NEW YORK — Without many NBA teams looking to get worse in pursuit of a high draft pick or clear playing time for young players, the league’s trade deadline looms with a high level of uncertainty.
In Wednesday’s episode of Locked On NBA, hosts Jake Madison and Tony East explored what the market could look like during a season where as many as 13 teams in each conference have a chance at postseason play.
“With the (Victor Wembanyama) draft coming up and Scoot Henderson in that draft too, you figured there would be a lot of teams tanking,” Madison said on the show. “And there are some, you’ve got about five teams that are truly bad, there’s probably six teams you look at and think they are definitely sellers, they have no chance at the postseason whatsoever. But that’s not enough to feed the top of the teams that want to make moves and try to be competitive.”
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Aggressive buyers ahead of the deadline could include the Miami Heat, Phoenix Suns and Milwaukee Bucks, teams with championship hopes that had disappointing ends to last season and haven’t separated from the pack this year.
But the bigger question is who the sellers will be. Presumed tanking teams like Utah and Oklahoma City have overachieved, leaving fewer available players to provide reinforcements to the championship chasers.
Still, the NBA is always good for a surprise or two.
“Every year, there’s one guy that you’re like, ‘huh?!’ Last year it was Kristaps Porzingis,” said East. “You never know who the guy (is going to be). There’s always one surprise guy.”