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NBA trade deadline: Exploring the market beyond Ben Simmons

·7 min read
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The Philadelphia 76ers have been shopping three-time returning All-Star Ben Simmons for the entire season, so nobody would be surprised if he is moved before the NBA trade deadline on Feb. 10. We have also discussed potential deals involving the Portland Trail Blazers' Damian Lillard and Washington Wizards' Bradley Beal ad infinitum, despite both players pledging loyalty to middling franchises in serious need of a roster shakeup.

The list of potentially available franchise players beyond them is practically non-existent, but they are far from the only players who could shift the league's balance of power if they were moved by the deadline. We are here to discuss that group of outside-the-box and under-the-radar possibilities in the weeks to come.

Domantas Sabonis, Indiana Pacers

Rumors have been swirling around the Pacers since last month's report that essentially everyone on the roster was available. A Sabonis trade would not shock anyone. The two-time All-Star's team-friendly deal, which runs for two more seasons after this one, makes him more valuable to Indiana than teammates Myles Turner and Caris LeVert, but Sabonis' skill and contract also make him more attractive to trade suitors.

Pacers executive Kevin Pritchard conceded publicly that Sabonis does not qualify as a "real star" in the traditional sense, but he is one of the league's most underrated centers, averaging an efficient 19-12-5. If opposing general managers are holding back from offering much of significance for Turner, Sabonis might be able to fetch the young player or draft pick who Pritchard believes can transform into a No. 1 option.

Anyone on the New York Knicks

New York's salary cap is filled with one suboptimal contract after another. The Knicks followed their first playoff appearance in eight years with a disastrous offseason. Just about everyone on the roster is signed through next season, and they cannot possibly roll over an 11th-place team. They should be exploring any and all offers, including anything of value for Julius Randle — especially for Randle, whose four-year, $117 million extension has not even begun. Dump salaries. Offer every young player they have for a star. Try it all.

Jaylen Brown, Boston Celtics

The Celtics want to build around All-Star wings Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, but a malaise in Boston is shrouding the second season of Brown's four-year, nine-figure contract. Brown, 25, might be the best asset available in any deadline deal, should the Celtics change course and be convinced over the next two weeks that his partnership with Tatum — and not the players around them — is the root of their inconsistency.

Boston is not trading Brown for anything other than another star, and swapping him for Simmons, Lillard or Sabonis makes little sense for a variety of reasons. Beal is the most realistic target, especially if the Celtics believe Tatum's ceiling would be elevated by a partnership with his childhood friend. If Beal did finally ask off a team that is now teetering on another lottery showing, the Wizards could do worse than land Brown.

Pascal Siakam, Toronto Raptors

Siakam's recent performance (24-9-6 on 49/38/70 splits) raises an interesting question for the Raptors: Is this a sell-high opportunity to capitalize on a player who has disappointed since his 2020 All-NBA turn? The emergence of forwards OG Anunoby and Scottie Barnes allows Toronto president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri to at least explore the market for quality players who fill their needs at less redundant positions.

Brandon Ingram, New Orleans Pelicans

The Pelicans are in a jam. Zion Williamson may not play this season, and yet his dissatisfaction with the roster has been a constant source of anonymous contention. They could enter the final year of Williamson's rookie contract trying to build around a player who is both unavailable and unsatisfied with their efforts.

Any and all options must be exhausted before the Pelicans are forced to explore trading Williamson. That starts with Ingram, the best asset they have in their hunt for more star power. The problem is finding anyone who qualifies as an upgrade in exchange for Ingram and their cache of first-round picks. How can they be sure anyone else would be a better fit when they have not seen Williamson play with their latest additions?

John Collins, Atlanta Hawks

Collins secured a five-year, $125 million extension for his contributions to Atlanta's conference finals run last season, but the good vibes of that surprise have given way to quibbles over touches for a 12th-place team this year. He has repeatedly voiced frustration over his role on the Hawks, both publicly and behind closed doors, and the Hawks could benefit from consolidating their depth for a single defensive upgrade.

Jalen Brunson, Dallas Mavericks

Brunson shined as a primary playmaker in the absence of superstar Mavericks teammate Luka Doncic, averaging 21 points on 51/38/78 shooting splits and 7.4 assists. Brunson has also been solid as a starter alongside Doncic, so why would the Mavericks want to part with a revelatory recent second-round pick?

Brunson will be an unrestricted free agent at season's end, when he will command a considerable raise on the open market. Kristaps Porzingis and Tim Hardaway Jr. are owed more than $100 million combined over the next two years, so it is sensible to question whether the Mavericks should pay big money to another player who may never be considered a top-three option on a serious title contender. If there is any chance of losing Brunson this summer, it might make more sense to collect a future asset in return for him now.

Detroit Pistons forward Jerami Grant might be the player most likely to be move before the Feb. 10 NBA trade deadline. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)
Detroit Pistons forward Jerami Grant might be the player most likely to be move before the Feb. 10 NBA trade deadline. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

Jerami Grant, Detroit Pistons

Grant's availability is an open secret in NBA circles. It would be surprising if he were not traded. Detroit's rebuild around rookie Cade Cunningham will extend beyond Grant's contract, which runs until 2023. Grant is a proven 3-and-D wing who can create for himself — a plug-and-play complement for any contender.

The Miami Heat, Chicago Bulls and Utah Jazz can all legitimately convince themselves Grant is the missing piece to a Finals berth, and that is an advantageous position for Pistons general manager Troy Weaver.

Duncan Robinson, Miami Heat

Robinson was one of the league's best values when he was shooting 43% on 8.4 3-point attempts per game while working on a minimum contract the past two seasons. That changed when he was handed a five-year, $90 million deal from Miami this past summer. His dip to 36% from distance also does not help.

The development of Max Strus (41% on 6.5 3-point attempts per game) makes trading another marksman more palatable. Trade suitors want shooters, but Miami might be helped more from additional two-way versatility on the wing. That opens the door for a deal involving Robinson that could benefit both teams.

Everyone on the Sacramento Kings

There has been some strange reporting over the past few weeks surrounding the Kings. The Athletic's Sam Amick reported at the start of this month that "no player is off the table in terms of potential talks." Tyrese Haliburton and De'Aaron Fox, among other Kings, were the subjects of a slew of subsequent trade rumors, to the point that Fox addressed the cavalcade of discussions around him with Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes.

"Can it happen?" asked Fox. "Yeah, it can definitely happen."

All of a sudden, The Athletic's Shams Charania reported last week the Kings "are not trading" Fox and plan to build the team around him and Haliburton. Need we remind you that Sacramento has not qualified for the playoffs since 2006. They have built around Fox and failed for five seasons now. Haliburton is a nice player, too, but let us not pretend anyone on the Kings is untouchable. It was not all that long ago that the last Kings general manager publicly declared, "We're not trading DeMarcus" Cousins two weeks before he did.

Other names to watch

Haven't gotten your fill of the trade rumor mill? Here are 10 more trade possibilities to consider:

  • The entire Portland Trail Blazers roster

  • Bojan Bogdanovic, Utah Jazz

  • Spencer Dinwiddie, Washington Wizards

  • Eric Gordon, Houston Rockets

  • Gordon Hayward, Charlotte Hornets

  • Al Horford, Boston Celtics

  • Lonnie Walker IV, San Antonio Spurs

  • Patrick Williams, Chicago Bulls

  • James Wiseman, Golden State Warriors

  • Christian Wood, Houston Rockets

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Ben Rohrbach is a staff writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rohrbach_ben@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @brohrbach