Posted 3 days ago | By Pat Heery
Because this is a pandemic-shortened season with plenty of COVID-19 and contract-tracing absences, and because there will be a Play-In Tournament in each conference for the seven-, eight-, nine- and 10-seeds, fewer teams than usual have crossed over into the trade deadline “seller” threshold. Thus, it doesn’t look like there will be any blockbuster trades or fire sales where one of the lower-tiered teams sells off most of its assets to jumpstart a rebuild. However, this is the NBA after all, and everything could change with one small domino fall – like if Bradley Beal decides he wants out of Washington.
To get you ready for trade season, here’s a guide to how each team should approach this year’s trade deadline on March 25th.
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Focus: Depth at forward
The Celtics would obviously love to go superstar hunting and go after someone like Bradley Beal (Wizards). However, unlike the past half-decade, there’s a number of other teams who could potentially outbid them for a superstar (unless they were willing to part ways with Jaylen Brown). Therefore, Boston will probably try to make some key moves around the edges to acquire another starting-caliber forward. Thad Young (Bulls), PJ Tucker (Rockets), and Harrison Barnes (Kings) would all be ideal targets and should be available for the right price.
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Focus: Defense, defense, defense
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what the Nets’ focus should be this deadline. On one end, they’re on pace to have the highest offensive rating in NBA history. On the other end of the court, they have the 25th-rated defense in the league. If Brooklyn can play competent defense this postseason, they could win the title. If they don’t improve, players like Giannis Antetokounmpo and Joel Embiid will eat them alive in the playoffs. Look for them to try to land a rim protector on the cheap like Andre Drummond (Cavs) as well as another defense-focused forward like PJ Tucker (Rockets).
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New York Knicks
Focus: Shooters that can defend well enough to play for Coach Thibs
The Knicks (18-18, fifth in the East) are the feel-good story of the league so far. That being said, they’re a very unbalanced team with the second-best defensive rating and the 23rd-best offensive rating. In a league that has increased reliance on three-pointers, the Knicks rank second-last in three-point attempts (27.8) and three-point makes (10.4) per game. That isn’t going to cut it late in the season or in the playoffs. Look for New York to try to add a three-and-D wing at the deadline – perhaps they could even bring back former Knick, Wayne Ellington (Pistons).
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