Craig Lassig/Associated Press
Calling all sellers, buyers and curious offer-listeners of the NBA world.
Trade deadline week is here, so you all have between now and 3 p.m. ET on Thursday to finalize your transactions and exit basketball’s biggest swap market before closing time.
Early forecasts for the last days of #TradeSZN call for a quiet deadline. Only a handful of teams are truly out of the playoff hunt, and motivations are scarce for those teams to willingly self-destruct. The upcoming free-agent class is thin. The incoming crop of draft prospects looks underwhelming. Even if all normal fire-sale conditions are in place, external factors could lead some to decide to sit this out.
Of course, sleepy prognostications are often followed by frenzied action. Deadline time can be funny like that.
No matter where the week heads from here, we’ll keep you clued in on all the latest whispers and rumblings bouncing around the rumor mill.
Are Kings Right to Keep Bogdanovic?
Bad news for any contenders in the market for shooters and shot-creators. Bogdan Bogdanovic, who thrives on both fronts, apparently is going nowhere.
“NBC Sports California has learned through a league source that Bogdan Bogdanovic will remain a King through the deadline and enter the summer as a restricted free agent, where the team is likely to match any offer,” James Ham reported.
Had the Sacramento Kings shopped Bogdanovic, they wouldn’t have been short on suitors. With polish as a 27-year-old but also growth potential as only a three-year NBA veteran, he could’ve appeared to buyers of all types. For his career, he has averaged 17.1 points, 4.5 assists and 4.0 rebounds per 36 minutes. For context, fewer than 30 players are posting a 17/4/4 line this season.
Of course, the reasons for suitors to seek him out are the same reasons for Sacramento to keep him. He’s a good enough spacer to play off De’Aaron Fox, and he’s a slick enough table-setter to create scoring chances for Marvin Bagley III and Buddy Hield.
The only question is about finances. The Kings have already committed huge contracts to Hield and Harrison Barnes, and they could give significant extensions to Fox this summer and Bagley the next. A bloated offer for Bogdanovic could theoretically give them pause, but after shedding both Trevor Ariza and Dewayne Dedmon, the Kings should have the flexibility to match anything short of the most unreasonable offers.
Sacramento probably needs to trim this core at some point, but delaying that decision is fine for now. The Kings still haven’t gotten a great look at what this group could do, and once they do, they might conclude Bogdanovic’s well-rounded skills make him less expendable than others.
Heat, Gallinari Ironing Out Contract Extension
Opportunity knocks for the Miami Heat, and Pat Riley is always ready to answer. With no superteam ruling over the Association, and 30-year-old Jimmy Butler helping the Heat shatter preseason expectations, Miami sees a window right now and plans to launch through it.
The team already added Andre Iguodala (more on that below) and is working to rope in Danilo Gallinari in a three-team trade. With Gallo on an expiring deal, his reps are working with Miami on a contract extension, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, though the Heat’s “desire to preserve cap space for 2021” (i.e. the Summer of Giannis) has presented a challenge.
This is a case of Miami wanting to have its cake and eat it too, but it also seems doable. If Gallinari was already going to hit the market this summer—when few teams have cap space, and most of them are focused on developing their young cores—then adding another year (perhaps with a team option tacked on after) at a healthy salary seems like a win.
The Heat, meanwhile, needed to find someone who packs an offensive punch like Gallinari. They’ll be squeezed for spacing when Iguodala, Butler and Bam Adebayo share the floor, but Gallinari could provide critical breathing room. Since the start of last season, the 6’10” scoring forward is tied for the 18th-most three-point makes, and his 62.8 true shooting percentage is second-best among that top 20.
Philadelphia Lands Reinforcements
Since the calendar turned to 2020, the Philadelphia 76ers are 8-7 with a minus-2.3 net rating that ranks 22nd in the NBA. Those who’ve long questioned how well Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid fit together have received a lot more evidence for their case.
While analysts around the internet have contemplated what Simmons or Embiid trades might look like, the Sixers pursued more subtle moves.
“76ers have fortified their bench with two veteran scorers and shooters — Alec Burks and Glenn Robinson III,” The Athletic’s Shams Charania tweeted. “Three second-rounders (Dallas 2020, Denver 2021, Toronto 2022) sent to Warriors.”
This feels like a no-brainer for Philly. Burks is averaging 16.1 points with an above-average three-point percentage. He adds some pop to a second unit that sorely lacks it.
Robinson’s shooting should help, too. He’s averaging 12.9 points and shooting 40.0 percent from deep.
