2023 Trade Deadline: The East’s Potential Impact Candidates

  • The trade deadline is the time for teams to make that last big move ahead of what they hope is either a more competitive roster or more lottery balls come May. Every season is different and 2022-23 is unique in the limited amount of true sellers on the market. Let’s examine three key overall points ahead of this upcoming trade deadline to help us forecast what possible moves are out there:

    1. The Play-In tournament has changed the way that teams approach the trade deadline since there are now 10 teams that have a shot at the postseason compared to eight before. That means that 66% of Western Conference teams have a shot at the postseason, and the East doesn’t have that many more teams who are truly out of it.
    2. The Magic, Pistons and Hornets are out of it, and while your mileage may vary on Washington, Toronto and a few others, they’re at least within shouting distance of a postseason spot. Of those teams, Washington and Toronto don’t need to really blow it up unless they want to.
    3. The flattening of lottery odds has made it far less beneficial to tank than it used to be, meaning that there will be fewer sellers out there on the market than we were accustomed to during the “golden era” of tanking.


    Now, we’ll take a look at some of the players most likely to be on the move at the deadline and what that might mean for the fantasy landscape post February 9. A lot of the teams atop the East won’t be trading guys who will be fantasy-relevant after the fact, so we’d expect more picks to change hands here than diving through huge player-for-player deals. That said, there are still some significant names on the block.

    Toronto Raptors

    It looks as though all roads run through Toronto at the deadline. With only one player presumed to be off the block entirely, teams are free to dial up Masai Ujiri and make their offers. The Raptors could be a one-stop shop for any team looking to become a true title favorite, with one All-NBA player, one All-Star, one DPOY candidate and one quality 3-and-D wing all potential trade candidates. The asking prices are sky high but the Raptors are less than the sum of their parts and at least one move is coming.

    Fred VanVleet
    PG, Toronto Raptors

    VanVleet is going to opt out this summer and seek a massive contract, though he hasn’t played up to that level this year. With the odds that the Raptors won’t meet that price in the summer, he’s the most likely player to be traded — with the number of PG suitors playing a big factor as well. The Suns, Clippers, Wolves, Heat, Magic, Nets and others have all been discussed in the PG market and VanVleet would be an immediate upgrade over the current group for anyone besides Phoenix — and that assumes that Chris Paul doesn’t get dealt. With only a small range of outcomes that sees FVV take a role demotion, it should be business as usual no matter what happens. He’ll play less elsewhere than he does in Toronto, but he could also shoot better and become less of an injury risk.

    Pre-Deadline Recommendation: Sit tight

    Malachi Flynn
    PG, Toronto Raptors
    Dalano Banton
    PG, Toronto Raptors

    If VanVleet goes, those are your two current PG options to fill his shoes. The Raptors haven’t shown much of an inclination to load up on minutes for either player in the past, however, and it’s possible that they’re on the move as well. Flynn’s lack of improvement in particular means that he could end up in a change-of-scenery trade.

    Pre-Deadline Recommendation: Watch List in deeper leagues

    O.G. Anunoby
    F, Toronto Raptors

    The belle of the deadline ball is Anunoby, an elite one-on-one defender who covers every position while offering a burgeoning offensive game. With no shortage of teams involved, including the Suns, Grizzlies, Pelicans, Nets, Knicks, Blazers, Pacers and more at the last collection of rumors, the Raptors also don’t need to trade Anunoby with the way he fits the team’s long-term vision. But with the collective falling short of expectations, Anunoby signed to an under-market deal and his fit with a number of teams that could be quite desperate, the Raptors have a unique opportunity to strike while the iron is as hot as it’s ever going to get. Anunoby’s game figures to travel well, though if he ends up on a team with a clear offensive hierarchy it might result in a little less usage, not that it’s been holding him back from strong fantasy value in Toronto. This feels like a situation where he’ll be moved for an undeniably good package if he gets moved at all, though fantasy GMs don’t have much to worry about.

