The build-up to the NBA's trade deadline has brought a lot of rumour but few confirmed deals, with Rui Hachimura's switch to the Lakers the biggest deal done heading into the weekend.
However, Kyrie Irving grabbed the headlines once more on Friday night, potentially kicking trade season into full swing.
The temperamental guard handed in a trade request to the Brooklyn Nets’ front office on Friday and was gone before the weekend was out, sealing a move to join Luka Doncic at the Dallas Mavericks.
That won’t be the end of the deadline drama, with the LA Lakers, Clippers and Phoenix Suns forced to look elsewhere after missing out on Kyrie. With the deadline closing on Thursday evening, there’s still plenty of time for more deals to be done.
The Toronto Raptors have played things close to the chest ahead of the deadline, but they’ve now reached decision time. They just returned from a seven-game road trip with a 4-3 record, but that looks better on paper than it did on the court.
The Raptors have the sixth-best lottery odds and with a Play-in place as the ceiling for them right now, it makes sense to deal. They have a strong top six and a dearth of talent after that, so moving a player for rotation options and prospects looks smart.
Gary Trent Jr was the early frontrunner to be moved, with the guard expected to opt out of his player option this summer. However, it seems that both he and the Raptors are keen on a renewal, pushing O.G. Anunoby to the forefront of trade talks.
NBA: Nikola Jokic on MVP Mission
NBA Most Improved Player Candidates: Tyrese Haliburton to make late run
Anunoby is the standout option available heading towards the deadline. He’s an elite defender on a good deal and at only 25 years old he’s capable of making a jump offensively. He’s arguably the best 3 & D wing in the league, so the Raptors could get big returns.
Apparently, it will take a Donovan Mitchell-like package to claim Anunoby. That translates to three first-round picks, plus rotation pieces and/or prospects.
The New Orleans Pelicans look like the standout option, given their mix of draft equity and young talents. Two of Devonte Graham, Jaxson Hayes and Dyson Daniels along with picks could tempt the Raptors into a move. The Pels are 25/1 to Win the NBA Championship this term, but they’d become a much bigger threat with Anunoby on board.
Jae Crowder has sat out the entire season for the Suns, so it’s incredible they still haven’t dealt him just days shy of the deadline. Their latest attempt to move him came in an audacious bid for Kyrie, which reportedly included Chris Paul.
The Suns have slipped in the West and they’re now 8/1 to Win the Western Conference, so changes need to be made.
That Paul, Crowder and picks offer will likely be sent out again by the Suns. The Raptors’ Fred VanVleet is someone they’ve been linked with and the former All-Star is set to be a free agent in the summer.
The Raptors would need a third side involved in any deal as they have little need for Crowder. If they could claim more draft compensation for Crowder too then VanVleet’s time in Toronto could well be up.
The Utah Jazz have now slipped to 10th in the Western Conference and could be inclined to sell to boost their lottery odds. After all, they’re now priced at 10/19 to Not Make The Playoffs.
Jordan Clarkson is their standout trade asset, while Mike Conley could really help a contending team.
With plenty of sides chasing a reliable point guard, Conley could have an impact on a contending team. The latest rumours point to the Jazz dealing Conley, Jarred Vanderbilt, And Malik Beasley to the Lakers for Russell Westbrook and draft compensation.
Given that the Lakers missed out on Kyrie and would benefit more from moving Westbrook before his deal expires, that seems like a good deal for both sides.
While the Denver Nuggets are thriving, the stock of Bones Hyland seems to be falling. The young guard is reportedly unhappy with his role on the Western Conference’s top side, marking him out as a trade piece ahead of the deadline.
The Nuggets have impressed but their reputation as a postseason struggler is something they should deal with before Thursday. Hyland is a good sweetener to throw into any deal, so the Nuggets could consider adding some salary and offering him up for Crowder.
After Finals runs in 2020 and 2021, Crowder would add serious experience to the Nuggets. With Denver 7/1 to Win The NBA Championship Outright, landing someone like Crowder could make them the side to beat.