2023 NBA trade deadline: Five teams, including the Clippers and Warriors, are under the most pressure to move.


NBA fans love the smell of the morning trade season, and some cities smell more pungent than others. Teams like the Boston Celtics, Denver Nuggets, and Memphis Grizzlies could see teams heading confidently to the February 9 trade deadline, while others are looking at roster holes like LeBron James eyeing JR Smith.

As such, varying levels of urgency are being applied to each NBA front office. Ahead of the 2023 trade deadline, we decided to take a look at the five franchises that are under the most pressure.

conclusion: Injury-induced underperformance and lack of continuity have created a sense of desperation for a preseason favorite that was undeniably mediocre.

“Hey, when Kawhi Leonard and Paul George are on the court together…” Blah, blah, blah. At this point, the championship contending Clippers exist in a parallel universe alongside hot dog fingers and Raccacoonie. In this universe — and importantly — they are the fourth-worst .500 team in the NBA. Leonard and George have only played 18 games together and are 11-7. It’s not exactly instilling confidence.

The good news is that this roster is perfectly configured for the trade. They offer mid-level salaries that can be used as filler for bigger deals or replaced with more suitable players for similar costs. Nic Batum, Reggie Jackson, Robert Covington, Luke Kennard, Marcus Morris Sr. and Norman Powell are all making $10-16 million, and Jackson’s only contract expiring at the end of this season. The Clippers also have a (finally) first-round pick to hang on to a deal, and given the current state of a team with two aging stars, their 2028 pick could look pretty exciting for a potential partner.

The point guard is the most obvious area ripe for improvement, with Jackson taking a step back this season and the Clippers boasting a minus-6.6 net rating with John Wall on the floor. Wall’s $6.4 million salary could come in handy for trades with potential targets like Utah Jazz veteran Mike Conley and Raptors point guard Fred VanVleet.

This team is built for a championship and was very close two seasons ago, but right now it feels like something needs to happen to shake off the jitters. Leonard is starting to play like he used to, and we don’t know how many seasons he has left, so we wouldn’t want to waste any healthy seasons from him. Clearly, the Clippers have an urgency.

2. Toronto Raptors

conclusion: With several players making an impact and heading towards a deadline they are not confident about, the Raptors may be the right time to sell their work and look to the future.

Toronto was listed as one of the potential possibilities by our Sam Quinn. Sellers who can determine the trading deadline marketThat’s because the team has an abundance of other scarcity commodities: players who can truly make an impact on a rival team’s title chances.

Two-way wing OG Anunoby has been known to complain about his role in the attack and will be directing a significant expansion in the near future. All-Star point guard Fred VanVleet has yet to reach an expansion deal of his own, and will almost certainly opt out of the final year of his contract to go into free agency this offseason if an agreement cannot be reached. Gary Trent Jr., a high-volume 3-point shooter with a career 38 percent, is also likely to turn down his option after this season and enter the free agent market. If you want to think bigger, All-NBA forward Pascal Siakam, whose contract expires after next season, is also available when Masai Ujiri and the front office get an offer they can’t refuse.

The pressure this trade deadline puts on the Raptors revolves around an important decision.

With Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes presumably off the table, organizations must decide which of Anunoby, VanVleet, Trent and Siakam are integral parts of their future. With a record around .500 and no money on the books beyond 2023-24 other than Chris Boucher, the Raptors are legitimate tank/rebuild candidates. All of that work will bring significant assets and the rest of this season will be dedicated to entering the Victor Wembanyama-Scoot Henderson Sweepstakes. A core built around Barnes, a draft pick of the year and a young player he brings in in a trade might not be the worst in the world. Take a look at how the Utah Jazz have stayed relevant despite trading two All-NBA players.

Conversely, the Raptors were actually able to determine this was key to winning and the first half of this season was just a fluke that would soon be corrected. Remember the Boston Celtics were under .500 this time last year. That was before they suddenly became invincible and qualified for the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference and an NBA Finals appearance. Swapping one of Toronto’s pieces for some improvement seems like half the action, but it’s also an option.

The point is, the Raptors need to make a firm decision, and that comes with a lot of pressure.

conclusion: The Warriors’ problems this season can be solved through a trade, but they’ll have to compromise the bridge to the future in the process.

There is no way to avoid it. The defending champions have struggled this season. all recent report The Warriors front office isn’t expected to trade any of the three previous lottery picks – James Wiseman, Jonathan Cuminga and Moses Moody – before the deadline, but always with a “may change” warning. Another quiet deadline appears imminent, considering Wiseman will likely have to be involved in an important deal Golden State is making.

