NBA Trade Deadline Ideas: How to Move Kemba Walker, DeAndre Jordan
February is bearing down upon the NBA, which can mean only one thing: The Association is churning out rumors as fast as the Cleveland Cavaliers' collection of disgruntled chatterboxes can carry them.
Relax, this latest trade-machine tangent isn't brought to you solely by the dysfunction and decline of the reigning Eastern Conference champs. Inspiration for these proposed deals comes from the latest and greatest batch of leaguewide news and conjecture. Promise.
You'll see many familiar faces, because that's how this works. DeAndre Jordan has been living on the hypothetical chopping block since before Lou Williams was an All-Star snub. The challenge in these instances is to conjure up fresh packages that do what all the others to this point have not: extricate the usual suspects from their current digs.
You better believe, though, there will be more than a few newbies added to this player-swap party. That's also how this works.
The Feb. 8 deadline inches closer, and we, as responsibly audacious trade-machiners, must construct deals worthy of the buzz we're being spoonfed.
Orlando and Phoenix Making Ripples
Orlando Magic Receive: SG Troy Daniels, C Alan Williams (injured), 2018 second-round pick (from Charlotte, Miami or Memphis, via Phoenix)
Phoenix Suns Receive: SG Terrence Ross (injured), PG Elfrid Payton
Truth time: The Orlando Magic may not need a second-rounder as part of this deal. Relieving themselves of the final year on Terrence Ross' contract next season could be enough to get their seal of approval—mostly because they're just happy to be here.
"The Orlando Magic have been around the proverbial block with most of their roster, according to league sources," Basketball Insiders' Steve Kyler wrote. "The story surrounding the Magic is that virtually anything on the roster could be had in trade and that the Magic really are not seeking a ton in return."
Including a mid-end second-round selection would just be the Phoenix Suns' way of guaranteeing Orlando doesn't opt to retain Elfrid Payton into restricted free agency. The current front-office regime didn't pick him, and the team shouldn't want to pay him in addition to Aaron Gordon this summer, but waiting to see how much he'll cost beats selling him off for nothing.
Dumping Ross—who hasn't played since Nov. 29 after suffering a non-displaced fracture in his right knee—and netting a second-rounder isn't nothing. Alan Williams' contract is non-guaranteed beyond 2017-18, and Troy Daniels is an asset. He's canning more than 42 percent of his threes since joining the Suns and fetching a clearance-rack price point through next season.
Phoenix shouldn't say no to a months-long look at Payton. Isaiah Canaan and Tyler Ulis are the primary point guards these days—which, eh—and this upcoming draft isn't flush with high-end floor generals aside from Trae Young.
If things don't work out with Payton, the Suns can let him walk. Or, after finding the market for point guards has gone cold, he could return on his qualifying offer or a reasonable deal.
Absorbing Ross poses some risk, but the Suns have use for him on the wings. Neither Josh Jackson nor T.J. Warren is a premier spot-up weapon, and whether they extend Devin Booker this summer or wait for his restricted free agency in 2019, Ross comes off the ledger just as the franchise cornerstone gets expensive.
Golden State Makes a Small but Meaningful Splash
Golden State Warriors Receive: C Kyle O'Quinn
New York Knicks Receive: SG/SF Nick Young, 2018 first-round pick
Sources told ESPN.com's Ian Begley the Golden State Warriors are among the teams who have shown interest in Kyle O'Quinn. And with so many centers already in their employ, the New York Knicks should be open to a deal.
Breaking bread with the Warriors is, admittedly, more difficult than not. They shouldn't blink at giving up their first-round pick. They have a comfortable lead on the NBA's best record, so that selection will end up being No. 30—a borderline second-rounder.
Matching salaries (O'Quinn is making $4.1 million this season) is the headache.
Zaza Pachulia must give his consent in any trade, which he has zero incentive to do. Combining minimum-salaried players doesn't fly either. The Warriors need to send out three to make the money work. They don't have that many expendables, even at that afterthought cost, while the Knicks lack extra roster spots.
Forking over Nick Young won't sit well with Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Draymond Green; they all recruited him over the summer. But Swaggy P hasn't been great for the Warriors. Only Patrick McCaw has a lower net rating among teammates to appear in more than 10 games, and Young is averaging fewer points per catch-and-shoot possession than both Shaun Livingston and David West.
