This Thursday is an important date for the 2016-17 NBA season. Not only is it the deadline for the league or its players to opt out of the current collective bargaining agreement, but it also marks the first day teams can trade free agents they signed during the offseason.
Thus, discussion between squads regarding player movement should start to increase incrementally until the February 23 trade deadline.
First, we'll analyze a recent rumor regarding progress on the new collective bargaining agreement. Then we'll discuss two trade situations pertaining to one Eastern Conference youngster and one Western Conference superstar.
NBA CBA Talks
There's more going on right now in the NBA than just the games and discussions regarding player transactions.
The league and its players union have been trying to solidify a new collective bargaining agreement over the past several months. Thursday is the deadline to opt out of the current agreement, and both parties would like to do so with a clear plan for what the next agreement will look like.
It originally looked like the two parties would easily come to an agreement before Thursday's deadline, but according to New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony, per ESPN.com's Ramona Shelburne, there have been some snags in the "25th hour" that have caused Anthony to be pessimistic that there will be a deal done by Thursday.
However, The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski reported some encouraging news Tuesday and announced the final topic of discussion left on the table.
Group licensing involves the rights behind player likenesses and the amount of control each party has in releasing those likenesses for marketing purposes.
As ESPN.com's Brian Windhorst noted, having no done deal by Thursday's opt-out deadline doesn't necessarily mean a lockout. However, according to Windhorst, it will likely freeze the transaction market as teams wait for word on any new rules for contracts. The real lockout would start July 1 of next summer, if the sides somehow don't have an agreement in place by then.
A lot of prognosticators were high on Detroit Pistons forward Stanley Johnson's chances at drastically improving in his sophomore season. Instead, he's done just the opposite for Detroit, falling out of the Pistons rotation in several games and even getting suspended for violating team rules.
Despite all of this, Vincent Goodwill of CSN Chicago reported that the Pistons are not receptive to trade offers for the 20-year-old small forward at the moment. Goodwill did note that suitors will likely become more aggressive given the recent developments in Johnson's situation, including his NBA D-League demotion.
Pistons head coach and president of basketball operations Stan Van Gundy has admitted to being unsure of how to use the former Arizona star, according to the Detroit Free Press' Vince Ellis:
The only thing we know for sure is that he can guard three positions and sometimes four and that he’s a good rebounder. Offensively, I don’t think we have an identity for him. Is he a big two-guard in the mold of Wes Matthews, Jimmy Butler who is going to go down and be a post-up guy against smaller twos, but then also develop into a good shooter? I think he has the capabilities probably of either, but I think we need to find an identity with him.
It's way too early to give up on Johnson's NBA prospects. But if he keeps getting DNP-CDs and demotions to the D-League throughout the season, you have to think that the Pistons will become more receptive to trade offers from teams who would love to try developing the athletic 6'7", 245-pound forward.
Team A hasn't made the playoffs in 11 seasons, despite having Player A, one of the top big men in the game, for more than six of those campaigns. If Team A is smart, it should at least entertain trade offers for Player A. Right?
According to ESPN.com's Marc Stein, that still doesn't appear to be the case with the Sacramento Kings and DeMarcus Cousins. The Kings believe "it’s still on the too-early side" to think about deals for Cousins, whose contract expires in the summer of 2018.
Stein also noted that Cousins said he's "on the same page" with management, which helps explain Sacramento's hesitation to trade him. Still, it's hard to think of a scenario where the Kings prove to Cousins over the next year-and-a-half that they're a smart destination for him when he makes his free-agent decision in 2018.
Sacramento desperately needs an influx of young talent around which to build. The 26-year-old Cousins is the youngest player of the squad's top eight minute-getters this season, and five of those eight are 29 or older. Swapping Cousins, then bottoming out for a few years while stockpiling some diamonds in the rough is probably the Kings' best long-term option.