Big-Name Players Surfacing in Trade Rumors
With the 2016 NBA trade deadline looming, there have been a number of big-name players who have surfaced in the rumor mill. While big names are always fun to ponder, the odds that any of them get moved at the deadline still seem pretty slim. However, here is what we know today:
The Houston Rockets are not actively trying to move Dwight Howard, but if the right deal materializes they would surely look at it. The problem that the Rockets face with Howard is what does he really return in a trade? The Rockets have kicked the tires on a Howard trade and found that his pending free agency, injury history and overall decline in production combine to make him not very attractive in the trade market. The Rockets could move Howard to simply get him off the roster, but returning anything that helps the team now or going forward may not be in the cards.
Looking at Houston’s top producing lineups, Howard is not among any of the top lineup combinations the Rockets have used this season so there are a lot of reasons they could decide to cut bait on Howard. The question really comes down to, what do the Rockets take back? Moving a $22.3 million contract is difficult all by itself, and in Houston’s case they are not only hard-capped in what they can take back, they are unwilling to take back contracts that impact their future salary cap flexibility.
It is not out of the question that Howard gets moved. But as things stand today, it simply seems unlikely due to all of the factors mentioned above.
There is a lot of misinformation out there about the Los Angeles Clippers and their injured star Blake Griffin. Clippers sources have been adamant that they are not placing outgoing calls on Griffin and have steadfastly denied that they have entertained serious offers on Griffin. With that said, more than half a dozen teams have tried to get the Clippers to engage on a Griffin conversation, which some teams say have taken place in a very high level kind of way. The Clippers’ stance on Griffin is that the current team is playing very well and once Griffin returns to the lineup they should be in a position to really contend in the West. However misplaced that logic may seem, that’s how the Clippers see the world. The only way that changes is if someone were to blow them away with a great package, and that simply does not seem likely before the deadline.
League sources believe if the Clippers do hang onto Griffin at the deadline, they could revisit the situation in June if the team fails to reach at least the Western Conference Finals.
The prevailing thought is the Clippers want to give this core one more shot at the West; if they don’t succeed this year, shaking the roster up could become a very real option this summer.
There were some reports over the All-Star break suggesting that New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony could be involved in a major trade if he agreed to waive his no-trade clause. Anthony sort of addressed the notion during media availability in Toronto, saying that it was not something he was ready to consider. However, he did hint that maybe in the future it was worth having a conversation about that.
Over the weekend, league sources said that what’s playing out in Anthony’s world is that some of his advisers would like to see him traded to a situation where he can win a championship. However, Anthony does not seem willing to entertain it. Anthony is emotionally committed to being in New York and may be willing to wait out the re-building process because of how he feels about New York and being a Knick.
Anthony is in the same situation that many stars have found themselves recently, where his advisers see the situation for what it is while Anthony still has a romantic attachment.
It does not seem like Anthony will sign off on a deadline deal, but there is a growing belief that he might at least consider it in the offseason based on how free agency plays out this summer.
The Cleveland Cavaliers have been fairly active in the trade market and have been thoroughly exploring what’s possible. The odds are pretty high that the Cavs are going to do a deal, likely involving big man Timofey Mozgov. However, the Cavs have at least kicked the tires on bigger ideas including overtures from the Boston Celtics on big man Kevin Love.
The reality on moving Love is that not many teams are interested in his contract, especially based on his production this season. The Cavs are not actively trying to move Love, according to sources, but there have been at least some conversations that sources say did not get very far.
The Cavs have had several players labeled as movable beyond Love, such as guard Iman Shumpert. Cavs sources said yesterday that they are not actively talking about deals involving Shumpert, but that in some of their explorations his name came up specifically related to his contract being large enough to help make the math work on a bigger salary.
The Cavs do not seem willing to use either of their Traded Player Exceptions at this point, although sources admitted that the team wants to bolster their bench and for the right player they would add more salary and ultimately more tax, but the preference now is to move salary for salary hence why some names are being tossed around more openly as the Cavs try and find the right deal.
Much like Shumpert, Orlando Magic forward Tobias Harris’ name has come up mainly because he is the biggest movable salary for the Magic, who have explored a couple of splashy deals.
Magic sources sort of downplayed the scale of what they will likely complete, but conceded that there are a number of conversations that have taken place and more that are evolving.
Orlando’s stance has been that moving off any of their core players would have to return an upgrade in talent, presumably an All-Star or potential All-Star.
The Magic have a couple of guys to watch in terms of roster organization, namely big man Andrew Nicholson and point guard Shabazz Napier.
The Magic have been very active in trade talks so the odds are fairly high that they will trigger something at the deadline. However, at this point, odds are that a major deal won’t go down. That’s not because the Magic have not tried, they just may not have a big deal worth doing yet.
The Atlanta Hawks are at a crossroads of sorts. They love their team, but they may have peaked with this group. The Hawks have been exploring their options and it looks more likely than not that guard Jeff Teague is going to be moved at the deadline. The question is, which team do they send Teague too and for what in return? That is far from decided.
Big man Al Horford has also surfaced in trade rumors. Horford told Basketball Insiders that he does not want to be traded and said he’d like to remain in Atlanta. However, the Hawks have to decide if meeting a hefty new contract price for Horford is really in their best interest in the long-term. If the Hawks will pay Horford market value, he’d like to stay where he is so there isn’t as much risk of losing him for nothing in return as some other pending free agents.
The Hawks have explored a number of scenarios involving Horford and there does not seem to be a shortage of options if they decide to deal. From the Hawks’ side, the idea of blowing up the team seems unappealing, so if there is a deal involving Horford or even Teague, it’s likely to bring in talent for this year and better position the team going forward.
What Atlanta ultimately does is still fairly unclear, but it does seem the Hawks’ posture is of a team ready to make a move. And it seems more likely than not that Teague will be the guy they move.
The 2016 NBA trade deadline is Thursday at 3 p.m. EST, so stay tuned. The annual Basketball Insiders Deadline Diary will drop tomorrow and will chronicle all the latest news, rumors and trade talk all the way up to the deadline.
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