An impending FA and a possible title puzzle piece for many teams, Josh Smith is one to watch at the deal deadline.
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NBA teams have until Thursday at 3pm ET to make trades this season. Whether they're contending, rebuilding or just trying to get something back for an impending free agent or disgruntled star, which teams might be making moves? And which players might be moving? A primer…
FIVE PLAYERS WHO MAY MOVE
1. Josh Smith
, F, Hawks. Set for unrestricted free agency this summer, Smith is a highly-paid superstar whose career in Atlanta has been both impressive and turbulent. The fact the Hawks could lose their top player for nothing in free agency is a big factor in them trying to get something for him before Thursday's deadline.
2. Monta Ellis
, SG/PF, Bucks. Ellis can opt out of his current deal this summer, which would leave Milwaukee with no compensation for their second-highest scorer. At 27 he's firmly in his prime, so Ellis should be a popular target for several teams. Don't be surprised if Milwaukee moves him.
3. Paul Millsap
, F, Jazz, and / or Al Jefferson
, C, Jazz. Both Millsap and Jefferson are star big men poised to hit the unrestricted free agent market when this season ends, and Utah has the luxury of two quality young players set to replace them (in PF Derrick Favors
and C Enes Kanter
). Moreover, the Jazz needs a future point guard and another quality swingman, so a deal seems likely.
4. J.J. Redick
, SG/PG, Magic. Arguably Orlando's top player this season, Redick has added more of a point guard skill-set to his game this season and, like the others on this list, is an impending unrestricted free agent. The Magic is rebuilding so moving Redick makes perfect sense for Orlando.
5. Ben Gordon
, SG/PG, Bobcats. Gordon can opt out of his current deal with Charlotte after this season and the team has several other good (and younger) guards, so moving their highest-paid player makes financial sense for the still-not-competitive Bobcats.
Other possible player movers to keep an eye on: J.J. Hickson
, C, Trail Blazers; Andrea Bargnani
, PF, Raptors; Eric Maynor
, PG, Thunder; Mo Williams
, PG, Jazz; Trevor Ariza
, SF, Wizards.
FIVE TEAMS THAT MAY MAKE MOVES
1. Utah Jazz. The simple fact of having two stars Al Jefferson
and Paul Millsap
) ready to hit unrestricted free agency makes Utah an obvious trader. They also have a strong need for more backcourt depth, and moving disgruntled vet Raja Bell
is a long-standing issue needing resolution.
2. Milwaukee Bucks. Besides Monta Ellis
being an obvious trade target, Milwaukee must figure out what to do with pending restricted free agent (and fellow star) Brandon Jennings
. Furthermore, the Bucks have a glut of veteran big men who might be valuable to other teams.
3. Brooklyn Nets. The Nets are regularly mentioned in trade rumors and their owner, Mikhail Prokhorov, seems intent on building a winner as quickly as possible. The team's issues at power forward make them a natural fit for one of the several big men expected to be available.
4. Phoenix Suns. The Suns have multiple good (if not stellar) players at every position but not much has worked for them this season. That suggests they might move a handful of those players for a more dependable (and top-tier) option.
5. Dallas Mavericks. Much like the Nets, the Mavs have a billionaire owner (Mark Cuban) who appears focused on doing what it takes to contend this year. Dallas has underachieved, so a shakeup wouldn't be at all surprising.
Other possible team movers to keep an eye on: Boston Celtics; Toronto Raptors; LA Lakers; LA Clippers; Minnesota Timberwolves.