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NBA AM: Five Trades That Make Sense

Joel Brigham suggests five trades, including deals involving DeMarcus Cousins, Dwight Howard, Hassan Whiteside and more.

Joel Brigham

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The best possible Christmas gift for NBA fans is a flurry of trade rumors in the month of December, and that’s exactly what we’ve gotten in recent weeks. Big names are being tossed around in trade rumors on an almost daily basis, which is amazing considering the trade deadline is still a full two months away.

While it could be awhile before any actual blockbusters go down, now is a perfectly appropriate time to look at some of the bigger names reportedly on the trading block and what deals might make sense for the teams interested in (or forced into) shopping them.

Of course, Pat Riley has said that Hassan Whiteside isn’t going anywhere, and Danny Ainge won’t come out and say how badly he wants DeMarcus Cousins on his team. The Rockets aren’t likely to trade Dwight Howard unless it’s a no-brainer win for them (or they feel they’ll lose him in July when he can opt out), and the Markieff Morris issues in Phoenix still have plenty of time to be resolved.

Despite all of that, here are five trades that could make a lot of sense if all the names currently in the rumor mill did actually find their way to a new team:

The Sacramento Kings trade DeMarcus Cousins to the Boston Celtics for David Lee, Jared Sullinger and Brooklyn’s 2016 and 2018 first-round picks.

Without actually coming out and saying the name “DeMarcus Cousins” in an interview with a local Boston radio station, Celtics President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge made it known that his team is looking to buy on the trade market this year and that his number one priority is “a go-to scorer… another player that’s a reliable scorer at the end of games, night in and night out.”

He went on to say that “ideally, it’d be a big man,” qualifying that “it doesn’t have to be,” but we can all read between the lines. There’s no bigger, possibly obtainable talent right now than Cousins and with all of the assets Boston has to offer, they absolutely should go after him hard.

Sacramento is going to want a lot back in exchange for the game’s most talented all-around center, but a package centered on what could be two very high first-round picks and a solid young big like Sullinger is far from the worst they could do. They could also ask for Marcus Smart, which would be a steep price for Ainge, but still one he’d have to consider. Players as good as Cousins don’t come available often, and his acquisition would be a coup for a team seemingly on the brink of big things. They’re just one star away, and that star could be Cousins.

The Miami HEAT trade Hassan Whiteside and Josh McRoberts to the Dallas Mavericks for Dwight Powell and Zaza Pachulia.

As much as Pat Riley says that he intends to hold onto Whiteside, the league-leader in blocks per game and one of better defensive players in the NBA right now, the reality is that it’s going to prove very challenging to keep him considering the HEAT’s cap situation. Whiteside will be an unrestricted free agent in July and Miami doesn’t have his Bird Rights, so they must use cap space to re-sign the big man and can’t offer more money or contract years than any other interested team. The HEAT won’t have the advantages a team typically has when they’re trying to retain a free agent. It’s very possible that Whiteside bolts to another team this summer, so cashing him out for some assets now would be a whole lot better than losing him for nothing by the time July rolls around.

Pachulia isn’t a long-term building block for Miami, but he is among the league-leaders in rebounds per game and is a tough-as-hell veteran that absolutely would hold things down for a Miami team hoping to make it back to the NBA Finals this year. His presence would keep those dreams alive even after losing Whiteside, though the payoff would be considerably shorter-term.

Powell, meanwhile, is one of the league’s more underrated up-and-comers and at times has looked like he could be a very good player in the relatively near future. Getting a piece for now and a piece for the future out of Whiteside is far from a bad deal, and it keeps Miami competitive.

Dallas, meanwhile, gets the borderline All-Star center they wanted (and almost got) this past summer without having to give up any of the pieces on that roster they consider part of their foundation. This gives the Mavericks the chance to show Whiteside what their organization is all about for the remainder of the season, with the hope that he’d be impressed and choose to re-sign this summer. It’s a risky move since there’s no guarantee he’d stay beyond this campaign, but it could pay off in a huge way. And at the very least, Whiteside makes Dallas more competitive this season as a rental and the team didn’t have to give up too much to acquire him.

The Houston Rockets trade Dwight Howard to the Washington Wizards for Marcin Gortat and Nene.

The Rockets only want to deal Howard if they are overwhelming winners in the swap, and this admittedly doesn’t appear to be that. Gortat, who once backed up Howard in Orlando, looked like a burgeoning All-Star at one point in his career, but he has sort of leveled off in the last couple of seasons. He and Nene don’t necessarily represent the sort of haul Daryl Morey would want out of the team’s second biggest name, but it’s still a reasonable return for a guy who has been truly disappointing this season and seems to be struggling as a personality in the Houston locker room. Not to mention, Howard can opt out of his contract after this season so the Rockets could find themselves in the same boat as Miami with Whiteside, wanting to get something back for the center rather than potentially losing him for nothing.