    Pre-Deadline Recommendation: Sit Tight

    Gary Trent Jr.
    G, Toronto Raptors

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    Trent is the other player likely to be traded away, as he’s in a similar contractual spot as VanVleet. Despite mutual interest in re-signing, Trent probably gets more from someone else in free agency, meaning the Raptors can try to cash out on a guy who has a very desirable set of skills. Unfortunately for Trent, whose skills really stand out on the Raptors, there are only a limited number of teams where he would be so necessary (hello, Lakers) and a trade figures to turn him into more of a complementary option. That said, Trent’s status as a firm middle-rounder means he has a little ways to go before managers really feel the brunt of a move.

    Pre-Deadline Recommendation: Sell if you can get another top-75 player in return

    Chris Boucher
    F/C, Toronto Raptors

    Boucher is a player who has benefited from the absence of a starter in the past, and would certainly be the preferred option to Flynn and Banton above if deals are struck. That, however, relies on Boucher himself not being traded. If the Raptors are looking to change up the mix, Boucher is a dynamic frontcourt player at his best and would suit a lot of teams in a bench capacity. Managers hoping for a peak finish are rooting for no trade for Boucher, but any move is going to force you to take a look because of the upside.

    Pre-Deadline Recommendation: Watch List in 12-team leagues, worth adding in 16-team leagues if you have space

    Pascal Siakam
    PF, Toronto Raptors

    “Taking calls” is different than “active trade talks” but the fact that the Raptors are at least seeing what’s out there for their biggest salary commitment means he deserves mention here. Any team trading for Siakam will have to send along huge salary, meaning that a big role awaits even if he may not be the true top dog like he is in Toronto. It would take a true blockbuster for Siakam to be on the move, but never say never.

    Pre-Deadline Recommendation: What can you do? No change.

    Detroit Pistons

    Bojan Bogdanovic
    F, Detroit Pistons

    Trade chatter has died down a bit but Bogdanovic is signed for next season at a reasonable number, and any acquiring team would have a terrific secondary scorer (i.e., a guy who can be a primary scorer if he has to) and 3-point marksman for two playoff runs. While the consensus is that the Pistons would need to be overpaid to move him as they want to compete next season, would they really be in position to turn down an unprotected first-round pick? A move to another team lowers his ceiling while sticking in Detroit increases the shutdown risk, so it’s really whether you’re trying to hit singles or swing for the fences the rest of the season.

    Pre-Deadline Recommendation: Sell if you can get an unshakeable top-100 guy in return

    Saddiq Bey
    F, Detroit Pistons

    Bey’s name entered the rumor mill when Detroit moved him to the bench, but like with Bogdanovic, it seems like the asking price is high and the Pistons are indicating that they’d prefer to hang onto Bey unless an overpay is coming. The best outcome for him is that Detroit caves on a Bogdanovic trade and elevates Bey back into the starting five, or that Bey himself gets dealt to a team willing to start him (hello again, Lakers?). Still, a volume-based stat set makes this a tough one to call ahead of team.

    Pre-Deadline Recommendation: Watch List in 12-team leagues, maybe worth pre-adding if you have space

    Alec Burks
    G, Detroit Pistons

    You’ve heard this one before: Detroit’s taking calls on Burks but all signs have pointed to the idea that they won’t move him just to move him, and that they want him on the team going forward. A trade seems unlikely given that this is the player contenders are least likely to overpay for. He’d pick up extra usage if Bogdanovic or Bey got dealt but is already in a well-defined lane for fantasy.

    Pre-Deadline Recommendation: Watch List in 12-team leagues

    Nerlens Noel
    C, Detroit Pistons

    Noel and the Pistons both know that Detroit isn’t where his future lies, and the question is really whether some team feels it’s worth surrendering even a modest asset instead of chasing him as a potential buyout. It won’t take a ton of playing time to make Noel fantasy-relevant and if he ends up in a rotation somewhere it puts an impactful player on the board for steals and blocks.

    Pre-Deadline Recommendation: Watch List in 12-team leagues, worth adding in 16-team leagues if you have space

    Charlotte Hornets

    Mason Plumlee
    C, Charlotte Hornets

    Plumlee is on an expiring contract and the Hornets have a cadre of young centers ready for minutes. This one’s too easy, and they should be able to get a late first-round pick out of a contending team looking for frontcourt depth. Plumlee is a starting-caliber player and has put a nice renaissance season together for fantasy managers, especially those punting FT%. The list of contenders seeking center help that could give him starter-level minutes is low — basically just the Mavs right now — so Plumlee is a safe bet to decline down the stretch of the season.

