NBA Trade Ideas from Latest Buzz: Deals for Chandler Parsons, Kevin Love, Kanter
The closer we get to the NBA's Feb. 7 trade deadline, the more apparent it is that the league won't be treating us to its usual frantic flurry.
Let's change that, together.
New chopping-block candidates are hard to find and lack star power, but the Association's water cooler isn't barren of chatter.
The Memphis Grizzlies are ramping up their efforts to move Chandler Parsons, according to ESPN.com's Adrian Wojnarowski. The Toronto Raptors may be looking to double-down on this year's title window, per Sporting News' Sean Deveney. We even have fresh perspective on Kevin Love's trade value, courtesy of Bleacher Report's Ken Berger.
And that's not all.
The NBA's rumor mill is neither dead nor on life support. It is up and running. Let's try willing some action into existence with another trade-idea soiree.
Sacramento Gets Serious
Sacramento Kings Receive: Otto Porter Jr.
Washington Wizards Receive: Willie Cauley-Stein, Iman Shumpert, 2019 second-round pick (more favorable from Minnesota or L.A. Lakers, via Sacramento)
Sacramento has talked to the New York Knicks about a potential Zach Randolph-for-Enes Kanter swap, according to Wojnarowski. Nothing is considered imminent. The Kings want to include another expiring contract, presumably to save their salary-cap ammo for more impactful trades, and the Knicks don't have a roster spot.
Flip the timeline, and Sacramento can enjoy the full extent of its flexibility without sussing out an incredibly specific third party. That's...a helluva lot easier in theory than practice.
Teams tend to sit on their best available trade chips right up until the deadline—closed-door tour de forces notwithstanding—and this year's seller's market is thinning amid a 25-team playoff race. The Kings need another asset auctioneer to come out of the woodwork.
Severe underachieving and injuries put the Wizards on that list of prospective blowups in November. A manageable postseason deficit will likely keep them from going nuclear even after they lost John Wall for the season. In other words: Bradley Beal is definitely (maybe) staying put.
Otto Porter Jr. is a different story. He's not inessential, but complementary players are considered more replaceable, and he's had Sacramento's eye for some time, dating back to 2017 free agency. That interest persisted into this past November, per The Athletic's Jason Jones. And if the Kings have a deal for Kanter in the works, they'll be more open to moving restricted-free-agent-to-be Willie-Cauley Stein.
This package burns through almost all of the Kings' available cap space. They'll be fine. Porter's 2019-20 salary is a bear ($27.3 million), but without Cauley-Stein's hold on the books this summer, they retain a path to max-contract spending.
Though the Wizards are free to push for Justin Jackson's inclusion, this return is more than helpful. They duck the luxury tax and then some; get a center prospect they can likely squeeze in restricted free agency; pick up a wing who tries on defense and is shooting 37.7 percent from three; and don't entirely, if at all, torpedo their come-from-behind playoff push.
Sacramento Gets Serious: The Sequel (Post-Otto Porter Trade)
New York Knicks Receive: Kosta Koufos, Zach Randolph, 2019 second-round pick (top-55 protection, via Orlando)
Orlando Magic Receive: Yogi Ferrell
Sacramento Kings Receive: Jerian Grant, Enes Kanter, Lance Thomas
Order of events is about to matter. So pay attention.
Acquiring Otto Porter before Enes Kanter doesn't exempt the Kings from finding a third-party facilitator. They'll need to offload someone other than Zach Randolph, and New York still doesn't have a roster spot to spare.
By getting their primary midseason prize out of the way first, though, the Kings don't have to worry about conserving cap space. That invariably increases the field of potential helping hands in a Kanter trade.
Orlando needs a point guard. D.J. Augustin deserves a round of applause for his efforts this season, but he's D.J. Augustin. He is not the answer. Yogi Ferrell might not be either, but the Magic are a special kind of desperate.
Isaiah Briscoe has, for the time being, usurped Jerian Grant in the backcourt rotation. Turning the latter into a speedy, albeit undersized, point man with a better jumper and non-guaranteed 2019-20 salary is a huge win. The Kings won't throw confetti for taking on Grant, but at 6'5", he gives them another body to throw on 1s, 2s and some 3s. Oh, and the small gap in salary between him and Ferrell (sub-$500,000) is crucial.
The Knicks are that limiting as a trade partner. They cannot absorb an extra player and want something beyond expiring contracts for Kanter, according to the New York Post's Marc Berman. Unloading Lance Thomas saves them from paying out his $1 million guarantee this summer—and every penny counts when Kevin Durant's free agency (player option) is on the menu.
