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NBA AM: Is It Time To Make A Trade?

As trade talk in the NBA begins to heat up, there are some serious names being floated around.

Steve Kyler

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Time To Gauge The Market:  With the NBA’s unofficial trade season less than a week away, a number of names are starting to surface as possible early trade targets. While NBA teams talk constantly, there is a ramp up in conversations at the quarter mark of the season as teams get a sense of who they are, what they need and what they may be willing to part with to improve their situation either now or in the future.

Here are some of the names garnering attention and what’s worth knowing about each:

Ryan Anderson, New Orleans

The New Orleans Pelicans don’t want to trade Ryan Anderson, but there is a looming reality that’s headed toward the Pelicans – Anderson will be an unrestricted free agent in July and he is going to command a lot more than the $8.5 million he’s currently earning in New Orleans.

The Pelicans will likely have to explore Anderson’s trade value, although that’s not their first choice. However, if moving Anderson can return a long-term answer at small forward then there seems to be an inevitability to a deal getting done.

The Pelicans have been linked to Phoenix’s Markieff Morris, Houston’s Terrence Jones and Indiana’s Solomon Jones, so there are conversations taking place. But how serious the Pelicans are in moving a key part like Anderson still remains unclear.

The Pelicans also have Eric Gordon and his $15.51 million ending contract to shop, so they have plenty of cap money they could move to make a significant deal.

There seems to be real interest in change in New Orleans; the question is will they cash out arguably the best trade chip in Anderson or does they wait until much closer to the February 18 NBA trade deadline?

Brandon Jennings, Detroit

The Detroit Pistons look like they’ll be getting guard Brandon Jennings back from injury in the coming weeks. From there, the question becomes how long will he remain a Piston?

Jennings is coming off an Achilles tear, which can be the death blow for a guard, so getting him back and proving he can still play at a high level will be key to Jennings’ future. If the injury has robbed him of his explosiveness, he’ll likely finish out his contract in Detroit and they’ll use his cap space next summer in free agency.

If Jennings can show he still has bounce and can attack, the Pistons may find themselves with some duplication they don’t have a lot of minutes for with Reggie Jackson clearly their starting point guard.

There is a sense that Jennings will be moved at some point, especially if he can return some frontcourt depth for Detroit; however there is also a sense that Detroit isn’t in any hurry to make a change either.

Jennings looks to be one of the names to watch closer to the trade deadline, but given that he is an ending contract and that he’ll likely see a limited role when he returns, the odds that Jennings’ camp tries to push for a trade are pretty high. After all, for him to get a significant deal next summer he’s going to need to log minutes and prove he can be a full-time starter again.

Lance Stephenson, L.A. Clippers

L.A. Clippers president and head coach Doc Rivers laughed off reports that his club was exploring deals involving Lance Stephenson and others, but there is some truth to the idea that the Clippers would like to add to the roster and have had talks with a number of teams.

To characterize the Clippers as ready to deal might be a little aggressive, but they are clearly one of the teams making and taking calls – they just do not seem close to anything at this point.

As for Stephenson specifically, there is virtually no trade market for Lance. As one league source pointed out, if the Clippers want to move Lance, it would have to be in a deal that included another player (possibly someone like Jamal Crawford).

There is a sense that the Clippers would be open to taking on a big contract, so packaging the contract of Stephenson ($9 million this year and team option for next) and the ending deal of Crawford ($5.67 million) could return a sizable deal.

Clippers sources described their stance as exploratory and not much more, but that could always change if the right player is made available to them.

The Clippers are in the market, but to classify them as eager to deal might not be the right phrase.

Markieff Morris, Phoenix

This summer, it seemed all but inevitable that the Phoenix Suns would have to trade Markieff Morris after his very public spat with the front office. The Suns made it clear they were not dealing Morris before training camp; they believed once he got around the team that the hard feelings over trading away his brother, Marcus, would go away and Morris would be a big part of the Suns team this season. For a time, that’s exactly how it seemed.

The Suns’ coaching staff has opted to explore a few lineup changes and that’s left Morris on the outside of the starting lineup (and even as a healthy scratch at one point) and his name firmly in the rumor mill.

League sources point out that a number of teams have interest in Morris, with the New Orleans Pelicans and Houston Rockets being the two teams mentioned the most. However, the same source said the pending legal issues surrounding him make him tough to trade.

There is a sense that Morris is going to be moved; the question is where? The Rockets seem motivated to make a deal on a number of fronts and they do have the smaller contract pieces that could get a deal done.

Joakim Noah, Chicago

Has the time come for the Chicago Bulls to explore moving Joakim Noah? A number of league sources point to Noah’s looming free agency as well as his declining role and production as key reasons the Bulls may not only gauge Noah’s value, but might make him the player the team looks to cash in to bolster a postseason run.

Talking about Noah as a trade candidate is a touchy thing, because Noah is arguably the locker room leader and one of the more emotionally invested players on the roster. Moving Noah is not viewed by the Bulls as ideal, but there are realities that Noah may no longer be in the Bulls’ long-term future and Noah does have trade value around the league.

As the Bulls continue to be inconsistent on a night to night basis, the clock on an eventual trade seems to be ticking louder and louder.

Noah’s value as a leader and his ability to unify the locker room is not lost on the Bulls, but his $13.4 million ending contract could return real value to a Bulls team that may be seeing their window for a Finals run starting to close, especially with big man Pau Gasol hinting that he may opt-out of his deal this summer.

If there is a deal that surfaces that could push the Bulls over the top in the East, it does seem Noah could be the chip the Bulls would be open to cashing.

The 2016 NBA trade deadline is February 18, which is roughly 70 days from today.

The trade restrictions on most of the players signed to free agent deals this past summer come off on December 15. Teams are not prohibited from making deals now, but a lot more players become trade eligible in five days, making it easier for teams to consummate multi-player deals when more of the player pool is trade eligible.

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NBA

NBA Daily: Bought Out Players Faring Well With New Teams

The deadline for teams to send their unwanted players to the buyout market was March 1. Jordan Hicks takes a look at some of the key acquisitions since the deadline and how they are helping postseason pushes.

Jordan Hicks

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The buyout market seems to be gaining more and more popularity with each season. While rebuilding teams tend to forego more seasoned players in order to give their younger guys some run, veteran players often find themselves bought out or waived prior to the deadline.

Teams competing for a spot in the playoffs – so it seems – have increasingly taken advantage of this situation by signing guys that can definitely help them get enough wins. While you definitely will not find All-Stars in the pool of available players, oftentimes solid role players find themselves there due to a myriad of reasons.

It could be that their previous teams wanted to give more playing time to guys more in-line with their future plans. It could also be because their previous team was simply wanting to lose games in order to increase their draft position, which is also known as tanking. By waiving better players on your roster and keeping less talented ones, teams can essentially give themselves a better chance to lose games without totally making it look like they’re doing it on purpose.

This year had one of the stronger pools of players on the buyout/waived market as of March 1st in recent memory, so let’s take a look at some of the top players and how they’ve fared since joining their new team.

Wesley Matthews

Matthews was part of the marquee trade that sent Kristaps Porzingis to the Dallas Mavericks. He ended up with the Knicks, but after two short games, they realized they didn’t want his talent interfering with their draft position. They waived him prior to the deadline and he was picked up by the Indiana Pacers.

This has turned out to be an incredibly important acquisition for the Pacers – primarily due to the fact that they lost All-Star Victor Oladipo for the season.

Matthews brings grittiness on the defensive end and a diverse set of skills offensively. He is an above average shooter from the three-point line, averaging 38.8 percent on 6.1 attempts per game since joining Indiana. He has added much-needed scoring to the offense as well – currently at 12.5 points and 2.4 assists each night.

He’s very clearly a step below Oladipo, especially when considering what Vic brought to both ends of the floor, but the fact that the Pacers added him without having to give up any assets is pretty remarkable.

While he has yet to add any considerable value on defense, Matthews has ranked fifth on the team in offensive rating since joining them on February 7. If Oladipo was still on the roster, you could argue that they wouldn’t necessarily need Matthews. But in light of recent events, being able to add Matthews as easily as they did was certainly a win for the franchise.

Enes Kanter

Another player the Knicks decided to unload was Enes Kanter. He was sent to the player pool via buyout, and it is safe to assume that New York had to spend handsomely to send him there.

Kanter is an interesting player. He has always been able to get buckets around the rim, as well as grab rebounds, but he has always struggled defensively. This was not why the Knicks wanted to let him go, however. Tension had been growing between Kanter, the front office, and the coaching staff, as they wanted to limit his minutes in lieu of the younger players on the roster.

Enes just wanted to play, and, by being bought out and signing with the Portland Trail Blazers, he’s been able to do just that.

Since joining Portland, the team as gone 9-3. While he continues to have his struggles on defense, he is posting 10 points and 6.7 rebounds on only 18.2 minutes per night.

Since the acquisition, Meyers Leonard has seen a decreased role. Kanter has turned into the de-facto backup to starting center Jusuf Nurkic. While Kanter is a poor defender himself, Portland has enough solid defensive players in the frontcourt that they haven’t had too much of a problem hiding him on that end of the floor.

Jeremy Lin

Lin headed to the market after being bought out by the Atlanta Hawks. He was picked up by the Toronto Raptors, who have struggled to field consistent backcourt players off the bench due to injuries – which was made more difficult after dealing Delon Wright to the Grizzlies as part of the Marc Gasol trade.

In 13 games with the Raptors, Lin is averaging 8.4 points and 2.5 assists in 20.8 minutes per game. He has struggled to find any consistency with his shot, as he’s averaging just 39 percent from the field and a morbid 18.4 percent from three.

That shooting has every opportunity to increase. Lin is a 34.3 percent shooter from downtown over the course of his career.

The Raptors will need Lin to pull his shooting together as the season wraps up for a strong playoff campaign. The bench unit was a major part of their success last season and it is proving to be another key part this year. In order for Toronto to finally reach their goal of winning the Eastern Conference, they’ll need Lin to be at his best. He isn’t the only key to their success, but he’ll have a major impact on how the Raptors finish out the season.

There are still plenty of solid players on the market. Carmelo Anthony, Ben McLemore and Nick Young could provide instant offense off the bench. Greg Monroe, Marcin Gortat and Zach Randolph could help improve the frontcourt of any team in need. Whether or not teams decide they need their services, only time will tell.

While the season plays out, it will be interesting to see just what impact these players discussed – as well as those not mentioned – will have for their franchise in the postseason.

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NBA Daily: Justin Bibbs Gets First NBA Opportunity In L.A.

Justin Bibbs spoke to Basketball Insiders about joining an NBA team after going undrafted, playing in the G League, his developing skill set and more.

David Yapkowitz

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One of the best moments in the life of an aspiring pro basketball player is to receive the news that an NBA team wants to sign them.

For Justin Bibbs, that dream became a reality of his when the Los Angeles Clippers called him up to the team on a 10-day contract last week. The former Virginia Tech guard went undrafted last summer and was spending his first professional season in the G League with Maine Red Claws, the affiliate of the Boston Celtics.

This past Sunday against the Brooklyn Nets was actually his first day being around the team as they had immediately assigned him to the Agua Caliente Clippers after signing him.

“To be honest, I still don’t have words for it. It’s kind of indescribable,” Bibbs told Basketball Insiders. “I always wanted to be on this level, but now that I’m here I just trying to take in every second of it, just relax and let God do his thing.”

Bibbs had a decent showing with the Celtics in summer league, leading to him being added to their training camp roster. He was ultimately cut and joined the Maine Red Claws as an affiliate player. Each NBA team is allowed to assign up to four players to their G League affiliate, players who were in training camp and are guaranteed a G League roster spot.

Affiliate players, however, are still considered ‘free agents’ in that they can sign with any NBA team. Bibbs played in 44 games with the Red Claws and averaged 11.8 points per game, 3.0 rebounds and 2.7 assists.

At Virginia Tech, he was a knockdown outside shooter (42.4 percent) and a strong defender. He has good size for a guard at 6-foot-5 and 225-pounds. It’s those qualities that he’s hoping to bring to the Clippers should he get the chance on the court.

“I always bring energy defensively and I just play my game. On offense, I bring shooting,” Bibbs told Basketball Insiders. “But it’s whatever the coach tells me to do and basically just playing the right way.”

Although Bibbs has reached his goal of the NBA, he’s in a different situation than the rest of his Clippers teammates. They’re all secured with guaranteed contracts. Bibbs has ten days to prove himself to team brass, ten days to show he’s worth keeping around a bit longer.

“I’m happy that my play has been rewarded, that the organization believed in me enough to give me a 10-day. Its motivation for me to keep going,” Bibbs told Basketball Insiders. “I was called down from the G League team, and I’m just trying to get all the sets and plays and stuff, trying to make that adjustment. But it’s definitely a blessing.”

