2022 NBA trade deadline: Lakers, 76ers among five most interesting teams to watch ahead of Feb. 10

We’re just over two weeks away from the NBA 2022 trade deadline, and there’s been no shortage of rumors to keep us busy until the deals really start. With the race to the NBA Finals starting as it always has this season, there may be a large portion of the league looking to improve their roster through trade. Even teams like the Miami Heat and the Phoenix Suns, who currently sit at the top of the standings in both conferences, could look into making minor tweaks to best position themselves before the playoffs begin.

Many teams can be active either as buyers looking to improve, or sellers who want to stock up on young players and pick the draft for the future. With that in mind, here are five of the most interesting teams ahead of the February 10 trading deadline.

This season certainly hasn’t gone the way the Lakers had expected after a busy period that saw the addition of a wealth of veteran talent highlighted by trade to bring in former Major League Player of the Year Russell Westbrook. However, Westbrook’s fitness in Los Angeles has been somewhat chaotic, as his dominant style on the ball and ineffective shooting hurt the Lakers when attacking.

But that’s not the only problem with the Lakers this season. There’s the injury to Anthony Davis, who has just come back from a 17-game absence with an MCL sprain, that has hampered Los Angeles. Depth for the Lakers wasn’t great, which isn’t surprising given that most of them were traded away in the Westbrook deal. I added all of that, and the Lakers project to be one of the most interesting teams ahead of the deadline.

There were rumors of a John Wall-for-Westbrook swap, something that would come at a hefty price tag at the Lakers’ end. Reportedly, Los Angeles is also open to shopping for Talen Horton-Tucker, which is ironic given that the Lakers refused to trade him for veteran guard Kyle Lowry on the trade deadline last season. Lowry eventually signed with the Heat last summer, helping them climb to the top of the Eastern rankings.

For now, Horton-Tucker remains the Lakers’ only valuable commercial asset, but the potential trade to move Westbrook is the main attraction before the deadline. LA doesn’t operate from a position of strength, so it will take some clever maneuvering to get a favorable deal, but everyone will surely be watching to see what he does.

If you wait for the Ben Simmons bombshell deal before the deadline, it’s unlikely because the 76ers would rather wait until summer when there are bigger stars to chase – like James Harden – as a potential target. A recent report indicated that Harden wants to enter unrestricted free agency this summer, and that he is likely to look elsewhere outside of Brooklyn, with Philadelphia being a potential target.

Although a move of this magnitude may not come until the holiday season, that doesn’t mean Philadelphia won’t be active in improving its roster for the time being. The one player everyone is looking at is Tobias Harris, who has grown up as a commercial target in the past few weeks. Harris has been frustrated this season, and with Joel Embiid in the midst of another year of MVP caliber, it seems a mistake for Philadelphia not to try everything they can to improve the roster right now for a deep playoff.

The Sixers might explore a trade option suggested by Michael Clasky-Blomin: replacing Harris with the Portland Trail Blazers’ CJ McCollum. It would be a huge change for a Portland team in desperate need of one, and Embiid would surround with another perimeter scorer who could also make for himself when needed. Unlike the deal surrounding Simmons, trading away from Harris may be easier at the moment as there are likely to be many suitors who can use the scoring option #2 or #3 who can also defend. It’s just a matter of what Philadelphia wants for Harris, and which team will be willing to take on the remaining $76.8 million owed to him over the next two years.

When it comes to the qualifying race, the Hawks are now on the outside looking inward. They sit 12th in the Eastern Conference, with 1 1/2 games separating them and last place in the playing cycle. This definitely isn’t a place anyone would expect an Atlanta team to go through to the Eastern Conference Finals, but here we are. Hawks General Manager Travis Schlenk wants to “make improvements” to the roster before deadline, and given the season’s slow start, it’s easy to see why.