If nothing else, Nene and Gortat keep the Rockets a veteran-laden team but shake things up enough to put some energy back into a club that has fallen so short of expectations. As for the Wizards, Howard is a perfect fit for them defensively assuming he stays healthy, and he could possibly help take the team to the next level as they look to contend in the Eastern Conference.

The New Orleans Pelicans trade Ryan Anderson to the Phoenix Suns for Markieff Morris

There will be plenty of Phoenix Suns fans who look at this proposal and wonder aloud whether Anderson is the best they can get for Morris, a player who looked like a borderline All-Star just a season ago. While Anderson is a great three-point shooter who could be effective in Jeff Hornacek’s offense, he is an older player on the last year of his deal, and our own Eric Pincus is hearing Anderson is poised for a enormous pay day this summer.

It’s hard to see him as a max guy, but he’s going to pull big money in free agency, probably more than the Suns are going to want to pay to hold onto him. This is a mostly young team that should be looking to add players on the same career arc as Eric Bledsoe, Brandon Knight and the rest of that young core.

With that said, Tyson Chandler is there too, and this team could use a veteran presence like Anderson, even though they already have a couple of stretch bigs in Mirza Teletovic and Jon Leuer. At 27 years old, Anderson could still fit in better than expected, and at this point he certainly would give them more than a disgruntled Morris has this year. It would be easy to see Phoenix hold out for more than Anderson, but they could certainly do worse, while New Orleans has been so bad this season that any sort of change would be a welcome one.

The Minnesota Timberwolves trade Kevin Martin and Adreian Payne to the Memphis Grizzlies for Brandan Wright, Courtney Lee and two future second-round picks.

Easily the least sexy of these hypothetical trades, this one also could be the most realistic of the batch. The reports that Minnesota is shopping Martin make a ton of sense considering they want to give as much playing time as possible to Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine, but they’re going to have to find an older playoff team amenable to acquiring a 32-year-old shooting guard with an injury history.

The Grizzlies are pretty much exactly that, and it’s no secret that they really have struggled to get consistent scoring out of the backcourt this season. Martin would help remedy that and also likely would play rather nicely off of starting point guard Mike Conley. The Wolves don’t really need Wright or especially Lee, but the picks would be a nice parting gift for their time with Martin, and the deal certainly would free up minutes for the young guys on the roster.

*****

Are there other trades that you believe make sense right now? Do any of these five look particularly realistic or interesting to you as the NBA trading season approaches? Throw in your two cents and know that somehow, someway, a big trade is coming, and it could very well be one of the five trades mentioned here.

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NBA

NBA Daily: Bought Out Players Faring Well With New Teams

The deadline for teams to send their unwanted players to the buyout market was March 1. Jordan Hicks takes a look at some of the key acquisitions since the deadline and how they are helping postseason pushes.

Jordan Hicks

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The buyout market seems to be gaining more and more popularity with each season. While rebuilding teams tend to forego more seasoned players in order to give their younger guys some run, veteran players often find themselves bought out or waived prior to the deadline.

Teams competing for a spot in the playoffs – so it seems – have increasingly taken advantage of this situation by signing guys that can definitely help them get enough wins. While you definitely will not find All-Stars in the pool of available players, oftentimes solid role players find themselves there due to a myriad of reasons.

It could be that their previous teams wanted to give more playing time to guys more in-line with their future plans. It could also be because their previous team was simply wanting to lose games in order to increase their draft position, which is also known as tanking. By waiving better players on your roster and keeping less talented ones, teams can essentially give themselves a better chance to lose games without totally making it look like they’re doing it on purpose.

This year had one of the stronger pools of players on the buyout/waived market as of March 1st in recent memory, so let’s take a look at some of the top players and how they’ve fared since joining their new team.

Wesley Matthews

Matthews was part of the marquee trade that sent Kristaps Porzingis to the Dallas Mavericks. He ended up with the Knicks, but after two short games, they realized they didn’t want his talent interfering with their draft position. They waived him prior to the deadline and he was picked up by the Indiana Pacers.

This has turned out to be an incredibly important acquisition for the Pacers – primarily due to the fact that they lost All-Star Victor Oladipo for the season.

Matthews brings grittiness on the defensive end and a diverse set of skills offensively. He is an above average shooter from the three-point line, averaging 38.8 percent on 6.1 attempts per game since joining Indiana. He has added much-needed scoring to the offense as well – currently at 12.5 points and 2.4 assists each night.

He’s very clearly a step below Oladipo, especially when considering what Vic brought to both ends of the floor, but the fact that the Pacers added him without having to give up any assets is pretty remarkable.