During the 2017-18 campaign, the 76ers received a boost when they acquired Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova. Burks and Robinson have a shot to do the same, and three second-round picks isn’t much of an asking price.
Miami Isn’t Done
The Miami Heat already have Andre Iguodala on the way (more on that below), but it appears they’re still dealing.
“Miami, Memphis and Oklahoma City are working on an elaborate three-team deal that would land the Heat both Andre Iguodala and Danilo Gallinari,” ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted. “Talks are ongoing and could extend into Thursday, sources said.”
We’ll keep you posted as details emerge on this front. But the already-good Heat would become even more dangerous if supplemented with Gallo (his offensive impact is detailed below) and Iguodala.
Heat Land Iguodala
Shortly after Wojnarowski reported the Heat’s interest in Iguodala and Gallinari, The Athletic’s Shams Charania broke the news that the deal was done.
“Memphis is finalizing sending Andre Iguodala to Miami…” Charania wrote. “Iguodala is believed to be prepared to play for the Heat.”
The ideal Jimmy Butler complement on defense might be a healthy and engaged Iguodala. It’s fair to wonder what the 36-year old has left in the tank after taking much of this season off. But if he’s anywhere near the player he was for the Golden State Warriors over the next couple of seasons, Miami will now have one of the league’s most daunting defensive combinations on the wing.
And in case you were worried Miami wasn’t among the teams Iguodala would actually approve being traded to, he’s already signed an extension there.
“Andre Iguodala and Miami’s two-year, $30M extension has team option in second season (2021-22),” Charania wrote.
Of course, Miami isn’t the only team in this trade. Memphis landed another intriguing young player to add to a core that already includes Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr. and Brandon Clarke.
“Justise Winslow is part of the package headed to Memphis in the Iguodala trade,” Wojnarowski tweeted.
Injuries have kept Winslow out of all but 11 games this season, but he showed enough as a versatile point forward last season to excite Grizzlies fans. He has the size (6’6″, 225 lbs) and defensive ability to do a lot of the same things Jae Crowder does on that end. But he has the potential to provide much more offensively, particularly as a playmaker for his teammates.
Dedmon Back to Atlanta
Dewayne Dedmon emerged as one of the league’s better three-and-D bigs with the 2018-19 Atlanta Hawks. He averaged 1.8 threes, 1.5 steals and 1.5 blocks per 75 possessions, something that had only been done six times (by three different players) up to that point in NBA history.
The performance was enough to earn him a three-year, $40 million deal from the Sacramento Kings this past offseason. But it wasn’t enough to earn him a consistent role with his new team. By the end of December, Dedmon publicly demanded a trade, which was a violation of the league’s collective bargaining agreement.
On Wednesday, he got his wish.
“Sacrameto is trading Dewayne Dedmon to Atlanta for Jabari Parker and Alex Len,” Wojnarowski tweeted. “Atlanta also gets two second-round picks.”
The Hawks acquired Clint Capela earlier in the week, so Dedmon will return to the site of his breakout as a reserve. But perhaps familiarity with the coach, system and players will help get his career back on track.
For Sacramento, perhaps Len can provide center depth without the drama that accompanied Dedmon. Parker can add some scoring punch off the bench for his fifth team in six NBA seasons.
Miami Pushing the Chips In
Miami has been one of the league’s big surprises this season. Their final preseason projection from FiveThirtyEight pegged them as a 41-41 team. Now, they’re trending toward a 53-29 finish.
With the team exceeding expectations, it looks like the front office may be trending toward some significant win-now moves.
“Pat Riley clearly sees an opportunity to make a run with these Heat,” Wojnarowski wrote. “Riley has been working to trade for Memphis’ Andre Iguodala AND Oklahoma City’s Danilo Gallinari. … Talks are ongoing.”
Miami has good salary-matching fodder in the contracts of Dion Waiters and James Johnson. The obvious question is what kind of sweeteners would have to be attached to land Iguodala and Gallinari.
If they were able to pull that off, Miami would have to be taken seriously as a threat to represent the Eastern Conference in the Finals.
Gallo is one of the league’s most underrated offensive weapons. He’s 79th throughout NBA history in career offensive box plus/minus. Over the last two seasons, among players with at least 1,000 minutes, he’s 17th in that same metric. During that same stretch, among players who averaged at least as many points per 75 possessions (23.0), his true shooting percentage trails only Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Giannis Antetokounmpo.
His modern scoring ability (threes and an ability to draw fouls) would complement superstar Jimmy Butler perfectly.
The Los Angeles Lakers have LeBron James, Anthony Davis and the best record in the Western Conference, but that hasn’t kept them out of this year’s rumor mill.
