Every NBA Team's Top 3 Trade Deadline Targets

Greg Swartz@@GregSwartzBRCleveland Cavaliers Lead WriterJanuary 24, 2022

Every NBA Team's Top 3 Trade Deadline Targets

0 of 30

    Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

    We're just weeks away from the NBA trade deadline, with every team constantly shuffling and updating their target list.

    There doesn't project to be a great deal of star power on the market, so teams may have to settle for quality rotation pieces instead. Ben Simmons, Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner may end up as some of the biggest names on the move, even if teams could check in on the availability of guys like De'Aaron Fox, Brandon Ingram and Dejounte Murray.

    For this list, every team's trade targets will be broken down into three categories:

    • Dream Target: The best (somewhat attainable) player the team should go after. Even if it's a quick conversation, a phone call should be made.
    • Realistic Target: The player every team will likely settle for if their dream target isn't available. There's a real chance this player is on the market and acquirable.
    • Sneaky Target: Not the first player you'd think of nor a household name, but one that fills a need or could be on the list if the price is right.

    These are the players all 30 teams should be pursuing before the Feb. 10 trade deadline.

Atlanta Hawks

1 of 30

    Chris Szagola/Associated Press

    Dream Target: PG Ben Simmons, Philadelphia 76ers

    Realistic Target: G Marcus Smart, Boston Celtics

    Sneaky Target: SG Gary Harris, Orlando Magic

    The Hawks could be one of the most active teams at the deadline, as a run to the Eastern Conference Finals last season could be followed up by missing the playoffs altogether if this roster stands pat.

    Atlanta now has an extra 2022 first-round pick (top-18 protected, via the Charlotte Hornets) after trading Cam Reddish to the New York Knicks and still possesses a roster full of young talent to trade for win-now help.

    Simmons should be at the top of the list, given how badly this team needs defensive assistance. Atlanta has been near the bottom of the league in defense, keeping them lottery-bound even with one of the top-ranked offenses in the league. Trae Young is easily one of the worst point-of-attack defenders in the NBA, so adding a 6'11" shut-down option in the backcourt next to him should help balance the Hawks out.

    As Bleacher Report's Jake Fischer writes, "the Hawks have entered the field of teams interested in Simmons," although a third team may be needed to get a deal done.

    If the Sixers don't like the potential return for Simmons, there's plenty of other defensive options to target instead.

    Smart can be traded after Jan. 25 after signing a four-year, $77 million extension back in August, and he remains one of the better backcourt stoppers in the NBA. He's also a good enough distributor to allow Young to play off the ball more and get the young superstar some catch-and-shoot opportunities.

    Harris has quietly come back to form as a three-and-D wing in Orlando, with the 27-year-old averaging 11.5 points, 2.2 rebounds, 1.8 assists and shooting 35.6 percent from three in 29 starts.

Boston Celtics

2 of 30

    Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

    Dream Target: PF John Collins, Atlanta Hawks

    Realistic Target: G/F Eric Gordon, Houston Rockets

    Sneaky Target: SG Ben McLemore, Portland Trail Blazers

    The Celtics don't need to split up Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. They do, however, need to inject this roster with a lot more shooting around their star duo.

    Collins has become one of the best three-point shooting big men in the NBA (42.9 percent, top-10 among all players), one who can also play the pick-and-roll and throw down some devastating dunks. He's in the first season of a five-year, $125 million contract, yet his future in Atlanta is in doubt. "Everyone but Trae Young and Clint Capela are available," one assistant general manager told Bleacher Report's Jake Fischer.

    Putting Collins on the floor with Tatum, Brown and Robert Williams III would be a tremendously talented Big Four of players who are all 25 and under and can't become free agents until 2024 or later.

    Gordon has also been one of the best floor-spacers this season (46.1 percent, second-highest overall) and could play a variety of roles in Boston. He could start in a backcourt with Marcus Smart or come off the bench as the team's sixth man. Gordon would give the Celtics another scoring option and help take pressure off Tatum and Brown.

    McLemore is the most affordable of the three on a $2.4 million expiring deal, and he is hitting 39.1 percent of his threes for Portland. While he's not much of a defender or playmaker, even his shooting could make a big difference for this offense.

Brooklyn Nets

3 of 30

    Elsa/Getty Images

    Dream Target: C Jakob Poeltl, San Antonio Spurs

    Realistic Target: F Dorian Finney-Smith, Dallas Mavericks

    Sneaky Target: C Mike Muscala, Oklahoma City Thunder

    Injuries have exposed the Nets' lack of depth this season, as they've been forced to use too many unproven young players or ride end-of-their-career vets for long stretches. This roster needs more quality guys in their primes, particularly ones who don't make a lot of money given Brooklyn is already $35.3 million over the luxury-tax line.

    Poeltl ($8.7 million) fits into Brooklyn's $11.5 million trade exception if it doesn't want to send matching salary back to San Antonio, and he is one of the most underrated defenders in the game. The 26-year-old has become an excellent rim protector and rebounder, and his 13.8 contested shots per game lead the NBA.

