The NBA trade deadline of March 25 is fast approaching and there are a number of big names who could be on the chopping block.
The Philadelphia 76ers are reportedly eyeing a big move to boost their championship credentials while there are All-Stars aplenty being linked to new franchises.
Read on for 10 of the biggest names to follow in the lead-up to the deadline.
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The six-time All-Star was an important cog in Toronto’s 2019 championship run but a report emerged in February that he could be on the way out.
According to Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer, “There is a portion of Raptors personnel, league sources said, that believes the franchise should bid its beloved All-Star farewell and begin Toronto’s next chapter in earnest.”
The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor reported that the Sixers are “seeking major moves to increase its championship odds” after missing out on James Harden. While there are no definitive names that have been linked to Philadelphia, O’Connor put Lowry forward as “one name to monitor” as a veteran perimeter shot-creator is the “only piece the Sixers truly lack.”
As a strong and consistent facilitator, Lowry could offer another reliable option along Ben Simmons. Capable of playing both on and off the ball, Lowry would immediately improve Philadelphia’s offence and is also a pull-up shooter, averaging 3.4 attempts per game himself compared to 5.9 from the entire Sixers team.
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Add to this the fact he is also a solid defender and if Philadelphia are serious about capitalising on their premiership window this season it makes sense. Lowry has a $30.5 million cap hit ($A38.5m) for 2020-21 and will become an unrestricted free agent after this season.
The Sixers, Lowry’s hometown team, are not hard-capped but The Athletic’s Derek Bodner thinks it may be a complex trade to put together.
“He has a really big salary and the Sixers don’t have too many pieces where they can match that salary,” he said on 94 WIP SportsRadio. “My guess is someone else would have more to offer for Kyle Lowry than the Sixers. The Sixers would end up taking away contributing pieces anyway but Daryl Morey is creative.”
“There are two real needs that stick out to me. That is another ball-handler,” he said. “It is clear Doc Rivers does not trust rookie Tyresse Maxey just yet. I think if they can get someone there who can shoot, great and also a back-up center.”
If there is one NBA player most likely to be traded before the deadline it is Drummond. That is part of the problem though.
Cleveland have made it so obvious they want to part ways with the two-time All-Star that they have lost any real leverage they may have had.
Now they have a big man on a $28.7 million ($A36.2m) player option who was been described as the “last of a dying breed” in the NBA.
Sure, Drummond may post strong numbers on the box score, particularly in rebounds and points but he is one of those players whose impact cannot be measured by those statistics alone.
“He’s a poster child for box-score-stuffing big men who have been rendered less effective by the modern NBA,” The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie wrote.
So far the Toronto Raptors are the only team known to have expressed some level of interest in Drummond.
“The Raptors and Cavaliers are engaged in active talks on a deal that would send Drummond to Toronto/Tampa, sources tell The Athletic,” NBA insider Shams Charania previously reported.
Charania added that reaching Drummond’s hefty salary could involve multiple teams while adding that Brooklyn and Dallas could be interested if sourcing the 27-year old via buyout.
While Harrison Barnes and Aaron Gordon have been floated as potential options for the Boston Celtics, it is Vucevic who is the strongest candidate.
NBA contenders Boston are highly likely to make a big move in the coming weeks before the trade deadline as they still have a $28.5 million ($A35.9m) trade exception – the largest in NBA history.
Unsurprisingly, The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor reported that executives across the league have been hearing the Celtics are up to something but that Orlando “has shown no interest in moving Vucevic.”
General manager and president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said in February they were targetting “shooting with size.”
The Boston Globe’s Gary Washburn wrote Vucevic “would be a legitimate center for the Celtics, who could pair him with Tristan Thompson and Daniel Theis for a formidable punch in the paint.”
Vucevic is putting up 23.4 points, 11.6 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game with Orlando but he is really making his mark beyond the arc, hitting 41.4 per cent of 3-pointers.
He is on a declining contract which starts at $26 million ($A32.8m) this season and decreases $2 million ($A2.52m) per season for the next two years.
All the talk in the NBA during Washington’s losing run was about how long Beal would last.
Even though they have turned the corner now, there is still talk around who exactly could be best placed to make a play for the Wizards star.
Top executive William Wesley is reportedly “in the ear of some of Beal’s people” about a trade to the New York Knicks.
The New York Daily News’ Stefan Bondy reported Knicks could offer multiple first-round draft picks and some young players.
Washington though has consistently shut down any chance of Beal being traded and the league’s leading points scorer is yet to officially suggest otherwise.
