Previewing the NBA trade deadline

Serge Ibaka, seen here with the Oklahoma City Thunder, will help the Raptors for the rest of this season, but it remains to be seen if he stays beyond that.

What’s already happened

Denver trades C Jusuf Nurkic and a 2017 first-round draft pick to Portland for C Mason Plumlee, a 2018 second-round draft pick, and cash.

Denver Grade: C+

While the Derek Jokic/Jusuf Nurkic frontcourt experiment didn’t work, this doesn’t do much to fix the issue. The only reason the Nuggets are given a C+ is that Plumlee’s passing ability will allow them to play very similarly with him or Jokic on the floor, and could make for some fun offensive sets if they can figure out how to play defense together.

Portland Grade: A-

Nurkic is finally given a role where he can reach his potential, and Portland gets a 2017 first-round draft pick as well. Nurkic has one more year on his rookie contract than Plumlee, making this a great value trade for a team that may not make the playoffs.

Orlando trade PF Serge Ibaka to Toronto for SG/SF Terrence Ross and a 2017 first-round draft pick (lower pick from Toronto or Los Angeles Clippers)  

Orlando Grade: B-

Aaron Gordon can finally move to starting power forward, Terrence Ross is having his best NBA season and fits in nicely in Orlando, and the Magic gets a first-round pick for a player who would leave this off-season. In the moment, this trade makes sense. Rewind back to this off-season, when Orlando traded Victor Oladipo, Ersan İlyasova, and Domantas Sabonis for Ibaka, and signed Jeff Green and Bismack Biyombo in free agency, and you have to question the Magic’s front office.

Toronto Grade: B+

Toronto’s search for a power forward is finally over, and Ibaka looks like he will fit in perfectly. Norman Powell will finally get the minutes he deserves, and should flourish as the first wing off the bench. While they lose a first-round pick, they will still have one come June and have plenty of prospects. Acquiring Ibaka probably reclaims the title of second-best team in the east for the Raptors, but they will still be a tier below the Cavaliers when Kevin Love returns. This trade also falls short of an “A” for the Raptors, as they may have been favourites to sign Ibaka this free agency without giving up assets, and there is still the possibility of him just being a rental.

Predicting what else will happen

The “call back in the off-season” guys:

As much as yours sports news source will try to encourage otherwise; Jimmy Butler, DeMarcus Cousins, and Paul George will not be changing jerseys this month. A team like the Boston Celtics will make some calls and maybe even submit an offer, but big trades like these tend to happen in the off-season. Carmelo Anthony was the last superstar to get traded in February, and he was an impending free agent.

The all-stars that may move:

Carmelo Anthony:

Speaking of Melo, Knicks’ president Phil Jackson is insistent on getting rid of the nine-time all-star before the deadline on February 23, but Anthony’s no trade clause has gotten in the way. The three teams he has accepted to go to (Cleveland, Boston, and Los Angeles Clippers) have been unconvincing in trying to acquire him, with the Clippers being the only team that seems at all interested. A trade packaged around Austin Rivers, JJ Redick, or even Jamal Crawford should not be enough to acquire Anthony, however, no matter how much Phil Jackson would like to move him.

Prediction: Anthony stays in New York

Paul Millsap:

After the Kyle Korver trade looked to be the beginning of a fire sale for the Hawks, they are now insistent that Millsap is off the market. While this is likely a way to increase his value, Millsap’s most likely suitor just traded for Serge Ibaka. Millsap doesn’t make sense for any contenders, and any other team should be careful about trading for an aging all-star who could leave this off-season: that doesn’t necessarily mean that they will.

Prediction: Millsap stays in Atlanta, or pit stops in Denver or Miami before testing free agency.

Expiring deals:

Rudy Gay and Danilo Gallinari:

Two more forwards who are likely to test free agency after this season, the Kings and Nuggets will be smart to trade them before they lose them for nothing (like the Pelicans with Ryan Anderson last year).

Potential deals:

Sacramento trades SF Rudy Gay and PG Ty Lawson to Oklahoma City for PG Cameron Payne, SF Kyle Singler, PF Nick Collison and a second-round pick.

Denver trades SF Danilo Gallinari to Los Angeles Clippers in three-way trade.

Next tier trade candidates:

Ricky Rubio:

While Kris Dunn looks like the future PG for Minnesota, he is not ready to take over yet. A Rubio trade seems inevitable, but it probably won’t be this season.

The Centres:

Greg Monroe, Jahlil Okafor, and Brook Lopez have all been involved in trade rumours throughout the season, and may finally be moving this month. While it is unlikely that all three will be traded come the trade deadline, a team like New Orleans is likely to pull the trigger on one of them.

Potential deals:

Milwaukee trade C Greg Monroe and SG Tony Snell to New Orleans for SG Tyreke Evans, PG Tim Frazier, and C Alexis Ajinça.

Philadelphia trade C Jahlil Okafor to New Orleans for PG Tim Frazier, C Alexis Ajinça, and a first-round pick in 2018.

Brookland trade C Brook Lopez to New Orleans for SG Tyreke Evans, PG Tim Frazier, C Alexis Ajinça, and a top three protected first-round pick in 2017.

Other guys to look for

Tim Hardaway Jr. – Atlanta

Taj Gibson – Chicago

Wesley Matthews – Dallas

Wilson Chandler – Denver

Lou Williams – Los Angeles Lakers

Brandon Knight – Phoenix

PJ Tucker – Phoenix

Kosta Koufos – Sacramento