Our Trade Watch series at Basketball Insiders concludes this weekend with our final installment. Throughout the week, we discussed the point guards, shooting guards, small forwards, and power forwards who might possibly be on the move come the NBA Trade Deadline. Our final piece will examine the centers who could hear their names being mentioned with more frequency as trade chatter starts heating up. Here are some of the top names that could find themselves with a different team in the coming weeks.
1. DeAndre Jordan – $22,624,350
DeAndre Jordan is perhaps the biggest name being mentioned in trade talks in regards to centers on the market. The Clippers have started to turn things around recently, but that hasn’t stopped the steady stream of rumors from circulating. One of the more recent reports from Ian Begley of ESPN was about discussions between the Los Angeles Clippers and Houston Rockets regarding a deal centered around Jordan and Clint Capela. In any case, should Jordan truly be on the market, he probably will have a decent number of suitors.
Jordan remains one of the best defensive anchors in the league. He’s averaging a double-double with 11.8 points per game and 14.8 rebounds while shooting 66.3 percent from the field. He’s also been one of the most durable players in the NBA. This season, he missed his first game due to injury in the ten years he’s been in the league. He’s a borderline All-Star caliber player and one who can definitely turn around a team’s fortunes. He’s still valuable to the Clippers, however, if they’re content to stay the course and not blow it all up midseason. But should they make the decision to move on, he will surely help a playoff contender get close to getting over the hump.
2. Derrick Favors – $12,000,000
Derrick Favors is an interesting name that’s come up recently in trade rumors. He’s an expiring contract, and he’s still somewhat young, albeit having been in the league for eight years now. He’s played in 45 of the Jazz’ 48 games and been a starter for each of them. He’s always been a rather solid defensive player, and his offense has certainly developed over time. During a stretch earlier this season when Rudy Gobert was out, Favors assumed the role of primary scorer and thrived in that situation.
He’s putting up solid production overall with 12.2 points per game and 7.1 rebounds while shooting 54.3 percent from the field. He’s shooting a career-high 72.3 percent from the free throw line. Favors had an injury-plagued season last year that saw him limited to only 50 games and a drop in production to numbers resembling his first couple of years in the NBA. He’s bounced back this season, though, showing no lingering effects. He was, at one point, considered one of Utah’s brightest young stars with All-Star potential. Regardless, he’s a starting caliber center and a productive veteran that could help solidify a playoff team’s front court.
3. Julius Randle – $4,149,242
A bit more of a power forward, Julius Randle has played the majority of his minutes this season as the Lakers’ backup center. Randle’s name has appeared in trade rumors since the offseason. It’s been no secret, the Lakers’ desire to add one or two maximum salary stars this coming summer, and Randle is seemingly in line for a bigger pay day. The Lakers can tender him a qualifying offer, thus making him a restricted free agent, but it’s unlikely they’d be able to retain him on a deal he’s probably going to get offered while simultaneously going after max level guys.
Despite a decrease in minutes, (23.3 this year from 28+ the past two years), he’s maintained starter level production while mostly coming off the bench. He’s averaging 13.6 points per game on 55.1 percent shooting, both career-highs. He was moved into the starting lineup at the end of December and he’s had some of his best performances of the season. The Lakers are currently on a four-game win streak, during which he’s put up 17.3 points on 57.2 percent shooting, 9.0 rebounds, and 3.2 assists. This is really his third year in the NBA as he missed his entire rookie year due to injury. If the Lakers do decide to move him at the deadline, he will help a team, and he has his best years ahead of him.
4. Greg Monroe – $17,844,176
Greg Monroe probably wasn’t supposed to still be a Phoenix Sun. When he arrived in Phoenix as part of the Eric Bledsoe trade, talk was that Monroe was not long for the Valley of the Sun as the team would try to accommodate him to a playoff team. As January ends, he’s still in a Suns uniform. He’s still a productive enough player to be able to help a team off the bench. Just last season he played a crucial role for the Milwaukee Bucks as their primary scorer off the bench.
