NBA Trade Deadline 2018: Pacific Division Preview
Championship odds for each Pacific Division team come via TopBet and are accurate leading into games for Wednesday, Feb. 7. Please, as always, be sure to give these lines an additional once-over before deciding on or placing a wager, as the numbers could change.
Record projections and statistical ranks are all courtesy of Basketball-Reference or NBA.com and are accurate as of games played on Tuesday, Feb. 6. Keep this in mind should you be taking stock of the Pacific Division landscape sometime after the fact. And finally: Teams will be tackled in order of increasing winning percentage.
Sacramento Kings (+300000)
- Offensive Rating Rank: 30
- Defensive Rating Rank: 29
- Net Rating Rank: 30
- Win-Loss Pace: 26-56
- Buyers or Sellers: Sellers
- Biggest Need: Cap relief for next season
The Sacramento Kings overcomplicated their situation this past summer. They should not have loaded up on veterans like George Hill, Vince Carter and Zach Randolph in hopes of remaining competitive or helping the locker room remain stable amid rampant losing. It created a weird dynamic.
Head coach Dave Joerger has been left trying to dole out adequate minutes to everyone, both youngsters and veterans alike. Only recently did the Kings come out and commit to giving the youth more run over the old heads. That type of push and pull lays the groundwork for an inconsistent direction. The Kings should not—nay, cannot—have that. They’re in a fragile part of their development: the very beginning. They need to aggressively be seeking out picks and prospects and salary-cap relief that they can then parlay into more picks and prospects.
Count on them doing just that—or attempting to do just that—in advance of the trade deadline. At least one of George Hill and Garrett Temple should be finishing the season elsewhere, while we shouldn’t be ruling out a deal for Kosta Koufos or an eventual buyout for Vince Carter.
Expect the Kings, in turn, to get worse. They should exit the deadline a little more rich in picks and prospects, and perhaps cap space, but they’re not suddenly going to morph into a viable single-game bet.
Phoenix Suns (+200000)
- Offensive Rating Rank: 27
- Defensive Rating Rank: 30
- Net Rating Rank: 29
- Win-Loss Pace: 27-55
- Buyers or Sellers: Both
- Biggest Need: Point guard help
With the Phoenix Suns contending for top-three lottery odds, they should technically be sellers. But they’re not like the Kings and many other rebuilding teams. They’ve already started reinvesting in the current core.
T.J. Warren signed a four-year extension earlier in the season, and third-year guard Devin Booker will be extension-eligible this summer. And when young players you intend to keep long term get more expensive, you have no choice but to strike on some level.
That doesn’t mean the Suns will begin auctioning off their own first-round picks or other incumbent prospects. They cannot be doing that either. They should, however, be trying to add talent at the point guard position, since they traded Eric Bledsoe in November, waived Mike James shortly thereafter and just recently lost Isaiah Canaan for the year.
Players like Elfrid Payton of the Orlando Magic and Emmanuel Mudiay of the Denver Nuggets both spring to mind. They’re fliers who could end up being part of the Suns’ long-haul trajectory, but who also won’t break the asset bank in any potential trade.
Los Angeles Lakers (+100000)
- Offensive Rating Rank: 28
- Defensive Rating Rank: 11
- Net Rating Rank: 23
- Win-Loss Pace: 34-48
- Buyers or Sellers: Both
- Biggest Need: Financial flexibility for summers of 2018 and 2019/more first-round picks and prospects
Get ready for the Los Angeles Lakers to maybe, quite possibly, potentially switch course.
The book on them has been the same all year: They would look to shed salary at the trade deadline so they could have enough cap space to sign two max free agents this summer. But that aim has apparently shifted.
The New Orleans Pelicans lost DeMarcus Cousins for the season, Paul George appears happy with the Oklahoma City Thunder, and no one quite knows what the heck LeBron James is going to do. Ergo, the Lakers don’t figure to be major winners on the free-agent market.
Recognizing this, they’ve tabled most of their ambitions until 2019. And while that could spell a quiet deadline for The Purple and Gold, it could also turn them into a miniature dumping ground. They can, and should, be looking into the acquisition of unwanted deals that both expire by 2019 and get them a first-round pick or prospect.
Los Angeles Clippers (+50000)
- Offensive Rating Rank: 12
- Defensive Rating Rank: 15
- Net Rating Rank: 13
- Win-Loss Pace: 43-39
- Buyers or Sellers: Should-be sellers; could-be buyers
- Biggest Need: Picks and prospects
After trading Blake Griffin to the Detroit Pistons, the Los Angeles Clippers should absolutely, most definitely, without a doubt be full-on sellers. And still, they might not be.
Although most signs point toward the Clippers considering a teardown, they’ve also proved resistant on the DeAndre Jordan trade front and made progress on an extension with the 31-year-old Lou Williams.
Neither development tracks with the modus operandi of a rebuilding team. Rather than holding onto and reinvesting in elder assets, the Clippers should be trying to move Jordan and Williams in search of not only cap relief, but picks and prospects that restrock what is, as of now, a ruthlessly bare cupboard.
Stand pat, or worse, actively double-down on this role-player-heavy core, and a +50000 won’t even be enough to sell you on the Clippers. They’ll have the look and feel of an expensive first-round stepping stone and nothing more.
Golden State Warriors (-275)
- Offensive Rating Rank: 1
- Defensive Rating Rank: 6
- Net Rating Rank: 1
- Win-Loss Pace: 62-80
- Buyers or Sellers: Buyers
- Biggest Need: Shooting and/or size in the second unit
The Golden State Warriors shouldn’t need anything or anyone at first glance. They have the best record in the league, to go along with the top offensive rating. They’re sitting pretty. Another title feels likely, if inevitable.
But the Warriors have run into problems recently with their bodies beyond the starting lineup. They aren’t getting enough shooting from their bench—Golden State’s second-stringers rank dead last in three-pointers made per 100 possessions—and could use a bigger body to rebound, protect the rim, dive out of the pick-and-roll and just serve as a general nuisance.
Short on trade assets, the Warriors don’t have a lot of options. Stealing someone like Kyle O’Quinn from the New York Knicks or Nerlens Noel from the Dallas Mavericks is probably the ceiling on their trade-deadline capacity. And that’s fine. They don’t need anything more than a miniature frontcourt punch to cement their status as unbeatable. One small, yet meaningful, tweak will be more than enough.
To that end, you should probably bet on their championship odds right now. They’ll only travel in the complete opposite direction, closer to -350 or lower, if they make any additions at the deadline.
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