We're a quarter of the way through the 2016-17 NBA season, and it's become very clear that a handful of teams are stuck.
Here are nine of them who need to pull the trigger on some kind of trade before the Feb. 23rd deadline passes, and the time to start is this week because of a lesser-known date. NBA teams can trade free agents they signed last summer after Dec. 15, so that's the date that is used to signal the unofficial start of the NBA trading season.
The Raptors are not only tied with the Warriors for the league's best offensive rating, but they've managed to stay just 1.5 games back of the Cavaliers in the East.
Impressive, right? But there's one huge problem: Three of their seven losses have come against LeBron James' squad, which tells us that even though it's early in the season, the Raptors can't beat the Cavaliers four times in the playoffs the way the team is currently constructed.
Justin Ford-USA TODAY SportsJustin Ford
New Orleans Pelicans
Anthony Davis is proving once again that he's a top-five player in the league, but the Pelicans are objectively worse than they were a season ago, and he can't drag them to victory on a nightly basis all by himself.
Unless you're an NBA die-hard, you'd be hard-pressed to recognize the guys (like Tim Frazier, Terrence Jones, Reggie Williams or E'Twaun Moore) who are playing heavy minutes in the New Orleans rotation. Get Davis some help please, and do it this season.
Danny Ainge landed Al Horford in free agency, which was a nice addition to the franchise, albeit one that hasn't yet shown the on-court improvement the Celtics desired.
Boston is still at least a player away from truly being able to contend with the likes of the Cavaliers and the Raptors in the East, and it might finally be time for Ainge to part ways with some of those assets he's famously been hoarding in order to bring a true difference-maker on board before the season is finished.
The Suns have a duplication of talent at multiple positions, and have veterans gobbling up minutes that need to go to the younger players so that they can properly develop.
Brandon Knight seems like one of the more logical names that could be dealt, but the reality is that Phoenix could send a lot of different players packing in order to get guys in return who are a better fit for the roster.
Nerlens Noel knows there are too many bigs in the Philadelphia rotation; he's said so more than once. Now that Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor are beginning to blossom, Noel and his defensive-oriented skill set may be expendable, and could return a more productive player or players at other positions of need if the team plays its cards right.
The Mavericks are technically never rebuilding on Mark Cuban's watch, and the offseason acquisitions of Andrew Bogut and Harrison Barnes would lead you to believe that this season is no different.
But due to a combination of available talent and injuries, Dallas finds itself with the worst record in the league at 5-18. Bogut isn't a guy you get to fill a roster spot during a season like this, so if the Mavericks continue to slide, he's one player who could easily be headed elsewhere.
Getty ImagesTom Pennington
John Wall and Bradley Beal are both under contract for the foreseeable future, but it's clear now more than ever that the backcourt pairing simply isn't going to work.
The playoffs aren't yet out of reach for a 9-13 Wizards team in the East, but if things don't begin to turn around fairly quickly, Washington may start looking toward the future, and might want to head in a different direction.
Portland Trail Blazers
Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum comprise one of the league's deadliest backcourt combos, but a lack of defense overall will doom this current Blazers team.
Portland is just 28th in the league in defensive efficiency, and might want to target a rim protector should one become available before February's deadline passes.
DeMarcus Cousins will not be re-signing with the Kings when he becomes an unrestricted free agent at the conclusion of the 2018 season -- you know it, I know it, and even DeMarcus himself has probably already made that decision.
If you're the Kings, trading Cousins this season would get you the maximum value in return for any deal you'd make. The problem, of course, is that Cousins is an All-Star talent, and free agents won't willingly sign up to play for an historically dreadful Kings franchise.
Simply put, there are no easy decisions where Cousins is concerned for the Kings front office to make.