Welcome to NBA trade season, already underway in earnest
Jahlil Okafor viewed New Orleans during All-Star weekend with a different lens than usual, since he thought there was a chance it may have been his next home.
That’s life in the rumour mill. Welcome to trade season, already underway in earnest and will remain so until Thursday afternoon’s deadline. All-Star DeMarcus Cousins is changing his address from Sacramento to New Orleans, Serge Ibaka was sent last week from Orlando to Toronto — and the next few days will likely see Carmelo Anthony, Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson, Reggie Jackson and many more all discussed by various teams.
“Here we go again,” said Okafor, the Philadelphia 76ers forward who missed two games before the break amid looming trade speculation.
The motivations are many, and obvious in most cases. Some teams will look to add pieces with hopes of enhancing their post-season hopes; others are looking to build toward the future by shedding expiring contracts or collecting draft picks.
The jostling is already well underway, and the Cousins move would be huge for New Orleans — if they can convince him to sign an extension this summer. Ibaka figures to bolster the Raptors’ chances in the East, and Cleveland moved the injured Chris Andersen to Charlotte to open up a roster spot just in case the Cavs have a chance to add a piece that might help LeBron James when it’s time to defend last season’s title.
Even the Cavs are looking to get better. And of course, teams are looking for ways to improve enough to beat the defending champs as well.
“To know that everyone is trying to build their team or wanting to get their team to try to get to where you are and try to knock you off, it’s a motivating factor,” said Cleveland star LeBron James, who’s vying to make a seventh consecutive trip to the NBA Finals. “It’s also a humbling factor that to know that I’ve been in this position for so long.”
With Cousins now moved, the next huge domino to fall may be Anthony, who has a no-trade clause — but is going through times trying enough with the New York Knicks that he may be persuaded to drop that clause.
The Bulls, meanwhile, might lose Gibson in free agency this summer, and Boston — which could easily have the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft thanks to a past deal with the Brooklyn Nets — is believed to be a potential landing spot for Butler if Chicago elects to go into a full rebuilding mode.
If that happens, the Bulls probably wouldn’t be expecting Dwyane Wade to stay this summer either.
Orlando, with an eye on the future, is considering a deal where it would take Jackson from Detroit and essentially make him the Magic point guard of the future since three full seasons remain on what was a five-year, $80 million contract.
Not everyone gets frenzied at trade-deadline time. San Antonio, for example, hasn’t made a deadline deal of any real significance since acquiring Kurt Thomas in 2008.
“It’s all about team chemistry,” Spurs star forward Kawhi Leonard said. “You’ve always got to figure out the best way for you and your team, but I think we’re doing a good job right now. You can talk to the front office and see what they’re doing, but right now I feel like we’re doing good.”
Western Conference forward DeMarcus Cousins of the Sacramento Kings plays during the first half of the NBA All-Star basketball game in New Orleans on Sunday. The New Orleans Pelicans agreed to acquire Cousins from the Kings on Sunday, the same night the center was playing in the All-Star Game in their arena.