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NBA Trade Deadline Watch: Southeast Division

Cody Taylor breaks down the Southeast Division ahead of the NBA Trade Deadline.

Cody Taylor

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With the trade deadline now less than two weeks away, Basketball Insiders is getting you ready for what could be a busy trade season. We’re setting the stage division by division and what we can expect from each team.

The trade deadline provides teams a great opportunity to improve their rosters or to begin laying the foundation for the future. Between all of the rumors generated, the trade deadline is one of the most exciting times of the season for basketball fans.

Today, we focus on the Southeast Division and how things could ultimately shake out between teams in this division. Here’s how we see it playing out over the next few weeks.


Washington Wizards (1st in Southeast, 31-21 record)

The Wizards have been one of the most surprising teams over the past couple of months, recovering from a rough start to sit third in the Eastern Conference. Of course, having John Wall turning in career-highs in points and assists on a nightly basis certainly helps the cause, but the team also has a healthy Bradley Beal back as well. With Wall and Beal playing well, there is an argument to be made that the Wizards have the best backcourt in the conference.

It seems as though the Wizards are finally on their way to being that team that can make some noise in the playoffs. While the Wizards are hitting their stride at the right part of the season, they can still improve in one key area: their bench production. They rank 29th in bench scoring, 25th in three-point percentage, 30th in rebounding and 30th in assists. Given the concerns with their second unit, that’s likely where we’ll see them look to improve.

Names to Watch:

Big man Ian Mahinmi is a player to keep an eye on. It was reported last week by Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype that the Wizards would be open to trading Mahinmi if the right offer was presented. Mahinmi signed a four-year, $64 million deal with the Wizards last summer and has appeared in just two games this season as he battles back from knee surgery. The idea of potentially unloading his rather sizable contract would likely be appealing to the Wizards, but finding a suitor to acquire him coming off of knee surgery may prove to be difficult.

Another name to keep an eye on is Otto Porter. He’s set to become a restricted free agent this summer and could command a contract the Wizards may not be willing to match. The team currently has roughly $97 million on the books for next season, not including Porter. While it still seems highly unlikely the Wizards part ways with one of their top scorers in the middle of a playoff push, it still should be worth keeping an eye on.

Atlanta Hawks (2nd in Southeast, 31-22 record)

The Hawks have been an interesting team this season. They seemed ready to hit the restart button on this roster earlier this season when they were said to be shopping Paul Millsap and when they ultimately traded Kyle Korver. Since trading Korver, though, the team has pumped the brakes on conversations involving Millsap, but that doesn’t mean they won’t try as the trade deadline nears closer.

Trying to predict what this Hawks team does at the deadline seems as a bit tricky. As things stand today, they are fifth in the Eastern Conference, just 5.5 games back of first place. With the team firmly in the playoff race, do they keep the roster together and try to make another deep playoff run or do they opt to trade some pieces off in order to help build the future?

Names to Watch:

Of course, the top name to monitor with this Hawks team is Millsap. Just because they reportedly took him off of the trading block doesn’t mean they won’t continue to listen to offers. Millsap holds a player option for next season that he’s guaranteed to waive in order to become an unrestricted free agent. From there, it’s anyone’s guess as to where he’ll land. Will the Hawks want to pay him the money it’ll take to keep him in Atlanta? Probably not.

While Millsap remains the hot commodity on the Hawks’ roster, there are several other players to keep an eye on as well. The Hawks have five players on expiring contracts this season — Tiago Splitter, Kris Humphries, Thabo Sefolosha, Mike Scott and Mike Muscala. With the exception of Splitter, who has yet to play this season with a calf injury, these players could look attractive to a team looking to clear some cap space.

Charlotte Hornets (3rd in Southeast, 24-29 record)

Charlotte entered this season with high expectations after their run to the playoffs last season. While the Hornets looked pretty good at the beginning of the season, they’ve since slipped out of the playoff picture and have fallen to ninth place. After starting off 14-9, the Hornets have gone just 10-20 since then. It’s safe to say the team will be looking at all options in order to help their playoff run this season. They already made a trade a few weeks ago when they acquired Miles Plumlee for Roy Hibbert and Spencer Hawes, so there could be more activity to come.

