NBA Trades Based off Latest Buzz: Deals for Iggy, DeRozan, Chris Paul and More
Cricket sounds continue to infest the NBA's rumor mill.
Trade chatter isn't typically so quiet this time of year. Dec. 15 is fast approaching. Most players who signed contracts over the summer will soon be eligible for relocation. Extra buzz is the standard ahead of this regular-season mile marker.
And yet, the overwhelming amount of player movement over the summer has incited a rumor-mill standstill. Increased parity is a factor, as well. It has now been more than 130 days since the league's last trade—the longest such non-lockout drought since 1968, according to HoopsHype's Bryan Kalbrosky.
Rather than an abundance of buyers-and-sellers talk, we're being treated to just the opposite. The Cleveland Cavaliers are not dangling Kevin Love or Tristan Thompson in deals, per Cleveland.com's Chris Fedor. As of mid-November, the Orlando Magic are reluctant to move Aaron Gordon, according to The Athletic's Shams Charania. And so on and so forth.
Time is still on the side of trade junkies. Speculation will invariably heat up, even if only by a pittance, before the February deadline. In the interim, we're left to pore over early-season notes and rumblings when concocting our hypotheticals.
ESPN's Brian Windhorst provided a list of teams that were already on the prowl for help at the beginning of November. Other notable names have ever so lightly stumbled into the rumor mill's crosshairs. These bread crumbs will be our guide as we seek to theoretically shake up the NBA at a time when it almost feels impossible to do so.
Memphis Finds an Iguodala Taker (Option 1)
Dallas Mavericks Receive: Andre Iguodala
Memphis Grizzlies Receive: Courtney Lee, 2020 second-round pick (via Golden State Warriors)
Memphis remains dead set on trading Andre Iguodala rather than brokering a buyout, and Dallas is still among the most realistic, if obvious, partners.
"Executives believe the Mavericks are a team that we should watch when it comes to the Andre Iguodala landing spot," ESPN's Brian Windhorst noted (h/t RealGM). "They have a tradable contract in Courtney Lee, and extra second-round picks they could potentially use to get Memphis interested."
Iguodala has some leverage over where he winds up. The Mavericks are not the Los Angeles Clippers or Los Angeles Lakers. He can try to dissuade any potential deal by threatening not to report. That's a very real danger.
But Dallas is good enough to meet whatever contention criteria Iguodala might have in place. Luka Doncic is the engine of its league-best offense, and the defense has been pleasantly average. The Mavericks are really, actually fourth in the Western Conference.
Impressive wins over the Lakers, Denver Nuggets, Houston Rockets and Toronto Raptors suggest this team is one player—and, perhaps, a better version of Kristaps Porzingis—away from doing something special. Iguodala would immediately bolster the defense and should have the opportunity to start. If he doesn't, he would shore up a bench that already tops the league in point differential per 100 possessions.
Saving around $4.2 million in salary while picking up the Golden State Warriors' second-rounder is a more than reasonable haul for the Grizzlies. That selection could land at No. 35 or better the way this season is unfolding.
If they're worried about eventual returns from Stephen Curry, D'Angelo Russell and Klay Thompson compromising the position of the Warriors' pick, the Mavericks could include the Utah Jazz's 2020 second-rounder or a distant second-rounder of their own.
Memphis Finds an Iguodala Taker (Option 2)
The Trade (After Dec. 14)
Memphis Grizzlies Receive: Kent Bazemore, Mario Hezonja, 2020 first-round pick (lottery protected in 2019; top-10 protected in 2020; turns into two second-rounders if not conveyed)
Portland Trail Blazers Receive: Jae Crowder, Andre Iguodala
Portland was on the hunt for wings at the start of November, according to ESPN's Brian Windhorst. Carmelo Anthony's Cinderella-story return should not stop that search.
Kent Bazemore continues to be arctic-cold from the floor. He's shooting 33.8 percent on two-pointers for the season and 27.3 percent from beyond the arc over his past 10 games. Even if his offense perks up, the Blazers aren't adequately built to stop larger wings in a playoff series. Rodney Hood and Nassir Little (disarmingly competent, by the way) don't cut it.
