NBA trade season is upon us -- when general managers and fans are using their phones a little more than usual.
For GMs, it's to take or make a call about a potential deal as the March 25 trade deadline approaches. For fans, it's to monitor social media for NBA trade rumors and the inevitable Woj bomb.
With trade buzz surrounding big names and valuable role players, buyers will add a missing piece to help propel a playoff push or championship run. Sellers will auction off their assets to the highest bidder ... perhaps to better their chances of winning the Cade Cunningham lottery.
Here’s everything you need to know over the next few weeks.
When is the 2021 NBA trade deadline?
Thursday, March 25 at 3 p.m. ET.
Can players still change teams after the NBA trade deadline?
Yes, players are still able to negotiate a buyout with their respective teams and then sign with a new team.
What is a buyout?
If a player and a franchise agree to a buyout, then the player is placed on waivers. If not claimed off the waiver wire, the player becomes a free agent and can sign with whichever team he wants.
When is the deadline for players to be waived and eligible for postseason rosters?
Will the Chicago Bulls be buyers this NBA trade deadline? Who are the supposed sellers?
The Chicago Bulls were rolling headed into the All-Star break and could look to be buyers at the March 25 trade deadline. With Zach LaVine leading the way, Artūras Karnišovas and Marc Eversely can upgrade Chicago’s roster and place the Bulls in playoff contention during the second half of the season. A call to the Orlando Magic or the Cleveland Cavaliers -- two reported sellers -- might yield the necessary piece to push the Bulls over the top.
Who are the top players available at the NBA trade deadline?
Bradley Beal, Wizards: Every team's favorite trade target. Noise around a potential Beal trade seems to ramp up several times a year, only for his camp or the Washington Wizards to deny any interest in parting ways. It happened again this season in the midst of Washington's 6-17 start. But the Wizards have played better basketball since and now find themselves in the playoff race. Holding onto Beal through this deadline won't halt the chatter about an eventual split. So what will the Wizards do if another team comes in with a Godfather offer?
Zach LaVine, Bulls: LaVine may have very well played his way into the Bulls' future plans. Fresh off his first All-Star Game appearance, LaVine is posting career highs in points, rebounds and assists per game, while also upping his field goal and 3-point percentages to career-best marks. Better yet, his improved play has the Bulls in position to potentially end their playoff drought. While LaVine may not be completely off the table, it’s now going to take a king’s ransom to acquire him.
Kyle Lowry, Raptors: With it looking likely that Beal and LaVine will stay put, Lowry could be the best player who’s moved at this deadline. While he will turn 35 on trade deadline day, Lowry has shown no signs of slowing down. The one-time NBA champion is enjoying one of the better shooting seasons of his career and was averaging 18 points, seven assists and 5.5 rebounds at the All-Star break. Lowry, who’s in the final year of his deal, has the ability to spike a contender's title odds with his two-way play and winning mentality. But are the Toronto Raptors and their greatest player in franchise history ready to part ways?
Victor Oladipo, Rockets: Having already been traded four times in his career -- including just two months ago from Indiana to Houston -- Oladipo could be dealt one last time before getting to decide his own destination as a free agent this summer. The 28-year-old -- averaging 20 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.5 assists at the All-Star break -- could make for a lucrative rental for a team looking to add another ball-handler and playmaker for a late-season run.
Nikola Vucevic, Magic: At age 30, Vucevic is having the best season of his career. A two-time All-Star, Vucevic is posting career highs in points per game and 3-point percentage for the injury-riddled Magic. But as skilled as he is on the offensive end, there are questions as to whether the 6-foot-11 center would become too much of a defensive liability in the playoffs. Vuc carries a $26 million cap hit and is under contract for two more seasons.
Lonzo Ball, Pelicans: His younger brother can safely purchase a home in Charlotte, where he will remain for years to come. Lonzo doesn’t quite have that stability. The New Orleans Pelicans are expected to be active at the deadline, and the 23-year-old point guard and soon-to-be restricted free agent doesn’t seem a natural fit alongside cornerstones Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram, though his improved outside shooting leading up to the All-Star break and his evolution into something of a 3-and-D specialist could mean he’s off the market.
Marvin Bagley, Kings: Perhaps Papa Bagley will get his wish after all. In January, Marvin Bagley’s father tweeted at the Kings, asking them to “PLEASE” trade his son ASAP. The former No. 2 pick, limited to just 13 games last season, has since held on to a starting role, but his struggles at the defensive end are a concern that could scare teams off if they haven’t already.
John Collins, Hawks: Seeking a max deal, Collins reportedly turned down an extension worth north of $90 million from the Atlanta Hawks. Now, Atlanta has a decision to make ahead of the deadline. Should the Hawks try to get something of value for Collins before he potentially walks for nothing in restricted free agency? Or are they confident Collins won't fetch an offer sheet they aren't comfortable matching?
Andre Drummond, Cavaliers: Drummond hasn't appeared in a game since Feb. 12, but not because of injury. The 27-year-old center has been held out of the lineup as the Cavs try to trade him. What will make that difficult is Drummond's $28.7 million cap hit and the fact that he will be a free agent this offseason. But Drummond is one of the game's top rebounders and would make a strong addition to a team searching for a long-term solution at center. Look for Drummond to hit the buyout market if he isn’t dealt.
DeMar DeRozan, Spurs: The San Antonio Spurs very well could be content returning to the familiar territory of the postseason after a brief absence, which could end speculation of being sellers at the deadline. But DeRozan will be an unrestricted free agent (and turn 32) this summer, so his age and contract status may not fit the Spurs’ timeline despite the fact that he has elevated his play this season, averaging a career-best seven-plus assists and just 1.7 turnovers per game.
Buddy Hield, Kings: Hield has had an up-and-down season so far for the Sacramento Kings, but his recent hot streak could make him a potential trade deadline target for teams looking for perimeter scoring. Hield is averaging 16.4 points per game while shooting 37.8 percent from 3.
Harrison Barnes, Kings: Outside shooting doesn’t come cheap. Even though the production may not always seem to warrant the price tag, Barnes could be a valuable addition for a team seeking a deep threat with playoff experience. Interested GMs could be sold on Barnes’ near 40-percent 3-point shooting and his declining annual salary -- from $22.2 million this season, to $20.3 million next season, to $18.6 million in the 2022-2023 season.
Aaron Gordon, Magic: Gordon hasn’t played since Jan. 31 due to an ankle injury, though his initial return timeline was four-to-six weeks. So if he’s on track to return soon, could this be the deadline Gordon is finally moved? The 6-foot-8 forward is shooting at a career-best clip from 3, but his field goal and free throw percentages have both continued to dip. Gordon, 25, has a cap hit of $18.1 million and is under contract for one more year at $16.4 million.
Al Horford, Thunder: Horford has performed admirably, even if a step slower on defense, for a young team that doesn’t really have him as part of their future plans. The five-time All-Star’s interior defense and ability to stretch the court with his range could be valuable commodities for a team willing to absorb the remaining two years and more than $50 million left on his deal.
P.J. Tucker, Rockets: Reports indicate that the 35-year-old veteran is near the top of the wish list for just about every championship-contending team. Statistically, Tucker is having a down season, but a change of scenery could spark some motivation for the feisty defender and corner-3 specialist.
Larry Nance Jr., Cavaliers: Teams interested in Tucker will likely also be considering Nance Jr. to fill a frontcourt need. Nance Jr. is a bouncy power forward who can be deployed as a small-ball five and knock down shots from beyond the arc. Nance Jr. is enjoying his best 3-point shooting season on a career-high number of per game attempts, and is affordable at $10.6 million and $9.6 million over the next two seasons.