NBA Trade Deadline Rapidly Approaching
Outside of the draft and free agency process, the buildup to the annual trade deadline is one of the craziest times in NBA circles – for team personnel and their respective fans alike. Each year, league executives are faced with the critical decision to either strengthen their current program or blow up the core and begin a rebuilding project. Some of the buyers at the deadline are contenders looking to make a move that pushes them over the edge to a title. Some of the sellers, likely stuck in the middle of the pack, emerge to rid themselves of long-term salaries in order to become free agency players down the line.
Whatever the specific motivation, this is a time of constant communication all throughout the league, but most of the rumors you’ll eventually hear are one-sided in nature.
For instance, Team A places a call to Team B to inquire about their superstar player who is approaching free agency. Of course, in this scenario, Team B isn’t truly interested in dealing their star asset, but Team A is sniffing around the market seeing if there’s any potential interest. The due diligence Team A is doing could be due to the star player on Team A approaching free agency or an internal issue (i.e. Markieff Morris’ situation in Phoenix).
Most of the trade rumors you will read about over the next two weeks were dead minutes after the line call ended, but have since trickled out to the press weeks later. Some of the news is driven by a player’s agent looking to secure the athlete a better situation. Others, while dead in the water, help paint the picture of what a particular franchise is combing the waters looking to acquire.
There have been a few deals already made this season, but no blockbusters. However, there are more than a few situations to keep an eye on as we approach the deadline.
Will the Atlanta Hawks trade Al Horford
Horford, a three-time All-Star, will be an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career this summer. It’s no secret the veteran is seeking a maximum five-year deal, which could pay over $140 million. It’s also no secret that the Hawks find Horford extremely valuable to their program. But as we’ve seen in recent history, guys have jumped ship to explore if the grass is greener on the other side. Horford hasn’t missed the playoffs since entering the league, so winning or playing at a high level isn’t the issue. There is a legitimate question if the Hawks have reached their collective ceiling.
With the majority of franchises around the league having the necessary cap space this summer to make a splash, the Hawks should be worried about losing their star for nothing in return. Teams have continued to call the Hawks inquiring about the availability of Horford, but have been consistently rebuffed. But will the Hawks hold the line and take their chances with free agency if a sweet offer comes their way before the deadline?
Jared Dudley on the Cleveland Cavaliers’ radar
The Washington Wizards have had a disappointing campaign up until this point, but could still make a run at a playoff spot. With the lack of success, vultures begin circling looking at a team’s available assets.
According to Brian Windhorst of ESPN, the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers are interested in acquiring veteran forward Jared Dudley. The Cavaliers have a trade exception large enough to completely absorb Dudley into the fold, but don’t appear to have the physical assets needed to entice the Wizards to deal away a key cog in their reserve rotation.
Boston Celtics interested in Dwight Howard, but this isn’t happening
According to Chris Mannix of The Vertical, the Houston Rockets have started to engage in trade talks regarding former All-Star Dwight Howard. A lot of this talk is driven by the belief Howard will exercise his player option and opt out of the final year of his deal in order to test free agency this summer. No surprise there for an aging guy who has been battling a plethora of injuries over the past few years. Howard is looking to further solidify his financial future, but will there be a long line of suitors in the market willing to pay top dollar? That is the question at hand.
One of the teams mentioned in the trade rumor mill was the Boston Celtics. However, according to Mannix’s report, the asking price was too steep to further pursue.
Blake Griffin on the move – soon?
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical, the Los Angeles Clippers’ front office is ready to ramp up efforts to see what type of value they can receive for former All-Star Blake Griffin. Most of this is likely driven by the Clippers’ alleged desire to lure free-agent-to-be Kevin Durant to town this summer.
But that’s free agency.
The Clippers are near the top of the Western Conference standings heading into the All-Star break so how likely is it that the team would trade Griffin this month with no assurances that Durant would sign on the dotted line come July? It doesn’t seem likely, but reports out of Los Angeles do indicate the organization is frustrated by Griffin’s off-court behavior.
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