NBA Trade Deadline: 4 Deals That Still Need to Happen

Dan Mennella
February 05, 2020 - 7:04 pm
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After weeks of starts and fits, the NBA trade market erupted with a major blockbuster on Tuesday. The four-team swap involving the Rockets, Hawks, Wolves and Nuggets sent stud center Clint Capela to Atlanta, with underrated and highly coveted wing Robert Covington going to Houston.

The deal involved teams on every rung of the NBA standings, motivated by a range of factors.

For the Rockets, it signifies a full embrace of a new on-court strategy. They are said to have dealt away Capela, the prototype old-school center, to play more small-ball lineups in which Covington's length is essential. The Hawks, meanwhile, get better this season and beyond, and have given Trae Young a new weapon to aid in his development. Plus, they have some insurance in case they move on from John Collins.

The playoff-bound Nuggets essentially collected a first-round pick (Houston's) and back-end rotation depth in Shabazz Napier and Keita Bates-Diop for impending free agents Malik Beasley and Juancho Hernangomez. The retooling Wolves turned Covington into a first-round pick (from Brooklyn via Atlanta, currently projected at No. 16) and Evan Turner's $18M expiring deal, and according to many reports they may not be done yet.

All of which is to say: big trades can still happen, and for a variety of reasons! Here's four major deals we'd like to see before Thursday's deadline:

D'Angelo Russell
D'Angelo Russell is linked to the Timberwolves and Knicks in recent trade reports. Photo credit Getty Images

New York Knicks acquire D'Angelo Russell, Los Angeles Clippers acquire Marcus Morris in three-team deal

New York Knicks acquire: D'Angelo Russell, Patrick Patterson
Clippers acquire: Marcus Morris, Frank Ntilikina
Warriors acquire: Knicks' 2020 first-round pick, Clippers' 2020 first-round pick, Maurice Harkless, JaMychal Green, Dennis Smith Jr

Russell is arguably the hottest name surfacing in reports ahead of the deadline. The Warriors are under no pressure to deal him, having just signed the 23-year-old to a four-year max contract last summer, and are said to be proceeding accordingly, reportedly holding out for two unprotected first-round draft picks in 2021, when the draft class looks deeper.

Assuming those reports are accurate, it's hard to see a deal here without roping in a third team. Enter the Knicks, who are reportedly pursuing Russell. New York is barreling toward the lottery yet again, and has a prized trade chip on the books in Marcus Morris, who is enjoying a career year.

In this swap, the Dubs flip Russell to the Knicks and recoup first-round draft picks from New York and the Clippers, which as of now project to be Nos. 4 and 27. It's no small price for the Knicks to pay, but this year's draft is looking weak, and Russell has developed into a borderline All-Star and is locked up for three more years. Golden State would also take back Maurice Harkless' $11M expiring deal, as well as JaMychal Green and Dennis Smith Jr. Los Angeles lands its man in Morris, whom it reportedly pursued in free agency last summer, as well as backcourt defensive specialist Frank Ntilikina, for its postseason push.

Derrick Rose
Derrick Rose has recaptured his old form in his first year in Detroit. Photo credit Getty Images

Philadelphia 76ers acquire Derrick Rose for Matisse Thybulle and Trey Burke

The 76ers have disappointed this year, even after spending big on Tobias Harris and Al Horford to round out one of the better starting fives in the league, at least on paper.

The problem is apparent, and the fix might be too. Philly's offense lacks a traditional point guard and three-point shooting. Derrick Rose is neither of those, exactly, but he would give the Sixers a viable second ballhandler and an instant-offense option off the bench if they chose to deploy him in that manner (which they should). He's also playing on a team-friendly two-year deal, which makes him more than just a second-half rental.

The Sixers covet length and defense in their perimeter players, both of which Thybulle has in spades. His offensive game is almost nonexistent, though, so he's going to need to be coached up. Philly doesn't have the luxury of waiting for him to learn on the job, since it's a win-now team. The Pistons need talented young players, so three years of team control and a chance to develop Thybulle is a nice return for Rose. Burke comes along to make the money work, and he's actually played well in his limited opportunities with the Sixers this year.

Kyle Kuzma
The New York Knicks are also reportedly interested in Kyle Kuzma Photo credit Getty Images

Los Angeles Lakers acquire Thaddeus Young for Kyle Kuzma

The Lakers are obviously in win-now mode, and it appears Kuzma might not fit into those plans. The young combo forward is offensive-minded and needs high usage to contribute, which is not a great fit around Anthony Davis and LeBron James.

Young, though, is a versatile role player who can contribute on both ends. He lost minutes earlier this season after a terrible start, but has played well over the past month or so while seeing an uptick in minutes due to a rash of injuries. The Bulls were planning on contending when they signed him to a three-year deal in the summer, but instead they're on the fringes of the race in the dreadful Eastern Conference. Meanwhile, teams have reportedly been checking in on Young's availability.

Young and Kuzma are probably close to a wash as players; this deal gets them to teams where their skills can be put to better use. To make the money work, the Lakers also include Quinn Cook, who has fallen behind Alex Caruso on the depth chart, and DeMarcus Cousins, who is injured and out for the year.

Andre Iguodala
Andre Iguodala celebrates after sinking a three-point shot in the Finals Photo credit Getty Images

Dallas Mavericks acquire Andre Iguodala for Courtney Lee and a 2020 second-rounder

We're cheating here, as this deal is reportedly a standing offer from Dallas.

Iguodala has refused to play for the Grizzlies after they acquired his $17M expiring contract from the Dubs last summer, but has said he is willing to return to the right situation. Many teams would be happy to have his deal on the books, and some might even welcome his contributions on the floor.

The Mavs are one such team. They are headed to the playoffs, and appear content to make tweaks at the periphery of the roster, though owner Mark Cuban is always a wild card. Iguodala averaged 30 minutes in 21 postseason games with the Warriors last year, playing especially well in the first two rounds. He's versatile, playoff-tested, and apparently can be had at the price of Courtney Lee's expiring deal and a second-round pick. Now with a half-season of rest under his belt, he could make a bigger impact down the stretch and in the playoffs than some think. From Memphis' perspective, they may as well get something in return for Iggy.