With the March 25 trade deadline drawing closer and closer, the rumor mill has been heating up across the NBA as teams and players alike consider trade or buyout possibilities. As we near the halfway point of the season, many teams have exceeded expectations, while others have fallen short. The NBA also recently released its plan for this year’s All-Star Game.
1. To trade or not to trade?
The trade deadline is a little over a month away, but that isn’t stopping teams from getting a head start on inquiring about potential trade targets. The Cleveland Cavaliers have decided to sit Andre Drummond as they look to trade the big man. The Detroit Pistons have done something similar with forward Blake Griffin, also sitting him as the team works on either a trade agreement or a buyout. With both players, bloated contracts and a lack of significant on-court impact could make finding a trade partner difficult.
2. Time to press the panic button?
Could the Boston Celtics’ Sunday loss to the lowly Washington Wizards be rock bottom? Who knows. One of the biggest disappointments this season has got to be the Celtics. Coming into the season projected as one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference and a championship contender, the Celtics currently hold a 14–13 record and sit in fourth place in the Eastern Conference standings. It doesn’t help that Kemba Walker hasn’t been able to find a rhythm since returning from injury, and no one on the team can consistently score besides Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.
With the trade deadline looming and teams like the New York Knicks and Charlotte Hornets right behind them, Danny Ainge, the Celtics’ general manager and president of basketball operations, needs to make a move now, or this team could be headed for a potential first-round exit a year after making the Eastern Conference Finals.
3. All-Star Day?
The NBA recently released its plans for this season’s All-Star weekend in Atlanta, as well as a set of health protocols to ensure the safety of players participating in what is basically an ‘All-Star day’ this season. With a five-day break between March 5 and March 10, the NBA will hold its All-Star events on March 7. Anyone participating in an All-Star event will be required to travel to Atlanta via private transportation, register negative COVID-19 tests on March 6 and 7 and will not be allowed to leave their hotel unless traveling to the arena. All-Star events have been condensed into one night. The 3-Point Contest and Skills Challenge will take place before the All-Star Game, while the Slam Dunk Contest will take place during halftime, a novel schedule that makes sense given the need to restrict travel during the break, even if it is only between the hotel and the arena. It’ll be interesting to see how this works out, especially if players are participating in more than one event.