Quijano: NBA trade names

Let’s pop into the NBA real quick to see what’s going around the grapevine as the trade deadline looms.

In the Western Conference, Denver and Memphis are the top two teams. Nikola Jokic is having another MVP-caliber season while Jamal Murray has made a spectacular comeback. I won’t be surprised if Denver retains the no. 1 spot when the playoffs roll in.

Ja Morant is the acrobatic force behind the Memphis surge, but this young core needs maturity and consistency. Their hold on the No. 2 spot seems a bit tenuous to me.

In the East, the Boston Celtics reign supreme and this is an example of how a team’s core can become more cohesive as they play many seasons together. Look for the Celtics to make another deep playoff run. Philadelphia and Milwaukee are neck and neck and it seems like the fortunes of these teams are tied to the performances of their resident superstar big men, Joel Embid and Giannis.

TRADE NAMES. I don’t see any drastic trade moves involving their main players from the aforementioned top tier teams.

But for anybody interested, the biggest name out there has to be Russell Westbrook. The Los Angeles Lakers refused to move him last year and got eliminated. Will they pull the trigger this time around?

Russ still plays at a very high level. The problem is that he can’t coexist with LeBron James because they are both ball dominant playmakers. Though he seems to be doing well as a sixth man coming off the bench, Russ is better off playing as a starting point guard on another team. The same can be said of John Wall who currently plays for the Clippers. They have too many guards there who basically duplicate each other. Wall can be very useful somewhere else if he can be paired with a dominant big guy on another team.

Seth Curry’s name has also come up as he has an expiring contract with the Brooklyn Nets. A deadly shooter with pedigree to boot, Seth can be inserted in any line up today and instantly make that team better.

Another name making the rounds has been Jordan Clarkson. The Utah Jazz seem to be willing to trade most of their players as they rebuild and Clarkson would be a potent weapon for any team in the playoffs.

VERBATIM. I’m in a tough-ass position behind Kevin, Giannis and Joel. All four of us averaging 30... I got my work cut out to beat one of those guys. -- Jayson Tatum (www.espn.com)

LAST ROUND. It’s on one of my best buddies, Siegfred Melleza who celebrates his birthday this week. Cheers!

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