They took a hit in the rotation after guard Ramon Sessions suffered a lateral meniscus tear in his left knee that will sideline him for the next four-to-six weeks. The team signed a couple of players recently to 10-day contracts in Ray McCallum and Mike Tobey, but it remains to be seen if they’ll remain on the roster past the end of those deals. The team could opt to let them walk after their deals end in order to keep a couple of open roster spots ahead of the trade deadline. Teams often like the idea of holding at least one open roster spot so they can potentially take on an extra player in a trade.

Names to Watch:

It appears as though the Hornets are mostly happy with their roster. More than half of the players on the roster are locked into long-term deals and likely won’t be traded unless the Hornets are presented with an offer they can’t refuse. Nicolas Batum, Kemba Walker, Cody Zeller and Marvin Williams are all players that it would take a lot to acquire and won’t be traded.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist might be the team’s best trade chip. He hasn’t improved all that much offensively, and this might make it an easier decision to trade him for the right return. After those players, it seems like Jeremy Lamb, Frank Kaminsky and Marco Belinelli are the next best trade chips, and they could be had if it meant adding a backup point guard with Sessions out for another month or so.

Miami HEAT (4th in Southeast, 23-30 record)

If the trade deadline was a month ago, it could have been said that virtually anyone on the HEAT roster could be had. Now, the HEAT have won 12 straight and have seemingly saved their season. They were 11-30 prior to their winning streak, but are now 23-30 sitting just two games back of eighth place.

With the HEAT winning and back in the playoff race, how does that impact their status at the trade deadline? It seems all of those trade rumors surrounding Goran Dragic have died down. It’s true what they say: winning does cure all problems. Now, that the HEAT appear to be contenders, Pat Riley will likely try to work his magic once again to acquire some more help.

Names to Watch:

It was reported yesterday by Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald that Orlando Magic forward Serge Ibaka is on Miami’s radar. With the HEAT on their current win streak, it remains to be seen which players they would potentially want to part ways with. It seems unlikely the team will trade Hassan Whiteside, Dragic, Tyler Johnson or Justise Winslow, which would leave players like Wayne Ellington, Josh McRoberts, Josh Richardson and Willie Reed as potential names the HEAT could offer. It remains unclear what the Magic would seek in return, but it would likely need to include Richardson since he’s still a young player that has shown plenty of potential. Miami’s expiring contracts could look attractive to teams, so those players should be monitored as well.

Orlando Magic (5th in Southeast, 20-35 record)

The Magic have been perhaps one of the most disappointing teams in the NBA this season. After investing over $100 million into the roster, the team is clearly not where they’d hoped to be. After last night’s embarrassing home loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, the Magic are now 13th in the Eastern Conference. Orlando has been said to be among the most active teams in trade discussions to this point, and may look to begin selling off some pieces on the roster.

It was once thought the Magic could use the trade deadline as a means to acquire some additional scoring to help in a potential run to the playoffs, but given their recent struggles, it seems like the Magic should cut their losses on this season and begin to look ahead. In a draft that is said to be among the deepest we’ve seen in recent memory, obtaining a high draft pick should be a priority for the Magic this season.

Names to Watch:

Given how active the Magic have been in talks, there is not one player on the roster that is off limits. The front office will look to improve the best they can given the assets and players they have. However, let’s be clear: it’s going to take a lot to move an Aaron Gordon or an Elfrid Payton. It would take an offer the Magic can’t refuse to move them. They are as close to untradeable as it gets on the Magic.  

Players like Serge Ibaka and Nikola Vucevic have surfaced in rumors lately and could be attractive to other teams. Ibaka will be an unrestricted free agent this summer and will command a contract the Magic probably won’t want to give him. He has the highest odds of being moved before the deadline. Jeff Green is another name to watch, as he’s on an expiring deal as well and could look good to a team needing additional scoring for a playoff run. C.J. Watson could be an option for a team like the Hornets that’s looking for a backup point guard. 


With the trade deadline now just under two weeks away, trade rumors will only continue to escalate as teams begin to get very aggressive in conversations. These names mentioned above are some of the players to keep an eye on as the trade deadline approaches.

Stay tuned to Basketball Insiders for the very latest in trade rumors and conversations.