Monroe’s role in Phoenix hasn’t quite been what it was in Milwaukee. He’s played very sparingly, although he’s been productive when he was received playing time. Overall, he’s putting up 11.5 points per game on 62.0 percent shooting, with 8.4 rebounds. Against the Indiana Pacers on Jan. 24, he had what was probably his best game of the season with 16 points and 17 rebounds. As an older veteran, he doesn’t really fit into the Suns’ rebuilding plans. Just like he did for the Bucks last year, he’s best suited to fortifying a playoff team’s second unit.
5. Willy Hernangomez – $1,435,750
As a rookie, Willy Hernangomez showed a bit of promise and potential. With the New York Knicks seemingly headed for a rebuild at the start of the season, it was assumed that Hernangomez would see quality minutes necessary for development. That hasn’t happened, however. In between DNP’s, he’s seen his playing time essentially cut in half to 9.9 minutes per game from 18.4 last season. His name has come up quite often in trade rumors as he’s seemingly drawing interest from a few teams.
He’s definitely worth taking a chance on. He showed enough in his rookie year to warrant that. Even this year, when he’s been given an opportunity, he’s played well. On Jan. 23 against the Golden State Warriors, he had eight points, three rebounds, and five assists. It’s becoming evident that his future is probably not in New York. He’s on his rookie contract which is very team-friendly for anyone looking to acquire him. It probably wouldn’t take much to pry him away from the Knicks.
6. Kyle O’Quinn – $4,087,500
Kyle O’Quinn has been the backup center for the Knicks for most of the season. Although not much of a household name, he’s been mentioned quite often recently in trade chatter. One of the better backup centers in the league, he’s also on a very nice contract. He has a player option he can pick up this summer. The Warriors have been mentioned as a team registering interest in him.
He’s actually putting up career-highs across the board with 6.9 points per game on 59.6 percent shooting, 5.8 rebounds, and 2.0 assists. Even if the Knicks end up moving his teammate Hernangomez, O’Quinn still doesn’t seem to fit with the rebuilding Knicks. He’s a good veteran to have around to mentor some of the young guys, but he’s best suited contributing to a playoff team as one of their main big men in the second unit.
That wraps up our Trade Watch series here at Basketball Insiders. With the Trade Deadline rapidly approaching on Feb. 8, trade talks and rumors are just going to accelerate from here. Again, it’s not very common for big name guys to get moved at the deadline. A lot of those blockbuster deals tend to happen in the offseason. But that doesn’t mean there still aren’t players potentially available who can help teams in the stretch run. As chatter starts to heat up, be sure to check out Basketball Insiders daily for all your trade news and rumors.
NBA Daily: Poeltl Looking Forward To New Beginning With Spurs
Spencer Davies looks at the under-the-radar portion of the DeMar DeRozan-Kawhi Leonard trade and how Jakob Poeltl is already embracing the change.
One month ago, a superstar-swapping trade between the Toronto Raptors and San Antonio Spurs was agreed upon.
The deal—which once again sparked a national debate about player loyalty—sent a reportedly disgruntled Kawhi Leonard to The North in exchange for Masai Ujiri’s franchise cornerstone, DeMar DeRozan.
Longtime Spur and veteran sharpshooter Danny Green was also moved to Toronto, while San Antonio acquired a protected future first-round draft pick and 22-year-old big man Jakob Poeltl.
Remember, Poeltl was an integral piece of a talented Raptor bench that produced a better net rating than their starters, as well as nearly all five-man groups in the league.
While the majority of pundits have gone back and forth about who won the trade, few have mentioned the ninth overall selection in the 2016 NBA Draft. Being involved in the transaction admittedly caught Poeltl “a little bit off guard.”
But entering his third year as a pro, the seven-foot Austrian is embracing the change and a brand new start with one of the most well-respected organizations in sports.
“That’s one of the things I’m most excited about, just the fact that this program has such a big history in developing players,” Poeltl told reporters in his first media appearance since the move. “I’m really excited for the process. Gonna be a lot of work, but I’m looking forward to it.”
From what he has heard from players who have been a part of the Spurs in the past and those who are currently there, it’s an unselfish group of people. They consider it a family environment.
“Everybody is just in it together,” Poeltl said. “From the very top to the very last guy on the bench or in the gym. It’s really like a great atmosphere, at least from what I’ve heard. So I’m looking forward to actually experiencing it myself.”
