As the NBA Trade Deadline approaches, names are popping up around the league as contenders look to add experience and depth. The Lakers, on the other hand, are desperately searching for talent to help their two superstars.
Pascal Siakam To The Pacers
A Pascal Siakam trade before the NBA’s Trade Deadline didn’t come as a surprise. His name had been floating around the trade block given the timeline of the Toronto Raptors rebuild. If anything, he ensured the Raptors were too good at a time when they are happy to pick up losses in the name of player development.
However, his trade to the Indiana Pacers is somewhat of a shock.
The Raptors agreed to move Siakam for Bruce Brown, Kira Lewis, Jordan Nwora, two first-round picks and a conditional first-round pick.
It’s a move that adds another uptick to the rapidly rising trend line of this young Pacers team. Already playing with an NBA-best offence scoring 121.9 points per 100 possessions, they’ve added a versatile offensive player who can defend all the way up the court.
"You put him in an NBA game and he'll find a way to get his averages." Rick Carlisle on Pascal Siakam
He's essentially saying he's a HOOPER which is a fact. pic.twitter.com/ElWxbFGLJy
— Amit Mann (@Amit_Mann) January 20, 2024
He can do it all with the ball. He can score and play make for others. While Tyreese Haliburton will still run the show, Siakam’s mere presence takes pressure off the young point guard and causes the defensive team to consider elsewhere on the court in late-game situations. The potential of the two in pick-and-roll scenarios is mouth-watering. Defensively, he’s a long body that can defend at the point of attack or as help off the ball. He can only improve their 26th-ranked defence.
That low-level defence is what stopped most people from getting too excited about the Pacers as possible spoilers in the Eastern Conference. For as well as they could score the ball, it’s for little in the playoffs if you can’t stop points from coming back the other way. All of a sudden, Indiana has some starch to their defence.
The Pacers are still way out at $67 to win the championship. It’s obviously unlikely, but worth looking into at that price…
At $1.26 to make the playoffs and $3.75 to miss out before the trade, the Pacers are now all but locked in at $1.08. It’s not a move that has changed the landscape of the league this season, but it’s accelerated Indiana’s move towards contention.
Nuggets End Celtics Streak
In their one and only visit to Boston throughout the NBA regular season, the Denver Nuggets handed the Celtics their first home loss. The 102-100 win ends a 27-game winning streak at home for the Celtics who still hold the best record in the league at 32-10.
Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray are one of the best one-two punches in the NBA. The pair combined for 69 points with Jokic, in particular, adding to his case to win the Most Valuable Player award with 34 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists. Jayson Tatum, on the other hand, couldn’t match the superstar performance of Jokic to finish with 22 points shooting 9-from-24.
Tatum this season:
Best player on the best team. https://t.co/OXYNRoAsLn
— StatMuse (@statmuse) January 19, 2024
It’s the second week in a row when it has felt like picking holes in the Celtics. Last week they were blown out by the Milwaukee Bucks. Now they’re dropping a big game at home to the defending NBA champions. Still, this is the best team in the league right now. Currently 3rd in both offensive rating (121.3) and defensive rating (111.5) for an NBA-best +9.8 net rating, Boston remains the team to beat despite the bubbling concerns around losses to fellow contenders.
Looking At What The Lakers Should Do Ahead Of The NBA Trade Deadline
We’ve been here before with LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers.
Following a disappointing start to the NBA season, they’re big players at the trade deadline, desperately seeking deals to ensure they don’t waste one of the last remaining years of James’ career.
Lakers 43 games in:
An organization with LeBron James and Anthony Davis consistently being <.500 halfway through seasons is one that is not doing it's job
— Daman Rangoola (@damanr) January 20, 2024
Incredibly, at 39 years old, James is averaging 24.7 points, 7.3 rebounds and 7.5 assists per game. Age just doesn’t seem to catch up with the future Hall of Famer. Still, the Lakers are a lowly 21-22 for 10th in the Western Conference and $2.12 to reach the playoffs.
In the bottom half of the league in offence and a middling team defensively, the Lakers aren’t the force many expected them to be this season. As usual, their off-season was met with optimism. They were on the fifth line of betting at $14 to win the championship after Week 1. Now, they’re sandwiched between the unexpected contenders in the Oklahoma City Thunder and Minnesota Timberwolves at $21.
You can never truly rule out a team led by James and Anthony Davis. Injuries and inconsistencies in the lineup haven’t helped matters. However, it’s clear the pair needs more help. A trade is coming…
Dejounte Murray is a name regularly mentioned, but we covered that last week:
“The reported move for Dejounte Murray isn’t one that would move the needle [if Reaves is involved]. Rather, it would give the impression that the front office is trying to fix things without achieving anything of note.”
If the Lakers can move D’Angelo Russell’s $17 million and replace it with a two-way contributor, Darvin Ham can stop choosing between offence and defence every night. James and Davis ensure a certain level of offence if the defensive side of the ball holds up.
Anticipating a trade and a late-season run, there is value in the Lakers at $2.12 to make the playoffs. James typically finds a way. Meanwhile, Davis is playing out one of the best seasons of his NBA career. This is a playoff team, at minimum, if they put the right pieces around the two superstars.
Zach LaVine’s name is one floating around as the NBA Trade Deadline approaches.
It’s no secret that he wouldn’t mind a move away from the Chicago Bulls. At 21-23 to once again be middling in the Eastern Conference, this team isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. It’s a poorly constructed roster, and LaVine knows it.
However, he can’t stay on the floor for long enough to entice possible trade candidates.
Chicago Bulls star Zach LaVine is expected to miss at least one-to-two weeks with a right ankle sprain, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium. LaVine underwent testing Friday suffering the injury in Thursday night’s win over Toronto and attempting to play through the sprain. pic.twitter.com/kxxSsAkfbU
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) January 19, 2024
Where the Siakam trade didn’t move the championship needle this season, LaVine’s impending move could, depending on where he ends up. He’s expected to return roughly one week before the deadline passes. Don’t be surprised to see him involved in a deal shortly after he makes it back onto the court.
Jazz Too Good To Tank
Unlike the Lakers and Bulls, the Utah Jazz front office is too good.
They couldn’t tank away a season even if they tried.
Expected to be towards the bottom of the pile this season, the Jazz have won 13 of their last 17 games to be 22-22 for 9th in the Western Conference.
Two years after trading away Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert, the Jazz are among the playoff contenders. Plenty had already given up on Lauri Markkanen, who has since turned into an All-Star, averaging 24 points, 8.9 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game. The expectations around Collin Sexton were the same only for the 25-year-old to average 17.4 points, 2.6 rebounds and 4 assists as a key part of the Jazz offence.
John Collins is having an impact, Jordan Clarkson will always get his buckets, and Kris Dunn is proving a problem on the defensive end.
They’re too good to tank.
They don’t have a pick in the upcoming NBA Draft. Their one now-middling first-round pick is being sent to the Thunder (who else) as part of the Derrick Favors salary dump in July 2021. As a result, the Jazz should have their sights set on making the playoffs ($7.50).
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