NBA fans love the smell of business season in the morning, and the odors are stronger in some cities than others. Groups like it Boston Celtics, Denver Nuggets And Memphis Grizzlies While their teams head into the Feb. 9 trade deadline with confidence, others look at roster holes like LeBron James glaring at JR Smith.

Therefore, different levels of urgency are being applied to each NBA front office. We’ve decided to take a look at the five franchises facing the most pressure heading into the 2023 trade deadline.

at last: Underperformance and a lack of continuity due to injury have created urgency for an undeniably mediocre pre-season favourite.

“Hey, you never know when Kawhi Leonard and Paul George are on the court together… “Blah, blah. At this point, the championship contending Clippers exist in a parallel universe with Hot Dog Fingers and Racaconi. In this universe — what matters — they are a .500 team with the fourth-worst offense in the NBA. Leonard and George have played just 18 games together and are 11-7. Not exactly confident.

The good news is that this roster is built for trade, and a mid-level salary can be used as filler for a bigger deal or traded for a better-suited player at the same cost. Nick Batum, Reggie Jackson, Robert Covington, Luke Kennard, Marcus Morris Sr. and Norman Powell are all worth $10-16 million, and Jackson is the only one whose contract expires at the end of this season. The Clippers (finally) have a first-round pick to move in the trade, and given the current state of the two-star team, the 2028 pick could look pretty sweet for a potential partner.

Point guard is the most obvious area for improvement, with Jackson taking a step back this season and the Clippers minus John Wall, who posted a 6.6 net rating from the floor. Wall’s $6.4 million salary could be valuable in a trade, as could targets. Utah Jazz Veterinarian Mike Conley and — big swing — Raptors Point guard Fred VanVleet.

This team was built so close to the championship two seasons ago, but now it looks like something needs to happen, other than shaking off the pain. Leonard is starting to play like his old self, and since we don’t know how much he has left, the last thing you want to do is waste a healthy season from him. The urgency is definitely there for the Clippers.

2. Toronto Raptors

at last: Having acquired so many impact players heading into the deadline that lacks them, the time may be right for the Raptors to trade their pieces and look ahead.

Toronto is listed as one by our Sam Quinn. Sellers who can determine the market for a trade deadlineBecause the team has an abundance of otherwise scarce assets – players who can really affect a contending team’s title chances.

Two-way wing OG Anunoby has reportedly complained about his role in the offense, and will command a major extension in the near future. All-Star guard Fred VanVleet has yet to reach an agreement on his own extension and could almost certainly opt out of the final year of his deal to enter free agency this offseason. Gary Trent Jr., a prolific 3-point shooter at 38 percent in his career, will also likely decline his option after this season and enter the free agent market. If you want to think more, All-NBA forward Pascal Siakam — whose contract expires next season — as well as Masai Ujiri and his front office can’t easily turn down an offer.

The pressure on the Raptors this trade deadline will center on one important decision: blow, hang, or something in between.

With rookie of the year Scottie Barnes presumably off the table, the organization must decide which, if any, of Anunoby, VanVleet, Trent and Siakam are important parts of the future. With a record around .500 and no money on the books outside of Chris Boucher past 2023-24, the Raptors are a legitimate tank/rebuild candidate. All of these units bring valuable assets, and this season the rest will be committed to the Victor Wembanyama-Scott Henderson playoffs. A core built around Barnes, this year’s draft pick and whatever young players they bring in in a trade wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world — see how the Utah Jazz managed to stay relevant despite trading two All-NBA players.

On the contrary, the Raptors may decide that this is, in fact, a major part of the build to win the title, and that the first half of this season was a blowout that will soon be corrected. Remember that the Boston Celtics were under .500 at this time last year, before they suddenly became unbeatable and made a run to the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference and the NBA Finals. Trading one of Toronto’s units for a marginal upgrade seems like a half-measure, but that’s also an option.

The point is, the Raptors have to make a tough decision, one that comes with a lot of pressure.

at last: The Warriors’ problems could be fixed with a trade this offseason, but they’ll have to loosen their bridge going forward in the process.

There’s no way around it: The defending champions have struggled this season. A Latest report The Warriors’ front office is not expected to trade any of the three former lottery picks — James Wiseman, Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody — before the deadline, but that always comes with the caveat that “it’s subject to change.” Considering Wiseman should be in any significant trade Golden State makes, this looks like another quiet deadline on the horizon.

