BS Meter on Latest 2019 NBA Trade Deadline Rumors
Over the last few years, the NBA's rumor mill has seemingly churned nonstop. But in January and February, it always finds another gear.
This year is no different.
In the past few weeks, Anthony Davis, Thon Maker and Enes Kanter (among others) have requested trades. Kyrie Irving is suddenly being noncommittal about his future with the Boston Celtics. Kristaps Porzingis, Carmelo Anthony, Rodney Hood and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot have already been traded.
With Thursday's 3 p.m. ET trade deadline rapidly approaching, expect the volume of rumors to pick up even more.
Who will get moved? Which rumors are B.S.? Which teams are buyers and sellers?
As rumors percolate throughout the week, be sure to follow along for answers to those questions and more.
Could Wesley Matthews Wind Up on the Pacers?
Losing Victor Oladipo for the season seemed to rattle the Indiana Pacers a bit. They lost four straight in the immediate aftermath of the star's knee injury.
And while they've since rebounded with three consecutive wins, it sounds like they're still in the market for a wing who can shoulder some of the burden Oladipo left behind.
"New team in the hunt for Wes Matthews if he secures a buyout from the Knicks: INDIANA," the New York Times' Marc Stein tweeted Thursday. "Philly, Golden State and OKC have been frequently mentioned for Matthews, but the Pacers clearly have a sizable void to fill after the All-Star guard Victor Oladipo's season-ending knee injury"
Matthews wouldn't replace all of the All-Star-level production Oladipo provided, but he is shooting 37.4 percent on 7.2 three-point attempts per 36 minutes.
Enough shooting around Myles Turner or Domantas Sabonis inside could allow the Pacers to stay relatively dangerous in the East.
B.S. Meter: Low
Frank Kaminsky on the Move?
Let's allow Zach Lowe (then writing for Grantland) to set the stage for this one:
"The Celtics offered four first-round picks for the chance to move up from no. 16 to no. 9: that 16th pick, no. 15 (acquired in a prearranged contingency deal with the Hawks), one unprotected future Brooklyn pick, and a future first-rounder from either the Grizzlies or Timberwolves, per sources familiar with the talks.
Some members of Charlotte's front office liked the Boston deal, but Michael Jordan, the team's owner and ultimate decision-maker, preferred Kaminsky to a pile of first-rounders outside the lottery, per several sources. That's justifiable, if you think your guy at no. 9 has a chance at stardom."
That report was written back in July 2015, shortly after the Charlotte Hornets drafted Frank Kaminsky with the No. 9 overall pick.
Fast forward three-and-a-half years, and it looks like Charlotte is finally ready to move on from the big man, who's in the final year of his rookie contract.
Over the course of his career, Kaminsky's Value over Replacement Player is 1.2, per Basketball Reference. That ranks a not-so-terrible 17th among players drafted in 2015. But, those four first-rounders sure would've been nice for Charlotte, especially when you consider that Kaminsky may not even make it to a second deal with the Hornets.
B.S. Meter: Low
Beware of Deadline-Week News!
Earlier this week, ESPN's Brian Windhorst and the New York Times' Marc Stein both reported Mike Conley did not want to play for the Utah Jazz, who have been pursuing a trade for him all week. Instead, he supposedly wanted to play in the Eastern Conference.
At the Memphis Grizzlies' shootaround Thursday morning, Conley refuted that notion.
"I don't know where that came from," Conley said of the reports, per NBA.com's Shaun Powell.
Stein later added that Conley said "he'll play anywhere he's traded"
That's good news for the Jazz, who seem focused on Conley after missing out on Otto Porter Jr., who's on his way to the Chicago Bulls.
The asking price may be steep, but a top three of Rudy Gobert, Conley and Donovan Mitchell would push Utah closer to the top tier in the Western Conference.
B.S. Meter: Low
Pelicans Waiting for the Summer?
The Anthony Davis/Los Angeles Lakers saga appears to be headed for no quick resolution.
"Nearly 3 hours away from the NBA's trade deadline and ... the Lakers-Pelicans talks on Anthony Davis are dormant, league sources tell ESPN," ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted Thursday morning. "No communication, nor an expectation that they'll even speak today. Pelicans seem content to run out the clock."
This was always the most logical route for New Orleans to take. The Lakers can make a good offer right now, but the Pelicans can entertain a legitimate bidding war this summer.
At that point, the Boston Celtics can get involved—they can't right now since the collective bargaining agreement prohibits a team from acquiring two players on designated rookie extensions, and Kyrie Irving is on such a deal. By June, New Orleans also will know who has the No. 1 pick, which will perhaps allow another team to get in the mix.
B.S. Meter: Low
Memphis Pursuing Multiple Deals
Ever since it was reported that the Memphis Grizzlies were open to trading franchise mainstays Marc Gasol and Mike Conley, the team has been at or near the top of the rumor mill.
As the Anthony Davis chatter has quieted a bit over the last couple of days, the Grizzlies are on everyone's mind again Thursday morning.
Will either get moved before the 3 p.m. ET deadline?
"The Hornets were not able to acquire Harrison Barnes but continue to engage with Grizzlies on a Marc Gasol deal, I'm told," the New York Times' Marc Stein tweeted. "JaMychal Green is also attracting interest on what could well be a busy day in Memphis."
The Hornets are apparently intent on making the playoffs, and right now, FiveThirtyEight's projections give them a 65 percent chance to get in. While Gasol is in his age-34 season, he would still add some playmaking, defensive IQ and experience that would increase those chances.
As for Conley, he may be on the move too...just not to where he wants.
"Utah, meanwhile, has not abandoned its pursuit of Mike Conley, league sources say, even knowing Conley's preference is to go to the East if he is dealt today," Stein tweeted. "As discussed here yesterday, Memphis may decide its trade options for Conley broaden by waiting until closer to the draft."
The desire for any player to go East makes sense. After the top five teams, the level of competition takes a nosedive. But Conley might get over his hesitancy on the Jazz fairly quickly if he got to run a few pick-and-rolls with Rudy Gobert, one of the league's best screen-setters and rim-rollers.
As Salt City Hoops' Tyler Crandall detailed, Shelvin Mack, George Hill and Ricky Rubio all experienced noticeable boosts in offensive production when playing with Gobert.
B.S. Meter: Low. The Grizzlies seem motivated to move Conley and Gasol, and they should be. It's time to move on and look for a fresh start built around Jaren Jackson.
Zach Randolph Headed to the Buyout Market?
Zach Randolph hasn't logged a single second of NBA action this season. He's 37. And if he does make it onto the floor, it'll officially make this year No. 17 in the NBA for him.
Generally, all those factors would lead to there being little interest in a player, but the New York Times' Marc Stein reported otherwise Thursday morning.
"Zach Randolph appears headed for what will be a sizable buyout market after Sacramento dealt him to Dallas in the Harrison Barnes deal," Stein tweeted. "The Mavericks, I'm told, won't necessitate that Randolph reports."
According to Basketball Reference, Randolph hasn't posted an above-average box plus-minus since 2014-15. His true shooting percentage over the last three seasons is a well-below-average .511.
But he does still manufacture points (19.8 per 36 minutes over the last three seasons), albeit inefficiently. Perhaps some team could talk itself into bringing him off the bench for 10 to 15 minutes of traditional, change-of-pace offense.
B.S. Meter: Medium. Dallas may be more than willing to facilitate another move for Randolph. It's just hard to imagine a robust market for him.
This Is Not the Lakers Rumor You're Looking for
The Los Angeles Lakers might be pursuing players not named Anthony Davis.
If that's the case, one of them might be named Trevor Ariza.
According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, the Purple and Gold are interested in taking Ariza off the Washington Wizards' hands, allowing them to continue their trend of selling useful pieces for minimal returns at the deadline. But at the same time, Washington and Ariza are reportedly planning a future together, and the small forward is "enthusiastic about re-signing."
We can virtually guarantee part of this is true.
The Wizards may unload Ariza to a team that doesn't play its home games in Staples Center, but smart money would be on 1) the Lakers making a desperation play to add more shooting to their roster or 2) Washington holding tight on a player who supposedly wants to remain in the nation's capital.
B.S. Meter: It's hard to find BS when both sides are covered so smoothly.
Oklahoma City Thunder Interested in Wings?
The Oklahoma City Thunder might be a defensive machine with a legitimate MVP candidate in Russell Westbrook Paul George, but they could still use a talent upgrade on the wing. Unless Andre Roberson makes a miraculous recovery from his ongoing knee issues, the Thunder are going to war with nothing more than Terrance Ferguson, Alex Abrines, Hamidou Diallo, Abdel Nader and Deonte Burton to flank George.
Enter trade season.
"Not much typically comes out from the Thunder during trading season, but league sources say they're still looking at adding wing depth," Sean Deveney of Sporting News reported Wednesday. "Taurean Prince has come up often, and they'll monitor what Phoenix does with Wayne Ellington."
Ellington would make a ton of sense on the buyout market, boosting the OKC offense with his spot-up shooting—something he'd use frequently when Westbrook goes careening toward the hoop while remaining ready to throw a kick-out feed. Prince is another intriguing option, but his production is more hypothetical at this stage of his career. Plus, the Atlanta Hawks might be reluctant to deal him barring a significant return.
Either way, the Thunder have one glaring issue: They don't have many assets with which they can play.
Ferguson is perhaps the most intriguing of their players, and they already owe their 2020 and 2022 first-round picks to the Orlando Magic and Atlanta Hawks, respectively. Unless general manager Sam Presti has a secret war chest that flies in the face of the NBA's collective bargaining agreement, buyout-season bargains are more likely than deadline deals.
B.S. Meter: Something stinks here.
Pau Gasol and the Spurs Parting Ways?
Pau Gasol isn't the same player he was during his prime years. He's averaging a meager 4.5 points and 4.9 rebounds during his sporadic time on the floor for the San Antonio Spurs. But the 38-year-old big man's salary doesn't reflect his declining production, as he's making $16.8 million in 2018-19 and an even $16 million next season.
Perhaps that's why San Antonio is now reportedly looking to jettison him.
Per Mitch Lawrence of Sporting News, "The Spurs are working hard to part ways with Pau Gasol, according to one Eastern Conference GM."
