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NBA Daily: Five Trade Deadline Predictions

Bobby Krivitsky makes five predictions as to what might happen on the day of the NBA Trade Deadline.

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The NBA Trade Deadline is finally here. But it just doesn’t feel the same as in years past.

The NBA’s new play-in tournament, which has expanded the potential playoff field to 10 teams in each conference, combined with the impact COVID-19 has had on the players and league at large has severely limited the buzz around the 2020-21 deadline. There’s reason to hope, however.

As always, deadlines spur action. And there are plenty of teams that need an upgrade. So, even if there are few deals completed, there could still be plenty of fireworks that change the postseason picture.

Without further ado, here are five predictions for what will happen before the conclusion of the trade deadline.

No More Than 10 Trades

The first is short and sweet: last year, 13 trades commenced on deadline day. Of course, that preceded the pandemic and the inception of the play-in tournament, which are the driving factors in the prediction that there will be no more than 10 deals prior to the 3 p.m. ET deadline.

Kyle Lowry Gets Moved

For all intents and purposes, Kyle Lowry wields an unofficial no-trade clause. If he tells the Toronto Raptors he wants to spend the remainder of his career with them, he’s not getting dealt. However, if he informs the team’s President of Basketball Operations, Masai Ujiri, he desires to get traded to a title contender, then this prediction will come to fruition.

Lowry, who turns 35 on deadline day, is on an expiring contract. So, beyond the Raptors wanting to do well by their franchise icon, this is a case where the player holds most of the leverage. Losing him for nothing would be missing out on an opportunity to strengthen their long-term outlook.

As for where Lowry might end up, it’s been reported that his preference is the Miami HEAT. Miami, of course, would push to get a deal done without offering Tyler Herro. But, if they low ball Toronto, that would open up the opportunity for another team to swoop in and snatch Lowry for themselves.

Namely, the Philadelphia 76ers. Not only is Lowry a Philadelphia native, but the 76ers have some enticing young pieces of their own to offer, including Tyrese Maxey and Matisse Thybulle.

Still, expect the HEAT to get a deal done some way or another. Jimmy Butler is 31 and Pat Riley, perhaps better than anyone, knows how quickly a window into contention can slam shut — if they can add Lowry, they just might get back to the NBA Finals.

The Boston Celtics Land Aaron Gordon

Orlando Magic forward Aaron Gordon reportedly made his trade request weeks ago but is now having second thoughts. That’s not particularly surprising, considering Gordon has spent his entire seven-year career with the Magic, who drafted him fourth overall back in 2014. 

Furthermore, he has another year left on his contract, so the Magic aren’t at the risk of losing him for nothing in free agency if they don’t move him before the deadline. That’s why any team interested in acquiring Gordon’s services is going to have to pay up to get him.

Now, that doesn’t exactly jive with the reputation of Danny Ainge, the Boston Celtics’ president of basketball operations, but it’s evident Boston must make a deal to turn their season around. A first round pick along with either Romeo Langford or Aaron Nesmith is an offer Boston might hold out at, but it’ll likely cost more to land Gordon who, at 25-years-old, matches up perfectly with the timeline of Boston’s best players, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. Additionally, Gordon isn’t a mere rental, either, and he is one of the few players seemingly available who can join their closing lineup.

Losing two first-round picks could hurt Boston’s future pursuits of trading for an All-Star. In exchange, the Magic may be amenable to taking back Tristan Thompson. If so, a deal for Gordon could get structured in such a way the Celtics don’t have to use the trade exception they created in the sign-and-trade that sent Gordon Hayward to the Charlotte Hornets. Boston could also stay out of the luxury tax. Couple all of this with a Celtics team hovering around .500 despite featuring two All-Stars, and it’s more beneficial for Boston to acquire Gordon than trudge through the rest of the season to preserve the second first-round pick it’ll likely take for them to get him. 

Lonzo Ball Stays Put

The New Orleans Pelicans enter the deadline with a 19-24 record and don’t currently qualify for the play-in tournament. That said, Lonzo Ball is having quite a productive season, averaging 14.2 points, 5.6 assists, 4.2 rebounds, and 1.3 steals while taking 7.8 threes per game and making them at a 38.5 percent clip. A restricted free agent, Ball is expected to demand $15-20 million annually and perhaps the Pelicans aren’t keen on giving him a contract in that neighborhood.

That said, New Orleans isn’t going to trade the 23-year-old for nothing. According to The Ringers’ Kevin O’Connor, the Chicago Bulls tried to acquire Ball for Tomas Satoransky and second-round picks; the Atlanta Hawks attempted to do so with a package headlined by Cam Reddish. If teams aren’t willing to make substantially better offers before the deadline expires, the Pelicans are better off holding on to Ball.

Harrison Barnes Does the Same

Harrison Barnes is having arguably the most productive season of his career. He’s averaging 16.3 points to go along with career-highs of 6.5 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game. Barnes is also shooting a career-best 57.2 percent from inside the arc. 

A reliable two-way wing whose presence is beneficial to the development of the Sacramento Kings’ two most important players, De’Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton, Barnes is earning $22.2 million this season with his contract set to decline over the next two seasons. Combine that with the fact that the Kings are still in the mix for the play-in tournament and they seem poised to keep the veteran. Ultimately, if it doesn’t work out, the team can always move him in the offseason.

For now, expect him to remain in Sacramento.

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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’s 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 all the wrong predictions and mindless speculation over these last couple of days, this trade move could work out 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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