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NBA Daily: Trade Deadline Watch

With only one day left before the chaos, Jordan Hicks looks at all the major stories revolving this year’s NBA Trade Deadline.

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All week leading up to the deadline there has been plenty of speculation regarding trades of certain players. This piece continues the Basketball Insiders series of the Trade Deadline Watch and highlights the most intriguing stories and where we are at with them.

The trade deadline is about as interesting as it gets at this point of the year, as teams are either trying to stockpile future assets or acquire playoff-level talent to help them make one last push for the Larry O’Brien. The unfortunate reality for many teams, however, is that a deal may not end up getting done.

You can argue that every franchise has moves they should make, but whether or not they’re able to find a partner that enables a symbiotic relationship is the determining factor. As we saw early Wednesday morning, sometimes it takes four teams and a boatload of players to make a deal worthwhile!

Below we will lay out some of the most interesting storylines, dive into important facts and highlight any developments. With the deadline coming to a close at 3 p.m. Thursday, we shall see if any of these deals happen. Hoorah for Trade Deadline Season!

Andre Iguodala – Memphis Grizzlies

The drama is ripe with this one! Iguodala hasn’t suited up for the Memphis Grizzlies all season — he and the front office had an agreement in place before his departure from the Golden State Warriors was finalized — and certain players with Memphis are taking notice.

As reported by Mark Giannotto of The Commercial Appeal, Dillon Brooks earlier this week said, “I can’t wait till we find a way to trade him so we can play him and show him really what Memphis is about.” Teammate Ja Morant then quote tweeted the above comment with the talking emoji. It’s safe to say that Memphis’ young stars aren’t all too pleased with Iggy’s willingness to just sit out.

This one is interesting because Memphis was supposed to struggle. No one had them on the cusp of the playoffs right before the All-Star break. Even the Grizzlies’ front office had little faith, as it’s apparent that is part of what led them to the agreement with Iggy that he would be able to sit out until they could flip him for draft assets.

Well, Memphis is solid. They have a handful of young stars in Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr., and Brandon Clarke. It’s easy to see why they would feel spurned by Iggy’s continued lack of desire to join them in their playoff hunt.

The biggest issue with Andre Iguodala right now? There doesn’t seem to be many buyers. It’s been reported that Memphis wants a first-round pick for the former Finals MVP and three-time NBA champion, but there aren’t many teams that have enough faith in the declining 36-year-old. Enough faith for a future first-rounder, at least.

There’s a chance Memphis can still flip Iggy for some second-round picks, but there is also the possibility a deal doesn’t get done and they simply sit on him until he becomes a free agent over the summer. But as for any deals heating up over the last few days, there hasn’t been much chatter.

Kevin Love – Cleveland Cavaliers

Cleveland is a bad team. They have a couple of nice, young pieces, but in no way, shape or form should it have a max-contract level player on the roster. Kevin Love definitely helps Cleveland, but he has very little help around him, so he himself is not able to amount to many wins, as the team’s record indicates.

Love is still playing basketball at a high-level. The issue, however, is that he is getting older, clearly past his peak and is owed over $90 million in the next three seasons. Not only will Cleveland want an equal return in terms of draft assets for Love’s abilities, but they’ll also need to find a team willing to take on his salary. On top of this, they’d need someone to match his almost $30 million salary for the 2019-20 season, which could take up to four players. This makes any trade incredibly difficult.

There are plenty of teams out there that could use Kevin Love’s services. He probably pushes teams like the Los Angeles Clippers or Utah Jazz to the top of the Western Conference hierarchy. He makes a team like the Boston Celtics an instant threat to win the East. But are there any teams out there that could easily get a deal done? Not likely.

At the end of the day, will Love’s $30 million-per-year contract through the 2022-23 season be worth it? He’s 31 years old. He’ll almost be 35 by the time his contract is up. Monitoring this situation will be very interesting.

