How many former Texas Longhorns basketball players could be dealt at the 2021 NBA trade deadline? There’s a list.
CBSSports.com’s James Herbert put together his list of the Top 40 NBA players that COULD find themselves in a new city by March 25, which is the final day players can be traded.
Three former Texas Longhorns — LaMarcus Aldridge, Mo Bamba, and P.J. Tucker — made his list.
Aldridge, the long-time NBA star who was taken No. 2 overall in the 2006 NBA Draft, could interest a contender looking for depth at the forward or center positions. Aldridge, now 35, just worked through an injury that kept him out of six straight games before he returned to face Oklahoma City on Feb. 24. Aldridge scored 11 points and grabbed seven rebounds in the loss, as the Spurs are clinging to the bottom half of the Western Conference playoff race.
Aldridge is averaging more than 13 points and more than four rebounds per game, so he’s not quite what he used to be. But, he’s playing on an expiring $24 million deal, and the team that deals for him would only be on the hook for less than half of it.
Expiring contracts also have value in the NBA, depending upon how they’re written. A team could trade for Aldridge, assume the cash value of the remainder of the contract, release him, and then take that value and add it to their salary cap space next season. That scenario would free Aldridge up to play for anyone he wants, so long as they wanted him.
The belief that Aldridge is on the block has legs, as ESPN.com reported that the Spurs are shopping both him and Demar DeRozan.
READ MORE: Longhorns Gain Commitment From Top 2023 RB
Bamba, the third-year pro who played just one season at Texas, is in a completely different situation. The former No. 6 overall pick of the Orlando Magic in 2018 has a playing time problem — he’s not getting much. Bamba is averaging more than four points and three rebounds per game this season, but he has the unfortunate problem of playing behind two centers that are playing MUCH better than him — Nikola Vucevic and Evan Fournier. Bamba’s availability may hinge on what the Magic perceives to be the future of their franchise.
The Magic are one of the league’s worst teams. Orlando could decide to double down on Vucevic and Fournier and then deal Bamba for what it can get, or it could choose to deal either Vucevic or Fournier, or both, and give Bamba more playing time.
It’s unclear what the Magic will do. But Bamba is on a friendly rookie deal, and that could make him a commodity to a team looking for a young center to try and build around. NBAAnalysis.net is already crunching the numbers, and they see a potential deal that could send Bamba to Oklahoma City for a couple of role players and a first-round pick in 2023.
The player that could be the easiest to move is Tucker, the former second-round pick who has emerged as a quality NBA defender with offensive upside, especially if he’s surrounded by All-Star level talent. He’s armed with an expiring contract valued at $8 million. He’s also playing for the Houston Rockets, a team without an identity right now after trading away James Harden earlier this season.
Tucker, 6-foot-5 and age 35, falls into that Aldridge category, which is a player with an expiring contract that could help a contender. Already, there are rumors of interest, as the Denver Nuggets might be kicking the tires.
Durant an NBA All-Star yet again
Former Texas forward Kevin Durant, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft, is an NBA All-Star for the 11th time in his career, though he won’t be able to play in the game.
Durant will be out until after the All-Star break with a hamstring injury. The All-Star Game is on March 7 in Atlanta.
The two-time NBA champion, 2014 NBA MVP, and four-time scoring champion is averaging 29.0 points and 7.3 rebounds per game for the Brooklyn Nets in his first season back after missing all of the 2019-20 season with a torn Achilles tendon.
Tigers have their eyes on Kody Clemens
Former Texas infielder Kody Clemens is considered one of the prospects to watch in the Detroit Tigers’ organization in 2021.
Clemens, a third-round pick in the 2018 MLB Draft, spent his last minor league season, in 2019 in the Florida State League and at Double-A Mobile. He’s on the Top 20 list at both prospects1500.com and tigers.com.
His last season in the minors didn’t go great, as he hit .238 in the Florida State League, with 24 doubles and 11 home runs, and then went just 8-for-47 at Erie with 18 strikeouts.
But, as a left-handed power-hitting second baseman, Major League teams are usually willing to give players that fit that framework a chance.
According to Tigers.com:
Though Clemens isn’t an elite athlete, his instincts and ability to read hitters have allowed him to stick at second base through the lower levels. If that continues, and he makes the next step as a hitter at Double-A, he could enter the Tigers’ infield mix in the coming years as a left-handed hitter with double-digit home run power.
Clemens is a non-roster invitee to Tigers training camp in Lakeland, Florida.
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Matthew Postins is an award-winning sports journalist who covers Longhorns in the Pros for Longhorn Country on FanNation.com and SINow. He also writes for CowboyMaven and DallasBasketball.com, covers the Big 12 for HeartlandCollegeSports.com and is the Editor of the College Football America Yearbook. Have a story idea about a former Longhorn now in the professional ranks? Contact Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.