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Deadline Watch — Southwest Division

Jonathon Gryyniewicz continues Basketball Insiders’ Deadline Watch series by taking a look at who might be on the move in the Southwest Division.

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The trade deadline is next Thursday and, as always, this a wild time in the NBA with rumors flying around. In this piece, we look at some players in the Southwest Division that might be traded as we inch closer and closer to March 25.

LaMarcus Aldridge, San Antonio Spurs

It has been reported that Aldridge’s and the Spurs’ decision to part ways was mutual. The 14-year veteran has spent the last six seasons with the Spurs but, at this point, he is looking to be on a surefire championship contender. While the Spurs are having a better year than many thought they would, they are far from the sure thing they once were come the postseason.

The post player has shown he can still offer a team a veteran presence off the bench in the right situation. In the last two seasons, Aldridge has shot 35 percent from behind the three-point line on over three attempts per game. At 35-years-old, he may not be someone that can come in and play consistent starter minutes, but Aldridge would be a good second unit option that can take advantage of mismatches and carry the scoring load in spurts for almost any contender.

In the last year of his contract, his $24 million salary wouldn’t be the easiest to match, but two mid-level contracts should be able to get any acquiring team close there. The Spurs have never been one to take on bad contracts so they would likely have to be pieces that they feel would have an opportunity to crack the team’s rotation.

Trey Burke, Dallas Mavericks

Kristaps Porzingis’ name has been thrown around a lot recently. But, given his inconsistent play, injury history and large contract, the Latvian center might be more difficult to trade than anticipated. That said, if the Mavericks look to move a player and or recoup an asset, look for Trey Burke to be someone they consider moving.

Burke is having a solid season for Dallas, serving as the team’s third point guard behind Luka Doncic and Jalen Brunson. That said, he’s shown himself capable of a greater opportunity and, on a deal worth next to nothing, could easily be moved to any team looking to add a player that can move the ball and contribute on the outside; Burke has shot 39.1 percent from three this season.

The team may not snag a long-term piece by trading him, but they could certainly swap for someone that might further compliment Doncic, Porzingis and the rest of Dallas’ roster.

Lonzo Ball, New Orleans Pelicans

It would appear to be just a matter of time before the Pelicans trade Ball. The fourth-year guard has played for two different teams and in his young career has not been able to find stability.

Ball’s shot was a big concern when he entered the NBA, but the last two season he has shown he can be effective from deep, as he’s shot 37.9 percent from deep. He’s also shown some consistency as a spot-up jump shooter, whether from deep or inside the arc. His vision down the court, meanwhile, is something you just can’t teach. Defensively, Ball is a strong presence on the floor with room to grow.

What’s concerning now, however, has been Ball’s inability to get downhill and attack the basket. That said, it’s a safe bet to say that Ball, 23, isn’t done developing and, if he can improve in that area, he might just prove himself a serious two-way force for whichever team that might acquire his services.

Victor Oladipo, Houston Rockets

With PJ Tucker being moved earlier this week to the Milwaukee Bucks, Oladipo is likely to be the next domino to fall for the Rockets. Earlier this season, Oladipo turned down an extension from the team, making it clear he didn’t plan to stay with them long-term. Now, having lost each of their last 20 games, Houston would appear to be on the verge of a fire sale.

It shouldn’t be difficult for a team to cobble together a package that might net them Oladipo. What teams may be concerned about, however, is their ability to re-sign him after the season. It’s long been rumored that Oladipo, whether now or as a free agent, would like to join the Miami HEAT; would any team part with anything of real value to acquire him if that proved to be the case?

As we approach the trade deadline, something to keep is the fact that, with the adoption of the play-in games, teams need only reach the 10-spot in their conference to have a shot at the postseason. The only team in the Southwest that would appear incapable of reaching even that would seem to be the Rockets — and it’s something that may impact the way a number of on-the-fence teams approach the trade deadline this season.

Worked in college and professional basketball the past seven seasons, most recently as Director of Basketball Operations for the Detroit Pistons G League Affiliate, the Grand Rapids Drive.

