NBA Trade Deadline Buyers and Sellers

The trade deadline is quickly approaching and Anthony Davis is one of many players on the market. Which teams are looking to shed contracts, and which teams are more interested in snagging a new contributor?

With the 2019 NBA trade deadline fast approaching, the league landscape is still muddled. As of January 30th, 24 teams are within five games of a playoff spot, and a couple of the remaining seven probably think they have an outside shot of sneaking in.

The tightness of this playoff race makes the trade deadline a little less chaotic. In past seasons, the number of playoff contenders has been closer to 20, which adds in at least three more teams who are willing to part with players in exchange for future assets. To simplify, there are usually more sellers and fewer buyers. Now, with so many teams thinking they have a shot at the playoffs (but simultaneously realizing that they still have no chance of beating the Warriors), there's a bumper crop of buyers and a major shortage of sellers.

Important note: Anthony Davis is now officially available. Every team in the NBA should want him. But, realistically, this is most likely either a Davis-to-LA power move (before the deadline) or a wait-til-summer-to-see-what-Boston-can-offer situation, with an outside chance that Toronto, Denver, Milwaukee, or New York (but probably not NY) can pull something off.

So let's take a look at who's buying, who's selling, and what the market looks like. For a fun list of players who may come available, take a look at this piece, which focuses on what the Raptors could do.

Group 1: Nah. We're good

Golden State Warriors

This is pretty self-explanatory. They're not making moves unless something very suspicious and strange happens. Is Giannis suddenly on the block? Is Rudy Gobert? There might be 4-5 guys in the NBA who the Warriors would be willing to trade Draymond for, and zero of those guys are available this winter. I mean, they're not even in the discussion for Anthony Davis - that's how good they are.

(Although...I mean...Draymond + Shaun Livingston + picks for AD? WHO SAYS NO?!?!)

Group 2: If something comes along, yeah, I guess we'll buy

Denver Nuggets, Oklahoma City Thunder, Toronto Raptors, Utah Jazz

These four teams are in the enviable position of not needing to make any changes. The Nuggets, Raptors, and Jazz may look to add a small piece someplace, but there aren't a lot of moves available to them unless they're willing to give up legitimate talent. More likely, they'll just stand pat (insane AD offers notwithstanding). Oklahoma City could be in the market to make a move, but their salary situation is so crazy that there's not much they can do. They already have $145 million committed for next season. Yikes.

While these four teams could be opportunistic buyers, it's more likely that they recognize their ceilings and opt to ride it out this season - unless something goes terribly wrong in Toronto and they need to jettison Kawhi to get something in return within the next week.

Group 3: You selling something? We're looking to buy

Houston Rockets

It feels like Houston is always looking to buy these days. They're making a charge behind the insane run James Harden is on and they're going to get healthier before the season's over. They believe they have a legitimate shot to beat the Warriors, so if they can add a piece, they'll add a piece. However, the Rockets may not be in need of help after signing Kenneth Faried and Austin Rivers. Still, I wouldn't be surprised to see them acquire someone else before the deadline.

Philadelphia 76ers

As if trading for Jimmy Butler wasn't enough, Philly may feel like they're still a piece short of being able to take down Boston or Milwaukee in the east - and goodness knows they could use more shooting. They were rumored to be the 2nd team in the hunt for Kyle Korver when Utah snagged him from the Cavaliers, so they could be eyeing someone like Terrence Ross or a similar, less expensive shooter.

Boston Celtics

It's hard to say that Boston is really "buying" at this point, but they have a million assets and are hoping to turn them into something even bigger. Unfortunately, they can't go after Davis until summer. The flip side is that other teams might look at Boston shopping Terry Rozier or Jalen Brown and think that's more of a "sell" move than a buy. Either way, Boston is active out there.

San Antonio Spurs

I might be on a limb here, but the Spurs are over-achieving again and are always a threat in the playoffs. Imagine if they can snag another role-player so they don't have to count on Davis Bertans shooting (checks 49% on three-pointers? What?! OK, maybe they're gonna ride this out.

