The Latest Scuttle
The 2016 NBA trade deadline is at 3 p.m. EST today, so teams have to get their deals into the league office in advance of that deadline.
To sort of refresh the process, once the teams involved in a trade reach an agreement, a trade call is scheduled with the league office and the NBA’s legal department. The details of the trade are discussed with all parties and all of the legalities are checked against the NBA’s trade rules. Assuming everything checks out, the NBA makes the trade official. While all trades must be submitted by 3 p.m., it is fairly common that the trade call process can roll well past the deadline.
Last year, 38 players and player rights changed hands at the deadline, with the largest chunk of that number happening within 45 minutes of the deadline. So hang on to your hat, it looks like we are headed toward another crazy day.
Here is what we know this morning:
Moving Pau Gasol?
The Chicago Bulls have been kicking the tires on several scenarios, but the one picking up the most steam seems to be big man Pau Gasol heading to the Sacramento Kings for a package of players including Kostas Koufos and Ben McLemore. The Kings are also said to be willing to reduce some of the draft protections on the 2016 pick they owe to the Bulls in an effort to ensure the Bulls get the picks.
The hurdle there is the Kings also traded the right to swap picks with the Philadelphia 76ers. While it’s unlikely the Sixers would be willing to swap their pick, which should be more favorable, it’s still something to be negotiated in order to make the deal with the Bulls.
The belief is the Kings would have to part with a future draft asset or pick swap to get the 76ers to sign off on the change.
For Gasol, he holds a player option worth roughly $7.7 million and has made it clear he would be opting for free agency, but would like to remain in Chicago on a new deal.
The Bulls have been gauging the trade value of not only Gasol but also guard Tony Snell and forward Taj Gibson.
Holding Pattern With Frye
The Orlando Magic had completed the framework of a trade with the Los Angeles Clippers that would have sent forward Channing Frye to L.A. in exchange for guard Lance Stephenson, guard C.J. Wilcox and a second-round draft pick. The Clippers asked the Magic for more time on that deal as they looked at other options, which league sources believed was them trying to pry forward Ryan Anderson out of New Orleans.
The Magic had been talking with the Cleveland Cavaliers about an alternative Frye deal that would have sent Frye to Cleveland. The problem there is the Cavaliers wanted to send back big man Anderson Varejao, who is owed about $19 million in guaranteed money. This is a deal the Magic would not do.
The Cavaliers have two fairly large Traded Players Exception – one worth a little more than $2.8 million and another worth $10.52 million. The Cavs could absorb Frye into their $10.52 million exception, but that would add more than $35 million to the team’s luxury tax bill.
The Cavs have been trying to find a place to dump off Varejao, but league sources say the teams with cap space do not seem overly interested in that.
The Clippers deal is still on the table and the Magic are still exploring options outside of the Cavs and Clippers. This one looks like it could go down to the wire.
Frye practiced with the Magic yesterday and even addressed the media. As things stand today, the Magic are waiting on a trade partner to say yes.
Two other names to watch from Orlando today are forward Andrew Nicholson and guard Shabazz Napier. Both are believed to be available – with Nicholson’s camp pushing for a deal somewhere the big man can get more playing time. Over the last seven games, Nicholson has logged a combined 28 minutes and is headed toward free agency this summer.
As for Napier, he is under contract next season at a very reasonable $1.35 million and the Magic do like him quite a bit. It seems moving him would be more of a favor to Napier and his agent, so that one might come down to what are the Magic offered.
An interesting wrinkle to how the Magic pulled off their Tobias Harris trade has surfaced. Our own cap guru Eric Pincus revealed that prior to the Brandon Jennings/Ersan Ilyasova trade with the Detroit Pistons, the Magic renounced rights to free agents Willie Green and Jeremy Richardson, which dropped them below the salary cap and negated the Traded Player Exception the team received this summer for trading Moe Harkless.
By dropping below the cap prior to the trade, the Magic have the option to immediately re-trade either of the players they acquired in a package deal.
