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NBA Trade Watch: Centers

David Yapkowitz breaks down six centers who could move by deadline time.

David Yapkowitz



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.


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NBA Daily: Jonathan Isaac Proving to be Key Part of Orlando’s Future

Basketball Insiders spoke with Jonathan Isaac about his rookie season, injuries, areas to improve on, his faith and more.

James Blancarte



On January 13, the Orlando Magic were eliminated from playoff contention. This date served as a formality as the team has known for quite some time that any postseason hopes had long since sailed. The Magic started the year off on a winning note and held an 8-4 record in early November. However, the team lost their next nine games and never really recovered.

Many factors play a role in a young but talented team like the Magic having another season end like this. Injuries to franchise cornerstone Aaron Gordon as well as forward Evan Fournier and forward Jonathan Isaac magnified the team’s issues.

Isaac, a rookie selected sixth overall in the first round of the 2017 NBA Draft, started the season off reasonably well. On November 10, in 21 minutes of action, he registered an 11-point, six-rebound, one-assist, one-steal, two-block all-around effort against the Phoenix Suns to help the Magic get to that 8-4 record. Isaac then suffered an ankle injury midway through his next game and wouldn’t play again until December 17, by which time the team was already 11-20 with athe season quickly going sideways. From November until March, Isaac would only play in three games until finally returning to consistent action in the month of March with the season all but decided.

Basketball Insiders spoke to Isaac recently to discuss how he has pushed through this season, staying healthy, his impressive skill set and more.

“I’ve had a lot of time off from being injured so, I think my body is holding up fine along with how much I’ve played. I haven’t played a full season,” Isaac told Basketball Insiders “I feel good. I feel good.”

Isaac talked about what part of his game he feels strongly about and has improved on.

“I think defensively,” Isaac said. “I didn’t expect myself to make strides defensively like I have. I’ve been able to just be able to just do different things and help this team defensively and I didn’t expect that coming in so, that would be the one thing.”

Magic Head Coach Frank Vogel was effusive in his praise of Isaac’s defense and also focused on the rookie’s great defensive potential.

“His defense is out of this world. I mean it’s really something else,” Vogel said. “Just watch him play and everybody’s getting a taste of it right now. They haven’t seen him a whole lot but he’s an elite defender right now at 20-years old and the sky’s the limit for what he can be on that end of the floor.

While Isaac hasn’t logged a huge number of minutes on the floor this season, he has impressed in his limited action. As Coach Vogel stated, anyone who has taken the time to watch Isaac play this season has noticed his ability to guard other big men and his overall defensive impact.

“I think I’ve been able to do a good job on most of the people that I’ve had to guard,” Isaac said.

Missing Isaac’s defense impact and overall contributions partially explains why the Magic cooled off after their hot start. However, with the playoffs no longer an option, younger players like Isaac now have the opportunity to play with less attention and pressure. While it can be argued that the Magic aren’t really playing for anything, the truth is these late-season games can be an opportunity to develop these younger players and determine what to work on during the offseason.

There is more to Isaac than just basketball, however. Isaac discussed other parts of his life that are important to him, including religion and his faith.

“[M]y faith in Jesus is something that I put a lot of emphasis on,” Isaac told Basketball Insiders. “It’s a part of me.”

Isaac did not hesitate to credit his faith when asked if it helped him push through his injuries.

“I would say definitely,” Isaac said. “Especially with getting injured so early in the season and being out for 40 games. That’s a lot on somebody’s mental capacity and then just staying positive, staying joyful in times where joy doesn’t seem like it’s the right emotion to have. And I definitely [attribute] that to my faith.”

Looking forward, both Vogel and Isaac discussed the future and what the young big man can improve on.

“Offensively, he’s grown in confidence, he’s gained so he’s going to give us a big lift and our future’s bright with him,” Vogel stated.

Isaac gave a hint of his offseason training plans when asked what he looks forward to working on.

“I would say consistency with my jump shot. Really working on my three-ball and I would say ball-handling,” Isaac stated.

