The Brooklyn Nets tipped-off the trade season with the biggest roster move of our times, acquiring 3x Scoring Champ James Harden to join two bonafide NBA champions in Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. The move has brought them tremendous success as the Nets have been ascending to the top of the Eastern Conference.
Meanwhile, teams like the Boston Celtics and more recently the LA Lakers are facing some turbulence and could be on the verge of inking a deal before the NBA Trade Deadline blows past them.
In this piece, we will take a look at five teams in desperate need of making some roster moves that can turn the tides back in their favor.
5 teams that need to make a move before the NBA Trade Deadline
The days leading up to the 2021 NBA Trade Deadline are looking primed to showcase some big moves with the season reaching the halfway mark. It's a busy time in the NBA as several executives in the front office dial numbers of possible trade partners.
While some names are apparent, like Andre Drummond of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Blake Griffin of the Detroit Pistons, other NBA players are being shopped around secretly. Kristaps Porzingis is one such name that has found its way to the NBA trade block, sending the rumor mill into overdrive.
On that note, let’s take a look at five teams that could make a big move before the 2021 NBA trade deadline:
#1 Boston Celtics
The Boston Celtics opened the season with a bang, registering an 11-8 start that saw them competing for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. Fast Forward to February and the C's have slumped their way out of the top eight teams, currently holding a 15-17 record that has placed them on the 9th spot in the East behind the resurgent Miami Heat.
Danny Ainge may be cooking up a deal that helps the legendary ball club get back on the winning track. The Celtics All-Star duo of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown is playing the game at a high level but the team continues to suffer in the frontcourt with Daniel Theis and Tristan Thompson failing to make an impact on a nightly basis.
The Celtics have a $28.5 million traded player exception that could come into play but it's unclear if they can land some big names like Kristaps Porzingis or Andre Drummond. With their season spiraling out of control, the Boston Celtics remain one of the prime candidates to move pieces around before the 2021 NBA Trade Deadline.
NBA Trade Deadline candidates for the Boston Celtics: Blake Griffin, Nemanja Bjelica, PJ Tucker, Harrison Barnes, Al Horford
#2 LA Lakers
The LA Lakers are a surprising addition to this list as the defending champs had been cruising up until Anthony Davis got sidelined due to injury. Now, the LA Lakers find themselves in deep trouble, losing four straight games while conceding the 2nd spot in the West to their cross-town rivals, the LA Clippers.
The Lakers' need of the hour seems to be generating offense consistently. Outside of LeBron James, no other player has been able to step in Davis's shoes and help shoulder the team in his absence. While the team is in desperate need of adding more talent, their hands may be tied as the Purple and Gold do not possess the draft capital to make a significant move as of now.
However, the league has witnessed many trade moves executed over the years that did not seem feasible before the deal went through. Even the James Harden trade was not in the realm of possible scenarios, until the motivation propelled the participants and a route was determined via four teams agreeing to be part of the blockbuster deal.
NBA Trade Deadline candidates for the LA Lakers: DeMarcus Cousins, PJ Tucker, JJ Redick, Reggie Bullock, Alec Burks, Ed Davis
#3 Denver Nuggets
The Denver Nuggets possess one of the top trade assets in Michael Porter Jr. but it remains to be seen if they will be ready to part ways with their potential All-Star caliber player. From the looks of it, the Nuggets probably won't include Porter in any trade scenario where the returns aren't vastly set in their favor.
Nevertheless, the team has been struggling this season and has not appeared anywhere close to beating a healthy Lakers side and the new-look Clippers for that matter. The rumors around Bradley Beal have been put to an end with the 2021 All-Star starter making it clear that he does not want to be traded away from the Wizards.
The Nuggets front office's strategy to wait it out may appear to be the right call for the time being but they certainly won't stand a chance against the super teams on the rise this season. With their championship window undetermined, the team may pull the trigger for a big change sooner rather than later. Jokic remains the centerpiece around who they will continue to build a championship-caliber team around.
NBA Trade Deadline candidates for the Denver Nuggets: Kyle Lowry, Cory Joseph, Aaron Gordon, and Robin Lopez.
#4 New Orleans Pelicans
Are the New Orleans Pelicans a legitimate playoff contender? Probably not, however, the team does possess the talent to take the leap in the coming seasons. It is not clear at this time if they will be the buyers or sellers before the NBA Trade Deadline but one thing is for sure — they need to shake things up or risk being irrelevant in a stacked Western Conference. The Pelicans have been disappointing so far, currently occupying the 11th spot behind the Grizzlies.
The Pelicans boast of two All-Star players in Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram but continue to lack consistency. The team has shown their impressive abilities on the offensive end of the hardwood but have struggled mightily on the other end.
The rumor mill has placed JJ Redick on the trading block with several teams getting linked with the sharpshooter. Reddick could be an ideal fit with the Celtics as they can absorb his salary with the trade exception but he probably won't serve a genuine purpose there. Reddick could eventually find his way to a top contender with the NBA Trade Deadline on the horizon.
NBA Trade Deadline candidates for the New Orleans Pelicans: Norman Powell, P.J. Tucker, Justin Holiday.
#5 Dallas Mavericks
The Dallas Mavericks could be on the verge of a blockbuster deal. While Mark Cuban has publicly denied reports of them shopping around for Kristaps Porzingis, league insiders have sniffed out their efforts to part ways with the 7'3 power forward out of Latvia. The reason behind this move is clear - the team has not been consistent and has been falling in and out of the playoff picture this season.
Porzingis is a premier talent in the NBA but has some worrying issues with durability. He is missing more games with every new season and this has witnessed a fall in his stock. Now, who could take Dallas up on their offer remains to be seen, but this has certainly been an interesting development ahead of the 2021 NBA Trade Deadline. The rumor mill has so far linked his name with the Golden State Warriors and the Washington Wizards.
However, the Mavs' front office could have different plans altogether. One where they opt for a low-yield trade bomb that only scrapes around the edges, keeping the core intact. In this eventuality, the team will be praying for their young talent to grow into high-impact players who can win on a consistent basis.
NBA Trade Deadline candidates for the Dallas Mavericks: Buddy Hield, LaMarcus Aldridge, Patty Mills