    Finney-Smith can play either forward spot, using his size and versatility to defend a variety of positions. He doesn't need the ball to make an impact and is connecting on 37.7 percent of his threes. Finney-Smith is making just $4 million this season, and trading for him now would give Brooklyn his Bird rights this summer.

    Muscala is a floor-spacing center who would keep the driving lanes open for Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden. He's not the defensive force Poeltl is, but his 44.1 percent mark from three is the fourth-highest in the NBA.

Charlotte Hornets

4 of 30

    Dylan Buell/Getty Images

    Dream Target: C Myles Turner, Indiana Pacers

    Realistic Target: C Nerlens Noel, New York Knicks

    Sneaky Target: C Robin Lopez, Orlando Magic

    An upgrade at center is the only thing holding back these Hornets, preferably one who can protect the rim and finish off lobs from LaMelo Ball.

    Turner, the league's leading shot-blocker for three of the past four seasons, is the obvious first choice. The 25-year-old should be available as well, as HoopsHype's Michael Scotto writes, "the Pacers are seeking two first-round picks or a promising young player and a first-round pick" in exchange for his services. However, a stress reaction in his left foot could bring the asking price down.

    If Charlotte is scared off by Turner's injury, moving on to Noel isn't a bad consolation prize.

    Although he's battled injuries this season, Noel is still one of the league's best interior defenders when healthy. He's holding opponents to just 52.8 percent shooting from within six feet of the basket, a drop of 12.0 percent from their normal averages.

    Lopez is another defensive option at center and should be thrilled to move from the Orlando Magic to Charlotte. While he may not be enough to take the starting job from Mason Plumlee, Lopez is good for 20-25 minutes a night of solid defense and screen setting as a reserve.

Chicago Bulls

5 of 30

    Jeff Haynes/Getty Images

    Dream Target: F Jerami Grant, Detroit Pistons

    Realistic Target: F Larry Nance Jr., Portland Trail Blazers

    Sneaky Target: F Nicolas Batum, Los Angeles Clippers

    With limited trade assets after previously dealing for DeMar DeRozan, Lonzo Ball and Nikola Vucevic, the Bulls have to decide if they want to empty the chest completely or hold onto their remaining young players.

    If Grant is the target, he's almost certainly going to cost one of Patrick Williams or Coby White, plus other players to salary match and/or draft picks. Trading for the versatile forward would push Chicago all-in for a title, however, and possibly separate them from the other contenders at the top of a crowded East.

    Grant would become the team's starting power forward, and while his scoring would certainly drop from the 20.1 per-game mark he's posted with the Pistons this season, he'd still be a valuable defender and an as-needed scorer playing between DeRozan and Vucevic.

    Nance could be plucked from the Blazers if the team decides to do a mini-rebuild this season, as he's a terrific defender who keeps the ball moving on offense and can space the floor.

    Batum also fills the gaps as a multi-positional defender who does a little bit of everything and can thrive playing next to stars. He's also the best three-point shooter of the trio here (40.6 percent) and makes just $3.2 million.

Cleveland Cavaliers

6 of 30

    David Liam Kyle/Getty Images

    Dream Target: SF Brandon Ingram, New Orleans Pelicans

    Realistic Target: G/F Caris LeVert, Indiana Pacers

    Sneaky Target: PG Goran Dragic, Toronto Raptors

    As good as the Cavs have been defensively this season, this is still a middle-of-the-pack offense that was hurt by the losses of Collin Sexton and Ricky Rubio. Getting another scorer/playmaker before the deadline to help with a playoff push would be a good idea.

    Ingram is certainly a dream target, as he's under contract until 2025 and would become the alpha scorer on the wing this team could use. Given the relationship between the two front offices (Koby Altman previously worked under David Griffin in Cleveland), the Cavs should at least call and see what Ingram would cost. Any deal that doesn't include Darius Garland, Evan Mobley or Jarrett Allen should be considered.

    LeVert is an entirely reasonable target, with Indiana asking for a first-round pick and a good young player, according to HoopsHype's Michael Scotto. He'd likely become the Cavs' starting shooting guard with Sexton sidelined for the year, and he can operate as an on-ball playmaker for stretches while Garland gets a rest.

    Dragic is technically a member of the Raptors but is away from the team before an inevitable trade or buyout takes place. He'd be a perfect backup point guard for Cleveland, which can use Ricky Rubio's expiring salary to help facilitate a deal.

Dallas Mavericks

7 of 30

    Glenn James/Getty Images

    Dream Target: F/C Christian Wood, Houston Rockets

    Realistic Target: SG Buddy Hield, Sacramento Kings

    Sneaky Target: PG Kemba Walker, New York Knicks

    Dallas is 25th this season in three-point shooting (32.9 percent), a number that's way too low when you have a table-setter like Luka Doncic. This roster could use a few more snipers, and Dallas possesses a $10.9 million trade exception with which to acquire one.