While he has yet to add any considerable value on defense, Matthews has ranked fifth on the team in offensive rating since joining them on February 7. If Oladipo was still on the roster, you could argue that they wouldn’t necessarily need Matthews. But in light of recent events, being able to add Matthews as easily as they did was certainly a win for the franchise.

Enes Kanter

Another player the Knicks decided to unload was Enes Kanter. He was sent to the player pool via buyout, and it is safe to assume that New York had to spend handsomely to send him there.

Kanter is an interesting player. He has always been able to get buckets around the rim, as well as grab rebounds, but he has always struggled defensively. This was not why the Knicks wanted to let him go, however. Tension had been growing between Kanter, the front office, and the coaching staff, as they wanted to limit his minutes in lieu of the younger players on the roster.

Enes just wanted to play, and, by being bought out and signing with the Portland Trail Blazers, he’s been able to do just that.

Since joining Portland, the team as gone 9-3. While he continues to have his struggles on defense, he is posting 10 points and 6.7 rebounds on only 18.2 minutes per night.

Since the acquisition, Meyers Leonard has seen a decreased role. Kanter has turned into the de-facto backup to starting center Jusuf Nurkic. While Kanter is a poor defender himself, Portland has enough solid defensive players in the frontcourt that they haven’t had too much of a problem hiding him on that end of the floor.

Jeremy Lin

Lin headed to the market after being bought out by the Atlanta Hawks. He was picked up by the Toronto Raptors, who have struggled to field consistent backcourt players off the bench due to injuries – which was made more difficult after dealing Delon Wright to the Grizzlies as part of the Marc Gasol trade.

In 13 games with the Raptors, Lin is averaging 8.4 points and 2.5 assists in 20.8 minutes per game. He has struggled to find any consistency with his shot, as he’s averaging just 39 percent from the field and a morbid 18.4 percent from three.

That shooting has every opportunity to increase. Lin is a 34.3 percent shooter from downtown over the course of his career.

The Raptors will need Lin to pull his shooting together as the season wraps up for a strong playoff campaign. The bench unit was a major part of their success last season and it is proving to be another key part this year. In order for Toronto to finally reach their goal of winning the Eastern Conference, they’ll need Lin to be at his best. He isn’t the only key to their success, but he’ll have a major impact on how the Raptors finish out the season.

There are still plenty of solid players on the market. Carmelo Anthony, Ben McLemore and Nick Young could provide instant offense off the bench. Greg Monroe, Marcin Gortat and Zach Randolph could help improve the frontcourt of any team in need. Whether or not teams decide they need their services, only time will tell.

While the season plays out, it will be interesting to see just what impact these players discussed – as well as those not mentioned – will have for their franchise in the postseason.

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NBA

NBA Daily: Justin Bibbs Gets First NBA Opportunity In L.A.

Justin Bibbs spoke to Basketball Insiders about joining an NBA team after going undrafted, playing in the G League, his developing skill set and more.

David Yapkowitz

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One of the best moments in the life of an aspiring pro basketball player is to receive the news that an NBA team wants to sign them.

For Justin Bibbs, that dream became a reality of his when the Los Angeles Clippers called him up to the team on a 10-day contract last week. The former Virginia Tech guard went undrafted last summer and was spending his first professional season in the G League with Maine Red Claws, the affiliate of the Boston Celtics.

This past Sunday against the Brooklyn Nets was actually his first day being around the team as they had immediately assigned him to the Agua Caliente Clippers after signing him.

“To be honest, I still don’t have words for it. It’s kind of indescribable,” Bibbs told Basketball Insiders. “I always wanted to be on this level, but now that I’m here I just trying to take in every second of it, just relax and let God do his thing.”

Bibbs had a decent showing with the Celtics in summer league, leading to him being added to their training camp roster. He was ultimately cut and joined the Maine Red Claws as an affiliate player. Each NBA team is allowed to assign up to four players to their G League affiliate, players who were in training camp and are guaranteed a G League roster spot.

Affiliate players, however, are still considered ‘free agents’ in that they can sign with any NBA team. Bibbs played in 44 games with the Red Claws and averaged 11.8 points per game, 3.0 rebounds and 2.7 assists.

At Virginia Tech, he was a knockdown outside shooter (42.4 percent) and a strong defender. He has good size for a guard at 6-foot-5 and 225-pounds. It’s those qualities that he’s hoping to bring to the Clippers should he get the chance on the court.

“I always bring energy defensively and I just play my game. On offense, I bring shooting,” Bibbs told Basketball Insiders. “But it’s whatever the coach tells me to do and basically just playing the right way.”

Although Bibbs has reached his goal of the NBA, he’s in a different situation than the rest of his Clippers teammates. They’re all secured with guaranteed contracts. Bibbs has ten days to prove himself to team brass, ten days to show he’s worth keeping around a bit longer.

