We are just hours away from the 2018 NBA trade deadline, an event that has already put multiple teams into the dealing spirit. Of course, the Pistons went all-in to acquire Blake Griffin and the Pelicans retooled by adding Nikola Mirotic. Plenty of dominoes still remain, and many are likely to fall before the clock strikes 3 p.m. ET on Thursday. Which rumors will likely come to fruition? The Crossover has a handy FAQ for all of your deadline, rumor-mongering needs.
What’s next for the Clippers?
When news first broke of Lob City parting ways with Griffin, many assumed the deal was beginning of a total teardown in Los Angeles. The Clippers don’t yet appear open for a fire sale, but clearly both DeAndre Jordan and Lou Williams’s names have been heavily discussed leading up to the deadline. Williams signed a three-year contract extension on Wednesday. With Jordan, who is playing under an expiring contract, most teams—like the Bucks, Wizards and Blazers—will look to confirm whether he would be interested in picking up his option for 2018–19 and/or re-signing long-term before committing to a trade for the big man.
Yet the Clippers’ ultimate price for Griffin should set the market at a fairly reasonable amount for Jordan, which could leave the door open for a contender to leap out of left field and make a play for the All-NBA center. I would keep an eye on Toronto. Raptors GM Masai Ujiri is never afraid to swing for the fences. Toronto would have more ammo to swing a deal here if Norman Powell’s offseason extension allowed him to be moved, but imagining Toronto’s defense with Jordan next to Serge Ibaka is a menacing proposition. That scenario also would steal away a potential reinforcement from Cleveland.
Who will win the Tyreke Evans sweepstakes?
The Sixers could make a strong play for Tyreke Evans, a Philadelphia native who is one of the hottest names on the trade market outside of Los Angeles. Memphis is fielding offers from multiple teams that have already included varying protections on a first round pick, according to a league source. Where it once seemed likely Evans would be dealt before kickoff of the Super Bowl, the Grizzlies now are primed to hold out for the highest bidder. The Sixers, Celtics, Cavaliers, Thunder and Timberwolves have all expressed serious interest. Evans would be a really interesting fit in Boston. He would provide some needed scoring punch to the team’s second unit and also boasts the rangy size Brad Stevens seems to covet on the perimeter.
Will any other wings change teams?
If you’ve been paying attention to the rumor mill, you’ve certainly heard the names of Rodney Hood, Stanley Johnson, Jordan Clarkson, Marco Belinelli, Shabazz Muhammad and Malik Beasley mentioned. League sources believe the Mavericks' Wesley Matthews, with one year left on his handsome contract after this season, could be available for the right price. The Clippers are wisely listening on Avery Bradley offers, as he will likely walk in free agency once his contract expires. The same goes for Nets guard Joe Harris, who Brooklyn may be motivated to move before losing him in free agency this summer.
That’s a new theme throughout the NBA: how highly teams value athletic wings who can defend and shoot threes. Yes, the 3-and-D archetype has been celebrated for years, but we’re really seeing teams invest—both contract dollars and trades of high draft picks—in wings. With that in mind, expect DeMarre Carroll and Jeremy Lamb to be heavily discussed leading up to the buzzer. The Magic have already made calls offering Evan Fournier. (Remember, don’t Google!). And lastly, smart teams have called and will continue to call about the Knicks' Courtney Lee.
Point guards move around the deadline, right?
Reserve point guard has been a frequently pursued market of late, and this year should be no different. That’s why we’ve seen Marcus Smart and Emmanuel Mudiay talks heat up between the Celtics and Nuggets.
The Utah Jazz have made all players aside from Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert and Joe Ingles available, league sources say, leaving Ricky Rubio and Raul Neto on the block. Rubio still has one year and over $14 million left on his contract, rendering him a much more difficult player to move. Neto’s $1.5 million deal is non-guaranteed after this season, and could easily fit on several team’s cap sheets. I’d be curious to see if the Wizards, down John Wall for several more weeks, will look to shore up their lead ball handling rotation. They’ll make a play for Lou Williams as well. Rubio’s contract is a little too steep to serve a backup role he’d be best suited for on a contending team, but George Hill’s deal is certainly more digestible. He could be perhaps the biggest contract to move teams before Thursday’s finish line.
What about bigs?
A potential DeAndre Jordan move would truly set Thursday’s market, but there will also be a plethora of lower-tier, talented bigs available. Per league sources, the Lakers have made it well known they would move Julius Randle. The same goes for Knicks big man Kyle O’Quinn. The Hawks have a multitude of frontcourt players available, depending on a team’s interest, whether a trading partner wants shooting in Ersan Ilyasova or Mike Muscala, or a shot blocker like Dewayne Dedmon. Willie Cauley-Stein has been available in talks dating back to last June’s draft, but the Kings’ willingness to move Skal Labissiere is something executives around the league don’t entirely agree with. The Wolves will look to explore what Gorgui Dieng can command on the market. If the Raptors want to make a splash like previously mentioned, Toronto has consistently explored the value of Jonas Valanciunas. Derrick Favors is an intriguing expiring contract that could move as well.
What is the buyout market?
Each trade deadline ultimately leaves several veteran players seeking buyouts from their incumbent teams in search of a role on a playoff roster. Joe Johnson, Wilson Chandler and Tony Allen should all be available. Jameer Nelson and Brook Lopez may also reach free agency, too. We’ve already seen how important and crafty the buyout world can be, as the Celtics won the Greg Monroe sweepstakes over the Pelicans, who desperately sought the Louisiana native to start alongside Anthony Davis. Kendrick Perkins has garnered interest from several teams and he has left the G-League, he told The Crossover.
What will the Cavs do?
Kevin Love’s injury threw a greasy monkey wrench into Cleveland’s situation. Few players on the Cavs’ roster hold any true trade value, based on a combination of production, salary and health. Their rights to the Nets’ unprotected pick will likely remain in GM Koby Altman’s pocket, but it’s the single, most valuable asset that could feasibly change teams before the deadline, and may ultimately spark a flurry of competing moves across the Eastern Conference.
Cleveland is, of course, in an infamously precarious situation with LeBron James’s impending free agency. And the Cavs could very easily remain silent at the deadline, just as they can comfortably morph into one of the busier teams this week. Cleveland would be wise to dangle that Nets pick for both DeAndre Jordan and Avery Bradley, if they haven’t already. No, there’s no guarantee James will stay in Cleveland, but many have started taking his perennial marches to the Finals for granted. While he’s under your roof, you explore all options that you can to bring your team closer to competing for a championship. Frugality and precociousness will mean very little if your franchise is left with a roster of role players after losing an all-time great.