NBA Trade Rumors: 10 Backup Point Guards the Thunder Should Consider
Like the Los Angeles Lakers, the Oklahoma City Thunder have not received stellar play from their back-up point guard. In an article previously written by myself, the Lakers' Steve Blake has been struggling, averaging 5.8 points and 3.4 assists in about 25 minutes of action per night.
Play like this is not going to help your team when it comes to the postseason. More times than not, the back-up point guard becomes an intricate and vital part to a team's postseason success. You rarely see teams win championships that don't have a quality back-up point guard.
According to recent reports, the Thunder have been seeking a deal to acquire a back-up point guard for All-Star Russell Westbrook.
The team's primary back-up point guard, Eric Maynor, was diagnosed with a torn ACL in early January, thus ending his 2011-12 campaign. However, the Thunder did use their 2011 first-round selection on Boston College's Reggie Jackson, but he may not be ready to take on that big of a load.
So needless to say, the Thunder seem to be in play for a back-up point guard. Luckily for them, there will be some good options out there.
The Thunder currently stand at 31-9, by far the best record in the Western Conference—they are also already 4.5 games ahead of the second-place San Antonio Spurs. But if they want to hold that mark, they will need to add some depth to the West's best team.
But it will take some work to get rid of Hinrich, as the point guard is owed $8.1 million for the rest of the season. Yes, it is an expiring deal, which makes it somewhat beneficial but there would have to be multiple pieces fall their way.
The former Kansas Jayhawk is currently having the worst season of his career, as he is participating in about 20minutes per contest. Additionally, Hinrich is netting just 5.2 points per game, by far a career-low—Hinrich has never averaged less than 9.9 points per game for a season. To go along with those paltry numbers, the point guard is also dishing out just 2.4 assists per contest, also a career-low.
So yeah, Hinrich's season is one to forget. And that unfortunately diminishes his trade value.
With a poor season, the Thunder may be able to swoop in and acquire Hinrich for cheap. A possible deal could involve someone like Nazr Mohammed or Daequan Cook or a similar deal could be struck involving Hinrich's former collegiate teammate, Nick Collison, but it seems unlikely. The Thunder also hold B.J. Mullen's $1.288 million trade exception, so that could be thrown into play as well.
Regardless, if the Thunder could somehow land Hinrich for cheap, they need to do it. Hinrich may not be a prototypical starter anymore, but I would still consider him one of the best back-up point guards in the game.
If the Thunder want to make a push, they need to go after Hinrich, if he can stay healthy.
Trade rumors have been talked about for a long time now. And a name you really haven't heard anything about is Milwaukee's Beno Udrih. Udrih, who currently sits behind Brandon Jennings, has been forced to ride the pine this season after starting for four consecutive years in Sacramento.
On draft day last year, Udrih was shipped out to Milwaukee, as part of the deal that sent college sensation Jimmer Fredette to Sacramento and the Rodman-comparable Bismack Biyombo to Charlotte.
But Udrih has had a rough go of it this season. The point guard is currently averaging just 18 minutes per contest, his lowest total since the 2006-07 campaign when he played with San Antonio. He's also averaging just 5.6 points per game, along with 3.4 assists. Both of which are also his lowest totals since the 2006-07 season, as well.
This system apparently just isn't working for the frustrated Udrih and the point guard has said that he'd welcome a trade, according to Lang Greene of HoopsWorld.
“I understood my role when I was in San Antonio being a backup point guard and just trying to prove myself,” Udrih told HOOPSWORLD. “I got a chance to prove myself [in Sacramento] and proved that I can play in this league by being a solid starting point guard. This year, I came here I thought I was going to play a little more with Brandon Jennings as a combo guard, but that hasn’t happened a lot yet."
"I was averaging 34 minutes per game and now I’m playing like sixteen or seventeen minutes per game, so it’s a totally different game I have to go out there and play,” Udrih said referencing going from starter minutes in Sacramento to a reserve role. “Even my stats went down shooting wise because sometimes you come into the game and you only get two shots. That makes your percentage go down. I just have to stay positive and go out there and try to help my team as much as I can to win.”