On Wednesday, various reports connected them to role players who might be able to shore up their title odds a bit.
“The Lakers inquired about Dennis Schroder as they look to fortify the PG position leading up to the trade deadline,” ESPN’s Dave McMenamin wrote. “The conversation did not go very far, as OKC — currently the No. 7 seed in the West — were not looking to move him without a hefty return.”
The interest in Schroder makes sense. L.A.’s playmaking takes something of a dive when LeBron is off the floor. But if OKC isn’t looking to deal him, the Lakers may have to look elsewhere.
The Detroit Pistons look ready to head into a rebuild, and Derrick Rose is on a very tradable contract. He could be the kind of spark that bench needs.
Elsewhere, rumors persisted on the Lakers’ interest in Marcus Morris Sr.
“Lakers/Clippers in trade conversations about Knicks’ Marcus Morris,” the Los Angeles Times‘ Brad Turner tweeted. “NY interested in Kyle Kuzma; would need Danny Green’s contract to make work. NY would want to move Green to another team. Clippers willing to part with Mo Harkless, but like Landry Shamet, who NY wants.”
Interest in Morris makes sense. He’s a clear short-term upgrade over Kyle Kuzma. But that price is wild. Danny Green remains one of the game’s premier three-and-D players, and the Lakers are better with him on the floor.
Are the Spurs Finally Ready to Rebuild?
The San Antonio Spurs were an underlying force in every title conversation for nearly two decades. But the current iteration, led by LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan, is, at best, mediocre.
For a team that became so accustomed to championship contention, these must feel like strange times. At this point, a full rebuild may be in the cards.
Wojnarowski said that the team has explored the trade market for Aldridge and DeRozan on Wednesday’s Woj and Lowe (h/t Project Spurs’ Paul Garcia).
The catch is that the asking price is currently high. It will be interesting to see if the organization relents on that between now and Thursday’s deadline.
This team is currently outside the playoff picture. Even if it scratches and claws its way to eighth, it’ll almost certainly get steamrolled by the Lakers.
A couple of losing seasons would be painful for a team that hasn’t experienced that since before scores of NBA fans were born. But moving forward with Dejounte Murray, Derrick White, Lonnie Walker IV and assets (presumably coming back in return for the stars) would yield a better shot at long-term success.
Is Kelly Oubre Jr. Available?
After a plucky start that had some fans thinking playoffs, the Phoenix Suns have slid to 10 games below .500. They’re down to a 2 percent chance on FiveThirtyEight‘s playoff projection model.
So, it may not be all that surprising that Phoenix is reportedly listening to offers for players not named Devin Booker or Deandre Ayton.
“The Suns are fielding trade calls on Kelly Oubre with 22 hours and change to go before the NBA trade deadline,” the New York Times‘ Marc Stein tweeted.
Oubre is averaging 18.5 points per game with a slightly below-average three-point percentage (.346). The Suns are better with him on the floor. He has some positional versatility. And he’s just 24 years old.
Why move him then?
If some team is willing to part with a pick, maybe it makes sense to unload Oubre. Perhaps there’s still some fire behind the Luke Kennard-to-the-Suns smoke. Moving Oubre would create more minutes for an incoming Kennard.
But the chances that a 2020 pick would become a near 20-point-per-game scorer who can defend multiple positions aren’t high. And there’s no reason the Suns can’t roll out some mostly positionless lineups with Devin Booker, Kennard, Mikal Bridges and Oubre.
In the end, this might simply be the team doing due diligence. That’s advisable. Actually dealing Oubre would be surprising.
Are Major Changes Coming in the Motor City?
The Detroit Pistons have the NBA’s sixth-highest payroll and seventh-lowest winning percentage. That’s a brutal combination, and one that could spur this squad toward a hyperactive deadline.
“Detroit, per sources, is open for business and willing to discuss anyone on the roster,” Sam Amick and John Hollinger reported for The Athletic.
Willing to discuss is different than willing to deal, of course, so it’s hard to tell what the Pistons are doing. Clearly, they’d like to move Andre Drummond, who holds a $28.8 million player option for next season, but that pesky option has “cooled” his trade market, per ESPN’s Zach Lowe.
Derrick Rose seems an obvious trade candidate. Rebuilders don’t have much use for a 31-year-old scoring guard, but any contender needing to perk up its perimeter collection would surely have interest. But the Pistons are aiming for a “lottery-level first-round pick,” per The Athletic and Stadium’s Shams Charania, which might be why one source “downplayed the notion” of a Rose deal to Amick and Hollinger.
