NBA Buy or Sell: Mavericks can survive until Luka Doncic returns from injury; Lakers should trade Kyle Kuzma

There is never a dull moment in the NBA where there isn't something to talk about. One day it might be running through the trade machine to improve a team that desperately needs frontcourt depth. The next day it could be crunching the numbers to see just how good a team is without its star point guard. Sometimes, it's playing fortune teller to see which cities -- and countries -- the NBA will expand to. This league keeps you on your toes with plenty of topics to sift through and analyze.

So let's dive into what's driving the conversation in the NBA this week and assess what's real, and what has little substance behind it in this week's edition of Buy or Sell.

Buy or Sell? The Mavericks can survive a short period of time without Luka Doncic

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Luka Doncic DAL • SF • 77
PPG29.3
RPG9.6
APG8.9
PER32.0

You never want to see a player go down due to injury, especially when that someone is Luka Doncic. The Mavs star has been having another historic season, and is a surefire MVP candidate early on. During the game against the Miami Heat on Saturday night, Doncic quickly exited in the first quarter after turning his ankle while driving to the basket. He was diagnosed with a moderate ankle sprain that is could keep him out until after Christmas. While losing Doncic for any amount of time is a significant blow, Dallas reportedly feels it "dodged a bullet"' as the injury could have been a lot more serious. In fact, Doncic was apparently seen by teammates running on the underwater treadmill at halftime

Still, it doesn't help that the Mavericks' schedule isn't getting any easier this week. After pulling out a big win and ending the Milwaukee Bucks' 18-game winning streak on Monday, they still have dates with the Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers and Toronto Raptors -- all among the East's best -- every other day. Without Doncic, Dallas will be lucky to win one game during that stretch. The amount of success the Mavericks have seen to start the season -- top-rated offense in the league and No. 3 team in the West standings -- is a product of Doncic's play. You take him out of the equation, and this team operates completely differently. Also, Dallas could find itself dropping a few spots in the standings with a bad stretch as only 2.5 wins separates it from sixth-place Utah. 

If there were ever a time for Kristaps Porzingis to step up, this would be it. He has struggled to gain solid footing with the Mavericks this season, but it hasn't been a huge concern since they've been winning games. Now that he becomes the focal point of the offense, he'll need to shake off the rust and carry the weight in Doncic's absence. Dallas will also have to see more production from its trio of guards in Delon Wright, Jalen Brunson and JJ Barea to split ball-handling duties with Doncic sidelined. While Doncic hopefully won't be out for too long, the Mavericks can't afford to lose him for any amount of time, especially not right now.

Verdict: Sell

Buy or Sell? The Lakers should trade Kyle Kuzma

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Kyle Kuzma LAL • PF • 0
PPG11.1
RPG3.4
3P%36.0
PER9.8

Injuries have not been kind to Kyle Kuzma this season. He already missed four games to start the season after rehabbing over the summer from a left foot injury he suffered while playing for Team USA, and he's been sidelined for the past three games with a sprained ankle. In between that time, he's played 20 games for the Lakers, averaging 11.1 points and three rebounds a night. Both of those numbers are significant drops from his averages a season ago. Granted, he was starting in all but two games he played in 2018-19. This season, Kuzma has not been able to make a big enough impact for the Lakers coming off the bench. 

Kuzma's minutes are down from 33.1 to 23.1 this season, mainly because he isn't a consistent enough shooter or strong enough  defender to be on the floor. There's a reason Alex Caruso has received so much praise this season, because when he comes in the game he can knock down shots. That's something Kuzma can't do, and as strong as the Lakers have been to start the season, when it comes time for the playoffs they'll need all the scorers and defenders they can get their hands on to give them more of an edge. That's why trading Kuzma for another wing player would be the right move for the Lakers.

While on The Bill Simmons Podcast, ESPN's Brian Windhorst offered up a hypothetical trade scenario for the Lakers.

"I'd trade Kuzma for Bogdan Bogdanovic. He's a restricted free agent, but not a starter [in Sacramento], and they've already committed to Buddy Hield and Harrison Barnes," Windhorst said. "You put Bogdanovic alongside LeBron, oh my god, that would be a weapon. That's the guy you trade Kuzma for."

If the Lakers could put together a package of Kuzma and possibly Quinn Cook -- someone who has underwhelmed since signing with the Lakers in the offseason -- for Bogdanovic, that would put them further over the edge as title contenders.