“I’m happy that my play has been rewarded, that the organization believed in me enough to give me a 10-day. Its motivation for me to keep going,” Bibbs told Basketball Insiders. “I was called down from the G League team, and I’m just trying to get all the sets and plays and stuff, trying to make that adjustment. But it’s definitely a blessing.”

He’s played in three games for the Agua Caliente Clippers so far, logging 27.1 minutes per game off the bench. He’s put up 9.7 points per game on 45.8 percent shooting from the field, 5.0 rebounds and 2.3 assists during that stretch.

He’s yet to log any minutes for the Clippers, but he’s just thrilled to be a part of an NBA organization. Despite being undrafted, he always knew that he’d get to this level at some point.

“Yeah I did, for sure I did. I didn’t know when or how, but I always thought I would be here,” Bibbs told Basketball Insiders. “I had no idea what team, but being out in LA, I’ll take that as a blessing. But yeah I thought I would be here for sure.”

For players like Bibbs who are on 10-day contracts, nothing is guaranteed. But he’s soaking up the entire experience as long as he can. Whether the Clippers decide to retain him a little bit longer, or he moves on to another opportunity, he just wants to be able to play his game.

“My overall goal is just to actually play my game my way and not be restricted,” Bibbs told Basketball Insiders. “Kind of just play freely and right now that’s what I’ve shown, that’s what got me here. I’m just taking in the whole process, just taking it all in and getting the experience and knowledge.”

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Mock Drafts

NBA Daily: 60-Pick NBA Mock Draft – 3/19/19

With the field of teams set for the 2019 NCAA March Madness tournament, things should get noisy over the next few weeks on the NBA Draft front. Steve Kyler offers up another 60-pick Mock Draft before all the zaniness begins.

Steve Kyler

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Let the Madness begin.

The basketball world will shift its attention to college basketball’s biggest stage over the next few weeks, especially this weekend’s opening round of 64.

While the tournament doesn’t necessarily make or break a player’s draft stock, this will be the first time some notable draft prospects will face elite talent and, more importantly, the pressure of the big stage. You can check out march madness predictions 2019 here.

Expect things in the draft world to start to percolate, not just because of the magnitude of the games, but also because a lot of NBA scouts will be in the same places, which is where the draft chatter originates.

Equally, a lot of NBA teams will watch games together in the conference rooms this week, so more group discussion on players will happen inside NBA teams’ front offices, and that could lead to new preference information flowing into the NBA Draft information bubble.

Here is this week’s 60-Pick Mock Draft, based on NBA games played through 3/18/19:

Here are the first-round picks that are owed and how those picks landed where they are.

The Atlanta Hawks are to receive the Cleveland Cavaliers’ first-round pick as a result of the Kyle Korver trade in 2017, which is top-10 protected. But based on the standings, it will not be conveyed.

The Boston Celtics are to receive the Memphis Grizzlies first-round pick as a result of the three-team Jeff Green trade in 2015; the pick is top-eight protected and, based on the current standings, would not convey.

The Atlanta Hawks are to receive the Dallas Mavericks first-round pick as a result of the Luka Dončić – Trae Young swap on draft night in 2018. The pick is top-five protected and, based on the standings, would convey.

The Boston Celtics are to receive the more favorable of either the Sacramento Kings or Philadelphia 76ers first-round picks as part of the Markelle Fultz pre-draft trade in 2017. Based on the current standings, the Kings pick is the more favorable and would convey to Boston.

The Boston Celtics are to receive the LA Clippers first-round pick as a result of the Deyonta Davis draft day trade with Memphis in 2016. The Grizzlies got the pick in their Jeff Green/Lance Stephenson deal at the deadline in 2016. The pick is lottery protected and, based on the current standings, would not convey.

The Cleveland Cavaliers are to receive the Houston Rockets first-round pick as a result of the three-team deadline deal that sent out Brandon Knight and Marquese Chriss.

The Brooklyn Nets are to receive the Denver Nuggets first-round pick as a result of the Kenneth Faried – Darrell Arthur trade in July 2018. The pick is top-12 protected and, based on the current standings, would convey.

The San Antonio Spurs are to receive the Toronto Raptors first-round pick as a result of the Kawhi Leonard – DeMar DeRozan trade in July 2018. The pick is top-20 protected and, based on the current standings, would convey.

The Phoenix Suns are to receive the Milwaukee Bucks first-round pick as a result of the Eric Bledsoe trade in 2017. The pick has top 3 and 17-30 protections, designed to yield a lottery-level pick to Phoenix. Based on the current standings this pick would not convey. If the debt is not settled this year, the pick in 2020 would be top-7 protected.

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, @TommyBeer, @jblancartenba, @SpinDavies, @JamesB_NBA, @MattJohnNBA, @DrewMaresca, @JordanHicksNBA, and @Ben__Nadeau .

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