And don't underestimate the value of O'Quinn's Bird rights. The Warriors sure won't. They'll have the inside track on keeping him this summer (player option) or next, which allows them to navigate West's retirement and move on from a soon-to-be 34-year-old Pachulia without saddling Jordan Bell with overburdening expectations.
Portland Wins the DeAndre Jordan Sweepstakes
Los Angeles Clippers Receive: C Ed Davis, SF/PF Maurice Harkless, C Jusuf Nurkic, 2018 first-round pick (lottery protected)
Portland Trail Blazers Receive: C DeAndre Jordan, SG/SF Sindarius Thornwell
Count the Portland Trail Blazers among the ever-growing list of teams eyeing DeAndre Jordan, according to the New York Times' Marc Stein. And they, unlike certain other suitors, have the dispensable assets to break the monotony of what the Los Angeles Clippers deem, per Stein, unworthy offers.
Jusuf Nurkic is a necessary starting point in every package. He isn't a better player than Jordan, but he boasts a more expansive offensive game and can survive on the perimeter long enough, from a distance, to help coax ball-handlers into long twos.
Plus, Nurkic doesn't turn 23 until August. He has plenty of time to improve his crummy shot selection, and the Clippers can (probably) re-sign him in restricted free agency for noticeably less than what it'll take to keep Jordan.
Maurice Harkless has seen his playing time plummet, but he, too, is under 25. Bankrolling the $22.4 million he's owed over the next two seasons is a worthwhile venture for a Los Angeles team thin on switchable wings.
Stir in Ed Davis' expiring deal, along with a first-round pick, and the Clippers can talk themselves into extracting enough across-the-board value from Portland to green-light this proposal. Pulling the trigger even saves $4 million, bringing them far enough beneath the luxury-tax line to hit the peace-out button on Brice Johnson and open the roster spot it'll take to accommodate a two-for-three transaction.
Taking on more money poses a risk for the Blazers. They already have one of the league's highest payrolls and would need to lop off salary in a separate trade to avoid the tax this year. They also have to worry about footing the bill for Jordan's next contract, unless they strictly view him as a rental.
All of that's fine. It has to be. Treading water in the middle of the Western Conference isn't good enough—not when Damian Lillard recently met with owner Paul Allen to gain clarity on the team's direction, per ESPN.com's Chris Haynes. The Blazers need to do something big, and this not only qualifies, but it also boosts their ceiling without knifing into the backcourt partnership of Lillard and CJ McCollum.
Charlotte, Cleveland and Utah Get Weird
Charlotte Hornets Receive: C Channing Frye, PG Ricky Rubio, SG/SF Iman Shumpert, 2018 first-round pick (from Brooklyn, via Cleveland), 2018 second-round pick (via Utah)
Cleveland Cavaliers Receive: PF/C Derrick Favors, SG/SF Rodney Hood, SF Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, PG Kemba Walker, 2018 first-round pick (via Utah)
Utah Jazz Receive: PG/SG Michael Carter-Williams, PF/C Kevin Love, PG Isaiah Thomas
As ESPN.com's Brian Windhorst relayed while speaking with ESPN Cleveland, all signs point toward the Cavaliers landing George Hill from the Sacramento Kings. Nothing, meanwhile, indicates they're open to shipping out Kevin Love.
"I want to make this 100 percent clear: I have not heard one, single word of Kevin Love being traded," Windhorst said. "But, if I were Kevin Love, I would question my future in Cleveland and call my agent about getting me out of here."
No kidding. Love was the central target of a recent team meeting in which players questioned his decisions to leave Saturday's loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder early and take off Sunday's practice, according to ESPN.com's Adrian Wojnarowski. The 29-year-old should be over these grade-school politics. He's an All-Star. He has his ring. He can pull a Kyrie Irving without regret.
Not that the Cavaliers would need much convincing here. Losing Love, Isaiah Thomas and the Brooklyn Nets pick is a lot in one shot, but they're gaining equal-to-greater value in return.