When asked if there was anything more he wanted to add, Isaac simply smiled and said, “Oh no, I think I got to get to church right now,” as the team prepared to play later that evening.

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Tyronn Lue’s Health Concerns Latest Bump In The Road For Cavaliers

Spencer Davies outlines Tyronn Lue’s decision to take a leave of absence to deal with health issues and covers the reaction around the NBA.

Spencer Davies



The win-loss record is not where they want it to be.

The performances have not been up to par with what they expect.

With that said, one thing is for certain: There is no other team that will have been more battle tested going into the playoffs than the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Day after day and week after week, there’s always something going on with the team. Between in-house arguments, on-court miscommunication, roster turnover, and more, it has been one giant roller coaster of a season.

Monday morning, another twist was added to the ride. In a statement released by the Cavaliers organization, Tyronn Lue and general manager Koby Altman announced that the head coach would be taking a leave of absence to address his health:

“After many conversations with our doctors and Koby and much thought given to what is best for the team and my health, I need to step back from coaching for the time being and focus on trying to establish a stronger and healthier foundation from which to coach for the rest of the season.

“I have had chest pains and other troubling symptoms, compounded by a loss of sleep, throughout the year. Despite a battery of tests, there have been no conclusions as to what the exact issue is. While I have tried to work through it, the last thing I want is for it to affect the team.

“I am going to use this time to focus on a prescribed routine and medication, which has previously been difficult to start in the midst of a season. My goal is to come out of it a stronger and healthier version of myself so I can continue to lead this team to the Championship we are all working towards. I greatly appreciate Dan Gilbert, Koby Altman, our medical team and the organization’s support throughout.”

There were multiple instances where Lue either missed part of a half or an entire game this season. The symptoms are definitely not to be taken lightly. According to a report by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Dave McMenamin, Lue attempted to return to the bench Saturday night in Chicago but the team didn’t allow him to. Evidently, Lue was “coughing up blood” some nights.

Seeing it first hand after postgame press conferences, Lue was visibly exhausted and stress could likely be playing a part. He’s been fighting through the tough times the team has been going through and avoided stepping away twice this season.

Charlotte Hornets head coach Steve Clifford had his own battle with health problems earlier this season and temporarily left the team for those reasons. He has attempted to reach out to Lue, a friend and former player of his.

Other head coaches around the league—Joe Prunty, Steve Kerr, and Luke Walton—have all gone to bat for Lue when discussing the rigors of an NBA schedule and the toll it takes.

Altman supports the decision for Lue to get to the bottom of what’s going on.

“We know how difficult these circumstances are for Coach Lue and we support him totally in this focused approach to addressing his health issues,” he said.

LeBron James is glad that Lue is going to take some time to get better.

“Obviously, health is the most important with everything in life,” James said Monday after shootaround. “Not surprised by it at all. I knew he was struggling, but he was never not himself. He was just dealing with it the best way he could, but he was never not himself when he was around.

“It doesn’t matter what’s going on here. We play a great sport, our coaches get to coach a great sport, and you guys get to cover a great sports. But health is most important right now and that’s what our coach is doing right now and we’re all in favor for it.”

The latest piece of news is a blow to the already injury-ridden Cleveland group. Assistant coach Larry Drew will take over duties until Lue returns.

The good news for the Cavaliers is that Kevin Love can potentially return to the mix as soon as Monday night against Milwaukee.

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NBA Daily: Calderón’s Late NBA Start

Jose Calderón might be the only player in the league who didn’t grow up dreaming of playing in the NBA.

Joel Brigham



There are a lot of different ways to get to the NBA, but most of them involve lifelong scouting and an unceasing dream to play in the world’s premier basketball league.

Cleveland Cavaliers guard José Calderón didn’t really have either of those things.

“I never even thought of the NBA when I was a kid,” Calderón told Basketball Insiders. “I grew up in a small town in Spain, and I played basketball because my dad played and I loved it. I was having fun, always playing with the older guys because I was good at that age, but I never really even thought about playing any sort of professional basketball.”