However, there is always all the time — Steph Curry’s urgency to maximize his window of greatness. The Warriors went from second to 14th in defensive efficiency last season, highlighting the importance of Otto Porter Jr. and Gary Payton II in the championship rotation. Of the three youngsters, only Kuminga seems ready to contribute at all, and even he has been up and down. Donte DiVincenzo has been a great addition, but JaMichael Green — expected to fill in as a mobile, versatile big man — has yet to break out.

Adding a player like Jakob Poeltl as a backup center (something the Warriors sorely lack unless Wiseman figures things out quickly) could help the defense, but they would have to get rid of Wiseman to match the salary. Same if you go for a big wing like Jalen McDaniels. The Warriors can always stand and guard the buyout market, but will someone like Rudy Gay take over?

Keep in mind that Golden State also doesn’t want to take on a salary that adds to its high luxury tax bill, so anyone they trade for could be a rental with an expiring contract. Will you eliminate one of the youth lottery picks for a few months of winning help?

Most teams would say no, but the Warriors have an aging championship core armed with one of the best players in history.

at last: Luka Doncic is a one-man show, and it may be time to make a move to show good faith to the next generation superstar.

Although Mark Cuban insisted. He “died by mistake.” ESPN’s Tim McMahon. It was reported earlier this month Luka Doncic has “strongly indicated” that he wants the Mavericks to improve their roster before the trade deadline. When the 23-year-old MVP candidate admits he needs more help, there’s a strong push to oblige. And can you really blame him?

Doncic is performing at historic levels, but the Mavs have hovered around .500 for most of the season. New York Knicks At this time. Dallas didn’t offer any reasonable backcourt replacement for Brunson, and the addition of Christian Wood hurt the defense as much as it helped the offense. The Mavericks didn’t win many games until Doncic, who was left out of the ball — which, luckily for them, happened far too often.

The Mavs have the payroll of Wood, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Spencer Dinwiddie along with several future draft picks. What that gets them and what they’re willing to part with remains to be seen. Can the front office convince Doncic that keeping their assets for a big swing is smarter than getting marginal help around the perimeter right now? Does the concept of sticking to the baseline entertain the notoriously competitive Doncic when he’s one of the top five players in the NBA?

Doncic’s free agency is still a long way off in real life (2026), but in NBA terms it’s fast approaching. The last thing they want to do is make any mistakes that help push Doncic into the door, so the Mavericks need to handle this situation carefully and wisely.

at last: LeBron James doesn’t want to spend the final days of his career on a mediocre team, but his front office and franchise seem hesitant to use future assets to take what could be a futile shot at contention.

LeBron James soon He talked about the team’s current situation.: “You all know what the f– should be.” Unfortunately, there were many different iterations across Lakerland of what the f— should be. Trade Russell Westbrook? Keep Westbrook but trade Patrick Beverley? Trade Anthony Davis? Will LeBron trade himself?

Regardless of which version you think is the most sensible, it’s hard to argue that the Los Angeles Lakers have a chance to win an NBA title with their current roster, so there needs to be a change – either before the trade deadline or this upcoming offseason in free agency. Signing an extension that runs through next season will relieve some of the pressure from the front office.

That said, there is an urgent matter. The Lakers front office showed a lot on Monday. Acquiring Rui Hachimura from the Washington Wizards completed his first notable trade season.

James, the league’s all-time leading scorer, is averaging nearly 30 points per game and is shooting 60 percent from 2-point range. Davis, during his brief periods of health, looked like the most dominant player in the league. Since going to the bench, Westbrook has averaged 16.5 points, 7.9 rebounds and 6.5 rebounds on 44 percent shooting as a reserve, thanks to his late-game decisions (or lack thereof). New head coach Darwin Hamm looks to play hard against the Lakers on both ends. No matter how faint the candle is, there is something there.

Trading Westbrook for Indiana’s duo of Buddy Hield and Myles Turner seems to have been talked about for a long time, and in 2014 PacersA recent skid in the absence of Tyrese Halliburton could make that deal a little more realistic. The sticking point in any Westbrook deal is always the 2027 and/or 2029 first-rounders the Lakers have to throw away as compensation. One view is that he owes it to James and your fans to go all in while he’s performing at this level. The other side won’t put any deal on the table for the defending champion Lakers this season, so why not hold onto your chips until next summer, when you’ll have cap space due to Westbrook’s contract coming off the books.

You can certainly see both sides, but when it goes public that the King wants to make a move, it adds to the pressure level on Rob Pelinka and company.

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