The NBA season has turned upside down, and that means, for the near future, at least, that teams that have closed camp with prominent holes in their rosters—notably the Celtics, Heat and Lakers—will hold those holes early in the season. The urgency of repairing these punctures depends on the extent of exposure in the first weeks.
It will also depend on the players available in the first few months of the season – there have been rumors of second-tier stars, but the availability of those players is in question. However, we’re going to speculate here, so we’ll assume that some players, like BJ Washington or Charlotte’s player OG Anunoby in TorontoEventually, you will reach the trading block.
We also checked in with an executive from each conference to find out their thoughts on the relevant gaps in each team roster, and what the teams are likely to do about them.
The Heat, the Celtics try to trade their way to the Peak of the East
Miami Heat: A forward force
Eastern Executive Conference: “They knew they had a hole in there and it was always the first choice, ‘Let’s see if we can fix it from the inside. They’re trying it with (Caleb) Martin, but that could take a lot of him. Martin could end up being a key to her because they can’t trade him until January because he just signed but he has some value. They’ve tried to figure out what’s out there for Duncan Robinson, but There really isn’t much of a market unless you get a team that’s willing to play for a year and try to flip their contract next summer. They tried with Phoenix for Jay Crowder, but Phoenix didn’t want Robinson.”
Washington: Kyle Kuzma and Duncan Robinson’s Tag Gibson and a first-round pick (2027). The Witches have hated rebuilding as long as they have Bradley Beal on the list, and it probably will. But if they start looking to the future, Kuzma will find himself on hold. He’s not a striker that the Heat would like in attacking power, but he added a dimension of scoring to a position the team lacked.
Charlotte: BJ Washington and Mason Plumley alongside Duncan Robinson, Omar Yurtseven and Preliminary Tour (2027). Washington and the Hornets did not go far in extending the talks and there was business speculation about it for a year. He’s a strong young man, and while Charlotte seemed lukewarm towards him at first, perhaps that will change. If that doesn’t happen, it will be a huge commercial target and the Heat would be wise to do whatever is necessary to bring him to Miami.
Phoenix: Jay Crowder to Caleb Martin and Gabe Vincent (after January 15th). The Crowder market has turned quiet, and this increases the chances that the confrontation between the Suns and the former forward will continue into the winter. The Heat would like to get it back, but at what cost? Martin, 27, and Vincent, 26, are younger than Crowder, 32, and such a deal would signal Miami’s focus on winning now. “They tried to get Crowder but that didn’t happen with the bits they had,” the executive said. “But if it takes too long, they can run again.”
Boston Celtics: a two-way wing
Eastern Conference Executive: “We’ll see how it goes with them with Sam Houser and (Justin) Jackson, but if there’s a place where they might want to find someone else, it’s in that place. They have great backcourt and frontcourt defenders when they’re healthy but anyone. He’s sitting on the bench and a wing stopper could be a big deal for them.”
Toronto: OG Anunoby for Payton Pritchard and Derek White, two first-round picks (2025 and 2027). There was grumbling that the Raptors might consider moving Anonobi in light of Scotty Barnes’ rise on the wing. No substantive conversations have taken place about that, but if Anonobi becomes available, he will likely be the missing piece in Boston’s dominant lineup on both sides of the ball. “You never know how the trade discussion will go,” the executive said. “But that’s a low bid for Anonobi and he’s going to leave the Masai (Ojiri) if he’s going down. Maybe they appreciate the choices, maybe they appreciate Pritchard and White. I would say they’d have to include Rob Williams or Grant Williams or (Marcus) Smart to make it work.”
Lakers, Bulls and Knicks take their swings
Los Angeles Lakers: Frontcourt, shooting
Western Conference Executive: “The roster is better than it was last year, it’s smaller and more sporty. But there are still a lot of places where things don’t make sense. They’re hurt by the shooting. We knew this was coming in the year, and they didn’t pay enough attention to it because they were adding people.” They don’t have a real answer up front either. Do you want to play (Anthony) Davis at five? Is that the best thing for him? They’ve got some really good spare big players but they haven’t really got a key player worthy of playing there.”
Charlotte: PJ Washington for Kendrick Noone and a first-round pick (2029). The Lakers’ unwillingness to move the first two tradable rounds is well known thus far, but in this case, it’s a different scenario. Instead of dealing with the choice for a veteran or two, charge it up for a 4/5 Enhanced Extension that has some defensive potential and fits in well with Davis. Oh, and Washington is only 24 years old with free agency restricted — the Lakers can keep it, maybe for a very good price. “They might keep PJ there,” the CEO said. “They might use him in signing and trading, see how he plays this season. They have to choose direction first, with everything that has happened.”
Philadelphia: Furkan Korkmaz, by Kendrick Nunn. Look, Korkmaz won’t save the Lakers season in any way. But the truth is, if the Lakers want to do something to address their no-cough shooting problems, Nunn is the only chip they have — and not particularly valuable at that. Korkmaz had the ups and downs of his NBA career from the two-point arc, including just 29.4% in 3 seconds last year, but he shot 35.5% of his career. It’s worth a shot, so to speak.
Chicago Bulls: wing depth, shooting, front yard depth
Eastern Conference Executive: “They’re kind of in limbo until they know what’s going on with Lonzo Ball but the season goes on and on without him whether they like it or not. So they have to tackle a few things. They need help on the wings, the inside, and they have to be able to shoot well. Better. It’s tough because if Lonzo comes back and he’s good, they won’t want to make many changes. But they have a lot of guards and it might make sense to use that to fill in other gaps.”
Toronto: OG Anunoby for Alex Caruso, Coby White, protected in the first round (2027). The Bulls may be kicking themselves for a move they made last time they tackled the first rounds, in a Nikola Vucevic deal, but they have a good group that you need to focus on winning now. Losing Caruso may be painful, but Anunoby is a huge upgrade for the team. “If they decide to move (Caruso), they can get some real value for him,” the executive said. “I don’t know they will, but they have other pieces that can fill it in.”
Charlotte: PJ Washington on Kobe White. Will the Hornets go for this? They would probably want a more refined point guard to support the LaMelo ball, but White is a North Carolina guy at a time when the Hornets were reeling and in need of his hometown draw. Can Washington fit into a smaller hub and extension 4, and tackle the bulls’ shortcomings – again, how well the Hornets are willing to handle before his bound free agency remains a question.
New York Knicks: Wing Depth
Western Executive Conference: “They’re a bit of a mess because they’re so heavy in the backcourt and you don’t know how they’re going to handle the (Julius) Randle role and all that. But they need better defenders in the periphery, and more diverse guys out there. Whatever they find out about attacking, they need to. To have some of the best and biggest defenders out there.”
San Antonio: Josh Richardson on Cam Reddish and Emmanuel Quikley. Richardson would be a perfect fit for the Knicks, a versatile player on both ends of the earth who had a great year shooting last season (41.5% from a 3-point range). Despite Reddish’s opening season performance, the Knicks would have been better off adding some consistency, and Richardson has always been a pro. Tottenham want a first player for Richardson, but the addition of Quickley is a good thing. “The value of Reddish is everywhere,” the executive said. “If he plays well, there is no doubt that you cannot move him and get something back. But if he plays well, they may decide that they should keep it.”
Phoenix: Tori Craig on Cam Reddish. Craig is 31 years old, and there is concern that he lost a step after a one-season bummer in Phoenix. However, there is some hope that it has just had a bad year and can bounce back as a solid 3D option. Giving up Reddish could be a very steep price to pay, if it continues in production. But if he returns to limited minutes and unhappiness, Craig is a good consolation prize.