    Wood gives the Mavs another go-to option on offense, and he's a good enough floor-spacer (35.9 percent) to raise the team's rating. Wood can operate out of the pick-and-roll or face up his opponents, taking offensive pressure off Doncic. Able to play power forward or center, lineups with both Wood and Kristaps Porzingis should theoretically work.

    Hield is third in the NBA in three-point makes per game (3.5) and could be the team's starting shooting guard or sixth man. His salary decreases each of the next two seasons, which gives the team more financial flexibility moving forward. Playing next to Doncic should bring out the best in Hield's game.

    Walker's $8.7 million salary would fit into the Mavericks' trade exception and provide Dallas with another ball-handler who's shooting a career-high 40.0 percent from three. For someone who's been in and out of the Knicks' rotation all season, Walker could find some more stable playing time with the Mavs.

Denver Nuggets

8 of 30

    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    Dream Target: G Derrick White, San Antonio Spurs

    Realistic Target: C Robin Lopez, Orlando Magic

    Sneaky Target: G Dennis Schroder, Boston Celtics

    Trading for Bryn Forbes was a nice start to the deadline for Denver, giving it a quality shooter on the wing. This isn't where trade discussions should end with San Antonio, however.

    White would be a perfect fit for a Nuggets team with or without a healthy Jamal Murray. The Colorado native is averaging 14.5 points, 3.4 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 1.1 steals and is one of the better backcourt defenders in the league.

    The Nuggets could also use a backup center, a spot they never trusted Bol Bol in before trading him to the Boston Celtics.

    With opponents shooting 67.7 percent at the rim against Denver (28th overall in the NBA), adding Lopez would help defensively. The 33-year-old has also appeared in the playoffs six times for five different franchises.

    If Denver wants to acquire another ball-handler while Murray recovers, Schroder ($5.9 million) would be easy to get in terms of matching salary. He's giving Boston 16.1 points and 4.7 assists per game both as a starter and sixth man.

Detroit Pistons

9 of 30

    Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

    Dream Target: C Mo Bamba, Orlando Magic

    Realistic Target: F Patrick Williams, Chicago Bulls

    Sneaky Target: F Kyle Kuzma, Washington Wizards

    Detroit should simply be looking to add more draft picks and young talent at the deadline, all while getting the best possible deal for Jerami Grant while he still has multiple years left on his contract.

    The Pistons are clearly interested in acquiring another young big with upside after nearly trading for Bol Bol, and Bamba is a far more developed product. At age 23 he's already one of the best shot-blockers in the NBA and has shown the ability to step out and hit the open three.

    Williams is currently expected to miss the remainder of the regular season with a dislocated wrist, but he should be the first player the Pistons ask for in any potential Jerami Grant-to-the-Bulls deal. The 6'7" forward won't turn 21 until August and has the tools to become an elite multi-positional defender.

    Kuzma has been a pleasant surprise for the Wizards this season, showing off a more complete game in a larger role. He's averaging 15.7 points, 8.8 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 0.8 blocks in 33.3 minutes a night and could have an even larger playbook waiting for him in Detroit. A Flint, Michigan, native, the Pistons should consider bringing the 26-year-old home.

Golden State Warriors

10 of 30

    Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

    Dream Target: F Kenrich Williams, Oklahoma City Thunder

    Realistic Target: C Mike Muscala, Oklahoma City Thunder

    Sneaky Target: G Marcus Smart, Boston Celtics

    The Warriors have proven they don't need to go star chasing at the deadline, and they should keep their young talent on the roster while looking for some quality bench players instead.

    Williams could be a target for all 29 teams given his defense, outside shooting and terrific contract (just $2 million this year and next). He's constantly making the right reads and rotations while giving maximum effort—even on a lowly Thunder team. A 42.0 percent mark from three over the past two years doesn't hurt, either.

    Muscala is another low-cost option for the Warriors and provides them with a floor-spacing center, something current starter Kevon Looney simply doesn't do. He'd be a nice change-of-pace option off the bench even when James Wiseman returns.

    Gold State should check in on Smart's availability, especially since the Celtics seem interested in getting below the luxury-tax line. Adding another elite defender for a title run would help separate the Warriors from other top contenders, especially when teams try to hunt Stephen Curry defensively.

Houston Rockets

11 of 30

    Bill Baptist/Getty Images

    Dream Target: PG Ben Simmons, Philadelphia 76ers

    Realistic Target: G Derrick White, San Antonio Spurs

    Sneaky Target: PF Rui Hachimura, Washington Wizards

    The Rockets need point guard help, especially if they refuse to play John Wall this season (or ever again). Houston ranks last in the NBA in turnover percentage (16.7 percent) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.35), numbers that can be expected with young, shoot-first guards spending so much time orchestrating the offense.

