The NBA trade deadline is quickly approaching with many teams on the fence regarding how they are going to tackle it.
For the first time in a half-decade, everything seems up in the air. We could see some teams act as surprise sellers as a way to change their core or build for the future.
The Oklahoma City Thunder are in the midst of a surprising campaign. Does this mean general manager Sam Presti is going to blow up his long-term plan?
In New Orleans, the Pelicans have an outside shot at earning a playoff appearance. This doesn’t mean front office head David Griffin is not building for the future with Zion Williamson.
These are among the five teams that could ultimately be surprise sellers ahead of the Feb. 6 NBA trade deadline.
Oklahoma City Thunder
At 29-20 on the season, most figure that the surprising Thunder would look to add to their overperforming core group. Acquired in the Paul George blockbuster, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has upped his game to an elite level. Future Hall of Famer Chris Paul is still playing tremendous basketball.
Even then, general manager Sam Presti has made it clear that the Thunder are all about building for the future. That might not include moving Paul’s bloated contract. Though, we would not be surprised if a combination of Steven Adams, Dennis Schroder or Danilo Gallinari were moved.
We’ve heard rumors that the Pacers might be looking to move talented big man Myles Turner. They seem to like surprise All-Star Domantas Sabonis better. That could lead to the Pacers being surprise sellers ahead of the February NBA trade deadline.
Unlike other teams here, the 31-17 Pacers would want to get back proven talent that can mesh with their talented core. That’s only magnified with Victor Oladipo’s return to action. Maybe another wing to go with Malcom Brogdon, T.J. Warren and Oladipo out on the perimeter.
At this point, it seems logical to believe that Brooklyn could give up on the remainder of the 2019-20 campaign and start anew once Kevin Durant returns from injury next season. It’s just not working right now for Kyrie Irving and the 20-26 Nets.
If this is indeed the case, it would not be a shocker to see the Nets trade off some of their valuable assets as a way to build around Durant and Irving this coming summer. Caris LeVert, Joe Harris and even Spencer Dinwiddie could net Brooklyn the assets it would need to potentially add a third star behind KD and Kyrie. It’s certainly something to think about.
General manager Daryl Morey has not been afraid to pull off the shocking blockbuster. Houston’s acquisition of Russell Westbrook this past summer was the most recent example of this. Despite boasting a 29-18 record, these Rockets are not performing at the level most anticipated.
Sure, common logic seems to suggest that Westbrook should be a trade candidate. That’s just not happening with his bloated contract. Houston could very well decide to find another supporting cast to team up with Russ and MVP candidate James Harden. If so, moving the likes of P.J. Tucker, Clint Capela and Eric Gordon could make sense.
New Orleans Pelicans
NOLA might actually go for it following the return of Zion Williamson from injury. Heck, this squad is currently just five games out of the final playoff spot out west. However, there’s plenty of reason to believe that David Griffin and Co. are still looking to the future. Build around the talented young core of Williamson, Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball and Jaxson Hayes.
With that in mind, it would not be a surprise if the Pelicans looked to sell off veteran assets such as Jrue Holiday and JJ Redick ahead of the deadline. Each of these players would net a tremendous return, enabling New Orleans to continue building with either high-upside young players or draft picks.