The NBA trade deadline is only two days away, and the rumor mill has been surprisingly quiet. For one reason, multiple teams have done their business early, with the Raptors trading OG Anuboby (New York) and Pascal Siakam (Indiana) and Charlotte moving Terry Rozier (Miami). Add in the continued impact of the In-Season Tournament, with more teams positioning themselves as buyers (or the “hold firm” type) instead of sellers, and there appears to be a shortage of big names who could be on the move.
However, it doesn’t take much for things to spring to life. With Thursday including a nine-game slate, fantasy managers could have much to work through regarding lineup replacements in the short term. Players who wouldn’t usually be on the radar could become reputable streamers, and rookies waiting in the wings could be thrust into prominent roles for the final two months of the regular season.
Let’s look at some of the big names mentioned in trade rumors and how their departures would impact fantasy basketball.
– Dejounte Murray
Murray may be the biggest name among those included in trade rumors, as the partnership between him and Trae Young hasn’t proved as fruitful as the Hawks hoped when they made the deal in the summer of 2022. Even though he agreed to a four-year extension that begins next year, Murray is considered by many to be the biggest name among players who have come up in trade rumors. Leaving out who the Hawks could receive in exchange for Murray, his exit would impact the fantasy values of multiple players.
Trae Young’s already-high usage would receive a boost, and it’s fair to wonder if Jalen Johnson would have more opportunities to serve as a playmaker. While primarily a “finisher,” he’s shown flashes of the playmaking ability that made him a highly-regarded recruit during high school. This could be a case of “untapped potential,” the Hawks would have the opportunity to see what more Johnson can do if Murray gets traded. Fantasy managers should also watch De’Andre Hunter and Saddiq Bey, as Johnson appears to have separated himself from those two regarding production and potential.
– Malcolm Brogdon and Jerami Grant
Unlike the Hawks, the Trail Blazers aren’t in the running for a Play-In Tournament slot, hence the trade-related attention on Brogdon and Grant. While the former’s name has come up more often in recent rumors, Brogdon said in a recent interview that he’s happy and feels valued in Portland. As for Grant, he also appears unlikely to be on the move due to his positional versatility and importance to the Trail Blazers rotation. A few players who stand to be impacted by what happens with Brogdon and Grant are Scoot Henderson, Jabari Walker, and Kris Murray.
Henderson’s minutes have increased recently, with Chauncey Billups using him as the backup point guard. Efficiency remains a concern, but Henderson has been a more productive player than earlier in the season. Walker has been a starter and stands to remain in that role, especially with Shaedon Sharpe ruled out for the remainder of the season. Sharpe’s absence also frees up minutes for Murray, who’s been out of the rotation for most of the first half of the season.
If Brogdon and Grant remain in Portland, which appears to be the expectation, extra rest down the stretch could free up additional minutes for the Blazers’ younger players. This is a team to watch ahead of the “silly season” for that reason.
– Bruce Brown
Brown was one of the players the Raptors received from Indiana in the Siakam trade, and multiple contenders covet him. An integral member of the Nuggets’ rotation last season, Brown also has a team-friendly contract, as he has a team option for next season worth $23 million. What could complicate things here is that Brown can’t be dealt with another player until March 17 (which is obviously after the deadline). Still, his cap number ($22 million) makes it unnecessary for Toronto to need a second player to make a deal happen.
Should Brown be traded, rookie Gradey Dick is a player to watch fantasy-wise. He’s at least 20 minutes off the bench in five of his last six games, most recently logging 30 and finishing with 22 points, four rebounds, two assists, one steal, and four 3-pointers in a February 5 loss to New Orleans. Deep league managers who can afford to be patient can consider stashing Gradey, but they should not feel obligated.
– Miles Bridges and P.J. Washington
Charlotte has been brutal this season, and two of the team’s expected building blocks (LaMelo Ball and Mark Williams) have missed extended periods due to injury. Bridges, who will be a restricted free agent in July, and Washington have garnered interest among teams looking to strengthen their frontcourt rotations. Marc Stein reported in the Tuesday edition of his Substack that Washington is one of the Mavericks’ preferred targets, along with Washington’s Kyle Kuzma. Depending on Charlotte’s asking price, Washington could be easier to make a deal for.
