdan Bogdanovic and Cam Reddish available, sources said, as the front office is purportedly searching to upgrade its crowded wing rotation. 


Harrison Barnes

Chris Carlson/Associated Press

The Kings are open to discussing the majority of their roster with rival front offices. "It feels like anyone besides [Tyrese] Halliburton and [De'Aaron] Fox isn't untouchable," said one team scout. Sacramento appears to have a high asking price for swingman Harrison Barnes, a versatile veteran who could help any playoff team but remains valuable as a complement to the Kings' young backcourt core. "They're holding the line firm," said one assistant general manager. It may take two first-round picks, sources said, for Sacramento to part with Barnes. The combination of that asking price, and the theoretical list of interested suitors, has many rival executives doubting that Barnes will be traded. "Every playoff team would be interested in him, but that's why I don't think that deal's gonna happen," one assistant general manager said. 

It appears no secret in NBA circles that Marvin Bagley III is interested in a change of scenery. The 2018 No. 2 overall pick is now sidelined for at least four weeks, a difficult proposition for any front office looking to evaluate him before early-extension conversations this offseason. Bagley would also bring an expensive cap hold onto his team's books in 2022 free agency, and Sacramento has maintained an asking price of a first-round pick, sources said. 

Nemanja Bjelica seems like the King most likely to be traded. With a salary at just over $7 million, and many playoff contenders searching for perimeter shooting as always, the circumstances are ripe for change. "They want to move him, and Bjelica told them he wants to be moved," said the assistant general manager. Sacramento is holding out for a younger player and a second-round pick in return, sources said. Barnes was often mentioned as the Celtics' ideal addition this deadline, but multiple league sources mentioned Boston as a top suitor for Bjelica.  


Norman Powell

Fewer and fewer rival front offices expect the Raptors to part ways with Kyle Lowry ahead of Thursday's buzzer. "It feels more and more unlikely," said the assistant GM. Similar to Andre Drummond, Lowry's sizable salary makes it difficult for any of the most-rumored teams to land his services. Philadelphia would likely have to part with two of Danny Green, Seth Curry and Tyrese Maxey, sacrificing the depth and shooting that Lowry would theoretically supplement. Miami and the Clippers would need to send younger players (Ivica Zubac, one of Duncan Robinson or Tyler Herro) that neither seems too interested in moving.

Powell is a far different story. He makes just under $11 million and is expected to decline his player option to enter free agency this offseason, sources said. The Knicks have popped up again in these conversations. "He's the perfect Tom Thibodeau player," said one team official. It also seems well known in league circles that the Cavaliers asked for Powell in their conversations with the Raptors about sending Andre Drummond to Toronto.

Dallas, Boston, Minnesota, Detroit and Atlanta have all been linked to Powell discussions as the deadline draws closer, sources said. "I think there's probably a 75 percent chance he gets moved," said one team capologist. 


Lonzo Ball

Matthew Hinton/Associated Press

The Knicks and Bulls have also expressed interest in New Orleans' starting point guard, sources said, although the Pelicans, as we previously reported, do not appear as motivated to move Ball as they once did. There were early discussions centered around swapping Lauri Markkanen for Ball, sources said, yet those talks have not yet seemed close to substantial.

Denver has repeatedly been mentioned by league sources as a Ball suitor, rumored to have offered Bol Bol in those early conversations. Yet New Orleans did have the opportunity to select the Oregon product in the 2019 draft, plus the opportunity to sign him to a two-way contract, sources said, and the Pelicans came away with Brazilian combo guard Didi Louzada instead.  

As the New York Times' Marc Stein reported, the Clippers' interest in Ball has also started to swirl around NBA front offices, but it would take tricky cap gymnastics and likely another team to lubricate any deal there. 


Ricky Rubio

The Clippers' answer to their point guard dilemma may be Minnesota's current floor general. Rubio's numbers have been generally down across the board this season, but in seven games in March, he's scored 13.9 points and dished 8.4 assists per game under new head coach Chris Finch, and Rubio has connected on 37.3 percent of his threes since February 1. The veteran will make $17.8 million next season, and Minnesota has promptly expressed interest in moving him. "Because of [avoiding] the tax next year. The Wolves' cap sheet is such a mess," said one Western Conference executive. Minnesota did include Rubio in Aaron Gordon conversations with Orlando, as we previously reported. 


Devonte' Graham

Chris Carlson/Associated Press

There were early rumblings when Charlotte inserted LaMelo Ball into its starting lineup, and whispers about Graham's long-term future with the franchise have emerged yet again, although it's unclear how Ball's likely season-ending wrist injury will impact these negotiations. 

Some league personnel were already doubtful Graham will actually be moved. "They'll try to keep him, and they're willing to pay," said one assistant GM. The salary range for Graham appears quite broad, as it could range from anywhere between $52 million and $64 million over four years, according to team executives polled by B/R. 

Hornets chief executive Mitch Kupchak is not known to swing many midseason deals, but the Indiana Pacers are a team to watch in this situation, sources said, as are the active Knicks. Perhaps there's a deal that sends Myles Turner to Charlotte, which has long coveted a center, sources said, and the Pacers have maintained a willingness to discuss Turner dating back to last offseason. 

The Hornets could find that frontcourt depth in Memphis' Gorgui Dieng, whom the Grizzlies are looking to move before his contract expires at the end of the season. Charlotte has also called the Lakers about Montrezl Harrell, Los Angeles' bruising center, sources said, and the reigning champions appear willing to entertain offers. 


Spencer Dinwiddie

Another guard set to enter free agency this summer, Dinwiddie has attracted interest from several teams before the deadline, sources said. Detroit, Houston, Indiana and Chicago have looked into acquiring Dinwiddie as a means to obtain his Bird rights, should the guard waive his 2021-22 player option as expected.

Dinwiddie stands as the Nets' last real trade chip to improve the roster ahead of their expected championship run. "They're definitely shopping Dinwiddie," said another assistant general manager. Brooklyn has been gauging trade interest on Dinwiddie dating back to November's draft, when the Nets discussed him with Orlando in Aaron Gordon trade scenarios, and with Houston as part of potential packages for acquiring James Harden. The Nets, however, won't part with Dinwiddie easily. Brooklyn could still extract a valuable return for the point guard if he were to leave this offseason by sign-and-trade.


Jake Fischer covers the NBA for Bleacher Report and is the author of Built to Lose: How the NBA's Tanking Era Changed the League Forever.


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