As we approach the trade deadline this season, rumors, speculation, and reports will begin to circulate on social media. Some may be grounded, others may be purely opinion-based. Regardless of what comes up, there is always one guarantee: Trades will be made.
Whether teams are trying to improve their roster before the playoffs, mix up mediocre lineups, or take on bad contracts in return for assets to build for the future, there’s almost a certainty that just about every team is trying to make a move.
Now some teams might not necessarily need to make a trade. Surely they would if the right opportunity were to be presented, but no franchise is making a trade unless they feel it benefits them in some ways.
The outcome to trades can land all over the spectrum. Sometimes it works. Other times it doesn’t. A lot of the time it is about fit. Some players work better in different systems. Other factors might be a player’s health. There can even be issues with desire and drive. At the end of the day, NBA General Managers are not in the business of helping other teams improve if it doesn’t help them in return.
Let’s take a look at a handful of the bigger trades made around the deadline from last season and see how it has played out a year later.
Eric Bledsoe Traded to the Milwaukee Bucks
Last season – about 2 months before the trade deadline – Bledsoe sent out a not-so-cryptic Tweet about his lack of desire to continue on with the Phoenix Suns. On December 7th, 2018 the Suns sent him to the Bucks in exchange for Greg Monroe – who was bought out a few months later – and both a 2018 first and second-round pick.
Milwaukee received their point guard of the future and the Suns received future assets.
Unfortunately for the Suns, certain protections were placed on the picks. Because Milwaukee finished with the 17th pick, it pushed Phoenix’s first-rounder via the Bucks to 2019.
To finish up the 2017-18 campaign, Bledsoe put together solid numbers for his new team. He finished the season with Milwaukee posting 17.8 points a night on 47.6 percent from the field and 34.9 percent from three. He also led the team in assists at 5.1 and steals at 2. Most impressively – as he is teammates with Giannis Antetokounmpo – Bledsoe led the team in plus-minus per game at 2.7.
While Bledsoe is putting up similar numbers again this season, the Milwaukee Bucks seem like a considerably better team as opposed to last year. Perhaps bringing in Mike Budenholzer was a big reason for this. You can also point to Giannis having an MVP-level season. Still, Bledsoe is a key piece on an almost-championship level team. It is safe to say that the Bledsoe trade certainly worked out for the Bucks.
As for the Suns, only time will tell. The first-round pick likely will not be conveyed until 2020, as it only falls to the Suns this offseason if it falls in the 4-16 range. Seeing how much success the Bucks are having, there’s a good chance it isn’t even available until the late 20s. In 2020 it falls to the Suns if it is in the 8-30 range and it becomes entirely unprotected in 2021.
Blake Griffin Traded to the Detroit Pistons
This trade has seemed to work out well for both parties. Before the 2017-18 season, the Los Angeles Clippers inked Blake Griffin to a mega-extension but then shipped him off at the end of January to Detroit, most notably for Tobias Harris, Boban Marjanovic, Avery Bradley and a 2019 first-round pick.
While Griffin didn’t help the Pistons reach the playoffs last season, he’s putting up incredible numbers this season. He’s averaging 26 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 5.2 assists a night. That leads the team in all categories except rebounding where he falls second to Andre Drummond. The only other players in the league putting up those numbers or better are LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Griffin leads both of them in three-point percentage and three-point attempts.
While the Pistons don’t seem on track for anything other than a first-round exit at best, it is hard to say that keeping the players they sent out would be advantageous over having Griffin. At worst, the Pistons have a bonafide superstar that can fill the seats in the stadium. If the Pistons can manage to surround Griffin with more talent, they have a shot to make some noise in the East.
The Clippers came out much better than what most would have anticipated. They replaced a perennial All-Star for three players who have been in their starting lineup and one of the better backup centers in the NBA. Harris, Bradley, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (who the Clippers acquired in the draft via a trade with Charlotte using the first-round pick from Detroit) are all starters for the Clippers – and all contribute in a big way. Boban plays a major role coming off the bench and plays an absolutely dominating role in his somewhat limited minutes.
What is more important is the intrigue the current roster has to superstars in free agency. By losing the Griffin contract, the Clippers have the ability to have two max slots this upcoming summer. They’ll likely need to use one – or at least part of one – to retain Tobias. Many speculate that the other spot could be for Kawhi Leonard, should he decide to leave Toronto.
Jae Crowder Traded to the Utah Jazz
In a three-team deal, the Jazz ended up with Crowder, Rodney Hood was sent from Utah to the Cleveland Cavaliers, George Hill was sent to the Cavaliers from the Sacramento Kings, and Iman Shumpert ended up with the Kings.
This was a tremendous deal for the Utah Jazz. Hood had been struggling with injuries – as well as increasingly sporadic minutes – and Utah was gearing up for a big decision to make with him as he approached restricted free agency. The Jazz flipped him for Crowder who has been monumental.
