The trade deadline is here! All deals must be completed before Thursday at 3 pm ET. However, fantasy managers should consider some wheeling and dealing before tomorrow. And, making a pre-deadline waiver move in daily transactions leagues could be a nice risk/reward play for managers trying to rise up the standings. Let's take a look at some potential buy lows and sell highs before tomorrow.
The rumor mill has been churning practically since Russell signed his contract over the summer. He started the year with some fairly typical up-and-down play, but he's now on one of the hottest stretches of his career. So hot, in fact, that rumors are out there that the Lakers are less interested in trading him than before. The last 13 games have seen Russell average 24.0 points on 47/47/88 shooting, 6.5 assists and 2.6 rebounds in 37.2 minutes. Whether or not the Lakers deal him, he'll probably regress soon, whether by volume, efficiency or both.
Brogdon apparently wants to stay in Portland beyond the deadline. Fortunately, it's not up to him. I saw speculation that the Blazers might be less open to trading Brogdon now that Shaedon Sharpe looks like he could miss the rest of the year after core muscle surgery; I don't buy that. Portland is in the dumpster, and it doesn't make any sense to hang onto Brogdon when they could deal him and give more usage to Scoot Henderson – you know, the guy they drafted No. 3 overall this past summer. Even if Brogdon, somehow, doesn't get moved, he has a sizable injury history and would be at risk of load management down the stretch.
Bogdanovic might not be easy to deal since he has one more year left on his deal, but the $20 million figure this year and $19 million next year isn't completely prohibitive. He's in the midst of another efficient 20-point-per-game season for the Pistons, who have six victories. There's no reason for the franchise to keep the 34-year-old around longer than they have to. Every game he plays, especially at his age, he's at increased risk for an injury that completely destroys his value, even for 2024-25.
I'm becoming alarmed at how cagey Chicago is about this trio's availability. I'm starting to believe they actually want to run this squad back next year and beyond – that it's not some negotiation tactic to drive prices up. We always have to be careful about what we want to happen versus what is likely to happen. Still, you really can't go wrong selling high on DeRozan, Caruso or Vucevic simply on the potential they get moved. And if they don't, Caruso is injury-prone, while DeRozan and Vucevic are old enough to be classified as injury risks. There is also the off chance the Bulls pull the plug late in the year and rest this crew. But you shouldn't necessarily worry a lot about that. Chicago is ninth in the East and 3.5 games up on 11th-place Brooklyn, who seem more likely to blow things up and/or stay bad than the Bulls. Chicago making the Play-In might be more likely than not, but I still don't want any part of these vets for the rest of the year.
Absences to other key Hornets players – namely LaMelo Ball, Gordon Hayward and Mark Williams – have forced Bridges and Washington into bigger roles. Both are playing above their heads. Charlotte has 10 wins, Bridges is on an expiring deal and Washington has two more years left on his deal for a total of about $30 million – reasonable for his talent. If either gets traded, it would likely be to a contender or fringe contender. At that point, they fall down the offensive pecking order and could see a significant hit to their stats. And if they don't get dealt, you'll still have to be wary of load management down the stretch.
Brooklyn doesn't seem to mind hanging onto Bridges, but they also seem open to dealing him if the right offer comes along. He's acting as a No. 1 option with the 11th-place Nets, but any sort of trade would probably drop him to No. 2 or No. 3 option on a more competitive squad. That'd mean decreased usage. But like many other players on this list, even if Bridges doesn't get moved, he could get load-managed, even if availability is a point of pride for him.
Jones, who is on an expiring deal, is a better bet to get dealt than Kuzma, who has three years left on his contract. Any team dealing for Jones would presumably put him in a backup role, decreasing both his usage and minutes. Kuzma probably wouldn't be made a reserve, but his usage would certainly drop. The nine-win Wizards may also diagnose Kuzma with a "sore back" in March if they don't deal him.
Rumors have pointed to the Hawks moving on from Murray as they struggle to be anything more than a slightly below-average NBA team. And if they're open to trading Murray, they're probably open to trading any veteran player. Capela is in that mix, as is Bogdanovic. All three could still end up in comparable roles to what they're occupying now, except maybe Capela, which would be a good point to bring up with a fellow league manager. But again, the risk of the unknown worries me, and I'd rather move on.
Coby White, Bulls
This isn't a massive buy low. White has been awesome for the vast majority of the season, and that projects to continue. So I'll keep this short: it's worth trading for White on the chance that DeRozan, Vucevic and/or Caruso get moved. That'd increase White's usage even more, and he projects as the key piece of Chicago's real future.
Scoot Henderson, Trail Blazers
Sharpe might be sidelined for the rest of the year, so Henderson will see a boost by default. But with the chance that Brogdon gets dealt and other veterans get moved/load-managed down the stretch, now is the time to buy in on Henderson. Even though the rookie can't seem to string together a week of good performances, I want to bank on his talent and opportunity to close out the year. Managers in points leagues should make him more of a priority than managers in nine-category formats due to the potential for poor field-goal percentage and high turnovers.
Let's hope the Pistons can find a taker for Bogdanovic, not to mention Alec Burks and everyone else over the age of 27 on this God-forsaken roster. Ivey seems to have a concrete role now finally, while Thompson is still an inconsistent part of coach Monty Williams' rotation. But I want to bank on his talent. He's averaging 1.0 fantasy points per minute and is a defensive monster for managers in category formats. For managers in deep leagues, I may take a flier on Marcus Sasser, who has shown flashes throughout the season.
Cam Thomas, Nets
Brooklyn is struggling and seems open to the idea of trading almost anyone on the roster for the right price. Almost any situation could result in Thomas seeing more usage down the stretch. We know exactly who he is at this point – a sparkplug scorer who may not help his team win in any other aspect. But that wouldn't matter if Brooklyn pulls the plug.
The hope here is that Jones and Kuzma get traded, funneling more usage to Avdija and Coulibaly. Avdija has shown an ability to scale up his usage in the past, and he's a very well-rounded player who can help any fantasy roster. Coulibaly may not be ready for a ton more usage, but just a more consistent role and more opportunities here and there would likely make him a rosterable player in most formats. His defensive upside remains the most intriguing part of his profile.
I thought about including Trae Young here as well. If Murray gets dealt, Young could see ridiculous usage for the remainder of the season, but would he become a victim of load management late in the year? Try to deal for him if you need a hail mary, but I'd leave it alone otherwise. In terms of Okongwu and Johnson, they'll benefit if Capela, Murray and/or Bogdanovic – or really anyone else – gets moved. We've been talking about Okongwu's upside for years, and more usage for Johnson could only spell good news for the breakout forward.