    Pre-Deadline Recommendation: Sell for a top-120 guy if you can, but it’s so obvious that you’re probably not going to get anything of real value back

    Mark Williams
    C, Charlotte Hornets

    Nick Richards
    C, Charlotte Hornets

    Both Williams and Richards have shown the potential to be 12-team options without Plumlee, and getting them reps with LaMelo Ball is one thing the Hornets should be focused on to close the year.

    Pre-Deadline Recommendation: Williams is a 12-team stash; keep an eye on Richards in 16-teamers for now

    Terry Rozier
    G, Charlotte Hornets

    Rozier just signed an extension with Charlotte but the team needs to keep building for the future, and if they can increase flexibility while capitalizing on Rozier’s value at its peak, you can bet they’ll give it a long look. He’s been a great fit next to LaMelo Ball, as playing with a true playmaker has boosted his efficiency substantially, and a contender is unlikely to plug Rozier in as a primary scorer. The Hornets don’t need to move him but fantasy GMs should brace for a falling off just to be safe.

    Pre-Deadline Recommendation: Sell for a comparable value player who may be a bit safer — if you think Rozier ends up getting dealt

    Dennis Smith Jr.
    G, Charlotte Hornets

    Smith has hit the 12-team radar already this season and would figure to be the primary beneficiary of a Rozier trade — or at least the one most likely to impact the majority of fantasy leagues, with apologies to Bryce McGowens and James Bouknight.

    Pre-Deadline Recommendation: Watch List in 12-team leagues

    Kelly Oubre Jr.
    G, Charlotte Hornets

    Oubre is currently recovering from hand surgery and was likely dropped in many standard leagues, though he was putting together a nice season before the injury. We don’t have a great idea of how Oubre would’ve performed on a deeper team because of all the Hornets’ absences throughout the campaign, but managers should expect some steps back from his current levels given the likelihood that he becomes the seventh man on a good team. He’s an explosive guy for points and triples though, so you’ll want to keep tabs on him in case he ends up somewhere where the fit is right.

    Pre-Deadline Recommendation: Watch List in 12-team leagues

    Orlando Magic

    Mo Bamba
    C, Orlando Magic

    After proving he could hang at the NBA level last season, Bamba has fallen by the wayside. Some of it is understandable with the guys that the Magic added, but for Bamba to be fighting for minutes with Moritz Wagner is a real shock. With no future in Orlando, teams should have little trouble talking themselves into adding the big man. He’s got easy top-100 upside and should be motivated wherever he ends up, though his odds of jumping right into 12-team relevance are not as overwhelming as you’d like given the possibility he moves into an 18-minute backup role. Still, better than nothing.

    Pre-Deadline Recommendation: Add if you have space in 12-team leagues

    Terrence Ross
    G, Orlando Magic

    Ross has been looking for a trade since the summer but the Magic have been holding too firm for a first-round pick since last year’s deadline. With Ross out of the rotation, they’re not getting that now, but the veteran will be moved for some kind of assets. He could crack the top-200 thanks to his steals and treys if he ends up getting 20 mpg somewhere.

    Pre-Deadline Recommendation: Watch List in 16-team leagues

    Washington Wizards

    Kyle Kuzma
    PF, Washington Wizards

    The Wizards are going nowhere fast and seem eager to give Kyle Kuzma a huge contract this summer, but if a contending team offers a ton of assets then Washington should at least consider moving on. The odds of a deal are slim with the way the Wiz are insistent on building around Bradley Beal, but a potential move would drag down Kuzma’s fantasy ceiling considerably.

    Pre-Deadline Recommendation: Sit tight

    Atlanta Hawks

    John Collins
    PF, Atlanta Hawks

    We’re onto the third year of “will they or won’t they” with the Hawks and Collins. At this point we’ll believe it when we see it but the Hawks just don’t have “it” and look miles away from being as competitive as they envisioned. Eventually something will change and Collins is the most readily available of the guys whose departure would significantly alter Atlanta’s roster. Fantasy managers have long been waiting for such a move, as Collins in a more prominent role has legitimate top-25 upside.