Luke Kennard seems like a keeper, since Detroit needs youth for its reset, and he’s a third-year player who was breaking out before knee injuries forced him off the floor. But the Pistons have held trade talks involving Kennard, per Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press, so who knows what to make of this roster.
If the Pistons commit to a rebuild, you’d think Rose, Drummond, Markieff Morris (who has at least five contenders after him, per The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor) and Langston Galloway would all be available to the highest bidder. But Detroit could surprise us with which (if any) players go and which stay put.
Do Knicks Have Any Shot at D’Angelo?
Even after reworking their front office, the New York Knicks remain in pursuit of D’Angelo Russell, per Shams Charania of Stadium and The Athletic. As one would assume, though, the ‘Bockers haven’t reached the Golden State Warriors’ “price point.”
Anything the Warriors would want would probably draw a laugh (or disgust) out of the Knicks. Mitchell Robinson is likely at the center of the Dubs’ desires, and the Knicks shouldn’t even entertain moving the explosive, young center.
Similarly, anything the Knicks are offering might warrant a hang-up on the Warriors’ end. SNY’s Ian Begley reported Monday that Bobby Portis and Frank Ntilikina had been mentioned in these trade talks. Kevin Knox has reportedly come up, too, per Charania. That’s a pu pu platter of no thank you from our vantage point.
On paper, Russell might be an imperfect fit with Stephen Curry. But Russell is also a 23-year-old who has made an All-Star appearance and averages 23.8 points and 3.8 triples per game. He has significant trade value, and this package isn’t getting it done. Knox, who presumably headlines the package, owns a career player efficiency rating of 9.0—15.0 is the league average.
A Russell return to the Empire State (where he previously ascended with the Brooklyn Nets) is a fun narrative, but it’s virtually impossible to imagine the pieces lining up.
Can Rockets Find a Center?
The Houston Rockets and the four-team blockbuster could both be getting bigger.
According to The Athletic’s Kelly Iko, Houston is “closing in on a deal for a center.” As ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski previously noted, this swap is structured in a way that allows the Rockets to expand this deal and take on as much as $12 million in salary ahead of Thursday’s deadline. Iko notes that in addition to searching for a center, Houston is also willing to take on salary to bring back assets.
None of this deviates from the plan to push small ball over everything. As ESPN’s Tim MacMahon reported, the Rockets “aren’t searching for a starting center” and are “rolling with P.J. Tucker at the 5.” They just also recognize the need for a big body to throw at the likes of Nikola Jokic, Anthony Davis and any other big bruiser in their postseason path.
Houston has a good chance of finding some kind of frontcourt reinforcement (Dewayne Dedmon would be great if they could stretch the budget; Alex Len is another option), but how much can this player help? If the purpose is to have someone pester the Jokic and Davis types, those guys are logging north of 30 minutes per night. How much time would a bargain big man really soak up?
Clearly, the Rockets are in win-now mode, so any improvement is a worthwhile improvement. But whatever center arrives is probably a bit player, and Houston’s success hinges on creating enough small-ball magic on offense to withstand the bullying its “bigs” will take at the other end.
Will Pistons Move Luke Kennard?
Word leaked late Monday night that the Detroit Pistons and Phoenix Suns were discussing a swap involving Luke Kennard and the Suns’ first-round pick, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Those talks are apparently ongoing, according to Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press. Ellis hears “there is interest on both sides” though they are “not there yet on the pieces that will make it work.” It also sounds like the Suns aren’t Kennard’s only suitor.
At first glance, he seems a curious sell for a Pistons squad on the verge of a rebuild. The 23-year-old had been engineering a breakout season, setting a slew of personal bests including 15.8 points, 4.1 assists and 2.6 triples.
But he hasn’t played since late December because of tendinitis in both knees. He’s extension-eligible this summer, and if he doesn’t get a new deal, he’ll be a restricted free agent the next. If the Pistons think he’ll get too pricey to keep, they have reasons to consider moving him.
Why do it now, though? Collecting picks is never a bad idea, but in a down draft year, can Detroit hope a protected pick brings back a player this talented? And surely his knees aren’t helping his trade value. He needs a new contract by July 2021, so the clock isn’t exactly ticking loudly.
It would make sense to field offers in hopes that one blows you away. Unless that deal is on the table, the Pistons should keep Kennard away from trade talks and focus on shipping out their older, more expensive players.
Can Cavs Find a First for Tristan Thompson?
We know the Cleveland Cavaliers are willing to move Tristan Thompson, per Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes.
