Every day in the NBA there is a lot to unpack, so every weekday morning throughout the season we will give you the three things you need to know from the last 24 hours in the NBA.
1) The Trade Deadline is Thursday, here are the rumors flying around the league. Often it takes the pressure of a deadline to strip away the “we want a lottery pick” pretense, for the offers to get real and trades to get done. This season things are even more backed up because potential sellers — New Orleans, Sacramento, others — were still in the playoff mix despite their records. Those teams were waiting to decide on whether to make trades or go for the playoffs.
Now things get serious. The trade deadline is Thursday, just a few days away. Teams traditionally take Super Bowl Sunday off, but Monday the phone lines will light up around the league. Here are the hottest rumors and things to watch.
As trade deadline looms on Thursday, Houston is engaged with several Eastern Conference teams — including Atlanta — on C Clint Capela, league sources tell ESPN. There are a few multi-team trade scenarios in play.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 3, 2020
Capela is the best trade piece the Rockets have — an athletic big man with a reasonable contract going out three seasons after this one — but if they trade him then they have to get another center back from somewhere. It’s a fun gimmick to play a 6’6” and under lineup in a regular season game (the Rockets may do it again) but in a West with the size of the Lakers and Clippers, plus guys like Nikola Jokic in Denver and Rudy Gobert in Utah, the Rockets can’t roll out P.J. Tucker at center in the playoffs and win.
Houston has been linked to Robert Covington talks, and Minnesota is reportedly asking for two first-round picks.
Ambitious as it sounds, Minnesota has sought two first-round picks in exchange for Robert Covington in advance of Thursday's trade deadline, league sources say. Let's see where the Wolves land if/when they actually deal him, with Philly and Houston at the front of the RoCo line
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) February 3, 2020
Covington is a 3&D wing who would fit with the Rockets, but if you trade Capela to get the picks to land him, then who is your center? Throw Noah Vonleh or Jordan Bell (both on the Timberwolves bench) in a deal? It’s just hard to see how Houston puts together a trade that makes them better than either of the Los Angeles teams, and if they are not contenders will owner Tilman Fertitta be willing to pay the tax for the Rockets this season?
• The buzz from sources around the league is Covington will get traded… somewhere. The price has been too steep so far, but when that comes down a little this week some team — maybe the 76ers — gets a deal done.
• Everyone expects the Clippers to make a move, something Ric Bucher got into at Bleacher Report. This is a win-now team looking for more size up front — is Ivica Zubac really the starting center on a title team? Montrezl Harrell destroys second-unit centers but can he close playoff games? — and a little more point guard depth. The Clippers can trade their first-round pick in the June draft, plus they have Moe Harkless and his $11.5 million to put into a trade. The Clippers can be players.
Would the Clippers go after Andre Iguodala, both to add wing depth and to keep him away from the Lakers?
One other interesting Clippers question: Would they trade Harrell? He’s part of the heart of this team, but he’s also about to be a free agent who will make at least $18 million a season going forward, do the Clippers want to pay that? Harrell would have real trade value if the Clippers wanted to swing for the fences. Just remember the Clippers are good at keeping big moves quiet — both trading for Paul George and trading away Blake Griffin were massive deals that seemed to come out of nowhere because L.A. kept a lid on it until the last second.
• Down the hall, the Lakers are actively looking at trades, they just don’t have good options. They have made Kyle Kuzma available, but he makes just $2 million, and the Lakers don’t have a lot of other players they can aggregate with him in a deal to get to a good number (remember that Rajon Rondo, JaVale MaGee, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope can all veto a trade because it would cost them their Bird rights). DeMarcus Cousins makes $3.5 million, but would $5.5 million really get them a big upgrade over Kuzma? Just hard to see the Lakers getting a big deal done. However, if Darren Collison comes out of retirement to them the Lakers get an upgrade without pulling the trigger on a trade.
• Boston is actively looking for a center, it’s just hard for them to construct a trade. Yes, they have potentially three first-rounders in this coming draft, but in terms of money it’s hard for them to put together matching salary for a decent player without throwing in Marcus Smart or Gordon Hayward. And that’s not happening.
• Derrick Rose does not want to be traded, he likes Detroit, but he is available.
Derrick Rose on trade rumors: It’s up to the front office. Arn (Tellem) gave me his word that if something were to happen, he will text or call, but I told him that I want to stay here, but it’s not up to me. You already know how that goes.” #Pistons
— Vince_Ells56 (@Vincent_Ellis56) February 1, 2020
The Lakers have been linked, but if the Lakers have to send out Kuzma and Avery Bradley for Rose is that enough of an upgrade for L.A. to pull that trigger? And, would the Pistons do that, they reportedly have been asking for a lottery-level pick to trade Rose. Expect a lot of Rose rumors this week, but come Friday he could still be a Piston.
Reporting with @rick_bonnell, Mavericks are mulling whether to add a 3/4 defender. I'm told they have "kicked tires" on Charlotte's Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Toronto's Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, but purely exploratory at this point. Trade deadline is one week from today.
— Brad Townsend (@townbrad) January 31, 2020
• Expect the Knicks to trade Marcus Morris. He would help a lot of playoff teams, and the Knicks need more pieces for the rebuild. (Or, they should be stockpiling assets for their rebuild, but James Dolan still owns the Knicks so all bets on them following a logical path are off.)
• Oklahoma City likely will not trade the massive salaries of Chris Paul or Steven Adams, and the Thunder will remain a tough-out playoff team. Danilo Gallinari still is a name bouncing around who could get moved.
• These rumors are just the tip of the iceberg. Ultimately, there may be fewer trades than fans want — and most of the trades that go down may well be more about salary dumps than player upgrades — but there will be a lot of rumors flying around and some deals done this week. Keep checking NBC Sports for all the latest trade news.
2) Zion Williamson is playing very well, but James Harden’s 40 points proved too much in Rockets’ win. The combination of the tragic Kobe Bryant news and the trade deadline have stolen the thunder from this story, but it’s can’t be ignored for long:
Zion Williamson is tearing up the NBA so far.
In six games, he’s averaging 19.5 points on 66.7 percent shooting, plus getting 8.2 rebounds a game. He’s a beast on the offensive glass and, while he still looks lost at points on defense (as rookies do) he shows real potential on that end. Williamson had 21 points and 10 rebounds against the Rockets on Super Bowl Sunday.
LONZO ARE YOU SERIOUS
Pinpoint accuracy from the opposing three-point line 😱 pic.twitter.com/P3NCuUrxhN
— New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) February 2, 2020
That wasn’t enough however because James Harden’s 40 points, 10 rebounds and nine asissts was too much and snapped the Pelicans three-game win streak.
3) Toronto wins 11th in a row beating Bulls. The Raptors remain the hottest team in the NBA, thanks to a combination of getting healthy, a soft part of the schedule, and… Terence Davis?
Yes, Terence Davis. He dropped a career-high 31 on Chicago Sunday to lead the Raptors to an 11th consecutive win.
Kawhi who? The Raptors are 36-14, second in the East (two games up on third seed Boston), Pascal Siakam is starting the All-Star Game and Nick Nurse is a frontrunner for Coach of the Year (in a crowded field). The big name may have gone home but this is still a very good team.Follow @basketballtalk