NBA trade deadline predictions 2016
NBA trade rumors flying
Rumors are bandying about the NBA with absurd frequency, many of them conflicting, most of them intriguing, all of them bearing the potential to turn the league’s Feb. 18 trade deadline into a fantastic fracas.
Here’s the thing: This year’s trade deadline is shaping up to be anything but what the rumors would have you believe.
Founded reports and, as always, unsubstantiated speculation pervade. But that’s part of any trade deadline. Players become available. Teams are aggressive. Rumors drop. Potential deals are laid out. Fans go crazy. Lather, rinse, repeat.
Most of these deals never come to fruition. That’s also a part and parcel characteristic of the deadline. Redirects are all too common. But every so often, much like last season, the basketball world explodes amid a haze of last-minute transactions that are heavy on player movement and threaten to shift the landscape of the league.
This year will be different. Plenty of squads need upgrades, and according to ESPN.com’s Zach Lowe, there are many teams in the NBA unhappy with their current state. But the incentive to make moves and pull the trigger on roster-ravaging, blockbuster deals just isn’t there.
The impending salary-cap explosion is engendering idleness. The cap could exceed $90 million this summer. Pretty much every team is going to have ample spending power. General managers, even if they’re buyers, won’t want to cut into their financial flexibility by absorbing long-term salary or selling off expiring contracts.
Likewise, expiring pacts don’t hold the value they did in years past. Almost every deal signed under the previous salary climate will look like a bargain once player earnings skyrocket along with the cap. This is why the Phoenix Suns, per Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski, can remain steadfast in their unreasonable asking price for free-falling power forward Markieff Morris. His contract runs through 2018-19, and he won’t ever earn more than $8.6 million in a single season. That’s second-string money these days.
Dealing superstars falls under this same umbrella. Tons of people think the New York Knicks should trade Carmelo Anthony, but even his salary will border on a friggin’ steal once the salary cap jumps to $90 million or more.
Warriors and Spurs turn championship race into exclusive affair
The continued dominance of the Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs is the other part of all this. Both teams are on pace to win more than 70 games and are turning the championship race into an exclusive affair. There are only a handful of organizations, aside from Golden State and San Antonio, that have the personnel to justify doubling down on this season—the Cleveland Cavaliers, Los Angeles Clippers and Oklahoma City Thunder. That’s it.
Everyone else, from the Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors, to the Houston Rockets and Memphis Grizzlies, has no shot of expediting their championship window. And when you can’t compete with the league’s best teams right now, it only makes sense to plan your moves around the reigns of Golden State and San Antonio.
This, in theory, should create a strong sellers market—a gaggle of teams looking to hit reset and rebuild while the Spurs and the Warriors play out their championship destinies before, hopefully, fading out. But that crowded sellers market will be met by a dormant buyers market, thus creating an atmosphere in which teams talk yet never really progress toward anything special.
Don’t bank on any blockbusters
Will a few small deals go through ahead of the 3 p.m. ET cutoff? Of course. That’s unavoidable. But don’t bank on any blockbusters or superstar-headlined trades. In fact, do not count on any sort of above-average activity whatsoever.
It isn’t coming.
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