Trade season in the NBA is like Christmas in February; some teams are in a giving mood while others are under the impression that they’ve been “good” this year and deserve to be rewarded for their efforts. For a struggling team looking to unload big contracts, trade season provides an opportunity to move forward and prepare for the future. On the other hand, those teams looking to add talent at the trade deadline could be fortunate enough to land a critical piece to their contending puzzle.
With this season’s trade deadline looming in the near distance, several teams are ready to shed some expensive talent to their contending foes, but there are really only a few squads that are truly looking to add that talent. While that may be the case, there are still buyers out there who would love to acquire some much-needed talent for their playoff push. Here are the top three clubs that should look to make that big trade before February 18.
1. Detroit Pistons
The Pistons have had a pretty nice start to the season, as they currently sit in eighth place in the Eastern Conference with a record that is two games above the .500 mark. While that position seems pretty nice when you consider the fact that the team hasn’t been a part of the postseason since 2008-09, Detroit could very well move all the way up to the third spot in the East before the end of the regular season (teams 3-8 are separated by just 2.5 games in the conference).
Adding another piece to their roster could allow Detroit to make that jump. With All-Star Andre Drummond and solid point guard Reggie Jackson on board, the team feels like they are one player away from contending for a home-court playoff series. An interesting option for them is Boston Celtics’ forward David Lee, who is reportedly on the trading block.
Putting Lee up front with Drummond would give Detroit a pretty solid duo down low. The Pistons could probably use another shooter to help out Jackson in the backcourt, but no matter what they decide to do, the one thing they shouldn’t do is stand pat at the deadline if they want to not only make the postseason, but improve their position as well.
2. Oklahoma City Thunder
The Thunder are one of the best teams in the NBA, holding the third-best mark with a record of 38-13. Unfortunately for them, that mark is also the third-best in the Western Conference, as Oklahoma City is chasing conference heavyweights in the San Antonio Spurs and the Golden State Warriors. If they want to contend with the top teams in the West, the Thunder should look to add one more complementary piece to their already talented roster.
Of course, the team is led by two superstars, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. They also have Serge Ibaka’s presence down low, giving them a nice trio of players to fuel their championship pursuit. The rest of the Thunder’s roster does leave you wanting more production, however. At the trade deadline, a position that OKC should focus on is shooting guard, where Dion Waiters has been the top option.
It wouldn’t be surprising to see Waiters used as a trade chip — along with other assets on the team’s roster — to go after a more productive scorer to take some pressure off of Durant and Westbrook. How about Tyreke Evans of the struggling New Orleans Pelicans? He’s on the trade block and would be an intriguing addition who could give the Thunder enough to truly contend.
3. Toronto Raptors
The Raptors are on the verge of serious contention this season. Currently, Toronto sits in second place in the Eastern Conference, just a lone 2.5 games behind the conference favorite Cleveland Cavaliers. The Raptors are fueled by an excellent backcourt duo in All-Star starting point guard Kyle Lowry and All-Star shooting guard DeMar DeRozan; both average better than 20 points per game.
After those two, the production on Toronto’s roster drops off significantly, indicating that the team is in need of one more player if they truly want to contend with the Cavs. The team could really benefit from picking up a small forward or a power forward with scoring ability before the February 18 deadline.
They’ve already shown interest in two players from the Phoenix Suns, small forward P.J. Tucker and power forward Markieff Morris. Both of those players have scoring ability and could provide the Raptors with exactly what they need. If the deal with the Suns doesn’t pan out, Toronto could also look into David Lee from the Celtics or (even better) Al Horford — who may be available — of the Atlanta Hawks.
Statistics courtesy of ESPN.go.com.