The Buyers and The Sellers
With the 2018 NBA Trade Deadline just two weeks away, there are a lot of things floating around the NBA, some are less likely than others, but what has become clear is there are some bona fide sellers, and there are some teams looking to buy. Here are some of them:
The Magic have been in the NBA trade market for most of the season. The prevailing thought from league sources is while the Magic seem to be open for business, they are not open to taking much back in terms of salary which may make it hard for them to offload some of the contract money they seem to be trying to move.
The two names that get the most play in NBA circles are guards Evan Fournier and Elfrid Payton. While the Magic seem to open to ideas on the entire roster, they have been pretty open that they are not doing a deal just to do a deal. The Magic’s stance is that anything they do has to meet their goals of being able to remake the team fairly quickly, so taking back long-term contracts are not in the plan.
As the deadline nears, the Magic could move half the roster or make no moves at all. That’s really where they are. If nothing materializes, the Magic seem content to let this roster ride out the season and re-tool around the draft and in free agency, especially because the Magic feel like they have some pretty attractive contracts that could be significantly better value than options available to other teams in free agency.
Magic general manager John Hammond said recently anything the team did wouldn’t be geared towards a short-term fix, rather fitting into the long-term plan, which has been a consistent message out of the Magic from the start.
The Kings seem to be closing in on a deal to move out guard George Hill, likely sending him to Cleveland in exchange for Cavs center Channing Frye and guard Iman Shumpert. There is the possibility that some second-round picks change hands, but this deal would be about getting Hill and his hefty salary next year off the books.
The Kings have also been exploring deals involving big man Skal Labissière and guard Malachi Richardson. The Kings need to open up a roster spot to complete the Cavaliers trade and have been exploring options.
Sources close to the Kings said they have been very open and receptive to helping move off the veteran players that have fallen out of the rotation in Sacramento.
The Kings are said to be fielding offers on Garrett Temple and Zach Randolph, although team sources said both are more likely to end the season in Sacramento than being moved, it was something on the table.
New York Knicks
The Knicks have been kicking the tires on their options at the trade deadline and one of the players more likely moved than not is big man Willy Hernangomez.
The Knicks kicked the tires on several trade options before agreeing to sign Trey Burke and found the market to be a little bare, with limited interest that made sense for them.
The Knicks have reportedly fielded conversations on potential free agent big Kyle O’Quinn, swingman Courtney Lee and potential free agent Enes Kanter.
The prevailing thought around the NBA is that Hernangomez is mostly the guy moved, but that the return may not be nearly that sexy.
The Knicks seem like they will do something at the deadline, but the odds of it being a huge team altering deal seems remote.
When news that Charlotte’s Kemba Walker might be available broke, Knicks fans pegged him as someone to go all-in for, however, Knicks sources say there was due diligence done there, but nothing got very far. The Hornets have been quick to downplay a willingness to move Walker, which likely is why the Knicks talk didn’t get very far.
The Jazz are said to be listening pretty aggressively to trade ideas involving some notable players. The name mentioned most is soon to be free agent big man Derrick Favors, although guards Alec Burks, Joe Johnson and even Rodney Hood are said to be available for the right return.
The narrative around the Jazz is they want to retool around big man Rudy Gobert and super rookie Donovan Mitchell and that the rest of the roster is open for discussion.
The Cavaliers have been linked to Favors as have the Chicago Bulls. Most league insiders see Bulls forward Nikola Mirotić landing in Utah, however, Bulls sources cautioned that while both sides have gotten pretty far down the road, nothing is close enough to label it likely or unlikely.
The Bulls are believed to want a first-round pick in a Mirotić deal, and that does not seem to be something the Jazz are open to.
For the Jazz, Johnson represents a huge ending contract. However, the prevailing thought in NBA circles is that Johnson stays past the deadline and it ultimate bought out.
The Jazz have the right combination of ending contracts and rookie scale players to be a big player at the deadline, especially if a notable player hits the market.
The Nuggets get frequently mentioned during every transaction window mainly because they have so much duplication. As the trade deadline approaches, the Nuggets are again in the mix with league sources saying forward Kenneth Faried and guard Emmanuel Mudiay can be had, and the asking price isn’t that significant. The Nuggets also have reasonable deals on Wilson Chandler and forward Darrell Arthur, both hold player options for next season which make them tough to move, as teams tend to shy away from placing value on uncertainty.