We also know what it will take to pry him out of Northeast Ohio: a first-round pick, according to Cleveland.com’s Chris Fedor. That’s the Cavaliers’ asking price, at least.
Will anyone pay it?
It doesn’t seem an outlandish request in this market, since the draft class isn’t great and Thompson’s game should allow for a smooth transition. He’ll set hard screens, battle on the boards and handle defensive switches. His low-maintenance brand of basketball isn’t hard to incorporate schematically.
And yet, a couple of things are complicated.
Only a select number of win-now teams are in the market for frontcourt upgrades—the Los Angeles Clippers, Boston Celtics and Miami Heat come to mind—and not all of them have the flexibility to match Thompson’s expiring $18.5 million salary. It also didn’t help the Cavs’ leverage when word leaked that his camp has made a trade a “priority,” as The Athletic’s Joe Vardon reported.
Cleveland can ask what it wants, and a ticking clock might pressure someone to meet the request. But it’s an ambitious target for a rental with offensive limitations, and it feels more likely than not the Cavs won’t get it.
Could Evan Turner Help a Contender?
One of many moving pieces in the four-team blockbuster (detailed below), Evan Turner might not be at his final stop.
The 31-year-old helped match the money with his expiring $18.6 million salary. The Minnesota Timberwolves have little use for Turner beyond that, and Heavy’s Sean Deveney reports they are “expected to give Turner a contract buyout in the coming days if his contract is not used as part of another deal.”
Unless Minnesota has a second megadeal in the works, it seems Turner could hit the buyout market. If he does, Deveney reports the Boston Celtics would be interested in a reunion, and the Miami Heat would be “expected to have interest” if they don’t make a deadline deal for a playmaker.
This interest might be the break-glass-in-case-of-emergency option. The Celtics could stand to upgrade over Brad Wanamaker, but is Turner the right way to do it? At 6’6″, he has more size and defensive versatility than the 6’3″ incumbent, but neither is a shooter or scoring threat.
The Heat could need another distributor if Justise Winslow can’t recover from his nagging back injury, but again, there has to be a more exciting option than Turner. Even during his best days, his teams fared worse with him than without, and these are not at all his best days. Last season, he ranked 421st in ESPN’s real plus-minus, and he had the 12th-worst true shooting percentage among the 183 players who logged 1,500-plus minutes.
Are Knicks Clear-Cut Sellers?
After reshuffling their front office—Steve Mills out, Scott Perry in charge (for now)—the New York Knicks have seemingly identified their deadline direction.
“Opposing teams are under the impression that moves will be made primarily with a ‘seller’s mentality’ and that the Knicks will be active,” SNY’s Ian Begley reported.
New York has a handful of veterans—led by Marcus Morris Sr. (more on him below)—who could assist contenders, so it should be ready and willing to move players. The team has already fielded calls about multiple players, including Reggie Bullock and Allonzo Trier, per Begley.
Bullock had surgery for a herniated disk in July, and he’s still getting his legs under him after making his first Knicks appearance in January. But teams short on shooting will give him a look. Over the previous two seasons, he averaged 2.2 triples per night and splashed them at a 40.5 percent clip.
Trier wouldn’t seem such an obvious trade candidate, since he’s only 24 and in his second NBA season. But he’s been without a rotation role more often than not this season, and he’s ticketed for restricted free agency this summer. If the Knicks don’t value him, someone else could. The 6’4″ scoring guard averaged 10.9 points per game on 44.8/39.4/80.3 shooting last season.
Begley notes Trier’s name surfaced in trade talks with the Los Angeles Lakers, with whom the Knicks also discussed Kyle Kuzma and Alex Caruso. But those talks took place before the front-office changes, so it’s hard to tell if there’s still any interest on the Knicks’ side. Still, whether in this deal or others, it seems this will be a busy day-plus for the ‘Bockers.
Is Jrue Holiday Staying Put?
Few difference-makers seem available at the deadline, but Jrue Holiday is on that short list. The 29-year-old does a little bit of everything to form a two-way package that falls just shy of stardom.
Contenders would do well to grab him, but as a reasonably priced, high-level contributor, he won’t come cheap. That could keep him in the Crescent City past Thursday, as ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports the Pelicans are “content” to keep him around and haven’t received the “overwhelming offer” required to pry him loose.
New Orleans doesn’t need to do anything. It had a hunch Zion Williamson might be special and loaded up its post-Anthony Davis roster for a reason. Williamson has been awesome so far, and even if that’s not enough to make a push into this year’s playoffs, Holiday is under contract for next season and holds a $27.1 million player option for 2021-22.
