Sunday, February 25, 2024
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NBA trade rumors: Lakers set stipulation in star search, PJ Washington drawing interest from West contenders

It’s officially NBA trade deadline week, which means between now and Thursday there will surely be an overflowing amount of rumors flooding the market. Still, we’ll just have to see how many of them actually reach the status of full-blown trade. Some big names who were expected to be moved before the deadline are already in their new homes, as Pascal Siakam (Pacers), OG Anunoby (Knicks) and Terry Rozier (Heat) have all been swapped to other teams. 

But that still leaves many players who have been rumored to be on the move, like Dejounte Murray, waiting to see if they’ll be joining a new team after Feb. 8. One big name that’s almost certain to remain on his current team is Zach LaVine, as the Bulls announced on Saturday that the All-Star guard is electing to have season-ending foot surgery, which will effectively pull him out of any meaningful trade talks. That certainly changes how the Bulls will approach Thursday, as well as the offseason this summer.

As we get closer to Feb. 8, here’s all the latest chatter circulating the league:

Lakers only want All-NBA level talent 

L.A. has had a disappointing season so far, despite winning the inaugural In-Season Tournament back in December. The Lakers currently sit ninth in the Western Conference, and while a top-six spot is still very much in play with a little more than 30 games left on the schedule, nothing the Lakers have done to date suggests they’ll climb up the standings in a significant way. So, per usual, Lakers fans are wondering if this team will make any drastic changes at the deadline, and while L.A. has been long attached to Hawks guard Dejounte Murray, that thinking might be shifting as we near the deadline. 

According to ESPN, the Lakers won’t be pursuing a third max-money player to pair with LeBron James and Anthony Davis, unless they are an All-NBA-level player. When you run up and down the list of available players, there isn’t anyone who fits that bill, including Murray, so it raises the question of what are the Lakers planning on doing before Thursday. They only have one tradable first-round pick to play with right now, so any chase for All-NBA level talent would require a lot more than what the Lakers are capable of offering. Perhaps L.A. will try to improve on the fringes at the deadline and hope James and Davis can deliver another spirited Western Conference Finals run before they have more draft capital available to them in the offseason.

Mavericks, Bucks have discussed a Grant Williams, Bobby Portis swap

The Mavericks and the Bucks are reportedly having exploratory talks about a trade that would swap Grant Williams and Bobby Portis, per Marc Stein. On paper, I could understand why both teams would want to make this move, Portis shores up Dallas’ thin frontcourt, and his floor spacing ensures he’s not clogging up the paint for the likes of Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving who love getting to the rim. For Milwaukee, as Stein mentioned, Williams is a smaller but more versatile defender who can guard on the wing or down low in small ball rotations. But there’s also weaknesses regarding both players that make this potential deal feel like it wouldn’t move the needle much. 

Dallas may need help in the frontcourt, but they need it from a defensive perspective, an area that isn’t Portis’ strong suit. If you need further evidence, just look at Milwaukee’s second-round playoff matchup against the Nets from 2021 and you’ll see Brooklyn played him off the court. If you’re Dallas, trading for a guy who has been pushed out of the rotation in the postseason isn’t ideal at this moment, especially when you have glaring issues to fix. And for the Bucks, while Williams is a more versatile defender than Portis, he’s having a down year on the offensive side of the ball. Sure, his counting stats show that he’s averaging 8.1 points on 37.3% from 3-point range, but those numbers are inflated due to his strong first two weeks of the season. If you take out the first two weeks of the season, Williams is actually shooting the ball rather poorly from beyond the arc, at just 31.5% on over four attempts a game. He’s also been moved in and out of the starting lineup because his impact on both ends of the floor just weren’t enough to warrant a starting spot, while guys like Derrick Jones Jr. and Dante Exum jumped ahead of him in the depth chart.

Clippers, Mavericks interested in PJ Washington

The Hornets have already made one trade by dealing Rozier to the Heat, and they may be one of the only teams in the league who are legitimate sellers right now. Other teams are sensing that, and Stein is reporting that the Mavericks and Clippers are interested in forward PJ Washington. If a deal were to get done with Dallas, Stein reports that Charlotte would be interested in obtaining Josh Green in the deal, someone who the Mavericks have been reluctant to deal in the past. However, Green hasn’t taken the leap Dallas hoped he would, and despite his promise as a solid defender, he hasn’t been as impactful on a consistent basis. While Washington wouldn’t provide any lockdown defense for Dallas, he is a solid defender and is bigger than Green at 6-foot-7, making him capable of playing both power forward and at center in small ball rotations. His 3-point shooting has taken a dive this season — shooting just 33.3%, down from 36.6% over the last four years, but he would get great looks with Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving dishing him the ball.

For the Clippers, Washington would slot in nicely into an already solid rotation for L.A. His 3-point shooting would give James Harden another weapon to kick it out to when he’s driving to the hoop, and, again, he’s a versatile defender who can shine in his role. He wouldn’t be asked to do nearly as much in L.A. as he likely would be in Dallas, given the Mavericks’ poor defense and lack of consistent role players. If both teams are serious about obtaining him, it may just come down to who has better assets to offer.

Pistons still eyeing Tobias Harris

Detroit was previously interested in acquiring LaVine from the Bulls, but after it was announced that he was headed for season-ending surgery its focus has apparently now shifted to Harris, per The Athletic’s James Edwards III. However, with Harris being in the final year of his contract, the Pistons may consider waiting until the offseason to sign the 76ers forward when he’s an unrestricted free agent, per Edwards. Harris would provide the Pistons with a veteran presence, and if Detroit parts with Bojan Bogdanovic at the deadline, who Edwards says is garnering strong interest around the league, Harris could fill that small forward position either now, or this summer, if the Pistons try to sign him.

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