Rotoworld's division-by-division trade deadline preview continues with the Pacific! We'll be talking about trade rumors and possibilities, as well as potential deadline fantasy values, for the Warriors, Lakers, Clippers, Suns and Kings. If you've missed the first parts of this series, you can check them all out here:
Anthony Davis is the disgruntled superstar looming over the NBA trade deadline, and the Lakers are said to be his preferred destination. After AD's trade request it didn't take long for the Lakers to make five different offers, though they may have just been ‘opening bid' packages. That's not going to cut it for AD. There's apparently been minimal progress, but the two sides are expected to renew talks prior to the deadline. It might help L.A.'s case that Boston (which can't enter the bidding war for Davis until the summer) reportedly isn't a long-term preference for AD, whose list of teams he’d be willing to re-sign with doesn’t include the Celtics.
Another report from Adrian Wojnarowski casts doubt on the likelihood of an AD blockbuster deal this week. "As of now, the Pelicans see no reason to deliver Davis to the Lakers in a deal with a full season left on his contract – never mind do it on a timeline that mostly benefits the objectives of Los Angeles and Davis," he writes. "New Orleans officials are prepared to play the long game on Davis' future, embarking on an uncomfortable, if not combative process that could extend months beyond next Thursday's trade deadline." That could change in a hurry, of course, but for now the odds look slim.
Another caveat in this complicated scenario is that Lonzo Ball reportedly doesn't want to be traded to New Orleans, even though the Pelicans feel he could become a star point guard alongside Jrue Holiday. The selling point here would be that Jrue doesn't view himself as a PG and reportedly doesn't want to play that position – this isn't the first we've heard of it, either, with Davis saying the same thing about Holiday earlier this season. Regardless, Lakers beat writer Tania Ganguli reported on Jan. 31 that "Lonzo Ball’s camp maintains that New Orleans isn’t the desired destination. Phoenix makes the most basketball sense if Ball were to be traded and according to two sources there is mutual interest." There's more on the Lonzo-to-Phoenix concept below, but moving to the Suns would be a huge win for his fantasy owners.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is a prime candidate to be moved at the deadline. He's on a one-year deal worth $12.0 million, which could be used to make salaries match in a potential blockbuster, and he's productive enough for teams to view him as a rotation player (if they so desire). After all, KCP is just 25 years old. The downside is that any team which acquired him would likely be 'sellers' at the deadline and therefore more interested in developing younger guys, rather than airing out Caldwell-Pope in the months prior to his unrestricted free agency.
Although I'm not sold on KCP's post-deadline value, his departure would be good news for Josh Hart. Assuming the Lakers didn't bring back another quality swingman, Hart would likely see his 26.7 minutes per game spike into the 30+ range. He's another guy to monitor if/when L.A. makes some moves, even if his per-36 numbers have been underwhelming – thanks to lousy offensive efficiency, he's been just a steals-and-3s guy.
I should also mention persistent whispers about coach Luke Walton's job security, which boiled over during a postgame confrontation on Saturday. Walton reportedly called out some guys about "selfish play," which led to "emotionally-charged verbal exchanges" between himself and JaVale McGee and Michael Beasley. Both of those guys are on expiring deals, as are Lance Stephenson, Rajon Rondo and Tyson Chandler, and it wouldn't be shocking if one or more get included in various deals. And if a Davis deal does go down, all bets are off. Young players headed to the Pelicans could then take on big roles the rest of the way, a group that might include Ivica Zubac, Svi Mykhailiuk, Isaac Bonga and Moritz Wagner. We just have to wait for the other shoe to drop – or not. The next 72 hours will be fascinating.
It's likely to be a quiet trade deadline for Golden State. They've tied Denver for the best record in the West and are gearing up for both another run at a championship and an eventful offseason in free agency. Kevin Durant is the headliner and it's anyone's guess whether he'll re-sign with the Warriors – his clash with Draymond Green earlier this season threw a spotlight on that uncertainty. We do know that Warriors owner Joe Lacob said sky-high luxury taxes won’t be an impediment to keeping this team together. “We can do whatever we want [financially],” Lacob said. “We have the capital to pay our players what they deserve. And we will ... The issue is more about people have to want to play here and it’s on us to make it a great environment."
Klay Thompson reportedly wants to stay with Golden State but also expects a max contract, and then there's DeMarcus Cousins. The Warriors' surprise coup in free agency last summer, landing DMC on a $5.3 million one-year deal, may be short-lived if he stays healthy and commands a huge deal as a free agent. Keep in mind, Golden State owes a combined $75.9 million to three players next year (Stephen Curry $40.2 million, Draymond Green $18.5m and Andre Iguodala $17.2m).
