NBA Trade Deadline: Top Five Trade Targets
Written by: Mark Medina. Be sure to follow Mark on X (@MarkG_Medina).
For the next three weeks, NBA executives will flood their text messages and call logs with offers, counter offers and rejections.
That’s because the NBA trade deadline takes place on Feb. 8, an annual moment that brings clarity on which teams want to add a final piece to their championship puzzle and which teams want to rebuild. How that trade deadline plays out seems unpredictable, sometimes even until the final minutes.
Nonetheless, below are the top five trade targets that NBA executives will continue to talk leading into the deadline.
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Top 5 NBA Trade Targets
Chicago Bulls Guard – Zach LaVine
Following a first-round playoff exit (2021) and a failed Play-In tournament appearance (2022), the Bulls have resisted blowing up their talented, albeit underachieving, roster. With Chicago barely hanging on for another Play-In bid, the Bulls may have no other choice than to start over. LaVine is the first target considering his hopes to be dealt and his All-Star credentials as a proven scorer.
His market will be tricky, though. The Bulls rightfully will want multiple first-round picks and serviceable players. But other teams may have reservations with gutting their own roster, especially given LaVine’s concerns about his defense and durability.
Chicago Bulls Guard – Alex Caruso
If Chicago deals LaVine, will the Bulls believe they can still pursue a deep playoff push or concede they need to make more trades? Caruso, naturally, could become part of a follow-up deal considering that championship-contending teams would strongly value Caruso for his dependable defense, team-first mindset and improved outside shooting. Even rebuilding teams would like Caruso because of his strong habits and basketball IQ.
With Caruso on a cap-friendly contract (two years, $18 million), opposing teams could become more amenable toward dealing for him at the Bulls’ asking price. It also helps that Caruso has proven he can adjust to any role and fit in with any teammate.
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Atlanta Hawks Guard – Dejounte Murray
The Hawks acquired Murray two years ago in hopes he would help Trae Young with additional scoring punch and shield him from his defensive weaknesses. That hasn’t gone anywhere, even with Atlanta bringing in a proven head coach to open the 2023-24 season (Quin Snyder). With the Hawks stuck in mediocrity, Atlanta needs to punt on Murray.
He will spark interest for his defensive acumen, scoring punch and young age. But the Hawks will be mindful on if the acquired players can co-exist with Young, especially if they share the backcourt. Murray also has struggled with staying consistent, which makes his market value unpredictable.
Chicago Bulls Forward – DeMar DeRozan
Before the season started, DeRozan told me he hopes he could end his career with the Bulls. That hinged on Chicago agreeing to an extension and becoming a playoff contender. Technically, both developments could happen. If the Bulls deal LaVine, however, it wouldn’t be surprising they follow suit with DeRozan.
He has stayed efficient as a mid-range scorer, while also gradually increasing his 3-point attempts. He can fit in with any team as either the first, second or third scoring option. He is considered a model teammate for his competitiveness and amenable personality. Anticipate a robust market for DeRozan, especially since he has an expiring contract that can give teams long-term roster flexibility.
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Sacramento Kings Guard – Kevin Huerter
With the Kings hoping to upgrade their defense, Huerter would be the most likely trade candidate considering the team does not want to break up its core roster. Despite Huerter’s defensive limitations, he would be attractive to any team that needs to bolster its outside shooting.
By no means would this represent a block-buster trade. But in today’s NBA, championship-contending teams need at least be respectable in outside shooting. Though Huerter can be a streaky shooter, he also can hit timely shots.