Since his production is so much lower, Udrih's trade value has substantially declined. This could lead to a team, such as the Thunder, grabbing the point guard for cheap. However, Udrih's salary this season is commanding almost $7 million this season and that could be a turn-off for most teams.
But if the Thunder could somehow strike a deal involving Cole Aldrich, Nazr Mohammed or Nick Collison, the front office should pull the trigger. Udrih has shown he can start and the Thunder would be foolish to not even attempt to have a capable starter as the team's primary back-up.
I'll be the first to tell you that I'm a fan of Jerryd Bayless. However, I'm not a fan of the Toronto Raptors and frankly, I'd love to see Bayless land elsewhere as long as the team is not the Lakers, Spurs, Pistons or Jazz.
But I digress.
The former Arizona Wildcat is currently the primary back-up to Jose Calderon, who has been subject to myriads of trade rumors as of late. It appears that if any point guard is going to be traded out of Toronto, it will be Calderon and his $9,780,991 salary.
But if the Raptors decide to keep Calderon on the roster, Bayless would then likely be the next candidate to pack his bags.
Bayless has had a strange career thus far, as he was originally drafted by the Pacers with the 11th overall selection in the 2008 draft. On draft night, he would then be dealt to Portland, as part of a deal for the draft rights to Brandon Rush.
He'd spend a season-and-a-half in Portland, while not seeing much of the court. On Oct. 23, 2010, Bayless would then be dealt yet again to New Orleans in exchange for a first-round pick. Bayless would play just eleven games for the Hornets before being dealt to Toronto, the place he currently calls home.
I believe Bayless has great potential. He's young with a lot of time left in his NBA career and is a very good distributor. His stats may not reflect that, but he can do great things with the basketball.
Currently, Bayless is playing in about 21 minutes per contest, averaging 10 points and 3.1 assists per contest. Per 36 minutes, the point guard would be netting 16.9 points and dishing out 5.2 assists per game. He has shown that he can become a great point guard. He may never become a starter in the NBA, but he has the capabilities of becoming a great back-up in the NBA.
If the Thunder can manage to get him away from the Raptors, they need to take the chance.
Why not? Seriously, why not?
It may seem very puzzling to some, but Arenas can probably do some good things for Oklahoma City.
There is just one problem about that scenario: Arenas is an alpha-dog, as is Westbrook and Kevin Durant. Both players do their own things with the basketball and take a good amount of shots. And Arenas is just like that, as we've seen in the past.
It would become difficult for the Thunder though, as I can't really see three alpha-dogs co-existing on one team. If Arenas could tone it down, they could strike gold.
But if he goes back to his shoot-first mentality, then it wouldn't be a good signing. But if Arenas would accept a low-level deal and become a solid teammate, they could be what the doctor ordered for the Thunder's point guard issues.
To me, the Pistons franchise is one of the most puzzling in the entire league. They went out and used their first-round selection on Kentucky point guard Brandon Knight when they already had Rodney Stuckey on the roster.
To make room for Knight, the Pistons have primarily used Stuckey at shooting guard, a position that he has had to grown accustomed to. With Stuckey playing shooting guard, it has taken away from Ben Gordon, one of the best sixth men in the game.
Additionally, the Pistons have been forced to make odd lineups featuring random players, including Walker Russell Jr., a player who has seemingly come out of nowhere. Mainstay Tayshaun Prince has kept his minutes, while Jonas Jerebko and Austin Daye have been rather disappointing. And then there's Damien Wilkins, which makes it even stranger.
But back to the point, the Pistons have been forced to cut down Will Bynum's minutes since they like to use the backcourt of Knight, Stuckey, Gordon and Russell.
Currently, Bynum is playing in about 12 minutes per contest in the 15 games he has participated in, while averaging 4.9 points per game, his lowest total since his rookie season. His 1.1 assists per game are also very embarrassing, as Bynum is considered to be a quality distributor.
