NBA trade deadline primer: Strategies for all 30 teams

Ahead of the 2019 NBA trade deadline, here's a look at where all 30 teams stand, and what they'll hope to do between now and Thursday's 3 p.m. ET cutoff.

Atlanta Hawks - Seller

A year ago, the Hawks didn't recoup any compensation for two available rotation players - Ersan Ilyasova and Marco Belinelli - who wound up getting bought out and then combined to make a huge impact during Philadelphia's run to the second round. The Hawks will be looking to avoid that outcome this time around, and there should be enough interest in Jeremy Lin and Dewayne Dedmon to net at least a couple second-rounders. Both players are on expiring deals, both are good enough to crack a contender's rotation, and both possess skills that come in handy in playoff games.

The Hawks will also likely try to find a new home for Kent Bazemore, but his contract makes a deal unlikely. And while they've reportedly put out feelers for Taurean Prince, their asking price for the third-year wing is apparently prohibitive, for now.

Boston Celtics - Hold

Boston’s plans are mostly dependent on what New Orleans does. If the Pelicans trade Anthony Davis to the Lakers before Thursday's deadline, the Celtics could try to use one of their three extra first-round picks to acquire a backup big who protects the rim (and perhaps a reliable shooter off the bench, too). But if the Pelicans keep Davis through the deadline, Danny Ainge should hold his assets and wait for the summer. Either way, the Celtics have been one of the league's best teams over the last 15 games following a miserable start.

Brooklyn Nets - Hold

It's a total cliche, but getting Caris LeVert back will be just like a trade deadline acquisition. The Nets aren't yet ready to make real noise in the playoffs, and they should use the rest of this season to evaluate what they have. If some team knocks their socks off with an offer for D'Angelo Russell, that's something the Nets should consider, but it's also highly unlikely considering Russell is set to hit restricted free agency.

Charlotte Hornets - Buyer

Charlotte's reportedly close to landing Marc Gasol from Memphis, which would make plenty of sense with Kemba Walker set to hit free agency and the Hornets desperate to re-sign him. That means doing everything they can to give Walker a reason to stay, which means upgrading the roster at virtually any cost. However, the Hornets are pretty asset-poor, so that isn't saying much. Outside of Walker, rookie Miles Bridges is probably the closest thing to an untouchable player on the roster, and it still wouldn't be a shock to see him traded. If a Gasol deal does get done, Walker would have his best pick-and-roll partner since ... ever.

Meanwhile, the Hornets would probably be willing to include a first-rounder in a trade if it means shipping off one of their cumbersome multi-year contracts (Bismack Biyombo, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Nic Batum, Cody Zeller, Marvin Williams ... yeesh, they have a lot of cumbersome multi-year contracts).

Chicago Bulls - Seller

The Bulls will be open for business, but they won't have much on the shelves. They'll aggressively shop Jabari Parker, and while they probably won't get much for him in a vacuum, they might snag a decent pick if they're willing to take back a bad long-term deal from a team clearing space for free agency.

If the Bulls don't see Bobby Portis as part of their future (which they likely don't, given their investments in Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr.), he could be an interesting buy-low candidate ahead of restricted free agency - the kind of guy Chicago could potentially flip to a further-along team in exchange for a less-polished, higher-variance prospect. And despite their resistance, the Bulls will almost certainly wind up buying out Robin Lopez.

Cleveland Cavaliers - Seller

Hannah Foslien / Getty Images Sport / Getty

The Cavs won't get anyone to bite on Kevin Love. He's played just four games this season due to a toe injury, and his four-year, $120-million extension hasn't even kicked in yet. However, Cleveland's done well to acquire a first-round pick and three second-rounders for Kyle Korver, George Hill, and Rodney Hood over the past two months, which has left Alec Burks and maaaybe David Nwaba as their only realistic trade pieces before the deadline. The Cavs might be able to nab another second-rounder, but otherwise, they should stay the course and acquire as many ping-pong balls as possible.

Dallas Mavericks - Hold

Dallas pulled off a shocking blockbuster by acquiring Kristaps Porzingis from New York, but its trade deadline status is still complicated.

There's really no reason for Dallas to remain a buyer considering they're four games out of a playoff spot with 30 contests remaining, Porzingis is likely out until next season, and they can't trade away another first-rounder until 2025 due to the "Stepien Rule."

