With the 2021 NBA trade deadline approaching, we’re witnessing a different trend than previous years. All but three teams are realistically in play for either a spot in the playoffs or the play-in tournament after the truncated regular season.
This could very well lead to a rather quiet NBA trade deadline come March 25. On the other hand, the financial uncertainties stemming from COVID-19 will force some bottom-rung squads into selling off big contracts.
The idea of saving money rather than using someone like Even Fournier in an attempt to sneak into the playoffs could make sense. Below, we look at those who should sell off assets.
NBA trade deadline: 5 teams that should be sellers
Following the firing of head coach Ryan Saunders after an ugly 7-24 start to the season, NBA rumors will link these Timberwolves to multiple moves ahead of the NBA trade deadline. Realistically, Timberwolves president Gersson Rosas might now be in full-scale tank mode as they attempt to keep their 2021 first-round pick. Remember, it’s top-three protected stemming from the trade for D’Angelo Russell last year.
At issue here is a lack of real trade chips that could net Minnesota the assets it needs to retool on the fly. The best option here could be recently-extended 24-year-old guard Malik Beasley who is in the midst of a career season. Perhaps, the Wolves look to sell high on the youngster. That seems highly unlikely. Rather, moving former lottery pick Jarrett Culver could be an option for Minnesota. It really depends on the market.
We already know that center Andre Drummond is on the trade block. He should be moved ahead of the March 25 NBA trade deadline. The All-Star could also net this struggling Cavaliers team assets in terms of draft pick(s) and young player(s). We also know that no team is going to take a chance on injury-plagued NBA champion Kevin Love. Cleveland is stuck with the high-priced big man.
However, there are lesser-known players who could net Cleveland the necessary pieces to continue with its rebuild. Veteran big man JaVale McGee would be of interest to multiple contending teams. In the midst of a career season, there’s a chance Larry Nance Jr. nets the Cavaliers something nice. He’s averaging 9.3 points, 6.8 rebounds and 3.2 assists on 48% shooting. Meanwhile, Nance’s $10.69 million salary for next season is also an attractive chip.
Read More: 4 ideal Andre Drummond trade scenarios
Despite some recent success, Orlando has lost 16 of 23 since a solid 6-2 start to the season. Star guard Markelle Fultz is sidelined to a torn ACL. Fellow veterans Evan Fournier and Aaron Gordon have also dealt with injuries throughout the campaign. Even if the Magic had a fully-healthy roster, they are nothing more than a bottom-end playoff contender back east.
It remains highly unlikely that star big man Nikola Vučević will be dealt ahead of the NBA trade deadline. If he were, it would bring Orlando an absolutely huge return. Instead, I fully expect rumors to pick up regarding the two other players mentioned above. The futures of Gordon and Fournier in Orlando have been up in the air for some time now. Each one could net the Magic a first-round pick and change. Meanwhile, the underrated Terrence Ross could be an option. He’s averaging 15.7 points and shooting 38% from distance this season.
New Orleans Pelicans
Rumors continue to persist that the Pelicans are looking to trade guards Lonzo Ball and Eric Bledsoe. It makes sense given that the 13-17 Pelicans continue to struggle with a two point-guard starting backcourt. Ball is slated to become a restricted free agent during the summer. Bledsoe was just a salary filler in the blockbuster Jrue Holiday trade with the Milwaukee Bucks last offseason.
In the midst of a solid stretch that has seen him average 16.7 points on 47% shooting from distance over the past 14 games, Ball could potentially bring back a big return ahead of the NBA trade deadline. At least one Western Conference playoff contender is interested. To a lesser extent, Bledsoe could be of interest to contenders in need of point guard help.
Read More: 4 ideal Lonzo Ball trade scenarios
As of right now, Chicago sits at 13-16 and as the ninth seed in the Eastern Conference. There’s very little reason to believe that the Bulls will be sellers here in the short-term. With that said, it also makes sense for general manager Marc Eversley to kick the tires on a potential Zach LaVine blockbuster.
Hear me out. Rumors have suggested for some time now that LaVine won’t be long in Chicago. He’s a free agent after the 2021-22 season. The wing is also in the midst of a career season, averaging 28.9 points on 52% shooting from the field. Short of Bradley Beal being made available, he would be the top asset ahead of the NBA trade deadline. We’re talking about three first-round picks, other draft pick compensation and a stud young player. Perhaps, selling high on LaVine could help Chicago expedite its rebuild.