The New York Knicks

As expected, the Knicks are opening up shop. A yearly ritual around the trade deadline, the Knicks have nowhere to go but up, so getting as many future draft assets as possible is not a bad thing.

The most notable names to come out of New York’s circle are Julius Randle and Marcus Morris. Both players could provide a huge boost to all current playoff teams, enough so that the Knicks might actually get a decent haul for them. Both Randle and Morris off the roster would also allow the Knicks to play and develop some of their younger talents. Let’s be real, Morris isn’t willing them to the playoffs anytime soon, so there’s not much point in letting him be your nightly hero if you can flip him for a potential first-round pick.

With the recent firing of team president Steve Mills, the Knicks are now much more likely to get a Morris deal done. Teams like the Los Angeles Lakers are already begun exploring their options. Morris adds instant offense to any roster and has the chops on defense, too. He isn’t an All-Star by any means, but if he’s your fourth or fifth guy, you have a championship-level roster for sure.

All the trade hoopla wraps up tomorrow. Will any of the above deals get done? Will anything not mentioned be the highlight of this year’s trade deadline? Are there deals worked out that never even saw the light of day until they were announced? We’ll have to wait and find out.

With the end of the Golden State Warriors’ dynasty, there are at least six-plus teams that have a real chance at winning it all, and you better believe that another seven or eight think they have a legitimate shot, too. If that means anything, you should expect plenty of transactions.

But, the league is and always has been full of surprises, so we’ll just have to see what the front offices have up their sleeves.

Jordan Hicks is an NBA writer based out of Salt Lake City. He is a former college athlete and varsity sports official. Find him on Twitter @JordanHicksNBA.

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Grizzlies trade Jonas Valanciunas to Pelicans for Eric Bledsoe, Steven Adams

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According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Andrew Lopez, the New Orleans Pelicans are shipping guard Eric Bledsoe, center Steven Adams, the Nos. 10 and 40 picks of the 2021 NBA Draft, and two future first-round picks to the Memphis Grizzlies for center Jonas Valanciunas and the Nos. 17 and 51 picks of this week’s upcoming draft. So, the Pelicans are giving up the Lakers’ 2022 first-round pick. Valanciunas, the 29-year-old veteran center, averaged 17.1 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 1.8 assists per game in 62 games played throughout the 2020-21 season. He also shot 59 percent from the field. The seven-foot Lithuanian also ranks fourth overall in true shooting percentage (.616) among active players. On July 11, 2019, Valanciunas signed a three-year, $45 million contract with the Grizzlies. He is set to earn $4 million next season.

Additionally, in 71 games played last season, Bledsoe averaged 12.2 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 3.8 assists. The six-foot-one guard also shot 42.1 percent from the field in the 2020-21 season. On November 23, 2020, as part of a four-team trade, Bledsoe and Adams were traded to the Pelicans from the Oklahoma City Thunder, along with two future first-round picks and the right to swap two additional first-round picks. Last season, in 71 games played, Bledsoe averaged 12.2 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 3.8 assists. His field goal percentage was 42.1 percent as well. The 11-year veteran is set to earn $18,125,000 in the 2021-22 season. Before he was traded to New Orleans, on March 4, 2019, the guard signed a four-year, $70 million extension. He earned his first All-Defensive second-team selection in the 2019-20 season.

Moreover, in 58 games played last season, Adams averaged 7.6 points, 8.9 rebounds, and 1.9 assists per game. The six-foot-eleven center ranks fifth among active players for effective field goal shooting percentage (.591). The eight-year veteran also ranks third in offensive rebounding percentage, with an active statistic of 14 percent. On November 23, 2020, the same day Adams was traded to the Pelicans, he signed a two-year, $35 million extension. For next season, he is projected to earn $17,073,171. To add to this trade news, the Grizzlies and Pelicans are swapping second-round picks in this year’s draft, too. Referencing NBA.com’s “Consensus Mock Draft” article, with the No. 10 pick of the draft, the Pelicans were originally expected to draft either Josh Giddey or Davion Mitchell at this number. However, plans have now changed.