But always — always — Desperation to maximize Stephen Curry’s greatness. The Warriors went from 2nd in defensive effectiveness last season to 14th this year, highlighting the importance of Otto Porter Jr. and Gary Payton II in the championship rotation. Of the three young players, only Kuminga seems ready to make some contribution in a playoff environment and he has even moved up and down. Donte DiVincenzo is a nice addition, but JaMychal Green, who is expected to fill in as a mobile and convertible big man, has so far not unfolded.

Adding a player like Jakob Poeltl as a backup center with size (something the Warriors are sorely lacking unless Wiseman figures things out quickly) is likely to help the defense, but they’ll have to remove Wiseman to match the payroll. Even if they went for big wings like Jalen McDaniels. The Warriors can always stand by and wait for the takeover market, but will someone like Rudy Gay lead you to the top?

Anyone they deal with will likely have to be a lease on an expiring deal, as Golden State doesn’t want to receive a paycheck that adds to its hefty luxury tax bill. Would you like to remove one of the young lotteries for a few months of win-now help?

Most teams will say no, but the Warriors have an aging championship core armed with one of the greatest players of all time at their peak.

conclusion: Luka Doncic is a one-man show, and it seems the time has come to show goodwill to the superstar who transcends generations.

Despite Mark Cuban’s claim He’s “completely wrong” ESPN’s Tim McMahon reported earlier this month that Luka Doncic had “strongly indicated” that he wanted the Mavericks to upgrade their roster before the trade deadline. There’s intense pressure to do your duty when the 23-year-old MVP candidate frowns at needing more help. And can you really blame him?

Doncic is playing at historic levels, but the Mavs have hovered around .500 for most of the season as they lost his running mate Jalen Brunson to the New York Knicks this offseason. Dallas didn’t offer Brunson a reasonable backcourt replacement, and the signing of Christian Wood hurt the defense as much as it helped the offense. What’s left is a Mavericks team that can’t win most games unless Doncic is ballistic. Fortunately, it happens very often.

The Mavs include Wood, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Spencer Dinwiddie’s salaries, and there are plenty of future draft picks. It remains to be seen what they will gain and what they are willing to give up. Can the front office convince Doncic that holding the assets for later big changes is wiser than getting a little help around the fringes? Does Doncic, who is notorious for being extremely competitive, enjoy the concept of punting inherently in a season when he’s conservatively one of the top five NBA players?

Doncic’s free agency is still a long way from reality (2026), but from an NBA perspective, it’s coming faster. The last thing you want to do is make a mistake that could help push Doncic towards the door, so the Mavericks need to handle this situation delicately and smartly.

conclusion: LeBron James doesn’t want to spend the last days of his career on a mediocre team, but the front office and ownership appear hesitant to capitalize on future assets that could be for naught in the competition.

latest lebron james About your team’s current situation: “F— everybody knows what’s supposed to happen.” Unfortunately there have been several different iterations of exactly what the f— should be happening all over Laker land. Russell Westbrook trade? Keep Westbrook, but trade Patrick Beverly? Anthony Davis trade? Would you trade Lebron yourself?

Whichever version you think is most prudent, it’s hard to argue that the Lakers have a chance of winning an NBA title with their current roster. off season. James doesn’t seem willing to wait, but the fact that he’s signed an extension that’s taking him through at least next season puts some pressure on the front office.

That is, it is urgent. The Lakers front office showed a lot on Monday, The first high-profile deal of the trade season was completed by acquiring forward Rui Hachimura from the Washington Wizards..

James, soon to be the league’s top scorer, is averaging nearly 30 points per game and shooting 2-pointers nearly 60 percent. Davis, who was healthy for a while, looked like the most dominant player in the league. Despite all the mistakes he caught due to late-game decision-making (or lack thereof), Westbrook has performed well since moving to the bench, averaging 16.5 points, 7.9 assists, 6.5 rebounds and shooting 44 percent from reserve. New head coach Darvin Ham seems to be making the Lakers play hard at both ends. No matter how dimly a candle flickers, there is something there.

Trading Westbrook for Indiana duo Buddy Hield and Myles Turner has been rumored since the beginning of time, and the Pacers’ recent decline without Tyrese Haliburton might make that trade slightly more realistic for them. The snag on any Westbrook deal has always been a 2027 and/or 2029 first rounder that the Lakers have to throw in compensation. One point of view is that it is thanks to James and the fan base that he is able to go all-in while still performing at this level. The other side is that there is no deal that could make the Lakers real title contenders this season. So why not hold onto the chip until next summer when Westbrook’s contract expires and cap space opens up?

You can certainly see both sides, but the level of pressure on Rob Pelinka and Co. rises when King publicly states that he wants to make a move.

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