The Pelicans have leverage, and they’re right to use it. But market conditions don’t appear conducive to a major move.
The Denver Nuggets just brokered a major deal (more on that below), and while they added a first-round pick (in a not-great draft), they lost a few youngsters who could have interested the Pels. The Miami Heat, Holiday’s other biggest suitor according to The Athletic and Stadium’s Shams Charania, have no draft capital to deal and no intention of moving Bam Adebayo or Tyler Herro, per Heavy’s Sean Deveney.
New Orleans is waiting to see if anyone breaks the bank for Holiday. That seems unlikely, making a change of address for the combo guard unlikely too.
There are so many potential pitfalls along the path to a completed NBA trade between two teams. Four-teamers are exponentially more difficult to push through.
Yet on Tuesday, the Houston Rockets, Atlanta Hawks, Minnesota Timberwolves and Denver Nuggets pulled off such a move. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported the initial framework of the deal: “4-team trade agreement: Houston: Robert Covington; Atlanta: Clint Capela and Nene; Minnesota: Malik Beasley, Juancho Hernangomez, Evan Turner, ATL 1st round pick via Nets; Denver: Gerald Green, Houston FRP.”
Variations of this deal had been floating through the rumor mill all day. The basic framework was always the same. So, we’ve already had a little time to work through the idea of this trade.
The Rockets get to lean even harder into their small-ball lineups with Covington. And they aren’t going to be completely devoid of size. Isaiah Hartenstein can log some more minutes at the 5 now. And they’re receiving Jordan Bell as well, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania.
They may need to add another big body in case they face the Nuggets or Los Angeles Lakers in the postseason, but lineups with James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Eric Gordon, Robert Covington and P.J. Tucker are going to be a nightmare to defend.
For Atlanta, a rim-rolling big has seemingly been on its mind for a while. The Hawks were linked to Andre Drummond in early January. Capela can provide similar value on a cheaper (and longer) contract. Per Wojnarowski, to complete this trade, the Hawks are waiving Chandler Parsons, who has an expiring $25.1 million salary and has only suited up five times all season.
Then there’s Denver, whose addition to this deal happened late Tuesday. Beasley and Hernangomez had been in and out of the rotation all season, so getting a first-round pick (as Charania reported) as well as an assortment of youngish players (Shabazz Napier, Keita Bates-Diop and Noah Vonleh) makes sense. Wojnarowski also reported that the Nuggets might not be done.
And finally, there’s the Timberwolves. Beasley and Hernangomez can help. Jarred Vanderbilt (surprise, surprise: he’s headed there, too) is intriguing as a high-motor big who fights on the boards and has some positional versatility on defense. Evan Turner may prove to simply be salary-matching fodder in another deal.
That’s sort of the key with Minnesota’s return for now. All week, talks have centered on D’Angelo Russell for the Wolves. Can they now turn around and offer enough of a haul for the Golden State Warriors to bite? This feels like only Step 1 for Minny.
Rumors have been flying on the D’Angelo Russell front all week. The Minnesota Timberwolves appear intent on landing the All-Star guard, and we’re now starting to get an idea of who they might send the Golden State Warriors in return.
“If D’Angelo Russell ends up in Minnesota, Andrew Wiggins will go to the Warriors,” The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor wrote Tuesday evening. “Every iteration of a deal discussed between Golden State and Minnesota involves Wiggins.”
An in-a-vacuum comparison of the two clearly favors Russell:
- Russell over the last two seasons: 43.6 points plus points generated by assists, 3.6 threes, 3.6 turnovers, 1.3 steals, 0.3 blocks per 75 possessions, minus-1.8 relative true shooting percentage, 3.0 box plus/minus, minus-2.5 net rating (plus-0.1 swing)
- Wiggins over the last two seasons: 27.6 points plus points generated by assists, 1.9 threes, 2.2 turnovers, 0.9 steals, 0.7 blocks per 75 possessions, minus-5.1 relative true shooting percentage, minus-2.2 box plus/minus, minus-2.0 net rating (plus-1.3 swing)
There’s less positional overlap with Wiggins, though. At 6’7″, he could perhaps fill the combo forward role that Harrison Barnes once held. As a third option for a winning team, perhaps we’d see a more efficient and judicious Wiggins.
The Warriors would receive more than only Wiggins in any potential Russell trade, of course. Draft compensation would be headed Golden State’s way as well.
Acquiring Wiggins wouldn’t have a huge impact on this season, but the pedigree and talent of a No. 1 pick as a complementary piece to Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson is undeniably intriguing.