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Jazz agree to trade Derrick Favors, first-round pick to Thunder

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First reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Utah Jazz are trading power forward/center Derrick Favors and a first-round pick to the Oklahoma City Thunder for a future second-round pick. The goal here was to help reduce their tax bill. While the six-foot-eight Georgia native does not have any notable NBA awards or honors on his basketball résumé, in the 2020-21 NBA season, Favors averaged 5.4 points, 5.5 rebounds, and a field goal percentage of 63.8 percent. The 11-year NBA veteran also recorded a free throw shooting percentage of 73.8 percent last season.

The 2020-21 Thunder finished 27-50 (.306), ranking 14th overall in the Western Conference. They could use another first-round pick. Plus, per ESPN’s Bobby Marks, this trade will put Utah $13 million below the luxury tax. On November 24, 2020, Favors signed a three-year, $29.2 million contract with the Jazz. Favors is set to earn $9,720,900 next season. This is the second time in his career he has left the Jazz.

He played with them from the 2010-11 season to the 2018-19 season, before he was traded to the New Orleans Pelicans on July 7, 2019 for a 2021 second-round pick and a 2023 second-round pick. For the 2022-23 season, he has a player option of $10,183,800. The Jazz plan to also re-sign Mike Conley, so this was somewhat of a drastic move to help clear up cap space. On July 6, 2019, Conley was traded by the Memphis Grizzlies to the Jazz, in exchange for Grayson Allen, Darius Bazley, Kyle Korver, and a 2020 first-round pick.

Moreover, scoring-wise, the 33-year-old point guard has not lived up to his performances from his last few seasons on the Grizzlies, but the Jazz need all the help they can get. Jazz general manager Justin Zanik will make it a top priority to re-sign Conley here soon. Conley earned $34,504,132 in the 2020-21 season.

According to Spotrac, Conley has a cap figure of $39,344,900. Center Rudy Gobert and shooting guard Donovan Mitchell have a combined percentage of 47.61 percent of Utah’s total salary cap. On December 20, 2020, Gobert signed a five year, $205 million extension with the team. He will earn $35,344,828 next season.

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Wizards, Lakers agree to Russell Westbrook and Three-Player Trade Deal

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The Los Angeles Lakers have agreed with the Washington Wizards to acquire Russell Westbrook in a three-player trade, sending Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and the No. 22 pick in Thursday’s 2021 NBA Draft to the Wizards. According to ESPN, the Wizards are also giving up their 2024 and 2028 second-round picks as well. During last night’s draft, at pick No. 22, the Lakers sent Wildcats’ center Isaiah Jackson to the Pacers via the Wizards. At pick No. 15, the Wizards drafted Gonzaga forward Corey Kispert. In the second round, at pick No. 31, the Milwaukee Bucks traded NBA G League player Isaiah Todd to the Wizards via the Pacers.

On Thursday, Harrell decided to pursue his $9.7 million player option for next season. Yesterday, rumors surfaced across social media regarding a possible Lakers-Kings trade involving Harrell. Despite the outlandish predictions and mindless speculation from fans over these last couple of days, this trade move could work out great for both teams.

After all, Westbrook is a 9-time NBA All-Star and three-time assists leader. In his MVP season back in the 2016-17 season, over the course of 81 games, he averaged a career-high 31.6 points, 10.7 rebounds, 10.4 assists, and 1.6 steals per game. On Twitter, Westbrook tweeted, “I’m blessed to have been a part of such a stand up organization. It didn’t take long to make a home in DC, and I will forever be grateful and appreciative of my experience with the organization. Thank you!”

In the 2020-21 NBA season, Caldwell-Pope averaged 9.7 points, 2.7 rebounds, and 1.9 assists per game in 67 games started for the Lakers. The 28-year-old shooting guard will make $13 million next season. As for Kuzma, in 68 games played last season, he averaged 12.9 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 1.9 assists per game. Kuzma is set to earn $13 million next season. For Harrell, in 69 games played last season, he averaged 13.5 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 1.1 assists per game. The six-foot-seven power forward/center is also a six-year player. Instead of having one or two notable super stars, the Wizards having several contributing players might work out better in their favor.