His hard-nosed, defensive presence allows him to fill the stretch-four position the Jazz were lacking off the bench. Since the trade, Utah uses Crowder to close out just about every game. He was a big reason why the Jazz were able to finish last season on a 29-6 run and push themselves into the second round of the playoffs.
While his offensive game isn’t quite as efficient as Utah would hope, his presence on the defensive end more than make up for his shortcomings. He’s not necessarily a negative on offense – this season the Jazz sport a 107.6 offensive rating – good for second on the team among regular players.
He’s fourth on the lineup at 12 points a night and fifth in plus-minus at 2.8.
Hood had great offensive instincts, but Crowder is a significantly better fit in Utah’s defensive-first scheme. Accounting for five-man lineups that have spent at least 200 minutes together, the Jazz starting lineup with Crowder at the four has the fourth highest net rating in the NBA.
As for other outcomes of this deal, Shumpert has played a significant role in the Kings’ surprisingly solid start to the season. George Hill played a significant role next to LeBron in the 2018 Finals before being dealt to the Bucks earlier this season. Rodney Hood ended up taking a small deal to stay with Cleveland this season and he becomes a free agent this upcoming offseason. His season hasn’t been much different than his time with Utah – mostly streaky.
As previously mentioned, the trade deadline for this season quickly approaches and plenty of deals will likely happen. There will be plenty of buyers, a handful of sellers, and teams that simply stand pat. Luckily for fans and media alike, information will continue to come out, trades will be finalized, and it will only give us more storylines to explore.
Bulls’ guard Zach LaVine desires respect for new contract
According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, Chicago Bulls star Zach LaVine wants the respect he deserves for his contract extension. On Monday morning before Team USA’s practice to prepare for Tuesday’s match against Spain, the 26-year-old guard said to reporters, “I just want my respect, that’s the main thing. I outplayed my contract. I’ve been very loyal to Chicago. I like Chicago. I just want my respect. If that’s now or later, it’s something we’ve got to work out internally.” In the 2020-21 season, in 58 games played, LaVine averaged 27.4 points, five rebounds and 4.9 assists per game. He also shot 50.7 percent from the field and was selected to his first NBA All-Star Game.
Regarding the “outplayed my contract” comment, his argument his fair. Last season, with 200 three-point field goals made, he ranked ninth overall in the league. Despite the Bulls finishing 31-41 (.431) last season, he led the team in points and assists. Per ESPN, they are also reporting that Chicago is trying to work out a four-year, $105 million contract extension for their star guard. Though, this deal is expected to fall below his market value. In terms of signing available free agents this offseason, some Bulls fans are speculating the organization will pursue either Knicks’ shooting guard/small forward Reggie Bullock, Lakers’ power forward/center Markieff Morris or Pelicans’ point guard Lonzo Ball.
Zach LaVine says he "wants his respect" in contract extension & will stay in touch with Bulls in coming days as they face challenging decisions with cap space: https://t.co/36T2RpAtZu
— Brian Windhorst (@WindhorstESPN) August 2, 2021
On July 13, 2018, the 2014 13th pick of the draft signed a four-year, $78 million contract with the Bulls. LaVine earned $19,500,000 last season, and he is set to earn $19,500,000 in the upcoming season. It is not urgent for Chicago to extend LaVine’s contract this offseason. The organization will have the full rights to re-sign him to a new deal for next season in 2022.
However, the guard will also become an unrestricted free agent next year, so the Bulls should work towards fixing their salary cap issues right now. Referencing Spotrac, center Nikola Vucevic has a cap figure of $24 million. Of this amount, his future guaranteed cash is $22 million. One notable 2021-22 cap hold is Lauri Markkanen. His qualifying offer is $9,026,952, and his cap figure is $20,194,524. On March 2, 2020, Markkanen was recalled from the Windy City Bulls of the G League.
Furthermore, on March 25, 2021, center Nikola Vucevic and forward Al-Farouq Aminu were traded by the Orlando Magic to the Bulls in exchange for Otto Porter, Wendell Carter Jr., a 2021 first-round pick and a 2023 first-round pick. This is quite the gamble for the Bulls organization, considering they traded away two future first-round picks. Vucevic is set to earn $24 million for the 2021-22 season. Chicago has $56,679,846 available in cap space. Their current luxury tax space is $29,405746.
Rockets decline Avery Bradley’s $5.9 million team option
First reported by Shams Charania of The Athletic, the Houston Rockets are declining Avery Bradley’s team option for the 2021-22 NBA season. On November 23, 2020, the 30-year-old guard signed as a free agent with the Miami Heat. He signed a two-year, $11.6 million deal. On March 25, 2021, the Heat traded Bradley, Kelly Olynyk and a 2022 first-round pick to the Houston Rockets for two-time NBA All-Star guard Victor Oladipo. The 2022 first-round pick is an option to trade for a potential Heat or Nets pick. Plus, Houston received a trade exception, too.