For the moment, though, it appears to be a long shot.
“Golden State is moving on from D’Angelo Russell conversations with Minnesota at this juncture…” Charania wrote. “Warriors have been clear with Minnesota on price point — and Timberwolves, to this point, are not willing to meet it.”
Are the Knicks After Kyle Kuzma?
Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma has reportedly been available for weeks. On Tuesday, The Athletic’s Shams Charania offered some clues as to who L.A. might be after in exchange for Kuz.
If a deal is centered on those two, it would make sense for both sides. Morris offers a significant short-term upgrade over Kuzma. He’s more experienced and averages 19.6 points while shooting 43.9 percent from three. L.A. would still have issues with positional redundancy, but this would undoubtedly push the team closer to a 2020 title.
For the New York Knicks, who haven’t sniffed legitimate contention in decades (and certainly aren’t now), Morris doesn’t make a ton of sense. Adding Kuzma to a wing/forward crop that includes RJ Barrett and Kevin Knox would give the team another shot at a star (or at least an above-average scorer).
The Knicks are in a position to take as many fliers as they can.
Can the Timberwolves Land D’Angelo Russell?
The Minnesota Timberwolves are a mess. They lost their 12th straight game Monday. Karl-Anthony Towns hasn’t played in a win since Nov. 27. His personal losing streak stands at 16 games. Their desire to shake things up is understandable.
But they’re being rebuffed.
“A three-way deal was discussed to send Robert Covington to Houston, Clint Capela to Atlanta, and picks to Minnesota,” O’Connor reported. “The Wolves hoped to flip assets for D’Angelo Russell, but Golden State denied their offer. Talks have stalled.”
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported the three-team talks are ongoing Tuesday, with the Wolves still hoping to bring the Warriors in as team No. 4. Woj added the asset collection going to Minnesota includes “potentially two first-round picks and an expiring contract,” which could be routed to Golden State for Russell.
Woj also leaves open the possibility of the Wolves using the assets in a non-Russell deal “at the trade deadline or in this offseason.” Russell’s exit still seems likeliest this summer, so it’s smart for Minnesota to either make other plans or load the coffers for that pursuit.
Still, this potential trade is fascinating. Covington could fill the role Trevor Ariza did with the Rockets for years. Capela would satisfy the Hawks’ desire for a center, but at a much cheaper price than Andre Drummond. And of course, Minnesota would get the shake-up and point guard it’s desperately sought for months.
Offensively, the one-two punch of Russell and Towns would instantly be among the league’s best. The problem, of course, would come on the other end. KAT’s defensive-rating swing ranks in the 1st percentile leaguewide. Russell’s is in the 41st percentile.
Those two would be thrown into pick-and-rolls in perpetuity. The number of points allowed by the Wolves would be alarming, but they’d certainly have a better shot to keep up on the other end than they do now. Towns and Russell are two of six players taking eight-plus threes per game and shooting over 38 percent from deep this season.
Zach LaVine Off Limits?
Chicago Bulls wing Zach LaVine is averaging 24.9 points and 3.0 threes while shooting 37.6 percent from deep. Those are certainly solid numbers for a No. 1 option, but Chicago is on track to miss the playoffs, and LaVine isn’t having a profound influence on the team’s plus/minus. In fact, the Bulls’ net rating is slightly worse when LaVine is on the floor.
So, it should come as little surprise that teams may be poking around Chicago to see if the team has any interest in moving the talented scorer.
“The Bulls have naturally received trade feelers for Zach LaVine but ‘off limits’ was the description used by one source briefed on Chicago’s thinking,” the New York Times‘ Marc Stein tweeted.
LaVine is still just 24 years old. There are only 23 players in NBA history who totaled as many points, rebounds and assists through their age-24 season (which is still ongoing for LaVine). And he’s making a reasonable $19.5 million per year through 2021-22.
It’s not fair to pin the blame for Chicago’s struggles on LaVine when the rest of the roster is devoid of star power. And with a few potential years of development left, he could be an important part of the organization’s next good team.
Surely, the Bulls would change this stance if someone wowed them with an unexpected offer, but LaVine staying put feels like a safe bet right now.
Is Malik Beasley Worth a 1st-Round Pick?
Winners of 100 games over the past two seasons, the Denver Nuggets have been good for long enough that this nucleus is getting expensive. The group cost north of $131 million this season, and next season looks murky (and pricey) with Jamal Murray’s max extension kicking in and several key contributors—including Paul Millsap and Mason Plumlee—entering free agency.
