NBA Trade Rumors: Latest on Jimmy Butler, JR Smith to Lakers, Steven Adams

Theo SalaunContributor IJune 26, 2019

Philadelphia 76ers' Jimmy Butler speaks with members of the media during a news conference at the NBA basketball team's practice facility in Camden, N.J., Monday, May 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Matt Rourke/Associated Press

NBA free agency officially opens up at 6 p.m. ET Sunday, and the race for each team to get its salary-cap situation straightened out is speeding up by the day. The Milwaukee Bucks already gave up a first-round pick in a trade with the Detroit Pistons to get rid of $16 million worth of Tony Snell over the next two years, and the New Orleans Pelicans already moved the eventual free-agent headache of Anthony Davis for young talent.

Now, Jimmy Butler, JR Smith and Steven Adams are rumored to be the tastiest trade bait getting dangled for the right value.


Jimmy Butler Sign-and-Trade to Houston?

After a disappointing second-round playoff exit, the Philadelphia 76ers' offseason conundrum involves the unrestricted free agency of Butler, Tobias Harris and JJ Redick. While Philadelphia seems likely to try to sign Butler to a long-term deal, Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that the Houston Rockets are angling for a sign-and-trade to make Butler the third prong of a Chris Paul and James Harden trident. 

Adrian Wojnarowski @wojespn

Houston's priority for free agency, league sources tell ESPN: Pursue a sign-and-trade for Sixers All-Star Jimmy Butler. https://t.co/Bsk6g2YhfW

Since Houston lacks the cap space for an appealing offer to Butler, general manager Daryl Morey must hope that the Rockets' trade package outweighs the 76ers' fear of possibly recouping zero value as Butler signs elsewhere. With teams like the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat rumored to go after Butler, that possibility is a very real one for Philadelphia.

If those fears grow, Philadelphia could be reasonably tempted by a trade package with the Rockets centered around Clint Capela and either Eric Gordon or PJ Tucker. While Capela may not be a perfect fit for the team, given Joel Embiid's need to play the 5, the 25-year-old is still a great asset with four years left on his contract. Conversely, either Tucker or Gordon would fit naturally in Philadelphia given their ability to spread the floor, the former's defensive versatility and the latter's scoring aptitude.  


JR Smith: From Cleveland to Cap Relief to Los Angeles

JR Smith last played a minute of professional basketball last November. Smith's contract has a partial guarantee of $3.8 million until Sunday, when it becomes fully guaranteed at $15.6 million. With that in mind, a team can trade for Smith, waive him and open up $11 million in cap space. If that happens, the Lakers are a rumored landing spot for LeBron James' former teammate.

Marc Stein @TheSteinLine

From @ChrisBHaynes … keep an eye on J.R. Smith ultimately landing with the Lakers after the Cavaliers trade him -- which Cleveland is trying to do as we speak https://t.co/worjgIXgny

The Cleveland Cavaliers were already rumored, per Cleveland.com, to have turned down first-round picks as teams tried to acquire the possibility of Smith's cap relief. General manager Koby Altman was candid with Cleveland.com about how picky the Cavaliers will be when it comes to taking on a bad contract (and potentially entering the luxury tax) to get an asset in exchange for Smith's cap relief: "Is there enough value there to do that, to put ourselves out there like that? I think that's something we are weighing these last few days."

When Smith does get waived, whether it's after a trade or not, look for him to end up spacing the floor in Purple and Gold next season.


Avoiding the Luxury Tax By Shipping Steven Adams to Boston  

As the Oklahoma City Thunder look to avoid the luxury tax, Steven Adams, Andre Roberson and Dennis Schroeder have all been rumored to be available for trades, per Sports Illustrated's Jake Fischer. Now, a suitor has come into play with NBC Sports Boston's Sherrod Blakely claiming that "Adams is on Boston's radar." With Boston's 2018-19 bigs, Al Horford and Aron Baynes, on the way out, Adams is a sensible, bruising fit to man the paint for Jayson Tatum and Co.

While it's unclear what assets Boston is willing to part with for the big Kiwi, the Thunder seem prepared to move on, so a reasonable deal shouldn't be inconceivable. Despite averaging an impressive 13.9 points and 9.5 rebounds on 59.5 percent shooting, Adams has never attempted an NBA three, and the Thunder, who shot a rough 34.8 percent from deep last season, may fear a plateau.