The trade rumors around the NBA have cooled off due to the All-Star weekend, but we are in for a crazy few days leading up to the Feb. 18 trade deadline. Last year we saw huge names such as Goran Dragic, Brandon Knight, Enes Kanter, Reggie Jackson, Michael Carter-Williams and Arron Afflalo moved at the deadline, and many people were able to strike gold in fantasy by grabbing Rudy Gobert and Reggie Jackson off the wire. With that said, here are a couple of tips to prepare for the madness.
1.) Keep a roster spot open- If you have deadweight on your roster, do yourself a favor and drop them now. If a player is traded to an ideal situation and you want to add them to your roster, the last thing you want to do is to waste precious time by deciding who to drop.
2.) Clear your schedule- Most trades generally happen during the last hour or two before the deadline, so go ahead and clear your schedule now. The deadline ends at 3:00 ET, so plan accordingly.
3.) Make a watch list- I’ll talk about some of the best players to stash before the deadline, but the best thing to do is to make sure you put them on your watch list. Very few people knew about Isaiah Canaan last season, but he erupted after the All-Star break with averages of 12.6 points, 3.1 assists, 0.7 steals and 2.7 3-pointers all because he landed in a great spot for his value.
In order to help you prepare, I have created a team-by-team outlook of which players have been linked in potential deals. Keep in mind that a lot of reports you hear are nonsense and are leaked by sides with something to gain, so it’s best to take a skeptical approach. The funny thing about the deadline is that some deals will come out of nowhere, so just because you don’t see a player’s name on this list doesn’t mean he will not be moved.
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Al Horford- He’s one of the biggest names being tossed around right now, but it makes sense because the 29-year-old veteran will be a free agent this summer and will command a max deal. Atlanta may not believe that they are a championship contender compared to Toronto or Cleveland in the East, and the risk of losing Horford for nothing this summer should scare them. The Celtics are the most likely destination if he moves because they have several promising young players and a handful of picks to offer in a deal, and it’s no secret that their general manager (Danny Ainge) wants to make a splash. Horford’s fantasy value will be safe no matter what, but considering Tiago Splitter (hip) is looking at an extended absence, Walter Tavares is someone to keep on your radar in case Horford is dealt.
Jeff Teague- Atlanta is very high on Dennis Schroder and may feel like he’s ready to take over as the starting PG, and it hasn’t helped that Teague has struggled for most of the season. However, he has picked it up his play in recent weeks and is still under contract through the 2016-17 season on an excellent deal, so his value is very high around the NBA. It also helps that several teams are in desperate need for a PG. Orlando, Boston, Utah, Brooklyn and New York have all been linked to Teague, so stashing a guy like Schroder makes a ton of sense. The Hawks’ asking price for Teague and Horford is very high, so the chances of a trade are still slim.
Brook Lopez- The Nets don’t have a first-round pick this season and are starved of assets, so dealing Lopez would give them a chance to get some quality young players and/or picks in return. Lopez is under contract through the 2017-18 season, so it will take a massive offer for the Nets to budge. If the Nets get an offer that’s too good to refuse, Thomas Robinson and Willie Reed would benefit.
Thaddeus Young- Similar to Lopez, Young is under contract for the next few seasons and the Nets have no reason to sell him below market value. He has drawn interest from teams such as the Pistons and Raptors, but out of those two teams Toronto would have the most incentive to trade for him given their lack of talent at the four spot. If Young is moved, Thomas Robinson and promising rookie Chris McCullough would see a major bump in minutes. As for Young, his value would take a hit with a move away from Brooklyn.
Bojan Bogdanovic- He is on a reasonable deal and shooters are always in hot demand, so he may be the player that is most likely to be moved out of Brooklyn. He has struggled with consistency and doesn’t have a great upside, and it’s hard to imagine him playing a prominent role on most teams. His owners should hope he stays in Brooklyn where he could be unleashed down the stretch.
Joe Johnson- A buyout seems more likely because not many teams would be able to trade for his huge contract. If he is bought out, expect Miami and Cleveland to come calling. Markel Brown, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Bogdanovic and Wayne Ellington would all get a boost if Johnson left Brooklyn.
Likely untouchable: Hollis-Jefferson, McCullough
David Lee- He is the king of DNP-CDs these days and it’s clear that his time in Boston is coming to an end. A move seems very likely to happen, but there are not many teams that he could join and make an immediate impact in fantasy. He’s not a great stash and his contract is going to be hard to move. If the Celtics can’t deal him, a buyout seems likely.