On the other hand, with J.J. Barea nursing a ruptured Achilles and the Mavs' other expected trade chips already sent packing, there's little left to sell. Short of flipping Harrison Barnes, who has a $25.1-million player option for next season, it doesn't seem like Dallas can do much before the deadline.

Denver Nuggets - Hold

Denver has a complete team, especially now that everyone's finally healthy. Injuries to Gary Harris, Paul Millsap, and Will Barton allowed Malik Beasley, Torrey Craig, Juancho Hernangomez, and Monte Morris to develop into reliable pieces, giving Denver one of the strongest 10-man rotations in the league. If anything, the Nuggets could look to cash in one of their emerging talents for a future pick, but odds are they won't want to mess with their chemistry and will just roll into the playoffs with everything they have.

Detroit Pistons - Buyer

The playoff-hungry Pistons have reportedly engaged the Grizzlies in talks for Mike Conley, which is exactly what they should be doing, as Blake Griffin needs help. Unfortunately, Detroit probably doesn't have the goods to outbid other interested parties.

If they can't get Conley, the Pistons should still be in acquisition mode when it comes to upgrading the point or the wing. But their haul will likely depend on how the market values Luke Kennard and Bruce Brown ... which doesn't bode well. Meanwhile, they're reportedly trading their best wing, Reggie Bullock, to the Lakers for Svi Mykhailiuk, which doesn't make any sense.

In addition to losing Bullock, the Pistons reportedly dealt 22-year-old Stanley Johnson to the Bucks for Thon Maker - another move that doesn't change anything in the short or long term.

Golden State Warriors - Buyer

If you think the Warriors are content with their All-Star-caliber starting lineup and their luxury-tax hell, think again. It will probably be a buyout-market addition rather than a deadline-day deal, but you can bet the champs will add another serviceable veteran between now and the end of this season. Wesley Matthews' name has already surfaced in reports as a buyout candidate in New York.

Houston Rockets - Buyer

Bob Levey / Getty Images Sport / Getty

The Rockets aren't as deep or healthy as last season, and their roster is stocked full of aging veterans on unappealing contracts. Still, this team was reportedly ready to part with four first-round picks in exchange for Jimmy Butler only a few months ago. If there's a path to some help for James Harden, count on Daryl Morey finding it.

Of note, seldom-used big man Marquese Chriss wants out of town, while the Rockets are also reportedly willing to trade a first-rounder to unload Brandon Knight's contract (Knight's owed more than $15.6 million next season).

Indiana Pacers - Hold

The Pacers were heading toward a fascinating deadline before Victor Oladipo's season-ending knee injury, and that devastating twist probably puts them in a holding pattern until at least the offseason. Indiana reportedly backed off its pursuit of Mike Conley, and it doesn't make sense to trade away any young assets for a player who still probably wouldn't get them out of the first round.

Indiana could, however, become a minor seller by dealing one of its many expiring deals. The Pacers reportedly want to re-sign Bojan Bogdanovic and Thaddeus Young, but with rookie Aaron Holiday waiting in the wings, they could look to flip one of their veteran point guards in Darren Collison or Cory Joseph.

Los Angeles Clippers - Seller

The Clippers were thought to be one of the league's most fascinating teams heading into the deadline, and they've already made a splash. As most of the NBA world slept early Wednesday morning, Los Angeles reportedly dealt Tobias Harris, Boban Marjanovic, and Mike Scott to the 76ers for Wilson Chandler, Mike Muscala, Landry Shamet, two first-round picks, and two second-rounders.

And the Clippers might not be done selling despite occupying the Western Conference's eighth and final playoff spot five months before they're expected to be a major player in free agency. Steve Ballmer doesn't need a couple home postseason games worth of revenue, and the city of Los Angeles doesn't need a track record of recent success to sell free agents on its market. The Clippers also only have five players under guaranteed contracts for next season, and rookie guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander might be the only one in their future plans.

It would mean giving up on a must-watch playoff race down the stretch, but L.A. might be wise to see what it can get for the expiring deals of Lou Williams, Patrick Beverley, Marcin Gortat, and Luc Mbah a Moute.

Los Angeles Lakers - Buyer

This one's easy.

