Tue. Apr 23rd, 2024

The 2023-24 NBA season tips off on Tuesday, and there are already several stars in situations worth monitoring ahead of the Feb. 8 trade deadline. Here are four of the most likely high-profile names who could be on the move this season. 

DeMar DeRozan, Chicago Bulls 

Although DeRozan, 34, has been an All-Star in both of his seasons with the Bulls, the team has invested too heavily in a core with minimal upside, and rebuilding may be the best course of action. DeRozan is entering the final season of his three-year, $85 million deal, and if he doesn’t receive an extension — which would be a risk on Chicago’s end — he may be traded at the deadline.

“One guy to keep an eye on, for everybody, the whole league, this year is DeMar DeRozan,” ESPN’s Brian Windhorst recently said on “First Take.” “If he doesn’t extend with the Bulls, I think he becomes a trade target as the season goes along.”

Over the last two seasons, DeRozan has averaged 26.2 points, 5.0 assists and 4.9 rebounds while posting the 24th-best player efficiency rating during that span (21.8). With an expiring deal and the upside to be an integral piece of a championship roster, plenty of contenders will inquire about DeRozan’s services this season. 

James Harden, Philadelphia 76ers

The biggest domino yet to fall, Harden, an impending free agent, is embroiled in an offseason-long feud with 76ers president Daryl Morey and has started making things “uncomfortable” for the team in a last-ditch effort to get traded. After skipping Philadelphia’s media day earlier this month, Harden was a no-show at practice last week and is in Houston, according to Yahoo Sports’ Jake Fischer.

Despite being seen as the top destination for Harden, the Los Angeles Clippers are reportedly unwilling to meet Philadelphia’s demands as they feel they’re the only team in the running to acquire him. While insiders are split on whether Harden will suit up for the Sixers come opening night, it seems as though he’ll at least be on the roster to start the season.

Nevertheless, if Harden starts missing games, Morey can’t afford to waste another year of reigning MVP Joel Embiid’s prime by being petty and not trading Harden for a piece that will help Philadelphia win now.

Zach LaVine, Chicago Bulls 

Trading away DeRozan shouldn’t be general manager Artūras Karnišovas’ only move if he finally commits to a rebuilding process, and the most effective way to maximize any potential return would be to part ways with LaVine. The 28-year-old, who signed a five-year, $215 million deal in July 2022, has been the subject of trade talks dating back to last season but hasn’t been dealt due to the Bulls’ reported “giant” asking price. 

DeRozan appears to be the more likely of the two stars to be moved if Chicago struggles. However, if it lowers its unreasonable asking price, perhaps the 76ers or New York Knicks will be tempted to acquire LaVine to keep up with the Eastern Conference heavyweights Boston and Milwaukee.  

Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves

Last offseason, Minnesota gambled and traded a massive haul of young players and future draft picks for three-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert to pair with Towns in the frontcourt. The experiment didn’t pan out their first season together, with Towns and Gobert playing in a combined 27 regular-season games together, though the team still advanced through the play-in tournament and qualified for the playoffs.

Despite making the postseason, the deal has potentially jeopardized the Timberwolves’ future, as they’re stuck with a roster that might already be hovering around its ceiling. Since it won’t get nearly enough for Gobert as it spent to get him, Minnesota might not have a choice but to trade Towns to recoup some assets and fully commit to building around budding superstar Anthony Edwards.

Even so, since Towns is under contract for at least the next four seasons and has a four-year, $224 million extension kicking in at the start of 2024-25, Minnesota might have trouble executing a worthwhile deal. 

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The post Likeliest stars to be traded during the 2023-24 NBA season appeared first on WorldNewsEra.


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