The 2020-21 NBA trade deadline is a lot later than usual this season: March 25, 2021. And while the league has yet to release the schedule beyond the first couple of days in March, every team should have played around 40 games by that point and should have a better idea of whether they’re a buyer or seller at the deadline. With James Harden already having been dealt to the Nets, the crown jewel of this year’s deadline is Bradley Beal. If Beal is truly available, then we could have a very entertaining trade season as some of the game’s brightest young players could be offered to the Wizards. Even if Beal isn’t dealt, there are still plenty of intriguing young players on the move as well as some veteran role players who could potentially tilt the scale in the championship chase. Here are 20 trade targets to get you primed for this March’s deadline.
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Bradley Beal, a 27-year-old superstar in his prime with at least another year left on his contract, is the ultimate prize now that James Harden is a Net. The Wizards are the worst teams in the NBA at 3-12, and with Russell Westbrook looking like he’s past his prime, likely have no chance at making the playoff this season. Beal’s done all he can do in Washington, but it’s time for the NBA’s leading scorer (34.7 PPG) to move on. The question is: Will a team be willing to offer the huge asking price Beal is expected to fetch. Will the Nuggets trade Michael Porter Jr. and a bunch of draft picks? Would they trade Jamal Murray? Would the Heat deal Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinson, and some draft picks? Would the 76ers trade Ben Simmons?
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We now know that Ben Simmons was on the table for James Harden earlier this season. So we’ve got to assume that he’s potentially on the table for Beal. With Joel Embiid playing at an MVP level, Simmons has been slightly less of a priority in Philly this season. That’s not to say he isn’t a great player – he’s still averaging 12.9 PPG., 8.3 RPG, and 7.9 APG while playing top-notch defense. In fact, he might be the only player on the trade market that the Wizards even consider worthy of dealing Beal for. If he isn’t dealt for Beal, he’ll probably stay put in Philly as they are still contenders with him as well.
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If Bradley Beal is on the table, then Denver is at least having a meeting about offering Michael Porter Jr. for Beal. While Beal is miles better than Porter at the moment, if Porter stays healthy (a big “IF”), Porter could end up being the same kind of offensive dynamo Beal is right now…plus he’s 6-foot-10 and fits well with Nikola Jokic. MPJ has missed half of the season with coronavirus-related issues, but when he’s played (9 games), he’s been great, averaging 17.2 PPG, 6.8 RPG, and has 56-49-81 shooting splits in only 27.0 MPG. If he doesn’t get dealt for Beal, Denver is right to keep him as an “untouchable”.
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Zach LaVine is a bit of a mix between Beal and Simmons in terms of being a trade prospect. Like Beal, he’s one of the best scorers in the NBA (26.9 PPG), but he’s in a situation where it’s probably time for him to move on. Like Simmons, he’s one of the only known potential trade targets that could potentially be the centerpiece of a trade for Beal. It would obviously take LaVine and Patrick Williams and a couple of draft picks to get Beal.
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Will the Magic please just trade Aaron Gordon? This is probably the third or fourth straight year where he’s been a potential trade deadline target, and it’s getting to the point where it’d be ridiculous to not deal him. Gordon, who has the toolset to be a Draymond Green type of force as a small-ball four, has spent the majority of his tenure with the Magic playing alongside athletic teammates who cannot shoot (e.g., Jonathan Isaac, Markelle Fultz), which, in turn, has caused Gordon’s offensive game to sputter as his points per game (13.8) is down for the third straight season. Gordon would be an excellent fit for teams with an excellent shooting backcourt like the Blazers.
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DeMar DeRozan is an elite offensive player (19.8 PPG, 6.7 APG, 4.8 RPG, 49-37-89 shooting splits) on a surprisingly competitive Spurs team. So why is he on this list? Well, for one, the Spurs are awful on defense when he’s on the court versus when he’s off the court – opponents’ offensive rating is plus-14.4 points per 100 possessions better when he’s on the court and the Spurs offense is only plus-3.0 points per 100 possessions worse when he’s on the court versus when he’s not on the court. Some of that blame goes on LaMarcus Aldridge too, but DeRozan’s splits are certainly problematic for a team that wants to win games. The other reason is that he’s an unrestricted free agent this offseason who almost certainly won’t be re-signing with San Antonio (unless they back up the Brinks’ truck for him). So why not try to get a mid-to-late first-rounder or younger rotation player for him from possible contender with a sputtering offense like the Heat?