    Simmons has never shown the desire to be a big-time scorer, and his ability to set up the other young talent on the Rockets roster while wreaking havoc on defense is exactly what this team needs. Art age 25, Simmons fits the rebuild, and he can't hit free agency until 2025.

    Assuming the 76ers don't want Christian Wood back as a primary centerpiece, it would likely take a three-team deal to get Simmons to Houston, something the Rockets should absolutely be pursuing.

    White is a little bit older at 27, but like Simmons, has four years remaining on his contract and could become an important part of this roster. He can run point guard as needed, plays defense at a high level and would be a veteran presence in the locker room and on the court.

    Hachimura lost his starting job in Washington to the Wizards' offseason additions, but could thrive in a larger role in Houston. At age 23, the 2019 No. 9 pick still has a lot of upside to offer as a scorer.

Indiana Pacers

12 of 30

    Grant Halverson/Getty Images

    Dream Target: G/F Gordon Hayward, Charlotte Hornets

    Realistic Target: F Dorian Finney-Smith, Dallas Mavericks

    Sneaky Target: G/F Luke Kennard, Los Angeles Clippers

    The Pacers, a franchise that never rebuilds yet appears to be dangling Myles Turner and Caris LeVert on the market, will be one of the most interesting teams to watch at the deadline.

    It's no secret Hayward wanted to play for his hometown Pacers before winding up with the Hornets, and Indiana could use his outside shooting and playmaking ability from the wing, especially if the team ends up trading LeVert. A Hayward-Turner based trade has made sense for both sides for the past two years.

    As Bleacher Report's Jake Fischer writes, "Rick Carlisle was known as Finney-Smith's biggest advocate in Dallas, sources said, and Indiana has been mentioned as a potential destination." With T.J. Warren still out with a foot injury, Finney-Smith would make a fine replacement with his ability to play either forward position and space the floor.

    Outside shooting has doomed the Pacers all year, so Kennard should be a target as well. The 25-year-old ranks fifth in the NBA this season with a 43.4 percent clip from three.

Los Angeles Clippers

13 of 30

    Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

    Dream Target: C Jonas Valanciunas, New Orleans Pelicans

    Realistic Target: C Jusuf Nurkic, Portland Trail Blazers

    Sneaky Target: PG Kemba Walker, New York Knicks

    With Kawhi Leonard out for the year thus far and Paul George currently sidelined with an elbow injury, the Clippers offense has predictably struggled this season. Serge Ibaka hasn't been the same player coming off offseason back surgery, either, so looking to upgrade the center position should be a priority for Los Angeles.

    Valanciunas is averaging a career-high 18.4 points-per-game for the Pelicans and is pulling down 12.0 rebounds while hitting 41.7 percent of his threes on a healthy 2.5 attempts per game. He's capable of carrying an offense for stretches, either with his back to the basket or by spotting up from outside the arc.

    Nurkic should be available if the Blazers do a mini-rebuild. He's a walking double-double who can bruise his way into buckets much like Valanciunas, and he is a better passer, too.

    If the Clippers need some offense on the cheap, Walker is another option. Walker has shown the ability to get to the basket and hit shots from the outside when not buried on New York's bench, and he would be an upgrade over Eric Bledsoe in L.A.'s rotation.

Los Angeles Lakers

14 of 30

    Logan Riely/Getty Images

    Dream Target: SG Eric Gordon, Houston Rockets

    Realistic Target: F Kenrich Williams, Oklahoma City Thunder

    Sneaky Target: G Lou Williams, Atlanta Hawks

    The Lakers simply don't have enough trade equity to be serious players for Jerami Grant, Ben Simmons, Myles Turner or any other big name on the trade market—not with multiple first-round picks still owed to the New Orleans Pelicans for Anthony Davis.

    Gordon is probably the best this team could do. He's an elite outside shooter this season (46.1 percent) who can get to the rim and do a bit of playmaking for others. Simply matching salaries could be an issue, however, as it would cost the Lakers Talen Horton-Tucker and either Kendrick Nunn or a pair of minimum-contract guys to make the money work.

    Knrich Williams and his $2 million salary are much more attainable, although the Thunder should begin asking for a first-round pick in return for their three-and-D star. The Lakers can't trade a first-rounder until 2027 and may have to offer a collection of second-rounders and/or Malik Monk instead.

    Making a potential return to Los Angeles, Lou Williams would be an intriguing option. He's struggled with the Hawks this season, but he was an important part of the Clippers just a year ago and could provide some instant offense off the bench.

Memphis Grizzlies

15 of 30

    Brandon Dill/Associated Press

    Dream Target: G/F Jaylen Brown, Boston Celtics

    Realistic Target: F Robert Covington, Portland Trail Blazers

    Sneaky Target: F/C Marvin Bagley III, Sacramento Kings

    Would the Celtics actually trade Brown at this point? Probably not. Should the Grizzlies still make a phone call to Brad Stevens and check on his availability to make sure? Absolutely.

