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Five things to watch as the NBA’s trade deadline approaches

  • Detroit Pistons forward Blake Griffin (23) drives against Miami Heat guard Tyler Johnson (8) and forward James Johnson (16) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson) Duane Burleson

  • Memphis Grizzlies guard Tyreke Evans (12) shoots against Phoenix Suns center Greg Monroe in the first half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Jan. 29, 2018, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill) Brandon Dill



Washington Post
Monday, February 05, 2018

It has already been a busy period, with Blake Griffin and Nikola Mirotic being dealt last week. So what else might happen between now and this year’s trade deadline at 3 p.m. Thursday?

Given everything that’s gone on so far, anything seems possible.

Here, though, are five things to keep an eye on over the next 72 hours or so until this year’s trade deadline comes and goes:

Will the Cavaliers make a move?

This has been the dominant story line in the NBA for weeks. Much of the drama emanating from Cleveland these days – from fanciful thoughts of LeBron James holding potential free agency meetings with the Golden State Warriors to pleas for help from the locker room – have been driven by James’ desire for the Cavaliers to upgrade their roster.

James would like Cleveland to trade the Brooklyn Nets’ unprotected first-round pick – the crown jewel of the Kyrie Irving trade to Boston last summer – for a true difference-maker. But that seems unlikely both because the Cavaliers want to keep the pick and there isn’t an available player worth moving it for. Cleveland’s own pick, however – coupled with Iman Shumpert’s contract – could net the Cavaliers something that can help them.

Regardless of what it is, it would be very surprising if the deadline passes and Cleveland has done nothing to try to placate James.

Will the Clippers continue tearing down their roster?

Every noise coming out of the Clippers since they shockingly traded Griffin to the Detroit Pistons last Monday is that they aren’t done yet. DeAndre Jordan’s name continues to come up – with the Portland Trail Blazers as a possible landing spot. Meanwhile, Avery Bradley – one of the pieces that came to Los Angeles in the Griffin trade – also could be on the move, with the Oklahoma City Thunder having registered interest.

By trading Griffin, the Clippers have indicated they are ready to focus on 2019, when several star players – including Kawhi Leonard, Klay Thompson, Jimmy Butler, Irving, Kevin Love and Kemba Walker – will be free agents. The goal now for the Clippers is to get assets back for Jordan and Bradley while not eating into their cap space in 2019. It’s hard to see them passing up on that.

Where will Tyreke Evans wind up?

The Memphis Grizzlies have shut down Evans until the trade deadline, and with him having a renaissance season – he’s averaging 19.5 points, 5.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists – and being on an expiring contract, there’s no reason for the tanking Grizzlies to keep him.

Not surprisingly, there are lots of teams interested in Evans, who can provide the kind of secondary creation so many teams are searching for in today’s NBA. So why hasn’t he been traded yet? Because Memphis wants a first-round pick for him, and so far the Grizzlies haven’t been able to get one from anyone.

Essentially, the next 72 hours will come down to a high-stakes game of chicken. The Grizzlies will keep waiting for one of the teams they are negotiating with to hand over a first-round pick; those teams will keep waiting for Memphis to lower its price to something more palatable. It might take until 2:59 p.m. Thursday for someone to emerge victorious.

Will any contenders try to go for it?

The Warriors are the odds-on favorites to win the title again, but there are plenty of teams with reason to bolster themselves for a long playoff run. So will any of them do it?

The Boston Celtics, for example, need a scoring guard to help their offense when Irving is on the bench. The Rockets could use another ballhandler to take some of the burden off Chris Paul and James Harden. The Thunder need a replacement for Andre Roberson, who was lost for the season with a torn patellar tendon. The Cavaliers need . . . well, they need pretty much everything at this point.

So, between now and Thursday’s deadline, we’ll see if any of these teams are willing to make a significant move – and part with an asset or two in order to do so – in an attempt to improve their chances come playoff time.

Will any more big names get moved?

It was a shock when Griffin got traded, but maybe it shouldn’t have been. Just look at this list of All-Stars – either past or present – traded since last year’s All-Star Game: DeMarcus Cousins, Dwight Howard, Jimmy Butler, Paul, Paul George, Victor Oladipo, Isaiah Thomas, Irving, Carmelo Anthony and now Griffin. That doesn’t even count the stars who changed teams in free agency, Gordon Hayward and Paul Millsap.

So does the NBA have another shock or two left in it between now and Thursday? At this point, it’s hard to see where such a name would come from. Given the disastrous state of the Cavaliers, Love would be the most logical possibility, but his broken hand likely removes him from the discussion. Perhaps Thomas, who has been awful for Cleveland, could be moved to address some of the team’s many needs, though sources say that isn’t likely.

All that seems certain is after a year full of star names changing teams, it feels like somehow, some way, we’ll get another surprise by Thursday.