Los Angeles Clippers

The Clips may hold steady because they want Kawhi Leonard this summer, but they're also a fringe-playoff team who is fading a little. They could get a boost from new blood and hold on tight for the 8th spot. They're in a similar spot as Boston because they have some contracts worth selling.

Group 4: Stuck in the middle

Sacramento Kings, Minnesota Timberwolves, Brooklyn Nets, Indiana Pacers, Detroit Pistons, Miami Heat, Los Angeles Lakers, Portland Trailblazers, Milwaukee Bucks

Each of these teams should be shopping around. Indiana is the 3rd seed in the east, but with Victor Oladipo done for the year, they're in an awkward "should we still go hard for the playoffs?" spot. Brooklyn is similarly injury-ravaged, but they're winning, so they may look to add a piece or just get healthier. Detroit, Miami, Sacramento, and Minnesota are all fringe teams with an ungodly amount of questionable contracts between them. They'll all be shopping players in an effort to add depth (Reggie Jackson, Iman Shumpert, Hassan Whiteside, and Jerryd Bayless's expiring contract come to mind).

Regarding LA and Portland, the Lakers are huge buyers for Anthony Davis and nobody else. The Blazers are seemingly shopping CJ McCollum every winter, so they're in play, but I wouldn't expect much.

The most interesting team of this bunch is Milwaukee, who is reportedly shopping Thon Maker. The Bucks are really good and Maker could be a nice piece for a lot of other teams, but the Bucks can also add some playoff depth and have some fun this spring. They're a two-way trade deadline team, for sure.

Group 5: Make me an offer. Seriously. Any offer.

Dallas Mavericks

If you're interested in DeAndre Jordan for a couple of months and have $20 million in contracts you're able to get rid of, Dallas is on your "favorites" list on speed dial.

Washington Wizards

What can you even say about the Wizards? They should be selling everything they can, but there are literally zero buyers for John Wall, Which means they're just stuck. Still, it feels like if someone offers a pick plus a crisp $20 bill for Otto Porter Washington has to take it.

New Orleans Pelicans

The offer you're making for Anthony Davis better be good. Once you get past Davis, the rest of the team is firmly in this make-me-an-offer category.

Orlando Magic

There are some trade-worthy pieces here if you're interested in big men. Nikola Vucevic has been really good this season and has somehow supplanted Aaron Gordon in the pecking order for the Magic. That has been surprising. But isn't Gordon on the market, too?

Memphis Grizzlies

The era is definitely ending. But Mike Conley, Chandler Parsons, and Marc Gasol are owed a combined $83 million next year, so good luck getting a nice offer. Still, Memphis is listening.

Charlotte Hornets

These poor guys have been sellers for years and just can't find any buyers. Nic Batum is slowly running out of paychecks (but still getting a lot of them); Bizmack Biyombo's contract is shocking; Marvin Williams is probably available for anyone willing to help the Hornets in the future. But also, don't they have to try to build around Kemba Walker? This team has been in limbo for 10 years and the outlook is still not great.

Atlanta Hawks

They seem like they'd be clear-cut sellers, but Atlanta is weirdly promising right now. They'll definitely listen to offers, but they have a few guys who are certainly not going anywhere. It's hard to speak glowingly about a team that's 16-33, but they're 11-13 in their past 24 and the Kevin Huerter, Trae Young, John Collins, and Tauren Prince group is a lot of fun.

Group 6: Can I interest you in some trash?

Cleveland Cavaliers, Chicago Bulls, New York Knicks, Phoenix Suns

Boy, it's hard to sell when there's nothing worth selling. Cleveland tops this list with the least desirable pieces, I think (Hi, JR Smith!). But with Kristaps Porzingis injured and Devin Booker/Deandre Ayton untouchable, the Suns and Knicks don't have much either. The Bulls will very possibly move Robin Lopez, but no one is touching Jabari Parker's $20 million.

These teams are bad. Their available players reflect that.


It would be fun to see a flurry of activity like last season's trade deadline when Cleveland managed to move something like 9 players in four hours. But it seems a little less likely to happen this time around. I actually hope that Anthony Davis doesn't move yet, as the bidding war will be a whole lot of fun this summer.

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