Doing so won't be easy.
Even if the Spurs can convince another organization of Gasol's enduring value as a rebounding threat and frontcourt distributor, they still have to overcome those salary hurdles. And that likely means including a promising youngster or a draft pick as a sweetener, especially if the player coming back is on an expiring deal that would open some cap space for the coming free-agency frenzy.
We can't sniff out much B.S. here because shopping Gasol makes sense for San Antonio, which no longer has much utility for the Spanish 7-footer. We can, however, doubt that this desire actually comes to fruition.
Expect Gasol to remain under the purview of head coach Gregg Popovich for a while longer.
B.S. Meter: Not doubting the desire, but doubting the execution.
1 Way or Another, Enes Kanter Won't Be a Knick
This breakup has been brewing for a while.
"[If] it was a road game, I understand. But it's a home game, and the fans wanted to see me out here. And they were chanting. I felt bad I couldn't go out there and help my teammates and the organization," Enes Kanter said after receiving a fourth consecutive DNP in late January, per Marc Berman of the New York Post. Shortly thereafter, he returned to the floor and kissed the hardwood in an overly dramatic celebration of his regained spot in the rotation.
But Kanter's role with the New York Knicks has still been a relatively small one; he's played only 25.6 minutes per game in his 44 appearances, failing to exhibit his offensive acumen and rebounding prowess in spurts long enough to lather up a rhythm.
Fortunately for the Turkish center, he seems all but assured to get a chance to ply his trade elsewhere during the 2018-19 campaign. ESPN.com's Adrian Wojnarowski reported the following, which details the two remaining options: "As the Knicks run out of time to find a trade for center Enes Kanter and his $18.6M expiring deal, discussions on a contract buyout are expected to begin as soon as the deadline passes on Thursday at 3 PM ET, league sources tell ESPN."
Maybe the Knicks can work some last-minute magic, but it's tough to see anyone ponying up something of significance when they know the end of the New York-Kanter relationship is nigh. Expect to see him on the buyout market before too long, ready to join a contender's bench and inject some instant offense into that second unit.
B.S. Meter: Absolute zero.
Markelle Fultz Done in Philly?
This isn't how the career trajectory of a No. 1 pick is supposed to look. But if Markelle Fultz's tenure with the Philadelphia 76ers is soon to be over, the top selection of the 2017 NBA draft will have logged just 33 outings with the franchise that originally drafted him—a major disappointment, even if he's the youngest player in league history to record a triple-double.
That might be the full extent of his resume in the City of Brotherly Love, as ESPN.com's Adrian Wojnarowski revealed on a broadcast alongside Zach Lowe (h/t Kyle Neubeck of the Philly Voice). Citing the Orlando Magic and Atlanta Hawks as teams that would be interested in acquiring the 20-year-old point guard, he specifically claimed, "There's a real possibility he's played his last game with the Sixers."
Atlanta has previously been linked with Fultz, per ESPN.com's Tim Bontemps:
"If Philadelphia chooses to upgrade the roster over the next nine days, pursuing both of those things to supplement its starters will be at the top of the agenda. Atlanta Hawks big man Dewayne Dedmon has drawn the 76ers' interest, sources tell ESPN. He would bring athleticism and defense, along with shooting.
"But to get him, the 76ers would likely have to do something they have so far been resistant to, per sources: trading 2017 No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz."
That still makes sense, given the Hawks' need to slough off veterans and make upside plays. But this is the first we've heard of the 1-guard-hungry Magic entering the fray, and they're an even more sensible landing spot while D.J. Augustin serves as the primary point guard for the seemingly perpetual rebuild.
Either way, it's clear Philadelphia is going for victories right now, especially in the wake of the blockbuster Tobias Harris acquisition. Dealing Fultz for someone who can aid that winning process just makes sense.
B.S. Meter: What B.S.?
Cavaliers Hoping to Trade for a 1st-Round Pick?
Adding seven draft picks to their asset armory isn't enough for the Cleveland Cavaliers. They want more—preferably a first-rounder.
"All signs point to the Cavs hoping to acquire another first-round pick before Thursday," Cleveland.com's Chris Fedor wrote. "In a handful of trades, they've added one of those and six second-rounders, accomplishing their goal of restocking their treasure chest after emptying it during a four-year stretch that led to four consecutive Finals trips."
Getting another selection this year would be nice. Of the seven Cleveland has acquired, not one conveys in 2019.
Grabbing a first-round pick specifically is a tall ask. Teams aren't giving those out like candy unless they're taking back impact players. The Cavaliers' willingness to absorb salary helps their case, but they're within $4 million of the luxury tax and cannot send back any must-have performers.
Keep your eyes on Alec Burks. His $11.5 million contract will have value to teams trying to offload longer-term money, and taking on an unsavory 2019-20 deal should be enough to net the Cavs another second-rounder or two—if not that first-rounder they covet.
B.S. Meter: Zero B.S. detected
Pelicans Keeping Julius Randle?
Anthony Davis' trade request has not triggered a fire sale in New Orleans. Jrue Holiday is already considered unavailable, and it looks like Julius Randle is set to join him in the off-limits club.
