I think only two things feel certain at the trade deadline:
1) Somebody we didn’t expect will get moved (not likely a big name, but a solid player). It happens every year.
2) It’s going to be a bit of a slow deadline, and not all the guys on the list below will get moved. It’s possible none of them get moved. It is far more likely that none of them get moved than a majority of them.
But with less than 24 hours to go before the Feb. 19 NBA trade deadline (the cutoff time is 3 ET), here are the five guys most being talked about around the league.
1) Goran Dragic, Phoenix Suns. Last weekend the feeling around the league was that Phoenix would keep Dragic and trade Isaiah Thomas in an effort to balance their roster. Then Dragic’s agents went in told the Suns’ management that the free agent to be will not re-sign with them. That changed the game, the Suns need to move him or risk getting nothing in return — but it also set up another game altogether. Dragic wants to go to a big market where he will have freedom to create in the system — his agents gave the Suns a list that included the Lakers, Knicks, and Heat. However, if they are going to trade him all the Suns care about is getting as much back as possible, they have no concerns for where Dragic wants to go. The Lakers and Knicks don’t have assets anyone wants (no Lakers’ fans, nobody wants Jordan Hill and Steve Nash) while Miami’s offers have not wowed the Suns. Instead, Phoenix is talking in depth with the Celtics, Rockets, and Kings. Those three teams are willing to gamble that if they get Dragic in for half a season they can sell him on their cities and teams, then offer him a five-year contract (other teams will only be able to offer four) and that will be enough to retain him. The Suns could decide they don’t like any trade offers and just keep him and dare him to walk away from the extra contract year (we’re talking more than $20 million guaranteed). But more likely they trade him somewhere he didn’t want to be, which sets up another showdown.
2) Wilson Chandler, Denver Nuggets. No team may be more active at the deadline than the Nuggets, and no player is drawing more interest than Wilson Chandler. Teams that could use wing help have their eye on him, as he brings 14 points and 6 rebounds a game, plus quality defense. Portland may have the most attractive package: Thomas Robinson, Will Barton, and a future first round pick. The Clippers want to get in the dance and are toying with trading Jamal Crawford for a future first round pick, which would be flipped for Chandler (along with other players). That has not been near enough to move the needle on a deal so far for Denver, will they take the best offer at the deadline or just hold on to him?
3) Reggie Jackson, Oklahoma City Thunder. He has wanted to run his own team for a while, and when OKC went out and got Dion Waiters to steal some of Jackson’s minutes the drive to get out of town grew stronger. Jackson’s agent has requested the player be traded. The Thunder likely want to make a deal, if they can shed a couple million they can get below the luxury tax line (and they should try to do so since they are close). The problem for OKC is everybody knows Jackson wants out, and they know he’ll be a restricted free agent this summer, so why offer much of anything to get him now? The Thunder likely have to take far less than equal value to get a deal done, but they may well live with that.
4) Arron Afflalo, Denver Nuggets. With the Nuggets asking a lot to get in the Chandler sweepstakes, this may be the more likely solid wing player on the move. The Kings are the team most interested and aggressive right now, offering Nik Stauskas as the centerpiece, reports Ken Berger of CBSSports.com.
5) Enes Kanter, Utah Jazz. With Utah more and more seeing the Rudy Gobert/Derrick Favors combo as the front line of the future, Kanter is the odd big out — and he wants out, having his agent request a trade. Kanter will be a restricted free agent this summer, but that is not motivating the Jazz, who have requested a lot back in return for a deal (a quality young player and a pick). That said, there are several teams interested including the Bucks.