In the latest edition of P.I. Pulse, we continue our new column, 'P.I. Confidential.' Penned by an anonymous NBA scout with a decade of experience within multiple pro front offices, the idea with this endeavor is to provide them a platform to pull back the curtain and openly discuss scouting philosophies, procedures, processes, and of course, prospects:
The NBA Trade Deadline is one of my favorite weeks during the NBA season. The hours are long and oftentimes nothing of importance happens, but the build up and prep to the deadline are some of the best learning experiences I have had. Brainstorming trade ideas, identifying how teams will/have to operate and executing trades to both get better and get worse is paramount to achieving long-term success.
I would recommend all NBA enthusiasts and those interested in working in the NBA to use the deadline to come up with your own trades as well as research past trades to find out which trades were successful/unsuccessful, but most importantly why those trades worked out how they did.
For this week's chapter, I went through every team in the NBA and operated as their lead basketball decision-maker and came up with 10 trades that stood out. At the core of making trades as a GM is being realistic with your own team's season outlook. I break teams down into three categories – ‘Contending,’ ‘Competing’ and ‘Rebuilding.’ Especially in the ‘Competing’ category, you will often find teams that are trending toward either direction, and it is important as an organization to be honest with yourself (which oftentimes does not happen for various reasons) but job security and ownership expectations are at the top of the list.
All trades in this column will stand alone, so players/picks can be traded multiple times.
*All statistics are as of February 5th, 2024
22-27 (#10 in East), 10th in offense, 28th in defense
The Dejounte fit with Trae was confusing to me at the time and even more so now (-4.3/100 on court together – 30th %tile). With four years left on his contract, and him being in the most rumors, let’s see if we can find someone that can bring defensive versatility and some upside. Yeah, this is a bit crazy, but I’ve run it past my Atlanta affiliate, and he is on board so...
Trade: Dejounte Murray to ORL for Jonathan Isaac
20-28 (#11 in East), 16th in offense, 18th in defense
Competing (and should be rebuilding)
If I am Sean Marks, I am trading Mikal Bridges. It should happen. If it doesn’t happen, it’s likely because the second he trades him he is getting assets for whichever GM replaces him. Mikal is a GREAT 3rd player (maybe a ‘2.5’ player), but he has his limitations and is going to get a huge extension soon. Trade him now.
Trade: Mikal Bridges to HOU for Amen Thompson, Tari Eason, Jock Landale 2025 BRK (swap) FRP, 2026 BRK FRP
10-38 (#13 in East) 28th in offense, 30th in defense
Again, another team that is likely going to get a new GM/Coach so let’s hope they are looking out for the well being of the organization. You are obviously building around LaMelo/Miller and potentially Williams. Bringing in a serious player(s) who cares about winning, who fits the timeline is a tough find but let’s see if we can find a combination of tangible players and assets.
Trade: PJ Washington to OKC for Lu Dort, Kenrich Williams, 2026 PHI FRP (p1-4)
26-23 (#8 in West) 12th in offense, 24th in defense
Dallas is another team in a tough spot who needs to be competing and competing now, as every unsuccessful year that goes by brings more Luka questions and teams circling. With this trade, Jerami will bring some size and shooting, while Portland can get the coveted DAL pick if Luka opts out and leaves in 2027 along with O-Max Prosper and can potentially rehab Grant Williams.
Trade: Grant Williams, Richaun Holmes, O-Max Prosper, 2027 FRP (p1-3) to Portland for Jerami Grant, Moses Brown
6-43 (#15 in East), 24th in offense, 29th in defense
Detroit continues to draft high but fails to blend any of their talent or bring on pieces that help develop their current talent. I think the reality of the situation is that Jaden and Cade will not work in the long run together so if I am Detroit I am looking to move Jaden now for a piece that makes sense with Cade long term. With this move, Chicago can get a young guard with some upside while saving some cap space for another couple years.
Trade: Jaden Ivey to CHI for Patrick Williams
Los Angeles Lakers
27-25 (#9 in West), 20th in offense, 14th in defense
There’s nothing yet that tells us LAL is a real contender, especially when AD and LeBron have played in 48 and 46 of the team’s 52 games. I’m not so worried about the picks down the road as those are so far out it seems there will be plenty of time to right the ship post LeBron and AD. There doesn’t seem to be a big splash that will propel them into even the top-6 in the West, so let’s try and get marginally better and hope that they can be healthy and get hot at the right time.
Trade: D’Angelo Russell and Rui Hachimura, 2029 FRP (P1-10) to UTA for Jordan Clarkson and Kelly Olynyk
18-32 (#13 in West), 30th in offense, 8th in defense
Rebuilding (gap year)
It’s just been an awful season for Memphis — with Ja and all the injuries they just couldn’t ever get their footing. They have all their own picks moving forward but a ton of contracts and look to be just into the tax for 2024-25. There are a couple ways you could maneuver with guys like Luke Kennard and Marcus Smart, the latter of whom they might want to keep and try again with next year. I personally would look to see if I can potentially break that contract up into a couple different players and find some positional size and shooting on team-friendly contracts to help with the tax next season.
Trade: Marcus Smart to SAC for Trey Lyles, Chris Duarte, 2024 SRP (SAC)
San Antonio Spurs
10-40 (#15 in West), 27th in offense, 24th in defense
It’s been a disappointing start to the Wemby era, and looking ahead, they have a lot of middling contracts and the Vassell extension kicking in next season. If I am San Antonio, I am 1) looking to find pieces that will help Wemby develop and 2) seeing if I can grab a player with some upside who may need a change of scenery who we could develop in the San Antonio system.
Trade: Keldon Johnson to ATL for DeAndre Hunter
Trade: Doug McDermott, 2025 SRP (SAS & CHI) to WAS for Tyus Jones
17-33 (#12 in East), 19th in offense, 22nd in defense
Toronto finally made the decision to part with Siakam and OG and have received a solid return of both players and picks to build around Scottie Barnes. I would continue to be a seller at the deadline and look for max return value for Bruce Brown, focusing on young players that fit alongside IQ, RJ, and Scottie.
Trade: Bruce Brown to Dallas for Grant Williams, Richaun Holmes and 2027 FRP (P. 1-3)
As always, thank you for checking in — leave me some feedback at @_piconfidential and tell me if and why you agree or disagree.
In Chapter 7, we’ll take some time to analyze the trade deadline itself and I’ll be sharing some takeaways. Stay tuned.
Until next time!
In case you missed our first five chapters, see below: