After a 2013 NBA trade deadline notable only for its total lack of significant moves, maybe there's hope that buyout bargains like the one the Sacramento Kings reached with guard Aaron Brooks will have enough impact to affect the upcoming playoff race.
Then again, maybe not.
Per Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo!, Brooks cleared waivers after the Kings bought him out, setting the table for him to sign with the Houston Rockets:
Adrian Wojnarowski @WojVerticalNBA
Y! Sources: After clearing waivers, Aaron Brooks will sign with Houston. http://t.co/Lt9I81Ajhs2013-3-2 01:41:17
In theory, Brooks can provide support for Jeremy Lin at the point, but it's unclear whether he'll even see much time ahead of current backup Patrick Beverley. Taken in the second round of the 2009 draft, Beverley is actually playing in his first NBA season—and he's looking surprisingly good.
Brooks is a defensively invisible speedster with a pretty good outside stroke. His 38 percent accuracy rate from long range fits nicely with Houston's run-and-gun style.
But Beverley's 44 percent fits a lot better.
The ho-hum nature of the Brooks buyout is emblematic of the process as a whole. It sounds like a great idea to snatch up unwanted assets in advance of a playoff push, but those players who become available do so for a reason. Usually, they're not transformative players.
The real issue is that hardly anybody figures to be on the market in the coming weeks, and with the March 1 deadline in the rear-view mirror, players signed now can't even join their new teams in the playoffs.
For a while, it appeared that Utah Jazz guard Raja Bell might be among those hitting the buyout market. Now, it looks like he's staying put in Utah, per Bill Oram of the Salt Lake Tribune:
Tony Jones @tribjazz
Agent tells @sltrib that Raja Bell won't accept #Jazz buyout offer by deadline to be playoff eligible elsewhere. http://t.co/lmX3hVvHIt #NBA2013-3-2 01:41:16
The same goes for Cleveland Cavaliers forward Omri Casspi. According to Marc Stein of ESPN, he's not going anywhere either:
Marc Stein @ESPNSteinLine
Rockets expressed interest in Casspi this week before Brooks' availability. With no landing spot, Casspi's buyout talks w/Cavs were scrapped2013-3-2 05:48:46
The buyout cupboard is looking pretty bare this year, and for the best evidence of that, look no further than the Miami Heat's decision to bring 40-year-old Juwan Howard back into the fold. Chuck Myron of Hoopsrumors.com reported that Howard's return to the Heat came about in large part because there just weren't any good buyout candidates to fill Miami's vacant roster spot.
When Howard, who probably won't play a meaningful minute for the Heat, is a better option than whatever else is out there, it's obviously going to be a slow year in the buyout department.
So, in short, not only do bought-out players rarely affect the stretch run of the NBA season, there also don't even appear to be any more viable candidates. Instead of bulking up rosters for a playoff run, it looks like this year's postseason contenders will have to dance with the ones that brought them.