    Pre-Deadline Recommendation: A soft buy-low, though you’ll run the risk of trading a top-60 player for a version of Collins that settles in the top-75 if nothing happens with the Hawks

    Bogdan Bogdanovic
    SG, Atlanta Hawks

    A hot start to the year has faded and Bogdanovic gives the Hawks a good chunk of movable salary at a position of strength. With how other teams are hunting for secondary playmakers and 3-point shooting, he could have some suitors out there. Typically, Bogdanovic has needed serious volume to stay on the map in 12-team leagues but if he ended up somewhere like the Clippers (completely random mention, no intel here), his skills fill enough of a need that he’d have a puncher’s chance.

    Pre-Deadline Recommendation: Watch List in 12-team leagues

    Miami Heat

    Kyle Lowry
    PG, Miami Heat

    The Heat have been insistent that Lowry won’t be traded, but they appear to be softening on that stance. Clearly in decline at this point, Lowry’s middle-round start has turned into a nuisance of a season where the cumulative bumps and bruises are sticking him with late-round value in limited playing time. The rub here is that the Heat probably get another PG in any Lowry trade, so fantasy managers may not have a stash to turn to. Lowry, meanwhile, likely ends up as a sixth man somewhere else at this point — at least on a good team — so things aren’t looking great.

    Pre-Deadline Recommendation: Sell for any top-125 player

    New York Knicks

    Cam Reddish
    F/G, New York Knicks

    Reddish was annoying in Atlanta and if you can say anything about his run in New York, it’s that he at least wasn’t able to string you along. The destination will matter here as Reddish would have to go to a rebuilding team in order to play enough to get close to standard-league relevance, but if he ends up on a good team that needs some wing depth there’s still deep-league potential. Just know that historically Reddish has had a hard time outgaining his poor percentages.

    Pre-Deadline Recommendation: Watch List in 16-team leagues

    Obi Toppin
    PF, New York Knicks

    The Knicks are in a position to keep building, but don’t have a lot of attractive players on the current roster that they’d be willing to surrender in a deal. Toppin may be the lone exception, as his gifted offensive game has already delivered some breakout moments despite limited playing time. His ability to score efficiently has him closer to the top-150 thank you think so ending up with a team that will actually play him makes Toppin a reasonable stash.

    Pre-Deadline Recommendation: Watch List in 12-team leagues, a reasonable stash if you have room

    Chicago Bulls

    DeMar DeRozan
    SF, Chicago Bulls

    Zach LaVine
    SG, Chicago Bulls

    If the Bulls blow it up, it’ll start here. DeRozan is the more valuable of the two even with his historical playoff struggles, as LaVine’s huge contract and knee issues may make him a negative value asset around the league. Aside from trying to move off LaVine for injury reasons, there isn’t much fantasy GMs can do here. Both guys will be prominent on any roster so any move could end up being a lateral one for fantasy purposes.

    Pre-Deadline Recommendation: Sit tight; if you can get a top-50 guy for LaVine, do it

    Alex Caruso
    PG, Chicago Bulls

    A prime-aged player on a good contract with elite defensive ability? Sounds like a hot trade target to us. A trade out of Chicago could actually benefit Caruso, especially if he ends up on a team with a clear need like the Clippers or Wolves. As it stands he’s already someone to roster in 12-team leagues, and that while he’s splitting minutes with two other guards. Should Caruso enter a situation with less competition for minutes, top-100 numbers are on the table.

    Pre-Deadline Recommendation: A 12-team hold; buy with any late-round player if his current manager is asleep at the wheel

    Philadelphia 76ers

    Matisse Thybulle
    F, Philadelphia Sixers

    Thybulle has been a trade candidate for over a year at this point as his development has totally stagnated. Could another team talk themselves into coaxing some offense out of a guy with true stopper potential? Fantasy managers should be hoping so, as Thybulle is one of the few players out there capable of sleepwalking his way to four defensive stats a night.

    Pre-Deadline Recommendation: Watch List in 12-team leagues, especially roto; stash option in 16-teamers and deeper

    Brooklyn Nets

    Kevin Durant
    F, Brooklyn Nets

    Just kidding… maybe.

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