NBA Rumors: BS Meter on DeAndre Jordan, Jahlil Okafor and Other Hot Topics
The way marquee names are popping up in NBA trade rumors, you'd think it were February.
But the deadline is nowhere close.
What we've got instead are several clubs who entered the season with big expectations and, now, a reason to re-evaluate them.
Injuries, coach-player strife and the looming specter of free agency (nobody wants to lose a player for nothing in the summer of 2018 if there's a way to get value for him now) are fueling a rumor mill rife with talent you wouldn't expect to see on the block.
If this is what early December looks like, just imagine the frenzy in a couple of months.
DeAndre Jordan Eyeing a Move?
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports DeAndre Jordan will no longer be representing himself: "The hiring of an agent can be a facilitator for teams wondering whether Jordan would have interest in signing with them long term should they trade significant assets to the Clippers to acquire him."
That's diplomatically phrased, but what Jordan's decision to hire Jeff Schwartz after going without an agent for two years really means is this: DJ's got a backchannel open now. He can effectively tell certain teams to forget about making a deal and encourage others to pull the trigger.
"I'll let (the front office) handle what they handle," Jordan told Sam Amick of USA Today. "That's out of my control, so I'll focus on what I can control. Like I said, I'm happy being here and you know, we'll see what happens. If they come to me and they want to talk about (a possible trade), we can talk about it, you know? I don't believe nothing in this league until it happens."
Jordan is a good bet to hit free agency this summer via an opt-out clause. With his 30th birthday coming in July, it makes sense for DJ to forego the final year of his current deal, valued at $24.1 million, and try to snag one last fat multiseason payoff before he exits his prime.
Potential suitors, of which there are many, can now get a sense of Jordan's thinking through his agent.
Longtime Bucks writer Gery Woelfel lists Milwaukee as an interested party, along with the Toronto Raptors, Washington Wizards and Minnesota Timberwolves. Instead of egregiously tampering by talking to Jordan directly, those teams can now less egregiously chat with Schwartz.
Whether any of those teams wind up swinging a deal for Jordan remains to be seen, but it's becoming increasingly clear that (a) the reeling, banged-up Clippers should trade him and (b) Jordan is acting like someone who believes a move is possible.
B.S. Meter Reading: No Bull
Is Marc Gasol Staying Put?
Memphis Grizzlies general manager Chris Wallace made it plain when he told ESPN.com's Tim MacMahon: "We have no intention to trade Marc. We never seriously considered that at all. We never placed any calls to any teams in that regard. So that's not happening."
That's iron-clad, right? No two ways about it.
Unless the organizational parameters change, and they might.
Based on last week's report from The Athletic's Jon Krawczynski, the ownership situation in Memphis is fully in flux.
"A buy-sell provision in the ownership agreement between Pera and minority owners Steve Kaplan and Daniel Straus was exercised last week, sources told The Athletic. Both minority owners had the right to invoke the clause starting in late October, which allows one or both of them to set a new valuation for the franchise that sold for $377 million in 2012."
Wallace doesn't run the Grizzlies. He's an employee of ownership, just like everyone else in the organization. So when he says Gasol isn't going anywhere, at least part of the reason is because ownership doesn't want to trade its iconic big man.
The issue now is: Ownership—and by extension its feelings on Gasol's role in the team's future—could change.
We don't know who'll be calling the shots in Memphis when this buyout situation resolves. And though that could take months, we can't simply take Wallace at his word and move on. When change at the top is in play, everything else, every statement, no matter how plainly spoken, loses some of its certainty.
Gasol may not go anywhere for now, but that could change in an instant.
B.S. Meter Reading: Unsta-Bull
Bucks Going After Jahlil Okafor?
Sheesh. Woelfel worked overtime this week.
In addition to reporting on whispers of Jordan to the Bucks (among other places), Woelfel also mentioned Milwaukee's Plan B and C:
"There has also been ongoing chatter the Bucks are interested in Philadelphia’s Jahlil Okafor, who is being shopped for a first-round draft choice, as well as Phoenix center Tyson Chandler, who has a good rapport with Bucks coach Jason Kidd and whom the Bucks had looked into trading for in the past."
It's interesting to note that as the Bucks kick the tires on all these centers, at least two of whom have reputations as defense-first players, they're not really addressing their roster issues. Milwaukee doesn't have a rim-defense problem. It defends close range shots at a top-10 rate, according to Cleaning the Glass.
Where the Bucks struggle is in allowing opponents to get those shots in the first place. No team permits a larger percentage of opponent field-goal attempts at the rim than Milwaukee. It's the perimeter defense and scheme that are killing the Bucks, not the lack of a shot-blocker inside.
The Bucks seem committed to adding a defensive big. That preference, combined with the possibility of simply signing Okafor following a buyout, make a trade for the Philadelphia 76ers' forgotten lottery pick unlikely.
B.S. Meter Reading: In-Defensa-Bull
The Cavs Are Getting Another Star
Paul George to the Cleveland Cavaliers!?
Sound the alarms!
Here's Brian Windhorst giving ESPN Cleveland his thoughts on the Cavs pursuing Gasol...and then dropping a tasty little nugget on PG: "I don't think the Grizzlies will trade Gasol. From a strategy point, if I were the Cavs, I would keep an eye on the Paul George situation in OKC. I would not get involved in anything else until that situation is figured out."
They're called rumors for a reason, people.
So, no, there's not much here. But anything involving the Cleveland Cavaliers and the possibility (however remote) of acquiring another star has to get some run. Windhorst is effectively saying the Cavs have priorities and will do their due diligence on the player-acquisition front. In fact, he's mostly asserting what he'd do if he were the Cavs. That's not really news.
But when you get a plugged-in reporter mentioning something like this without much of a prompt, maybe it means there's something brewing. Or maybe not.
We'll need more before elevating this from total bull, but it's sure fun to think about. And if the Thunder don't sort themselves out, it'll be harder and harder to ignore George's impending free agency. OKC was proactive in two situations like this in the past (James Harden and Serge Ibaka), pulling off trades while it still had leverage.
When the Thunder waited around for a guy to stay, they lost Kevin Durant.
Something to think about.
B.S. Meter Reading: Total Bull...For Now
Favors Going Somewhere?
Derrick Favors is used to trade chatter, as he told Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports: "I'm aware of the talks, and the value I have, but I just focus on the opportunity I have now, and I know I can help whichever team I’m playing on in this league."
The Utah Jazz got a clear lesson in how they should be playing during Rudy Gobert's surprisingly short injury absence, winning seven of their 11 contests, including five straight before the big man's return. With Favors manning the middle in smaller, spacier lineups, the Jazz's offense exploded.
Now, Favors can either slot back in alongside Gobert in the starting group that produced crummy offense and a 5-7 record before the Frenchman went down, or he can come off the bench as a backup—if Utah realizes it should be playing with just one traditional big.
Either way, the Jazz won't be getting the most out of Favors.
There's an argument to be made for depth. Favors' ability to step in as a quality starter in the event of injury illustrated the worth of a good backup plan. But the Jazz have to face Favors' free agency this summer. If he were a part of their long-term plans, they could have extended him as early as last year.
Does Utah preserve depth, marginalize a quality asset and lose it for nothing this summer?
Does it flip Favors now that Gobert is back, sold on the effectiveness of modern, one-big looks?
Brad Rock of the Deseret News thinks Utah should act fast, moving Favors while his value is relatively high. Will this finally be the time all that chatter Favors has been hearing turns into something real?
B.S. Meter Reading: Signs Are Favor-a-Bull