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The real-life NBA trade deadline is rapidly approaching. We’re just over a week away from the Feb. 8 date. Now is a great time to pounce on the fantasy trade market, getting an edge before some real trades go down. Also, your fellow managers may be in more of a wheeling-and-dealing mood.
Trade for: Dejounte Murray, Atlanta Hawks
If trade talks with Los Angeles have actually stalled, there is a decent chance that Atlanta will keep Murray into the offseason. Recent offseason blockbusters (Donovan Mitchell, Damian Lillard) have fetched strong packages in return for star guards, so there is precedent for Atlanta to have patience in making a move.
Murray remaining in Atlanta for the rest of the season would add sizable risk to his fantasy portfolio. Atlanta is quickly fading from postseason consideration. The 2024 draft also represents the final campaign that Atlanta has its own draft pick until 2028, so tanking down the stretch could be an organizational prerogative.
The Hawks' incentive to tank makes me believe they can come to terms with the Lakers. If Murray is traded to the Lakers, I expect him to be a heavily incorporated shooter, self-creator and offense initiator. He has graded as a top-15 pick-and-roll scorer in the league this season, and his off-the-dribble jumper has unlocked new heights, making him more dangerous than ever from beyond the arc and similarly potent in the mid-range.
It’s unclear how much momentum currently exists between the two parties, but Los Angeles is likely testing the market elsewhere, especially since the franchise recently came out with glowing remarks following D’Angelo Russell’s recent play. Getting a deal done without Russell is possible — especially in the context of Atlanta not wanting his salary in the first place — and acquiring Murray is the Lakers' best route to becoming a relevant title contender again.
Murray is currently dealing with a minor hamstring injury, but he has averaged 25.2 points, 6.8 rebounds and 7.2 assists and slashed 45.5/42.1/87.5 shooting across his last five appearances. Playing alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis would make him the third option, but he would be the third option on a team devoid of other reliable scoring.
Murray is averaging 21.4 points, 5.0 rebounds in 5.1 assists through 45 appearances this season. Producing slightly below those levels with the Lakers could be realistic. If he remains in Atlanta, booms will occur, but load management down the stretch is nearly a certainty. Notably, the NBA's new anti-rest policy will be tested for this exact reason, so taking the gamble on Murray could work either way.
Trade for: Jusuf Nurkić, Phoenix Suns
Nurkić is at a prime buy-low juncture, averaging 6.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.8 steals across his last four games. His month of January has been quiet, yielding 8.9 points, 9.7 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.1 steals in 25.6 minutes per game across 14 appearances.
However, his past month of production still represents versatile value. There is boom appeal as well. Nurkić has posted 14 games with 15-plus points, as well as 14 games with 13-plus rebounds. His 16.8% assist rate ranks ninth among all qualifying bigs. His 26.9% defensive rebounding rate trails only Andre Drummond, Kevin Love, Domantas Sabonis and Nikola Jokić among all players this season. Nurkić profiles as one of the most versatile players at his position from a fantasy standpoint, as his offensive rebounding rate ranks in the 68th percentile, and his steal rate ranks in the 80th percentile.
The Devin Booker/Bradley Beal/Grayson Allen/Kevin Durant/Jusuf Nurkić starting lineup owns a plus-13.2 net rating through 400 possessions. That represents a small sample size, but Nurkić is the vastly superior option to Drew Eubanks, who has posted a minus-7.7 net rating per 100 possessions this season. There is no other front-court depth coming to usurp his minutes in Phoenix, making him a solid buy-low candidate overall and an excellent buy-low candidate given his string of abnormally quiet games.
Trade away: Malcolm Brogdon, Portland Trail Blazers
Fresh off a 24-point outing which marked his 11th game with 20-plus points this season, Brogdon is hot, averaging 20.9 points, 4.9 rebounds and 7.0 assists while canning 44.4% of 5.1 threes per game across his last seven contests.
His facilitation over this span is an excellent sell. On the season, he leads Portland with 202 total assists as well as a 3.25 assist-to-turnover ratio. Brogdon’s $22.5 million salary for the 2024-25 season eliminates a decent amount of prospective trade suitors, but his price tag simultaneously results in a lower acquisition cost. If Brogdon is traded, it's extremely unlikely that he will be tasked with a major facilitation role.
On the season, Brogdon is averaging 15.9 points, 3.6 rebounds and 5.5 assists. There are a multitude of players in that production range who are more likely to continue delivering at that rate moving forward.
If he isn’t traded, Brogdon could continue operating in a central role given how important he has been in stabilizing Portland's offense, which still ranks dead last in efficiency. However, Shaedon Sharpe is due to return from an abdominal strain in February, and Scoot Henderson is a strong candidate to become a full-time starter in the final months of the season, so Brogdon’s value is likely at its peak right now. Regardless of whether he is traded or retained, he is a quality sell candidate.
Trade for: Khris Middleton, Milwaukee Bucks
Middleton is passing the eye test. His days of getting to the line are over, but he's shooting well, the methodology is there and he looks sharp in isolation. The 32-year-old could see a slight uptick in volume down the stretch, but averaging 19.0 points, 5.6 rebounds and 4.4 assists in 32.5 minutes across his last five games is likely near his ceiling.
Middleton has quietly been remarkably consistent since the beginning of December, generating 16.8 points, 4.6 rebounds and 5.6 assists on 49.8/39.7/86.4 shooting across all categories in 29.6 minutes over 25 games. His usage rate ranks in the 93rd percentile among all wings, just below Jalen Green and just above Mikal Bridges. Even the boom appeal has been present, as Middleton has posted 10 games with 20-plus points this season. He is critical to Milwaukee ultimately achieving postseason success, and while he will need nights of maintenance, Middleton is producing at a very high level in 2023-24.
Add off waiver wire, then trade away: Cam Whitmore, Houston Rockets
He is currently available in 19% of Yahoo leagues, managers would be wise to add-wait-trade Cam Whitmore. It's a good opportunity to buy Whitmore and sell him in the future. Converting multiple waiver wire additions into a true lineup piece is the coup de grace of fantasy management.
Whitmore is providing a spark to Houston’s 22nd-ranked offense. If Tari Eason (leg) eventually returns to a normal workload, Whitmore could be squeezed out of the rotation, but his stock is nonetheless skyrocketing, and his talent is legit. The powerful scoring guard/wing is hitting 39.3% of 3.9 triples per game this season, and he juices Houston’s tempo in transition, which generates high-efficiency buckets. The rookie could become flippable in short order.