The surplus of playoff contenders in each conference in the NBA this season could create a situation where teams who struggle more than expected either due to poor play or injury and unexpectedly become sellers at the trade deadline.
“I keep bringing this up because I think there’s going to be… what I suspect will happen this year: there are too many good teams,” said Brian Windhorst on his podcast. “Too many teams are invested in winning. The lottery is very good. My suspicion is that some team, one to three teams, are going to get into January and realize ‘It ain’t happening for us and we have to retrofit.’
“I think there’s going to be some teams that are going to be sellers at midseason. There could be a trade or two midseason that could really affect this.”
Since the addition of the play-in tournament, there have been fewer sellers at the deadline due to fact that teams remain in playoff contention for a longer stretch of time. The New Orleans Pelicans are an example of a team that became buyers due to the play-in, while the Portland Trail Blazers were decimated by injuries after many years of being in the playoff mix and unexpectedly became sellers.
Windhorst brought up this aside during a segment on the Los Angeles Clippers, who have an owner willing to take on long-term salary as well as a roster full of tradeable players on reasonable contracts.