The Lakers have already watched other teams swoop in for expected targets like Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, and Jimmy Butler - although Leonard and Butler will be free agents this summer - and even if they bank on Anthony Davis' desire to join LeBron James in Hollywood, they'd be waiting until 2020 free agency.

The longest injury absence of LeBron's career was a poignant reminder of how precious each year is for the 34-year-old, and the Lakers simply can't afford to be outbid for Davis by a team like Boston come July. They should be willing to give up anything and everything other than James to land Davis by Thursday.

Miami Heat - Seller

With a hard ceiling that appears to stop at the East's No. 6 seed and a first-round exit, the Heat should be looking to the future. Anyone besides Justise Winslow, Josh Richardson, and Bam Adebayo will likely be up for grabs.

Unfortunately, most of their veterans are on untradeable contracts. The Heat might be able to ship out Kelly Olynyk and could perhaps fetch an asset for Rodney McGruder, while a desperate team might roll the dice on Goran Dragic. Apart from that, there aren't many options. Miami would surely love to clear a bunch of salary and get back into the free-agency mix this summer, but the number of draft picks it would cost to move all that money probably takes the possibility off the table. This team would be better off waiting until those deals cycle out in 2021.

Milwaukee Bucks - Buyer

Nathaniel S. Butler / National Basketball Association / Getty

The Bucks shouldn't be looking to do anything drastic. They're thriving at both ends and their system is perfectly calibrated to produce a whole greater than the sum of its parts. Still, they could use another big as insurance, especially given the matchup issues they might run into during the playoffs with Brook Lopez in the middle.

On Wednesday, the Bucks dealt Thon Maker to the Pistons - after the center made it clear he'd like to be traded - in exchange for Stanley Johnson, who should boost their defense off the bench. Going forward, a reserve center like the Hawks' Dewayne Dedmon could be a difference-making acquisition who'd slide nicely into Milwaukee's system.

Memphis Grizzlies - Seller

Grit and Grind is dead.

After a promising start, this season has ultimately proven that even when healthy, the Grizzlies just aren't good enough to hang in the West playoff race anymore.

Mike Conley and Marc Gasol are two of the league's biggest trade chips, but lesser-name veterans on expiring contracts - like power forward JaMychal Green and guard Garrett Temple - could be solid additions for postseason contenders while netting Memphis some future value.

Minnesota Timberwolves - Seller

The Timberwolves are still technically in the playoff race, but they should make the proactive move and cash in their assets. Veterans like Taj Gibson, Anthony Tolliver, and even Derrick Rose could all return picks ahead of the deadline, but odds are Minnesota will continue chasing the bottom line and try to squeak into the playoffs.

New Orleans Pelicans - Seller

There are few, if any, more depressing situations in the league right now.

The Pelicans are coming to grips with the fact that they squandered their time with a transcendent superstar and must now rebuild, in a small market of all places, without ever fulfilling the promise of an Anthony Davis-led team in the first place.

Between Davis, Jrue Holiday (who New Orleans reportedly prefers to keep), Nikola Mirotic, and Julius Randle, the Pelicans possess the type of game-changing talents that contenders crave. Hauling in a boatload of assets for their services would help kick-start the rebuild and send the Pelicans spiraling toward the bottom of the standings, which is suddenly where they want to be.

New York Knicks - Seller

This one is straightforward. Try to squeeze an asset out of Wesley Matthews and DeAndre Jordan while also finding a taker for Enes Kanter, if possible. The Knicks already did the heavy lifting of clearing their books by dumping Kristaps Porzingis, and now they just need to patiently tank the rest of this season while not doing anything to upset the apple cart.

Oklahoma City Thunder - Buyer

It's the same deal every year with the Thunder, as they badly need shooters and any viable bench players. Rolling into the postseason with Patrick Patterson and Alex Abrines as vital rotation pieces can't possibly inspire confidence. Terrance Ferguson could also become a concern, as it's rare for players of his relative inexperience to be effective in the playoffs. Terrence Ross would be a nice fit.

Fernando Medina / National Basketball Association / Getty

Orlando Magic - Buyer/Seller

The Magic are in a super-interesting spot. There are compelling cases for and against trading All-Star center Nikola Vucevic, but there hasn't been even a peep about traction on a deal. If the signs weren't already pointing to Orlando keeping him through the deadline, Mo Bamba's stress fracture probably sealed the decision. And if Vooch is sticking around, it would behoove the Magic to find him some help, namely in the form of a point guard. This could be a fascinating Conley destination.