    Memphis is the most surprising team in the NBA this season and should be a buyer at the deadline, even if this squad is still years from hitting its collective prime. Brown, 25, would be the perfect mixture of a star ready to win now who's also still growing. The Grizzlies also have three first-round picks in 2022 and a lot of young talent to offer either directly to Boston or in a three-team deal.

    Covington could be available if the Blazers punt on the season. He's not the quality of defender he was a few years ago, but Covington could still play a three-and-D role off the bench for a Grizzlies team that could use another playoff-tested veteran.

    Bagley is the wildcard here. Memphis has obviously done a phenomenal job of developing prospects the past few years, and trading for the 22-year-old now would give the Grizzlies the rights to match any offer he receives in free agency this summer.

Miami Heat

16 of 30

    LM Otero/Associated Press

    Dream Target: F Dorian Finney-Smith, Dallas Mavericks

    Realistic Target: F Torrey Craig, Indiana Pacers

    Sneaky Target: PF Paul Millsap, Brooklyn Nets

    With limited draft picks and salary to send out (unless Miami makes Duncan Robinson available), don't expect the Heat to pull off any big moves at the deadline. Targeting rotation players on affordable contracts who can defend or hit threes seems like the most reasonable path to improvement.

    Finney-Smith is making just $4 million on an expiring deal and can play either forward position off the bench. Getting him now would also allow Miami to go over the cap to re-sign him this offseason, something the Dallas Mavericks may not be able to do with Jalen Brunson in line for a juicy new deal as well.

    Craig is in the first season of a reasonable two year, $10 million contract. Like Finney-Smith, he is a 6'7" versatile defender who would improve Miami's bench. Craig is not as good of a three-point shooter (30.9 percent this season, 32.7 percent for his career), but he wouldn't cost as much in a trade, either.

    Millsap and the Nets have agreed to part ways, according to The Athletic's Shams Charania, with the 36-year-old averaging less than 12 minutes a game. He can still defend and hit shots in spurts, however, and Millsap would bring 129 games worth of playoff experience to the Heat.

Milwaukee Bucks

17 of 30

    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Dream Target: C Nerlens Noel, New York Knicks

    Realistic Target: F Doug McDermott, San Antonio Spurs

    Sneaky Target: F/C Jalen Smith, Phoenix Suns

    With Brook Lopez still recovering from back surgery (and with his effectiveness in question when he does potentially return), the Bucks should be sniffing around the big-man market at the deadline.

    Noel, like Lopez, is a terrific interior defender who would make scoring at the rim a nightmare when paired with Giannis Antetokounmpo. He's also versatile enough to guard on the perimeter and switch as needed depending on the scheme. Noel doesn't need shots to be effective on offense, either, as he can spend his time screening for the Bucks' numerous scoring options and rolling hard to the rim.

    McDermott remains one of the NBA's best three-point shooters, drilling 42.0 percent of his attempts for the Spurs this season. In lineups where the Bucks use Antetokounmpo at center, McDermott would keep the floor spread for everyone and unlock some devastating offensive units.

    Smith, a 21-year-old big man who had his third-year rookie option declined by the Suns, is worth taking a flyer on for Milwaukee. Getting to be around players like Antetokounmpo, Lopez and Bobby Portis should do wonders for his development. He could be cheap, young insurance if Portis decides to leave in free agency this summer.

Minnesota Timberwolves

18 of 30

    Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

    Dream Target: SF OG Anunoby, Toronto Raptors

    Realistic Target: F Larry Nance Jr., Portland Trail Blazers

    Sneaky Target: PF JaMychal Green, Denver Nuggets

    There's no way the Timberwolves shouldn't at least be a play-in team this season. If they can somehow acquire a player like Anunoby, Minnesota would have a real chance to leapfrog the Denver Nuggets and Dallas Mavericks and capture a top-five seed in the West.

    This team has enough go-to scorers in Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards. It should be focused on adding players who can complement its existing stars either with their defense, versatility or outside shooting.

    Anunoby is good enough to carry the load offensively on some nights, but it's his on-ball defense that's truly elite. The 24-year-old has the size (6'7", 232 pounds) to stop both guards and big men (sometimes on the same defensive possession) and would fit beautifully between Edwards and Towns in Minnesota's starting lineup. The asking price would certainly be high, however, if Toronto would entertain trading Anunoby at all.

    Nance is one of the more versatile "bigs" in the league, as he's able to play and defend both on the wing or as an undersized center. Now in his seventh NBA season, Nance has never posted anything but positive on/off ratings throughout his career. That's no coincidence.

    Green has struggled for Denver this season, and a change of scenery may be what he needs to return to being a high-level backup big.

New Orleans Pelicans

19 of 30

    Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

    Dream Target: PG De'Aaron Fox, Sacramento Kings

    Realistic Target: G Collin Sexton, Cleveland Cavaliers

    Sneaky Target: SG Talen Horton-Tucker, Los Angeles Lakers

    Though this season is mostly a wash with Zion Williamson still recovering from summer foot surgery, the Pelicans can still be buyers at the deadline. However, they'll need to target young players who are under contract for next year and beyond.

