NBA Trade Deadline 2017: B.S. Meter on the Latest Rumors
The big domino fell days before the 2017 NBA trade deadline, with DeMarcus Cousins unexpectedly joining Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans. Now, all we can do is scan the rumor mills and try to discern what's coming next.
Is Jimmy Butler going anywhere?
What about Wilson Chandler?
And, in a now-annual tradition, will the Boston Celtics ever do anything with all those assets (besides swear they were close to swinging a deal before backing out)?
NBA teams have until Thursday, Feb. 23, at 3 p.m. ET to make their moves or forever hold their peace. Between now and then, let's break down the latest chatter and figure out what's real and what's suspect.
We'll include a handy metric right up top in each section to apprise you of just how much bull's involved. It'll range from "Positively Zero Bull" to "A Great Deal of Bull."
Jimmy Butler's Not Worried
A Smattering of Bull
Jimmy Butler has dealt with trade rumors since before the 2016-17 season started, so it's easy to believe him when he comes across as unconcerned about the impending trade deadline.
"What's Thursday?," he asked in an All-Star media scrum, via Vincent Goodwill of CSN Chicago. "Oh, trade deadline. I don't know. I don't know. Am I anxious? Come on, man. I don't worry about it. It don't bother or scare me none. Hopefully I'm not going to get traded, but I don't know. I don't control that."
A. Sherrod Blakely of CSN New England says the Celtics are poking around, which is definitely not B.S. because that's what they always do. But outside of that, we haven't heard much in the way of credible Butler's-on-the-move chatter.
Though there's been so much smoke for so long that we can't totally discount a move; it's probably safe to assume there's no fire just yet. Plus, from the Bulls' perspective, it's difficult to see how trading an All-Star talent on a below-market contract makes sense for the future. Especially since Butler is the kind of two-way wing around whom virtually any type of contending team could be built.
Better to strip away the other underperforming young players and veterans than sell the cornerstone.
Celtics Digging on P.J. Tucker
OK, so if the Celtics aren't going to land Butler (we think), and they already passed on Cousins, are they ever going to make a move?
Maybe, if you consider P.J. Tucker "a move."
Per Sean Deveney of the Sporting News, "Boston has expressed deep interest in Tucker ahead of the deadline, a source said. Get Tucker, and the Celtics can add depth without giving up on a potential No. 1 pick."
That sounds on-brand for Boston—adding a trustworthy vet without breaking open that war chest.
Tucker, at 31, is no long-term fix. But he'd give the Celtics another rugged option to throw at LeBron James in a playoff series, and he wouldn't cost much. Granted, this isn't the kind of needle-moving transaction many keep hoping for from an asset-laden team like the Celtics, but it makes sense given the franchise's cautious approach to trades.
Remember, too, that Boston is operating on two separate timelines. It can and will compete now, but it can easily pivot to a secondary core built around Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart and all those draft assets in a year or two.
That may be the smart play, as James will be into his mid-30s by then, opening the path to the Finals in the East.
Iman Shumpert to the...Wolves?
A Great Deal of Bull
And also: why?
It's possible the Cavs have several next-level linked transactions in place, and that moving Shumpert is merely the first in a series of swaps that open roster spots, shuffle assets and result in their getting, I don't know, maybe a playmaker or something?
Apparently, those are in short supply.
But as a standalone deal, it's difficult to see how Shumpert helps the Wolves more than the Cavs.
Shumpert is a highly limited player hitting over 40 percent of his threes, which isn't the kind of skill set that matters on a lottery team (which, sorry, the Timberwolves are and probably will still be come season's end). For Cleveland, though, a spot-up threat who can defend both backcourt positions is valuable.
There's no way Cleveland could pry Ricky Rubio from the Wolves for Shumpert, but perhaps someone like Tyus Jones, long marginalized in the point guard rotation, would be useful. Yet it's still hard to see Minnesota part with him in a package for a 26-year-old role-filler.
If Shumpert goes anywhere, it won't be Minnesota.
Wizards Will Bolster Their Bench
Let's review what we know about the Washington Wizards:
First, they've been the best team in the East since Jan. 1, posting an 18-5 record and a plus-7.8 net rating.
Second, their starting five—John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Markieff Morris and Marcin Gortat—is laying waste to the opposition. In 965 minutes before the All-Star break, that group outscored foes by 13 points per 100 possessions. It's true that the healthy starting fives for the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Clippers own higher net ratings, but the total minutes of those two units combined don't equal Washington's 965.