While Magic general manager Rob Hennigan spoke highly of both players after the trade and praised how well both would fit into the situation in Orlando, they do have the option to pack either of those guys into a deal to make a splashier move if it surfaces.
It is highly unusual for a team to renounce player rights prior to a trade unless there is the possibility of something bigger where those restrictions could be a factor.
This is likely a case of keeping your options open, but it’s an interesting wrinkle for the Magic.
No Home For Howard
The Houston Rockets and the representation for Dwight Howard have been looking for a new home for the Rockets big man. However, as the deadline approaches, there does not seem to be a lot there.
To be clear, the Rockets are more than willing to move Howard so this is not a case of reluctance on Houston’s part. The problem is that Howard has a unique set of issues that may make a deal before the deadline improbable.
The biggest is Howard’s $22.35 million salary. Unless a team with cap space (Portland, Philadelphia or Utah) is willing to use a big chunk of it on Howard, the Rockets have to take back at least $16.75 million in salary. The Rockets are unwilling to take back contracts that affect their cap space next summer so that’s a barrier that’s proving hard to cross.
The second part is that Howard will be an unrestricted free agent and likely walks to the best situation for him; that’s risky for any team, especially if you have to part with players or assets that matter.
The final part is Howard himself. This would be the third team in which Howard exits amid controversy. Combine that with a decline in his overall production, the fact that his now 30 years old and has battled injury not only to his surgically repaired back but also a troublesome knee, and you can see why some teams aren’t interested.
Any one of these issue could be workable, but when you combine them together Howard is an unfavorable trade target.
League sources say it’s still possible that Houston can give Howard away, but returning anything of real value for him seems to be dwindling away as the deadline gets closer.
Lawson To The Jazz
The Utah Jazz and Houston Rockets have been talking about a deal that would send point guard Ty Lawson to the Jazz for the balance of the season in a deal centered around point guard Trey Burke and what’s believed to be center Tibor Pleiss. The Jazz are about $7.6 million below the salary cap so they can absorb the difference into cap space.
The Jazz have been pondering this deal since before the All-Star break and have been trying to come to terms with Lawson’s off-court history. Lawson has a well-documented history with alcoholism and that’s been a huge barrier for the Jazz.
Sources close to the situation say there have been a number of Rockets’ approved conversations with Lawson’s agents in efforts to smooth over a potential deal.
Lawson once did a Reddit chat where he proclaimed that he’d never play in Utah, which is something his camp has tried to walk back from – pointing out that the situation for Lawson has changed and he’d welcome the chance to prove himself in Utah.
Lawson waived the guarantee on the final year of his contract to get traded out of Denver last summer, making him a low-risk move for the Jazz who have 30 games left on the season and are currently the eighth seed in the West.
This deal is not done yet and there are still more discussions expected today. However, the Jazz have told Burke that they would honor his
request for a trade desire to be in a situation where he can start, so it will be interesting to see how this shakes out.
If this deal were to fall through for whatever reason, it is believed the Rockets will waive Lawson, which would likely make him an unrestricted free agent.
Where Are The Thunder?
The Oklahoma City Thunder made an aggressive trade last year at the deadline and it’s expected they will again trigger something today.
As things stand today, the Thunder are $12.417 million over the luxury tax line and facing a tax bill of more than $22.29 million.
It’s believed that the Thunder have made both Steve Novak ($3.75 million) and guard D.J. Augustin ($3 million) available in trade and are looking for very little in return for either player. Shedding both players would reduce the Thunder’s tax bill by $13.62 million. It’s also believed the Thunder may be willing to include big man Mitch McGary or Josh Huestis in the deal in place of draft picks, which would further reduce their tax burden.
The Thunder have been fairly clever in creating multi-team deals, so it’s not out of the question they are involved in something at the deadline if only to reduce their tax bill.
For the very latest NBA Trade Deadline information, make sure to check out the 2016 NBA Trade Deadline Diary. All the deals, all the rumors and all the reactions are in one place.
The Deadline Podcast
In case you missed it, Alex Kennedy and I dropped the Trade Deadline Preview Podcast recently. We hit on all the major trade rumors and teams looking to make deals. Take a listen:
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