"While the Pelicans have explored potential deals involving Julius Randle, it's unlikely he'll be moved before tomorrow's trade deadline," The Athletic's William Guillory tweeted Wednesday. "He's developed a strong bond with the team's coaching/training staff and there's a good chance New Orleans could keep him long-term."
Randle turned 24 in November and is averaging 19.9 points, 9.3 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game while posting the highest true shooting percentage of his career. It's possible New Orleans views him as a crucial element to any post-Davis reset.
Keeping Randle could get hairy, depending on the market. He has a $9.1 million player option for next season, which he's expected to decline, and the Pelicans don't have his Bird rights. They cannot pay him more than 120 percent of this year's salary ($10.9 million) without tapping into their cap space.
Then again, the market for big men is always tough to read. Scan the list of teams with plenty of spending power, and not one stands out as an obvious Randle suitor. He could end up costing less than the Pelicans expect.
Even if he doesn't, both parties may find value in a short-term re-up—perhaps another guaranteed year and a player option.
Randle would have the chance to keep building his value as the focal point without Davis. The Pelicans would retain a capable frontcourt player who can create shots for himself and others and fits whatever timeline they're operating on. New Orleans and Randle could then evaluate their partnership next summer, when he could be re-signed using Early Bird rights and the team has a better grip on its direction without Davis.
B.S. Meter: Low
Boston Willing to Give Up Tatum for AD This Summer?
Will the Celtics promise to include Jayson Tatum in packages for Anthony Davis this summer? This bazillion-dollar question may now have an answer. Sort of.
As The Athletic's Sam Amick wrote:
"This latest Lakers-Celtics subplot would be dead by now if Ainge had been scared off, but sources say Boston—which can’t trade for Davis until this summer because of the well-chronicled “Rose Rule”—is continuing its complicated pursuit of the five-time All-Star in spite of the message being sent through various channels that he doesn’t want to play there. A source with knowledge of the talks said the potential centerpiece in a Pelicans package, 20-year-old Celtics small forward Jayson Tatum, has been discussed extensively by the two teams and is expected to be a major part of the talks when June rolls around."
This falls waaaay short of an ironclad guarantee. No one seems to know whether the Celtics will go so far as to guarantee Tatum's inclusion or if said promise would keep them from moving the goal posts in July, as ESPN.com's Zach Lowe noted in his Wednesday column.
None of this matters if the Pelicans think the Celtics can beat the Lakers' best offer anyway. Waiting until this summer would make sense. The Lakers' package isn't going anywhere. It can't. LeBron James' timeline won't allow it. The Pelicans can see just how far the Celtics are willing to go and then circle back to Los Angeles.
New Orleans' thinking has to change if Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, Robert Williams, a bunch of picks and other stuff doesn't cut it without Tatum. The Lakers gain leverage in that scenario should they know Boston's trump card isn't in play.
Complicated still, the Pelicans have to weigh how likely the Celtics are to change their stance. They may have every intention of including Tatum, but that goes to hell if Kyrie Irving bolts for the Knicks.
Amick's reporting isn't B.S. It hits on how ambiguous the Tatum dilemma has become. But the assumption or hope that Boston has promised him to New Orleans? That's hard to believe.
B.S. Meter: Off the charts.
Kevin Durant Headed to New York This Summer?
OK, so, this isn't a trade rumor, but Kevin Durant does stand to impact how certain teams carry themselves at the deadline.
Consider this excerpt from The Athletic's Ethan Strauss:
"Let us be frank, with the caveat that the choice lives inside the head of one guy who can and does change his mind: Insiders around the league think Kevin Durant is leaving the Warriors for the Knicks. Most people within the Warriors either think Durant is leaving or profess not to know one way or the other. His teammates recognize this reality, can handle it and merely want one outcome: Win a championship, absent too much drama. The main concern, at the moment, is whether he'll commit in the short term to what he may have already left in the long term."
Durant-to-New York nuggets have become commonplace. But this, coupled with the Knicks' cap space, is particularly telltale. Because if the league assumes Durant is headed to The Big Apple, it puts a world of pressure on both the Celtics and Lakers.
The Knicks have a theoretical shot at landing Anthony Davis, Kyrie Irving and Durant. They have a clear path to two max-contract slots and a high-end draft pick they can use to anchor trade packages over the summer. Davis is friends with Irving, who is friends with Durant. If the Knicks already have the latter in the bag, a superteam threat is real.
Boston cannot do much to neutralize this pipe-dream now, other than hope a deep playoff push and five-year contract wins over Irving. The Lakers, though, have every incentive in the world to keep poking and prodding on the Davis front. Their best offer won't look so hot over the summer if the Celtics are dangling Jayson Tatum or the Knicks are fronting Zion Williamson.
B.S. Meter: Uncomfortably Low
Celtics Aren't Worried About Losing Kyrie?
It turns out the Celtics aren't particularly worried about losing Irving this summer. Though the Knicks' monumental salary dump has "shaken them," they remain "cautiously optimistic" that they'll keep the All-Star point guard, according to ESPN.com's Zach Lowe.
This is par with everything else we've heard. Davis didn't identify Boston as a preferred landing spot, but team president Danny Ainge "has encouraged the Pelicans to wait until the offseason to negotiate with the Celtics," per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. They wouldn't be so open to eventually surrendering young assets and draft picks if they didn't think Irving's staying, or that acquiring Davis would entice him stay.
