NBA trade deadline: Assessing top contenders

Thursday brought a busy if not earth-shaking trade deadline, with a number of contenders making win-now moves, but many, including the Bucks and Lakers, noticeably standing pat. Was the shape of this season irrevocably altered? Not really. Many of the major movers, including Minnesota, Golden State, Atlanta, were non-playoff teams. It’s still a good time to take the pulse of the title race, with the buyout market yet to fully take shape.

The Frontrunners

Milwaukee Bucks

It was mildly surprising to see the Bucks do nothing to upgrade their roster, particularly with a tradable first-round pick in hand, but it’s also hard to haggle too much when a team goes into the deadline with a 43–7 record. You can easily argue that everyone else should be chasing Milwaukee, and not vice versa. The Bucks could probably stand to add one more veteran to their bench via the buyout market, but don’t have an open roster spot as it stands. Business will continue as usual here, but anything short of a Finals trip may lead to some eventual tinkering to juice the roster as Giannis Antetokounmpo approaches a contract year. I feel guilty mentioning that every single time the Bucks come up, but it’s coming sooner than you think. But this is a roster capable of taking the East as constituted, and one that has a real chance at winning it all, no matter which Western Conference opponent they might draw.

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