Jared Sullinger- He’s set to become a restricted free agent this summer and will likely be the piece that has to move if the Celtics want to acquire a big name. Boston has a plethora of bigs which has limited Sully’s minutes to the lower 20s, so a move could be great news for his fantasy value.
Tyler Zeller- He will also be a RFA this summer, and the Celtics don’t really need him with Kelly Olynyk and Amir Johnson in town. Several teams could use Zeller’s size off the bench, but he’s not a good stash.
The Hornets are sitting in eighth place in the East, but it’s unclear if they will be buyers or sellers at the deadline following the shoulder injury to Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
Al Jefferson- He is on an expiring deal and is coming off knee surgery, so the Hornets would get very little, if anything at all in return for Jefferson. A deal is very unlikely.
Taj Gibson- He’s under contract for another season at a reasonable price, but the Bulls would be hesitant to deal him considering how many injuries they’re dealing with.
Pau Gasol- He is going to be an unrestricted free agent this summer and the Bulls have been one of the most disappointing teams in the NBA over the last few weeks. Unless they still think they can compete in the East with the likes of Cleveland and Toronto, they will likely entertain some offers at the deadline as opposed to watching him walk away from Chicago this summer. Bobby Portis should be stashed everywhere.
They are still well behind Golden State in terms of overall talent, so expect them to be busy at the deadline.
Kevin Love- He always seems to be in the rumor mill, but it doesn’t help that he has no clue how to defend the pick-and-roll. New coach Tyronn Lue is doing his best to make Love a focal point of the offense again and he has been better in recent weeks, so a trade would definitely be a surprise.
Timofey Mozgov- He’s the most disappointing player on Cleveland’s roster and it isn’t close. He looked great in the NBA Finals last season, but offseason knee surgery has slowed him down and he doesn’t look like the same player. If the Cavs make a move, Mozgov is probably done in Cleveland. Tristan Thompson and Anderson Varejao would stand to benefit if that happens.
Not many people predicted them to be in sixth place in the West with a 29-26 record at this point in the season, but the Mavs are committed to a playoff run and should be buyers instead of sellers at the deadline.
Danilo Gallinari- The Rooster has drawn a ton of interest from teams and Boston is a rumored destination, but the Nuggets consider him to be a building block and his contract is very reasonable when you consider the rising salary cap. His value is also a little lower than it should be due to concerns about his injury history, so the Nuggets are better off keeping the dynamic forward. A trade is very unlikely.
Kenneth Faried- The Manimal still has a ton of value around the league and Toronto is said to be high on the athletic forward. Faried is just 26 years old and is under contract for several more years, but Toronto does have the assets to make a deal work. If he ends up leaving Denver, that could open up a lot more minutes for Nikola Jokic and Jusuf Nurkic. Jokic is already a must-own player in fantasy in case you missed that boat, while Nurkic is an excellent stash.
Joffrey Lauvergne- Jokic and Nurkic aren’t going anywhere and the frontcourt rotation is crowded, so it would make since for the Nuggets to move King Joffrey. A late first-round pick or early second-round pick would likely be the asking price. For what it’s worth, he would likely be just a role player on another team.
Brandon Jennings- Reggie Jackson is the PG of the future and Jennings is on an expiring deal. Teams such as the Knicks, Nets, Jazz and Rockets could all use an upgrade at PG, so there’s a good chance that Jennings is dealt. He’s a great stash heading into the deadline in the hope that he could land in an ideal situation.
Golden State Warriors
We’ve all heard the Kevin Durant rumors, but the Thunder won’t be trading him at the deadline. The Warriors are the heavy favorites to win their second straight title even if they keep the same roster, so they won’t be eager to make moves.
Harrison Barnes- He will be a restricted free agent this summer, but he’s an excellent fit next to Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. The Warriors could potentially use him in a sign-and-trade deal this summer if Durant is involved, but Barnes is staying in Golden State this season.
Dwight Howard- He’s probably the biggest name to be mentioned in the rumor mill, but he’s not the most talented. Howard is 30 years old with a bad back and bad knees, and he is also expected to opt out of his deal in order to hit the open market this summer. Houston would reportedly unload him for a first-round pick, but that’s still a high asking price since he is basically just a rental for the rest of the season. Boston has been mentioned as a possible destination, but they aren’t prepared to overpay for him either. Clint Capela would become the starting center if Howard is dealt, but he’s also a terrible free throw shooter and has a low upside.
Terrence Jones- The forward has clearly fallen out of favor with coach J.B. Bickerstaff and the Rockets probably don’t want to pay him in restricted free agency this summer considering how many power forwards they have. Jones doesn’t have any fantasy value right now, but he is an excellent stash this week and could be a beast if he was traded to a team such as the Suns or Pelicans (Rockets were linked to Markieff Morris and Ryan Anderson earlier this season).
