NBA Trade Ideas from Latest Buzz: Deals for Kevin Love, Bradley Beal, Nic Batum
Big names are starting to make their way back into the NBA's trade rumor mill.
Really, in some cases, they never left. But a fresh batch of developments has reignited speculation for chopping-block members and sorely sought targets both old and new.
The Wizards maybe, quite possibly, have an asking price for Bradley Beal, according to the Detroit News' Rod Beard. Kevin Love is probably going to generate a ton of interest as the league nears the Feb. 7 deadline, per the New York Times' Marc Stein. And in a non-twist, sources told Sporting News' Sean Deveney the Charlotte Hornets are over giving Nicolas Batum superstar money to be their seventh- or eighth-best player.
Other rumblings are ruling the day, too. So let's make like good armchair general managers and give the NBA's landscape a face-lift.
Atlanta, Detroit and Miami Make Mini Waves
Atlanta Hawks Receive: Jon Leuer, Ish Smith, Detroit's 2019 first-round pick (lottery protection in 2019; top-12 protection in 2020; turns into two seconds if not conveyed)
Detroit Pistons Receive: Wayne Ellington (must consent to trade), Jeremy Lin
Miami Heat Receive: Glenn Robinson III
Wayne Ellington is out of the Heat's rotation, and it doesn't seem like he'll regain his minutes anytime soon. As the Sun-Sentinel's Ira Winderman wrote while responding to a question about the pinball shooter's lack of playing time:
"Again, I believe "stubborn" is too strong a word, because with every player you add to the rotation, it means fewer minutes for others, or perhaps being removed from the rotation entirely. So less Justise Winslow? Less Josh Richardson? Less Tyler Johnson (who has been shooting three-pointers at an Ellington-like pace)? Less Derrick Jones Jr.? Less Rodney McGruder? And the thing is, Ellington hasn't been in the rotation even with Dion Waiters and Goran Dragic out...Considering the number of contenders who covet shooting, it would appear the value play would be a trade."
Ellington, who has veto power over any deal, has yet to ask for a change of scenery, per Winderman. The Heat should be looking to move him before it reaches that point. His outside shooting is a big-time offensive boon, but it won't get any easier to find him court time once Goran Dragic returns from knee surgery after the All-Star break.
Keeping him as backcourt insurance would make sense if he were under contract for next season. He's not. The Heat have his Early Bird rights, but their salary-cap outlook is bleak. Ellington may be playing his final days in Miami no matter what. Glenn Robinson is younger and bigger and might be able to cover certain wings. If it turns out he's unplayable, the Heat still save $2.2 million in salary, before taxes, and can decline his team option for 2019-20.
Atlanta should be cool with tacking on Jon Leuer to next year's books ($9.5 million) in exchange for draft-pick compensation. Jeremy Lin is having himself a season but doesn't fit a rebuilding timeline, and adding another first-rounder to the chamber is good business.
Detroit will wince at coughing up a first-round pick. The pain won't last. The Pistons' timeline is now, and they need shooting. Only the Oklahoma City Thunder are draining a lower percentage of their threes, and Detroit isn't faring much better on wide-open triples.
Both Ellington and Lin address that issue. Neither one can defend wings, but Detroit is getting a talent infusion while staying under the tax. Lin specifically revamps the point guard rotation as a foul-drawing whiz who is no stranger to working off the ball. And unlike Ellington, the Pistons would own his Bird rights, so a long-haul marriage could be in the cards if everything works out.
Dallas and Washington Tango
Dallas Mavericks Receive: Otto Porter, Tomas Satoransky
Washington Wizards Receive: Harrison Barnes, Salah Mejri (must consent to trade), 2021 second-round pick
Sources told The Athletic's Michael Scotto the Mavericks are among the teams that have expressed interest in acquiring Otto Porter. Their willingness to take on salary beyond this season speaks to how serious they are about making a playoff push now.
Of course, the Mavericks' intrigue doesn't mean a damn thing if the Wizards aren't open to overhauling the roster. They've resisted that temptation thus far. Acquiring Trevor Ariza reeked of a franchise trying to stave off a quasi-reset or full-tilt rebuild.
Washington needs to start singing a different tune. John Wall is already out for the season, and Markieff Morris is now set to miss substantial time with a neck injury, per the Washington Post's Candace Buckner. This year is a wash. The Wizards should start treating it as such.