Kanter and Thomas for Randolph and Kosta Koufos doesn't go through if the Kings use their breathing room to pry Porter out of Washington. The Knicks can take Ferrell and send back Trey Burke, but their insistence on getting something extra from this deal suggests they're unwilling to move one of their smaller salaries. If they like Ferrell more than Burke, Orlando becomes unnecessary.
Thomas has barely played since returning from left knee surgery, but he'll cost almost nothing to waive over the summer. Plus, at his best, he's a defensive irritant against 2s, 3s and 4s. He might aid Sacramento's postseason bid.
If nothing else, the Kings get their guy (Kanter) after landing their other guy (Porter). Richaun Holmes would be more fun, but whatever. Kanter beefs up the Kings' presence on the glass—they're 26th in rebounding rate—without adding more money to next year's books.
Milwaukee Capitalizes on Charlotte and Memphis Swapping Bad Salary
Charlotte Hornets Receive: Chandler Parsons, Jason Smith, Garrett Temple
Memphis Grizzlies Receive: Nicolas Batum, Bismack Biyombo, 2020 second-round pick (via Milwaukee)
Milwaukee Bucks Receive: Omri Casspi, JaMychal Green (and waive Christian Wood)
So much is going on here. Blame Memphis. And Charlotte. But mostly Memphis.
The Grizzlies are trying to find a new home for Chandlers Parsons without—get this—giving up a first-round pick, according to Wojnarowski. Good luck to them. Parsons is owed $25.1 million next season and has battled knee injuries nonstop for the past three years.
Memphis is willing to soak up a longer contract, per Woj, which makes Nicolas Batum and the final two years and $52.7 million on his deal (2020-21 player option) a natural talking point. But the Hornets, like the Grizzlies, are chasing a playoff spot. A Parsons-for-Batum swap doesn't do anything for them now. They need a playable asset or immediate savings.
Expanding the framework to include Bismack Biyombo and a third team makes this idea more palatable for the Hornets. Frontcourt depth becomes a problem until Cody Zeller returns from right-hand surgery, but they have Willy Hernangomez and Frank Kaminsky, can get center minutes from Marvin Williams and might be able to use Parsons at the 4. And hey: Don't forget about Jason Smith!
JaMychal Green would be a nice fit for Charlotte, but Memphis shouldn't be climbing into the tax, and a straight-up agreement demands a four-for-two package. Subbing out Biyombo for Williams fixes that. It's also much less appealing from the Hornets' perspective. They need Williams.
Still: Batum and Williams for Green, Parsons and Garrett Temple does work if the Grizzlies can finagle it. The Hornets don't save any money this year—the three-teamer shaves $3.5 million from the 2018-19 payroll—but both versions basically guarantee they can re-sign Jeremy Lamb and Kemba Walker without brushing up against next season's luxury tax.
The Grizzlies are swallowing a tough pill either way. But they'll be hard-pressed to find better options without trading another future first-round pick. Green or Temple ends up being their biggest loss, and both are flight risks this summer. If the Grizzlies believe Marc Gasol is sticking around (2019-20 player option), they can talk themselves into eating a year-and-a-half of Biyombo and shipping out three expiring contracts for the chance to resurrect Mr. Batum.
Milwaukee shouldn't need any convincing if called upon. Green can play the 4 or 5, and Casspi is a career 36.8 percent shooter from deep. He's at 34.5 percent for this season, but the Bucks' spacier lineups are conducive to elevating his efficiency and upping his volume.
Kevin Love to...San Antonio! (After Jan. 22)
Cleveland Cavaliers Receive: Davis Bertans or Marco Belinelli, Pau Gasol, 2019 first-round pick (from Toronto, via San Antonio)
San Antonio Spurs Receive: Kevin Love
Kevin Love's trade value is complicated, in that he may not have any.
"It's a lot to ask someone to take on $144 million for a 30-year-old with an injury history," a league executive told Berger. "You're dealing with a very small, narrow marketplace for him."
It doesn't help that Love has appeared in just four games this season and is still recovering from toe surgery. Teams could get more on board with paying him through 2022-23—his $120.4 million extension kicks in next year—if they had a more immediate and robust sample size to work off.
But Love's injury, age and salary won't stop everyone from poking around when his trade restriction lifts on Jan. 23.
Certain "rival front offices" view Love "as a difference-maker who is available for the proverbial right price," according to the New York Times' Marc Stein. For their part, the Cavaliers aren't in any rush move him, per Cleveland.com's Chris Fedor.
