With the start of free agency on Wednesday morning, players from around the NBA are switching teams. As franchises continue to seemingly overpay to retain their own players and acquire new talent, trades will be made to clear space under the salary cap.
Tiago Splitter became the first such casualty on Wednesday when the San Antonio Spurs traded him to the Atlanta Hawks, shedding $8.5 million in salary so they can have a chance of signing LaMarcus Aldridge to a max contract. The Los Angeles Lakers have yet to make a move, but there are rumors that they could be active in hopes of having the ability to sign two marquee free agents.
Two players who have been premiere scorers in recent years have also been linked to recent trade rumors. David Lee is likely to be dealt after seeing his role diminish with the Golden State Warriors. Demar DeRozan is much more likely to stay put, but a new report indicates that the Toronto Raptors could explore the possibility of trading him.
Below is a closer look at the possibility of both Lee and DeRozan being dealt.
There’s little chance that the power forward will return to Golden State next year. ESPN’s Marc Stein reported after the NBA Finals that the team and Lee would work together in helping him get traded. Lee saw his playing time decrease significantly last season, averaging just 8.2 minutes per game in the playoffs.
Lee’s $15.5 million salary for next year won’t make him easy to move, but he could be an attractive option for some teams, considering he’s entering the final year of his contract. Prior to last year, Lee had never averaged less than 18.2 points or 9.3 rebounds per game in any of his previous three seasons.
Warriors might have an easier time than expected trading David Lee. When free agency dust settles, Lee, for one year, could look reasonable.
â€” Chris Mannix (@ChrisMannixSI) July 1, 2015
The Warriors have broken off talks with restricted free agent Draymond Green, but it’s hard to imagine that they wouldn’t match any offer he gets. Trading Lee would free up some money to pay Green. Teams like the New York Knicks or Philadelphia 76ers, who have room on their payroll, but want to keep their salary cap space for next offseason, might make sense as possible landing spots.
The shooting guard has been the Toronto Raptors’ leading scorer in each of the past two seasons, helping them to make the playoffs for the first time in six years and become one of the best teams in the East. But there’s no guarantee that DeRozan will be back in Toronto next season, as the Toronto Sun reports that the team could look to move him.
DeRozan reportedly could look for a significant increase in salary next year, and even with the expected rise in the salary cap, the Raptors might be unwilling to pay their top scorer. The Raptors added another large contract to their roster on the first day of free agency, signing DeMarre Carroll to a deal reportedly worth $60 million over four years. There are even reports that the team is making a push to sign Wes Matthews.
Re: @JeffZillgitt intel on Wes Matthews/Raptors meeting, I'm told DeMar DeRozan was heavily involved in recruitment of both him and Carroll.
â€” Sam Amick (@sam_amick) July 1, 2015
There’s a good chance the Raptors are looking to make a run in the East next year with DeRozan, pairing him with multiple free agent additions. But the transactions could also allow them to trade DeRozan, while still having reliable perimeter players.