With NBA trade training camps opening leaguewide in less than a month, the 2023-24 NBA season is fast approaching. Fans and athletes alike are becoming increasingly excited as we anticipate what the new season will bring. But amidst all the anticipation, some intriguing NBA dilemmas still have yet to be resolved and some situations across the league could lead to additional player movement.
Damian Lillard’s Uncertain Future in NBA Trade Talks
It’s been over two months since Damian Lillard requested a trade out of Portland in the NBA trade market. However, we still appear no closer to a deal getting done in the NBA scene. In mid-August, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reported that the Trail Blazers were “still showing no interest in doing an NBA trade deal” with the Miami Heat, Lillard’s preferred destination in the NBA world. While compensation appears to be the main sticking point in NBA discussions, the lack of a tangible deadline likely hasn’t helped.
The start of the regular NBA season will change that. The Blazers are within their right to get the best possible return for their superstar guard. However, the human aspect of wanting to do right by Lillard and execute an NBA trade before the NBA season starts to give his family time to get settled is essential, too. It would do the Trail Blazers no good to bring a disgruntled Lillard to training camp and force the rest of their young core to deal with an added distraction, either. The two sides should still be cordial enough to work something out before NBA trade training camps open, whether it’s a trade to the Heat or another NBA trade destination.
James Harden and the Philadelphia 76ers in NBA Trade Speculation
While the Lillard-Trail Blazers NBA trade story still could have a happy ending, there appears to be no such future for James Harden and the Philadelphia 76ers in the NBA arena. Calling your boss a liar multiple times for the whole world to see will do that. Sixers president Daryl Morey proved comfortable being uncomfortable during the Ben Simmons NBA trade saga two years ago. The Sixers also have enough talent without Harden (Joel Embiid, Tyrese Maxey, Tobias Harris, P.J. Tucker, De’Anthony Melton, etc.) to stay afloat until they find a suitable NBA trade offer for him.
Morey isn’t likely to settle for a suboptimal NBA deal. If the Los Angeles Clippers stumble out of the gate, that might increase their willingness to offer in the NBA trade market. Injuries to playmakers on other teams could also create a surprise NBA partner. For better or worse, Morey and Harden are both used to getting what they want in NBA discussions. As a result, this NBA saga may just be getting started. Don’t expect a deal to get done before the NBA season starts unless Morey gets the big NBA trade offer he wants.
New Trade Rules Looming for NBA Trades
NBA teams over the first or second salary-cap apron will face strict new NBA trade rules after the 2023-24 NBA season. That should encourage a lot of NBA deals to get done before these changes take effect. The franchises that cross the second apron will find it extremely difficult to complete NBA trades due to the following restrictions:
- Limited to 100 percent salary match (previously 125 percent, plus $100,000).
- Can’t get a player back in return for one going out via sign-and-trade.
- I won’t be able to send out cash in NBA trades.
- Can’t aggregate contracts in NBA trades.
- Can’t trade a first-round pick seven years in the future in NBA trade discussions.
Because of these new rules, look for high-spending NBA trade teams like the Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Clippers, Phoenix Suns, and Milwaukee Bucks to make their moves at the deadline before the restrictions set in for NBA trades.
Teams Undergoing Complete Remodels in the NBA Trade Market
While there weren’t many sellers to be found at the 2023 NBA deadline, several teams could be undergoing complete remodel in 2024 in the NBA world. Washington Wizards and Portland Trail Blazers are obvious choices to start in the NBA scene. Whenever the Blazers trade Damian Lillard, they’ll still have veterans like Jerami Grant and Jusuf Nurkić to ship off in a quest to land the No. 1 overall pick in NBA trade deals. Washington already traded Bradley Beal and Kristaps Porziņģis this summer. It will have Kyle Kuzma, Tyus Jones, Danilo Gallinari, Delon Wright, and other veterans to offer to contenders in NBA trade talks.
The Charlotte Hornets will begin the season with intentions of trying to compete with a healthy LaMelo Ball and the return of Miles Bridges. However, this team still has a lot of holes and is trying to balance two timelines in NBA discussions. The Hornets owe their 2024 lottery-protected first-round pick to the San Antonio Spurs, so they’ll have an incentive to tank if they’re outside of the playoff picture late in the season in NBA scenarios. Look for the Hornets to eventually trade away veterans like Gordon Hayward, Terry Rozier, and possibly even Bridges (an unrestricted free agent in 2024) while leaning heavily on Ball, Brandon Miller, and Mark Williams in NBA deals. These three rosters could change the most by the end of the year in NBA discussions.
The Toronto Raptors’ Dilemma in NBA Trades
It’s a bit of a disaster with the Toronto Raptors. in the NBA trade market. They’re in danger of dipping into the luxury tax despite missing the playoffs last season and losing their starting point guard in free agency. Pascal Siakam and O.G. Anunoby can become unrestricted free agents in 2024, which could cripple the Raptors even more in NBA negotiations. Despite that, Toronto has shown no signs of trading either player in NBA scenarios. Bleacher Report’s Chris Haynes reported that Siakam prefers to stay with the Raptors and that there was “growing sentiment” that he would not re-sign with any team that trades for him in NBA trade discussions.
Siakam could now sign an extension with Toronto (four years and around $190 million). However, if he makes an All-NBA team this upcoming season, the 29-year-old will become eligible for a five-year supermax deal that could be worth more than $300 million in NBA talks. Anunoby is one of the premier defenders in the NBA. He could draw a substantial bidding war at the NBA trade deadline from contenders looking for long, two-way wings in NBA scenarios. ESPN’s Zach Lowe reported that the Memphis Grizzlies and Indiana Pacers offered three first-round picks for Anunoby at the 2023 NBA deadline. If the Raptors turned down that kind of draft capital, they must be planning to keep and re-sign the 26-year-old in NBA trade negotiations. Keeping this core together (along with Scottie Barnes and Jakob Poeltl) appears to be Toronto’s plan, for better or worse, in NBA situations.