While Brandon Miller has been a star over the past month, he isn’t a player fantasy managers can add outside of shallow leagues. Fellow first-round pick Nick Smith Jr. has been in the rotation since mid-December, and he’s someone whose minutes should increase after the All-Star break. The production hasn’t been good enough to merit being rostered right now, even if only to stash him ahead of the “silly season.” Fantasy managers will be fine if they add Smith’s name to their watch lists.
– Kyle Kuzma, Tyus Jones, and Delon Wright
As noted above, Kuzma is reported to be one of Dallas’s preferred targets as they look to strengthen their frontcourt. However, the Wizards don’t appear interested in trading a player who can fit into their rebuild. Jones and Wright, on the other hand, will both be unrestricted free agents in July. The former could be especially valuable, given his experience as the backup point guard on a playoff team in Memphis. The Wizards don’t have much depth behind Jones and Wright at the point guard position, so there may not be a direct beneficiary if those two are moved at the deadline. However, Kuzma and Deni Avdija have some playmaking qualities, and the post-All-Star break portion of the schedule should feature a heavy dose of rookie Bilal Coulibaly. He’s a player who fantasy managers should already have on their radars.
– Bojan Bogdanovic and Alec Burks
The Pistons still have the worst record in the NBA, and Burks’ name has picked up steam in the trade rumor mill due to his play over the past month. Multiple teams needing perimeter depth have him on the radar, and Detroit may be able to get draft capital in return. Bogdanovic’s situation may not be as clear; the Pistons refused to trade him last season, and we may be headed down that path again.
Only $2 million of his salary for next season is guaranteed (it becomes fully guaranteed on June 29), and there’s no lack of interest in Bogdanovic. Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports reported that the 76ers are targeting him as they look to account for the absence of Joel Embiid, with Indiana’s Buddy Hield being another reported target. Add in Mike Muscala and Danilo Gallanari, and the Pistons have the potential to be highly active at the deadline.
As for who could benefit if moves are made, rookies Ausar Thompson and Marcus Sasser are the ones to watch. A starter earlier this season, Thompson’s minutes have fluctuated since he moved to the bench. As for Sasser, he’s been stuck in a logjam at the points but has played well when given extended minutes. The Cade Cunningham/Jaden Ivey partnership has some potential, but the Pistons appear to know what they have (or don’t) in Killian Hayes. Fantasy managers are likely rooting for Sasser to get more opportunities after the All-Star break.
– Andre Drummond and Alex Caruso
While DeMar DeRozan’s name has come up in some trade rumors, he’ll be a free agent this summer, making him an expensive potential rental for a contending team. Drummond and Caruso have also been mentioned, and it may be a little easier to move them in exchange for salary relief or draft capital. Caruso being moved would have a more significant fantasy impact on the Bulls’ remaining players than Drummond.
Ayo Dosunmu’s minutes have increased with Zach LaVine and Patrick Williams sidelined, and there could also be more opportunities for Julian Phillips and Dalen Terry after the All-Star break. Phillips is an intriguing rookie; one of the most athletic players in his draft class, he can be an impactful finisher and defender. The minutes haven’t been there yet, but that could change if the Bulls tail off down the stretch.
– Jordan Clarkson and Kelly Olynyk
Utah finds itself in a situation similar to last year, remaining in the race for a Play-In Tournament when few expected the team to. Last February, Danny Ainge changed the roster drastically, adding draft capital to the franchise’s coffers. And some players on the roster can help this week if Utah decides to make moves. Clarkson and Olynyk are the players whose names have come up most often in trade rumors, with Keyonte George and Taylor Hendricks being young talents worth watching for the post-All-Star break portion of the schedule.
George is already the backup point guard; moving Clarkson would enhance his value even more. As for Hendricks, the lottery pick has been out of the rotation for most of this season, and that has the potential to change if Utah were to move Olynyk. However, while George is a player whom fantasy managers are already invested in (22% rostered, Yahoo), Hendricks is not. Managers can afford to take a wait-and-see approach with the latter, but the former will be worth adding in standard leagues if Clarkson is traded.