The NBA trade market is a bit out of whack because of several factors.

The first factor is the play-in tournament. As it stands, two-thirds of the NBA qualifies for the postseason. That’s making teams wait longer to see if they can work their way into the tournament and possibly the playoffs before trading an important piece.

The other factor stems from the Rudy Gobert trade to Minnesota. The Timberwolves paid such a steep price for Gobert that other teams have an elevated valuation of their own players. Some of it is posturing, and some of it is just irrational.

Several teams have also made trades using future picks, leaving them with little to no draft equity to make another trade happen.

This trade deadline could be a dud if teams are unwilling to lower their asking prices. Not everyone is worth an unprotected first-round pick. Just because Minnesota overpaid for Gobert does not mean every other team will.

With that in mind, here are some trade ideas for teams looking to contend for a championship this season.


Memphis Grizzlies Take a Huge Swing

Memphis Grizzlies Receive: O.G. Anunoby

Toronto Raptors Receive: Danny Green, David Roddy, 2023 first-round pick, 2024 first-round pick (via GSW), 2025 first-round pick (lottery-protected)

The Toronto Raptors are at a crossroads. At the time of writing this, they are five games below .500 and just outside the play-in tournament. The overall vibe around the team has not been good, and teams are watching to see if they blow it up and build around Scottie Barnes.

At the same time, the Western Conference is there for the taking. It’s the perfect time for the Grizzlies to swing big with a cupboard full of assets and a ticking clock as this roster becomes more expensive.

Memphis has all of its own picks, plus a Golden State Warriors selection that is top-four protected in 2024, top-one protected in 2025 or unprotected in 2026. They also have the expiring contract of Danny Green to help facilitate a trade as well as a ton of young talent.

Should the Raptors choose to blow it up, the Grizzlies need to not hesitate putting together a package for O.G. Anunoby. Several iterations of this trade work, but using Green as a core piece to help make the money match up is key. The Raptors could ask for any young player from David Roddy, Ziaire Williams, Jake LaRavia or Jon Konchar as well.

The three draft picks are the true prize of the deal, especially the heavily protected Warriors selection. That could be an added lottery pick as early as the 2024 draft.

It’s a really nice haul to receive three draft picks for a player who has a year-and-a-half left on his deal (not including a player option for 2024-25).

For the Grizzlies, it’s more than just adding Anunoby; it would also give them insurance as Dillion Brooks enters unrestricted free agency next offseason.


Denver Nuggets Get a Backup Big

Denver Nuggets Receive: Isaiah Hartenstein

New York Knicks Receive: 2024 second-round pick, 2025 second-round pick

The Denver Nuggets sit at the top of the Western Conference by a very thin margin and have a serious need for a backup center.

The numbers are screaming this yet again. Nikola Jokic has a 23.2-point net-rating swing (plus-12.6 when he’s on; minus-10.6 when he’s off). The Nuggets cannot go into the playoffs with that continuing to be an issue.

Isaiah Hartenstein would be the perfect big man behind Jokic. He had a short stint with Denver in the 2020-21 season, so there is some familiarity. Playing in the second unit, he would begin to shrink that massive swing the Nuggets experience, and he also fits within Denver’s trade exception from the Monte Morris and Will Barton trade over the offseason.

So the question is: Why would the Knicks make this trade?

The trade would make them thin at center, but the Knicks should look to spread his minutes around. Give more minutes to Jericho Sims, whose per-36 numbers are comparable to Hartenstein’s. Experiment with playing Obi Toppin and Julius Randle. Playing small would not be a bad idea for New York.

This is an asset play for the Knicks. Hartenstein has been fine averaging just below 20 minutes per game and has a slightly positive net rating. He’s not good enough to fetch a first-round pick, but collecting draft assets is the better play for New York than being a buyer at this season’s trade deadline.

The Knicks are loaded with several young players and draft assets to be players in the next chase for a star who becomes disgruntled. This trade would just add to their asset cupboard.

Be sellers, Knicks—not buyers.