Granted, this could be an act born from convenience. The Celtics cannot make an offer for Davis now because of a quirk in the collective bargaining agreement that won't allow them to trade for two players on designated rookie extensions. They can promise the moon to the Pelicans and backtrack later if Irving gets antsy or leaves.
Things get more interesting if New Orleans moves Davis ahead of Thursday's 3 p.m. ET deadline. Unless his new team lands him with the intent to reroute him over the summer, Boston would have to resell Irving on everyone already in place rather than a blockbuster acquisition.
That, in turn, attaches profound significance to the Celtics' playoff push.
Playing like a team that's one Davis away from title contention won't suffice if Davis is no longer in play. Flame out in the first or second round, and the Celtics not only have to worry that Irving will shop around, but they need to bank on it.
For now, their confidence is both predictable and justifiable. But Irving's "Ask me on July 1" comments loom large. If the Pelicans send Davis to the Los Angeles Lakers or another team, or if the "AD, Kyrie and Durant are going to New York!" chatter picks up, the Celtics' position becomes far more urgent.
B.S. Meter: Low
Marc Gasol to the Hornets?
Mere hours after a report emerged about the Toronto Raptors offering Kyle Lowry and Jonas Valanciunas for Mike Conley and Marc Gasol (more on that found below), Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium tweeted the Charlotte Hornets were closing in on Gasol.
Marc Stein of the New York Times provided a bit more context.
"Michael Jordan wants to make the playoffs," he tweeted. "The Hornets, as a result, have been letting teams know for weeks that they intend to be buyers..."
This could wind up being a tough deal to justify for Charlotte.
The Hornets have a 68 percent chance to make the playoffs, according to FiveThirtyEight's projections, but Gasol could be a flight risk this summer if he turns down his $25.6 million player option for 2019-20. Is it worth giving up valuable assets for a possible rental, especially since the Hornets won't be legitimate title contenders this season even if they add Gasol?
Would Memphis be willing to absorb one or more of Charlotte's onerous contracts if it also received draft considerations in a Gasol trade? Something along those lines might make this a little easier to understand.
B.S. Meter: Low. The Grizzlies have already pulled Gasol from the lineup for Tuesday's game, according to Charania.
Lakers Done Talking Anthony Davis?
For a history of the back and forth between the Los Angeles Lakers and New Orleans Pelicans over the last few days, feel free to scroll through earlier updates below.
Long story short, the Lakers made multiple offers before the Pelicans countered and asked for multiple young players and four first-round picks.
Apparently, that was the last straw...for now.
"Lakers pull out of Anthony Davis trade talks amid 'outrageous' requests by Pelicans," Brad Turner of The Los Angeles Times tweeted Tuesday afternoon.
ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski explained further:
"The Lakers are still glad to engage with the Pelicans on an Anthony Davis trade, but no longer want to bid against themselves, league sources tell ESPN. Lakers are waiting for Pelicans to make a counter-proposal.
"If Pelicans want to counter the Lakers most recent offer on Davis, Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka are obviously anxious to find a pathway for a trade. This is a negotiation tactic on behalf of Lakers, who have wanted New Orleans to show more initiative in the process."
As Wojnarowski points out, this is likely just a part of the dance. Meaningful negotiations can take a lot of back and forth. And so far, it looks like the Lakers are providing most of the back and the forth.
Stay tuned to see if this gets the Pelicans to move at all.
B.S. Meter: Medium. It would be a little surprising if this was really the end of discussions this week. The Pelicans waiting till the summer makes plenty of sense, though. At that point, Boston can get into the mix (more on that in updates below), and New Orleans will know who has the No. 1 pick in the draft.
A Raptors/Grizzlies Blockbuster?
On Tuesday, Sports Illustrated's Jake Fischer dropped one of our biggest non-Anthony Davis bombs of the week.
"While Memphis has most seriously continued dialogue with Utah and Detroit on Mike Conley trade packages, the Raptors called Memphis offering Kyle Lowry and Jonas Valanciunas for Conley and Marc Gasol, per league sources," Fischer tweeted. "Lowry is aware of Toronto's general trade discussions."
This is a monster offer for Conley and Gasol, one that's nothing like some of the stuff that's been floating around the internet. There are a couple different ways to interpret Memphis possibly turning it down.
First, it may make sense if Memphis is looking for future cap flexibility as it starts a teardown and eventual rebuild. Kyle Lowry is owed $33.4 million next season. Jonas Valanciunas has a player option for $17.6 million. That's an awful lot of money to pay two veterans if your goal is to be bad, collect assets and develop and build around Jaren Jackson Jr.
On the other hand, there's an argument that Lowry and Valanciunas are better than Conley and Gasol in a vacuum. And the Grizzlies turning that down could mean their asking price for their former franchise cornerstones is just really high.
B.S. Meter: Medium. It's hard to believe Toronto offered Valanciunas and Lowry, who's been the team's best and most important player for years, for a point guard who's only a year younger than Lowry and a 34-year-old Gasol. On the other hand, Toronto traded lifetime Raptor DeMar DeRozan this past summer. As good as Conley and Gasol are, though, they're not Kawhi Leonard.