Having grown up in Villanueva de la Serena, Spain, Calderón watched his father play for Doncel La Serena, which was his hometown team as a child. He was something of a prodigy, having attended practices and games with his father from a young age, and as burgeoning teenager he left home to play professionally for the lower-level Vitoria-Gasteiz team.

“They wanted to sign me at 13 years old, and we didn’t even know that they could sign people that young,” Calderón remembers. “So I did that, and I tried to get better. I tried to advance into the older clubs, but I never really did think about the NBA at all, honestly.”

That changed as he got older, though, especially after Spain finished 5th in the 2002 FIBA World Championship and Calderón started to get some stateside recognition.

“After that summer, [my agent and I] got a call from Milwaukee asking about my situation, and asked would I think about coming to play over here. It was sort of a let’s-see-what-happens sort of situation, but I couldn’t at that time because I was under contract. That was the first time I was really approached.”

As his teammates from the Spanish National Team made their way to the NBA, Calderón grew increasingly intrigued.

“Pau Gasol obviously opened a lot of doors for us,” he said. “Raul Lopez came, too. I was just playing basketball, though. I didn’t know anything about scouts. Later, when we started to get the calls from Toronto, I started to realize how possible it really was. That’s when I thought, ‘Hey, why not?’”

Despite being eligible for a few drafts in a row, Calderón never did get drafted, which was fine by him. Growing up the way he did, Calderón never had any dreams of his hearing his name called by Commissioner Stern, so playing his way through most of his deal with TAU Vitoria was no big deal for him. He could take or leave the NBA.

“Not getting drafted was the perfect situation for me,” he said. “In my satiation, coming from Europe, I was already playing professionally for a good team and making some good money. That was perfect for me at the time, and I was happy to be a free agent at 23, choosing where I was going to sign instead of going in the second round and having to play for one team.”

He signed with the Raptors in 2005 since they were the most aggressive in recruiting him to the NBA. As a 23-year-old rookie, he wasn’t overwhelmed physically the way a lot of rookies are, but he did find his new league challenging in other ways.

“The hardest part was just having to start over,” he said. “You start over from zero. It doesn’t matter if the other players know you or don’t, you have to prove yourself all over again. You could be the MVP of Europe, but to get respect in the NBA you have to gain it on the court.”

The talent differential was immediately noticeable, as well.

“There are so many guys out there that are better than you. It’s not just like a guy or two; there are six, seven guys on the floor any given time that are better than you.”

That meant making some changes in the way that Calderón played. He was asked to do a lot more offensively for his EuroLeague team. Playing with so many talented scorers completely changed his approach.

“I went from taking 20 shots a game to doing something else, and as a point guard in the NBA I had to approach that point guard role even more, to make those guys respect my game, to make them want to play with me. I had to be able to pass the ball, to do something different from all the other players, so I became a fast-first point guard to make sure we always played as a team. That’s how I get to where I am as a professional.”

Now 36 years old, Calderón is one of the league’s oldest players, making it easy for him to look back at where he came from to transform into the player he is today.

“I’ve grown so much, but I was lucky to be given the opportunity,” he said. “When you arrive from Europe, whether you’re good or bad, it doesn’t always matter if you don’t have the opportunity. Toronto gave me the opportunity to play 20 minutes a night, and that’s a lot. I made a lot of mistakes, but they let me play through those mistakes. All those little things added up for me, and I learned a lot.”

He owns two silver medals and a bronze in the three Olympics he’s participated in over the course of his career, as well as gold medals in FIBA World Cup and EuroBasket, but he’s never won an NBA championship. Joining up with LeBron James improves those odds, but that’s the thing that would really put an exclamation point on an excellent career.

Calderón could have stayed in Spain and been fine. He jokes that while the NBA has been very good to him, he and his family could have stayed in Europe and he could have made good money playing basketball there. He’s been happy with his career, though, however unorthodox his journey here, and he hopes his most prestigious accolades are yet to come.

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