You know we’re less than 24 hours away from the trade deadline when talks are heating up and Basketball Insiders’ Trade Deadline Diary is constantly being updated. In today’s NBA PM, I’ll be breaking down five situations to keep an eye on as the trade deadline approaches.
Goran Dragic Trade Seems Inevitable: After Goran Dragic met with the Phoenix Suns and told them that he wasn’t going to re-sign this summer, the odds of him being traded before the deadline increased. But there was still some talk that the Suns could call his bluff, hold onto him and see if they could re-sign him anyway since they could offer more contract years and significantly more guaranteed money this offseason.
However, that no longer seems like an option, as Dragic today blasted the Suns organization and made it clear he wants out as soon as possible. He’s not just burning bridges on his way out of Phoenix, he’s napalming them. Dragic said that he wants to leave Phoenix because his role has changed and then fired shots at the team’s management.
“I don’t trust them anymore,” Dragic told Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic. “I’m always going to have a good memory about Phoenix fans and the city. I just hit that point of my career that it’s better for me and my family to move on.
“I don’t feel comfortable with my situation. It’s just different. Standing in the corner, it’s not my game. I see that we’re not going the right direction. That’s why I take action and try to put myself in a better position.”
It seems as if the organization’s experiment to play three point guards – Dragic, Eric Bledsoe and Isaiah Thomas – has blown up in their face and could cost them Dragic. He’s upset with how he’s being utilized in the system and wants out for that reason (among others). Earlier this season, he made some similar comments about being frustrated with his role and minutes and now it seems that has come to a head.
Dragic reportedly wants to join the Miami HEAT, New York Knicks, Los Angeles Lakers or Indiana Pacers among others and is willing to re-sign with those teams over the summer. While Dragic wants to go to the Lakers, sources say that L.A. isn’t willing to move significant assets for Dragic before the deadline, since they can wait and just pursue him in the summer when they’ll have a ton of money to throw around in free agency. It’s unclear if other teams on his list will approach the situation the same way.
Still, teams like the Houston Rockets, Sacramento Kings and Boston Celtics are reportedly willing to trade for Dragic without a long-term commitment, believing they can sell him on their situation and keep him by offering the most money and years this summer.
Dragic may be the biggest name dealt over the next 24 hours, as there are plenty of teams pursuing him and he certainly seems upset with the Suns.
This season, Dragic is averaging 16.2 points, 4.1 assists, 3.6 rebounds and 1.0 steal. Last season, when he was in more of a featured role, he was named to the All-NBA Third Team and averaged 20.3 points, 5.9 assists, 3.2 rebounds and 1.4 steals.
Reggie Jackson Demands a Trade: It’s no surprise that the Oklahoma City Thunder have considered trading Reggie Jackson prior to the deadline.
Since the team acquired Dion Waiters last month, Jackson’s role and minutes have significantly decreased and he’s unhappy. Moving him would also allow them to get under the luxury tax, which they’ve refused to pay in the past. Jackson’s name has come up quite a bit and many people have expected him to be dealt.
But rather than waiting and seeing if that would happen, Jackson’s agent Aaron Mintz reportedly took matters into his own hands and requested that the Thunder trade his client. He made this request in the last week and a half, giving Oklahoma City some time to look at different options for the point guard.
A number of teams have shown interest in the 24-year-old point guard, including many of the franchises being linked to Goran Dragic. The teams that miss on Dragic will likely pursue Jackson as their Plan B. Teams like the Indiana Pacers, Houston Rockets, Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks are expected to be in the mix for Jackson, according to sources.
On Wednesday, Jackson was asked about his future with the Thunder and was non-committal, simply saying, “I would love to play basketball.”
Jackson will be a restricted free agent after this season, so whichever team trades for him will likely land him for the long haul since they can match any offer he receives this summer.
Jackson is currently averaging 12.8 points, 4.2 assists and 4.0 rebounds. When he started 13 games for Oklahoma City earlier this season, he averaged 20.2 points, 7.8 assists and 5.2 rebounds.
Bucks Searching for a Big Man: The Milwaukee Bucks have agreed to a buyout with Larry Sanders that will pay him $15 million over the next seven years, according to sources. That means he’s leaving over $20 million on the table, and his cap hit will drop from $11 per season to $2.14 million.