    Are reports that the Kings want to build around Fox instead of trading him actually true? Or is that just the organization leaking news in an attempt to bump up the 24-year-old's trade value? The Pelicans should find out.

    Getting Fox would help make up for trading Lonzo Ball this past offseason and create a new Big Three with Williamson and Brandon Ingram. That's a foundation that could make a Memphis Grizzlies-esque jump next year if Williamson is healthy.

    Sexton is out for the season with a torn meniscus, but he will be a restricted free agent this offseason. Trading for him now doesn't hurt New Orleans' chances at a high draft pick this year and gives it a terrific young scoring guard to build around for the future. Given his injury, the Pelicans may be able to get him on a far more reasonable deal (four years, $70 million?) than what was originally expected.

    Thee Lakers and Pelicans have made deals before, and New Orleans should look to get involved for Horton-Tucker when Los Angeles inevitably trades him for a better-fitting piece. He could thrive as a scorer and playmaker in a bigger role and is still just 21 years old despite being in his third season.

New York Knicks

20 of 30

    Darren Abate/Associated Press

    Dream Target: PG Dejounte Murray, San Antonio Spurs

    Realistic Target: PG Goran Dragic, Toronto Raptors

    Sneaky Target: G/F Reggie Bullock, Dallas Mavericks

    The Knicks have to do something at the trade deadline, or this team could miss the play-in tournament and playoffs altogether.

    Stabilizing the point guard position would be a start, with Murray serving as the perfect floor general for this squad. His elite point-of-attack defense would be a dream come true for Tom Thibodeau to build around, and the 25-year-old has blossomed offensively this season with 19.2 points, 8.4 rebounds and 8.9 assists per game. If the Spurs believe rookie Josh Primo is their future at point guard, the Knicks should see what Murray would cost.

    Dragic could be a far more affordable option, as the 35-year-old is currently away from the Raptors awaiting a trade or buyout. He should be well rested after appearing in just five games this season and would give the Knicks a solid scorer and playmaker in the backcourt.

    Bullock left New York for Dallas in free agency, but has struggled to live up to his three-year, $30 million deal thus far. A reunion may be good for both sides.

Oklahoma City Thunder

21 of 30

    Mark Blinch/Getty Images

    Dream Target: SG Gary Trent Jr., Toronto Raptors

    Realistic Target: C Mo Bamba, Orlando Magic

    Sneaky Target: C Serge Ibaka, Los Angeles Clippers

    The Thunder could theoretically start making some very competitive offers for stars that come on the trade market (no one's matching them in draft capital), but this doesn't seem like the right time to flip the switch to contender just yet. Oklahoma City should look for young players with upside or continue to take on salary dumps for picks.

    The worst three-point shooting team in the NBA (31.2 percent), the Thunder could use Trent to bolster their outside attack. He's tied for 18th in three-point makes per game (2.7) and has connected on 39.0 percent of his tries over the past three years. At age 23 and under contract for the next three years, he fits the rebuild in OKC.

    Bamba is a floor-spacing center who would immediately become the team's starter. He carries elite defensive potential with a monstrous 7'10" wingspan and will be a restricted free agent this offseason.

    Oklahoma City has the cap space to absorb some bad deals for teams looking to get out of the luxury tax or at least significantly reduce their bill. Ibaka hasn't been the same player for the Clippers following back surgery, and removing his $9.7 million salary would cut their luxury tax amount by nearly 33 percent. The Thunder would rightfully ask for picks or a young player in return and could immediately waive Ibaka and let him join a contender.

Orlando Magic

22 of 30

    Alex Menendez/Getty Images

    Dream Target: F Patrick Williams, Chicago Bulls

    Realistic Target: F Cedi Osman, Cleveland Cavaliers

    Sneaky Target: SF Kelly Oubre Jr., Charlotte Hornets

    With Terrence Ross likely gone by the deadline, the Magic should focus on adding young talent and draft picks for their rebuild. The backcourt is pretty full already (especially when Markelle Fultz returns from a torn ACL), so Orlando should be looking for wing options instead.

    If the Chicago Bulls end up trading for a star like Jerami Grant, the Magic should see if they can jump in and acquire Williams in the process. The 20-year-old forward is out for the year following wrist surgery, yet he could be a starter for this team by the beginning of the 2022-23 season. He has the tools to become a solid two-way player for the next decade and a half.

    Osman, 26, doesn't carry the upside of Williams, but he can step in and play immediately at small forward. He's averaging 10.7 points and shooting 36.3 percent from three off the bench for the Cavs this season and brings experience both as a member of a rebuilding team and one that appeared in the NBA Finals.