Dario Saric on the Trade Block?
After a promising first two seasons with the Philadelphia 76ers, Dario Saric has had an up-and-down third campaign that included him being traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Jimmy Butler.
Saric's efficiency numbers have perked up there (minus-0.9 Box Plus-Minus, compared to the minus-3.9 he posted in 13 games with Philly, per Basketball Reference), but he's still struggling to stay on the floor and have a big impact.
Over his last 10 games, Saric is averaging 20.8 minutes and 6.2 points while shooting 37.5 percent from the field and 35.7 percent from three.
So, maybe it shouldn't be terribly surprising that Saric could be traded again this week, according to Sean Deveney of the Sporting News:
"Saric could find himself on the trade block by Thursday. The Wolves likely would prefer to wait until the offseason to make a trade involving what was supposed to be the most valuable piece they got in return for Butler, but according to one league executive, 'He could be had for a decent offer, a first-rounder and a player.'"
Of course, the question here is what kind of a return can Minnesota get for the stretch 4. Given his struggles this season, if the Wolves insist on a first-round pick, they might not be too interested in moving him.
B.S. Meter: Medium. Saric being available wouldn't be all that surprising. Someone surrendering a first for him right now would.
Four 1st-Round Picks for Anthony Davis?
In the final hours of a busy Monday, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski gave us one last nugget on the Anthony Davis sweepstakes.
"Pels are waiting on Lakers to overwhelm them w/ an historic haul of picks," Wojnarowski tweeted. "To Nola, that means Lakers offering 4 first-round and second-round picks as part of a Davis package. Pels want to be compensated—perhaps even overcompensated—to even consider a deal with LA now."
Yes, four first-round picks is a steep price. And yes, deals like that have backfired and crippled teams for years. Just ask Brooklyn Nets fans. But this is Davis. He's about to turn 26 years old. And he's posting absurd numbers—29.3 points, 13.3 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 2.6 blocks and 1.7 steals per game—that would make the Lakers bigs of old proud.
Davis would be the next great L.A. big man. He has the talent to pick up the mantle George Mikan, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Shaquille O'Neal once carried.
And the earlier the Lakers get him, the better. If this drags into the summer, the Celtics can join the fray, with the possibility of a Jayson Tatum-centered deal. Plus, now that LeBron James is in his age-34 season, every playoff run counts. Who knows what the Lakers would surround LeBron and AD with in the aftermath of a midseason trade this big, but that's a top two that could scare almost any team right away.
B.S. Meter: Low. It's no surprise the Pelicans are playing hardball. And the Lakers should be willing to play with them.
Celtics Still in the Mix for Anthony Davis?
Late Monday night, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne shed more light on the Anthony Davis rumors.
"Danny Ainge has encouraged the Pelicans to wait until the offseason to negotiate with the Celtics," Wojnarowski tweeted. "Boston remains determined to try and partner Anthony Davis with Kyrie Irving for long-term, but plans to pursue AD regardless of Irving's free agency plans, per sources."
Even if Boston landed Davis in a trade, keeping him long term seems unlikely. Irving has suddenly been noncommittal when asked about his future with the Celtics in recent days. And the team reportedly isn't on AD's "list" of destinations where he'd sign an extension.
Boston's general manager may still have some confidence that he can sell the All-Star in the year he'd have him under contract, though. And, with a Lakers deal looking increasingly unlikely, the Celtics might be able to enter the fray this summer.
"So far, the Lakers have felt conversations with New Orleans have been one-sided," Shelburne wrote, "and they are growing increasingly pessimistic about the Pelicans willingness to do a deal with them."
Even if it looked like L.A. was making some progress earlier in the day, this was the course that always made the most sense for New Orleans. When Irving comes off his designated rookie extension, Boston can up the ante with deals including Jayson Tatum. The Pelicans could see him as a trump card against anything the Lakers can offer.
B.S. Meter: Medium. Dealing for Davis is still a gamble for the Celtics. Paul George bucked conventional wisdom when he turned what everyone thought would be a rental into a long-term deal with Oklahoma City. But that feels more like an exception than the rule. All signs point to Davis bolting in 2020.
Lonzo Ball to the Phoenix Suns
It's been a bit since we've heard from LaVar Ball, but rumors of his son's departure from the Los Angeles Lakers as part of an Anthony Davis trade have predictably caught his attention.
"We want to be in L.A.," LaVar said, per ESPN's Ohm Youngmisuk. "But if he's traded, I don't want Lonzo in New Orleans. Phoenix is the best fit for him. And I am going to speak it into existence."
Putting aside the fact that the Ball family has no discernible leverage in this situation, it would be interesting to see Lonzo Ball alongside Devin Booker in the Phoenix Suns' backcourt.
One of the issues in L.A. is a lack of control over possessions. This season, Ball has been comfortably better when LeBron James isn't running things.
In the 821 minutes in which Ball has shared the floor with James, he's averaging 10.3 points, 6.0 rebounds and 5.7 assists per 36 minutes, with a .464 true shooting percentage, according to the league's Impact Tool. In the 601 minutes he's played without LeBron, Lonzo is averaging 13.8 points, 6.8 rebounds and 7.5 assists, with a .513 true shooting percentage.
