DeMar DeRozan and the SGs Most Likely to Be Traded During 2018 NBA Offseason
Our look at the NBA's next crop of offseason trade candidates is raging onward.
Since point guards were the focus last time around, it only seems right that we zoom in on the other half of the backcourt now. Position breakdowns get dicey when moving into swingman and wing territory, so we'll be using Cleaning The Glass' exhaustive possession data as a guide to determining which players qualify as shooting guards.
The rules haven't changed since the floor-general installment. These trade candidates have not all been linked to specific reports. They're here because an overwhelming amount of evidence suggests they may not be long for their current digs.
Many find themselves in the mix due to a stale status quo. Others are because of expected free-agency pursuits and luxury-tax allergies. A certain special someone is just straight-out unfit for the roster around him.
Not all of these players will be dealt before next season. Heck, all of them could stay put. But they won't survive the summer without at least frequenting the rumor mill for weeks, maybe months, on end.
Longer-Shot Trade Candidates Worth Monitoring
Kent Bazemore, Atlanta Hawks
With his 29th birthday on the horizon (July 1), Kent Bazemore doesn't come close to fitting the Hawks' timeline. But while the final two years and $37.4 million left on his deal are far from immovable, the team is more concerned with renting out cap space in exchange for picks and prospects.
Unless he's being dealt as part of massive, Evan Turner-sized salary absorption, the Hawks would be better off waiting for February's trade deadline or next summer before exploring his market.
Eric Gordon, Houston Rockets
Consider this a hedge against LeBron James (player option) orchestrating an opt-in-and-trade to the Rockets, and nothing more.
Courtney Lee, New York Knicks
Keeping a soon-to-be 33-year-old Courtney Lee doesn't really jibe with the Knicks' window. They aren't going anywhere next season with Kristaps Porzingis recovering from a torn left ACL, and team president Steve Mills wants to use this year's lottery pick on another wing.
Turning Lee into a mid-end pick or prospect would help keep the Knicks lean entering the 2019 summer and allow them to test three-guard lineups, prioritizing playing time for Tim Hardaway Jr. and Frank Ntilikina on the wings. But that feels like something they'll look at more aggressively leading into February's deadline, when they have a firmer grasp of Porzingis' recovery and a better understanding of what they'll be able to do next July.
CJ McCollum, Portland Trail Blazers
"It's been reported that [Neil] Olshey has previously rejected offers for [Damian] Lillard and McCollum," The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor wrote after the Blazers fell behind 0-3 to the New Orleans Pelicans in the first round. "But that doesn't mean the phones will stop buzzing. Even before this series, league executives had assumed that Olshey would break up the duo if they failed again. We'll find out in due time, but the idea should be entertained."
Maybe the Blazers consider moving McCollum in hopes of deepening the rotation with some spare parts. But he doesn't engender the same excitement as a Bradley Beal. He's older (going on 27), makes All-Star money (three years, $82.5 million) and, as a result, is less likely to pique the interest of rebuilding squads with the assets necessary to make Portland's backcourt dissolution worth the trouble.
Lou Williams, Los Angeles Clippers
Signing Lou Williams to an extension does not preclude the Clippers from starting over this summer.
DeAndre Jordan (player option) and Avery Bradley could leave in free agency, and the front office may decide to prioritize 2019 flexibility contending for a low playoff seed—in which case Williams' three-year, $24 million deal, with only a partial guarantee in the final season, becomes extremely movable. Don't sleep on him entering the trade block when his restriction lifts in August.
Jerryd Bayless, Philadelphia 76ers
2017-18 Per-Game Stats: 7.9 points, 2.1 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 0.6 steals, 41.6 percent shooting, 37.0 percent three-point shooting
Contract Details: 1 year, $8.6 million
Every sign ever points to the Philadelphia 76ers trying to acquire a superstar over the summer.
"I think a high-level free agent is required," head coach Brett Brown said during his year-end presser, per the Philadelphia Inquirer's Keith Pompey. "I feel like we have the ability to attract one."
LeBron James' ears are still burning. Paul George's are probably feeling a little tingly, too. Kawhi Leonard might even be experiencing a little chill. Sources told Pompey the Sixers have interest in stealing George away from the Oklahoma City Thunder and will monitor Kawhi Leonard's chopping-block status with the San Antonio Spurs.
Any route Philly takes to pursuing another superstar will include Jerryd Bayless. Offloading his $8.6 million contract is a crucial part of opening up more than $30 million in room without touching the core of Robert Covington, Joel Embiid, Markelle Fultz, Dario Saric and Ben Simmons. And while the salary-dumping market figures to be particularly stringent, the Sixers have the necessary sweeteners to get it done.
Some combination of Justin Anderson, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, Richaun Holmes (team option), their own first-round pick or the Los Angeles Lakers' selection definitely gets the job done. Teams can hold out for more than one off these pieces, but the Sixers shouldn't have to budge much, if at all. Bayless comes off the books after next year; someone like Saric or T.J. McConnell should not be the cost of doing business.
