With three days remaining until the NBA Trade Deadline, there could a huge uptick in deals as contending teams look to add some pieces and rebuilding ones look for cheap options and draft picks. No superstars figure to switch sides but much like last year, when nine deals went down at the last minute, there could be a major flurry.
Teams have until Thursday at 3 p.m. ET to finalize any deals with the league office.
Thus far there’s been minimal movement this season, with last summer’s blockbuster that shipped Kevin Love to the Cleveland Cavaliers for No. 1 pick Andrew Wiggins being the last.
But as the deadline quickly approaches, a number of players rumored to be on the trading block could finally be moved.
Many will be watching if the Brooklyn Nets finally pull the trigger on a deal that sends center Brook Lopez out of town. According to Yahoo Sports’ Marc Spears, the Nets are “still aggressively trying” to move Lopez and the deal could be tied to the much speculated sale of the team.
Before the season began, reports suggested owner Mikhail Prokorhov was exploring sale options and moving one of the team’s highest-paid players could make the Nets more attractive to prospective buyers. The Nets have the highest payroll in the league this season at $91.2 million, and figure to carry that distinction over to next season with $76.7 million already devoted to player contracts. Very few owners would take on a team and immediately cut a check to the league for bad contracts they had nothing to do with.
Lopez, averaging 15.3 points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.69 blocks per game this season, is one of the more fundamentally sound and polished big men in the game and could find a home with a contender Thursday.
Brooklyn is presently one game back of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, and barring a huge surge in the second half the team figures to either make the postseason and exit in the first round or hope ping pong balls fall their way in the draft lottery.
Lopez was nearly sent to Oklahoma City last month. The proposed three-team deal would have teamed the seven-footer with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, and sent Charlotte Hornets guard Lance Stephenson to Brooklyn.
There is still a chance that Lopez finds his way to Oklahoma City. Fox Sports reports the Nets and Thunder are “working” on a deal, though nothing appears imminent yet.
Lopez, 26, also holds a $16.7 million player option for next season, a number that could scare off a number of teams clinging to salary cap space or hoping to avoid the league’s salary cap penalties.
Another highly regarded player on the block is Phoenix Suns shooting guard Goran Dragic. Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted Tuesday that Phoenix would like to keep the talented scorer but would part ways if it could get an All-Star and a pick in return.
Suns general manager Ryan McDonough was quoted last week saying his current roster is “too backcourt” heavy, and parting with Dragic follows that line of thinking with Isaiah Thomas and Eric Bledsoe already on the team.
Wojnarowski also reported that Dragic is “frustrated” with his role between Thomas and Bledsoe, and that the Suns aren’t sure if they can sign him to a new deal. The 28-year-old Dragic holds a $7.5 million player option for next season, or he could become a free agent and try to ink a long-term contract and better role with the team of his choosing this summer.
No teams have been mentioned as potential landing spots for Dragic, and the Suns price might be too high, however he could help a contender with his ability drive to the lane or knock down 3-pointers at a 35.5 percent rate.
In the same piece, Wojnarowski addressed the perhaps increasingly bleak separation between center Enes Kanter and the Utah Jazz. Kanter made veiled comments after a loss last week that indicated he would like to be traded, but Yahoo reports his demands are rather high.
Kanter, averaging a career-best 13.8 points and 7.8 rebounds this season, desires a trade to a team that can retain his Bird rights when he hits restricted free agency next season. Bird rights essentially allow teams to sign a player who’s already on their roster to a new contract and should they go over the cap they won’t incur any penalties.
The Jazz are reportedly seeking a prospect as well as a pick for Kanter, a versatile big man who could perhaps take on a bigger role for a team in need of rebounding and a low-post scoring presence.