    Oubre deserves to be a starter somewhere, a job he simply won't get on a full-time basis with the Hornets. In 10 starts this season, the 26-year-old is averaging 17.5 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.6 steals with just 0.9 turnovers.

Philadelphia 76ers

23 of 30

    Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images

    Dream Target: SG Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards

    Realistic Target: SG Bogdan Bogdanovic, Atlanta Hawks

    Sneaky Target: G/F Joe Ingles, Utah Jazz

    Damian Lillard and Beal have been the big names connected to Philly in the rumor mill as the 76ers aim to find potential partners for a Ben Simmons deal. However, Beal is the lone healthy option now given Lillard's recent abdominal surgery that could sideline him for the season.

    Pairing Beal with Joel Embiid would be a nightmare for the rest of the Eastern Conference, pushing Philly back up toward the top of the conference. Even though his scoring has dropped while playing with an improved Wizards supporting cast, Beal is still putting up 23.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, 6.4 assists and shooting 45.3 percent overall. The Sixers should be concerned about Beal leaving in free agency, although they would be the only team that could offer him a full five-year max deal this summer.

    Bogdanovic could play either wing spot and is a talented scorer and willing playmaker at 6'6". If the Sixers end up trading Simmons to Atlanta, they should make sure Bogdanovic is part of the deal.

    With Utah more than $16 million into the luxury tax, Ingles may be the next player to go if they want to save money. At 34, Ingles is starting to slip defensively but is still a terrific passer and three-point shooter who could become an excellent seventh or eighth man for Philly.

Phoenix Suns

24 of 30

    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Dream Target: G/F Josh Hart, New Orleans Pelicans

    Realistic Target: F/C Thaddeus Young, San Antonio Spurs

    Sneaky Target: F Harrison Barnes, Sacramento Kings

    Carrying the NBA's best record this season at 35-9, the Suns don't need a ton of help. Going all-in for a player like Jerami Grant may be tempting, but it certainly isn't necessary to win a title. Phoenix should be looking for additional wing and frontcourt depth instead.

    Hart checks a lot of boxes for a contender. He's a 6'5" wing who's putting up 13.3 points, 7.5 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.0 steals on 51.5 percent shooting overall. He's a good defender who would become a do-it-all sixth man for Phoenix.

    Young is a playoff-tested veteran who can play both power forward and center and has been praised as a good locker room presence. He's shown the ability to be a capable three-point shooter as needed and is a solid post defender.

    Barnes may require some more salary-matching gymnastics, but he'd be an upgrade over Jae Crowder as the team's starting power forward. A 2015 NBA champion with the Golden State Warriors, Barnes is hitting a career-high 41.5 percent of his threes this season.

Portland Trail Blazers

25 of 30

    Cameron Browne/Getty Images

    Dream Target: C Myles Turner, Indiana Pacers

    Realistic Target: SG Derrick White, San Antonio Spurs

    Sneaky Target: C Mitchell Robinson, New York Knicks

    While this season looks like a waste for the 18-26 Blazers, especially with Lillard sidelined following abdominal surgery, Portland should be stockpiling defenders for a run next year.

    Turner has a stress fracture in his foot, but he is under contract until 2024 and could be the rim protector this team desperately needs. Portland ranks last in opponent shooting at the basket (68.7 percent) this season.

    White would be a nice backcourt partner next to Lillard if the Blazers move CJ McCollum. He's a good on-ball defender who can handle point guard duties for stretches and let Lillard spot up from three.

    Getting to test drive Robinson for a few months before he hits free agency could be a buy-low option for Portland. The 23-year-old hasn't blossomed into a star like the Knicks were hoping, but transitioning to a smaller market with little expectations for this season could pay off for Robinson as he looks to break out.

Sacramento Kings

26 of 30

    Rocky Widner/Getty Images

    Dream Target: PF Domantas Sabonis, Indiana Pacers

    Realistic Target: PF Tobias Harris, Philadelphia 76ers

    Sneaky Target: F Jordan Nwora, Milwaukee Bucks

    Sabonis is a two-time All-Star who has become one of the best passing big men in the NBA, so a sprained ankle shouldn't stop teams from pursuing him at the deadline.

    The Kings are backcourt heavy and could use a player like Sabonis at power forward. The 25-year-old can operate as a scorer or passer from the elbows, post up inside or space the floor as needed, and getting a player like him may finally help the Kings end their playoff drought.

    If the Pacers keep Sabonis out of trade talks, Harris would be a nice backup plan. After a brilliant 2020-21 season, Harris hasn't been as effective this year even if his numbers (18.2 points, 7.3 rebounds, 3.8 assists per game) remain solid. He'd made another strong pick-and-pop partner with the Kings' young guards.

    Nwora, 23, hasn't gotten a chance to break out while playing on a veteran-heavy Bucks squad, but the second-year forward should have a far bigger role in Sacramento. He's shown promising scoring ability and has terrific size (6'8", 225 pounds) for someone who can play on the wing.