Finding a taker to absorb his salary while nabbing, say, the Sixers' own first-rounder gives them a sliver over $35 million in wiggle room. That would be more than enough for George's max ($30.3 million) and within hugging distance of James' expected salary ($35.4 million).
Nothing changes if Philly reroutes its efforts to Leonard. The Spurs cannot command a king's ransom for his services when he made just nine appearances this season and is ticketed for free agency in 2019 (player option). Bayless' filler salary will be integral to negotiations as the Sixers seek to limit their outgoing collateral damage—the potential difference between forking over both Fultz and Saric or just one of them.
Too long (it's not), didn't read (damn avocado-toast enthusiasts): If the Sixers land a superstar, you can bet your bottom dollar his exit is part of rolling out the red carpet.
Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards
2017-18 Per-Game Stats: 22.6 points, 4.4 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 1.2 steals, 46.0 percent shooting, 37.5 percent three-point shooting
Contract Details: 3 years, $81.3 million
Bradley Beal's inclusion is not an indictment of his fit with the Washington Wizards. They just need to do something after getting quasi-waxed by the Toronto Raptors in the first round.
The Wizards will scoot past next year's $123 million luxury tax if Jodie Meeks and Jason Smith, as expected, opt into the final year of their deals. They can grease the wheels of a small-time salary dump or two to duck the line, but that doesn't improve the product.
Holding off another year before going nuclear isn't a genuine option. A break in the clouds isn't coming. John Wall's extension kicks in for 2019-20. His $18.6 million spike more than offsets what the Wizards would shed in the expiring contracts for Meeks, Smith and Markieff Morris ($17.6 million total).
Marcin Gortat's deal fades into nothingness next summer, but that does little with Kelly Oubre Jr. and Tomas Satoransky each slated for restricted free agency. Carrying their holds while footing a $92.2 million bill for Beal, Wall and Otto Porter puts the Wizards right up against the projected cap in 2019-20 ($108 million). And that doesn't include Ian Mahimi's expiring salary, incoming first-rounders and any multiyear pacts they hand out this summer.
Testing the trade waters this summer should be a given. The Wizards are free to wait and see whether LeBron James leaves the Eastern Conference, but even then, running it back offers limited appeal with the Sixers and Boston Celtics on the rise. And if they're going to seriously consider moving anyone, they'll have to face facts: It needs to be Beal.
Wall is owed $188.5 million through 2022-23 (player option). His deal isn't immovable. It could also be the worst in the NBA. The Wizards aren't netting anything close to even value on an agreement that pays a 32-year-old point guard reliant upon raw burst $46.9 million in its final year.
Porter is simultaneously overpaid and indispensable. Universal offensive fits who can defend positions 1 through 4 are hard to find. The Wizards have one and cannot afford to get rid of him no matter how much they believe in Oubre Jr.
That leaves Beal. Suitors won't think twice about cobbling together packages that combine cap relief with cost-controlled role players and draft picks. Beal's remaining commitment is about market level for a 20-something-points-per-game scorer who's shooting better than 39 percent from deep and just proved he can pilot a league-average offense on his own. Look for his name to dominate the rumor mill in the coming weeks and months.
DeMar DeRozan, Toronto Raptors
2017-18 Per-Game Stats: 23.0 points, 3.9 rebounds, 5.2 assists, 1.1 steals, 45.6 percent shooting, 31.2 percent three-point shooting
Contract Details: 3 years, $82.8 million (player option in 2020-21)
Disclaimer: Cleaning The Glass has DeMar DeRozan spending more possessions as the de facto 3, but he started at the 2 and his stans tend to get more bent out of shape by his designation than most. He logged enough of his time at shooting guard (42 percent) to make this exception.
Firing head coach Dwane Casey could be the extent of the Raptors' offseason overhaul. None of their best trade assets are guaranteed to yield an assortment of high-end spare parts, and they don't have any cap space.
Five rotation players will also begin next season on the right side of 25: OG Anunoby, Norman Powell, Jakob Poeltl, Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet (restricted). Throw Delon Wright into this gaggle as well. He's 26, but he has just three years of experience to his resume. Toronto's depth chart is not without prospective in-house leaps.
Still, standing relatively pat without working the phones would indicate the Raptors believe their youth coupled with a new coach amounts to a stronger crusade against LeBron James. (Unless, of course, he leaves the East.) That doesn't sit right.
Casey made some off-putting choices during the Raptors' second-round implosion against the Cleveland Cavaliers: playing Lucas Nogueira to close the first half in Game 4, electing not to try pressuring James on his buzzer-beater in Game 3, keeping an Anunoby-Siakam 4-5 partnership under wraps, etc. But getting rid of him alone doesn't noticeably elevate their ceiling. They're not the Milwaukee Bucks. They didn't underachieve this year.
