Trade guide: Focusing on home court in the first round

The Raptors mean business with Serge Ibaka. (AP)
The Raptors mean business with Serge Ibaka. (AP)

The Vertical Front-Office Insider Bobby Marks, a former 20-year executive with the Nets, looks at each team’s roster and trade assets, as well as examining the track record of each team’s general manager during previous trade deadlines.

Previous trade guides: The title contenders | West teams pushing for playoff spot | East teams eyeing home court | Teams that shouldn’t focus on playoffs | Rebuilding teams with limited assets | Teams built through the draft | Big-market teams dealing with adversity | Playoff teams that have dealt with key injuries | Teams fighting for the East’s last playoff spot

A look at two playoff teams trying to secure home court for the first round of the playoffs as the Feb. 23 trade deadline approaches.

Player Value Insider info
1. DeMar DeRozan All-NBA
2. Kyle Lowry All-Star 2017-18 player option
3. Jonas Valanciunas Core
4. Serge Ibaka Top starter Expiring contract
5. DeMarre Carroll Starter
6. Cory Joseph Top reserve
7. Norman Powell Top reserve 2017-18 no protection
8. *Patrick Patterson Top reserve Expiring contract
9. Jared Sullinger Rotation Expiring contract
10. Pascal Siakam Development
11. Jakob Poeltl Development
12. Lucas Nogueira Development
13. Delon Wright Development
14. Bruno Caboclo Development
15. Fred VanVleet Development 2017-18 No protection
*Has started during the season but is best suited coming off the bench.

Trade assets

Toronto got going early by acquiring Serge Ibaka from the Magic.

General manager Masai Ujiri was able to pull off the deal because of the results of previous trades and by managing the salary cap effectively.

Terrence Ross’ sensible contract (three years and $30 million remaining) and the Clippers’ first-round pick (acquired from Milwaukee in exchange for Greivis Vasquez) gave the Raptors the assets to get Ibaka.

Unlike last season when Toronto had a comfort level with their roster and had a firm hold on the second seed in the East, the Raptors this year were in jeopardy of losing home-court in the first round with the possibility of facing Cleveland in the semifinal round.

But Raptors management was not satisfied resting on past playoff success and made the move for Ibaka.

The Raptors still have no shortage of assets.

They have their own first in June along with their future draft picks, including second-rounders.

The Raptors also have the expiring contracts of Patrick Patterson and Jared Sullinger, and five players on rookie contracts along with the cap-friendly salary of Norman Powell.

Jared Sullinger has an expiring contract. (AP)
Jared Sullinger has an expiring contract. (AP)

GM history at the deadline

Ujiri’s biggest highlight at the trade deadline occurred during his Denver tenure.

Ujiri orchestrated the trade of All-Star Carmelo Anthony to New York in exchange for Raymond Felton, Timofey Mozgov, Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Kostas Koufos, a 2014 first-round pick and the right to swap first-round picks in 2016.

Denver eventually turned parts of the Anthony trade into key players and assets such as Andre Iguodala, Andre Miller, Jamal Murray (pick swap) and now Mason Plumlee.

Since joining the Raptors in 2013, Ujiri has two trades at or near the trade deadline: the Ibaka deal and acquiring Nando De Colo in 2014 from the Spurs.

Post-trade deadline roster movement

The Raptors have 15 guaranteed contracts and the minimum exception to use if a roster spot is created.

Player Value Insider info
1. Gordon Hayward All-Star 2017-18 player option
2. Rudy Gobert Core
3. George Hill Top starter Expiring contract
4. Rodney Hood Top starter
5. Derrick Favors Starter
6. Joe Johnson Top reserve
7. Joe Ingles Top reserve Expiring contract
8. Alec Burks Top reserve
9. Dante Exum Rotation
10. Trey Lyles Rotation
11. Boris Diaw Rotation 2017-18 no protection
12. Shelvin Mack Rotation Expiring contract
13. Jeff Withey Roster Expiring contract
14. Raul Neto Roster 2017-18 no protection
15. Joel Bolomboy Development
*Has started but is best suited coming off the bench.

Draft assets and cap space

The Jazz have quietly assembled a treasure chest of draft picks and available cap space.

Utah is the lone team in the NBA to have multiple first-round picks in 2017 and 2018, having their own selections and those from the Warriors (2017) and Thunder (lottery protected in 2018).

Utah also has its own current and future second-round picks, including those from Detroit (2017), Washington (2021) and San Antonio (2022).

While the Jazz do have $13 million in cap space to absorb a contract, Utah must keep an eye on the future with the pending free agencies of Gordon Hayward and George Hill. Rodney Hood is also eligible for a rookie extension this summer.

GM history at the deadline

Dennis Lindsey has made 15 trades since being named general manager in 2012, two at the trade deadline.

In need of a backup point guard last year, Utah acquired Shelvin Mack as part of three-team trade with Chicago and Atlanta. The Jazz acquired Mack with cap space and sent a 2018 second-round pick (acquired from Denver in a previous trade) to Chicago.

In 2015, Utah was part of a three-team trade involving seven players and multiple picks exchanging hands.

The trade netted the Jazz a 2018 first-round pick (protected Nos. 1-14) from Oklahoma City in exchange for Enes Kanter with the Thunder’s Reggie Jackson going to the Pistons.

The Kanter contract was a good example of Utah taking advantage of an asset.

Post-trade deadline roster movement

Utah has 15 guaranteed contracts and is $4.2 million below the salary-cap floor.

Barring a trade, Utah will likely owe their current players the shortfall below the minimum team salary requirement.

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