The NBA is a stone's throw away from the 2023 trade deadline, which can mean only one thing: It's time to start putting some of our crystal-ball musings in Sharpie.

Or, you know, at least erasable pen.

These predictions prioritize accuracy over everything. There is a time and place for stepping out on a limb. We've visited it before. This isn't it.

Don't worry, though. This exercise won't be drowning in copouts and vague nothings. Most predictions will be specific. If they're not, they'll be more exact scenarios and trade targets baked into the larger discussion for said team.

And rest assured, more than a few of these last-minute prognostications will be gut-feeling doozies—bold in nature, yet genuine in conviction.

Let us now wade gleefully, and head first, back into the slop.


Atlanta Hawks

Prediction: John Collins gets dealt to the Indiana Pacers, L.A. Clippers, Utah Jazz or not at all.

Forcecasting a non-move is almost always the safest bet. This isn't necessarily one of those times.

Collins has been on the trade block for, in my estimation, six to 12 eternities. The Atlanta Hawks are playing better since their four-game losing streak—top-seven offense over their last 15 tilts—but he remains an awkward, currently marginalized fit who needs to hit more of his threes. The balance on his contract (three years, $78.5 million) must also factor into the calculus for a team that just extended De'Andre Hunter, already paid Trae Young and needs to start thinking about new deals for Bogdan Bogdanovic (player option), Dejounte Murray (2024 free agent who won't sign an extension) and Onyeka Okongwu (extension-eligible this summer).

Sources told The Athletic's Sam Amick the Hawks have dropped their asking price for Collins as a result. They apparently don't even need a first-round pick to strike a deal; just a quality player.

Both the Clippers and Jazz can rather effortlessly meet those demands. The Pacers (should) loom after extending Myles Turner, the perfect front-line partner for Collins. They don't possess an immediate impact wing or forward to throw Atlanta's way, but they have cap space to work with ($10.7 million) as well as two extra firsts in this year's draft (from Boston and Cleveland) to facilitate the Hawks' bookkeeping.

I still can't bring myself to predict a Collins trade. I'd actually bet against one at this point. If the Hawks want to make any noise this year, he remains too valuable just to dump for an OK package headlined by serviceable-yet-unspectacular players on cheaper contracts. This feels like a situation that'll be re-addressed, for the umpteenth time, over the offseason when Atlanta has a better idea of who it is and luxury-tax concerns reach fever pitch.


Boston Celtics

Prediction: Payton Pritchard and/or second-round picks will be used to acquire another big.

Few, if any, teams can truly call themselves a finished product right now. The Boston Celtics might actually be the only one.

Malcolm Brogdon, Jaylen Brown, Al Horford, Marcus Smart, Jayson Tatum, Derrick White, Grant Williams and Robert Williams III give them the league's most bankable eight-man rotation. Boston technically stretches nine every-matchup players deep depending on how you feel about Pritchard or Sam Hauser. This team can do nothing and be perfectly fine.

Then again, RW3 is no stranger to injury. And Al Horford, while seemingly ageless, is 36. That the Celtics have needed to rely semi-meaningfully on Luke Kornet, at all, is unsettling when projecting past the regular season.

Let's go ahead and assume they scoop up another big at the deadline to fortify their front line.

It won't be a major-ish acquisition in the vein of Jakob Poeltl that necessitates the inclusion of a 2025 first-rounder. It probably won't even be a deal that sees them use their $5.9 million traded player exception (expires Feb. 10) without jettisoning other money in the process. But it will be a move that sees them use some combination of Pritchard, Danilo Gallinari's contract (2023-24 player option) and second-rounders to reel in someone like Naz Reid, Mason Plumlee or Isaiah Hartenstein.