Moreover, Bradley earned $5,635,000 this previous season; the Rockets declined his 2021-22 team option of $5,916,750 for next season. In other words, both sides have mutually agreed to part ways, so the six-foot-three guard is now an unrestricted free agent. In early February, it was first reported that the Washington native would miss three to four weeks due to a calf strain. Before this injury, he averaged 8.5 points, 1.8 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game for Miami. Furthermore, he also shot a career-high percentage of 42.1 percent from behind the arc last season.
The Rockets are not picking up guard Avery Bradley’s $5.9 million team option for next season, making him an unrestricted free agent, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium. Sides mutually agreed to part ways.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 31, 2021
Though, Bradley disappointed both of his teams last season, leading to the Rockets finishing 17-55 (.236), ranking 15th overall in the Western Conference. Last season was the first time since the 1982-83 season that Houston failed to win at least 20 games. Since the 2011-12 season, it was the first time the Rockets had failed to qualify for the playoffs. In only 27 games played, the 11-year NBA veteran averaged 6.4 points, 2.1 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game. He shot 37.4 percent from the field as well.
Likewise, the Miami Heat finished 40-32 (.556) last season, regressing from the team’s 44-29 (.603) record and sixth NBA Finals appearance from the 2019-20 season. Fans across social media are already speculating that the 2010 19th overall pick will end up playing for the Los Angeles Lakers next season. If this happens, he would join the team’s newly established big three: LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Russell Westbrook.
After Bradley signed with the Lakers for the 2019-20 season, he joined the list of players in the league’s history who played for both the Celtics and Lakers. The list includes Brian Shaw, Clyde Lovellette, Mel Counts, Rick Fox, Don Nelson, Bob McAdoo, Isaiah Thomas, Charlie Scott, Gary Payton, Shaquille O’Neal and Rajon Rondo. According to Bleacher Report, the Lakers are also interested in signing Carmelo Anthony this offseason.
Mavericks will pick up Willie Cauley-Stein’s $4.1 million option
Per ESPN’s Tim MacMahon, the Dallas Mavericks are planning to pick up center Willie Cauley-Stein’s $4.1 million option for the 2021-22 NBA season. The deadline is tomorrow. Last season, in 53 games played, the seven-foot big man averaged 5.3 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. The sixth-year player also shot 63.2 percent from the field last season.
On July 8, 2019, Cauley-Stein signed a two-year, $4.46 million contract with the Golden State Warriors. Then, on January 25, 2020, Cauley-Stein was traded to the Mavericks for a 2020 second-round pick. If everything goes smoothly, the 27-year-old center is set to earn $4.1 million next season. The 2015 sixth overall pick’s contract consumes less than three percent of the team’s total salary cap.
Source says Mavs are leaning toward picking up center Willie Cauley-Stein's $4.1 million option for next season. Deadline is Sunday and Mavs are waiting to see if situation unexpectedly materializes to make that cap space worth parting with a big man they like.
— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) July 31, 2021
This news comes right after Dallas received center Moses Brown from the Boston Celtics. Brown is a seven-foot-two, 2019 undrafted player out of UCLA. In 2021, Brown was named to the All-NBA G League First Team and All-Defensive Team. On March 28, 2021, the 21-year-old center signed a four-year, $6.8 million contract with the Thunder.
However, on June 18, 2021, the Oklahoma City Thunder traded Brown, Al Horford, and a 2023 second-round pick to the Celtics for Kemba Walker, a 2021 first-round pick and a 2025 second-round pick. With Boston, Brown was set to earn $1,701,593 next season. Of course, the Mavs organization is finalizing a trade to send Josh Richardson to the Celtics as well. In other news, today is Mavs owner Mark Cuban’s 63rd birthday.
Referencing Spotrac’s 2021-22 luxury tax totals, the Mavs’ current luxury tax space is $52,326,531. The 2021 NBA salary cap maximum is $112,414,000. Their current cap space is $27,595,632. Cauley-Stein’s contract is recognized as a club option, not a player option or guaranteed money. Richardson’s deadline is also tomorrow, so because he is getting traded to Boston, the team will not collect his $11,615,328 player option.
Plus, Jalen Brunson’s deadline is also August 1st. His guaranteed value is $1,802,057. Leading into the 2021-22 season, Kristaps Porzingis has the highest cap figure on the team, which is an amount worth $31,650,600, consuming 22.73 percent of the team’s total salary cap. At the moment, Porzingis is a popular name in trade rumor articles. Bettors and NBA analysts are predicting a possible trade to the Brooklyn Nets, Sacramento Kings or Philadelphia 76ers.
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