Lakers, Knicks Headline Early NBA Trade Deadline Chatter: Execs

Immanuel Quickley (middle) of the Knicks

Getty Immanuel Quickley (middle) of the Knicks

At a time of year when many people will be resolving to get a new body by working out more, NBA clubs are contemplating changing some bodies around in hopes of making their seasons work out.

Thus far, however, things have been strikingly slow/non-existent on the trade front. The December 15 green flag that signals when players signed over the summer can be traded yielded no action.

“I don’t know if it’s just so many teams don’t know where they are, because there’s definitely been teams playing at less than full capacity and trying to figure out what kind of team they are,” one NBA president of basketball operations told Heavy Sports. “It feels like there’s that still going on.

“There may be less December 15th trades this year and more January and February trades once teams decide whether they want to be buyers or sellers. I mean, do you know what Brooklyn and Philadelphia are? I don’t. And I don’t think they know either.”

That has not stopped the talking, though. The Lakers, for example, are bound to remain a hot topic as long as they’re trying to maximize LeBron James’ presence, though the latest Anthony Davis injury adds another cloud to the situation.

“They desperately need a shooter,” said one executive. “The question is, can another big-time player put them in the mix, because they’re not going anywhere with the way they are currently constructed. So they have to ask, do you want to borrow against the future to see if you can maximize the present? And then you deal with the future when it comes up. But if Davis isn’t going to be able to play or he’s playing but not himself, then none of this will really matter anyway.”

Knicks’ Quickley Drawing Interest

Then there’s New York, which won eight straight then lost five in a row, the last being Thursday in San Antonio against the lottery-bound Spurs.

“I don’t know if the Knicks feel they have to do something — and that may tell you all you need to know about what’s going on there,” said one opposing team source who’s dealt with them. “That’s what’s weird about the Knicks.”

According to another league exec, “They’ve been trying to get off (Even) Fournier and (Cam) Reddish.

“The one guy who is really their trade asset is the one guy they’d like to keep, and that’s (Immanuel) Quickley. Great kid. But he sees himself as a starting point guard, and the Knicks see him as a combo guard. Thibs (coach Tom Thibodeau) doesn’t like to play young guys, but he’s embraced Quickley. The problem is Quickley sees what Tyrese Maxey is doing 80 miles south of there and he thinks, ‘Hey, I’m every bit as good as Tyrese. The only difference is he’s had opportunity and I haven’t.’ So he’s worried that the Knicks will never commit to letting him do what he wants to do. But he would bring back some value if they ever decided to trade him.”

Recent injuries to Jalen Brunson (sore right hip) and RJ Barrett (lacerated finger) have given Quickley more of a shot — and more shots. With those starters out, he poured in a career-high 36 points in 43 minutes versus San Antonio.

“But he’s not going to get those opportunities when they’re whole,” said the exec.

Mavericks, Bulls, Heat to Get Active?

Despite the slow start, the list of teams one would expect to be active is large.

“Dallas seems like it should want to do something,” said a GM. “Miami and Chicago aren’t in as many conversations now, but they very well could be over the next few weeks.”

The uncertainty about rosters appears widespread in the NBA, but decisions are coming due with the deadline less than six weeks away.

“Right when you get to about 25 or 30 games, you become the problems that you are, you know what I mean?” said a Midwestern exec. “You’ve been playing just long enough to figure out who the heck you are — all of the pluses and all of the substantial minuses. Now it’s just a projection: OK, what are you gonna do for the next 25 games to either set yourself on a better course or start planning for next year.”


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