But that doesn't mean the Magic can't also be a seller. The playoffs are still a long shot this season, which means any of their expiring guys should be up for grabs. Terrence Ross feels like the league's most likely player to get dealt on deadline day. And if a team is interested in Aaron Gordon, Orlando would at least have to listen.

Philadelphia 76ers - Buyer

The Sixers knew they had four reliable starters and not much else, and they addressed that with the Tobias Harris deal early Wednesday.

Philly could also use some bench depth beyond T.J. McConnell, while it likely wants to resolve the infinitely awkward Markelle Fultz situation. Odds are the Sixers will be active in the buyout market once again after snagging Ersan Ilyasova and Marco Belinelli last season.

Phoenix Suns - Point guard buyer

The Suns have potential cornerstones locked up long term in Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton, and Mikal Bridges, and at 11-44, they're poised to add another potential franchise-changer in June's draft. But this team still desperately needs a point guard of the future, and should be willing to part with virtually anyone else - including Josh Jackson, T.J. Warren, and the extra first-round pick it owns via Milwaukee - to land one.

Maybe LaVar Ball really can speak it into existence for Lonzo.

Portland Trail Blazers - Buyer

Sam Forencich / National Basketball Association / Getty

Portland's in a familiar spot at the trade deadline. It's clear this core lacks the firepower to make a significant run, but the team is also too competitive to not make a play for Anthony Davis. The Blazers should be a dark-horse contender to land AD with a package surrounding C.J. McCollum, but that's not their style. At the very least, Portland should look into a reliable 3-and-D wing like Washington's Trevor Ariza.

Sacramento Kings - Facilitator

As the feel-good story of this season, Sacramento can afford to survey the landscape a bit.

The Kings won't mess with their suddenly promising young core, and shouldn't deal away picks given they're already out a 2019 first-rounder, so standing pat seems like the prudent choice. However, as the lone remaining franchise with cap space this season (roughly $11 million), look for Sacramento to be the facilitator in a three-team trade on deadline day.

San Antonio Spurs - Hold

The Spurs aren't good enough to contend for a title anymore, but it would be shocking to see them sell and risk jeopardizing the franchise's 21-year postseason streak. The buyer title doesn't really fit, either, since the aging Spurs are going to need youngsters like Derrick White, Lonnie Walker, and (the injured) Dejounte Murray going forward. Expect San Antonio to sit out another deadline day.

Toronto Raptors - Buyer

Where to begin? The Raptors have stagnated following a hot start, and could use help with playmaking, shooting, and rebounding. Most importantly, their secondary star in Kyle Lowry is rapidly disintegrating. Barring a desperate attempt to trade Lowry before the deadline (his name did pop up in rumors on Tuesday), the Raptors should at least look to acquire another bench shooter or a defensively sound center who can spell Serge Ibaka. But ultimately, Toronto's fortunes will rest almost squarely on Lowry's shoulders (and his wonky back).

Utah Jazz - Buyer

It’s impossible to get a read on the Jazz. Just when it looked like they'd turned the corner on this season, Utah lost in dispiriting fashion to Houston and Portland. The obvious move would be upgrading its middling offense by snagging Mike Conley from Memphis, but the Grizzlies could probably get more than late picks and Ricky Rubio from a different Conley suitor. Short of that, the Jazz should take a hard look at a microwave bench scorer like Lou Williams.

Washington Wizards - ??

Owner Ted Leonsis has already insisted that the Wizards will never tank, and that neither Bradley Beal nor Otto Porter is available. However, with John Wall now set to miss at least a year with a ruptured Achilles, the Wizards have even less flexibility than before. There simply isn't much they can do to meaningfully change their fortunes for the foreseeable future.

Still, they can aim for the margins. Washington could probably find a taker for Trevor Ariza and possibly even Jeff Green, who's quietly having a nice year. This is Beal's team now, and the Wizards need to start building around him. If they're lucky, they'll miss the playoffs and kick-start that rebuild with a lottery pick.

NBA trade deadline primer: Strategies for all 30 teams
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