The NBA trade deadline is less than a week away — Thursday, Feb. 8 — and we should see bigger deals than a swap of two players who have yet to set foot on a court this season. Here are some of the latest trade news and rumors around the NBA.
• The Lakers aren't trading LeBron, and he's not asking out. In what feels like a February tradition in recent years, LeBron James' frustration with the fact these Lakers are not contenders boils over in some passive-aggressive moments. All that led to a wild rumor that gained steam on X — as all illogical theories seem to in Elon Musk's universe — Thursday that the Lakers were testing the market for LeBron, who wanted a trade.
LeBron's agent and long-time friend Rich Paul shot that down when ESPN’s Brian Windhorst asked him.
"LeBron won't be traded, and we aren't asking to be," Paul said.
The entire rumor was fool's gold. The Lakers are never going to trade LeBron unless he asks — he is the guy who fills the Crypto.com seats, sells sponsorships and largely drives the business right now. No owner is signing off on that trade unless forced to. LeBron can be a free agent this summer, but the odds of him leaving Los Angeles at this point in his career are low.
• The Lakers are still talking to Atlanta about a Dejounte Murray trade. The Lakers are going to do something at the trade deadline, what that is and how impactful it will be are the big questions. While momentum toward a Lakers trade for the Hawks Dejounte Murray has stalled out, the sides are still talking and will continue as the trade deadline nears, reports Shams Charnaia of The Athletic.
I'm told Dejounte Murray remains a top target for Los Angeles, and I expect talks between the Hawks and Lakers to resume as the deadline nears. I'm also told the Lakers have a level of interest in three Nets players: Spencer Dinwiddie, Royce O'Neale and Dorian Finney-Smith.
The challenge with a Murray trade is the Hawks are not interested in D'Angelo Russell as a return, so the sides were looking for a third team to take him on. It's not just the Hawks, the problem the Lakers are running into is teams overall are not high on taking on Russell, league sources have told NBC Sports. Russell's raw numbers are pretty good — 17 points and 6.3 assists a game — and he's on a reasonable contract for a starting point guard ($18.7 million guaranteed next season, the last of his contract), but he doesn't defend well and is not seen as a guy who contributes to consistent winning. Russell's backers will say that's not fair, and he has played better of late, but that's the perception and the Lakers need to overcome it to make this trade work.
If the Lakers can't find a taker for Russell, expect them to make a smaller move, like one with the Nets (there's a lot of O'Neale buzz).
• Is Kyle Kuzma the best player traded at the deadline? He might be, with both Jake Fischer says at Yahoo Sports and Marc Stein on his substack missive reporting considerable interest in the Wizards wing. Both say that the reported price the Wizards were asking — two first-round picks — is "overblown," which is good because Kuzma was never going to get that kind of return. The Sacramento Kings are reportedly interested in Kuzma, putting him in the Harrison Barnes role for them. The Dallas Mavericks are also interested, a team desperately needing more help on the wing. Stein adds that the Mavericks also have had some interest in the Wizards' Daniel Gafford and Deni Avdija.
Kuzma is averaging 22 points, 6.5 rebounds and 4.3 assists a season, and while he's not a great shooting from deep (career 33.7% from 3) he's enough of a threat to keep teams honest. He's also on a reasonable contract owed $64 million in the three seasons after this one (and on a declining deal).
• Nets shooting down calls about Mikal Bridges. We've mentioned this before, but it bears repeating that while the Nets are open to trading players like Dinwiddie or O'Neal, they don't want to give up the guys they see as part of their core. Brooklyn is shooting down trade requests for Mikal Bridges, Jake Fischer says at Yahoo Sports, and the same is reportedly true for Nic Claxton.
• Grizzlies turning down offers for Marcus Smart. Speaking of players unavailable in a trade, the Grizzlies are shooting down offers for Marcus Smart, Fischer reports at Yahoo Sports. This was something Drew Dinsick suggested on Bet The Edge, that teams like the Lakers should call and see if Smart was available. The Bucks apparently tried, too, but got nowhere.
Expect the Grizzlies to keep most of their core intact and make a run next season when Ja Morant and the rest of the snake-bit Grizzlies get healthy.
• Timberwolves looking for backup point guard depth. While we're talking about Fischer’s reporting at Yahoo Sports, he says the Timberwolves know they need to make a run now, with this group, and with that are looking for some point guard depth to put behind Mike Conley. Fischer suggests Tyus Jones, but he's a free agent this offseason and wants to start (and wants starter's money), so that seems a long shot. Two names Fischer says to watch are Monte Morris of the Pistons and Bones Hyland of the Clippers.
• Rockets buyers, not sellers, and they want a star. Houston has taken a step forward this season and at 22-25 is in the mix for a play-in spot, which is about what most people projected for this team after the offseason moves to bring in Fred VanVleet and Dillon Brooks. However, Houston management and coach Ime Udoka want to fast-track this rebuild now, and they are star hunting at the deadline, reports Kelly Iko, Shams Charania, and Sam Amick of The Athletic.
Houston has been pursuing upgrades to the roster, searching for another All-Star-caliber type who fits the two-way mold Udoka is looking for, and the organization has the available resources to do so. The Rockets have four first-round picks eligible to be traded — two via Brooklyn in 2024 and 2026 and their own in 2028 and 2030. Names that have been linked with them as the trade market has developed — Atlanta's Dejounte Murray and Chicago's Zach Lavine — don't appear to be enticing to the Rockets. The Rockets have joined the long line of teams showing extremely high interest in Nets forward Mikal Bridges, league sources say.
As noted earlier in this article, the Nets are not interested in trading Bridges. This may end up being an offseason move for the Rockets, but expect them to be aggressive when they can.
• Jazz are sellers at the deadline. In a market with more buyers than sellers, the Jazz are open to a trade and the name most bounce around is Kelly Olynyk, but both Jordan Clarkson, and Talen Horton-Tucker are in the mix. However, Collin Sexton appears to be a guy the Jazz want to keep, Marc Stein reports.