So needless to say, Bynum needs a change of scenery. And quick. He could come relatively cheap, as the point guard is owed just $3.25 million this season. Depending on what the Pistons need, the Thunder could give up someone like Lazar Hayward or Cole Aldrich. Of course, something involving draft selections could also be plausible.
But regardless, Bynum needs to find a way out of Detroit and Oklahoma City could become a place where he resurrects his young career.
Some of y'all may be asking yourselves, "Earl Watson? Seriously? Earl Watson? C'mon, son."
But in all actuality, Watson is a quality point guard. Yes, he's 32 years old, so there may not be much left in the tank, but he's undoubtedly a serviceable back-up point guard.
Since arriving in the NBA in 2001, Watson has played for Seattle (twice), Memphis, Denver, Oklahoma City, Indiana and his current team, the Utah Jazz. But wherever he's gone, he's been a fan favorite because of his solid ability to run the point.
This season, Watson has participated in 38 games for the Jazz, averaging a career-low 3.3 points per game, along with dishing out 4.5 assists per contest. His stats are clearly down even though his minutes are slightly up, but he's still a point guard that can get the job done.
It would also be beneficial for the Thunder to acquire Watson, as he would immediately provide leadership to one of the younger teams in the NBA. Three players on the Thunder's roster, Nick Collison, Royal Ivey and Nazr Mohammed, are over the age of 30.
Eleven players (yes, eleven) on the roster have five or less years of experience. And somehow, the Thunder have a 31-9 record with such a young roster. Even though they're doing so well, it wouldn't hurt for the team to make a minor deal to acquire a veteran in the former UCLA star.
If this scenario were to play out, Watson would not go out there and give the Thunder 15 points and eight assists off of the bench, but he could come in there and help alleviate pressure off of other players. The acquisition of Watson would be small on paper, but it'd be a large help on the court.
At the start of the season, Toney Douglas was tabbed as the team's starter, even though the roster already consisted of rookie Iman Shumpert, Mike Bibby, Baron Davis and Jeremy Lin.
But poor play led to a decrease in Douglas' minutes and it especially didn't help that Jeremy Lin emerged out of nowhere to become one of the biggest stories in recent memory. Shumpert has also played fairly well and has seemingly taken over Douglas' minutes.
The former Florida State star would not be able to log in many minutes at shooting guard either, as the team already has Landry Fields occupying that slot. The Knicks also went out and signed J.R. Smith once he received his clearance from FIBA.
So needless to say, the Knicks' backcourt is stacked and it appears that Douglas really doesn't fit into their long-term plans.
I believe there is a very strong possibility that the forgotten point guard gets dealt at the deadline and the Thunder seem like viable option. Even though Douglas is averaging just 7.6 points and 2.2 assists per game, he can still become a valuable sixth man.
There's no doubt whatsoever that he wouldn't start in Oklahoma City, but he would definitely help Westbrook get some rest and would additionally help alleviate pressure off of the All-Star.
If the Knicks are willing to give him away for cheap, the Thunder should be knocking on the door. I can see a deal working out as the Thunder receive Douglas in exchange for Nick Collison, a player that could enormously help the Knicks, as the team does not have much frontcourt depth.
A Douglas-to-Oklahoma City scenario seems very plausible.
Orlando's Chris Duhon has had an up-and-down career. At one point, he's starting and playing over 30 minutes per night and then the following season, he's riding the bench and rarely sees the court.
And he's somewhat at that stage of his career right now with the Magic, a team that has also had a great amount of trouble at the point guard position.
Jameer Nelson is arguably having one of the worst seasons of his career and his back-up, Duhon, isn't doing much better. The former Duke Blue Devil has played in 41 games this season, starting seven of those games. Along the way, he's been averaging 3.8 points and 2.6 assists per game in about twenty minutes of action per night.
It appears that Duhon needs a change of scenery yet again, even though he's already played for the Bulls, Knicks and Magic since being taken with the 38th overall pick in the 2004 draft.
Like most players on this list, Duhon will never be a quality starter that will go out there every night and average 15 points and eight assists per contest. But he can flourish off of the bench when given the right coaching system and the right opportunities.
