At this stage of the NBA's midseason trade window, the Atlanta Hawks, Portland Trail Blazers, Indiana Pacers, Sacramento Kings and New Orleans Pelicans are considered to be the most active teams in trade conversations ahead of the Feb. 10 deadline, according to league sources.
With the Ben Simmons saga still in apparent limbo, John Collins, Myles Turner, CJ McCollum and Jerami Grant remain the biggest names regularly mentioned by league personnel as likely trade candidates.
More Hawks Shakeups Coming?
Under lead executive Travis Schlenk, Atlanta hasn’t shied away from bold roster moves recently. From the in-season acquisition of Clint Capela to the offseason splurges for Bogdan Bogdanovic and Danilo Gallinari, the Hawks have regularly tried to maximize their playoff chances around Trae Young.
All those pieces now comprise an expensive puzzle. Finances and interpersonal dynamics already led Cam Reddish out the door, ahead of extension discussions this summer. John Collins and Gallinari would seem to be the most likely players integral to their 2021 Eastern Conference Finals run who could see a change of scenery next. Bogdan Bogdanovic's name has appeared in conversations with several rival teams as well, sources said. All three have been involved in Atlanta's negotiations to acquire Ben Simmons.
One team contacted by Atlanta regarding Collins told Bleacher Report the Hawks were only seeking a valuable first-round pick and a starting-caliber player in exchange for the talented young forward.
Other teams believe the Hawks could draw an even higher return. Jerami Grant has been frequently mentioned as a primary trade target for the Hawks this deadline, and Atlanta placed a call to San Antonio about Derrick White, sources said. The Spurs and Mavericks have been considered Collins suitors dating back to the 2020 offseason.
Another interesting Hawks tidbit: Before Atlanta sent Reddish to New York, the Hawks and Celtics discussed a framework that would have swapped Marcus Smart for Kevin Heurter and Reddish, sources said. It's unclear how far that dialogue progressed.
Portland's Uncertain Future
The week leading up to Damian Lillard's abdominal surgery, league insiders expected Portland to embrace a one-season rebuild: shut down the vets and add a top lottery selection to an emerging core of Damian Lillard, Anfernee Simons and Nassir Little.
With Little now expected to miss the rest of the season with a shoulder labral tear, according to ESPN.com, that would seem to bolster the case for a Blazers mini-tank the rest of this campaign.
But the Blazers' recent rally of six wins in 10 games to reclaim the final spot in the Western Conference play-in picture did have rival executives preparing for the possibility that Portland becomes a buyer at the deadline.
One thing remains clear: The Trail Blazers, unlikely to march deep into the postseason, appear motivated to dodge the tax. Add in Simons' recent explosion before his restricted free agency this summer, and rival executives have painted all of CJ McCollum, Norman Powell, Jusuf Nurkic and Robert Covington as potential trade candidates.
The destination most often linked to McCollum has been New Orleans, who could sensibly deal Jonas Valanciunas and Josh Hart. That would give the Blazers a center replacement for Nurkic, a strong veteran contributor in Hart and sneak Portland under the tax. It would seem the Pelicans would be more willing to part with Tomas Satoranksy and Jaxson Hayes over Valanciunas, however.
For those wondering whether interim general manager Joe Cronin has the agency to make a move like trading McCollum, just look at what he’s already done. The executive has already hired and terminated various figures within Portland's basketball operations, including the scouting department, public relations and medical teams.
When Cronin asked permission to interview former Cavaliers executive Andrae Patterson, the job offer came one day later, sources told B/R. Patterson will have significant input in the Blazers' draft and free agency planning as an assistant general manager, with discretion to hire staffers. This Portland nucleus clearly has the authority to trade major pieces of this roster.
Portland has been mentioned among the long list of Jerami Grant suitors. While the Pistons have conveyed a preference for young talent and draft capital in return for Grant, Detroit was one of Powell's top free agency options just last summer. Pistons head coach Dwane Casey of course overlapped with Powell in Toronto.
Covington is expected to draw numerous interested teams. Yet Utah, a popular destination mentioned by league figures, has been described to B/R as an unlikely landing spot despite their initial overtures with Portland.