3 teams in pursuit of an impact player at the deadline

The 2019 NBA trade deadline is shaping up to be an all-timer. Big names are on the block as teams try to outbid their rivals for an opportunity to bolster their

playoff hopes or position themselves for future success.

Some clubs have already swung significant deals, but not every team has succeeded in finding an impact player ahead of Thursday's deadline. Here are three teams in pursuit of at least one big move before the final buzzer sounds:

Los Angeles Lakers

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As soon as LeBron James signed with the Lakers this summer, the big question was when the team would lure superstar running mates to his side. Unlike his time with the Miami Heat and his second stint with the Cleveland Cavaliers, the King has had to remain patient this time around.

But now might be the time to strike.

With big man Anthony Davis effectively putting himself on the trade block last month, many assume his New Orleans Pelicans and James' Lakers will eventually find common ground in a blockbuster move - one that could shift the balance of power in the NBA for years to come.

After James spent most of January shelved with a groin injury, his Lakers now sit at a .500 record and outside the playoff race in the competitive Western Conference. If James' singular presence doesn't stabilize the Lakers over the remainder of the campaign, he risks missing the postseason for the first time since 2005.

It's clear this current Lakers roster isn't built for title contention, but missing the playoffs altogether would be a blemish on James' hallowed legacy. Whether it's Davis or another star-caliber player, look for the Lakers to improve their lineup in the near future.

Houston Rockets

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Last season, the Rockets sported the league's best record and nearly beat out the Golden State Warriors for a spot in the 2018 Finals. This year, they're scrambling for position among the Western Conference's middle class.

James Harden continues to do his best impression of Sisyphus, pushing a boulder up a hill to the tune of 36.5 points per game only to watch it roll back down as the players around him struggle to make an impact. Although his historic hot streak is exciting to watch, no one thinks it's sustainable - not Kobe Bryant, who had a similar season back in 2005-06, and not Harden himself based on recent comments. Injuries have played a role, but the Beard needs backup.

It remains to be seen whether the Rockets can acquire an impact player given their current salary situation and dearth of blue-chip youngsters. But with center Clint Capela sidelined with a thumb injury until after the All-Star break, adding a significant contributor to the frontcourt should be imperative. Doing so would lessen the tremendous burden on Harden while providing a stopgap until Capela returns.

Portland Trail Blazers

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With Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, the Trail Blazers have established a recipe for regular-season success built around their star backcourt. Yet despite making the playoffs in each of the last five seasons, Portland has been knocked out in the first round three times and is still pursuing its first Western Conference finals berth since 1999-00.

Whether it means breaking up the backcourt duo to net a star-caliber player at a different position, or simply tweaking the supporting cast around Lillard, McCollum, and center Jusuf Nurkic, something has to give if the Blazers want to get over the hump.

AcquiringRodney Hood from the Cavaliers is a nice start, but this roster still feels like it's an impact move away from being a true dark horse contender. If it can find a way to swing a deal for a star, Portland could raise its ceiling substantially.


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