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It's Tuesday of trade deadline week, and usually, that means we're right in the thick of the blockbuster hurricane. Last season, the Mavericks got Kyrie Irving on Sunday and the Suns got Kevin Durant on Wednesday even before Thursday's deadline created its annual flurry. This season? We've only gotten one deal in the entire month of February, a Memphis cap dump of Steven Adams.

There's not much suggesting that things are going to pick up, either. Only three recent All-Stars seem to even be on the market. Zach LaVine of the Bulls is likely staying put as he will miss the remainder of the season due to injury. A Dejounte Murray trade felt like a certainty a few weeks ago, but more recent reporting has suggested that a deal is growing less and less likely. Impending free agent DeMar DeRozan can probably be had, but not many contenders have $30 million in tradable salary to send out for a 34-year-old that doesn't shoot or defend.

There are certainly worthwhile role players out there, but their prices seem to have gotten out of hand. The Bulls reportedly want an O.G. Anunoby-level return for Alex Caruso despite Caruso being older, smaller and a worse shooter. The Nets are looking around for Dorian Finney-Smith deals, but reportedly don't want a late first-round pick or a 2024 pick of any kind, which really whittles down the number of viable assets available for him. The rebuilding Blazers are shooing away Jerami Grant suitors even though he'll turn 30 this year and is on a dangerous five-year contract.

Things might pick up to some extent in the coming days. They almost always do. But it doesn't exactly seem like we're headed for the sort of activity we've come to expect at recent deadlines. More likely, we'll see a few teams fortify minor weaknesses and call it a day. So what's up? Why has this deadline been such a dud so far? Here are four possible explanations for why there seems to be so little trade activity with two days left before the deadline.

1. The big deals have already happened

Imagine for a moment that James Harden, Pascal Siakam, O.G. Anunoby and Terry Rozier were all traded on deadline day. That'd be a pretty exciting set of moves, wouldn't it? Well, it just so happened that the teams moving this year's group of big names needed to make their moves early for one reason or another.

The Clippers landed Harden for this season. Given the age of their star trio, their title odds are going to decrease with each passing year. It therefore made sense for them to land and integrate him as early as possible. Remember that six-game losing streak that followed the trade? Better to get that out of the way in November than struggle to figure out the fit in February and March. Philadelphia was similarly motivated to make a move quickly. Tyrese Maxey was ascending into an All-Star and the 76ers needed Harden out of the way while he and Joel Embiid made their own title push.

The Raptors owe a top-six protected pick to the Spurs thanks to last season's Jakob Poeltl trade. Moving Anunoby and Siakam quickly made it likelier that they would lose enough games to keep that pick. Sure enough, the Raptors are sitting sixth from the bottom in the league-wide standings as of this writing, and Portland is gaining on them from the No. 5 slot. The Heat were sitting in the middle of the Eastern Conference standings, and while they didn't necessarily need to climb up after making the Finals out of the No. 8 slot last season, they likely added Rozier in the hopes that he could keep them out of the play-in bracket. Charlotte, also tanking, was perfectly happy to weaken its roster quickly.

Major trade negotiations are typically a slow and painful process. This year, the teams involved all had reason to move quickly. We got significant trades this season, they just weren't clustered into a single week of February.

2. Nobody has anything left to trade

Hey, remember all of those busy deadlines we've had over the past few years? Well, those add up. Just take a look at the standings. The top three seeds in the Eastern Conference have all traded multiple first-round picks for a star at some point in the recent past: Boston for Jrue Holiday, Cleveland for Donovan Mitchell and Milwaukee for Holiday first and then Damian Lillard

Now look at the West. Minnesota traded for Rudy Gobert. Phoenix traded for Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal. Dallas traded for Kyrie Irving. The Clippers just became the third team to trade for Harden in the past three years. These aren't the kind of trades teams can recuperate from overnight. Many of the teams involved, who would typically be the most active buyers at a deadline, just don't have anything left to trade.

But they aren't the only ones affected by these moves. ESPN's Bobby Marks recently noted that 75% of tradable first-round picks currently belong to 11 teams. That's true, but it doesn't quite go far enough. The Grizzlies and Magic are both listed, but neither controls a single pick from another team. The Raptors, Nets and Rockets all control external picks, but owe some of their own out. San Antonio and Portland have significant asset reserves, but are so far away from contending that they aren't really looking to add players.

So that leaves us four pick hoarders that could potentially look to add veterans at this deadline. The Thunder dwarf basically everyone in terms of assets. The Jazz, Knicks and Pelicans all have the pieces to go get pretty much any role player they want, but for one reason or another, they all have reason to be patient. The Thunder and Pelicans have long-term salary concerns. Both have so many good young players that adding more would create real luxury tax issues. While the Jazz and Knicks have short-term needs that they want to address, both are thinking far more about creating a real championship window. That probably means trading for the sort of high-impact players that aren't available right now.