San Antonio Spurs

27 of 30

    Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images

    Dream Target: F/C P.J. Washington, Charlotte Hornets

    Realistic Target: SF Evan Fournier, New York Knicks

    Sneaky Target: F/C Kristaps Porzingis, Dallas Mavericks

    For a franchise that typically does nothing during the season, could already moving Bryn Forbes signal an active trade deadline for the Spurs?

    Most of the talent in San Antonio resides in the backcourt and on the wing, so getting Washington, a floor-spacing power forward, would be a perfect match. Benched this season for Miles Bridges in Charlotte, Washington deserves a starting job with his ability to hit threes and block shots. The 23-year-old is extension-eligible this summer and could become a fixture in the Spurs' rebuild.

    Fournier could be an affordable option if the Knicks want to salary-dump their main free-agent acquisition. Fournier's 41.9 field-goal percentage is his lowest since the 2013-14 season, with his scoring (13.7 points per game) his lowest output since 2014-15. This could be a good chance for the Spurs to pick up a solid player and possibly a draft pick as a sweetener in exchange for taking on his salary.

    If Dallas isn't sold on Kristaps Porzingis being a true No. 2, San Antonio makes sense as a trade partner. Moving Derrick White and Thaddeus Young would make the money work, and it would open up about $15 million for the Mavs in free agency to help re-sign Jalen Brunson and/or Dorian Finney-Smith. That's also a fair price to pay for Porzingis if you're San Antonio, especially with his improved defense this season.

Toronto Raptors

28 of 30

    Eric Gay/Associated Press

    Dream Target: C Jakob Poeltl, San Antonio Spurs

    Realistic Target: C Montrezl Harrell, Washington Wizards

    Sneaky Target: G Coby White, Chicago Bulls

    The Raptors currently possess a committee of serviceable centers, but Poeltl would easily be the best of them all in a return to Toronto.

    The 26-year-old spent his first two years with the Raptors before being traded to the Spurs in the Kawhi Leonard deal, and he has since blossomed into one of the better defensive centers in the league. He's averaging 12.4 points, 9.0 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.5 blocks while shooting 59.7 percent overall.

    Harrell could be available heading into free agency, especially with Thomas Bryant returning to the Wizards from a torn ACL. He's not a plus defender like Poeltl, but he is an active offensive presence who's having a bounce-back year in Washington.

    White could intrigue the Raptors with his size at the point guard position (6'5") given how many wings this roster has already stockpiled. He could play next to Fred VanVleet or serve as the team's backup floor general.

Utah Jazz

29 of 30

    Melissa Majchrzak/Getty Images

    Dream Target: F Jerami Grant, Detroit Pistons

    Realistic Target: G/F Justin Holiday, Indiana Pacers

    Sneaky Target: C Goga Bitadze, Indiana Pacers

    The Jazz simply can't go into the playoffs without upgrading their wing defense, something that's only gotten worse with Joe Ingles getting further past his prime.

    Grant would be the perfect starting power forward in Utah—able to stay in a big offensive role as the No. 2 scoring option behind Donovan Mitchell while being called on to defend guys like LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and Luka Doncic in the playoffs. He's a good enough shooter to keep the floor spread for Mitchell, Mike Conley Jr. and Jordan Clarkson as well.

    If Detroit finds a better offer than what the Jazz can put together, Holiday is a reasonable backup option. At 6'6", he's an ideal three-and-D role player in today's NBA and could start or be a key reserve for Utah.

    With Hassan Whiteside on an expiring deal, Utah could pick up Bitadze now and groom him to become Rudy Gobert's backup for next season while he's still on his rookie contract. The 18th pick in 2019, Bitadze has shown strong shot-blocking skills, and learning from the best in the NBA in Gobert should only help polish him as a defender.

Washington Wizards

30 of 30

    Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

    Dream Target: PF John Collins, Atlanta Hawks

    Realistic Target: G/F Eric Gordon, Houston Rockets

    Sneaky Target: PF Grant Williams, Boston Celtics

    Getting off Russell Westbrook's contract gave the Wizards a ton of flexibility moving forward, and the team should be a buyer at the deadline.

    Outside shooting has been an issue for Washington all season (32.5 percent from three, 28th overall), so targeting some elite floor-spacers is a must.

    Collins would be a fun power forward to play off of Bradley Beal, and he is hitting 42.9 percent of his threes this season. He's under contract for the next five years and should help convince Beal to re-sign this summer.

    Gordon makes sense as a sixth man with his scoring and playmaking chops. He could also end up leading the NBA in three-point shooting this season (46.1 percent), especially with better talent around him in Washington.

    Williams is an under-the-radar big man who the Wizards should be monitoring. The 23-year-old is connecting on 41.7 percent of his threes for Boston, yet he has mostly come off the bench in favor of Al Horford.


    All stats via Basketball-Reference.com or NBA.com and are accurate as of Jan. 20 unless otherwise noted. Salary information via Spotrac.com.