Ty Lawson- He is a major distraction off the court and his play has declined rapidly since he left Denver. His best days are likely behind him and the Rockets would probably have better luck negotiating a buyout as opposed to trading him. A lot would have to happen for Lawson to become relevant again.
The Pacers are in sixth place in the East, but they’re too good to rebuild and not quite good enough to compete with the top teams such as Cleveland or Toronto. Expect them to be pretty quiet at the deadline.
George Hill- His name was mentioned in a potential deal involving Jeff Teague, but that would be an odd move for the Pacers considering Monta Ellis likes to dominant the ball-handling responsibilities. Expect Hill to remain in Indiana unless they get an offer they can’t refuse.
Los Angeles Clippers
Blake Griffin- It seems like every NBA team was linked to Griffin after the details leaked out about Griffin’s hand injury, but Doc Rivers has refuted those reports and I tend to believe him. The Clippers will likely try to make some noise in the playoffs one last time before deciding to do anything drastic, so the earliest we would see a major move would be this summer.
Lance Stephenson- To his credit, he has finally looked like an NBA player in recent weeks and is quietly shooting 49.4 percent from the field and 40.4 percent from 3-point range on the season which are both career highs. Not many teams will want to take a chance on the mercurial guard and the Clippers won’t get much in return for him, so expect him to stay in Los Angeles.
Jamal Crawford- He is on an expiring contract and Father Time is catching up to him, but the injury to Austin Rivers (hand) has made it clear that the Clippers can’t afford to lose Crawford in a trade.
Los Angeles Lakers
Lou Williams- The Lakers aren’t going to trade away any of their young studs, so Williams is one of their few valuable trade chips. The reigning Sixth Man of the Year is averaging 15.4 points per game this season and is only 29 years old, but the Lakers probably wouldn’t hesitate to move him in exchange for a pick or a promising young player. If Williams is moved, it would likely be to a contender which would hurt his value. D’Angelo Russell needs to be owned everywhere.
Nick Young- No one wants that contract.
Brandon Bass- He’s a nice veteran presence for any contending team, but his player option for next season may scare teams away. Don’t stash him.
Roy Hibbert- He will be a free agent this summer and is under contract for $15.5 million this season, so the Lakers won’t have much luck trading him. He’s a buyout candidate and might be the worst starting center in the NBA other than Omer Asik.
Mike Conley- He can walk this summer in free agency, but despite all the rumors, the Grizzlies haven’t given any indication that they’re willing to trade him. They will roll the dice this summer and try to re-sign him to a max deal.
Zach Randolph- He’s under contract through the 2016-17 season, but the Grizzlies won’t trade him unless they decide to give up on the season. Marc Gasol (foot) is likely done for 4-6 months, so the Grizzlies should at least entertain offers.
Jeff Green- He is on an expiring deal and the Grizzlies should probably accept that they can’t compete for a title this season. The Grizzlies have explored the market for Green, and his value should be pretty high due to some strong recent performances. With all the uncertainty in Memphis right now, Brandan Wright (knee) looks like an excellent stash.
Likely untouchable- Gasol, Conley, Jordan Adams
Hassan Whiteside- Do the Heat want to give him a max contract this summer? Probably not. However, it’s rare to find a guy like Whiteside nowadays and he really is a unique talent, but he may not be the best fit in Miami and he has a lot of growing up to do. Some team will likely offer him a max deal this summer, but the Heat should listen to offers if they don’t feel comfortable signing him for the long run. For now, there hasn’t been any indication that the Heat are actively shopping him.
Chris Andersen- He isn’t in the rotation and can’t stay healthy anymore, so the Heat want his salary off the books. The Heat are also willing to deal Jarnell Stokes and their asking price would just be a second-round pick.
They will likely be sellers at the deadline, but their future has never looked brighter with some phenomenal young talent on their roster.
Kevin Martin- He is shooting a pathetic 37.5 percent from the field this season, and his player option for next season is a roadblock for interested teams. The Wolves want to open up as many as minutes as possible for guys like Zach LaVine and Shabazz Muhammad, so the chances of a Martin trade or even a buyout are high. In case this needs to be said, LaVine should already be owned in all leagues.
Ricky Rubio- The trade rumors have cooled off since the offseason and there has been no indication that the Wolves want to trade him. Rubio has looked great this season and most importantly has managed to stay healthy, so it looks like his future is going to be in Minnesota. It also helps that Rubio and LaVine have looked great together in the backcourt, so that bodes well for his outlook down the stretch.