As soon as Poeltl got to San Antonio, he gazed at the championship banners hanging inside of the gym and quickly realized the expectations he’ll have to fulfill this season are a little higher than where he came from.
“It’s crazy, it’s different,” Poeltl said. “Obviously in Toronto, we didn’t have banners like that. Like we’re on a good way there, but this program here has some tradition to it. Over the last 20 years been a great basketball team. Obviously, you can tell by the championships and all the accomplishments.
“It’s a little bit of pressure, too. Like we’re trying to live up to that. There’s obviously a very high standard here, so we’ve gotta come in and put the work in and really show what we’ve got on the court as a team.”
Poeltl hasn’t wasted any time in immersing himself into the culture. In fact, he’s been working out at their practice facility since he arrived and feels like there’s a “natural chemistry” already with his new teammates.
In the weight room, Poeltl came across the forever face of the Spurs and future Hall-of-Fame forward, Tim Duncan. The conversation between them was short, sweet and casual. Basketball wasn’t brought up, as that will likely be saved for another time when the season approaches.
Duncan still sticks around and helps in practices from time-to-time, but he won’t be there every day. Somebody else who will be, however, is Pau Gasol, a fellow international center that Poeltl looks forward to learning from.
Though those two will be able to give veteran advice and priceless pointers, Poeltl’s most crucial teachings will come from the Spurs lead general—Gregg Popovich. Like with Duncan, on-court discussions were not the focus of their first interaction.
“We went to dinner,” Poeltl said. “We didn’t really talk too much basketball. It was more just like trying to get to know each other, like a first impression. I think there’s more than enough time for us to talk basketball and really learn what the Spurs are all about on the basketball court.
“But it was a really good conversation. Like I really enjoyed it. He’s a very down-to-earth type guy for if you think about what he’s accomplished in his career. He’s really cool.”
Once training camp comes and the dialogue does take a turn towards the hardwood, Poeltl will be all ears. As it stands now, Poeltl’s niche is the hustle guy. He picks up the scraps, corrals offensive rebounds and dives after loose balls, but don’t pigeonhole “role player” to his name. He plans on doing more in San Antonio.
“I take a lot of pride in that,” Poeltl said. “I think I do a lot of the little things out there—set good screens, be in the right places, making good reads off of my teammates and making plays for my teammates at the same time. Obviously like for me, that’s my role right now and I’m really enjoying that.
“I’m working on my game every single day in practice and I’m trying to develop more offensively and defensively so I can take on more responsibilities in the future.”
Moving on from the team that drafted you to another can be difficult. Luckily, Poeltl isn’t coming alone.
“Obviously it helps to have a familiar face like a guy that I’ve played with over the last three years,” Poeltl said of DeRozan. “Like I know how he plays basketball, he knows me. I think we play well together.”
In the two years they have played together, Poeltl has noticed DeRozan fine-tune his game. Although he is first and foremost a pure scorer, his all-around offense is getting better.
DeRozan’s reads on the opposition are crisper, as are the adjustments he makes due to that. He understands when to take games over and has involved his teammates more and more with each season.
It’s no surprise that the four-time All-Star guard is coming to the Spurs with a statement to make. All he’s done since being drafted is improve and devote himself to his second home in Toronto. He hasn’t uttered one favorable comment towards the front office he feels betrayed him.
Witnessing the kind of player DeRozan is when he’s pushed, Poeltl expects we’ll see a whole other side of him unleashed this year.
“It’s a little bit scary, to be honest,” Poeltl said. “Because I know what he can do when he has a chip on his shoulder, when he gets that extra motivation. I think he’s gonna be ready.”
Poeltl doesn’t have quite that big of a score to settle with the Raptors.
He’s just ready to give his all to an organization in a blue-collar town that matches the kind of work ethic he’s had since he started playing the game.
“That’s kinda how I’ve been for my whole basketball career,” Poeltl said. “Just get the work done.”
NBA Daily: Can an Anthony-D’Antoni Marriage Work for Houston?
Shane Rhodes lays out how the Carmelo Anthony-Mike D’Antoni pairing could work this time around in Houston.
It’s official: Carmelo Anthony has joined the Houston Rockets after putting pen to paper on a contract. In doing so, Anthony will join a gifted offensive team helmed by former Coach of the Year Mike D’Antoni.
Stop me if you’ve heard that one before.
Back in 2011, when Anthony joined the New York Knicks via a blockbuster trade with the Denver Nuggets, a younger D’Antoni was in the midst of his third year with New York. While he didn’t exactly have a sterling record with the Knicks prior to the acquisition (89-129 before), things improved little upon Anthony’s arrival in the Big Apple (31-38 after). The two butted heads constantly and, after just a year (and an ultimatum forced on the Knicks by Anthony), D’Antoni was out the door; he resigned from his position and pursued work elsewhere.
Now, together once again, questions remain about how their relationship and, ultimately, their offensive styles will mesh in Houston. D’Antoni has already come out and said things will be different this time around, but nothing is so certain in the NBA; what is stopping things from going south as they did for the Knicks, who, despite a bevy of talent, just couldn’t make things work?
It’s important to understand where things went wrong in New York in order to look at where they could go wrong in Houston.
From the jump, the two weren’t exactly the best fit. Anthony wanted to play the way he had his entire career — heavy isolation, high usage basketball — while D’Antoni’s offense was spread out, predicated on ball movement, and closer to what we see in the modern offense.
Those two styles aren’t exactly conducive to the success of one another.
The Knicks finished the season 42-40, going just 13-14 in Anthony’s 27 games with the team. The two continued to be at odds with one another into the next season until, after leading the Knicks to an underwhelming 18-24 start, D’Antoni resigned. While things improved under Mike Woodson in 2012 — Anthony posted the highest usage rate of his career while the Knicks won 52 games — they quickly devolved into disaster and the Knicks, once again, found themselves in a hole that they are still trying to climb out of.
Now, on to Houston. This isn’t the same D’Antoni; he has changed and so has his offense. While ball movement still plays an integral role, D’Antoni has put much more of an emphasis on isolation plays in order to better fit the profile of his current roster.
The Rockets posted historic offensive numbers with James Harden and Chris Paul running the show, but did so unlike D’Antoni teams of the past. Gone are the days of the seven-seconds-or-less offense; the Rockets played at a pace (97.4 possessions per 48 minutes) that was middle of the pack, while their assist total came in at just 26th in the league, third worst among teams that made the postseason last year. Despite that, Houston managed to post the highest offensive rating (114.7) in the league.
While those stylistic changes should aid Anthony as he looks to rebound next season, they alone don’t make this the perfect fit for the Rockets. Anthony will never see the touches that he was once accustomed to in New York or Denver. He isn’t the same player he was five years ago, either; as his athleticism has declined, so too has Anthony’s ability to get past his defenders, leading to tougher, lower percentage shots that could sink the Rockets come the postseason.
The only thing that really holds Anthony back now is his own stubborn ignorance of those facts. He refused to adjust last season with the Oklahoma City Thunder because he still has “so much left in the tank.” Anthony posted some of the worst numbers of his career last season and, while Billy Donovan isn’t the offensive wizard that D’Antoni is, things should only get worse as Harden (36.1 percent usage rate) and Paul (24.5) dominate the ball if Anthony remains unwilling to change.
So, while his words may hold true, Anthony is no longer in a position where he needs to put the team on his back in order for it to be successful. Houston already has a well-established hierarchy, and Anthony is merely a column meant to buttress what is already in place. If he can’t come to accept that, the chance Houston is taking on him could backfire tremendously.
Still, Houston needs someone to eat the minutes vacated by the departure of Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute in free agency. While he may not be able to match their defensive exploits, Anthony is still more than capable of filling their shoes, or even providing an upgrade, offensively. That potential upgrade alone could make the move a worthwhile one for the Rockets, who came just minutes from dethroning the Golden State Warriors despite the loss of Chris Paul in the Western Conference Finals.
For things to truly work out, however, Anthony must be willing to accept a change in his role, a diminished one in an offense that isn’t hurting for star power or shot takers, but one that desperately needs role players. If Anthony can adapt, he could be exactly what they need to challenge the Warriors. If not, Anthony’s arrival could blow up in D’Antoni’s face just as it did with the Knicks.
NBA Daily: The NCAA’s Recent Policy Changes are Problematic
The NCAA made unilateral changes to its rules that may look good on paper but more likely make a difficult situation even more complicated.
Going into 1995 NBA Draft, the NBA still allowed high school players to enter straight into the NBA but few had actually done so over the years. That year, Kevin Garnett, an extremely talented high school prospect, went straight into the draft from high school and went on to have a Hall of Fame career. Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, like Garnett, also went straight to the NBA from high school and each have also had Hall of Fame careers. Many other similarly situated players such as Rashard Lewis, Jermaine O’Neal and Tracy McGrady succeeded on the same path. Yet concerns remained that although there were individual success stories, perhaps it would be best overall to have kids mature a bit more before entering the NBA. Eventually, through collective bargaining, new rules were put in place that prohibited high school players from entering the league.
As time has gone on there has been some frustration with the fact that perhaps these young men, legally adults at 18 years of age, have been unfairly prevented from earning at least one year of significant income as an NBA rookie. There is also frustration, mentioned below, at how the NCAA and college programs have policed themselves (or failed to do so) over the years. There is rampant abuse and under the table dealing that has largely benefitted the people around these young athletes and the schools, while often times harming the players or not benefitting them in any tangible way. The FBI has been conducting an investigation into these practices, which has shed new light and more focus onto the situation. Accordingly, now there is widespread discussion and speculation that the NBA again intends to reverse course and allow players to bypass the collegiate game.
With accusations of impropriety, constant attacks against the amateur model and an ongoing federal investigation, the NCAA took drastic action last Wednesday to counter the negativity around the college game — at least in appearance.
NCAA basketball says it will now allow "elite" high school and college prospects to be represented by an agent. NCAA will also permit players to return to school if unselected in NBA draft.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) August 8, 2018
First the good part; players will be allowed to enter the draft and should they be not be chosen, the player may return to school under certain circumstances. Back at his collegiate program, a player can return to a place where he can continue to mature as a basketball player and as a college student. This is a nice option for many players and should have been available years ago.
For NBA teams, they now face the prospect of a first wave of high school seniors going straight to the NBA in addition to the other collegiate and international prospects. If it turns out that these high school prospects are collectively more prepared than expected and demonstrate they can contribute at a high level shortly after entering the league, there could be a sizable shift in how teams value first-round draft picks. Teams are already extremely hesitant to trade first-round picks, which means there would be some additional stagnation in the trade market. There are many complexities to this prospective new system that could have consequences that aren’t even foreseeable at this juncture.
Additionally, while this may be an appealing option for some players who are on the fence about going pro, it may not have as much widespread appeal. Some prospects may not realistically expect to be drafted. Once skipped over, a player is likely to seek compensation in the G-League or by playing international basketball. That’s the rub overall, the college game is sticking to the amateur model and the insistence that players not be compensated beyond the education they receive. Even worse, a player may have declared for the draft knowing that he might be leaving behind academic or conduct violations behind. Should that player attempt to go back, he would have to deal with any situation that joining the professional ranks would have avoided. The point here is that while this new rule may look good for the NCAA from a PR perspective, the truth is it may have little benefit to the college players overall.
Now the thornier part. As reported, the NCAA will allow “elite” high school prospects to obtain an agent. Previously this would have been a violation of NCAA rules that prevent amateur students from doing so. Should a player instead decide to go to college, he would have to break off his relationship with the agent. This adds more complications and issues to a system that is already plagued with questionable rules and policies.
In addition, it appears that USA Basketball was not initially thrilled to be put in a position to determine which players are considered “elite,” which could cause some more logistical issues. Also, there has been speculation about whether prospects participating in the USA Basketball system would be the only players selected or, at least, preferred over international prospects. Matt Norlander of CBS Sports spoke to NCAA’s senior vice president of basketball Dan Gavitt who explained this wasn’t the case.
“It is not going to be just the prospects who are Junior National Team players for USA Basketball. It’s going to be more than that. How that’s going to be determined, and how large a pool, is to be determined. That could be years away,” Gavitt stated.
There is much more to dive into on this issue unfortunately. The NCAA has seemingly taken a strategy to fixing issues that are symptoms of a bigger problem – that is the NCAA’s insistence on treating its players as students who should not be compensated rather than actual athletes. There are no easy solutions to this situation and adding more layers of complexity with unilateral changes such are likely to make matters worse.