We are now just over a day away from the NBA trade deadline. Trade talks between teams will only continue to escalate as we approach tomorrow’s 3 p.m. EST deadline.
Yesterday, we saw a couple of deals take place as the Detroit Pistons and Orlando Magic kicked off the action with a trade that sent Brandon Jennings and Ersan Ilyasova to the Magic in exchange for Tobias Harris.
Shortly after news of that trade surfaced, a three-way trade between the Memphis Grizzlies, Charlotte Hornets and Miami HEAT came to light. As part of the trade, the Grizzlies sent Courtney Lee to the Hornets and will acquire P.J. Hairston from the Hornets and Chris Andersen from the HEAT. Miami will obtain Brian Roberts from the Hornets. Also, the Hornets and HEAT will each send two future second-round draft picks to the Grizzlies.
It seems as though each year brings increased trade rumors, with only a small percentage of those rumors coming to fruition. As we head into crunch time near the deadline, here are several situations to keep an eye on:
Orlando May Not be Done
We were left on Tuesday night with word that the Magic may not be done dealing. After officially announcing the trade with the Pistons, Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical reported that the Magic and Los Angeles Clippers were nearing an agreement centered around forward Channing Frye.
In the reported deal, the Magic would send Frye to the Clippers in exchange for Lance Stephenson, C.J. Wilcox and possibly a second-round draft pick. The report stated that the Clippers are still shopping Stephenson’s contract around, but maintained that the deal with the Magic seems the most likely scenario to happen with a decision likely to come today.
It appears that acquiring Stephenson from the Clippers would purely be based on salary cap purposes only, as the report said the Magic would waive Stephenson immediately if they were to accept the trade. Frye is owed just under $16 million over the next two seasons, while Stephenson has a team option for $9.4 million next season.
The Magic could have up to $43 million in cap space this summer, with that number climbing even higher if Frye is traded.
Houston and Dwight Howard
A trade deadline cannot pass without the Houston Rockets being mentioned to some extent. The Rockets have made no secret about center Dwight Howard being available in trade talks, but it just doesn’t seem like they’ll be able to secure what they’re seeking in return.
While it’s yet to come out what exactly the Rockets might want in return, it’s been said their asking price is high. At this point in time, Howard’s trade value could be as low as we’ve seen it in quite some time.
The biggest downfall of potentially acquiring Howard is that he’ll be an unrestricted free agent this summer and could walk for nothing. Given that possibility, teams just don’t want to part ways with valuable assets with the uncertainty surrounding his future. Couple this with Howard salary (over $22 million) and finding a deal for him is tough.
Also, he’s dealt with nagging injuries over the past couple of seasons that have caused him to miss some time. He can still contribute at a high level to a team, but he just may not be that number one option that he was years ago with Orlando.
It seems as though the Rockets may just be better off holding onto Howard through the end of this season and try to make a deep run in the playoffs. Houston will surely try to go after some of the top free agents this summer, but in case they miss out on those names, they can always try to retain Howard long-term as a backup option.
New Orleans’ Decisions
It doesn’t seem like the Pelicans have been among those mentioned too much regarding the upcoming trade deadline, but the team does have some decisions to make.
Forward Ryan Anderson and guard Eric Gordon are both unrestricted free agents this summer and the Pelicans may look to trade them rather than risk losing them for nothing.
It sounds like Anderson is going to weigh his options in free agency and could be on his way out. If the Pelicans feel like he won’t be back, Anderson could be a name to watch over the next 24 hours.
This situation was discussed on the latest Basketball Insiders Podcast with Steve Kyler and Alex Kennedy, and Washington came up as a team that has shown interest in Anderson.
The problem teams have is they don’t want to give up a lot of assets for a guy that could walk in free agency. The Pelicans could look at a guy like Otto Porter to seek in return since he’s a younger guy who could possibly be a future piece of their core.
Gordon is in the same situation as Anderson. If he feels like there’s a better situation out there or if a better offer comes in free agency, then he could be on his way out as well and the team could be forced to trade him for something in return. However, Gordon doesn’t seem to have as much trade value as Anderson.
The team could also opt to keep both players. The Pelicans are only six-and-a-half games out of the last playoff spot in the West, so keeping both guys around could help keep them alive in the playoff hunt. The Pelicans have to decide quickly if they want to make a trade.
Atlanta May Not Be All That Active
One team that has come up very often in recent trade rumors has been the Atlanta Hawks. The team has been said to be taking calls on Jeff Teague, Al Horford and even Kyle Korver.