Verdict: Buy

Buy or Sell? The Trail Blazers will make a trade to bring Kevin Love home to Portland

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Kevin Love CLE • PF • 0
PPG15.9
RPG10.6
3P%35.9
PER17.5

Reports surfaced recently that the Cleveland Cavaliers were not only listening to trade offers for Kevin Love, but that Love would also like to be traded to Portland. It would be astounding if a Blazers deal doesn't happen. Even after bringing on Carmelo Anthony to correct its lack of frontcourt depth, Portland is still on the outside looking in on the West playoff picture as it sits with a 10-16 record. Anthony provided a small boost for the Blazers, but he isn't a cure-all for Portland's issues. Love would fit in perfectly alongside Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, and while he isn't the most stout defender, he's serviceable, and will help.

The Blazers have the assets to trade for Love, and could put together one of the more attractive trade packages to offer Cleveland. It's just a matter of how desperate they are to contend this season and how comfortable they are to pay the remaining $60.2 million remaining on Love's contract. Portland could trade the expiring deals of Hassan Whiteside and Kent Bazemore while throwing in a first-round pick to Cleveland, but it might also need to add a younger player like Nassir Little or Anfernee Simons to sweeten the deal. The Blazers have previously turned down teams wanting to trade for Simons, but they need to make the most of Lillard's prime as it would be a shame if the reason they wasted it was because they weren't willing to give up Simons or Little in a trade.

Verdict: Buy

Buy or Sell? The Sacramento Kings don't need De'Aaron Fox to be successful

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De'Aaron Fox SAC • PG • 5
Only nine games played
PPG18.2
APG7.0
RPG4.0
PER15.8

De'Aaron Fox sprained his ankle in practice back in November, causing him to be sidelined for 3-to-4 weeks. Without Fox in the lineup, the Sacramento Kings began to turn their season around. In the time that Fox has been out, the Kings have picked up impressive wins against the Boston Celtics, Denver Nuggets, Dallas Mavericks and Houston Rockets. There's no denying that the Kings have been more cohesive in the absence of their young guard, with players like Buddy Hield and Harrison Barnes stepping up on offense. Sacramento has gone 8-8 in that span, as opposed to the dreadful 3-6 start the team got out to when Fox was healthy. The Kings are now inside the playoff picture as the No. 7 team out West. However, when you look at the statistics, they're not a better team without Fox.

While Sacramento has improved from a wins and losses perspective, it absolutely still needs Fox on the floor to be successful. The Kings' pace drops from 99.3 to 96.7 without Fox on the floor -- dead-last in the league. They also currently rank 24th in offensive rating and 27th in points per game. There isn't another guard on the Kings roster that provides the type of dynamic playmaking that Fox provides, and while Sacramento struggled with him at the start of the season, he was still averaging a career-high in points (18.2) and rebounds (4.0) as well as putting up seven assists per game.

The Kings have been playing hard without Fox, and the expectation is that when he returns, which, according to Fox, is just around the corner, he can slide right back into his starting spot on a team that is in a much better place now than when he went down in November.

Verdict: Sell

Buy or Sell? Mexico will get an NBA franchise before Seattle

Last week, when the NBA traveled south of the border for the 2019 Mexico City Games, commissioner Adam Silver announced that the league will be adding a G League squad based in Mexico City in 2020. This is the first time the NBA will have a team outside of the United States and Canada, and is just the latest move where the league tries to expand its global reach. Silver has previously expressed interest in starting a franchise in Mexico, calling it a "gateway to the rest of Latin America," and adding a G League team in Mexico is just the first step toward accomplishing that.

In July, Silver said that the NBA is "not in expansion mode," despite the cry amongst fans for a team in several U.S. and Canadian cities, none more popular, though, than Seattle. Ever since the Seattle Supersonics relocated to Oklahoma City before the 2008-09 season, fans have been clamoring for the return of the iconic green and yellow inside KeyArena. However, after the news of a G League team added in Mexico as well as Silver expressing the possibility of an NBA franchise there, it seems a lot likelier for the league to add a team in Mexico before Seattle. 

There has been a lot of chatter about the poor ratings of NBA games this season, and while the league still hasn't successfully cracked the puzzle that is getting people in America to tune into nationally televised games, if they added a team outside of the U.S. that an entire country can get behind, that would do wonders for their goal of gaining new fans. In last year's Finals, there was a dip in American viewership. However, Game 1 between the Warriors and Raptors was the most-watched NBA game ever in Canada. That trend continued upward with each game of the Finals, with it even surpassing Super Bowl ratings from last year in Canada. Adding a team in Seattle would be great for nostalgic purposes, but adding a team in a different country, where everyone there is rooting for the same squad, would only generate more revenue for the league, which is ultimately the main goal here.

Verdict: Buy

Jasmyn Wimbish has been closely following the NBA since Dirk Nowitzki hit his sweet signature jumper to send the Miami Heat packing in 2011. She's a graduate of the University of Kansas and Northern Arizona... Full Bio

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