The NBA rumor mill is buzzing, as buyers and sellers scramble to make their roster-building dreams a reality before Thursday's 3 p.m. ET trade deadline.
Reigning All-NBA third-teamer DeAndre Jordan is hearing his name bandied about, as are multiple veterans on the restructuring Chicago Bulls. The Cleveland Cavaliers keep searching for ways to strengthen their 28th-ranked defense, and the New York Knicks are finding out they're too crowded in the middle
Let's dig into the Association's hottest trade topics and see how they could impact the perpetual arms race.
Cavs Make Underwhelming Offer for DeAndre Jordan
Cleveland has made a pitch for the Los Angeles Clippers' high-flying center, but it hardly sounds like enough to pry Jordan out of Hollywood. Sam Amick of USA Today reported the Cavs only have their own first-round pick and "unwanted money," including Tristan Thompson and JR Smith, on the table.
Certain parts of Cleveland's approach make sense, especially the exclusion of the coveted first-rounder coming from the Brooklyn Nets.
Cleveland wouldn't move that selection without landing "a younger player who is under team control for a few years," according to Terry Pluto of the Plain Dealer. The 29-year-old Jordan could opt for free agency at season's end. He doesn't meet either side of Cleveland's criteria and would not warrant the use of that asset.
But this potential trade package from the Cavs falls comically short of the Clippers' reported price.
League executives told Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times that L.A. wants "a first-round draft pick, financial flexibility and young players." Thompson is 26, Smith is 32 and both players are posting the worst player efficiency ratings of their careers. They'll also collect more than $32 million combined next season, and each has additional money owed beyond that.
It's fine to start with a low-ball offer for Jordan, particularly when the market is saturated with interior centers. But he's the best rim-runner available, and he has multiple suitors. Turner reported in the same piece Jordan has been discussed with the Portland Trail Blazers. ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski previously said Jordan "tops" the Milwaukee Bucks' wish list.
If the Cavs see Jordan as a significant defensive lift—he was a top-five rebounder and shot-blocker the past four seasons—they'll almost certainly have to part with more assets than they're offering.
Bulls Aim for Active Deadline
Chicago has been in liquidation mode for a while now, moving All-Star Jimmy Butler last summer and scoring forward Nikola Mirotic just last week. That's still the mindset in the Windy City, where every veteran might be available as the Bulls begin their descent down the standings.
Efforts to relocate 29-year-old starting center Robin Lopez "have intensified," league sources told K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune. The Bulls have also discussed the recently acquired Tony Allen with the Oklahoma City Thunder, who need perimeter stoppers after losing Andre Roberson for the season to a ruptured patellar tendon. In addition, reserve guard Jerian Grant has been available "for weeks."
Allen will be waived if he isn't traded, per Johnson. And the status of Jameer Nelson is up in the air, Executive Vice President John Paxson told reporters.
Assuming Lopez's salary doesn't scare off suitors ($13.7 million this season, $14.3 million the next), he'd be a reasonably attractive target for win-now teams. He plays a no-frills game built around toughness and hustle, and he's taken four separate trips to the postseason. He's also scoring (12.6 points per game) and assisting (2.1) at career rates and is familiar with this process, having been traded three times before.
"Trades are part of the business," Lopez said, per Johnson. "Guys are used to it. At the end of the day, it's just us and the other team and basketball."
Grant could attract a different kind of shopper, a forward-thinking club interested in a low-cost flier. The 19th pick in 2015 still has another year left on his rookie deal, and he has never averaged more points (8.3), rebounds (2.4) or assists (4.8, against only 1.3 turnovers). He's not much of a shooter (career 31.6 percent from three), but his passing instincts are available in a well-spaced offense.
Willy Hernangomez Wants Out of New York
Remember when Willy Hernangomez looked like a building block and not someone squeezed out of regular minutes on a (likely) lottery-bound team? Well, so does he, and he'd reportedly like to get his career back on track by getting away from the New York Knicks.
This makes sense for Hernangomez. The 6'11" center dazzled down the stretch of his rookie season, almost averaging a double-double after the All-Star break (11.5 points and 9.2 rebounds) and earning All-Rookie first-team honors. But his minutes have been sliced in half this season, with Enes Kanter taking over the starting gig and Kyle O'Quinn slotting in behind.
Of course, a trade would make little sense for the Knicks, as Basketball Insiders' Tommy Beer broke down on Twitter:
Tommy Beer @TommyBeer
There’s a chance Kanter opts out this summer. There’s a good chance Kyle O’Quinn opts out. Sounds like Joakim Noah has played his last game in NY. Thus, Knicks may need a center. They have a center who made the All-Rookie team & will cost < $2 million Don’t sell low on Willy
The fear for the Knicks, though, is that the damage has already been done. The constant benchings and quick hooks for Hernangomez clearly took their toll, and he might be dead set on finding a fresh start. His playing time has been perplexing all season and perhaps punched his ticket out of town.