So Who Is Next To Be Moved?
With Eric Bledsoe officially dealt to the Milwaukee Bucks, there are a few other names to watch in what’s become a crazy early season trade market. While most NBA teams are trying to figure out if the months of work done this summer will work out, there are a few teams pondering trades. The likelihood of anything significant happening before December 15 seems unlikely, mainly because so much of a team’s roster is trade restricted until mid-December, making the pool of possible trade assets much smaller.
There are a few names to watch, even if a deal isn’t in the cards for several more weeks.
For the Suns, Greg Monroe was the ending salary they coveted in exchange for Bledsoe. Monroe is going to get a chance to play in Phoenix, but he is far from being a part of their vision for the future. The Suns and Monroe are destined to part ways, but the question is whether the Suns find a trade destination for Monroe before the February 8th NBA trade deadline.
Word in NBA circles is Monroe would be open to a contract buyout to be able to pick his next situation. However, the Suns at this point seem reluctant to entertain that, opting to see what the next month or so unearths as the trade market opens in December.
Monroe is not a long term option for the Suns, so the question becomes, does someone get desperate enough to offer something for him, knowing that the Suns may eventually buy him out.
For the Lakers, forward Luol Deng is the odd man out in the Magic Johnson/Rob Pelinka era. Deng signed on to play the veteran leader role on a team looking to rebuild. The problem for Deng is he no longer fits their vision for the future and has little to no role on the team. The challenge for the Lakers is that Deng’s contract is likely among the worst deals in basketball in terms of dollars and years remaining.
The Lakers and Deng seem to be in an amicable place on his status, with the Lakers agreeing to work with Deng’s agent in finding a resolution. After several weeks of looking for a trade, the word is no one seems interested in trading for Deng, meaning contract buyout looks to be the only option.
The Lakers at this point do not seem open to that unless Deng takes a massive discount on the remaining years owed to him, something his camp does not seem open to doing.
There are a couple of cap loopholes the Lakers could explore—our own Eric Pincus is working on a piece that chronicles the options. However, at this point, even with some creative accounting available to the Lakers, they do not seem overly motivated to do anything on the buyout front, opting to see what surfaces closer to the deadline.
There is a belief that, at some point, the Lakers are going to move forward Julius Randle and packaging Deng with him is a possibility. It might erode what the Lakers ultimately get in return for Randle, but it seems the Lakers are more interested in cap flexibility this summer and if a deal can offload Deng, that might be enough.
Like Deng, 76ers big man Jahlil Okafor is trying to get out of Philadelphia. The 76ers at this point seem reluctant to buy out Okafor, even though he seems open to leaving most of his remaining salary behind to get the chance to pick his next team. The 76ers are being somewhat pragmatic about the situation, trying to extract some kind of return on a player the organization selected with the third overall pick just a few seasons ago.
Okafor and his agent have been pushing for a deal, and there seems to be a few interested parties, but the asking price still seems to be too high to get a deal done.
It seems there will be closure to this situation sooner than later, the question becomes is it by trade or an eventual buyout? The problem for the 76ers is there isn’t much demand for Okafor; most teams are willing to take a gamble for the balance of the season as a rental to see if he has the upside many felt he had coming into the NBA. It doesn’t seem that anyone is going to pay a premium for the opportunity to kick the tires, which is what the 76ers seem to be waiting on.
There are a few dates to keep in mind, the players that signed free agent deals with new teams this past summer become trade-eligible on December 15. Those players that stayed with their existing teams and received a raise of 15 percent or more become trade-eligible on January 15. The NBA has moved the trade deadline to before the NBA All-Star Break, making February 8th the last day to complete trades.
Historically most teams try and give the roster they constructed in the offseason 15-20 games before seriously exploring trades. With so many names floating around in early November, things could change, especially for some of the teams that seem to be struggling to find their way.
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