In the face of lowball offers, they might prefer to try rebooting his value for next year. That isn't necessarily the wrong call. But the Cavs shouldn't scoff at monster cap relief moving forward.
Pau Gasol, a late-late first and Marco Belinelli isn't a sexy return. It's an opportunistic one. Ditching Love's 2019-20 salary for Gasol's partial guarantee ($6.7 million) and Belinelli or Bertans and whoever they draft saves the Cavs more than $13 million next year. Brokering a buyout with Gasol might bump up that number, or they can guarantee his money and attempt to use his expiring contract as part of a larger deal.
Factor in the final three years of Love's extension, and the Cavs are dumping more than $100 million in salary over the next four seasons. That's flexibility they can use to be aggressive in trades and, eventually, free agency.
San Antonio is assuming virtually all the risk. Partnering Love with LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan is a combustible gamble, particularly on defense. But this star trio should spell good times on offense.
Spurs coach-president Gregg Popovich never shies from dual-big lineups. Working through the logistics of an Aldridge-Love pairing is right up his alley. And San Antonio would still have Jakob Poeltl—and maybe Bertans—to mix and match with depending on defensive needs.
Money is the larger issue. Love's extension spans two years longer than the contracts for Aldridge and DeRozan. He removes the Spurs from the free-agency game for at least the next two summers. And, well, so what? They don't profile as big spenders during that time anyway.
Sources told The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor the Spurs have a soft spot for Kristaps Porzingis, a restricted free agent this summer, but landing him or another marquee name is a pipe dream's pipe dream. San Antonio has to shed three or all four of Belinelli, Bertans, Gasol and Patty Mills to be a max-contract peddler. Capitalizing on a stale Love market is easier and, if he stays healthy, a legitimate ceiling-raiser.
Atlanta, Indiana and Toronto Break Bread
Atlanta Hawks Receive: TJ Leaf, Norman Powell, 2020 second-round pick (via Toronto), 2021 second-round pick (top-44 protection, via Indiana)
Indiana Pacers Receive: Kent Bazemore, Malachi Richardson
Toronto Raptors Receive: Tyreke Evans
The Raptors have been linked to Bradley Beal as part of their search for a playmaker, according to Deveney. That type of all-in play, while intriguing, is a long shot without an ironclad commitment from Kawhi Leonard. Even then, Beal isn't what you'd call gettable.
Patrick McCaw's arrival could halt the Raptors' hunt for another prober. Or it could mean nothing. He is coming off a letdown season with the Golden State Warriors and hasn't played much over the past year. Injuries derailed his 2017-18 campaign, but he was a bit player before they became a problem.
Tyreke Evans is having a roller-coaster year with the Pacers, but he's a more reliable off-the-dribble weapon, shooting 37.7 percent from three since 2015-16 and far more likely to spearhead nightmarish bench units.
League executives opened December believing Indiana would move Darren Collison or Cory Joseph, according to ESPN.com's Brian Windhorst. Shooting 37.5 percent from the floor, Evans has since become the expendable one.
Kent Bazemore's $19.3 million player option for next season fudges up the Pacers' cap-space projections, but he fits with their cast of plug-and-play go-hards. He has some off-the-bounce pizzazz, is no stranger to working away from the ball and grinds on defense.
Giving up cap space for Bazemore shouldn't rattle the Pacers. They can carve out more than $25 million in room with him on books if they exhaust their options. More importantly, free agency isn't as much of a priority if they're inclined to re-sign some combination of Collison, Joseph, Bojan Bogdanovic and Thaddeus Young.
The Hawks are the hardest sell. Second-round picks and TJ Leaf aren't elite sweeteners. They'd have to ascribe value to Normal Powell. And they might.
At 25, he has time to meet the bar set by his four-year, $42 million extension. Atlanta has more playing-time equity to invest in him than Toronto, and swapping out Bazemore's 2019-20 salary for Powell and Leaf saves the Hawks $6.3 million—wiggle room they can use to supplement other cap-space leases.
Viewed this way, it could be the Raptors who feel most uneasy. Their 2020 second-rounder will be valuable should Kawhi Leonard leave, and they won't have Evans' Bird rights if everything works out. On the flip side: Pawning off Powell's salary jibes with a potential reset, and having non-Bird rights on Evans—they can offer him up to 120 percent of this year's salary—would be more than enough to keep him around when he's working off a $12.4 million windfall.