Cody Taylor is an NBA writer in his fourth season with Basketball Insiders, covering the NBA and NCAA out of Orlando and Miami.

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NBA

Trae Young Believes He’s NBA Ready

Trae Young has exceeded expectations since his freshman year of college, and he believes he will continue to do so in the NBA

Matt John

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Before the collegiate season started, many believed that the best players in the upcoming NBA draft were going to be bigs. DeAndre Ayton, Mo Bamba, and Michael Porter Jr., all of whom were 6’10’’ or taller, were considered to be among the top prospects coming out of the NCAA, but Trae Young had something to say about that.

Coming out of high school, Young was regarded as one of the better incoming freshmen, but not among the best of the best. Young ranked no. 23 in ESPN’s top 100 in 2017 and was ranked third among point guards, behind Collin Sexton and Jaylen Hands, which led to low expectations for him. Young proved right out of the gate that he was much better than the scouts had rated him.

Young tore up college ball as an Oklahoma Sooner, as he averaged 27.2 points and 8.7 assists while shooting 42 percent from the field including 36 percent from three. While Young’s play made him stand out among his peers, it didn’t translate into much success on the court. The Sooners went 18-14 on the season and were eliminated in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

Now that the season is over, Young is shifting his focus to his next stop: the NBA. With the draft coming up in just a little over a month, only one word comes to mind when describing Young’s current mindset: Confidence.

“I bring a lot of things to the next level. I think I would bring an immediate impact off the court as much as I do on the court,” Young said at the NBA combine. “I can space out the defense. I can attack defenders in multiple ways, get my teammates involved. I think I can pretty much do it all for a team and I’m looking forward to whichever team I go to and making a huge impact.”

While Young is not expected to be picked in the top five, he should be picked between the six to ten range. Any player who is selected in that range has to work his absolute hardest to live up to the lengthy expectations that he will certainly face once he enters the NBA. Young luckily sounds like he is up to the task.

“I prepared extremely hard coming into the college season and making a huge impact right away, and I’m working two times as hard this summer preparing to get into the NBA level,” Young said. “I want to make a huge impact right away.”

Young is expected to be a high lottery pick, but he doesn’t care much for where he is selected as much as he cares about going to the team that suits him best.

“My main focus is going to the right team. It’s not about going one, two, three or 30. You see a lot of guys going in the second round in certain years that make big impacts for teams,” Young said. “It’s all about the fit for me. Whether that’s one or whether that’s whatever it is, I’m going to be happy and I’m going to be ready to make an impact.”

Young’s expected high draft position stems from his electrifying play as a scorer in college. Young’s performance for Oklahoma his freshman year was impressive enough to draw comparisons to NBA megastar Stephen Curry. While Young is flattered to be mentioned in the same breath as Curry, he takes pride in being his own player.

“He’s a two-time MVP and a champion. I mean, I love the comparison but I feel like I bring a lot of different things from different players’ games to the table,” Young said. “I’m just trying to be the best version of Trae Young. That’s all that matters to me. I’m just getting started in this thing so hopefully I can achieve some of those things.”

Young’s skillset may remind fans of Curry, but Young prides himself on modeling his game after his favorite player of all time: Steve Nash.

“With his size and my size, we’re pretty similar,” Young said. “He is very cerebral. He can score on all three levels and he knows how to get his teammates involved. He’s a winner so I feel like a lot of his characteristics match with mine.”

Those who have watched Young know of his offensive repertoire, but skeptics have pointed to his defensive shortcomings as a red flag. Young, however, believes his play at the combine will show that he can be a positive on the other side of the ball.

“I’m excited about having the opportunity to show people that I can play defense, and I’m excited to show that from day one,”

When all is said and done, Young may very well wind up being the most prolific scorer to come out of what many believe is a loaded draft, but Young has much bigger ambitions in mind for his career.

“I think I’m the best overall player in this draft, but my main focus isn’t necessarily to be the best player in this draft,” Young said. “My goal is to be the best player in the NBA. That’s what I’m focusing on each and every day.”

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NBA Daily: Jaylen Hands Makes Good Showing at the NBA Combine

Jaylen Hands made a good showing at the NBA Combine by displaying his offensive skills and defensive intensity.

