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NBA Daily: Hired Guns Available For The Playoff Push

Three players likely to emerge on the buyout market could make the difference for some playoff contenders.

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The NBA trade deadline for the 2018 season is now in the distant rearview. But there still is a bit of business left as teams begin to gear up for their respective playoff runs. The next opportunity for these squads to improve their chances in the postseason is the annual buyout market.

Keep in mind, the buyout market will end on March 1, which is the deadline for a bought out player to be eligible to compete in the playoffs. All teams can be active in the buyout market, but the traction during this time is typically reserved for franchises headed to the postseason.

Every year, there are a number of veteran players available during this time period. In most cases, these veterans will be bought out by rebuilding franchises looking to give their youth more exposure while giving the experienced player a chance to compete for a title and also increase their free agency value for the upcoming summer.

This is an annual process where teams looking to maximize their run and add more firepower are extremely active. This year will be no different with a few names on the board that will undoubtedly get looks around the league.

Derrick Rose, Guard, Free Agent

Much has been written about the fall from grace Rose has experienced. A former MVP, Rose has declined but he is still a productive NBA player if the expectations for his level of production is lowered accordingly.

Last season, Rose averaged 18 points, four rebounds and four assists with the New York Knicks. Was he an All-Star candidate? No. Did he remind anyone of his once MVP caliber skill set? No. But he was productive.

This season with the Cavaliers, Rose was asked to play off the ball and come off the bench on many nights. What’s being overlooked when discussing Rose’s decline this year is the fact a transition from superstar to role player is a process that takes time.

Naturally, there should be some type of transition period when a player goes from the leading man to a supporting cast member.

In the right role, Rose could help a team tremendously off the bench. But if the expectation continues to remain after all of the injuries and age impact that Rose will one day be a dominant player again, then that is just not realistic.

When it comes to Rose, and his playing future, the expectations should be realistic and the provided results might be in line with what we’ve been seeing on the court – a productive player, no longer a star but far from a scrub.

Ersan Ilyasova, Forward, Free Agent

The Atlanta Hawks will not make the playoffs for the first time since 2008. The team has embraced the youth movement under a new front office regime. Gone are All-Stars Paul Millsap, Al Horford and Jeff Teague. This year’s Hawks are a collection of young talents looking to prove that they belong in the league.

The team is in a clear rebuild mode and it was no surprise when Ilyasova was recently bought out by the franchise in order for the team’s young guys to get more playing time. But now the forward will explore free agency and look to join a playoff squad. Early reports indicate Ilyasova will join the Philadelphia 76ers.

If that’s the case, he will be the second former Hawk this season to join Philadelphia after the trade deadline with the first being shooting guard Marco Belinelli – also a buyout.

What’s shocking is that the Hawks failed to receive any assets in return for productive veterans at the trade deadline.

Yes, Ilyasova has issues on the defensive end of the floor, but he is proven double-digit scoring threat throughout his tenure in the league. If he does indeed sign with the 76ers, it will be another veteran addition to a team gearing up for a much anticipated playoff berth.

Joakim Noah, Center, New York Knicks

The case of Noah and the Knicks seem to be doomed from the start. The former All-Star received a four-year, $72 million deal from then team president Phil Jackson. The deal didn’t come without some eyebrows being raised since Noah received the deal from Jackson despite spending his last years in Chicago battling numerous ailments amid diminished production.

During his prime, Noah was a hustle filled, hard-nosed and energetic player. But the combination of age and injuries have seemingly taken its toll on the former Defensive Player of the Year. The Knicks have currently sent Noah home and his future with the franchise remains unclear. A buyout is likely, but he is also still owed a hefty sum on that $72 million contract.

Previous Buyout Additions

If you want an example of how buyouts can help bolster a roster, look no further than the Houston Rockets. The Rockets are a legitimate title contender and threat to the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference. Early in the season, the Rockets signed veteran swingman Gerald Green. However, their front office has continued to look for ways to fine-tune the roster and likely struck it rich in the buyout market class with two proven veteran commodities.

Most recently, the team signed veterans Joe Johnson and Brandon Wright after both were bought out. Both of these players are past their respective primes, but Johnson and Wright are professionals that have played at a high level at one point or another in the league.

The Rockets are a classic example of how the buyout market can help a team that’s in the thick of the hunt. It appears the Philadelphia 76ers are going down the same route after bringing in Belinelli and potentially Ilyasova. The 76ers have an extremely young team and surrounding them with veterans that have playoff experience is the right touch when you have a team of young guys adjusting to their upcoming new experience of reaching the playoffs.

Lang Greene is a senior NBA writer for Basketball Insiders and has covered the NBA for the last 10 seasons

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