The 2014 NBA trade deadline came and went with no truly remarkable deals. It now seems that the post-deadline-signing frenzy may be the most exciting event in the Association leading up to the playoffs.
There are a handful of serviceable veterans already available on the open market or currently working with their franchises to negotiate a contract buyout that will allow them to catch on with a contender ahead of the upcoming postseason.
Let’s take a look at some of the hottest names that are either available or likely to be soon and check out where they might land in Thursday’s NBA rumor roundup.
Clips Lead 5-Team Race for Granger
Danny Granger was one of the biggest stars to be freed from his contract this season. After being part of a trade-deadline deal, the veteran swingman was cut loose from the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday, according to David Aldridge of NBA.com.
Granger is reportedly considering five clubs to sign his next contract with, per Aldridge—the Los Angeles Clippers, Houston Rockets, Chicago Bulls, Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs.
ESPN.com’s Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne noted that the Clips are currently front-runners in the quest to sign the nine-year veteran.
Head coach/general manager Doc Rivers did not hide his desire to add Granger to the fold, telling Shelburne and Stein: "Of course!" to whether L.A. would like to sign him, and added: "That'll be up to Danny."
The 30-year-old is said to have San Antonio second on his short list, which is weighted heavily on the squad’s ability to win a championship—something Granger has yet to accomplish in his career—and also offer playing time.
Granger is a career 17.6 point-per-game scorer and was formerly the main option for the Pacers prior to a debilitating knee injury that limited him to just five games during the 2012-13 campaign.
He did not make his season debut this year until Dec. 20, but he had been healthy and contributing at a decent clip until his trade to Philly. Granger is averaging 8.3 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.1 assists in 22.5 minutes per game over 29 contests.
It’ll be interesting to see where he winds up, but the Clips offer the chance for him to log minutes—largely due to J.J. Redick’s indefinite absence due to injury—and advance deep in the playoffs as part of a loaded Western Conference powerhouse.
Fredette Negotiating Buyout, Bulls in Mix
Jimmer Fredette is reportedly negotiating a buyout of his contract with the Sacramento Kings and could be on the open market ahead of the March 1 deadline to be playoff-eligible, according to Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee.
Fredette is looking for a fresh start after the Kings declined to pick up his option for the upcoming season earlier in the year and recently removed him from the rotation.
The writing has been on the wall for a while, and Fredette is finally looking to escape a situation that never panned out the way either party expected when he was selected No. 10 overall in the 2011 draft and traded to Sacramento.
The BYU product is averaging 5.9 points, 1.5 assists and 1.1 rebounds in 11.3 minutes per game this season, but he hasn’t played since logging four minutes against the Golden State Warriors on Feb. 19.
According to Marc Stein and the Associated Press (via ESPN.com news services), owner Vivek Ranadive is attempting to do Fredette a favor by letting him out of his contract.
General manager Pete D’Alessandro said Ranadive “loves Jimmer and wants to do the right thing by Jimmer.” However, he also revealed that it is not exactly a done deal yet: “We're just talking about things at this point. There's nothing done at this point."
D’Alessandro was complimentary of Fredette’s skills and believes his NBA career has a chance to be revived elsewhere, as per ESPN:
He's an absolute pure shooter. And beyond that, as a guy for your locker room, as a person, as an all-around player, he definitely belongs in the NBA. Someone's gonna get someone that's gonna help their team. And we firmly believe that. When we get to that point, whether it's now or at the end of the season, he's gonna be a player in this league.
That team may be Chicago, as Stein tweeted that the Bulls are a dark-horse contender to acquire the 25-year-old guard:
Luxury-tax issues complicate ANY signing Bulls consider but word is they've emerged as a dark-horse contender for Jimmer Fredette this week— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) February 27, 2014
While the Bulls have little flexibility due to their proximity to the luxury tax, the club desperately needs scoring. Chicago is the worst scoring team in the league, averaging a mere 92.9 points per game.
Fredette’s defense leaves something to be desired, but head coach Tom Thibodeau is regarded as a defensive genius and could help the 6’2”, 195-pounder improve one of his weakest skills.
In exchange, the Bulls would be putting an elite three-point shooter on the floor, as Fredette leads the league in three-point percentage amongst players who have taken at least 70 attempts:
|Jimmer Fredette (SAC)||.493||73|
|Kyle Korver (ATL)||.475||299|
|Anthony Morrow (NO)||.474||114|
|Kendall Marshall (LAL)||.455||112|
|Jose Calderon (DAL)||.451||317|
ESPN. Accurate as of Feb. 27, 2014.
It’s an intriguing pairing, and the Bulls have little to lose at this point. They are currently in fourth place in an abysmal Eastern Conference but have to improve their chances of advancing deep by adding a bit more firepower. Fredette could just be the guy that helps Chicago put points on the board.
Butler Released, Oklahoma City Attractive Destination
Caron Butler has been freed from the league’s worst team in terms of record, as Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski noted the veteran forward and the Milwaukee Bucks reached an agreement on a buyout on Thursday morning:
Caron Butler has reached a contract buyout agreement with the Milwaukee Bucks, league source tells Yahoo Sports.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) February 27, 2014
Wojnarowski noted that the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder are currently considered the top suitors for the swingman’s services when he clears waivers and hits free agency.
Oklahoma City and Miami have emerged as frontrunners to sign Caron Butler, with Chicago and San Antonio in pursuit too, sources tell Yahoo.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) February 27, 2014
Wojnarowski pointed out that OKC dropped its pursuit of notable free agent Granger, possibly a sign that the team is close to striking a deal to bring Butler into the fold.
The signing would be a big boost to the Western Conference powerhouse’s chances of making a run back to the NBA Finals. At 33 years old, Butler still has plenty left in the tank.
The 12-year veteran averaged 11.0 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game for an abysmal Bucks squad this season and holds career averages of 15.3 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.5 assists per contest.
Which team will Butler sign with?
Butler is a two-time All-Star that can immediately come in and bolster the Thunder’s lineup as an additional scorer—either starting at small forward or coming off the bench to provide instant offense.
The veteran should be hungry to contribute to a winning team, as he told Charles F. Gardner of the Journal Sentinel back in January that he was looking forward to leaving a club that is currently 11-45 on the year: "I know I'll be in a good situation because it can't get worse. If something was to happen, I know I will be going somewhere pretty good and I'm definitely ready to compete at a high level. I'm definitely well-rested. I'm healthy and I feel good."
Don’t be surprised if Butler plays with renewed vigor when he finally catches on with a contender. He’s still a serviceable talent at his advanced age and should eventually be an instrumental part of his new squad’s playoff run.