As things stand today, the Hawks are currently fourth in the Eastern Conference. This team is much different than they were a year ago when they won 60 games and advanced to the conference finals. It seems as though this Hawks group has peaked and a change could be coming.
If the Hawks make a deal, it seems like point guard Jeff Teague is the most likely to go. Horford has been mentioned as well, but he just told Basketball Insiders over All-Star Weekend that he wants to remain in Atlanta long-term. As long as the Hawks will pay him what he’s worth, Horford seems like a lock to stay.
The Hawks value their team chemistry, so it doesn’t seem like blowing up the roster is something they want to do unless it brings back meaningful pieces that will put the team in a better position in the future.
The Nets on Tuesday reportedly offered San Antonio Spurs assistant general manager Sean Marks the position to be their new general manager. The move could put the team in a unique situation moving toward the trade deadline.
The team may want to wait until the new candidate settles into the role before making any big decisions. That means the team could opt to hold out until after the deadline to make any roster decisions.
Heading into this week, Thaddeus Young and Brook Lopez have been mentioned as potential trade candidates. Young seems to be the more likely of the two to be moved, if a deal is made.
Still, the team could elect to hold onto those players moving forward and not trade them altogether. Both players are under contract for at least the next two seasons, with Young holding a player option for the 2018-19 season.
Joe Johnson was a name brought up on the Insiders Podcast as a potential buy-out candidate after the trade deadline passes. The team could look to part ways with Johnson, whose $24,894,863 salary will likely prevent him from being traded, so he could potentially join a team for a playoff run.
As we continue to approach the deadline, be sure to check our Trade Deadline Diary that will be updated with each rumor or trade.
Mavs Guard Devin Harris on Personal Leave from Team
Guard Devin Harris will take an indefinite leave from the Dallas Mavericks after the tragic death of his brother, Bruce.
“I was with him yesterday and just encouraged him that when he’s ready to come on back,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “I don’t know when that will be. He can take as long as he needs.”
Source: Tim MacMahon of ESPN
NBA PM: Patrick Beverley Set the Tone for Clippers in Season Opener
Patrick Beverley set the tone for the L.A. Clippers with his aggressive defense in their season opener.
“The LA Clippers are going to the Western Conference Finals. Guaranteed.”
That bold statement was made by Charles Barkley during TNT’s coverage of last night’s matchup between the Lakers and Clippers.
While Barkley may have had his hot take canon primed and in mid-season form, that should not overshadow the fact that the Los Angeles Clippers put together a strong showing in their first regular season game since the departure of Chris Paul.
Blake Griffin logged 29 points, 12 rebounds, three assists, two steals and knocked down three of his six three-point attempts. Griffin was aggressive and showed no hesitation on his jumper, which seemed to open up lanes for him to drive to the basket (where he is most effective). DeAndre Jordan was fantastic as well, contributing 14 points, 24 rebounds, one assist and one steal.
While the Clippers lost some significant contributors from last season, including J.J. Redick, Luc Mbah a Moute and Jamal Crawford, the team had some returning and new players show that they are capable of filling the void.
Milos Teodosic was just 2-9 from the field, but knocked down two three-pointers and looked comfortable and effective running the team’s offense. Danilo Gallinarni shot just 3-13 from the field but looked healthy and spry, displaying the kind of mobility that is necessary to play the small forward position. His ability to act as a secondary playmaker wasn’t on full display, but there were moments where it was apparent that he could be a big help in generating open looks for his teammates. Lou Williams also looked good in his Clippers debut, scoring in a variety of ways off the bench and contributing six assists as well. Wesley Johnson continues to look confident and aggressive, a continuation from his preseason performances, and is starting to knock down the open shots his teammates are creating for him (which has been a problem for him in the past).
While the Clippers looked solid in their opening act without Paul, it should be noted that the Lakers are a young team overall and their defense has been a major problem for the last few seasons. While the Lakers have added some promising young talent over the offseason, like most young teams, they are going to struggle to slow down veteran teams with potent offenses. It would be a mistake to think the Clippers can replicate this sort of offensive performance every night, especially against the better defensive teams in the league. However, perhaps the most promising part of the Clippers’ season debut was the fact that they seemed to feed off of and embrace the gritty demeanor and style of play that Patrick Beverley brings to the court each and every night.