Determining Porter's value is difficult. Plug-and-play wings are dreamy rotation fits, but the two years and $55.7 million he has left on his deal after this season (2020-21 player option) make him a salary-cap liability.
Getting Harrison Barnes for Porter is solid value. He's a better from-scratch scorer, which will come in handy with Wall on the shelf, and his money comes off the books one year earlier. Who knows, maybe he surprises the Wizards—and everyone else—by declining his $25.1 million player option for next season in favor of a longer-term deal.
It isn't the end of the world if Barnes sticks around. He'll have utility as a combo forward should Morris leave in free agency. A healthy Barnes, Wall and Bradley Beal might catch the Eastern Conference off-guard next season.
Giving up Tomas Satoransky stings, but his inclusion helps drag down the Wizards' tax bill, and they'll be hard-pressed to re-sign him over the summer anyway. Plus, Barnes has been spitting hot fire since the end of November. Satoransky is an incentive for the Mavericks to take on Porter's salary and send out a second-rounder. Dallas also stays on track to carve out more than $50 million in spending power over the summer with this deal.
New Orleans' Super-Mega All-In Hail Mary
New Orleans Pelicans Receive: Bradley Beal, Dwight Howard
Washington Wizards Receive: Frank Jackson, Wesley Johnson, E'Twaun Moore, Julius Randle, 2019 first-round pick (top-five protection), 2020 second-round pick, 2021 first-round pick (top-10 protection)
Trading Bradley Beal isn't something the Wizards will consider if they're not committed to a total teardown. Injuries to Markieff Morris and John Wall should bring them closer to entertaining a do-over, but they've yet to hint at a fire sale since ESPN.com's Adrian Wojnarowski reported in November that they were ready to start wheeling and dealing.
At age 25 and owed a reasonable $55.8 million over the next two seasons, Beal fits whatever timeline Washington prefers. He can co-headline a rebuild or a playoff hopeful. The Wizards don't have to move him.
And yet, they do have an asking price in mind. They're looking for "something like two first-rounders, a young asset and another player," according to Beard. And that's just to get the conversation started.
The Wizards will invariably have to make some concessions. It helps that Beal is under contract through 2020-21, but he's a fringe top-25 player. They aren't getting the moon. They might, however, coax an all-in offer out of New Orleans.
The Pelicans are 14th in the Western Conference and spiraling. Every loss is viewed as referendum on Anthony Davis' future. That isn't necessarily fair, but they cannot afford to ignore it.
Forking over multiple future picks is a monstrous gamble when Davis hasn't signed on the dotted line, and Beal doesn't solve everything wrong with the Pelicans. (They need defensive versatility.) But this is the type of trade that gets Davis another All-Star running mate and elevates New Orleans' ceiling in a jam-packed Western Conference.
Everything falls apart if the Wizards—who need to waive a player as part of this deal—aren't partial to Julius Randle. He's playing like a fringe All-Star this season, but he's expected to decline his 2019-20 player option, and he doesn't come with Bird rights. Non-Bird rights allow the Wizards to pay him a starting salary just north of $10 million this summer. That might be in his ballpark.
Different permutations of this deal include Nikola Mirotic. He's almost four years older than Randle, but he comes with full Bird rights ahead of free agency. Two picks, E'Twaun Moore and another intriguing piece restocks the Wizards' asset cupboard and sets them up to remain relevant upon Wall's return. Our proposed package also has the benefit of bringing them within $1 million of ducking the tax.
Utah Goes for It, and Cleveland Ramps Up Its Scouting of Duke (After Jan. 22)
Cleveland Cavaliers Receive: Grayson Allen, Derrick Favors, Thabo Sefolosha, 2019 first-round pick (top-12 protection in 2019; top-10 protection in 2020; top-eight protection in 2021; turns into second-rounders if not conveyed)
Utah Jazz Receive: Kevin Love, David Nwaba
Ask the Cavaliers, and they'll tell you Kevin Love isn't on the chopping block. Sources told Cleveland.com's Chris Fedor that moving him "is not high" on the team's list of priorities.
That isn't exactly a "Hands off our cornerstone!" rebuke, so you'll have to forgive potential admirers if they're not discouraged. Certain "rival front offices" view Love "as a difference-maker who is available for the proverbial right price," according to Stein.
Building a Love package that works for both the Cavaliers and prospective suitors is an exercise rife with headaches. His four-year, $120.4 million extension doesn't kick in until next season, when he'll be 31, and he's proven less than durable since joining Cleveland. He has missed at least 22 games each year since the 2016-17 season, and toe surgery has limited him to just four appearances so far in 2018-19.