Jettisoning DeRozan might. He's working off a career year, but he still isn't the ideal guard for how the Raptors want to play. A willingness to launch more threes has not translated to league-average efficiency. He canned 31.2 percent of his treys during the regular season and shot 21.4 percent on triples in which he wasn't completely wide-open for the playoffs.
Tapping DeRozan for scapegoat duty is unfair. But Casey's decision to bench him down the stretch of a pivotal Game 3 says a lot. Kyle Lowry can have an impact playing off the ball or when he's not hitting shots. DeRozan is less likely to do so.
Moving him could be tough. Shelling out almost $83 million for him over the next three years is steep, and other teams will encounter the same problems with his offensive game. But he'll work for a squad that's more open to accentuating his one-on-one stylings. The Raptors have to at least see what he's worth.
Norman Powell, Toronto Raptors
2017-18 Per-Game Stats: 5.5 points, 1.7 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 0.5 steals, 40.1 percent shooting, 28.5 percent three-point shooting
Contract Details: 4 years, $42 million
Norman Powell becomes no-brainer trade bait if the Raptors are trying to escape the luxury tax without selling off one of their stars. A right hip injury forced him out of the starting lineup in November, at which point OG Anunoby took his place and never gave it back.
Toronto could view Powell as part of its youth movement, someone who will break out when gifted a better bill of health and more playing time. But the combination of Anunoby, CJ Miles and the Raptors' willingness to play two point guards renders him expendable—infinitely so if team president Masai Ujiri is also resigned to keeping DeMar DeRozan.
Failing appreciable changes to Toronto's perimeter makeup, Powell will be hard-pressed to crack the 20-minutes-per-game plateau for the first time of his career. Exceeding the 15-minute marker could even be a stretch. He averaged just 12.2 after Jan. 1.
Another head coach could see promise in mashing together Anunoby's and Powell's switchability. If not, the latter is best used as a cost-cutting tool. Cap-rich teams will place a premium on leasing out space, but Powell isn't yet an albatross and remains young enough to be part of a rebuilding project.
Some general manager will roll the dice on his four-year, $42 million extension that kicks in next season. It shouldn't take the Raptors including a pot sweetener. Nor should they need to take back crummy money. And that has to interest them if they intend to re-sign VanVleet.
Renouncing Nogueira (restricted) and waiving Alfonzo McKinnie still leaves them above the luxury-tax threshold before baking in a new deal for the 24-year-old point guard. Sending Powell's $9.6 million hit into a team's cap space would allow them to start VanVleet at roughly $5.3 million without leaking into the tax.
Andrew Wiggins, Minnesota Timberwolves
2017-18 Per-Game Stats: 17.7 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.1 steals, 43.8 percent shooting, 33.1 percent three-point shooting
Contract Details: Five years, $146.5 million
Andrew Wiggins may not belong here depending on how you view his partnership with Jimmy Butler. They're interchangeable at the 2 and 3 spots. But Cleaning The Glass has Wiggins soaking up more than 75 percent of his time at shooting guard, and the Minnesota Timberwolves sporadically deployed lineups that clearly featured Butler at the 4.
Trading him before he begins the first season of a five-year max extension would be the ultimate whoops-a-daisy move. Owner Glen Taylor made a big to-do of offering Wiggins that money, and dangling him now, before he officially plays under the contract, speaks to a lack of faith in his fit beside Butler and Karl-Anthony Towns.
But justifying their investment doesn't appear to be the Timberwolves' priority. They're trying to win now, in advance of Butler's foray into 2019 free agency. Using Wiggins to restock the roster with better shooters and all-around complementary cast mates is not outside the realm of possibility, as The Athletic's Jon Krawczynski wrote:
"It really falls in line with their comments at the end-of-season press conference. They are going to be aggressive and know they have a lot of ground to make up without a lot of cap space to do it. That points to a big move, either with Wiggins or [Gorgui] Dieng or some combination."
Wiggins isn't anchoring a blockbuster proposal for the Timberwolves. Again: Their openness to moving him would say a lot, and his dip in efficiency amid a downtick in usage qualifies as a red flag.
Then again, Wiggins could be one of those players who's best suited for a more complicated role—not unlike DeMar DeRozan. He'll be more at home as the unquestioned first or second option rather than someone shimmying between second, third and fourth fiddle. His shooting percentages during solo stints don't perfectly align with this train of thought, but his lackluster clips on catch-and-fire looks don't bode well for a team that needs to carve out additional touches for Towns.
At only 23 and under team control through 2022-23, Wiggins will grab another team's attention. Someone will bank on a consistent role and better spacing translating to a higher, more efficient offensive ceiling. They probably won't be willing to pay more than 75 cents on the dollar for his upside, but Minnesota cannot be too choosy.
Both Butler and Towns (extension-eligible this summer) will be due raises for 2019-20. The Timberwolves won't have a problem sneaking under the tax this year, but paying max money for three players is untenable when one of them poses such an awkward, potentially hopeless fit.