In Orlando, it appears that coach Stan Van Gundy's system is not beneficial to Duhon's style of play (even though his system just consists of taking many three-pointers and giving it to Dwight Howard in the paint, but I digress yet again).
If given the chance, I believe Duhon could become quite a surprise for the Thunder. He'd come significantly cheap, as the Magic are trying to unload cap space to acquire a big name, in hopes of keeping the aforementioned Howard in blue-and-white.
Even though it's just his second year in the NBA, Eric Bledsoe's career has been a rather strange one.
During his rookie season, Bledsoe logged in about 23 minutes per game, averaging 6.7 points and 3.6 assists per contest. At the conclusion of the season, he was thought to once again hold down the back-up role.
Then, the Clippers go out and make a blockbuster mega-deal in which they acquire Chris Paul, perhaps the best point guard in the game. This put Bledsoe third on the depth chart and he slipped down even further once the team acquired former NBA Finals MVP Chauncey Billups.
Billups suffered an Achilles injury earlier this season and it appears that he will not be able to return this season. His injury then put Bledsoe back in third on the depth chart, but it hasn't really mattered.
The former Kentucky Wildcat has played in just 13 games this season, logging in about seven minutes per game. He's currently averaging just 1.7 points and 1 assist per game.
It looks as though Bledsoe's time in Los Angeles could be coming to a close if he doesn't see an increase in his minutes. That's where the Thunder come in, the team that coincidentally drafted him last year, only to deal him to the Clippers on draft night in exchange for a future first-round selection.
However, since Bledsoe is so young, a trade like this may not happen. The Thunder feel like they need a back-up point guard because Reggie Jackson is so young and they feel he may not be able to handle the pressure. Bledsoe is just 22 years old with less than two years of experience, so a trade to Oklahoma City seems unlikely. But anything can happen.
This would perhaps be the most expensive scenario of the ones listed in this slideshow.
Farmar is quietly having a solid season in New Jersey, and has been one of their most consistent players. Currently, the former UCLA product is averaging a career-high 10.3 points per game while dishing out 3.3 assists. He's also shooting a career-high 46.5 percent from the field and a career-high 44.9 percent from beyond the arc.
Farmar has played exceptionally well this season and if he were to get dealt, it'd probably cost a team a quality player or two, along with a draft selection.
For the point guard to be sent to Oklahoma City, the front office would probably have to include center Nazr Mohammed and a developmental point guard in Reggie Jackson, the team's first-round selection last year. Since his trade value has gone up, a draft selection could be thrown in to sweeten the pot.
But it would appear to be worth it.
Farmar has played great for the Nets this season and I believe he'd fit in great in Scott Brooks' system. However, a player of Farmar's stature would mean that Westbrook's minutes would have to slightly decrease, which could frustrate the young point guard.
Regardless, if Farmar is available, the Thunder need to try and make a deal. It especially helps that Farmar is currently making $4 million this season and the Nets have been trying to unload pieces to acquire Dwight Howard from Orlando.
So if Farmar-to-Oklahoma City happened, it'd definitely be beneficial to both teams.
Of course, there are other possibilities that the Thunder could consider:
* Luke Ridnour, Minnesota: Ridnour's departure seemed very imminent as of a couple of days ago, but phenom and starting point guard Ricky Rubio went down with a torn ACL and will miss the rest of the season and possibly more time.
So it looks as though Minnesota will now stick with a combination of Ridnour and Jose Barea, the former Dallas Maverick who was a catalyst in their championship win last season.
As of right now, I'm going to speculate that Ridnour will stay with Minnesota.
* Jonny Flynn, Houston: Flynn, who was a lottery selection a couple of years ago, has had troubles in the NBA thus far. Originally taken by Minnesota, Flynn was dealt to Houston last season, as part of a trade involving the draft rights to Donatas Motiejunas.
He has played sparingly this season, participating in seven games and logging in a grand total of 81 minutes. Needless to say, it doesn't appear that he'll flourish in Kevin McHale's system.
I could definitely see Flynn being traded yet again by the time the trade deadline rolls around.