The Bucks are probably one of the most disappointing teams in the NBA, but they still have a promising future with a very young core. However, apart from their young studs, expect them to be sellers at the deadline.
Greg Monroe- He hasn’t been bad by any means, but he’s a questionable fit in Milwaukee and hasn’t looked good on the defensive end. He has two years left on his deal after this season and the Bucks will reportedly listen to offers, so stashing John Henson in a deep league if you need blocks makes a lot of sense. As for Monroe’s fantasy value, it should be pretty safe no matter what.
Michael Carter-Williams- He just can’t seem to find a home and his inconsistency has been maddening. He has lost his starting spot on several occasions to guys like O.J. Mayo and Jerryd Bayless, but he’s still just 24 years old and should have some value around the league. His owners might want to root for a trade because of how many teams are in need of a PG. Bayless isn’t the worst stash in case that happens, while Mayo can be left on the wire.
Miles Plumlee- He will be a free agent this summer and the Bucks don’t need him with John Henson under contract for several seasons. He should have plenty of suitors, but he would be looking at a bench role at best.
New Orleans Pelicans
The Pelicans were supposed to be competing for a playoff spot, but they’re seven losses behind the Jazz for the eighth seed in the West and they just lost Tyreke Evans (knee surgery) for the season. Expect them to be sellers.
Eric Gordon- He’s set to return from a fractured finger soon, but he may be wearing a different uniform after the All-Star break. Gordon is on the last year of his deal, but he’s making $15.5 million which is going to be a challenge to move. Keep an eye on Bryce Dejean-Jones if you’re in a deeper league (if the Pelicans re-sign him), while Norris Cole is worth holding onto right now.
Ryan Anderson- Other than Jrue Holiday and Anthony Davis, Anderson is the best asset that the Pelicans can trade and his value has never been higher with averages of 16.7 points and 2.7 3-pointers this season. Teams such as the Pistons, Raptors, Rockets and Kings have been linked to him, but expect more potential destinations to surface this week. Anderson’s value should be fine regardless of where he lands, and his expiring contract will be very easy to move.
Omer Asik- I believe he has the worst contract in the NBA and I have no idea what the Pelicans’ front office was thinking when they signed him to a long-term deal. No other team will want him either and the Pelicans will be stuck with him for a few years.
New York Knicks
Carmelo Anthony- He has a no-trade clause and has firmly denied all the reports that he wants to leave New York, but he made some waves on Saturday when he said he wants to play with a “star.” He has been linked to Cleveland in a three-team deal that would send Kevin Love to Boston, but those were reports were shot down pretty quickly. A trade seems very unlikely, but it would reduce his shut-down risk due to his knee concerns.
Jose Calderon- He’s arguably the worst starting point guard in the NBA right now considering how useless he is on defense. He is under contract through the 2016-17 season, so moving him will be a difficult task for Phil Jackson. Look for Jerian Grant and Langston Galloway to emerge if New York can shed Calderon’s contract.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Kevin Durant- I mentioned this earlier, but I’ll say it again. Durant isn’t going to be traded at the deadline. Yes, the Warriors could be major players for him in free agency, but KD is fully committed to the Thunder for the rest of the season.
Likely untouchable- Westbrook, Durant, Cameron Payne
The Magic are loaded with young talent, but several reports have suggested that they are willing to move one or two pieces in order to acquire a talented veteran to help them take the next step as a club.
Tobias Harris- The Magic signed him to a massive contract this offseason, but that hasn’t stopped the trade rumors. The Magic may already have their small forward of the future in Mario Hezonja, so they will listen to offers for Harris even though he isn’t technically on the block. Obviously, Hezonja will benefit the most if Harris is traded and Aaron Gordon’s role would be even more secure.
Channing Frye- He has a terrible contract, but stretch fours are still in hot demand around the league and it helps that the salary cap is expanding. He isn’t a consistent part of the rotation, so a move away from Orlando wouldn’t have many fantasy implications.
Victor Oladipo- There was a report that suggested the Hawks would give up Jeff Teague for Oladipo, but to be clear, there’s no way that the Magic would go for that. Oladipo has way more long-term potential and Elfrid Payton still has a bright future in Orlando, so don’t expect those talks to progress.
Likely untouchable- Oladipo, Payton, Hezonja, Gordon, Nikola Vucevic
They are tanking again this season and they aren’t trying to hide it. For the first time in a while, they actually might be pretty quiet at the deadline.
Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor- They are not a great fit next to each other in the frontcourt, but the 76ers probably won’t make a deal until they see how Joel Embiid (foot) does next season (assuming he’s healthy enough to play). They may have to decide between Noel and Okafor at some point next season, though.
The season-ending injury to Eric Bledsoe (knee) has forced them to rebuild, so they will be sellers at the deadline.
Tyson Chandler- He’s on the first year of a four-year, $52 million deal, and considering how poor he has been this season, the Suns won’t get much in return. Alex Len is going to be unleashed regardless of whether or not Chandler is moved, so he is an excellent stash.
P.J. Tucker- He’s a physical defender who can hit the 3-point shot with regularity, so it’s not surprising that he has been linked to teams such as Cleveland and Toronto. The Suns believe that they can get a first-round pick in return, but his contract for the 2016-17 isn’t guaranteed.
Markieff Morris- He has thrown a towel at his former coach and has put his hands around a teammate’s neck on national television, but Phoenix has been ready to move on from Morris for a while now. The only question is whether or not another NBA team will want to take a chance on him. If he isn’t traded, a buyout could be in the works.
Portland Trail Blazers
This was supposed to be a rebuilding season, yet the Blazers are right in the middle of the playoff hunt due to some incredible play by Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. It should be a pretty quiet deadline for the Blazers.
Meyers Leonard- He will be a restricted free agent this summer, but the Blazers may not be able to meet his contract demands considering he hasn’t beat out Noah Vonleh or Moe Harkless for the starting PF role. He’s been inconsistent all season, but he hasn’t been mentioned in any notable trade rumors which means he’s not a great stash.
Likely untouchable- Lillard, McCollum, Crabbe, Mason Plumlee
San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs continue to be one of the best run teams in professional sports and this season has been no different. I can’t remember the last time I heard a rumor out of San Antonio and they probably don’t want to mess up their chemistry, so this should be a very quiet deadline for the Spurs.
After the Kings went on a five-game winning streak in the middle of January, they have gone just 2-8 since then and are quickly falling out of the playoff race. Coach George Karl may not last much longer and the Kings may decide to blow up their roster at the deadline.
DeMarcus Cousins- Every season we hear the same rumors about how Cousins is unhappy in Sacramento and that he is on the trade block, but it’s simply not true. The Kings are not shopping the All-Star big man and this has been Cousins’ best season yet, so take those reports with a grain of salt. It would take a massive offer for the Kings to even consider a move.
Rajon Rondo- He has looked great in Sacramento, but keep in mind that the Kings only signed him to a one-year deal. If they decide to go in another direction, Darren Collison would take over as the starting PG. To be clear, trade talk surrounding Rondo has been very quiet and a deal seems highly unlikely.
Rudy Gay- The Kings reportedly tried to deal Gay to the Pelicans in exchange for Ryan Anderson, but New Orleans didn’t bite. If the Kings want to rebuild, Gay will likely be the first big name to leave Sacramento
Omri Casspi- Teams such as Miami would love to add a shooter like Casspi, but the Kings should hold onto him unless they get a sweet deal since his contract is an absolute bargain.
Ben McLemore- He has been linked to Cleveland and other teams in the East, and it wouldn’t be a bad idea for him to push for a trade considering he hasn’t shown a lot of improvement during his brief time in Sacramento. He’s not a great stash, though.
Likely untouchable- Cousins, Willie Cauley-Stein, Darren Collision
They are one or two pieces away from becoming a serious threat to Cleveland, and the most glaring weakness on their roster is power forward. They’re not going to get very far with Luis Scola as the starter, so acquiring a stretch four makes too much sense. Expect them to pursue players such as Thaddeus Young or Ryan Anderson, while Kenneth Faried, P.J. Tucker and Markieff Morris have also been linked to Toronto.
They’re determined to get into the playoffs this season and have played admirably despite dealing with several key injuries. They could use an upgrade over Raul Neto and Trey Burke at PG, but the only prominent name that has been linked to Utah is Jeff Teague. They’re still high on Dante Exum (knee) who will be ready to go for next season, so that may prevent them from going after Teague. This should be a quiet deadline for the Jazz.
The Wizards still have plenty of time to make a push for the playoffs, but they really need to consider adding some depth to their frontcourt at the deadline. Nene, Drew Gooden and Kris Humphries aren’t going to get the job done and they’re too prone to injuries anyways.
Jared Dudley- The veteran was coming off back surgery in the offseason, but he’s playing some of the best ball of his career as the Wizards’ stretch four and he has even captured the eye of Cleveland. Any move away from Washington would be bad news for his value, so his owners shouldn’t be hoping for a trade.