NBA AM: The Next Deadline Domino to Drop


Trade season in full swing

There has been a flurry of activity, resulting in deals, over the past 24 hours throughout the league. With the deadline just over 24 hours away, you can surely expect more moves to be made. But will those moves be teams investing in making minor tweaks or can we expect a blockbuster transaction that impacts the league hierarchy as it stands today?

There are some major names being floated around on the rumor circuit. But typically, the more bigger the name, the more complex it becomes to get a deal done under the pressure of a deadline. However, the prospect of losing a valuable asset in free agency for nothing in return puts pressure on NBA front offices. There are a few of these situations around the league where a player’s free agency status could drive a move more so than an organization truly wanting to move the asset.

Let’s take a look at some names around the league and the trade rumblings surrounding them as we approach the deadline:

Ryan Anderson, New Orleans Pelicans
Unrestricted Free Agent 2016

With the league continuing to transition to a form of position-less ball, big guys with range on their jumper will be a premium asset for any franchise to acquire. Anderson should pass the 1,000 three-point field goals mark sometime this season and is a career 38 percent shooter from deep. With the salary cap expected to rise to nearly $90 million, the majority of teams in the league will have plenty of cash to blow revamping their respective rosters.

According to ESPN’s Zach Lowe  and numerous other reports, there are a plethora of teams interested in Anderson and the Pelicans have plenty of options. However, any team taking on Anderson does so with the risk that he could still walk in a few months when he becomes a free agent. So while teams may be flooding New Orleans’ phone lines, rival executives may be hesitant to include prime assets for what could end being a rental.

Jeff Teague, Atlanta Hawks
Locked in through end of 2016-17

While the Hawks have continued to embrace Teague as a key figure in their program, there have been signs that his time in Atlanta could be coming to an end. One of the first draft picks made by the current front office regime was on guard Dennis Schroder. The third-year player is streaky, but has the tools to become a full-time starter. Schroder has made it no secret he’d like his own franchise to play floor general, and he’s still on his rookie deal.

According to Gery Woelfel of the Journal Times, the Milwaukee Bucks have interest in Teague. If you remember, a couple of years ago the Bucks issued a $32 million offer sheet to Teague when he was languishing in restricted free agency. The Hawks ultimately matched the deal. According to Woelfel, the Bucks’ interest in the guard hasn’t waned over the years, especially with Milwaukee dealing with plenty of issues and inconsistency at the point. But keep in mind, the Bucks made a hard charge at Teague when former Hawks coach Larry Drew was roaming the sidelines. Drew is now an assistant in Cleveland and it isn’t known if the push for Teague is driven by current head coach Jason Kidd or the remnants of Milwaukee’s front office.

Dwight Howard, Houston Rockets
Player option for 2016-17 ($23.2 million), could be Unrestricted Free Agent 2016

Perhaps the biggest name being thrown around is three-time Defensive Player of the Year Dwight Howard. The eight-time All-Star is widely expected to exercise his player option and test free agency this summer. For Howard, it is a business decision being made with the intention of securing a new multi-year deal while taking advantage of the increased salary cap. But for the Rockets, it’s a pivotal crossroads for the franchise and whether they should invest top dollar in a still effective but aging former All-Star.

Recent reports have linked teams in the Southeast Division to Howard, with Atlanta, Charlotte and Miami being mentioned with various levels of interest. The Rockets have just $45 million in guaranteed salaries on the books next season. With Howard ($23 million) and Ty Lawson ($13 million) potentially on the way out, the team would have plenty of cap space to begin a new retooling plan around All-Star guard James Harden. Sure, the team’s short-term title hopes would take a hit, but over the long-term the team might gain a bit more flexibility.


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About Lang Greene

Lang Greene

Lang Greene is a senior NBA writer for Basketball Insiders and has covered the NBA for the last 10 seasons