Just under one month remains before Feb. 9 NBA trade deadline, and as team executives ramp up conversations, the marquee names of this year’s marketplace are beginning to emerge. Atlanta’s John Collins and Phoenix’s Jae Crowder are still on the trading block, and discussions surrounding both are expected to continue elevating in the days to come.
However, one organization emerges every deadline as a key hub for the entire NBA. This season, it could be San Antonio. Spurs center Jakob Poeltl has gained significant trade interest from teams such as the Toronto Raptors and Boston Celtics, according to league sources who, like all the other sources in this story, were granted anonymity so that they would be able to speak freely.
Poeltl is believed to have great respect for the Spurs’ organization, head coach Gregg Popovich and his teammates, but his desire to compete at the highest levels is a factor that other organizations feel is important to the pending unrestricted free agent. The Spurs have wanted the 27-year-old Poeltl as part of their long-term future but are balancing the risk of his price tag and potentially losing him for nothing in the summer.
The Spurs have had a standing offer to Poeltl for his maximum extension of four years and $58 million since before the season, but that has been declining, league sources say. San Antonio will be able to offer more to Poeltl in the offseason and is slated to have in excess of $50 million in salary-cap space. Rival executives believe Poeltl will approach the $20 million per year range in a new deal during the offseason. There’s no question the Spurs will hold a high price threshold for any deal involving Poeltl.
In addition to Poeltl, the Spurs have two established veteran wing players in Josh Richardson and Doug McDermott sure to receive interest ahead of the deadline.
Richardson, who will be a free agent in July, has averaged 11.3 points, 3.3 assists and 36.1 percent in 3-point shooting this season and is valued as a two-way player. McDermott, under contract through 2024 at $13.75 million per year, is averaging 10.5 points and 42.1 percent shooting from 3-point range this season.
Along with the Spurs, the Charlotte Hornets are an organization that many across the league are keeping an eye on as a potential seller as the trade deadline nears. Guard Terry Rozier, center Mason Plumlee and forwards Jalen McDaniels and Kelly Oubre Jr. are among the players expected to receive interest in potential deals.
The Hornets are expected to listen to suitors for Rozier ahead of the deadline, though he has three years remaining on the four-year, $97 million extension that he signed in 2021.
The Hornets (11-34) are the worst team in the Eastern Conference this season and are behind the Houston Rockets (10-34) for the worst record in the league. Charlotte’s season has been derailed by extended absences to key rotation pieces such as LaMelo Ball, Gordon Hayward, Dennis Smith Jr., Cody Martin and Miles Bridges. He has the fourth-worst defense in the NBA.
For now, San Antonio and Charlotte are viewed as two of the NBA’s assured sellers in the market. The Houston Rockets also have guard Eric Gordon as a trade candidate but have set an asking price of a good young player or first-round pick for Gordon, league sources say.
When talking to team officials across the NBA, the Toronto Raptors are the most fascinating franchise to watch before the deadline. At 20-24 and 11th place in the Eastern Conference, the Raptors have underwhelmed at times and have several talented players — Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby, Fred VanVleet and Gary Trent Jr. — whom teams are monitoring. If the Raptors decide to rebuild and prepare to aim for the draft lottery by moving a couple of their key cornerstones, there will be a long list of suitors.
Without a doubt, the Raptors have the full attention of everyone across the NBA.
More NBA news and notes…
The Utah Jazz have been the most engaged team recently on a potential Collins trade, league sources say. The Washington Wizards have also been among the teams expressing interest in Collins. The Jazz have two pieces in Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt that could interest the Hawks.
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The Raptors, Los Angeles Lakers, New Orleans Pelicans, Milwaukee Bucks, Cleveland Cavaliers and Dallas Mavericks are among the teams registering interest in Detroit’s Bojan Bogdanović, league sources say. The Pistons have maintained that they prefer to keep Bogdanović moving forward, but as The Athletic‘s James Edwards III reported, the franchise is open to conversations, and it’s believed an unprotected first-round pick can pry Bogdanović out of Detroit.
The Clippers are searching for depth in the frontcourt and have discussed guard John Wall in potential deals, league sources say. Behind Ivica Zubac, the Clippers have relied heavily on two-way big man Moses Brown but have also looked into a more accomplished center.
Los Angeles Lakers
Lakers star Anthony Davis is aiming to return to the lineup By early February, within a handful of games before the All-Star break, league sources say. Davis has been sidelined since Dec. 16 due to a stress reaction and bone spur injury in his right foot. Davis had played like an MVP candidate prior to the injury, with season averages of 27.4 points, 12.1 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 2.1 blocks and a career-high 59.4 percent field goal shooting.
The Timberwolves have a major decision to make with D’Angelo Russell, who is on an expiring $31.3 million contract with no signs of an extension. The team would lose his salary slot if he leaves as a free agent, so Minnesota has been exploring trade possibilities for Russell while prioritizing another point guard, sources said.
San Antonio Spurs
The Hawks are in serious talks to hire Spurs executive and former Cavaliers GM Chris Grant as a senior adviser in Landry Fields’ front office, sources said. Grant, a well-respected exec, spent nine years in the Hawks’ organization (1996-2005) before serving as an assistant GM and GM for the Cavaliers from 2005 to 2014.
The Suns and Magic have emerged as potential free-agent suitors for All-Star guard VanVleet, league sources say. VanVleet — the 2019 NBA champion and one of the league’s greatest undrafted success stories — spoke recently about his pending free-agency status in the offseason and how he remains focused on the Raptors: “I’m completely focused on his team. My loyalty is to this team and to this franchise and trying to get us back to the level that we’re accustomed to around here.”
The Timberwolves and Clippers are expressing interest in Jazz guard Mike Conley Jr., league sources say. Conley, a well-respected veteran in Utah and across the league, has averaged 10.3 points, 7.5 assists and 2.3 rebounds this season. The Jazz are 5-7 without Conley this season and 18-17 with him in the lineup.
(Top photo of Jakob Poeltl: Nathaniel S. Butler / NBAE via Getty Images)