This year’s NBA trade market hindered by a lack of significant activity

Less than a week remains before the NBA’s trade deadline, and yet news and noise around the league has been few and far between. The Houston Rockets trading the injured Victor Oladipo and his expiring contract to Memphis in exchange for Steven Adams, also out for the season, and three second-round picks isn’t swinging the playoff positioning of the Western Conference — as much as the move holds clear benefits for both teams.

But the play-in tournament continues to have a seismic impact on the NBA’s midseason marketplace, where more teams are acting as buyers than ever before. The consolidation of movable draft capital among just a few front offices — with a hoard of picks stashed in Oklahoma City that NBA personnel don’t expect the Thunder to move at this juncture — has also contributed to this purported seller’s market not having a ton of first-round picks being extended across the proverbial table.

The latest returns from conversations among league figures also suggest many of the players whom front office personnel believed could or would become available over this transaction period simply are not for the taking. Yes, the Chicago Bulls have been open to moving Zach LaVine for quite some time. But the early rumbles of Utah listening to offers for Lauri Markkanen ended very quickly. The Brooklyn Nets, league sources told Yahoo Sports, continue to shut down any inquiry for Mikal Bridges, as HoopsHype reported earlier this week. The same goes for Jarrett Allen in Cleveland, where the Cavaliers have rebuffed any interest in their All-Star center, sources said, not to mention the team’s strong stance they’re holding onto Donovan Mitchell. Karl-Anthony Towns isn’t up for grabs in Minnesota, either, according to league personnel.

Lakers, Bucks interested in Marcus Smart?

While several clubs — including the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers, sources said — have phoned Memphis about obtaining defensive stalwart Marcus Smart, the Grizzlies have shut down any overtures for the veteran guard, sources said. Wendell Carter, Orlando’s versatile center on a value contract, is likewise no longer being considered a trade candidate for the Magic, league sources told Yahoo Sports, despite the vast amount of rival intrigue in acquiring Carter ever since Goga Bitadze performed quite well as the team’s starting big man while Carter was sidelined due to injury.

Warriors, Trail Blazers chatter

Portland has been consistent that it has no intention of moving Jerami Grant, sources said, while rival personnel have also been expressing an increasing skepticism that the Blazers will part with veteran point guard Malcolm Brogdon. And finally, the emergence of bouncy swingman Jonathan Kuminga in Golden State has certainly made the former lottery pick off limits in any Warriors deal, sources said. Kuminga was considered available prior to the NBA Draft and during free agency, when the Pacers were one of several teams to show serious interest as part of their power forward pursuit that ended in Pascal Siakam.

Hawks remain active in market

ATLANTA, GEORGIA - JANUARY 26: Dejounte Murray #5 of the Atlanta Hawks drives to the basket during the third quarter against the Dallas Mavericks at State Farm Arena on January 26, 2024 in Atlanta, Georgia. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)
Dejounte Murray is arguably the best player known to be available for trade. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)

The remaining trade deadline activity, to this point, is expected to focus on nearby cities Atlanta and Charlotte. The Hawks continue to be described by rival executives as the most active and aggressive team in the marketplace, motivated to discuss the majority of its veteran players, highlighted by All-Star guard Dejounte Murray — arguably the best player known to be available. Elsewhere on the roster, Atlanta has held its most notable discussions on Clint Capela, De’Andre Hunter and AJ Griffin, according to league sources, dating back to the offseason. It’s become clear that Atlanta values Sixth Man of the Year candidate Bogdan Bogdanovic as highly as any player on its roster not named Trae Young and Jalen Johnson, according to league sources.

More moves for Hornets?

The Hornets already got their deadline started, trading Terry Rozier to Miami for a 2027 lottery-protected first-round pick and Kyle Lowry. Charlotte still considers Lowry a possible re-trade candidate, sources said, while the Hornets are also evaluating trade options for Gordon Hayward, sources said. Two other players receiving quite a bit of interest from rival teams are P.J. Washington and reserve center Nick Richards, according to league sources.

As for Charlotte wing Miles Bridges, the Phoenix Suns continue to be described by league personnel as the team most motivated to land the Michigan State product. And it should be noted that Bridges hails from the same Spartans program that Phoenix owner Mat Ishbia was a part of under legendary head coach Tom Izzo. Bridges would add a sturdy forward that Phoenix’s roster currently lacks and could allow the Suns to deploy more effective small-ball lineups with Kevin Durant at the five.

Other potential trade items to keep monitoring:

  • We’ve heard plenty of D’Angelo Russell’s involvement in the Los Angeles Lakers’ trade conversations to fortify the unit around LeBron James, Anthony Davis and front-office favorite Austin Reaves. Let it be known that Los Angeles has also been including injured point guard Gabe Vincent, who’s played just five games due to a knee injury, in various trade talks, sources said.

  • While the Wizards have stated an asking price to inquiring teams of a first-round pick for floor general Tyus Jones, rival executives have indicated a confidence that Washington will ultimately be willing to move on from Jones for a package of multiple second-round picks. Last year’s trade deadline did see various players dealt for three and as many as five seconds.

  • Dallas and Sacramento remain the two teams connected by league figures to Washington forward Kyle Kuzma. The Mavericks appear to be pursuing a much wider range of players than the Kings. Sacramento and Dallas both registered interest in Siakam and Grant, league sources told Yahoo Sports. But aside from the Kuzma connection — the Kings have pursued Kuzma dating back to his Lakers days — Sacramento isn’t currently known to be pursuing other roster upgrades that would require parting with Harrison Barnes, sources said, and he could very well stick in Sacramento beyond the deadline. The Mavericks, meanwhile, continue to be connected to other forwards such as Washington, Dorian Finney-Smith and Andrew Wiggins.

  • Minnesota remains active in the reserve point guard market, according to league sources. Perhaps the Timberwolves will be the landing spot for Jones, bringing the point guard back to his first franchise and his hometown area. Sources said Minnesota is also considering two additions at the position who overlapped with team president Tim Connelly in Denver: Monte Morris and Bones Hyland.

  • Xavier Tillman has generated a wealth of interest from playoff teams, sources said. He's an intriguing player who’s set to reach unrestricted free agency while remaining eligible to sign an extension with Memphis.