Derrick Favors is a stouter defensive presence than Love, and Rodney Hood would instantly become the Cleveland's pest perimeter defender (non-NBA Finals LeBron James division). Kemba Walker is a massive upgrade over the latest version of Thomas—particularly when he's not ticketed for free agency until 2019. And Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, along with Hood, an engaged James and Jae Crowder, gives this squad a fighting chance at matching up with the Warriors on defense.
Impending forays into free agency from Favors and Hood (restricted) shouldn't dissuade the Cavaliers. They'll have the leverage necessary to re-sign both if they please, and picking up the Utah Jazz's first-rounder is a good hedge against James' forcing a reset by signing elsewhere.
Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan is against dealing Walker...sort of. He told the Charlotte Observer's Rick Bonnell, "I’m not looking to trade Kemba, but I would listen to opportunities."
Grabbing the Nets pick, while increasing the value of their own, is the right opportunity. The Hornets begin their rebuild with two first-rounders in a deep draft, while both Ricky Rubio and Iman Shumpert will be history after next season.
As for the Jazz, their haul is worth the price of admission to this three-teamer. Favors is gone in free agency, and Rubio has devolved into an offensive pit. They can rationalize cutting bait with Hood when they're pairing Rudy Gobert with Love and Donovan Mitchell with at least a partial year of Thomas—all while getting out from under Rubio's $15 million cap hit for 2018-19.
Milwaukee's Post-Jason Kidd Shake-Up
Atlanta Hawks Receive: PF/C Mirza Teletovic (injured), SG/SF Rashad Vaughn, PF/C D.J. Wilson, 2020 second-round pick (via Milwaukee)
Milwaukee Bucks Receive: SF/PF Michael Beasley, PG Jarrett Jack, C Enes Kanter, SG/SF Marco Belinelli
New York Knicks Receive: PG/SG Malcolm Brogdon, PG/SG Matthew Dellavedova, PF/C Ersan Ilyasova
Firing Jason Kidd may not be the last midseason shake-up the Milwaukee Bucks have in them. They continue to seek roster upgrades after plunging into fringe-playoff territory, according to Stein.
Orchestrating a conventional blockbuster is out of the question. The Bucks have long held DeAndre Jordan in high regard, but they're not prying him from the Clippers without surrendering some combination of Malcolm Brogdon, Thon Maker and Jabari Parker. And even if they can get away with sending out just one, they don't have the salary-matching tools to prevent Los Angeles from driving up the asking price.
Identical concerns and roadblocks will be part and parcel of any major move. Rounding out this year's depth chart while shaving off some long-term money is a more realistic goal.
Enes Kanter isn't the ideal acquisition at $20.6 million this year and $18.6 million in 2018-19, but he's piquing the attention of suitors surfing the market for size, per Begley. And the Bucks need size.
Milwaukee is 27th in rebounding rate; Kanter ranks fourth among all players in that department, just behind Jordan, Clint Capela and Drummond. He's shooting better than 50 percent on post-ups and a good-not-spectacular 58 percent out of the pick-and-roll. New York has shown he can be better than detrimental, if not close to average, guarding the basket when excused from multitasking.
Marco Belinelli's 37.6 percent clip from downtown is a no-brainer grab for an offense that needs to shoot more threes. Michael Beasley just plain gets buckets, at either the 3 or 4. Jarrett Jack is a must-have when giving up Brogdon.
Ah, yes, Brogdon. Last season's Rookie of the Year. Losing him hurts, but he's regressed as a one-on-one defender and is not worth making untouchable when the Bucks are jettisoning Matthew Dellavedova and Mirza Teletovic. Besides, Brogdon will need another contract after next season, at which time Parker will already be on his new deal and Eric Bledsoe is up for a raise.
Swallowing what's left of Teletovic's contract (expiring at $10.5 million next year) shouldn't scare off the Atlanta Hawks. They're basically in fire-sale mode, per Wojnarowski. The acquisition of D.J. Wilson and a second-rounder is adequate compensation for two players, in Belinelli and the expiring Ersan Ilyasova, who don't align with their big picture.
Accepting this deal should be similarly easy for the Knicks. Dellavedova's contract spans one year longer than Kanter's pact, but they trim more than $7 million off next season's payroll while opening the door for a super-intriguing backcourt alliance between Brogdon and Frank Ntilikina.