Still, Love is an All-Star, and his new deal won't span too far past his prime if he stays healthy. Teams unlikely to land another bigwig in free agency will have the incentive to view him as an asset.
Utah is among the most tantalizing destinations for Love. Pairing him with Rudy Gobert in the frontcourt makes a ton of sense, and the Jazz have the active perimeter defenders to survive minutes with him at center.
Derrick Favors has been fantastic on an individual level this year, but a fully healthy Love is the more dangerous weapon. Utah is at its best spreading the floor around Gobert, and frontcourt spacing has become that much more important with Donovan Mitchell's belly-flopping efficiency.
Whether this deal piques the Cavaliers' attention is debatable. Getting Grayson Allen and a first-rounder while relieving the books of Love's extension is a win, but they don't have use for Favors or Thabo Sefolosha. Both become buyout candidates after this move. (Hoop idea: Imagine Favors on the Warriors.)
Then again, Favors is not without value to Cleveland. Guaranteeing his $16.9 million salary for next season arms the front office with an interesting trade chip that should net picks and prospects in exchange for absorbing more unsavory money.
If the Cavaliers have no interest in going that route and are willing to create roster spots, a third team can be sussed out to deliver them an extra goody or two. And so, here's a bonus trade involving the Los Angeles Clippers, who could use a big-man upgrade, as well as a player who can chase around some bigger wings on defense:
- Cleveland Cavaliers Receive: Grayson Allen, Marcin Gortat, Jerome Robinson, Utah's 2019 first-round pick, Utah's 2019 second-round pick
- Los Angeles Clippers Receive: Derrick Favors, David Nwaba, Thabo Sefolosha
- Utah Jazz Receive: Kevin Love, Milos Teodosic
Charlotte, Philadelphia and San Antonio Get Weird (After Jan. 10)
Charlotte Hornets Receive: Marco Belinelli, Pau Gasol, Justin Patton
Philadelphia 76ers Receive: Frank Kaminsky
San Antonio Spurs Receive: Nicolas Batum, Charlotte's 2019 first-round pick (top-12 protection through 2021; turns into two seconds if not conveyed), 2019 second-round pick (from Milwaukee or Sacramento, via Philadelphia), 2020 second-round pick (from Brooklyn or New York, via Charlotte)
League sources told Deveney that the Hornets are open to dealing restricted-free-agent-to-be Frank Kaminsky. Here's the thing: They want to attach him to the two years and $52.7 million left on Nicolas Batum's contract (2020-21 player option).
Spoiler alert: That's not happening. Charlotte needs to include at least one other sweetener. Even then, Batum's decline will scare off, well, almost everyone. He's notching the third-highest effective field-goal percentage of his career, but he's devolved into something less than a second, third or fourth wheel. Bismack Biyombo is the only Hornets player with a lower usage rate.
San Antonio isn't in the habit of taking on crappy salary—or making midseason trades at all. But Batum is such a Spurs player, and they need switchable wings.
The money he's owed shouldn't turn them off. He comes off the books after 2020-21 with LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan. The Spurs aren't scheduled for serious cap space before then. They can waive Aldridge's partial guarantee ahead of that season ($7 million), but DeRozan, Patty Mills and Dejounte Murray's eventual deal will fetch a pretty penny.
Netting a first and what figures to be a decent 2020 second is a fairly good haul if San Antonio sees Batum as an impact player. Once more: That's not a given. But the Spurs are cozying up to mediocrity following the Kawhi Leonard trade. They need to roll the dice on something more or consider starting over. Taking a chance on Batum jibes with the risk they took in flipping Leonard for a win-now return.
Charlotte won't enjoy coughing up a first-rounder, but that's the cost of demonstrative savings. Waiving Pau Gasol ($6.7 million guaranteed) and paying Marco Belinelli ($5.8 million) next season will run about $13 million less than Batum's salary. The Hornets still won't have cap space to burn, but they'll have plenty of flexibility under the tax—mission-critical breathing room with both Jeremy Lamb and Kemba Walker hitting free agency.
Philly should have zero hesitation about pulling the trigger from its end. Kaminsky's three-point touch comes and goes, but he's holding opponents to sub-60 percent shooting at the rim for the first time of his career. Giving up a second-rounder and an injured player on an expiring contract for usable depth is a no-brainer.