5 Potential NBA Buyout Candidates After Feb. 9 Trade Deadline

Eric Pincus@@EricPincusFeatured Columnist IFebruary 6, 2023

5 Potential NBA Buyout Candidates After Feb. 9 Trade Deadline

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    CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 31: Los Angeles Clippers Guard John Wall (11) looks on during a NBA game between the Los Angeles  Clippers and the Chicago Bulls on January 31, 2023 at the United Center in Chicago, IL. (Photo by Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
    Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    While some players may get through Thursday's trade deadline unscathed, that doesn't mean they'll finish the season on their current squads. The NBA also has a waiver deadline on March 1, the last day players can be cut and still maintain postseason eligibility if they join a playoff team.

    Several quality veterans may be found on the buyout market. And while some of the names could be relocated via trade, the following is a list of top buyout candidates if not dealt by the deadline*.

    *Then again, some may be traded and then bought out. We'll include them as well:

John Wall's Brief Stay in L.A. Nearing an End?

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 13: John Wall #11 of the LA Clippers looks on during the game against the Denver Nuggets on January 13, 2023 at Crypto.Com Arena in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2023 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
    Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

    The Los Angeles Clippers had hoped to improve their position of need this summer when they used their primary spending tool (the taxpayer mid-level exception) on John Wall. Unfortunately, he wasn't the right fit.

    Wall has the lowest offensive rating on the team at 105 points per 100 possessions (tied with Amir Coffey), contributing to his near-bottom net rating of minus-6.6. Instead of Wall, the Clippers have relied on Terance Mann and Reggie Jackson, leaving Wall as trade bait going into the deadline.

    The Clippers are an active buyer with others potentially available, like Robert Covington, B.J. Boston Jr. and Coffey (plus a $9.7 million trade exception), to replace Wall and add a backup big man.

    If the team doesn't trade him, Wall is a buyout candidate. But even if he is dealt, if the destination isn't a playoff contender in need of a veteran backup, he could still be a free agent before the March 1 deadline.

    Given his ties to Klutch Sports, could he end up with the Los Angeles Lakers? Another possibility might be the Miami Heat, provided they don't get a point guard indirectly via the Lakers.

Jae Crowder Finally Suits Up?

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    DALLAS, TX - MAY 8: Luka Doncic #77 of the Dallas Mavericks handles the ball as Jae Crowder #99 of the Phoenix Suns defends during the second half of Game Four of the 2022 NBA Playoffs Western Conference Semifinals at American Airlines Center on May 8, 2022 in Dallas, Texas. The Mavericks won 111-101. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)
    Ron Jenkins/Getty Images

    Crowder and the Phoenix Suns agreed to part ways before the season, but several months later, the team has yet to find a suitable trade. A deal could come in the next week, but if not, Crowder could end up stuck in Phoenix.

    If so, would the franchise be willing to work out a buyout? Out of spite, they may not. Not because the team wants to punish Crowder but to teams who refused to meet their matching price in trade.

    The Milwaukee Bucks, Atlanta Hawks, Lakers and Heat would likely be interested in Crowder as a free agent, among others.

Mason Plumlee, If Hornets Don't Cash Him Out in Trade

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    CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - JANUARY 16: Mason Plumlee #24 of the Charlotte Hornets drives to the basket while guarded by Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics in the fourth quarter during their game at Spectrum Center on January 16, 2023 in Charlotte, North Carolina. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)
    Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images

    The Charlotte Hornets should have every reason to find a trade for Plumlee. His expiring $9.1 million salary should be easy for Charlotte to move. But that doesn't mean they will. If not, he's an obvious buyout candidate.

    Through 55 games, Plumlee is a steady 12.3 points with 9.7 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game. He's shooting 67.4 percent from the field. He's not going to dominate the postseason, but he could be a very useful addition with playoff experience.

    A long list of teams needing a veteran backup big could include the Portland Trail Blazers, Golden State Warriors, Brooklyn Nets, Boston Celtics, Clippers, Lakers and Heat.

Does Serge Ibaka Have Enough Left in the Tank?

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    MILWAUKEE, WI - JANUARY 1: Serge Ibaka #25 of the Milwaukee Bucks goes to the basket against the Washington Wizards on January 1, 2023 at the Fiserv Forum Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2023 NBAE (Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images).
    Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images

    How much does Serge Ibaka have left to offer? He and the Bucks have agreed to part ways, but can he help a contender if no trade evolves?

    At 33, he's certainly experienced, now in his 14th season. Last year, Ibaka split time with the Bucks and Clippers, contributing 16.2 minutes a game. A playoff team wouldn't be looking for much more, just an experienced veteran to fill spot minutes.

    Ibaka wouldn't be a long-term play. Not every decision is about the future. The question is, does he have enough left in the tank to help a team win now?

    The list of teams may match those looking at Plumlee, minus the Clippers, who traded him to the Bucks last deadline.

Russell Westbrook, but Only If Traded First

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    NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JANUARY 31: Russell Westbrook #0 of the Los Angeles Lakers looks on from the bench in the third quarter against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on January 31, 2023 in New York City. The Los Angeles Lakers defeated the New York Knicks 129-123 in overtime. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
    Elsa/Getty Images

    The Lakers aren't buying him out, but they may trade him. The odds may have shrunk considerably with Kyrie Irving going to the Dallas Mavericks, but the Lakers are still shopping, and if a point guard like Fred VanVleet became available to L.A., Westbrook could end up with a third team like the San Antonio Spurs.

    If so, he may become a free agent when the dust settles. The Heat have been long linked to Westbrook, but not via direct trade for Kyle Lowry, which would require another player out and would likely push the Heat into the luxury tax.

    Instead, the team could be open to adding Westbrook to play with Lowryβ€”but Miami might need a small trade to avoid the tax, even to sign Westbrook at the minimum for the last couple of months of the season.

Other Potential Buyouts

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    NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 21: Derrick Rose #4 of the New York Knicks warms up before the game against the Toronto Raptors on December 21, 2022 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)
    Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

    Several others could join the list of free agents, including Derrick Rose of the New York Knicks. Rose is a longtime favorite of Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau, but the team has gone with younger guards. Rose is 34, and New York isn't likely to pick up his team option for 2023-24 at $15.6 million. That said, the team may want to hold on to him, just in case his salary is needed for a trade past this season.

    The Detroit Pistons are probably moving on from Cory Joseph and Nerlens Noel ($9.7 million team option for 203-24). If no trade materializes, they're buyout candidates as well.

    Other teams expect the Orlando Magic to consider cutting Terrence Ross and/or R.J. Hampton if trades don't percolate. Since the Spurs are so far under the minimum team salary, they may not buy out Josh Richardson. Still, teams have an eye on him, just in case.

    Per Marc Stein, Will Barton may seek a buyout out of Washington if the Wizards don't trade him.

    Finally, several existing free agents are available for NBA jobs, including Carmelo Anthony, DeMarcus Cousins, Dwight Howard (playing in Taiwan), Hassan Whiteside, DJ Augustin, Kent Bazemore, Eric Bledsoe, Avery Bradley, Sterling Brown, Trey Burke, Michael Carter-Williams, Gorgui Dieng, Kris Dunn, Derrick Favors, TimothΓ© Luwauwu-Cabarrot, Lou Williams, Noah Vonleh, Tristan Thompson and Greg Monroe, to name a few.

    Note that the signing deadline for playoff eligibility is the last day of the regular season. The waiver deadline to be eligible for non-free agents is March 1.


    Email Eric Pincus at eric.pincus@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.

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