As a result of their championship pedigree and long-term luxury tax concerns, there aren't many obvious trade-deadline implications for the Warriors. They're not moving their core of All-Stars, present or former. And they have little incentive to move players on affordable rookie-scale contracts, such as Jacob Evans and Damian Jones, or productive guys on expiring deals like Jonas Jerebko and Kevon Looney. When it comes to scouting waiver-wire talent over the next few days, Golden State should be very low on your list.
The Suns are expected to be 'sellers' at the deadline, but they're also in need of a starting caliber point guard for the future. They've used Devin Booker as a lead guard, which may be good for his development but isn't a long-term solution. They've gotten by with second-round picks Elie Okobo and De'Anthony Melton, with veteran Jamal Crawford also playing backup PG for stretches. They were linked to Dennis Smith Jr. when he was in Dallas, but obviously nothing came of that. The Lakers are a potential trade partner and Lonzo Ball reportedly doesn't want to play for the Pelicans, as mentioned earlier, so maybe Phoenix gets involved as a third team in a theoretical AD trade – there is "mutual interest" between Ball and the Suns. His fantasy game has flaws and he's still recovering from a bad ankle sprain, but getting away from ball-dominant LeBron James and Rajon Rondo would inherently be a win. Landing in a starting job on an up-tempo team would be the icing on the cake.
If they can't swing a deal for a PG-of-the-future type player, the Suns may just resign themselves to developing Okobo and Melton while hoping to address the issue via the draft, free agency or offseason trades. The best fantasy scenario for the young players I've mentioned is that they stay right where they are in Phoenix.
T.J. Warren is reportedly not a guy Phoenix is actively trying to trade, which is somewhat surprising. Josh Jackson and Malik Bridges give the Suns a pair of young wings with upside, and the Suns can also retain Kelly Oubre (whom they got for Trevor Ariza) in restricted free agency this summer. My money would still be on Warren to get moved, assuming there's a market for him, but his value would almost certainly decline outside of Phoenix. He was averaging 18.0 points per game this season while making 1.8 triples per game – that's triple his previous career high. The Suns have turned him loose as a scorer but that's not a role he's likely to find with another team. It doesn't help that he's likely out through the All-Star break with lingering 'right ankle soreness'.
Ryan Anderson is likely to be waived, probably via the stretch provision. He's owed $21.3 million next season, more than $15 million of which is guaranteed, so Phoenix is unlikely to find another team willing to accept his deal in any trade. He wouldn't be claimed off waivers but even as an unrestricted free agent, it's hard to see Anderson making a fantasy impact anywhere. Rebuilding teams wouldn't have a need for him and contending teams might use him as a situational perimeter specialist, at best. I expect him to finish the season outside of Phoenix, therefore, without having any fantasy appeal. Retirement can’t be far away at this point.
Jamal Crawford, Richaun Holmes, Dragan Bender and Troy Daniels are all on expiring contracts, with impending unrestricted free agency. That alone makes them possible trade assets on a team looking to deal at the deadline. Even if Crawford, Bender and/or Daniels are dealt, though, none of them have reliable fantasy appeal. I'm more intrigued by Holmes, who has proven per-minute upside and has thrived in expanded minutes when Deandre Ayton has been out this season. He's on my 'watch' list but isn't quite a stash because of the sheer uncertainty surrounding him – he could stay in Phoenix as Ayton’s backup, be traded to a team that simply needs depth, or get lucky with a trade that secures him a steady role.
The Clippers' aspirations at the deadline are hard to decipher. It doesn't help that a plugged-in writer like Jovan Buha wrote recently in The Athletic, "[The Clippers] will approach the trade deadline with the flexibility to be either a buyer or a seller depending on the context of a deal." Let's explore what that might mean for this roster.
We do know that the Clippers have shown "no inclination" to trade Tobias Harris, according to ESPN's Zach Lowe, which isn't surprising since coach Doc Rivers and president Lawrence Frank have both raved about Harris since last season. The favorite line is calling him one of the most underrated players in the league, an argument that gained steam when he was denied a spot on the All-Star team this year. Presumably he'll stay in L.A. through the deadline despite interest from "multiple teams," helping the No. 8 seed Clippers try to make inroads in the postseason. That would be a great outcome for fantasy owners, since Harris is rolling as a top-25 value this season (9-cat).