Meanwhile, in a write-up covering every team’s biggest asset ahead of the trade deadline, ESPN’s Bobby Marks singled out LaVine for the Bulls and Gordon as one for the Magic.
The Athletic’s Sam Amick though reports that rival executives are not expecting either of those two or Beal to be available before the trade deadline.
That is backed up by ESPN’s Tim Bontemps, who spoke with a Western Conference executive who said there is “zero” chance Beal is dealt before the deadline.
Gordon though, who is sidelined with a sprained ankle, was attracting some interest from multiple executives – but it is unclear whether Orlando are entertaining that thought.
At 31 years old and averaging a career-low 12.3 points, it is going to be tough to find an enthusiastic trade option for Griffin.
Then there is his injury history – Griffin has had two surgeries on his left knee and those setbacks have seriously altered his game by reducing his impact attacking the rim.
And what about his contract. Griffin was dealt by the Clippers to the Pistons in 2018 in what was his first season of a five-year extension worth $171 million ($A220m).
He is still owed the remainder of his $36.6 million ($A47m) salary for this season, along with almost $39 million ($A50m) in a player option for 2021-22.
Crucially though, Detroit could still reach a buyout with his agents if unable to find a suitor before March 25.
That seems the more likely option as a potential buyer would want assets given they would be in the position of power and leverage.
Trading assets would not be a wise move for the rebuilding Pistons but nor would holding onto Griffin, who is taking valuable time away from young players who need more opportunities to develop for the future.
The Athleticassessed potential landing spots for Griffin and were unanimous in agreeing that there is no ‘best fit’ for the All-Star via trade given his current salary.
John Hollinger pointed out only one possible solution which could put a host of teams in the mix.
“Now, if he gets bought out and is signing a minimum deal some place? Then you have to look at teams struggling with their forward rotation — places such as Boston, Portland, Brooklyn, Golden State or Milwaukee, for example — as potential landing spots,” he said.
The possibility of Oladipo being traded by the Rockets originated from a report by ESPN’s Tim Bontemps.
Having spoken with league executives, he claimed that one of the “logical trade candidates” to pop up was the former All-Star guard.
Oladipo is in the final year of his contract and while solid, has not yet rediscovered his All-Star form since suffering a ruptured quad tendon two years ago.
There have not been any firm links between Oladipo and potential suitors outside of the New York Knicks, with the Bleacher Report’s A. Sherrod Blakely claiming: “League sources say the Knicks are among the teams interested in Oladipo and will be closely monitoring the impending free agent’s play leading up to the deadline and beyond if he’s not moved by then.”
The belief is that Oladipo, if healthy, could be a strong two-way option to help ease pressure on Julius Randle and Immanuel Quickley.
Oladipo is averaging 20.4 points, 5.1 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 1.4 steals per game this season.
Ball is averaging a career-high 14.3 points while also shooting a career-best 42.7 per cent from the field and 39.1 per cent from downtown.
The former No. 2 overall pick declined a rookie extension with the Pelicans and opted instead to hit restricted free agency but his agent Rich Paul told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski at the time both sides were “positive” about him staying put.
There have been no firm links to any other teams for Ball aside from the Chicago Bulls, but even The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported the two sides had not held discussions.
“Among the teams that have interest in Lonzo Ball and could pursue him: The Bulls, sources said. The sides so far have not had dialogue, per sources,” Charania wrote.
The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported that the Houston Rockets are looking to part ways with him in the coming days, aiming for a smaller, younger presence in the frontcourt.
Naturally, attention then turned to who exactly could be in the market for the big man, who has struggled to recapture his form following a run of injuries.
Well, sources told The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor that the Lakers are expected to be one of the teams interested.
With Anthony Davis expected to be sidelined for around for weeks, the defending champs could do with an extra option at center and Cousins is familiar with the Lakers franchise.
He unfortunately tore his ACL before his first season in Los Angeles in 2019 and was unable to play a game for the Lakers but he had his name engraved on their championship rings.
KPRC TV Sports Director Randy McIlvoy reported though that NBA sources say “no trade is developing” and that the Rockets may settle to release Cousins instead of getting anything in return.
Cousins is currently sidelined with right heel soreness but Stephen Silas dismissed suggestions his absence had anything to do with the reports.
“He’s here at practice. He’s here for tomorrow’s game and moving forward. I know there are rumors out there as to what’s kind of coming ahead, but those are just rumors at this point,” he told media.
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