The NBA trade deadline is only a few hours away and, as is the case each year, there will be a number of players who won’t be moved even though their respective teams did everything to change their address.
This year will likely be no different and there are numerous individuals who be may be headed for a contract buyout if a trade can’t be made. Let’s evaluate a few guys in play, assuming no deal before the 3 p.m. ET deadline gets done.
Joe Johnson, Brooklyn Nets
2015-16 Contract Status: Owed $24.9 million
The Brooklyn Nets swung for the fences a couple of years ago, acquiring Johnson to pair alongside Deron Williams (and eventually Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce). All of those players are gone, with Johnson being the lone holdover from a brief time period when Brooklyn had title aspirations.
With the Nets clearly in rebuilding mode, Johnson is one of the team’s few notable assets. Although he’s owed nearly $25 million this season, Johnson is an expiring contract and could potentially give the Nets a decent return if they can find a suitor before the deadline.
But with the salary cap exploding to $90 million this summer, more teams will have a bit of financial breathing room. The cap rising essentially creates cap room without teams having to give up any assets. This puts Brooklyn at a disadvantage in shedding Johnson’s salary and puts him squarely into buyout territory if they can’t move him before the deadline. A number of teams (including the Cleveland Cavaliers) are said to be monitoring Johnson’s situation and hoping to land him if he’s bought out.
Kevin Martin, Minnesota Timberwolves
2015-16 Contract Status: Owed $7.1 million
2016-17 Contract Status: Owed $7.4 million (player option)
The Timberwolves have given the keys of the franchise to their youthful core, leaving Martin as the odd man out in the rotation. While Minnesota does have other veterans, notably Kevin Garnett, Tayshaun Prince and Andre Miller, Martin is still capable of being highly productive if the minutes are available.
It’s no secret that Martin’s name has been in the trade market for months. If no deal can be reached, it is possible that Minnesota looks to buyout the remaining portion of his contract and give the veteran an early start to free agency.
David Lee, Boston Celtics
2015-16 Contract Status: Owed $15.5 million
The veteran power forward hasn’t adjusted well to being a spot role player in the emerging Celtics’ rotation. Lee, a former All-Star, wants to play consistent minutes and that’s a role Boston has been unwilling to give at the moment.
Lee is averaging 7.1 points per contest, which is the lowest mark of his career except for his rookie campaign in 2006. However, his per-36-minute productivity has held constant over the past two seasons.
The Celtics are actively shopping Lee, but if no deal is made then look for a potential buyout to take place. At the very least, expect increased talks of a buyout to occur.
Roy Hibbert, Los Angeles Lakers
2015-16 Contract Status: Owed $15.6 million
Hibbert was never a long-term option for the Lakers and the team acquired the former All-Star from Indiana after they struck out in free agency last summer. With the Lakers headed on an express trip to the draft lottery, Hibbert is having a season of career-lows worth noting.
According to Marc Stein of ESPN, Hibbert is a prime candidate for a buyout if the Lakers are unable to move him before the deadline:
NBA buyout crop has potential to be interesting if no trades materialize today for Kevin Martin, David Lee, J.J. Hickson, Roy Hibbert, etc.
— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) February 18, 2016
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