While there has been a lot of business done during this year’s NBA trade window, there are still plenty of basketball fans looking forward to a flurry of activity in the run-up to the February 19 deadline. It might be unlikely that any deals done before the deadline will go on and have a massive impact during this postseason, but there are some very interesting options out there for those teams looking to add some more options to their roster ahead of a push for the title.
Whether it’s those players capable of stepping off the bench and bossing the floor, point-scoring shooters looking to prove a point or those back-up defenders looking to make a move before the deadline, there are some incredibly interesting options on the market. As we prepare for the postseason, punters with the likes of Betfair are still struggling to single out a clear favourite for this year’s title, although that could change before the trade deadline with some smart moves.
Mo Williams (Minnesota Timberwolves)
While the Minnesota Timberwolves know they won’t be making it to the play-offs given the franchise is currently bottom of the Western Conference, there is a decent chance Mo Williams could find himself challenging for the title if he secures a move before the trade deadline. Any team heading into the play-offs could do a lot worse than strengthen their options at point guard with the signing of Williams, who could be one of the hottest properties in the run up to the deadline.
The 32-year-old has been an important part of the Timberwolves team this season, but a future second-round pick could be enough to convince Minnesota to trade the veteran and put their focus on the future. The former All Star might not be the most prolific scorer, averaging 39.9 percent from the field and a modest 33.8 percent from the three point mark, but the well traveled Williams would be a relatively risk-free acquisition for any team heading into the play-offs. After signing a one-year deal worth $3.75 million with the Timberwolves, it’ll be well worth the money to bring an experienced playmaker capable of making something out of nothing.
Williams wrote himself into the Timberwolves record books in January by scoring an incredible 52 points in the victory over the Indiana Pacers, as Minnesota ended a 15-game losing run thanks in no small part to the point guard’s historic haul. And while that performance might have been something of a one-off, it highlighted just what Williams is still capable of, not just in terms of ball-dominance but also when it comes to his versatility. His displays this season definitely haven’t gone unnoticed and both the Miami Heat and the Cleveland Cavaliers have been linked with a move for the former second -round draft pick.
Nik Stauskas (Sacramento Kings)
While much of the focus up until the trade deadline will be on seasoned veterans, there is the interesting proposition of Sacramento Kings rookie Nik Stauskas. The 21-year-old is reportedly available for trade as the Kings look to find someone to compliment All Star centre DeMarcus Cousins, and the race could be on as NBA teams look to sign a player who was the eighth overall pick in the 2014 Draft. Despite his first round arrival in the Draft, Stauskas has found himself restricted to a bit-part role under head coach Ty Corbin, averaging just 14.1 minutes during his 44 appearances in his rookie season and there is a feeling the Kings could now be tempted to cut their losses on the Canadian youngster before the trade deadline.
To be fair to Corbin, Stauskas hasn’t really done enough to warrent being given a key role in the team this year, converting a below-par 27.4 percent from the three-point line while recording just 30 percent from near the basket, figures that don’t really inspire too much confidence for a supposed specialist. But while he might not have lived up to the hype just yet, it’s been clear that Stauskas has enough about him to be a success in the NBA, although it’s becoming evident that it might not come with the Kings. At just 21 years of age, Stauskas still has time on his side to learn his craft but he needs to be able to do that at a team where he is allowed to make mistakes and express himself.
Being a first-round Draft pick was always going to bring with it a great deal of pressure and the youngster has obviously struggled to hit the heights many thought he would hit in his first season in the NBA. A change of scenery might be just what the Canadian needs and the Kings could do with shifting Stauskas off their roster in order to bring in someone to pair up with the in-form Cousins and try and get the most of a player who is crucial to Sacramento’s hopes, something Stauskas clearly isn’t. The youngster has played down talk linking him with a move away from the Kings before the deadline, although things change very quickly in the NBA and the shooting guard could find himself wearing new team colours before the trade window slams shut.
Jordan Hill (LA Lakers)
While Jordan Hill hasn’t been tipped by many to leave Los Angeles before the trade deadline, that’s not to say the 27-year-old couldn’t find himself the subject of some late interest. Despite the forward suffering a hip injury that will keep him sidelined for a couple of weeks, the structure of Hill’s contract in LA and the Lakers’ clear intention to try and bring through their younger players has cast some doubt over whether the former New York Knicks and Houston Rockets man will still be at the franchise by the end of this season. If it became clear Hill was available, there wouldn’t be any shortage of NBA teams willing to add the power forward to their roster.