Again, these teams could still easily become buyers, but there's another layer to peel here. These teams know they can outbid anyone. The sellers know they can outbid anyone. Heck, even the other buyers know they can outbid anyone. Are sellers using them as boogeymen to try to coax more out of the rest of the league? Or are they offering a pittance for whoever they're targeting under the logic that their monopoly on trade assets will prevent anyone else from beating their low-ball offers?

We're simply not used to seeing such an imbalance in asset control at a trade deadline. It's probably going to take the rest of the league a little while to recoup enough assets to bring us back to our normal level of activity. And on that note...

3. We're headed for a big offseason trade market

Several of those teams currently limited in terms of picks they can trade get a bit of sorely-needed Stepien Rule relief this offseason. The Lakers, Heat and Mavericks each go from one tradable first-round pick to three on draft night. The 76ers go from three to five. The Cavaliers and Timberwolves each go from zero to one. Technically the Bucks do too, but their second-apron issues will almost certainly lock that 2031 pick out of trades. You get the picture. In a few months, buyers will head back out onto the market with some spending money in their wallets. Why sell low on a player now when you know there will be interested parties later that can offer more?

But that's not the only reason to expect a lot of trade activity this offseason. While few draft classes are ever really "bad," the incoming crop of rookies is currently projected to be among the worst to arrive in the NBA in recent memory. Free agency doesn't look too enticing either. Many of the best players we expected to populate the open market (Harden, Anunoby, Siakam, Holiday, Kawhi Leonard) have all either re-signed or moved through trade to a team that will want to keep them. Even if there was more talent available, so few teams have cap space that free agency is probably going to be relatively dull as well. There are always plenty of teams that want short-term improvement in the offseason. If both the draft and free agent classes are weak, trades are going to be their only real option to do so.

And then of course, there's the annual slew of playoff disappointments to monitor. Only one team actually gets to lift the Larry O'Brien trophy. What happens to the ones that don't? Embiid has already spoken publicly about wanting to win "in Philly or anywhere else." A year ago there were rumors that Luka Doncic could ask out of Dallas after another disappointing season. What if the Bucks don't turn things around under Doc Rivers? Mitchell has refused to acknowledge the mountain of New York rumors that have followed him to Cleveland, but they aren't going anywhere until he signs an extension.

There aren't any star players known to be available today. NBA history tells us that a few of them are going to leave the postseason unhappy with their team's result. Those are the players worth waiting for. We don't know who they're going to be yet. But say you're the Lakers. You've spent the better part of a century seamlessly replacing one superstar with another. Do you really want to give up one first-round pick for Murray now when you could try to use three picks and three swaps on a Mitchell or a Trae Young this summer? It's a reasonable question, and it leads us to our final thought.

4. The standings are too condensed

A common theory on why the deadline has been so slow relates to the play-in round. The Bulls can talk themselves into keeping players they really ought to trade (Alex Caruso) because hey, they're in ninth place in a 10-team playoff field. If the Heat can go from the play-in round to the Finals, why can't we? There's some truth to this line of thinking, but remember, the play-in round is now in its fourth year of existence. If it was the only culprit here, we would've felt it more at previous deadlines. No, there's a bit more to it than this.

Here's a thought: the standings are too condensed everywhere else. In the Western Conference, the top four seeds are all within half of a game of one another. Seeds 2-4 in the Eastern Conference all within one game of each other as well, and No. 5 Philadelphia is only 1.5 games behind the pack. All of these teams can credibly look around and think of themselves as a top seed because they're so bunched up. Ultimately the bracket is probably going to loosen up a bit, but by the time that happens, the deadline will have come and gone.

Meanwhile, consider the teams beneath them. Let's again use the Lakers as our example. A season ago, part of their run to the Western Conference Finals was fueled by the wide-open nature of the conference. They got some injury luck in the first round and then caught a good matchup in the second. Suddenly they were in the final four, where they ran into the West's one truly elite team and got spanked. If the West was similarly uncertain this season, the Lakers might be more eager to give up assets to try their luck against those higher seeds. But there isn't just one elite team in the West right now. There are four. That means you can't simply avoid a specific team early on and hope to make a Finals push. You're playing an elite team in the first round... if you even make it that far.

Some teams have already pushed so many chips to the center of the table that they have no choice but to continue going all-in with what little assets they have left. Phoenix comes to mind here. But teams like the Lakers, Mavericks and Pelicans might look at the four-headed monster at the top of the bracket and think "we're too far away right now, let's regroup over the summer."

Just because there isn't an obvious championship favorite this season doesn't mean the playoff field is wide open. The Celtics, Thunder, Timberwolves, Clippers and Nuggets all look like championship-caliber teams. Philadelphia was there prior to Embiid's injury. The Cavaliers and Knicks have played at that level over smaller samples. The Bucks are too talented to ignore here. Trading future assets to make a real run at a title is one thing. Doing so to potentially turn your first-round exit into a second-round exit is quite another. The field is so crowded right now that teams on the periphery of contention are more than justified in sitting this week out.