To an extent, Ball would still experience a lack of control playing with Booker. But he'd have more of an imprint on the game with the young Suns than he's had with LeBron.
But again, Lonzo and LaVar just have no way to make this happen. The power players in this game are AD, his agent, Rich Paul, and the various front offices bidding for the All-Star's services.
B.S. Meter: High
Lakers Closing In on Anthony Davis?
As rumors revolving around Anthony Davis picked up steam Monday, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported the Los Angeles Lakers made a more serious offer for the All-Star big man.
"The Lakers have offered a new package to New Orleans that includes multiple young players, multiple draft picks and Pelicans salary-cap relief for Anthony Davis," Wojnarowski tweeted. "The offer appears to move closer to the objectives that the Pelicans are pursuing in a deal."
Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times shared the specifics of the offer.
"Landed in Indy; update on Lakers-Pelicans talks," Turner tweeted. "Magic Johnson, Dell Demps talked twice today, per source. Lakers willing to give Pelicans cap relief for Anthony Davis by taking Solomon Hill for Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, [Brandon] Ingram, [Rajon] Rondo, Lance Stephenson, [Michael] Beasley, [two first-round] picks."
Even if L.A. sacrifices most of its depth by offering multiple players from its young core, the combination of Davis and LeBron James might be enough to make the Lakers instant title contenders.
The ball is now in the Pelicans' court.
"Lakers now waiting on Pelicans [to] respond, per source," Turner later added. "But it's all that the Pelicans wanted to trade AD. Young talent from Lakers, cap relief and draft picks."
B.S. Meter: Medium. It feels like the Lakers will eventually wind up with Davis. It's just hard to see why the Pelicans wouldn't wait until this summer, when a few more options potentially open up and they see who has the No. 1 pick.
Anthony Davis to the Bucks?
The idea of a frontcourt featuring Giannis Antetokounmpo and Anthony Davis is terrifying. And that idea may have already crossed Davis' mind, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.
"The Milwaukee Bucks are one of the teams on Davis' new extended list," Wojnarowski wrote. "Milwaukee hasn't inquired about a Davis trade, sources say, and its roster composition does make the pathway to a trade extremely difficult."
The Bucks could match salaries in a trade by offering the likes of Eric Bledsoe or Khris Middleton, but they owe a protected 2019 first-round pick to the Phoenix Suns and a lottery-protected 2021 first-round pick to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Because of the Stepien Rule, they can't trade their 2020 pick.
Between the restriction on picks the Bucks can trade and the lack of enticing players they have signed to long-term contracts, a deal between New Orleans and Milwaukee seems unlikely.
"This is AD naming a successful small-market team that has no realistic path to a trade for him just so he can look like he doesn't only care about going to a huge market," Bourbon Street Shots' Mason Ginsberg tweeted.
B.S. Meter: High
Additional Suitors for AD?
The Lakers' best shot at leverage in Anthony Davis trade negotiations might be his desire to play in Los Angeles alongside LeBron James. If Davis came out and said L.A. is the only team he'd re-sign with in 2020, it'd be tough for other suitors to justify giving up enticing players and assets.
But on Monday, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Davis may be open to going elsewhere.
"Beyond the Lakers and Knicks, the Pelicans have been made aware of 'a handful' of teams that Anthony Davis would be willing to sign long-term with upon a trade, league sources tell ESPN," Wojnarowski wrote. "Boston isn't included on that list."
Later, Yahoo's Shams Charania reported that Davis' updated list includes the "Lakers, Knicks, Bucks and Clippers."
The Boston Celtics being left out is telling. They could top all offers this summer when Kyrie Irving comes off his designated rookie extension and they're allowed to trade for Davis. But between this report from Wojnarowski and Davis' father expressing the family's distrust of the Celtics, it could be a mistake for Boston to go all-in.
"This could help open up marketplace on a trade for Davis between now and Thursday 3 p.m. deadline, creating stronger offers to Pels," Wojnarowski added. "No matter destination, Davis has no plans to sign extension this summer. The plan is signing a new deal in July of 2020, once he opts out."
B.S. Meter: Medium (Is this coming from the Pelicans' camp to turn up the heat on the Lakers?)
Wesley Matthews on the Move Again?
Wesley Matthews has been a member of the New York Knicks for less than a week, but there are already rumors swirling about his next destination.
"The Knicks are exploring the trade market for Wes Matthews before Thursday's 3 PM deadline, league sources say, but there are also several antsy suitors hoping Matthews makes it to the buyout market," Marc Stein of the New York Times reported Monday morning. "Among them: Houston, Oklahoma City, Toronto, Philadelphia and, yes, Golden State."
In his age-32 season, Matthews is averaging 12.9 points and shooting 37.4 percent from deep. He isn't quite the defender he was before he ruptured his Achilles in 2015, but he's still an enticing three-and-D reserve.
However, it's hard to imagine any team giving up considerable assets to acquire him. He's on an $18.6 million expiring contract this season, which may make it difficult for any team to match salaries in a trade. If the Knicks don't flip him by the deadline, they may wind up waiving him, which means prospective suitors potentially could sign him for far less.