Last night’s game was the NBA debut for rookie point guard Lonzo Ball, who many predict will develop into a star player. Unfortunately for Ball, his opening night matchup came against Beverley, who earned a spot on the 2017 All-Defensive First Team. Beverley repeatedly guarded Ball past half court, pushed him around and did everything he could to throw him off of his game. He held Ball to three points, nine rebounds and four assists in 29 minutes of action.
Beverley, like every NBA player, has heard the hype and noise surrounding Ball and his future in the league (most of it from his outspoken father, LaVar).
“I just had to set the tone,” Beverley said. “I told him after the game that due to all the riffraff his dad brings, that he’s going to get a lot of people coming at him. I let him know that after the game. What a better way to start than spending 94 feet guarding him tonight — welcome the young guy to the NBA.”
Beverley is one of the more aggressive defenders in the NBA and is known for trying to get under the skin of his opponents, so Lonzo may not face this level of intensity in every game. But based on Beverley’s comments, it’s clear that he expects other players around the league to defend Lonzo aggressively as well.
Snoop Dogg, the rapper and passionate Lakers fan, summed up the issue for Ball arguably better than anyone else has so far.
“His father put him in the lion’s den with pork chop drawers on,” said Snoop.
For his part, Lonzo complimented Beverley on his aggressive defense.
“[Beverley] plays hard. He knows his job. He does it very well,” said Ball. “He gets under people’s skin and plays defense and does what he can to help his team win.”
Beverley set the tone for the Clippers, who looked crisp and confident throughout the game. Griffin’s three-point shot looks like it could finally be a reliable part of his offensive arsenal. Jordan was very active on the glass, pulling down 24 rebounds (possibly inspired in part by his commitment to donate $100 per rebound this season to help the effort to rebuild his hometown of Houston after the damage inflicted by Hurricane Harvey). The rest of the supporting cast played with the sort of cohesion and confidence that takes at least a few weeks into the season to develop. Again, the Clippers’ performance could have stemmed primarily from the Lakers’ shaky defense, but it was encouraging to see the team play with such force and confidence in the absence of Paul.
The Western Conference is extremely talented and deep, so it’s unlikely that the Clippers will make it to the Western Conference Finals as Barkley predicted. However, challenging for a spot in the playoffs and perhaps even doing some damage once there seems to be in the realm of possibility. This is especially the case considering how much of an impact Beverley had Thursday night, both defensively and in setting the tone for the rest of his new teammates.
Morris Bringing Leadership To Celtics
Marcus Morris chats with Basketball Insiders for a one-on-one exclusive.
Returning just one starter from last year’s top-seeded team in the Eastern Conference, the Boston Celtics underwent wholesale changes this past offseason.
Gordon Hayward signed a super max contract. Danny Ainge pried Kyrie Irving away from the Cleveland Cavaliers in a blockbuster deal. Jayson Tatum was selected with the third overall pick in the NBA Draft.
In early July, though, there was an under-the-radar trade executed that hasn’t been mentioned much. Surprisingly, Celtics guard Avery Bradley was sent to the Detroit Pistons in exchange for Marcus Morris, a heady wing with size and versatility to add to a revamped core of players.
Bradley was a mainstay with the franchise for seven years and played a vital role as a part of Brad Stevens’ system, but Boston decided to move in a different direction. As for the man they got in return, he’s thrilled to be there.
“It makes me feel good,” Morris told Basketball Insiders of Ainge dealing one of his best former players for him. “It makes you feel wanted.
“This is my first time since I’ve been in the NBA I’ve been on a team with a bunch of guys that [are] All-Stars. With the maturity of the team being this high and having them high expectations on us, I’m excited to get the season going and see how far we can take this.”
The Detroit Pistons likely wanted to keep him, but the organization clearly felt Bradley’s skill set was too good to pass up. For Morris, he insisted there was no indication that his old team would send him away, but he hasn’t been bashful about talking up his new home.
“Had no idea that I was gonna be a Boston Celtic, but I’m ready for the challenge, you know?” Morris said. “I’m excited. Boston, being a Celtic—it’s something that growing up you don’t really see happening, but when it happens it’s an amazing thing.
“It’s like playing for the Patriots, you know what I mean? One of the most heralded teams and most heralded franchises, and Boston is one of those.”
Entering the seventh season of his career, Morris has remained a steady part of the league. During his time in Detroit, he started nearly every game for the Pistons and found a comfort zone that he believes will carry over in Boston.