The Hawks did indeed make a deal recently when they shipped Cam Reddish, Solomon Hill and their 2025 second-rounders to the New York Knicks in exchange for Kevin Knox and a 2022 first-round pick. But that trade was seen as an essential part of something bigger that Atlanta might have planned in the future. It will remain to be seen what the move will be, but the Hawks have been linked with Ben Simmons – despite the Sixers’ reluctance to trade him at the moment and Atlanta’s unwillingness to take on Harris in the deal either. The Hawks may be keeping their repertoire for the summer when more players are eligible to trade, but one name mentioned before the February 10 deadline is John Collins.

Over the past two years, Collins has had heads-ups with franchise star Trae Young, having trouble with the Hawks’ basketball style, and seeing a drop in shot attempts since his third year in the league. Atlanta still opted to sign a new deal last summer, but there have been numerous reports of teams interested in trading for the sports striker. One of the reported deals that surfaced was to swap Collins forward for Pistons’ Jeramy Grant, who is seen as one of the prized targets in the trade deadline. The deal will work out financially, but the Hawks are far from the only team interested in Grant. Whatever the trade, it was clear that the Hawks’ plan would be active until the deadline, and given their current position in the East, that seemed necessary.

It will be interesting to see what the Pacers do with Domantas Sabonis, Miles Turner and Karis Levert. It was reported earlier in the season that Indiana was open to business talks about these three players, but that plan recently ran into a snag with regards to Turner and Sabonis, both of whom have struggled with injuries that could require them to miss a long time.

Injuries aside, it makes sense that Indiana would want to move toward breaking up its core after little success over the past few years. With a 17-31 record, and six games sitting outside the playing area, it seems like an ideal time for the Pacers to make some tweaks to the roster in hopes of focusing on some of their younger players like rookie Chris Duarte, who is having an outstanding season.

Sabonis and Turner are currently hurt by changing the plans that Indiana likely has for the deadline, but Leverett is still a potential commercial candidate and is said to have gotten the attention of the Cleveland Cavaliers and the New York Knicks, according to Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer. Indiana is said to want a draft pick for LeVert, and given his averaging 18.5 points, 4.2 assists and 3.7 rebounds this season there will certainly be a team willing to pay the price to have his offensive production on their team.

There is also still the possibility that the team will take a chance on Turner and/or Sabonis even though they are both injured at the moment. Prior to his injury, Turner was interested in a large number of teams including the Mavericks, Knicks, Hornets, Kings and Trail Blazers. Sabonis will garner more attention as a commercial target, and generate the most revenue for Pacers as a two-time All-Star. The bottom line is that there is a lot that can happen to the Pacers before the trade deadline; It’s just a matter of which domino falls first to start their rebuilding plan.

Sacramento Kings

There was some competing information about where the Kings plan was heading towards the trade deadline. Initially there were reports that Sacramento and Philadelphia had had “exploratory conversations” regarding Diaron Fox, indicating that a star guard was available. Recently, it was reported that Sacramento plans to keep Fox to build around him and second year guard Therese Halliburton.

But there are still a few players on Sacramento’s roster who might wear different jerseys after the trade deadline, like Harrison Barnes and Buddy Hield. Barnes has been a productive veteran for the past four years in Sacramento, but if Kings (18-31) are focused on building around Fox and Halliburton, Barnes doesn’t fit that schedule. He has averaged 16.3 points, six rebounds and 2.4 assists this season, while shooting more than 40 percent from depth which will surely tempt many contending teams to take a look at him. He’s still only 29 and could steal a team this season as he only has a year left on his contract ($18.3 million next year) before he becomes a free agent.

There’s also Hield, who has grown up in business discussions over the past few years. Hield has been moved to the bench role this season, but he still puts up effective numbers (15.1 points, 38 percent from depth). Any rival team looking to score goals off the bench would be interested in producing Hield, and the Kings are said to be enjoying the idea of ​​packing Hield and Marvin Bagley together for a big return. We just have to wait and see if the Kings get the payouts they demand from all these players.

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