That explains Stein's inclusion of teams that might land him that way.
B.S. Meter: High in the sense that anyone will trade for him. Low in the sense that he's a prime buyout candidate.
Anthony Davis to the Lakers
If you sort every NBA player by the average of their ranks in five catch-all metrics (ESPN's Real Plus-Minus, Jacob Goldstein's Player Impact Plus-Minus, Box Plus-Minus, Win Shares per 48 Minutes and Game Score per 36 Minutes), Anthony Davis trails only Giannis Antetokounmpo.
In other words, he's absurdly good. And players of his caliber rarely hit the trade market.
As such, the New Orleans Pelicans are likely drawing interest for the All-Star big man from all over the NBA. But the Los Angeles Lakers' interest is drawing the most attention, and it isn't hard to see why.
LeBron James has garnered as much media attention as any NBA player over the last two decades, and pairing him with Davis would instantly make the Lakers a title threat. He'd arguably be the best teammate LeBron's ever had, with all due respect to Dwyane Wade and Kyrie Irving.
However, it's unclear whether the Lakers can make the best offer. Tania Ganguli and Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times recently explained where the two sides are right now:
"With the NBA's trade deadline approaching, the Lakers and New Orleans Pelicans have yet to discuss the offers the Lakers made for six-time All-Star forward Anthony Davis, but that conversation is expected to take place next week.
"The Pelicans are considering making a counter offer that would ask for two first-round picks and add a Pelicans player to the deal, according to people with knowledge of the situation who requested anonymity because they weren't authorized to speak publicly on the matter.
"The Lakers sent five offers to the Pelicans on Wednesday. One of the options offered Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, Ivica Zubac and a first-round pick, multiple sources said.
"The Pelicans have not responded to the Lakers' initial offers."
Even if the Pelicans insist on three or four members of the Lakers' young core and two first-round picks, L.A. should jump on the opportunity to add Davis.
Playing hardball in this situation doesn't behoove the Lakers. The Pelicans have serious incentive to table Davis trade talks until this summer, when the Boston Celtics can join the fray and they know who has the No. 1 pick.
Yes, Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma all have plenty of untapped potential. Yes, the draft can be tantalizing, and plenty of teams have been burned by giving up multiple first-rounders. But what are the odds any of those five players or picks become someone with AD's generational talent?
B.S. Meter: Low (in the sense that the Lakers want Davis, but high in the sense that they get him this week) .
Mike Conley to the Jazz?
After losing All-Star Gordon Hayward to the Boston Celtics as a free agent in the summer of 2017, the Utah Jazz were one of last season's feel-good stories.
Donovan Mitchell was better than expected out of the gate, Rudy Gobert won Defensive Player of the Year, and the Jazz knocked Russell Westbrook, Paul George and the Oklahoma City Thunder out in the first round of the playoffs.
This season, that same Utah squad has stalled. The schedule was tough to start the year, and the Jazz have been better as of late, but a 15-18 record against .500-plus teams suggests they may need a jolt.
Memphis Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley might be the one to provide it, according to Andy Larsen of the Salt Lake Tribune.
"The Utah Jazz have made an offer to the Memphis Grizzlies involving Ricky Rubio and a 2019 first-round pick for point guard Mike Conley... The Grizzlies didn't immediately accept the offer, though considered it in the context of other pitches that they've been getting for Conley from other teams around the league. Memphis says it has received offers including better first-round picks than the Jazz's—currently slated to be the No. 19 pick—from teams around the league. One team reportedly also interested in Conley is the Detroit Pistons, sources said."
To make the money work, the Jazz would have to include other players (possibly Derrick Favors or Dante Exum). And to beat other teams' offers, Utah might need to sweeten the pot with another pick or two.
But the Jazz need that jolt, and they need to mobilize their assets and cap flexibility at some point. A starting lineup of Conley, Donovan Mitchell, Joe Ingles, Jae Crowder and Gobert would make Utah far more dangerous in the playoffs.
B.S. Meter: Low
Jeremy Lin to the Kings?
The Sacramento Kings have been a League Pass darling this season. De'Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, Bogdan Bogdanovic and Marvin Bagley III are among the NBA's most exciting young cores. The Kings are second in the league in pace. And at 27-25, they're above .500 in February for the first time since 2005-06.
However, some of the luster has worn off in recent weeks, as they've lost games to the Phoenix Suns and Charlotte Hornets. According to FiveThirtyEight, their chances to make the playoffs are down to 5 percent.
To get into the postseason for the first time since 2006, they need to bring in some help. And according to Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee, Atlanta Hawks backup point guard Jeremy Lin may be the one to provide it.
"A league source tells me the @ATLHawks' primary objective ahead of the #NBA trade deadline is to 'stay young' and 'keep the books clean.' The Hawks remain an attractive trading partner for the @SacramentoKings, who have reportedly shown interest in backup point guard Jeremy Lin."
Atlanta is still in the asset-accumulation phase of its rebuild, according to Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and plenty of teams in need of depth should be interested in Lin.
Sacramento having interest in Lin shouldn't be surprising, but it's tough to predict that he'll end up there.
B.S. Meter: Medium