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Despite being deemphasized by the Hawks this season – his usage and PPG are the lowest they’ve been since his rookie season – Jumpin’ John Collins is still having an efficient season on the offensive end, averaging 16.7 PPG on 54-40-80 shooting. And whether it’s direct tied to him or other factors, the Hawks are distinctly better with him on the court than they are with him off the court as seen by his plus-16.9 points per 100 possessions differential. From his point of view, he should probably be playing more than 30.9 MPG and have a larger offensive role. That, combined with his frustration with Trae Young, which spilled over into a locker room dispute earlier this season, makes him a sneaky trade target for a team like the Mavericks that fancies itself a stealth contender, but can’t seem to recreate the offensive spark it had last year.
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Andre Drummond is having a surprisingly good season across the board, averaging 18.1 PPG and an NBA-high 14.7 RPG while also being second in defensive rating, third in defensive win shares, and top-10 in steals per game, and top-20 in blocks per game. Oh, and he has a top-10 usage percentage, currently ahead of the likes of Kevin Durant, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, and Donovan Mitchell. He’s deserving of All-Star consideration, but at the same time, he’s an expiring free agent and somewhat redundant now that Jarrett Allen is a Cavalier. Thus, don’t be surprised if contenders like the Clippers and the Nets inquire into Drummond’s availability as the trade deadline approaches.
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Remember when the Pistons could have traded Derrick Rose at peak value last season but didn’t? And Blake Griffin at peak value the season before? Folks, there’s a reason franchises like the Pistons have sucked for the past decade. Instead of getting a protected first-round pick for Rose at last year’s deadline, the Pistons will probably yield a couple of second-rounders this season as Rose’s game has declined a bit (14.2 PPG and 4.2 APG this year versus 18.1 PPG and 5.6 APG last year) and he’s set to become an unrestricted free agent after the season. Keep an eye out for teams like the Clippers and Knicks with Rose.
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Back in the 2005-06 season, Lou Williams was Allen Iverson’s “rookie”. Unfortunately for Lou Will, his career appears destined to have a very Iversonian-like end to it as he’s not only struggled immensely since the lemon-pepper wings fiasco in the Orlando bubble but has been completely deemphasized by the Clippers this season (his MPG are down from 28.7 to 19.6 and his PPG are down from 18.2 to 9.4 compared to last year). While this deemphasis of Lou Will has certainly hurt his trade stock, he could still be a valuable spark plug for a contending team, just not the Clippers. Because he’s an expiring contract and his salary ($8M) is easy to move, Williams could be a player who is dealt to a non-contender, then bought-out and scooped up by a team like the Sixers later this year.
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Admit it, you forgot that Kevin Love was even in the NBA this season, didn’t you? Who’s to blame you though – he’s only appeared in two games and is out with a calf strain. He’s also on a fat contract that still has two years remaining after this season, so interest in the sweet-shooting, championship stretch-four is at an all-time low. With his trade value so low and the Cavs in the middle of an interesting rebuild, a team like the Nets or 76ers could swoop in a acquire him at a discount…that is, assuming they believe he can still be an impact player.
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LaMarcus Aldridge, San Antonio Spurs
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LaMarcus Aldridge is clearly past his prime, averaging the fewest points per game (14.2) since his rookie season and the fewest rebounds per game (4.5) of his entire career. His negative-13.4 points per 100 possessions on/off point differential makes it even more perplexing as to why Gregg Popovich continues to play in 27.2 MPG. At this point in his career, LMA would be much more productive being a 15-20 MPG bench big man who can hold the fort down on offense on the second unit and occasionally close games with the starters if he’s hot from the outside. A team like the Warriors could make sense with LMA as they’ll need to find ways to lessen the scoring burden on Steph Curry if they want to make any noise in the playoffs this season.
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This picture sums up Marvin Bagley’s career in Sacramento. It’s not Bagley’s fault that Vlade Divac selected him over Luka Doncic, Jaren Jackson Jr., and Trae Young. It’s not his fault he’s been unable to stay healthy either. And it’s not really his fault that the Kings have shifted the direction of their team away from him as a centerpiece of their future. Some relationships just aren’t meant to be, and this is one of them. The Kings should try to salvage some of Bagley’s diminishing value and ship him to a team that’s willing to bet that a fresh start will revitalize his once-promising career. Teams that love to run-and-gun like the Bulls and Wizards should be sniffing around Bagley to see if they can strike gold on an undervalued asset with a frightening combination of height, speed, and athleticism.