From ESPN’s Bobby Marks, the trade will not be finalized until August 6th, and this is because of the annual salaries of these said players. Free agency will begin on August 2, 6:00 p.m. (EST). Furthermore, per Spotrac’s 2021-22 NBA salary cap table, next season’s luxury tax threshold is $136,606,000. The team’s current available luxury tax space is $22,555,195. The Pelicans and Grizzlies have a salary cap maximum of $112,414,000. Brandon Ingram, Bledsoe, and Adams had a combined cap percentage of 39.2 percent. Considering that Bledsoe and Adams are traded away, this will clear up $35,198,171 of dead cap space.

Yesterday, CBS Sports reported the news pertaining to Lonzo Ball’s desire to remain in New Orleans. With extra cap space, the team is expected to re-sign the 23-year-old guard. Likewise, for the Grizzlies, the teams has a luxury tax space of $37,019,952. Their current cap space is $8,321,229. As stated before, the transactions have not yet been finalized. The Grizzlies’ outgoing cap is now $14 million, but from the contracts of Adams and Bledsoe, they are bringing in $35,198,171.

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NBA Trade Rumors: Jazz considering trade offers for Bojan Bogdanovic, Joe Ingles, Royce O’Neale, and No. 30 pick of the 2021 NBA Draft

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Per one interesting announcement from Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer, the Utah Jazz are open to trading forward Bojan Bogdanovic, forward-guard Joe Ingles, small forward Royce O’Neale, and the No. 30 pick of the 2021 NBA Draft. Fischer stated, “The Utah Jazz are known to be one of the few teams actually searching to move playoff-tested talent. Retaining Mike Conley is an offseason priority, sources said, and the Jazz have held numerous discussions with teams around the league about offloading salary to create for Conley in free agency.” Point guard Mike Conley is set to become a free agent this offseason. Though, general manager Justin Zanik will aim to re-sign the 33-year-old guard in the coming weeks. Conley earned $34.5 million in the 2020-21 season.

“League personnel most often mention Joe Ingles as the Jazz wing to watch, and Bojan Bogdanovic and Royce O’Neale are also considered available for trade as Utah narrows its focus towards building a contender around Donovan Mitchel. The Jazz are also open to discuss trading their No. 30 pick, sources said.” In the 2020-21 season, in 72 games played, Bogdanovic averaged 17 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 1.9 assists per game. On May 1, 2021, in the team’s 106-102 victory over the Toronto Raptors, the six-foot-seven Croatian scored a season-high 34 points, shooting 12-for-22, and he finished his performance with four rebounds and four assists as well. On July 7, 2019, he signed a four-year, $73 million contract with the Jazz.

In 67 games played last season, Ingles averaged 12.1 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 4.7 assists per game. The six-foot-eight forward is set to earn $14 million in the 2021-22 season. Plus, among the mentioned players, Royce O’Neale has contributed the least. In 71 games played last season, he averaged seven points, 6.8 rebounds, and 2.5 assists. On January 19, 2020, the forward signed a four-year, $36 million extension with the team. He will earn $8.6 million next season. According to The Athletic, in the team’s seventh workout for draft prospects, they viewed Quentin Grimes, David Duke, Matt Mitchell, and a few other players. In the first round, if the team chooses not to draft any of the players they are holding workouts for, the organization will trade the No. 30 pick.

Just for a reminder, retrieved from Spotrac, the 2021-22 NBA luxury tax threshold is $136,606,000. Utah’s active roster cap is $133,284,695, the maximum cap is $112,414,000, and the current cap space is $72,990,215. Furthermore, center Rudy Gobert currently has the highest guaranteed contract on the team. On December 20, 2020, Gobert signed a five-year, $205 million extension with the organization. Gobert is set to earn $35.3 million in the coming season, whereas Donovan Mitchell will earn $28.1 million. Gobert and Mitchell combined consume 47.6 percent of the team’s salary cap. For the upcoming 2021-22 season, the Jazz have a guaranteed total of $129,719,453. Based on the team’s future outlook, the Jazz will have to make a trade or two in order to retain their star players. This should go without saying.