Viewed that way, the Wizards' first five has easily been the best five-man unit in the league.
And third, Washington doesn't have much behind that elite starting group. Which is why this comment from Wall on the likelihood of a pre-deadline move is in the "zero bull" zone: "I think so," Wall told J. Michael of CSN Washington. "We're looking at some options to help our bench out."
Washington has to do something to improve a minus-5.8 bench net rating, third-worst in the league.
The Wizards will make a move.
Lou Williams Shipping Out
Update: Lou Williams has been traded to the Houston Rockets, per The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski
Positively Zero Bull
Speaking of Williams, the Los Angeles Lakers have every reason in the world to move him.
He's having a career year, averaging 18.6 points per game and knocking down 38.6 percent of his threes. Though he's toiling for a terrible team, Williams has a legitimate shot to be the Sixth Man of the Year. There are always complicating factors to consider in a trade, but in the simplest sense, Williams' value will never be higher.
Add that fact to L.A.'s other concern, which is losing as many games as possible in order to retain its top-three protected pick in this year's draft, and you have an absolute no-brainer. Imagine the total collapse of second-unit scoring without Williams' foul-drawing, trey-flinging production. It'll be awful, but awful is good for a team that ought to be tanking.
So of course the Lakers are shopping their bench dynamo, as Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype reports.
Wilson Chandler on the Move
A Smattering of Bull
It's not that the Wilson Chandler rumors are unfounded, it's that there are so many of them.
Chances are, the Denver Nuggets' versatile forward will be playing elsewhere after the deadline. He did, after all, express a desire to be dealt back at the beginning of February. However, it's tough to guess how this will shake out: Wojnarowski mentioned the Los Angeles Clippers and Oklahoma City Thunder as possible destinations, while ESPN.com's Chris B. Haynes cited the Houston Rockets as a third option.
The Clips don't have the assets to do much, and you wouldn't think the Nuggets would have interest in a package headlined by Austin Rivers or Jamal Crawford. Oklahoma City has more pieces to move, but would Domantas Sabonis or future picks be enough?
Do the Nuggets want Trevor Ariza and a pick from the Rockets? Would Houston consider making Sam Dekker available?
You can see the obstacles here.
Still, the Nuggets have already shown their willingness to make moves by dealing Jusuf Nurkic for Mason Plumlee. And with enough suitors, there's bound to be a good offer eventually.
Stan Van Gundy Believes in Reggie Jackson
A Great Deal of Bull
This is tough because calling B.S. on Stan Van Gundy's pro-Reggie Jackson comments to Rod Beard of the Detroit News impugns the honesty of a generally forthright and sensible NBA head coach.
"My confidence level in [his getting back to normal] is high. It's tough when you sit out training camp and miss that many games," Van Gundy told Beard. "Reggie would tell you that 21 games and training is a long time, and a team starts to develop a little different identity, and he has to come back and fit into that."
SVG has spoken truth to power this season, so why doubt he's sticking to total veracity on this topic?
Here's a nice little workaround that doesn't result in calling Van Gundy a liar: He's too smart to fully trust Jackson as his team's point guard.
Why? Because he can look at the numbers. And those numbers say Detroit is 9.6 points per 100 possessions better when Jackson isn't on the floor.
There's some truth to the adjustment period Van Gundy referenced, but we have a sizable sample of more harm than good for Jackson. So while it's smart of SVG to publicly profess his faith, we shouldn't necessarily take those comments at face value.
That's different than saying Jackson will be traded. Van Gundy may have less trust in his point guard than he's letting on, but getting an offer good enough to pull the trigger is a separate issue. In fact, moving Jackson now, at the nadir of his market value, wouldn't be smart.
Positively Zero Bull
"The Knicks have not brought anything to his [Anthony's] group that would inspire them to really want to waive this no-trade clause," Wojnarowski reports. "Most of the teams who had interest in him are looking in other directions right now and expect Melo to remain in New York, at least for the rest of this season."
This isn't surprising, is it?
Considering everything Anthony has seen his franchise do in just the past few weeks—Charley Rosen's article in what many thought was an effort by Phil Jackson to force a waiver of Anthony's no-trade clause; the Charles Oakley-James Dolan debacle and several rumored deals in the works—is there anything the Knicks could do to so infuriate and alienate Anthony as to finally make him waive that infernal no-trade clause?
Actually, don't answer that.
This is the Kincks, after all.