Jesse Blancarte

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UCLA has produced a few of the NBA’s top point guards over the last decade or so, including Russell Westbrook and Jrue Holiday. Jrue’s younger brother, Aaron Holiday, has declared for this year’s draft and is projected by several NBA insiders to be selected with a first-round pick (likely in the 20-30 range). But Aaron Holiday isn’t the only UCLA point guard who may end up taking his talents to the NBA this offseason. Jaylen Hands, who is still just 19 years old and finished his freshman season, has also entered his name into this year’s draft.

While Hands has entered his name into the draft and participated in the NBA Combine, he has not hired an agent, which preserves his ability to return to college (Hands has until June 11 to make a final decision). Considering Hands’ young age and raw skill set, he isn’t projected by many insiders to hear his name called on draft night. But he certainly helped his cause in the Combine, showcasing his offensive talents, the muscle he has added to his slight frame since the end of his freshman season and aggressiveness on defense.

Basketball Insiders spoke with Hands at the Combine about his development, going through the pre-draft process, competing against familiar faces and more.

“It’s crazy, it’s crazy because when we were younger, they said the exact thing: ‘You guys are going to see each other forever.’” Hands said when asked about competing against many of the same players over the years and now at the Combine. “And you don’t really believe what they’re saying. But now you go through high school, you’re a senior, All-Star activities and you go to the Combine, you see the same people. It’s crazy.”

Hands has a notable skill set but is a raw prospect that many believe would be better served spending another year in college. While Hands needs to continue filling out his frame, he did register decent measurements at the Combine in relation to a top guard prospect – Trae Young of Oklahoma. Hands weighed in at 1.2 lbs heavier than Young, and outmatched Young in height (with and without shoes), standing reach and wingspan. Ironically, Hands has the smallest hands of all players that participated in the Combine. While these measurements don’t mean that he is currently a comparable prospect to Young, they could address some concerns about his current physical profile and how it may ultimately translate to the NBA.

Hands proved himself to be a confident and aggressive player in his freshman season at UCLA – something that he believes has led to misconceptions about his game.

“I’m not a point guard,” Hands said when asked about what misconceptions people have about his game.

I wouldn’t say it’s common, like it’s the main thing. But I’ve heard that I shoot first or something like that. I just feel like I attack a lot. I think I attack a lot and I’m of size to being a [two guard], so I think some people get it misconstrued. I just think I’m attack first, set my teammates up, get what I get.”

Hands is clearly aware of the common perceptions and current shortcomings in his game, which is why he is working hard to improve his overall skill set and is testing the NBA waters to get feedback from teams.

“Before I came here, just being more steady working on my shot, making good reads out of the pick and roll, finishing.” Hands said when asked about what parts of his game he was working on before coming to the Combine.

Hands was asked to clarify what he believes is his best strength at this point. Hands didn’t hesitate and pointed toward his ability to make plays off the dribble.

“My best strength is getting in the paint. So I get in the paint and make plays,” Hands said.

Hands is also clearly aware of UCLA’s history of producing quality point guards and has a chance to one day develop into a quality guard at the NBA level. However, with Holiday heading to the NBA and no major competition for the starting point guard position at UCLA next season, it may benefit Hands to hold off on turning pro for at least another year.

Whether he stays at UCLA or commits to this year’s draft, there’s no doubt that Hands is going to keep pushing to develop into a quality NBA player.

“I want to be the best player I can in the league,” Hands said. “That’s my goal.”

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Mock Drafts

NBA Daily: 2018 60-Pick NBA Mock Draft – 5/22/18

The final 2018 NBA Draft order is set and Basketball Insiders’ publisher Steve Kyler offers up his latest 60-pick NBA Mock Draft.

Steve Kyler

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Lots of Draft Movement

With the draft order now set for the 2018 NBA Draft, there is some sense of how the draft might play out.

The buzz coming out of the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago is that a number of picks could be had in trade include all three of the top selections. Word is the initial asking price is very high and more of an indication to the San Antonio Spurs that if they do want to part with disgruntled star Kawhi Leonard, they are open for business.