DeMar DeRozan’s Uncertain NBA Trade Future
DeMar DeRozan is showing no signs of slowing down heading into his 15th NBA season. During his past two seasons with the Chicago Bulls in NBA deals, he’s averaged 26.2 points per game, made a pair of All-Star appearances, and missed only 14 games. But his future with the Bulls is far from settled as he enters the final season of his contract in NBA trade talks. The Bulls re-signed Nikola Vučević and added Jevon Carter and Torrey Craig this offseason, which signals that they’re still trying to win in NBA trade scenarios. However, they don’t look much better than the squad that finished 40-42 last season in NBA trade situations.
DeRozan should be a Bull to start the year in NBA trade discussions, but he’ll become one of the hottest NBA trade targets on the market if Chicago gets off to another mediocre start. His $28.6 million expiring salary is one of the most accessible All-Star contracts to trade for, and teams like the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, Milwaukee Bucks, and Philadelphia 76ers make sense as potential landing spots in NBA trade negotiations. The Bulls should want to get something for DeRozan rather than risk losing him for nothing in free agency next summer in NBA scenarios. That’s why they’ll eventually trade him to a team with championship aspirations before the NBA trade deadline.
Deandre Ayton’s Future in NBA Trade Speculation
The Phoenix Suns chose to keep Deandre Ayton in NBA trade talks this summer, although that may have been more about the lack of an appealing offer rather than their belief in him becoming a fourth solid option in NBA discussions. Trading Ayton before next summer would come with many advantages in NBA trade deals, as the Suns cemented themselves as a second-apron team by trading for Bradley Beal in the NBA trade market.
Phoenix can still trade Ayton and take 110 percent of his salary back in return for one or a combination of players in NBA trade negotiations. Next summer that will go down to 100 percent, and the Suns will be unable to include cash or aggregate contracts in NBA trade talks. We aren’t likely to see the best version of Ayton playing alongside Devin Booker, Kevin Durant, and Beal, especially without Chris Paul in NBA trade scenarios. Ayton received 30.1 percent of his total passes from Paul last season, with Booker finishing a distant second at 12.6 percent in NBA discussions. Ayton’s raw stats will suffer, and he’ll eventually be traded for parts in NBA trade deals, with a rim-protecting center, wing defender, and pass-first point guard all ranking at the top of Phoenix’s wish list in NBA trade discussions.
The Resurgent Indiana Pacers in NBA Trade Predictions
After finishing 35-47 and missing the play-in tournament last year in NBA trade deals, expect the Indiana Pacers to be much better this season in NBA trade discussions. Tyrese Haliburton is already one of the best point guards in the NBA, and he’s only gaining more experience playing on Team USA this summer in NBA trade talks. Myles Turner is coming off a career year. Bruce Brown brings championship experience from the Denver Nuggets, and Bennedict Mathurin should take a giant leap in his second season in NBA trade scenarios. This is also a sneaky-deep team that added Jarace Walker in the draft and Obi Toppin via a trade from the New York Knicks, solidifying what was a shaky power forward position in NBA trade discussions.
With team governor Herb Simon set to turn 89 next month, expect the Pacers to hover around .500 for the first few months of the season before swinging some win-now trades at the NBA deadline.
Dillon Brooks and the Houston Rockets in NBA Trade Forecasts
I’ve already explained why the Houston Rockets could grow to regret signing Dillon Brooks this summer in NBA trade discussions, even if they needed a defensive-minded wing with playoff experience in NBA trade deals.
The Rockets will eventually realize they made a mistake in NBA talks. Brooks’ four-year, $86 million contract looks terrible now, but it will become an even bigger problem when Houston’s young core come off their rookie deals in NBA trade scenarios. Jalen Green and Alperen Şengün will be eligible to sign extensions in 2024, and Jabari Smith Jr. and Tari Eason will follow suit in 2025 in NBA discussions.
New head coach Ime Udoka is going to grow tired of Brooks’ self-imposed green light, especially with so many young mouths to feed on this roster in NBA trade talks. The Rockets have a ton of young talent and were smart to get a veteran point guard in Fred VanVleet to bring out the best in them in NBA trade scenarios. However, don’t be surprised if they look to get out of the Brooks contract as early as this year in NBA trade discussions.
Dallas Mavericks Eyeing a Third Star in NBA Trade Speculation
The Dallas Mavericks will probably be better this year, thanks to an entire training camp with Kyrie Irving and the offseason addition of Grant Williams in trade NBA discussions. Still, after Irving and Luka Dončić, this roster drops off immensely in NBA trade scenarios. Dallas finally has a collection of intriguing young talent, but Josh Green might be the only one who’s able to play meaningful postseason minutes as of now in NBA trade talks.
Instead, look for the ever-aggressive Mavericks to use Jaden Hardy, their 2027 first-round pick, and other assets to go after a third star in NBA trade discussions. Karl-Anthony Towns would be a strong target with his floor-spacing ability, rebounding, and passing chops in NBA scenarios. The Toronto Raptors and Chicago Bulls also have rosters worth watching should their seasons start to go south in NBA trade discussions. Keeping Dončić happy will forever be the priority in Dallas in NBA deals. Currently, this roster is far from championship-worthy in NBA scenarios. The Mavericks likely need a third star to push them toward the top of the West in NBA talks. Whenever a star player becomes disgruntled, expect the Mavs to be in pursuit.