Last season, in 65 games played in his only season spent on the Wizards, Westbrook averaged 22.2 points, 11.5 rebounds, and 11.7 assists. The 32-year-old point guard finished the 2020-21 season with 38 triple-doubles, ranking first in the league and second highest in his own playing career. Westbrook also surpassed Oscar Robertson last season for the most all-time assists; Robertson accumulated 181 triple-doubles in 14 seasons. Now, the two-time NBA scoring champion has 184 career triple-doubles, the most all-time for any player. Furthermore, this is Westbrook’s fourth team in his NBA career.

He is the fifth former MVP in league history to play on four different teams over the course of four seasons or less, adding to the existent list of Bob McAdoo, Allen Iverson, Shaquille O’Neal, and Derrick Rose. Moreover, on December 2, 2020, Westbrook was traded by the Houston Rockets to the Wizards for John Wall and a 2023 first-round draft pick. He is set to earn $44.2 million in the upcoming season. His player option for the 2022-23 season is $47 million. This trade deal will not be official until August 6th.

Per Bovada’s NBA Futures odds, the Lakers now have +300 odds of winning their eighteenth championship in the 2021-22 season. This is a move from 4/1 odds before the trade, leaping the Milwaukee Bucks and Golden State Warriors, and they now have the second best odds behind the Brooklyn Nets (+250). Westbrook also has the best odds of leading the league in assists next season, with first place odds showing EVEN. He is ahead of James Harden (+150), Trae Young (+450), and Luka Doncic (+600). With +6600 odds, he also ranks 19th in the NBA for next season’s MVP odds, trailing Lakers’ teammates such as James (+1200) and Davis (+2800).

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Russell Westbrook joins L.A. Lakers in One of the biggest trades in NBA History

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(Image courtesy of AP)

In one of the biggest NBA Draft trades ever, Los Angeles Lakers acquired the services of Washington Wizards’ former MVP, Russell Westbrook, last night!

As a result of the trade, the Lakers can now boast a holy trinity of attacking talent in Westbrook, Anthony Davis, and, of course, Lebron James, unlike anything seen in recent memory. Assuming this new contingent clicks into gear, it might just be the most frighteningly talented trio to play together in NBA history, rivaling the Bulls triple horn of Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and Dennis Rodman, or that great Lakers team of the late 80s with Magic Johnson, James Worthy, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

In exchange for their star man, the Wizards received three players and what was the No 22 overall pick in last night’s NBA Draft. The former Lakers tasked with replacing Westbrook in Washington will be Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Montrezl Harrell.

Washington then spent the Lakers No.22 pick on Kentucky’s Isaiah Jackson, but immediately traded him on to the Indiana Pacers in a deal that saw the Wizards acquire pick No.31 and point guard Aaron Holiday. Wizards then used pick No.33 to draft Isaiah Todd to bolster their ranks at power forward.

 

(Image courtesy of AP)

The effervescent Westbrook had another great year in 2020-21, averaging 22.2 points, 11.7 assists, and 11.5 rebounds per game in his first season with the Wizards.

In joining the Lakers star cast, which already boasts the likes of LeBron James and Anthony Davis, Westbrook, a 9x NBA All-Star & 2016-17 MVP, will now be hoping to end his NBA championship drought.

Westbrook has since taken to social media to thank the WashingtonWizards franchise for a great year spent in the capital, tweeting:

“Thank you DC! You welcomed my family and I with open arms from day one,” he wrote. “Everyone from the front office, to the training staff, the coaches, my teammates, and the fans. I’m grateful y’all took a chance on me and supported me every step of the way.”

“I’m blessed to have been a part of such a stand up organization. It didn’t take long to make a home in DC, and I will forever be grateful and appreciative of my experience with the organization. Thank you!”

With a legendary point guard now fixed among the ranks, 2020 NBA Championship winners the Lakers have all the talent required to wrestle back the title from the freshly-crowned Milwaukee Bucks.

So, get yourselves ready for an influx of NBA betting lines on Antetokounmpo, Holiday, and Middleton vs. LeBron, Davis, and Westbrook for next year’s championship games!

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