The player to watch in Denver might be swingman Will Barton. He is posting a solid season and the possible front-runner for the Sixth Man of the Year. Barton is headed toward unrestricted free agency and is expected to command a hefty number that might not make sense for the Nuggets without dumping some of the names mentioned.
Of the bunch, Barton likely returns the most value, which is something the Nuggets may have to entertain.
As it stands now, the Nuggets seem to be a seller, but sources close to the process don’t label them as wanting to trigger a deal as aggressively as some of the other teams. Time will tell if the Nuggets can find a deal they’ll do, especially as they linger around the bottom of the Western Conference playoff picture.
Maybe it’s the chaos of the Cavs or maybe there is a realization that the roster as currently configured doesn’t work, but the Cleveland Cavaliers are trying to shake some things up. Not only are the Cavs looking at significant deals, but they are also now open to taking on contract money, something they seemed closed to doing a few months ago.
The Cavs seem close to a deal to bring in guard George Hill from Sacramento. The word is they likely will dump off Channing Frye and Iman Shumpert and either include Derrick Rose or waive him at some point after a deal.
The Cavs have also been trying to pry away another high-level big man, having made repeated runs at the Clippers regarding DeAndre Jordan. Should the Clippers opt to hang onto Jordan, which seems to be the case as of today, the Cavs also have eyes on Utah’s Derrick Favors.
While the Cavs will have to send out contract money in any deal, they seem to be open to adding to their whopping $43 million tax bill.
As things stand today, the Cavs have $134.07 million in guaranteed salary, pushing them $14.811 million over the luxury tax line, giving them a repeater tax bill north of $43 million for a total roster cost of $177.16 million.
As things stand today, for every new million the Cavs add to the payroll, their tax bill will increase by more than $4 million. It seems if the Cavs are really willing to add money that Cavs ownership really is putting their money where their mouth is. Given their most recent stretch of games, it seems like they have little choice.
The Bucks have been looking for frontcourt help for some time. The Bucks continue to be linked to Clippers big man DeAndre Jordan, and while it’s looking less and less likely the Clippers will pull the trigger, the Bucks remain optimistic they could win a deal if they put him on the market.
The Bucks seem to be offering some combination of forward John Henson, and at least two rookie scale players from forward Thon Maker and guards D.J. Wilson and Rashad Vaughn.
An alternative for the Bucks seems to be Jazz big man Derrick Favors, although Utah seems to have a number of suitors for him.
The dark horse candidate for the Bucks could be Miami’s Hassan Whiteside, but sources close to the HEAT continue to say its unlikely they are going to make him available in trade, but admitted teams have called, meaning Miami has options.
The Bucks seem open to adding to their monster payroll now. The question becomes what to do with would be free agent Jabari Parker, who is still rehabbing from an ACL injury and may not be able to play until early March.
The Dallas Mavericks are open for business and willing to rent out some of their possible $13.5 million in cap space to add young pieces, or draft picks to their rebuild plan.
The Mavericks also have a slew of ending contracts including Josh McRoberts ($6.02m), Devin Harris ($4.40m) and Seth Curry ($3.02m). Big man Nerlens Noel is also an ending contract; however, he has veto rights on a trade making his $4.18 million a little tougher to move as he’d influence where he lands.
For teams looking to shed cap dollars or route a trade through Dallas to make the cap math work, the Mavericks are well positioned to grab a few assets for themselves as a middleman.
The Mavericks have had eyes for Lakers forward Julius Randle, and with LA looking to offload cap money in advance of free agency in July, the Mavericks look like the prime player.
The upside for the Mavericks is they’ll have cap space through the NBA draft and into July, so they don’t have to do anything with their flexibility at the deadline that doesn’t make sense for them, but they are open for business.
On Tuesday we started dropping our positional “Trade Watch” guides. If you missed one, here is NBA Trade Watch: Point Guards and NBA Trade Watch: Shooting Guards. Look for Small Forward today, Power Forward tomorrow and Center on Saturday.
The 2018 NBA Trade Deadline is Thursday February 8 at 3:00pm EST.
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