Now, with Sanders gone, the Bucks are looking to add a big man that can replace him. The team currently has Zaza Pachulia and John Henson, but they would like to bolster their frontcourt since they’re trying to make a playoff run this year. Milwaukee is currently 30-23, which puts them in the Eastern Conference’s sixth seed.
Enes Kanter is a possibility for Milwaukee, as he’s reportedly unhappy with his role and playing time on the Utah Jazz since Rudy Gobert is emerging as the team’s long-term solution at center. Kanter reportedly asked the Jazz to trade him, so he may be obtainable. At 22 years old, Kanter would fit right in with the Bucks’ young core and likely hit his prime around the same time as their other key players.
However, teams that have talked to the Jazz about Kanter say that Utah seems hesitant to trade him. They may want to hold onto him rather than deal him away, even though he’s currently disgruntled.
This season, Kanter has averaged 13.8 points and 7.8 rebounds – both of which are career-highs for the big man. Because Utah and Kanter didn’t agree to a contract extension earlier in the season, he will be a restricted free agent this offseason.
If Milwaukee can’t land Kanter, other big men that Milwaukee could pursue through trade are Jordan Hill of the Lakers, Miles Plumlee of the Suns, JaVale McGee of the Nuggets, Chris Andersen of the HEAT, Jason Smith of the Knicks and Nikola Pekovic of the Timberwolves.
Or, if they can’t land a starting big man through a trade, they could consider some free agent or D-League options such as Samuel Dalembert, Byron Mullens, Willie Reed and Arinze Onuaku among others, who could strengthen their frontline as a reserve.
Kings Looking for a Power Forward: The Sacramento Kings have been linked to a number of players such as Phoenix’s Goran Dragic, Oklahoma City’s Reggie Jackson and Denver’s Arron Afflalo among others in recent weeks.
However, I’m told that their top priority is to upgrade their power forward position. Ideally, they would like to add a stretch four, but that’s easier said than done since there aren’t many players who fit that description that are currently available around the league.
Some names that immediately come to mind are Orlando’s Channing Frye and Milwaukee’s Ersan Ilyasova, but it’s unclear if Sacramento has pursued those players or what the Magic or Bucks would want in return for them.
Sacramento’s pursuit of a power forward isn’t anything new. They’ve been trying to upgrade their power forward position for quite some time, and that remains their goal as the trade deadline approaches.
If they can’t add a stretch four, they would settle for a defensive-minded power forward who would be an upgrade over their current crop of fours. Toronto’s Amir Johnson is someone that they really like, although it doesn’t seem that the Raptors are open to moving him.
With Jason Thompson reportedly wanting to be traded from Sacramento, the Kings have even more reason to land a power forward by tomorrow’s deadline.
Hawks Open to Moving John Jenkins: Don’t expect the Atlanta Hawks to make any splashy moves prior to the deadline, as they’re currently one of the best teams in basketball and don’t need to make any changes.
With that said, they could be interested in making some minor moves that free up cap space and roster spots. The team recently traded Adreian Payne to the Minnesota Timberwolves, which opened a roster spot and cleared some cap room.
They could make a similar move with John Jenkins, according to Basketball Insiders’ Lang Greene. The team has shopped Jenkins and is interested in trading him for a second-round pick.
Trading Jenkins would give Atlanta two open roster spots and significant cap space, which they could then use to sign veteran contributors who could help them contend this season. The Hawks believe they have what it takes to win a championship this year, which is why they’d part ways with players like Payne and Jenkins and try to bring in veterans who can help them win now.
Ray Allen would obviously be the Hawks’ top target, but it remains to be seen if he’s going to play this season or if he would choose Atlanta over the many teams that are pursuing him. If they miss on Allen, Will Bynum (who just returned from a successful stint in China) could also be an option to strengthen their bench. Players who are bought out (such as Tayshaun Prince, Andrei Kirilenko or Brandon Bass among others) could also be targets for the Hawks.
According to Greene, Jenkins’ looming unrestricted free agency has scared some teams off from trading for the guard. They don’t want to give up a pick – even a second-rounder – if he’s just going to walk away as a free agent over the summer. There are no buyout talks ongoing at the moment, Greene adds.
This season, Jenkins has averaged 3.7 points, one rebound and one assist in nine games.
For more coverage of the 2015 NBA trade deadline, be sure to keep checking Basketball Insiders’ Trade Deadline Diary. We’re updating it every few minutes with the latest news and rumors, so you won’t miss a single thing that happens between now and Thursday at 3 p.m. ET.
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