Pacers, Bulls and Blazers Expected to Dominate Rumor Mill

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There has been some concern about the play-in tournament’s impact on the NBA trade deadline. While borderline teams would benefit from more aggressive rebuilding efforts, the addition of two pseudo-playoff positions will invariably push short-sighted owners to pursue victories and the millions of dollars produced at the gate by home playoff matches. There are four teams in the East, but one of them is the Eastern Conference’s reigning runner-up, the Atlanta Hawks. Apart from the Cam Reddish trade, they do not sell.

Thus, as we approach February 10, when the number of sellers is artificially lowered, we are not inundated with purchasers. As previously stated, the vast bulk of the NBA’s contending class is constrained by the amount of draught capital available for mid-season adjustments. The Memphis Grizzlies are the only club near the top of the rankings with complete selection freedom in their present configuration. Everyone else is Stepien-locked in some way.

A season with few willing sellers and fewer adaptable buyers should logically result in a fairly dull trade deadline. That is not how the NBA operates in the modern-day. There will be tremendous fluctuation at the deadline, as there is at every deadline. It will come down to a few teams this time around to catalyze that movement, as they are specially prepared to enable the types of transactions that will dominate this particular deadline.

Rumor Mill? Pacers? Bulls or …?

On the court, the Trail Blazers have fallen short of expectations thus far this season, with a 21-31 record. Additionally, the team’s front office and head coach have changed over the last year. However, interim general manager Joe Cronin told NBA.com’s Mark Medina that the Blazers had no intention of blowing apart their squad and embarking on a thorough rebuild at the trade deadline.

Chicago Bulls

Chicago believed that 2020 fourth-round pick Patrick Williams would fill the void and eventually develop into a co-star with Zach LaVine. The Bulls’ aspirations for the former forward were shattered when he was sidelined for the season following wrist surgery. While his optimism for the latter is palpable, it’s worth considering how much he should value Chicago’s future compared to its incredibly optimistic present. 

The Bulls are currently the Eastern Conference’s top seed. Kevin Durant was out for 4-6 weeks with a knee injury, while Kyrie Irving is still unable to play at home. The Bucks have no idea when Brook Lopez will return to the lineup. The Bulls’ road to the NBA Finals has never been more obvious as it is this season. Nikola Vucevic is 31 years old, whereas DeMar DeRozan is 32. This window will not be open indefinitely.

While the quantity may be limited compared to sellers, the quality of this trade deadline well transcends the amount. Between them, the Indiana Pacers and Portland Trail Blazers undoubtedly own and acquire nearly every sort of player a winner could desire. Domantas Sabonis, Myles Turner, and Jusuf Nurkic check almost every box in the middle. Covington is the sought-after 3-and-D wing, yet he is a backup defender. Warren is a scratch-off ticket. Norman Powell is a perimeter scorer who prefers to shoot threes, whereas Caris LeVert is a perimeter scorer who likes to shoot twos. There is also a potential, albeit a slim one, that Damian Lillard, a true superstar, will become available between now and deadline day. Theoretically, buyers have access to whatever they require in the trading market. It is concentrated on a smaller number of salespeople.

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