NBA Trade Intel: Trade Season Starts With Siakam, LaVine, Donovan Mitchell Rumors

NBA Trade Intel: Trade Season Starts With Siakam, LaVine, Donovan Mitchell Rumors article feature image

Photo by Vaughn Ridley/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: OG Anunoby and Pascal Siakam who both feature prominently in our NBA trade intel as the NBA trade season starts following the In-Season Tournament.

The NBA has figured out something with transitioning from the start of the season to the In-Season Tournament, and then into "Trade Season." NBA executives have long said that they start to assess what they need or to take hard looks at their team's chances of meeting expectations around December. So now that the tournament is over, teams are starting to make calls.

The Athletic's Shams Charania reported on Monday on a wide variety of topics; we'll talk about two here at the top with some more info I've heard: the Raptors are likely to move Pascal Siakam, and teams aren't beating down the Bulls' door for Zach LaVine.

NBA Trade Intel: Trade Season Starts With Siakam, LaVine, Donovan Mitchell Rumors

For the Raptors, Charania reported the following, which is what I've heard since late this summer:

Teams such as the Atlanta Hawks, Sacramento Kings and Indiana Pacers are expected suitors for Siakam or Anunoby but believe Siakam appears to be the likelier player to be dealt, league sources tell The Athletic. Siakam, 29, is earning $37.9 million in the last year of his Raptors contract this season while Anunoby, 26, has a $19.9 million player option for next season that he will almost assuredly decline to enter free agency.

Let's dig in on Siakam being likelier. Siakam is expiring, which puts the pressure more firmly on the Raptors to move him to avoid the risk of losing him for nothing. There were talks described as "serious" by multiple sources over the summer between the Hawks and the Raptors, first involving a three-team trade with Dallas that fizzled once the Mavericks saw what they had in Derek Lively, and then a direct two-team deal.

If I were capping the race for Siakam, based on my understanding, the Hawks would be a slight favorite (around +125 if the Raptors trade Siakam).

Anunoby was the hot name for much of last year. For going on two years, the thought was that Anunoby not only wanted a top-level, near-if-not-max contract but that he wanted a premier role as an offensive hub. That scared a lot of teams off that felt he was better served as a 3-and-D role player.

But this summer, something interesting happened. Anunoby left Klutch Sports. The conversation about him immediately changed, and Anunoby has indicated to local media that reports he was seeking a "superstar role" were false or at least overstated.

His role with the Raptors has been mostly the same as last season, but his relationship with franchise cornerstone Scottie Barnes has started to flourish. That changes things as well. Siakam is 29 and turns 30 this spring. Anunoby is 26. It's easier to pair him over the next four years with Barnes while Barnes continues to develop. (And Barnes has already made what I consider to be a leap to All-NBA status this season.)

My understanding currently is that the Raptors are likely to build around the combination of Anunoby and Barnes, and that Siakam will likely head somewhere willing to pay him this summer. That's the next complication.

Charania reported the Hawks, Kings, and Pacers as three teams that are interested in trading for Siakam. Are those small market teams willing to take on Siakam with the understanding he's probably in line for a near-max-if-not-max contract? The Pacers are on track to have the most cap room next summer, but do they have the assets to send the Raptors, especially given Masai Ujiri's notorious stubbornness in holding out for sweet deals?

Sacramento's tougher, and the Hawks are even tougher than that. The Hawks would look to move Capela, but he's no longer the asset he once was. The Kings could theoretically move Harrison Barnes once he's eligible, but does that move the needle?

Executives continue to be skeptical that the Raptors will make a deal after so many close calls. We'll see if they go through with it.

As for LaVine, the view of several executives was summed up by one personnel advisor this weekend. "It's going to be LA. He's Klutch; they know (D'Angelo Russell) can't hang for a deep playoff run. No one else is jumping to get LaVine."

There is now a consensus that the Bulls are not interested in trading Alex Caruso, much to the dismay of interested trade partners trying to sneak in and get the premier defender.

More NBA Trade Intel, Rumors

  • Despite Charlotte's disappointing season, there's little belief they'll make significant moves. There is skepticism that the new ownership group that took over from Michael Jordan is looking to take on salary at the moment.
  • Everyone expects, and has expected, Donovan Mitchell to leave the Cavs in free agency. There's conflicting belief about whether or not Mitchell has informed the Cavs of anything regarding his future. ESPN's Brian Windhorst has reported for months going on years that Mitchell will not re-sign with Cleveland. One name I heard from multiple sources to look out for if the Knicks can't get a deal done for Mitchell is the always-star-shopping Brooklyn Nets, who have a plethora of assets to get such a deal done.
  • The Grizzlies are maxed out in roster space but are interested in moving one or two players with Ja Morant nearly back from suspension in order to keep center Bismack Biyombo, whom they desperately need with Steven Adams out for the year. Jake LaRavia and John Konchar are believed to be available in talks.

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