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NBA Trade Rumors: Latest on Kawhi Leonard, Houston Rockets and More

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistJuly 30, 2018

SAN ANTONIO, TX - DECEMBER 14: Kawhi Leonard #2 of the San Antonio Spurs posts up against the Boston Celtics on December 14, 2016 at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photos by Mark Sobhani/NBAE via Getty Images)
Mark Sobhani/Getty Images

With nearly a month of activity in the books, the 2018 NBA offseason is largely running on fumes.

But trade rumors haven't departed for their summer vacations just yet. A handful continue trickling in, even if they're not as frequent or necessarily as juicy as those encountered when the market first opened.

The latest batch, all examined below, includes a deeper look into the Boston Celtics' attempts to land Kawhi Leonard and a hint the Houston Rockets aren't finished shopping.

                

Celtics Put Top Picks on the Table?

Like most teams with championship aspirations, the Celtics were connected to the Leonard trade talks. While they were hesitant to part with their top players, they reportedly opened their treasure trove of draft picks before the San Antonio Spurs sent Leonard north of the border.

"I think the Celtics offered most of their best draft picks," ESPN's Zach Lowe said on The Lowe Post podcast (via NBC Sports' Dan Feldman). "I don't think the Celtics just offered, 'You could have a bunch of our picks.' I think some of the picks they own—at least two of the picks, if not all of them—that they own from other teams, including the Kings, Grizzlies and Clippers, I think those were all in the deal."

That could have been quite the haul.

Per RealGM, Boston owns the higher of the Kings' and 76ers' first-rounder in 2019 (top-one protected), the Grizzlies' upcoming first (top-eight protected) as well as the Clippers' (lottery-protected). At least two of the three were guaranteed to land in the opening round, with Memphis' losing all protections had it not conveyed by 2021.

If the Spurs took the rebuilding route—a likely path for most clubs forced to trade away a top-five talent—they would have quickly stockpiled roster-constructing assets. Not to mention, Boston would have still had to ship some players to the Alamo City to match Leonard's salary, meaning San Antonio could have doubled up with picks and prospects.

Alas, the Spurs—coached by 69-year-old Gregg Popovich—opted for a more present-focused package built around four-time All-Star DeMar DeRozan, who turns 29 in August. The Celtics, who look like the Eastern Conference favorites even without Leonard, presumably made the right call not to sacrifice similar win-now talent for what might be a one-year rental.

                  

Rockets Active on the Trade Front?

The Rockets have had a somewhat surprisingly active summer, considering they led the NBA in victories last season and finished just one win shy of the Finals.

Re-signing Chris Paul and Clint Capela were easy, obvious choices. Less foreseeable, though, were the exits of Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute and subsequent pivots to James Ennis, Michael Carter-Williams and, sooner rather than later, Carmelo Anthony.

According to ESPN's Brian Windhorst (via Sports Talk 790's Ben DuBose), Houston remains in active pursuit of defensive help and might take back long-term salary to find it:

Ben DuBose @BenDuBose

Brian Windhorst on ESPN regarding potential #Rockets moves beyond Carmelo Anthony: "They are active in the trade market." Says Houston is showing some willingness to take long-term money back for Ryan Anderson. "They have been talking to teams about adding defenders."

Ryan Anderson has long been viewed as one of the more difficult players to trade in the league. He has essentially become a three-point specialist who is tricky to play given his defensive limitations, plus he's on the wrong side of 30 and owed $41.6 million over the next two seasons.

But if the Rockets would take back burdensome deals in return, maybe that changes the conversation.

It's at least plausible the Charlotte Hornets would rather pay Anderson his remaining money than give Nicolas Batum $76.6 million for the next three seasons. Houston, meanwhile, would potentially be getting a younger, more versatile version of Ariza in Batum, who can cycle through multiple defensive assignments, knock down shots from distance (career 35.5 percent) and move the basketball (career 3.8 assists).

                 

Kyle Singler on the Chopping Block?

The Oklahoma City Thunder have twice invested in Kyle Singler, first acquiring him in the 2015 deadline deal that sent Reggie Jackson out of the Sooner State and then inking Singler to a five-year, $25 million deal the following summer.

OKC has yet to collect much of anything from the investments. Singler has played just 112 games over the first three seasons of his contract, averaging 3.1 points on 39.1/28.1/66.2 shooting and 1.8 rebounds in 12.7 minutes per contest.

With the Thunder loading up on wings and subsequently burying Singler on the depth chart, ESPN's Royce Young reports Singler will soon be on his way out:

Royce Young @royceyoung

Signing Diallo brings the Thunder to 15 roster spots filled, though that will likely be dropping to 14 within the next few weeks when Kyle Singler is moved/waived. https://t.co/hfMP3TEjHb

OKC's current depth chart puts Singler fourth among small forwards, and that might even be overselling his role. Because the 2 and 3 positions are so interchangeable, the Thunder have more than three options before looking his direction.

"Seems like OKC will either give him away in a trade or use the stretch provision to waive him and count his salary against the payroll tax over a period of three years," Berry Tramel wrote for The Oklahoman.

Unless the Thunder attach a sweetener, it's hard to imagine a trade market exists for Singler.

The 30-year-old posted an 11.8 player efficiency rating as a rookie in 2013-14—league average is 15.0—and has seen that number decline or stagnate each season since. His 5.9 mark since the start of 2016-17 is the league's seventh-worst among players to log 400-plus minutes.

                 

Statistics used courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com. Salary information obtained via Basketball Insiders.

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