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JJ Redick began his NBA career sitting on the bench for Stan Van Gundy…if he doesn’t get traded before the deadline, he might end his career the way it started. For whatever reason – perhaps he hates spacing and good shooting around Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram – SVG has relegated Redick to the bench and slashed his minutes (only 19.9 MPG). It’s clearly having an impact on Redick’s ability to get in a rhythm as he’s shooting a career-low 29.8 percent from three at the moment. With the Pelicans likely missing the playoffs in the Western Conference, New Orleans should do right by Redick and send him to a contender who will happily utilize his elite shooting and floor spacing skill set.
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Another well-known Pelican who could be on the move this trade deadline is Lonzo Ball. The eldest of the Ball brothers is having a miserable season (with the exception of his 27-point, 8-assist explosion this past Friday night against the Bucks). After shooting 37.5 percent from three last season, Ball has regressed to 32.1 percent. His assist (4.8) and rebounding (3.9) numbers are also as low as they’ve ever been during his four-year career. Ball simply doesn’t fit well around the likes of Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram because he doesn’t trust his jump shot and he is most effective when he’s a focal point on offense, which he isn’t at all in NOLA. Teams have already started to inquire as to his availability, and not been turned away, so expect Ball to be playing in a new city by the end of March.
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PJ Tucker, Houstons Rockets
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PJ Tucker is basically all that remains of the micro-ball era in Houston. And he’s probably not very thrilled about it as his contract issues with the front office are well-documented. Hence, Tucker is ripe to be traded this deadline as Houston is a fringe playoff team, and Tucker is not a part of their long-term plans. What teams could utilize Tucker’s tough defense, deadly corner three-point shooting, and all-around bȧdass-ness? Answer: Every. Single. One. Of. Them. Tucker would be a great small-ball four for the Nets. He’d be a good fit for either of the LA teams. And he’d give the Bucks and Sixers some added toughness that they could certainly use come playoff time.
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George Hill, OKC Thunder
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George Hill is a perfect complementary guard for playoff teams looking to solidify their rotations. He’s efficient (51-39-84 shooting splits). He can play off of superstar wings who need the ball in their hands. And he can defend both guard positions. While he does have some limitations to his game that start to get exposed the deeper a team gets into the playoffs, he’d be a perfect third guard for a contender. I couldn’t think of a better fit for George than the Clippers as he’d be perfectly content subbing in for the foul-heavy Patrick Beverley, playing hard defense and shooting wide open threes off of penetration from Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.
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While the Grizzlies are certainly trying to make the playoffs this season, they might be willing to sell on a player like Kyle Anderson at the deadline and maximize his trade value. Anderson is having a career-year this season, averaging 12.8 PPG, 7.1 RPG, and 3.9 APG while posting an impressive plus-6.2 points per 100 possessions on/off stat line. Standing 6-foot-9 and having an off-beat playing style, Anderson’s playmaking and feel for the game would make him a very good bench player on a number of contenders.
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If Wayne Ellington is still on the Pistons after the trade deadline, everyone in Detroit’s front office should be fired on the spot. Ellington, a free agent after the season, is having the best season of his career as a 33-year-old, averaging career-highs in PPG (12.5), field goal percentage (51.6), and three-point percentage (50.5). He’s actually playing so well that it’s going to cause Detroit to win too many games and get worse lottery odds if they aren’t too careful. Ellington should be a prime target for teams like the Lakers, Sixers, Nets, and Clippers.
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Victor Oladipo is an interesting case for the Rockets. On one hand, he’s playing relatively well since arriving in Houston, averaging 22.0 PPG, 5.2 APG, and 5.0 RPG in five games. On the other hand, Oladipo is going to want a huge contract this offseason, and the Rockets clearly seem intent on reducing their payroll in the post-James Harden era. Is Oladipo a player that Houston wants to build around? If not, then there’s no reason to not trade him to a contender and/or team that believes they can re-sign him in the offseason and try to get some more draft capital in return. Oladipo is ineligible to be traded until March 4, 2021, which will give the Rockets exactly three weeks to move him before the trade deadline.