Externally, NBA trade talks often don’t really get rolling until right before the deadline.

Internally, though, the discussions are constant.

Teams are consistently running self-assessments and revising—or even scrapping—them on the fly. It’s all a part of the roster-construction process. The deeper into the campaign each team travels, the more they know about what they have, what they can reasonably expect to accomplish (now or in the future) and what they need to make that happen.

As front offices start to ramp up these conversations, each has one major question that needs answering, as it will shape the direction they take (or don’t) at the deadline. The aim here is laying out and exploring the biggest trade-deadline question on the table for all 30 teams.


Atlanta Hawks

Question: Is it finally time to trade John Collins?

The trade rumor mill has become John Collins’ permanent place of residence. At this point, it would be more newsworthy to hear Atlanta wasn’t fielding offers for its bouncy big man.

Then again, trade winds have swirled around him for years, so why would this deadline be any different?

Well, perceptions can be deceiving, but he certainly feels closer to a scenery change than he has in the past. With an escalating salary and declining production—his 13.3 points per game are his fewest since his rookie season—he seems obtainable. The question, though, is whether an in-season trade amid a rocky campaign would allow Atlanta to maximize its return.


Boston Celtics

Question: Can we count on Sam Hauser and Luke Kornet to be part of the playoff rotation?

Injuries to Danilo Gallinari and Robert Williams III forced the Shamrocks to rely on Sam Hauser and Luke Kornet more than they perhaps initially planned. For the most part, both players have found ways to exceed expectations.

Hauser started out red-hot from the perimeter, and Kornet has kept busy on the interior. If Boston feels good about their prospects, then this franchise might snooze right on through trade season.

However, Hauser, a shooting specialist, has been mired in a shooting funk (30.4 percent since Dec. 1), and Kornet’s lack of lateral quickness can make him vulnerable in space. It isn’t hard to imagine their weaknesses being highlighted on a playoff opponent’s game plan. If the Celtics aren’t comfortable with that possibility, then a deal for frontcourt depth (perhaps at the expense of Payton Pritchard) could be in the cards.