That apparent desire to make a playoff push could be why the Clippers "do not appear motivated" make trades at the deadline, despite having a plethora of veteran on expiring contracts. In addition to Harris, that category includes Marcin Gortat, Patrick Beverley, Mike Scott, Luc Mbah a Moute, Boban Marjanovic and realistically Milos Teodosic (L.A. won't make him a $7.8 million qualifying offer). There's also Avery Bradley with a partially-guaranteed deal for next season, and the always-appealing Lou Williams sweetheart deal that pays him $8 million next year.
Marcin Gortat and/or Boban Marjanovic could be dangled in pursuit of an upgrade at center, allowing Montrezl Harrell to maintain his wrecking-ball-off-the-bench role. There were reportedly some feelers sent out about Robin Lopez, who is definitely on the block, but "talks did not advance."
Milos Teodosic has been mentioned as one of the most likely guys to get dealt, as he's unhappy with his minimal role in this deep backcourt. He even said in November that he expects to be playing in Europe by next season, if not sooner. The Clippers don't want to waive him outright, apparently, but then again it's hard to envision teams giving up much to get him. Maybe a team like the Wizards could have some interest? Even if he does land elsewhere I don't see a path to fantasy value, especially since he can't stay healthy.
Of course, the Clips can also just take their shot this season and let all that money wash off their books ahead of a big summer for free agency – let's not forget that Kawhi Leonard reportedly favors joining this team. That would be good for some players but bad for others. Lou Williams has been on fire lately and as an owner I'm rooting for him to stay put. Pat Beverley has found a groove in the absence of Danilo Gallinari but had been a poor fantasy asset off the bench prior to that – if he is dealt to a PG-needy team like the Magic, for instance, that could prove to be a late-season win in fantasy.
The Kings are a team to watch in the next few days. They have more than $10 million in cap space and are "waiting to use it to pick up an asset," according to Zach Lowe's extensive report on ESPN. They're just one game out of the No. 8 seed in the West, as of Jan. 3, which makes it harder to decipher if they'll be buyers or sellers. But there are clues.
Sacramento is reportedly keen on a deal with the Hawks, whose priorities are young assets and avoiding long-term salary obligations. They've "shown interest in" Jeremy Lin, according to Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee, which suggests they're closer to the 'buyer' category. That dovetails with another report in The Athletic that they "would also like to upgrade at point guard behind De'Aaron Fox." Getting another forward may also be a priority and they've "eyed" Otto Porter Jr., but thus far the Wizards don't seem inclined to part with him.
Marc Gasol has also been mentioned as a potential target, but Lowe writes that they "haven't shown nearly as much interest in Gasol as has been reported." One player the Kings may discuss is Willie Cauley-Stein, an impending restricted free agent who would likely be included in any deal for Gasol. In addition to his impending payday this summer, the Kings basically gave him a vote of no-confidence by acquiring Harry Giles with a first-round pick in 2017 and using the No. 2 pick on Marvin Bagley in 2018. He's already averaging a career-high 28.4 minutes per game this season, and it's hard to see that number rising on many teams, so fantasy owners should probably be rooting for him to stay in Sacramento.
The very mention of WCS as a trade candidate is great news for Harry Giles, in particular. Assuming the Kings didn't bring back an obvious playing-time monster like Gasol, Giles would be set up for a bump in minutes even if he didn't assume a starting role. On a per-36-minute basis, he's averaging 16.8 points (49.8% shooting), 9.6 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.0 blocks. Those are attention-grabbing numbers, albeit he's also committing 3.3 turnovers and a whopping 7.0 personal fouls per 36. He's 20 years old and technically a rookie, so that's not shocking.
The other potential dominoes here are less impactful, with expiring contracts that include Ben McLemore, Kosta Koufos, Iman Shumpert and Zach Randolph. All of those guys would slot into limited backup roles on a new team, if they played at all. It remains to be seen if the Kings have enough faith in Frank Mason and Skal Labissiere to hold onto them, or if they view them as closer to 'expendable' among their group of young guys. Given their lack of minutes lately, the latter seems more likely. Since they're not in the rotation currently, a deal anywhere else would have to be viewed as a positive for deep-league owners. Mason is intriguing if he lands in the right spot, as a steals/dimes/threes guy if nothing else.
There are a ton of unknowns, of course, and all we can do is combine rumors and reports with clear-eyed thinking about each team's needs and direction. No matter what happens, the deadline should be a wild one and fantasy owners need to be ready to pounce to the waiver wire. Queue up those fantasy-league apps and make sure you know who you're willing to cut for potential deadline winners. Good luck and enjoy the fireworks!