With less than a month to go until the NBA trade deadline on February 6, it’s now or never for teams to double down on their title ambitions and pick up the extra talent to take them to the top. With rumors flying around left, right and center, it’s time to discuss the first crop of players that could be on the move during the next few weeks.
According to The Athletic’s Sam Amick, the Los Angeles Lakers have shown a “willingness to listen” to offers for the 24-year-old forward. Originally considered as one of the more untouchable assets in the Anthony Davis trade, Kuzma’s role has been in decline after being ushered out of the frontcourt by Davis, LeBron James and the resurgent Dwight Howard.
Marc Stein initially reported that the Sacramento Kings were interested in Kuzma, a story later developed by Lakers writer Tania Ganguli, who stated that LA General Manager Rob Pelinka had initiated a call regarding a trade. Early rumors of a Bogdan Bogdanović trade were quickly shut down, so who would be a good fit in place of the young, cheaper scorer?
While there have been a plethora of rumors about returns for Kuzma, Sean Deveney reported that the Lakers are prioritizing a high end role player, preferably a point guard, as well as a first round pick. There will be no shortage of suitors for the young scorer who earns just $1.9 million this season, in the penultimate year of his rookie contract. However, the low salary does limit the money the Lakers could receive in a deal.
Robert Covington’s name has been circulating the internet as a potentially ideal 3-and-D addition to their roster, but the Lakers would struggle to match his $11 million salary. Rather than struggling to acquire an older, more expensive player, the Lakers could turn to other rookie-scale contributors that would fit better on their roster, with Donte DiVincenzo, Devonte Graham, Luke Kennard and Landry Shamet all fitting the bill, providing perimeter scoring around LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
Bogdan Bogdanović was reportedly offered $50 million over four years by the Sacramento Kings in October, but the Serbian rejected the offer, creating uncertainty around his future entering his restricted free agency. The 6’6 guard will not be lacking offers when he gets there, so the underwhelming Kings may look at shopping him before the deadline to ensure they don’t lose him for nothing or reluctantly commit to him over the long term.
His role as a versatile scorer makes him a good fit on most contending teams. The Philadelphia 76ers are desperate for shooting and could look to make a deal, but have limited assets to offer the Kings. The Milwaukee Bucks, Houston Rockets and Miami Heat could all make offers as they look to strengthen before a making a post-season charge.
There was early season talk about a buyout agreement with the Memphis Grizzlies, which has since been shut down by a number of sources. Iguodala is seen as a positive piece that could contribute for a number of contenders around the league, so the rebuilding Grizzlies are holding out for any type of return, which may include long-term salary, per Kevin O’Connor.
Both Los Angeles teams have been tipped as landing destinations for the wing, with the Lakers arguably benefitting more from his arrival, but the Clippers have more assets to make a deal work. Iguodala is earning $17 million the last year of his contract and will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, which may limit the teams that show interest in him.
Houston and Dallas are all heading for the playoffs and could look to bolster their depth and experience, while a return to Denver shouldn’t be written off as they look to improve their wing defense. Milwaukee could be in the market for a high-level defender to ease the load on Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton in the playoffs. Amazingly, the rebuilding Grizzlies are currently looking to lock up the eighth seed in the Western Conference, so they could retain the veteran if they commit to making a push this season.
Since signing for the New York Knicks in the summer of 2019, Marcus Morris’ value has never been higher. The wing is the leading scorer for the Knicks with a career high 19 points per game. He has the second best three-point percentage in the league at 46 percent (which is higher than his two-point percentage), which is made all the more remarkable considering he is shooting more than ever, with 5.8 three-point attempts per game.
His above-average 3-and-D game makes him an ideal pick up for contenders though his $15 million salary is not ideal to be matched in a trade. The Knicks are not in contention for a playoff seed and should be looking to offload Morris for future building blocks before he enters free agency in the summer
The Philadelphia 76ers have long been discussed as a team desperate for a Marcus Morris-type player, who can provide a shooting and scoring threat from the bench and alongside the starters when called upon. Unsurprisingly, the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers have also been discussed as interested parties, per Colin Martin and Ian Begley.
It’s no surprise that this year’s serious contenders are linked with the same crop of high end role players, as they hope to develop their depth and scoring around their superstars.