The NBA trade deadline is coming up on Thursday, which means it's time for the worst teams in the league to dump ballast – and perhaps become better NBA picks.
Jason's 2015-16 record as of Feb. 12: 21-25-1 ATS, 5-1-1 Total
NBA All-Star Weekend is here, which means we must be close to the annual trade deadline. Yup: It's this Thursday (February 18) at 3:00 p.m. Eastern. Every year as the deadline approaches, teams who have fallen out of the playoff race try to cut their losses by sending their high-priced assets to contenders, in exchange for young prospects, draft picks, and room under the salary cap. Then they go on epic losing streaks. Yes, folks, it's Tank Time in the NBA.
Hallelujah. Tank Time is like Christmas all over again when you're making NBA picks; the teams who drop out of the race aren't always as bad as the marketplace thinks, and when you find one of those teams, you can ride that horse all the way to the bank. The trick is to make sure that team isn't trying too hard to lose, in order to improve its draft position. Let's gaze into the crystal Spalding and see who might be worth a gander this year.
The Nets (14-40 SU, 26-27-1 ATS) were doing a fine job against the NBA odds before rookie Rondae-Hollis Jefferson got injured – he's due back sometime in March. In the meantime, they've got two valuable trade chips in center Brook Lopez (21.7 PER, +1.1 BPM) and PF Thaddeus Young (17.6 PER, +0.1 BPM) who would help other teams a lot more than they can help Brooklyn. Interim GM Frank Zanin won't have to worry about optics if he sends Lopez and Young packing.
The rebuilding project for the Wolves (17-37 SU, 24-29-1 ATS) keeps getting extended, and it should be yet another active trade deadline as the team looks for more long-term help for Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns to be able to contend in the Western Conference soon. Two players in particular have been lost in the shuffle this year: SG Kevin Martin (12.5 PER, –4.5 BPM) and broken-down center Nikola Pekovic (6.7 PER, –7.7 BPM in limited minutes). Neither has much trade value, though. Rumor has it teams are asking about point guard Ricky Rubio (18.1 PER, +2.4 BPM), but the Timberwolves have shot those rumors down – in other words, it could definitely happen.
We're a bit wary of the Suns (14-40 SU, 21-33 ATS) after some of the curious trades they've made over the past couple of years. Has any front office gone from brilliant to bone-headed in such a short amount of time? The truth probably lies somewhere in between, as it often does. Anyway, PF Markieff Morris (11.1 PER, –3.9 BPM) is Target No. 1 for a lot of teams, after he pulled a deluxe Vince Carter and sandbagged his trade value. Speaking of Carter, both Morris and SF P.J. Tucker (9.9 PER, +0.3 BPM) could end up with the Toronto Raptors; Tucker had a cup of coffee with the Raps in 2006-07 before going overseas for five years.