Hill signed a two-year contract worth $18 million last summer, although there is a great deal of flexibility about the second year that could allow the Lakers to move the 27-year-old on early. The final year of Hill’s contract works as a team option worth $9 million, allowing any interested party to renounce the player’s rights after that year and avoid any future financial commitment.
The Lakers have been keen to hand bigger roles to Tarik Black and Ed Davis this season as the franchise look to hang on to the potential top-five draft pick owed to the Phoenix Suns in the summer, and Hill could be used as leverage as the Lakers continue to look to the future and add another couple of talented youngsters to their roster. That said, there are some who feel Davis could join Hill on the way out of Los Angeles this winter, with the Lakers possibly eyeing their own late deals.
While Hill hasn’t let himself down this season, there would be a lot of teams in the NBA who could offer him a bigger role in the team. A decent mid-range shooter, Hill’s real strong point comes at sniffing out rebounds and half chances in and around the basket – something that a lot of teams looking at a late push for the play-offs are lacking. The Lakers may well feel they don’t need to get rid of a player who they have relied on to step off the bench and cause opponents problems countless times over the past few seasons. Never the most prolific forward, it’s Hill’s ability to collect rebounds and ruffle a few feathers that make him such a useful player to have on the roster and it remains to be seen just what the Lakers decide to do.
Miles Plumlee (Phoenix Suns)
It’s been quite a dramatic fall from grace for Miles Plumlee at the Phoenix Suns, slipping from key starting player to back-up rotational centre. The arrival of Brandan Wright from the Boston Celtics took a lot of people by surprise, not least Plumlee who saw his stint in the Phoenix starting line-up come to a fairly sudden end. With the former 26th overall Draft pick now kicking his heels on the bench, the Suns have begun to put the wheels in motion that could see the 26-year-old make a move before the deadline.
During January, Plumlee was restricted to just 11.9 minutes a game, a full eight minutes fewer than he was averaging the month before the signing of Wright. And it wasn’t just the new man that pushed Plumlee to the side, with the emergence of Alex Len resulting in the big man falling further down the pecking order and it might be that the Suns are forced to accept a second-round pick in order to rid the former Pacers man from their roster. With his current rookie deal set to run for another year, Plumlee is proving to be an attractive proposition for some of those mid-table teams looking to mount a late charge towards the postseason without having to break the bank.
Pablo Prigioni (New York Knicks)
With the current trend of signing ageing point guards showing no signs of ending, 37-year-old Pablo Prigioni has found himself the subject of some real interest during the winter. The Argentine veteran has proved over the past three years just what he brings to a team and there are a number of NBA teams reportedly interested in adding Prigioni to their roster. After spending his career playing in his native Argentina and then Spain, Prigioni finally made the step up into the NBA in 2012 and wasted little time in establishing himself as the Knicks’ starting point guard. That has all changed this year under Head Coach Derek Fisher, and Prigioni has found himself way down the pecking order behind Langston Galloway and a number of youngsters. The Knicks have made no secret of the fact they are looking towards the future, and while Prigioni has been a fabulous servant to the franchise over the past few seasons, it’s best for both parties that they part ways before this trade deadline.
An extremely effective and hard-working defensive player, Prigioni’s time in the Knicks defence resulted in the team better off by 1.6 points per 100 possessions, with the veteran recording a career-high steal percentage of 3.5, almost the best in the Knicks team. But for all Prigioni’s defensive attributes, the lack of any real offensive effectiveness makes signing the Argentine far from a no-brainer. While the 37-year-old is still a very consistent long-range shooter, boasting a 41.5 percentage during his career, Prigioni still often chooses to pass to a team-mate rather than work his way into a scoring position.
Despite spending just three years in the NBA, there is little doubt the 37-year-old has shown signs of his age over the past 12 months. But while there will be other point guards attracting attention before the deadline, Prigioni still has an awful lot to offer a team heading into the play-offs, even more so if he can finally add an aggressive streak to his game. At 6-foot-3, Prigioni has always managed to control play due to his speed of hand and flashy movement. As those reactions slow down, the veteran will need to add a ruthless element to his game in order to still have an impact against the world’s best players.
The Cleveland Cavaliers are definitely in the market for some point guard cover for Kyrie Irving and are believed to be weighing up making a move for either the Argentinean or Norris Cole as they prepare to head into a postseason in which they will start as many people’s favourites. The Miami Heat are rumoured to be keen on signing Irving regardless of whether or not they manage to move Cole on, and it could be that Prigioni finds himself having to wait until the last minute before discovering where he’ll be playing his basketball between now and the end of the season.