But while a few notable names could move, including Dwight Howard and Al Horford, the bigger question seems to be how many teams are actually going to be willing to make deals. With as many as 12 teams believing they can make the playoffs in the East alone, it’s tough to gauge who will be willing to sell off pieces, while out West teams seem to have the opposite sentiment – the Golden State Warriors and, to a lesser extent, San Antonio Spurs are so good that it isn’t worth selling out to add a piece.
Still, all anyone has to do is look at last year – when it felt like half the point guards in the NBA were traded in the 20 minutes before the deadline – to see that you can never be sure things will be quiet until the dust has settled.
Here are seven names that could be headed elsewhere over the next week, along with some possible destinations for each.
Dwight Howard, Rockets
Possible suitors: Heat, Celtics
There was always the possibility the Rockets would look to move Howard, who will almost certainly opt out of his contract and test free agency this summer. That possibility has seemingly become a reality after The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Thursday that Howard is on the market.
The trouble for the Rockets in trying to gauge Howard’s value is that he’d be a rental – unless a team is willing to pony up big bucks to sign him to a max contract this summer. That’s why Miami would make sense as a potential destination, with the ability to send back Hassan Whiteside – a younger player with upside at the same position as Howard – as the centerpiece of a deal. It also makes sense for Boston, which desperately needs a rim protector and has plenty of picks to spare.
Al Horford, Atlanta Hawks
Possible suitors: Magic, Celtics
Like Howard, Horford is potentially on the block because Atlanta is skittish about paying a big man a max contract that would stretch into his mid-30s – a contract that will cost well over $100 million over the next five years.
Still, Horford has plenty of value as a big man that can both protect the rim and shoot three-pointers, and is also capable of playing both power forward and center. Orlando has also been linked to Horford.
Jeff Teague, Atlanta Hawks
Possible suitors: Magic, Jazz
The possibility that Atlanta might blow up a roster that won 60 games and made the Eastern Conference finals last season began to arise when it became known that the Hawks were willing to move Teague – an all-star a year ago who is on a reasonable contract through next season.
Orlando has been rumored to be interested in both Teague and Horford, as Coach Scott Skiles tries to get some veterans onto a very youthful roster, while the Jazz have a glaring deficiency at point guard and Teague would provide a massive upgrade.
Greg Monroe, Milwaukee Bucks
Possible suitors: Unclear
A few short months ago, signing Monroe was seen as a signature moment in Milwaukee – the time the Bucks went up against the Knicks and Lakers, among others, and landed a big-name free agent. But after a dreadful season that’s fallen short of their internal aspirations, the Bucks appear to be willing to move on from the Georgetown product.
The interesting thing, though, is that it’s unclear what the market for Monroe will be. While he is still a talented low-post scorer and rebounder, averaging 16.8 points and 9.7 rebounds for the Bucks, he’s a liability on defense in ways that are tough for teams to cover up these days – specifically being around 7-feet tall and failing to be both a rim protector and someone capable of defending in the pick-and-roll.
Markieff Morris, Suns
Possible suitors: Cavaliers, Raptors, Pistons
The player who has been most likely to be traded since last summer, when he publicly demanded to be moved, still remains in Phoenix, where he’s been the poster child for a disastrous season for the Suns.
Still, Morris should hold plenty of value on the open market, given that he’s capable of being a stretch four that can also play defense and handle the ball – exactly the kind of player every team in the NBA is seeking. The Cavaliers make sense, as he’s a piece they could use to help bolster their bench, as do the Raptors – who have been searching for an upgrade at power forward for some time – and the Pistons, who just so happened to have traded for Markieff’s twin brother, Marcus, last summer.
Ryan Anderson, Pelicans
Possible suitors: Raptors, Wizards, Pistons
Anderson is another stretch four, and his shooting and offensive rebounding abilities will be highly sought after as the trade deadline approaches.
The Raptors make tons of sense, and given how well they’ve played this season – surging to second in the Eastern Conference, and within hailing distance of the Cavaliers for first – it seems like the right time to strike and add another piece. The Wizards could also use a stretch four, and while Morris comes with some off-court baggage that may leave Washington skittish, Anderson does not.
Then there are the Pistons, who will make a huge run at Anderson this summer – he is a favorite of Coach Stan Van Gundy, who coached him in Orlando – but likely lack the assets they’d be able to move to get him now.
David Lee, Celtics
Possible suitors: whoever makes a trade with Boston
It’s been a strange odyssey for Lee over the past couple of seasons. He went from a guy who averaged over 18 points and nine rebounds two years ago to someone who was barely able to play in Golden State last season, and has found himself in a similar quandary after being shipped to Boston over the summer.
Assuming the Celtics are able to make some kind of trade for a big-name player over the next week, it’s a near certainty that Lee will be going the other way, as his $15.5 million expiring contract is the perfect salary ballast to make a deal for a big-name star come to fruition. It’s not the place many would’ve predicted he’d wind up 24 months ago, but it’s where he is now.