NBA roundtable: Which team desperately needs to make a trade?

NBA roundtable: Which team desperately needs to make a trade?

The 2023 NBA trade deadline is just a few days away!

Teams have between now and Thursday at 3 p.m. ET to wheel and deal. For some teams, there's a bit more urgency to make a trade. We asked our Basketball News writers:

Which NBA team desperately needs to make a trade?

Alex Kennedy: The Toronto Raptors have been one of the biggest disappointments this season, as they are currently 24-30 (which is the 12th-best record in the Eastern Conference). They have a number of talented individuals on their roster, but the pieces just aren't fitting together. Recent reports have indicated that Toronto isn't sure whether to be a buyer or seller prior to the trade deadline, but it's clear that standing pat isn't an option.

Will the Raptors part ways with O.G. Anunoby, who's been one of the top players surfacing in trade rumors? Will they move Fred VanVleet and/or Gary Trent Jr. before they can opt out and hit unrestricted free agency this summer? Will Masai Ujiri try to restart talks with the Brooklyn Nets on a potential Kevin Durant blockbuster? All eyes will be on the Raptors over the next few days.

Nekias Duncan: I think the Toronto Raptors are the obvious answer here, so I’ll set them to the side. It’d be nice if the Miami Heat could do something here. It may not be big-game hunting — they’ve been mentioned on the periphery of the Kyrie Irving sweepstakes — but more reliable depth would help them.

Caleb Martin is in the midst of a career-year, but it hasn’t hit like it could because he’s a bit overtasked at the 4. The depth behind Bam Adebayo has been shaky; I’ve liked the play from Orlando “Big Lando” Robinson, but his play being *this* important underscores how dire it’s been for the Heat. Any deal that could land them a bigger 4 could balance things out, especially if that 4 could moonlight as a 5 in small-ball lineups.

Brian Fritz: Despite LeBron James continuing to play at an unbelievable level at 38 years old and in his 20th NBA season, the Los Angeles Lakers find themselves at No. 13 in the Western Conference standings with a 25-29 record. Everyone knows that this team desperately needs to make a trade. The Lakers need to do something – anything – or else they are just wasting another season of LeBron’s greatness. And he’s starting to voice his frustrations again; after a recent loss, James said, "Playing basketball at this level just to be playing basketball is not in my DNA.” Even if it's just a deal to improve around the edges, something needs to be done.

Ethan Fuller: The Los Angeles Lakers and Toronto Raptors are probably popular answers here, so I'll throw in the Portland Trail Blazers as well. Damian Lillard is leading the league in scoring since January 1 (34.9 PPG) and is playing absolutely out of his mind right now. But Portland is only 7-9 in that span and continues to be weighed down by its atrocious defense, even with some capable individual pieces.

The West is wide open and ripe for a team to capitalize. This is less about keeping Lillard happy (just take him at his word, please) and more about maximizing a career-year from a 32-year-old, high-usage point guard. If the Trail Blazers can rally and form something near a league-average defense, their chances to make a surprise postseason run suddenly skyrocket.

Spencer Davies: The Dallas Mavericks desperately need to get Luka Doncic another ball-handler and/or a better shooter. It is clear and obvious that Jalen Brunson's departure has made things twice as difficult on the Slovenian sensation, yet he's still delivering. I previously mentioned Terry Rozier, DeMar DeRozan, Fred VanVleet, D'Angelo Russell, Kyle Kuzma, Doug McDermott and Josh Richardson as possible targets. Now, Kyrie Irving is also a potential solution to Dallas' biggest problem.

The Mavericks have contracts to float around, none more obvious than Tim Hardaway Jr.'s  deal. They could also fetch a valuable player with Dorian Finney-Smith's four-year, $55 million extension that is in Year 1. In addition, Reggie Bullock is another veteran option who's earning $10,012,800 this season and $10,489,600 next season. And if you need a filler for a bigger contract coming back, Davis Bertans is making a boatload on money ($16 million, then $17 million and an ETO in 2024-25). 

[UPDATE: The Mavericks acquired Kyrie Irving shortly after this was published.]

On Thursday, the Basketball News staff will be reacting to every rumor and completed trade during our 2023 NBA Trade Deadline Show! Tune in from 1 p.m. ET to 4 p.m. ET!

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