By: Robert Bishop
Back again, and with the NBA’s trade deadline looming on Thursday, rumors are swirling as contenders look to add pieces for the stretch run. The deadline for deals is 3 P.M. EST tomorrow, and there will likely be a flurry of activity between now and then.
After weeks of speculation, there appears to be movement on the trade front for the Toronto Raptors. Veteran point guard Kyle Lowry seems to be a lock to be dealt before the deadline, with Philadelphia and Miami both making offers for his services. The Raptors are rumored to be seeking a massive haul in return for Lowry—including second-year sharp-shooter Tyler Herro in talks with the Heat. However, as the deadline nears, the Raptors will likely come down on their demands to facilitate a trade.
Toronto’s shopping of Norman Powell has also increased, with the soon-to-be restricted free agent likely moving to the top of many contenders’ shopping lists. Powell has emerged as a viable go-to scoring threat this season, and there isn’t a team in the NBA that wouldn’t benefit from his play on the wing. Lowry will likely bring back the biggest return to the rebuilding Raptors, but Powell could prove to be the biggest difference-maker dealt by Toronto this trade season.
Denver and Boston appear to be in a bidding war for the services of Magic forward Aaron Gordon. On Tuesday afternoon, reports suggested Gordon and guard Evan Fournier were Boston bound in a trade, but the Nuggets have entered the Gordon sweepstakes. Denver has a wealth of valuable assets to offer in a deal. At the same time, Boston’s biggest selling point is a sizeable trade exception that would negate the need for expensive contracts to be heading back to Orlando in a deal. It remains unclear how the Gordon trade market will shake out, but it is abundantly clear how it is shaping up, and a deal appears to be a near certainty.
In a bit of a surprise development, the Chicago Bulls are rumored to be listening to offers on big man Lauri Markkanen. Chicago sits in prime position for either the play-in tournament or a top-eight spot in the East, making a deal surrounding Markkanen for future assets a curious one. It seems to be increasingly evident Chicago lacks confidence in Markkanen’s ability to stay healthy and reach stardom. The Bulls are likely looking to maximize his value before he hits restricted free agency this summer.
Two players likely to hit the buyout market seem to have their ultimate destinations in place as center Andre Drummond and LaMarcus Aldridge look to find new homes in the coming days. Drummond was sent home by the Cavaliers weeks ago as the franchise sought a trade, and now it seems he will be bought out to hit free agency. The same is true for Aldridge with the Spurs. Drummond seems poised to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers, a massive upgrade to the team’s frontcourt that is likely a best-case scenario for the reeling defending champions.
Aldridge is reportedly looking to head to the Heat, and again, it’s a best-case scenario for both parties as he fills an obvious need. Miami’s biggest weakness has been a lack of consistent frontcourt production alongside Bam Adebayo. Aldridge, though far removed from his All-NBA caliber peak, can handle that role with ease. The Heat have been a relative disappointment this season following last season’s trip to the NBA Finals, but Miami has a chance to revamp its roster and its championship hopes during the coming days.
Lastly, Houston’s epic losing streak may have ended on Monday night, but the Rockets remain committed to selling off its assets before Thursday. Though the market for Victor Oladipo has not materialized as Houston hoped, the Rockets are intent on trading the veteran guard. Oladipo has yet to rediscover his pre-injury form. Still, he is a capable, albeit maddeningly inefficient, scorer that should net a late first-round pick in a deal for the Rockets. It’s unclear which teams will be making offers for Oladipo, but it would be a shock for him to still be with Houston come Thursday night.