NBA Analysis Network reported a few days ago that a potential Jazz-Knicks trade target is Bojan Bogdanovic. Greg Patuto proposed the Knicks receiving Bogdanovic, while the Jazz would receive Kevin Knox II, and the Nos. 19 and No. 32 picks of the 2021 NBA Draft. Now, this could still happen at some point during this draft week, but then again, sports bettors and fans alike understand that these news reports could be just rumors. The most intelligent, unforthcoming general managers know not to leave bread crumb trails for the media, especially leading into the offseason. They will do everything necessary to protect their foolproof plans.

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Raptors, Pacers, Timberwolves, Kings, and Cavaliers among teams showing interest in Ben Simmons

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According to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, five teams have shown interest in pursuing Ben Simmons from the Philadelphia 76ers. Fischer reported, “Cleveland, Indiana, Minnesota, Sacramento, and Toronto all showed interest in acquiring the runner-up for Defensive Player of the Year.” Furthermore, the teams are wanting Simmons to change position from point guard to forward. “Multiple executives from those teams, when contacted by Bleacher Report, mentioned their excitement at incorporating Simmons as a play-making forward—not at the point guard position he’s played in Philadelphia.” The six-foot-eleven guard averaged 14.3 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 6.9 assists in the 2020-21 NBA season. This might sound fine for a young rookie, but as a five-year player, these aforementioned statistics were career lows.

However, the 25-year-old also earned his third NBA All-Star selection and second All-Defensive first-team selection last season. After a less than mediocre performance in his third postseason of his NBA career, the majority of 76ers’ fans would agree that it’s now time for Simmons to have a change in scenery. With a regular season record of 49-23 (.681), the No. 1 ranked 76ers in the Eastern Conference entered the conference semifinals as favorites over the Atlanta Hawks. Leading into this series, some NBA analysts were predicting Philadelphia to prevail four games to two. The 2016 first overall pick was expected to limit Trae Young in scoring and rally his team from point deficits, but none of this ever manifested.

Pertaining to postseason averages, Simmons had a playoff series-low of 9.9 points and 6.3 rebounds per game in the conference semifinals against the Hawks. This lackluster showing proved to be a more significant downfall for the superstar, considering Simmons had only five points, eight rebounds, and 13 assists in Game 7 versus the Hawks. In the 2019-20 season, he averaged 2.1 steals per game, leading all other players in the league. Moreover, Simmons currently ranks sixth in the NBA for active player triple-doubles (32). With a total of 32 career triple-doubles, he ranks 13th on the all-time list, tied with Clippers’ guard Rajon Rondo.

On July 16, 2019, Simmons signed a five-year, $169.65 million contract extension with the 76ers. He is set to earn $30.5 million in the 2021-22 season. Among these teams interested in Simmons, Cavs’ Kevin Love has the fourth largest contract guarantee of $91.4 million. Love is due to earn $31.3 million next season, and the 13-year veteran’s contract consumes 26 percent of the team’s salary cap. He could be traded this offseason. Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns has a contract guarantee of $130.8 million. The 25-year-old Wolves center will earn $31.6 million in the upcoming season.

Plus, Kings’ 2017 first-round pick De’Aaron Fox has a guaranteed contract of $171.1 million. Fox will earn $28.1 million next season. To add to that, Raptors’ Pascal Siakim has a contract guarantee of $131.4 million. Not to mention, reported by Yahoo Sports via trade rumors yesterday, the Golden State Warriors are a potential trade partner for Toronto. The Warriors could make a move on Siakim, clearing up space on the Raptors for Simmons. Per Spotrac, the 2021-22 season cap maximum is $112,414,000. In the coming weeks, one of these said five teams might make a substantial trade offer to the 76ers’ organization that they cannot refuse.

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