On the latest Crossover podcast, Howard Beck welcomes Jake Fischer, senior NBA reporter for Yahoo Sports, to discuss the unofficial opening of NBA trade season. Could this season’s weird parity stifle the market?
Howard Beck: You and I just named like all of the likely suspects, right? Jae Crowder, Bojan Bogdanovic Jakob Poeltl, who you wrote about recently, John Collins, Buddy Hield, Myles Turner, all the Knicks that you mentioned. Most years what happens is that none of the guys we’re talking about get traded. Or maybe one of them does. And then the biggest deal is the one that nobody saw coming. So I’m gonna ask you … given that every year there’s a big trade that we don’t actually see coming, who’s it going to be?
Jake Fischer: I’ll say this: Chicago, a couple weeks back, everyone was like, Oh, the Bulls, they’re terrible. Look at them to be a seller. And then now, I mean, I wrote about them and teams are still thinking, Oh yeah, they could be a seller, but there’s also plenty of talk that they have no interest in selling right now. I mean, maybe they’ll do some things to retool and maybe move off Nikola Vucevic or something like that, but I am skeptical that they’re just gonna be doing a fire sale and you’ll see Alex Caruso and DeMar DeRozan and all these people heading out the door.
Toronto is the team that I think rivals are looking at, that things aren’t obviously going super smoothly. I saw there was an article today, someone saying this is on Nick Nurse to figure this out. They’ve got a lot of players that have been apples of people’s eyes of recent transaction cycles. I had someone with the Knicks recently telling me, You know, we should have gone after Fred VanVleet the year we didn’t.
Beck: I said that at the time! I’m on record. I also said it to some people I knew with the Knicks at the time. Like, why aren’t you guys chasing this guy? He’s perfect. Two-way player, great character guy.
Fischer: So you got Fred, you’ve got Gary Trent, whose contract is coming up and OG Anunoby, who’s playing out of his mind, who definitely will want to get paid or his representation will definitely want him to get paid. That’s the type of stuff that starts to draw trade activity where a team starts to get word of the number that they think their player wants, and maybe they’re not gonna want to foot that bill. I’m not saying that all three of those guys, or one of those guys, are going to get moved, but I’ve been struck by how many people from other teams are looking at Toronto and saying that. Unlike Chicago, where maybe they’ll have pause because the Bulls won six championships with Michael Jordan and they just are happy to make the playoffs. They don’t necessarily need to be chasing championships like other teams and they just like to be a relevant playoff team. I don’t know if that’s the actual thinking there, but that’s what people say.
Whereas Toronto and Masai Ujiri and Bobby Webster have shown clear abilities to just swing for the fences, trade for Kawhi Leonard, make big moves in terms of the sign-and-trade with Kyle Lowry. I wouldn’t be shocked if the Raptors are still kind of in this muck of 7-8-9 in the East and they decide we can either package a couple of our guys to go get someone, or we can trade someone to move that fits more of a Scottie Barnes timeline. I don’t know where their head’s at, I’ll say that candidly. But they’re just a team that has made big moves in the past, that has a lot of players on it that a lot of teams would be interested in, on interesting salaries that are very movable. That I think is just something to keep an eye on for sure.