Malik Beasley is ticketed for restricted free agency, which gives the Nuggets some degree of control. But if they don’t plan to pay him—it’d be hard to justify after paying Murray, Gary Harris and Will Barton already, and watching Michael Porter Jr. hint at stardom—they may feel compelled to trade him.
Denver could consider moving on from Beasley if it gets a first-round pick back, per Mike Singer of the Denver Post. (Singer also reports the Nuggets “have no intention” of moving Porter, which almost could have gone without saying.)
Beasley is interesting, because as a 23-year-old wing he’ll catch the eye of rebuilders, but as a fourth-year veteran, he might be a consolation prize for certain win-now shoppers. This season hasn’t been his best, but just last year he was a nightly supplier of 11.3 points on 47.4/40.2/84.8 shooting.
Under normal market conditions, Denver’s asking price might get dismissed with a chuckle. But teams could be loose with their first-rounders, since the draft isn’t great and there may not be a ton of players available otherwise. The right shopper could see enough growth potential in Beasley—give him more consistent defense and a better handle, and he’s interesting—to warrant the sacrifice.
But unless Beasley is part of a bigger exchange (cough, Jrue Holiday), converting him into an asset doesn’t seem worth it with Denver sitting this close to the top. The Nuggets are third in the West. If they make a move, they should be buying. They can always figure out the finances later.
Tristan Thompson Wants Out; Where Should He Go?
The likelihood of a deadline divorce between Tristan Thompson and the Cleveland Cavaliers increases by the minute. The team made him available Monday, per Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes, and Thompson wants to see something get done.
“Thompson’s camp wants him traded by Thursday’s deadline,” The Athletic’s Joe Vardon reported. “The people close to him are calling it a ‘priority.'”
Thompson serves little purpose by captaining a sinking ship. If he moves at the deadline, he’ll bring his Bird rights with him, so this should a no-brainer on Cleveland’s end.
But where is Thompson’s ideal landing spot? He’d be a dream get for the Los Angeles Clippers, since he’s more mobile than Ivica Zubac and at 6’9″ is bigger than the 6’7″ Montrezl Harrell. If they deem center their biggest deadline need—size could be critical if Anthony Davis, Nikola Jokic, Rudy Gobert, Joel Embiid and/or Giannis Antetokounmpo block their path to a title—Thompson might be the best their budget can do.
If not L.A., then the Boston Celtics might love to have him, but matching his salary is tough. The Miami Heat could use another interior option, and they might have enough sweeteners to interest the Cavs. He shouldn’t cost a ton, and if Miami could squeeze enough shooting out of its other spots, it could be lethal on defense with Thompson, Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler switching off assignments.
Marcus Morris Sr.’s Move to Trade Block Is Good News for Everyone
After reportedly ousting team president Steve Mills (more on that below), the New York Knicks seem ready to accept their reality as a bottom-feeder and sell off win-now pieces to teams actually capable of winning now.
Per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, this mindset means abandoning the D’Angelo Russell sweepstakes and moving Marcus Morris Sr. to the trade block:
Adrian Wojnarowski @wojespn
Just yesterday, Steve Mills was on the phone trying to negotiate trades for the Knicks, including a pursuit for Golden State’s D’Angelo Russell, league sources tell ESPN. Ownership pushed to change course on plans to forgo trade talks for Marcus Morris, too. He’s available now.
This was the logical way forward at the deadline, and if Mills couldn’t see that, maybe he had to go.
Contenders across the hoops world should be clamoring for Morris. While his $15 million salary isn’t the easiest match, teams will try so they can add his combination of toughness, experience, shot-making and versatility. He has never averaged this many points (19.6) or connected on this many threes (43.9), and his 58.2 true shooting percentage is comfortably a career high.
He fits more places than he doesn’t, and even as a 30-year-old role player on an expiring deal, he could spark a bidding war. He can be a big wing or a small-ball big, and he’ll battle when given defensive assignments on LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard or Giannis Antetokounmpo.
The Knicks should fetch a first-round pick—maybe a decent one—for Morris. We’ll see how much their willingness to talk trades extends to the rest of the roster.
Knicks Shake Up Front Office, Become Deadline Wild Card
Roughly 48 hours ahead of the NBA trade deadline, the Knicks are changing decision-makers.
This is fascinating for plenty of reasons (Woj reports the Knicks are planning an eventual push for Toronto Raptors lead executive Masai Ujiri), not the least of which is what it could mean for New York’s deadline plans. The 15-36 Knicks could be one of the league’s most interesting sellers.
But it depends on