It’s also worth noting that there is a growing sense that both the Sacramento Kings and Atlanta Hawk may be far higher on some of the domestic bigs in the draft more so than euro sensation Luka Dončić. Both teams are expected to take a long look at Dončić, so their views on him could change as we get closer to the draft, but for now, Dončić may go lower.

Here is the latest 60-Pick NBA Mock Draft, reflecting the final draft order and the latest buzz, rumors, and intel from in and around the NBA:

Dates To Know:

The NCAA requires all players wishing to maintain their college eligibility, without penalty, to withdraw from the NBA Draft by 11:59 pm on May 30. That is an NCAA mandated date, not related to anything involving the NBA, and that notice must be delivered in writing.

The NBA’s draft withdrawal date is June 11 by 5:00 pm ET. The NBA’s date allows a prospect to remain NBA draft eligible for future NBA drafts and is not related to any NCAA rule or date. There are ways for college players that did not accept benefits to return to college. However, they may be subject to NCAA penalties.

The 2018 NBA Draft is June 21.

The Pick Swaps:

The Cleveland Cavaliers are owed the Brooklyn Nets’ first-round pick as a result of the Kyrie Irving trade this past summer. The Brooklyn Nets traded several unprotected picks to Boston as part of the Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce trades in 2015.

The Philadelphia 76ers are owed the LA Lakers’ 2018 Draft pick, unprotected, as a result of the 2012 Steve Nash trade with the Suns. The Suns traded that pick to the 76ers as part of the Michael Carter-Williams three-team trade with the Milwaukee in 2015. The 76ers traded that pick to the Boston Celtics as part of the draft pick trade that became Markelle Fultz before the draft; it has 2 through 5 protections. This pick will convey.

The LA Clippers are owed the Detroit Pistons first-round pick in 2018 as a result of the Blake Griffin trade.

The Phoenix Suns are owed the Miami HEAT’s first-round pick as part of the Goran Dragic trade in 2015, it is top-seven protected and would convey to Phoenix based on the final NBA standings.

The Phoenix Suns were owed the Milwaukee Bucks’ first-round pick as part of the Eric Bledsoe trade. The pick would only convey if the Bucks pick landed between the 11th and 16th pick, which based on the final NBA standings did not convey. The Suns will now receive the Bucks 2019 first-round pick assuming it falls between the fourth and 16th pick.

The Atlanta Hawks are owed the Minnesota Timberwolves’ first-round pick as part of the Adreian Payne trade in 2015. The pick was lottery protected and would convey to Atlanta based on the final NBA standings.

The Minnesota Timberwolves are owed the Oklahoma City Thunder’s first-round pick as part of the Jazz/Wolves Ricky Rubio trade this past summer. The Jazz acquired the pick as part of the Thunder’s deal to obtain Enes Kanter in 2015. The pick was lottery protected and would convey based on the final NBA standings.

The Chicago Bulls are owed the New Orleans Pelicans first-round pick as a result of the Nikola Mirotic trade. The pick was top-five protected and based on the final NBA standings would convey

The LA Lakers are owed the Cleveland Cavaliers first-round pick as a result of Jordan Clarkson/Larry Nance Jr. trade. The pick was top-three protected and based on the final NBA standings would convey

The Brooklyn Nets are owed the Toronto Raptors’ first-round pick as part of the DeMarre Carroll salary dump trade this past summer. The pick was lottery protected and based on the final NBA standings would convey

The Atlanta Hawks are owed the Houston Rockets’ first-round pick as part of a three-team deal with the LA Clippers and Denver Nuggets involving Danilo Gallinari and taking back Jamal Crawford and Diamond Stone. The pick was top-three protected and based on the final NBA standings would convey

Check out the Basketball Insiders’ Top 100 NBA Draft Prospects – http://www.basketballinsiders.com/top-100-nba-draft-prospects/

More Twitter: Make sure you are following all of our guys on Twitter to ensure you are getting the very latest from our team: @stevekylerNBA, @LangGreene, @EricPincus, @joelbrigham, @TommyBeer, @MokeHamilton , @jblancartenba, @Ben_Dowsett, @SpinDavies, @JamesB_NBA, @DennisChambers_, @mike_yaffe, @MattJohnNBA, and @Ben__Nadeau .

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