He’s played in three games for the Agua Caliente Clippers so far, logging 27.1 minutes per game off the bench. He’s put up 9.7 points per game on 45.8 percent shooting from the field, 5.0 rebounds and 2.3 assists during that stretch.

He’s yet to log any minutes for the Clippers, but he’s just thrilled to be a part of an NBA organization. Despite being undrafted, he always knew that he’d get to this level at some point.

“Yeah I did, for sure I did. I didn’t know when or how, but I always thought I would be here,” Bibbs told Basketball Insiders. “I had no idea what team, but being out in LA, I’ll take that as a blessing. But yeah I thought I would be here for sure.”

For players like Bibbs who are on 10-day contracts, nothing is guaranteed. But he’s soaking up the entire experience as long as he can. Whether the Clippers decide to retain him a little bit longer, or he moves on to another opportunity, he just wants to be able to play his game.

“My overall goal is just to actually play my game my way and not be restricted,” Bibbs told Basketball Insiders. “Kind of just play freely and right now that’s what I’ve shown, that’s what got me here. I’m just taking in the whole process, just taking it all in and getting the experience and knowledge.”

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Mock Drafts

NBA Daily: 60-Pick NBA Mock Draft – 3/19/19

With the field of teams set for the 2019 NCAA March Madness tournament, things should get noisy over the next few weeks on the NBA Draft front. Steve Kyler offers up another 60-pick Mock Draft before all the zaniness begins.

Steve Kyler

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Let the Madness begin.

The basketball world will shift its attention to college basketball’s biggest stage over the next few weeks, especially this weekend’s opening round of 64.

While the tournament doesn’t necessarily make or break a player’s draft stock, this will be the first time some notable draft prospects will face elite talent and, more importantly, the pressure of the big stage. You can check out march madness predictions 2019 here.

Expect things in the draft world to start to percolate, not just because of the magnitude of the games, but also because a lot of NBA scouts will be in the same places, which is where the draft chatter originates.

Equally, a lot of NBA teams will watch games together in the conference rooms this week, so more group discussion on players will happen inside NBA teams’ front offices, and that could lead to new preference information flowing into the NBA Draft information bubble.

Here is this week’s 60-Pick Mock Draft, based on NBA games played through 3/18/19:

Here are the first-round picks that are owed and how those picks landed where they are.

The Atlanta Hawks are to receive the Cleveland Cavaliers’ first-round pick as a result of the Kyle Korver trade in 2017, which is top-10 protected. But based on the standings, it will not be conveyed.

The Boston Celtics are to receive the Memphis Grizzlies first-round pick as a result of the three-team Jeff Green trade in 2015; the pick is top-eight protected and, based on the current standings, would not convey.

The Atlanta Hawks are to receive the Dallas Mavericks first-round pick as a result of the Luka Dončić – Trae Young swap on draft night in 2018. The pick is top-five protected and, based on the standings, would convey.

The Boston Celtics are to receive the more favorable of either the Sacramento Kings or Philadelphia 76ers first-round picks as part of the Markelle Fultz pre-draft trade in 2017. Based on the current standings, the Kings pick is the more favorable and would convey to Boston.

The Boston Celtics are to receive the LA Clippers first-round pick as a result of the Deyonta Davis draft day trade with Memphis in 2016. The Grizzlies got the pick in their Jeff Green/Lance Stephenson deal at the deadline in 2016. The pick is lottery protected and, based on the current standings, would not convey.

The Cleveland Cavaliers are to receive the Houston Rockets first-round pick as a result of the three-team deadline deal that sent out Brandon Knight and Marquese Chriss.

The Brooklyn Nets are to receive the Denver Nuggets first-round pick as a result of the Kenneth Faried – Darrell Arthur trade in July 2018. The pick is top-12 protected and, based on the current standings, would convey.

The San Antonio Spurs are to receive the Toronto Raptors first-round pick as a result of the Kawhi Leonard – DeMar DeRozan trade in July 2018. The pick is top-20 protected and, based on the current standings, would convey.

The Phoenix Suns are to receive the Milwaukee Bucks first-round pick as a result of the Eric Bledsoe trade in 2017. The pick has top 3 and 17-30 protections, designed to yield a lottery-level pick to Phoenix. Based on the current standings this pick would not convey. If the debt is not settled this year, the pick in 2020 would be top-7 protected.

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