“Just continue to be consistent, continue to build on my last past couple of years,” Morris said of his personal goals. “I really felt like I carved my spot in the NBA the last two years—averaging 14 a year and helping my team get to the playoffs one of those years, so I really think I’ve carved a niche in this league.”
The success has come thanks to his versatility and the NBA’s current direction pointing towards that type of game. All of a sudden, not having a defined position makes a player more valuable, something Morris is thankful for as he continues to bring a little bit of everything to the table.
“For guys like me, it’s great,” Morris said. “Coming into the league, I had this ‘tweener’ thing on my back and now it’s like [freaking] great to be a ‘tweener’ at this time. I’m actually happy that it’s switching to my position and guys that can do multiple things are being utilized more in this league.”
Putting the ball in the basket has come fairly easy for Morris, who averaged 14.1 points per game on 42.6 percent from the field over 159 games with Detroit. He’s able to stretch the floor and provide solid spacing offensively, and he envisions doing more than that for this Celtics group.
“And leadership,” Morris said. “I’m not too much of a vocal guy, but I’m a passionate guy on the court. I think that’ll rub off on guys. I love scoring. I love shooting the ball. But that’s not the only thing I do.
“I’ve been a tough defender around this league for the last past years and I’m really looking forward to hanging my hat on that again and just doing whatever it takes for my team to get to that next level.”
Stevens is aware of the impact Morris can bring in the locker room and on the floor. When he returns from a sore knee to make his debut for Boston, that’ll show through his play.
“He’s a guy that can stretch the floor at the four,” Stevens said. “He’s a guy that can guard two through four. He’s tough. He’s smart. He works the right way. We’ll be better with Marcus Morris for sure. The versatility is a very important part of what we want to be.
“Whether he is starting in a couple of weeks or whether he’s coming off the bench, at the end of the day he’s gonna be a critical, critical part of our team.”
While he’s waited to come back, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum have stepped up in his absence. With Hayward likely sidelined for the rest of the season, that success will have to be sustained. Morris is a big believer in this promising duo and sees how grounded they are to make that happen.
“They’re mature guys for their age,” Morris said. “Jaylen, I think he’s 20. He’s definitely a lot more mature than I thought. Jayson, too. He’s way more mature than your average 19-year-old.
“At the end of the day, it’s just basketball. I think those guys, they’re ready for the challenge. They love the game. They always in the gym, so I think it’ll be easy for ‘em.”
Part of Morris’ role is guiding those two and the other younger pieces that Boston has as they try and establish themselves as professionals. He’s kind of a coach per se, which is somewhat fitting considering what he did this summer.
Most basketball fans are aware of “The Basketball Tournament” that takes nationwide. For those that aren’t, it’s a single-elimination competition between 64 teams in which the champion receives a $2 million prize. Morris was the head coach of Team FOE—standing for Family Over Everything.
Along with his fellow Kansas alums, including his brother Markieff and Thomas Robinson, Morris coached his team to the final game. Team FOE was in front most of the game but ultimately fell to Boeheim’s Army, a squad filled with former Syracuse Orangemen.
“I was on my way man,” Morris said of coming close. “I actually liked it. I’m a smart guy. Me and basketball stuff, I can put it together real well. I was kinda upset we lost in the fashion that we lost, but we’ll be back next year.
“I’m a smart player,” he said regarding a potential future on the sidelines. “I know the game really well. Coaching comes easy for some guys and I’m just one of those guys.”
You could hear “Coach Morris” down the line, but for now and for years to come, Marcus is focused on his first year with Boston. It’s a team that surely has the talent to be the top team in the East it’s pegged to be. Stevens is a basketball savant with great leadership.
Even without an All-Star like Hayward and a 0-2 start, the Celtics should still be a force to be reckoned with. There’s an even greater demand for them to achieve their potential, especially knowing eyes will be on them, but Morris welcomes the challenge.
“Man, it’s pressure on every team,” Morris said. “It ain’t like it’s just all on the Boston Celtics. It’s pressure on every team. What’s a game without pressure anyway?
“Pressure makes it the best thing. That’s what we need to do anyway. I enjoy the pressure. Me personally.”
Shouldering the load won’t be easy, but if it comes down to it, Morris will be swimming instead of sinking. When all is said and done, he shares the same aspirations as most players do—raising the Larry O’Brien trophy in the summer.
“I want to the win the championship,” Morris said. “You put this type of team together to get to those positions. I’m looking to be playing in June and trying to get to a championship.”