The NBA trade deadline is almost upon us.
On Feb. 23, we can expect several names -- some All-Star caliber and some not so much -- to change cities and uniforms. With plenty of big names potentially on the block, the Cleveland Cavaliers, Boston Celtics, Washington Wizards and other contenders in the East can solve roster issues.
In the Western Conference, the Oklahoma City Thunder and Los Angeles Clippers might be looking to bolster their depth before the postseason arrives to take a run at the Golden State Warriors.
On Tuesday, the Toronto Raptors acquired Serge Ibaka from the Orlando Magic in exchange for Terrence Ross and a first round Draft pick. This might just be the catalyst for more activity over the next week as teams start to fortify their rosters, while rebuilding teams look to get the most from their assets.
Here are 10 potential trades that we'd like to see. A few could signficantly change the landscape of the league, while others might seem like minor moves -- in either case, they could pay off huge for all involved.
We used ESPN's NBA Trade Machine to help us match up the assets. Now, let's play GM.
Carmelo Anthony to the Los Angeles Clippers, Kevin Love to the New York Knicks, Blake Griffin to the Cleveland Cavaliers
A blockbuster three-way trade like this is probably more realistic during the offseason, especially since the Cavs and Clippers are both preparing to make deep playoff runs. But: LeBron James has been (not so) quietly imploring the Cavs' front office to upgrade the roster for weeks, even though LeBron vehemently denied a report last week that he has been pushing for a Carmelo Anthony-for-Kevin Love deal.
This trade would move Love to New York and allow the Knicks to acquire a top-tier talent while moving on from Anthony. The Cavs would acquire Blake Griffin, who has a player option and can become a free agent this summer, and it moves Anthony to the Clippers where he can make a playoff run with pal Chris Paul. Love's knee injury complicates things a bit (he'll be out for at least six weeks), but that might be enough to motivate Cleveland.
The Celtics land another star player by trading for Jimmy Butler
General manager Danny Ainge has spent the past few seasons scouring for ways to acquire a superstar, and while he does have Isaiah Thomas and Al Horford, there is still plenty of depth on Boston's roster to make another blockbuster move. The Jimmy Butler-to-Boston trade rumors have been floating around for awhile now, and especially given all the turmoil and uncertainty in Chicago at the moment, the trade deadline might be when these two teams finally come together and make this deal.
The Bulls will likely ask for rookie Jaylen Brown and definitely ask for the two Brooklyn first-round Draft picks that the Celtics own this year (they have the right to swap picks with the Nets) and next year (when they outright own Brooklyn's pick). Any package of young talent and picks might make Chicago part with their superstar and start their own overhaul.
The New Orleans Pelicans acquire Brook Lopez
The general consensus around the league is that the Nets have been holding out on trading their star center unless they can get two first round picks. The asking price is pretty high, and general manager Sean Marks might need to lower his expectations if he is looking to move Lopez. The New Orleans Pelicans own their first-round Draft picks for the next three seasons and are in position to give one of them up, but probably not more than that. They're also looking to shore up their talent around Anthony Davis. Lopez is an intriguing option to pair next to The Brown. Depending on whether the Nets come down on their demands, this could be a trade that works for both sides.
The Kings acquire Goran Dragic to bolster the point guard position
A recent 13-game win streak propelled the Miami Heat back into the playoff race. But Pat Riley has always been a big picture guy, and one glance at his roster will tell you that this is not a team that's anywhere close to sustaining that level of success for the remainder of the season. So, if you don't part with Hassan Whiteside, point guard Dragic figures to be the player most likely to be traded in Miami. In Sacramento, the Kings are simply looking to add talent for what looks like another futile chase for a playoff berth, although Dragic is on a long-term deal and would fill the Kings' point guard position which has been in flux for several years. In the meantime, Riley could start his rebuild by acquiring young, cheap talent as he waits to execute his next gambit in free agency.
The Thunder get help for Russell Westbrook by adding Danilo Gallinari
The Thunder are in a tough spot in that Westbrook has proven he is enough to carry the team to a playoff berth, but Oklahoma City is also nowhere close to contending for a championship after the departure of Kevin Durant. The challenge for Sam Presti is to re-tool on the fly and find available talent in the trade market. Gallinari has a $16.1 million player option for next season that he might decline to pursue a long-term deal. It's a risky proposition for the Thunder to give up anything for a short-term rental, especially since there's no one player out there who will propel them into the championship conversation this season. But, if the Nuggets comply with a low asking price for a player they're about to see leave via free agency, Presti might take a flyer and see if Gallinari is a fit alongside Westbrook.
The 76ers clear up their big man rotation and move Jahlil Okafor to Chicago
Okafor's time in Philadelphia is almost up. He did not travel with the team this weekend as the Sixers work to clear up their logjam at the center position by dealing away the third overall pick in last year's Draft. As noted above, if the Bulls are looking to move in another direction and start a rebuild, acquiring the Chicago native would be a start. The 76ers could use this opportunity to acquire two intriguing young players to their mix in Denzel Valentine and Bobby Portis.
The Rockets add some defense on the wing by trading for Thabo Sefolosha
The Rockets have risen in the West thanks to Mike D'Antoni's high-powered offense led by James Harden at point guard. GM Daryl Morey has said that he is comfortable and happy with the chemistry of his current roster, but that doesn't mean he can't tinker on the fringes in hopes that perhaps Houston is the team that can challenge Golden State in the playoffs. In any case, a deal like this would give D'Antoni a defensive wing option in the playoffs against the likes of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, and also give Houston another shooter on the floor next to Harden.
The Wizards add depth for a potential playoff run by acquiring Deron Williams and Andrew Bogut
Don't look now, but the Wizards -- at 33-21 and third in the East -- might be the team no one wants to face in the playoffs. Given their recent run, Washington will likely be buyers at the trade deadline. The Mavericks might be a perfect partner for them since they're going to miss the playoffs this season and have veteran players who can be of help to a team like the Wizards looking to bolster themselves for a playoff run. With the recent emergence of Yogi Ferrell in Dallas and the uncertainty as to any long-term fit for Andrew Bogut in Dallas, Bogut and Williams might be on their way to a playoff contender at the trade deadline.
The Suns move on from Brandon Knight, the 76ers continue to stockpile talent
Knight has been coming off the bench and is averaging just 11.0 points and 2.4 assists this season in Phoenix. The Suns might not have room in their rotation for Knight moving forward, so a trade might make sense, and the 76ers could be a logical destination here, especially if Phoenix is interested in taking back Nerlens Noel for their front court.
The Thunder also add some bench scoring by acquiring Lou Williams
One more deal for the Thunder ... if they are serious about upgrading their talent. Adding Williams would give their second unit a significant boost. Williams is averaging 18.4 points in Los Angeles this season, but the Lakers are focused on developing their young core, which means they would be okay with parting ways with the potential Sixth Man of the Year to clear up minutes.