By Mike Barner, RotoWire
Special to Yahoo Sports
This is a huge week in the NBA. The trade deadline arrives Thursday, while the Yahoo default fantasy trade deadline is Friday. If you’re looking for a final chance to do some wheeling-and-dealing, here are some players to consider targeting, as well as a couple to consider trading away.
Trade for: Dennis Schroder, Los Angeles Lakers
The move from the Thunder last season to the Lakers this season has not been beneficial for Schroder in the scoring department. He’s averaging nearly four fewer points per game, which can be somewhat attributed to his usage rate dropping from 27.2 percent to 22.7 percent. He also hasn’t been as efficient, shooting just 43.1 percent from the field. On the bright side, he’s still averaging 15.0 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 4.7 assists, so he hasn’t exactly been a total bust in fantasy.
The reason why now is the time to add Schroder is that the Lakers are currently without LeBron James (ankle) and Anthony Davis (calf), neither of whom are expected back anytime soon. With Davis out, Schroder had already seen his scoring numbers increase by averaging 17.0 points over his last 11 games. Add in James’ absence and Schroder could be in line for a strong finish.
The market: One fantasy manager was recently able to acquire Schroder for Chris Boucher. One of the more interesting trades saw Jamal Murray dealt for Schroder and Dejounte Murray.
Trade for: Gordon Hayward, Charlotte Hornets
Hayward has remained surprisingly healthy for his new team, missing just four games all season. He’s taken on a leading role for the Hornets, averaging 20.4 points, 5.6 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.3 steals, and 2.0 three-pointers. He’s also been a positive fantasy asset with his percentages, shooting 48 percent from the field and 86.8 percent from the charity stripe. Other than a lack of blocks, there has certainly been nothing to complain about regarding his production.
As good as Hayward has been, he could be even better down the stretch. The Hornets will likely have to play the rest of the season without LaMelo Ball (wrist), who was in the midst of one of the best rookie-guard seasons in recent memory. In the first game without Ball on Monday, Gordon recorded 27 points, seven rebounds, six assists, one steal, and three three-pointers across 37 minutes. He attempted 19 shots, which was a significant increase from his season average of 15.4 attempts per game. If he continues to shoot more, his scoring could explode, given his efficiency numbers.
The market: In one blockbuster, Zach LaVine and Mitchell Robinson were traded for Hayward and Richaun Holmes. In another multi-player deal, a fantasy manager traded Bam Adebayo, DeMar DeRozan, and Jrue Holiday for Hayward, Jaylen Brown, and Domantas Sabonis.
Trade for: Tyrese Haliburton, Sacramento Kings
Haliburton has been everything the Kings could have hoped for during his rookie season, and then some. While mostly coming off the bench, he’s produced averages of 12.8 points, 3.4 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 1.3 steals, and 2.2 three-pointers. Like Hayward, he’s also been supremely efficient, shooting 48.1 percent from the field and 85.3 percent from the free-throw line. The only thing that could possibly hold him back from even better production was his role on the second unit behind De’Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield.
Fox and Hield are still on the Kings and healthy, but an injury to Marvin Bagley III (hand) has forced the team to go small. They’ve moved Harrison Barnes to power forward, which allowed coach Luke Walton to insert Haliburton into the starting lineup. In the four games since, Haliburton has averaged 32 minutes. The Kings may also look to move Barnes as the trade deadline nears, which would open up even more opportunities for Haliburton.
The market: One recent deal involving Haliburton saw him acquired for Coby White, which could be a shrewd move given that White has been relegated to the bench for the Bulls. In another straight-up swap, Haliburton was traded for Victor Oladipo.
Trade away: Kawhi Leonard, Los Angeles Clippers
Leonard certainly isn’t in this category because he is struggling. While his shot attempts are down compared to last season, he’s still been able to average 25.9 points per game thanks to him shooting 51.2 percent from the field. He’s also averaging a career-high 35 minutes per game while playing in more back-to-backs than expected. On top of his excellent scoring numbers, he’s provided averages of 6.3 rebounds, 4.9 assists, and 1.7 steals, making him one of the league’s elite fantasy players.
The problem is we don’t know how much Leonard is actually going to play down the stretch. Leonard has already received some rest days this season, and the frequency with which he gets those could increase as the playoffs approach. On top of that, the Clippers don’t exactly have a favorable fantasy schedule, since they are the only team in the league that has three three-game weeks over the final four weeks of the season. That’s crucial to note for fantasy managers who play in roto leagues that come down to the final day.
The market: When Leonard is involved in a trade, it has to involve other big names. One recent trade saw Leonard and Fred VanVleet traded for James Harden. In another noteworthy move, Leonard and Jimmy Butler were traded for Jayson Tatum, Malcolm Brogdon, and Jonas Valanciunas.
Trade away: Evan Fournier, Orlando Magic
The Magic have been decimated by injuries this season, with Fournier being no exception. He’s only played in 24 games, robbing the team of one of its best offensive players. He’s been stellar when he has been on the floor, though, posting averages of 19.1 points, 3.1 rebounds, 3.6 assists, and 2.7 three-pointers.
There are two reasons to consider dealing away Fournier. First, the aforementioned injury issues. Second, there’s a good chance he’ll be traded at the deadline. As an expiring contract, he would likely be moved to a contending team, such as the Celtics, which could mean fewer scoring opportunities on a deeper roster. If he isn’t traded, he could be in line for rest days down the stretch as the Magic fall further out of the playoff race.
The market: One multi-player trade saw Fournier and Deandre Ayton traded for VanVleet and Andrew Wiggins. In another deal, Fournier and Trae Young were swapped for Chris Paul and Will Barton.