Jae Crowder and Andre Iguodala would give Portland two defensive upgrades on the wing. Yes, the cost here is high. It also might not be enough.
Giving up a first-rounder while taking on around $4 million in salary is no small ask for a taxpaying team. But Crowder and Iguodala are the Grizzlies' two best (realistic) trade chips. The Blazers may even have to throw in a 2022 second-rounder—and then perhaps another one.
Memphis could try pushing for Little's inclusion. He shouldn't be a deal-breaker for either side. Unless other squads are dangling first-rounders for Iguodala straight up, the Grizzlies shouldn't be opposed to combining him with Crowder to net one.
Maybe Portland has to lighten the protections to make Memphis feel better. That also shouldn't be a deal-breaker. For all the Blazers' red flags, they're still only a game outside the Western Conference's playoff picture. Acquiring Crowder and Iguodala would no doubt tip the postseason odds in their favor if they can tread water over the next couple of weeks.
Boston Gets a Big...Just Not Who You Think
The Trade (After Dec. 14)
Boston Celtics Receive: Davis Bertans
Washington Wizards Receive: Enes Kanter, Vincent Poirier, 2020 second-round pick (via Atlanta Hawks)
Boston entered the regular season scouring the market for a big, according to ESPN's Brian Windhorst. It isn't yet clear whether that's changed.
One look at the Celtics' depth chart implies the search endures. At the same time, they rank fifth in points allowed per 100 possessions, sport the second-best transition defense and place eighth in the frequency with which they let opponents shoot at the rim. The urgency to bring in a paint-policing big has almost entirely faded.
Good thing Davis Bertans isn't a defensive-minded center.
Slotting him into the Celtics rotation would put some extra strain on their perimeter stoppers. He can play the 4 or 5, but opponents are shooting 66.1 percent against him at the rim. Whatever. Boston has the supporting cast to make it work, and his paint protection might improve on a team that doesn't automatically fold in the half court.
Getting Bertans would be more about padding the offense. The Celtics need the buffer. Since Gordon Hayward's injury, they're a so-so 11th in points scored per 100 possessions and a decidedly not good 25th in three-point accuracy. Bertans is connecting on 45.6 percent of his treys and posting a 62.1 effective field-goal rate on spot-ups, a top-10 mark among everyone to finish as many such possessions.
Whether the Wizards can do better for Bertans is up for debate. Whether they should be open to moving him is less so.
He's a free agent after this season, at which time they won't have the full-strength sample to discern where they fit in the Eastern Conference. Re-signing him would prove either pointless if they opt to flip Bradley Beal or, depending on the cost, detrimental to their books.
They have to at least consider a deal in which they'd get a big-man prospect and what appears to be a decent second-rounder without taking on any long-term money.
San Antonio Reacts to Its Bad Start
The Trade (After Dec. 14)
Orlando Magic Receive: Marco Belinelli, DeMar DeRozan, Bryn Forbes
San Antonio Spurs Receive: Al-Farouq Aminu, Aaron Gordon, Mo Bamba
The Spurs have typically avoided midseason trades like the plague. It's time for them to break character.
Patience is not a luxury they can afford to indulge. They're three games out of the Western Conference playoff picture, but with the exception of LaMarcus Aldridge's recent thigh injury, they haven't been particularly banged up. Their defense ranks in the bottom five of efficiency, and their offense, once a saving grace, has dropped to 14th.
Waiting around shouldn't be the preferred option. And any overhaul the Spurs undergo begins with DeRozan.
Finding a taker for him won't be easy. It will be even harder to negotiate an impactful return. He's a borderline All-Star but not a plug-and-play one. The Magic and their league-worst offense have interest in him, according to The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor. The Spurs should start there.
This deal is a revamped iteration of a previous idea. Evan Fournier has pieced together a nice, long stretch of playing up to his pay grade while San Antonio has forfeited a certain amount of leverage as the losses continue to pile up. The framework needed tinkering and expansion.
Bringing back both Aaron Gordon and Mo Bamba would serve dual purposes to the Spurs. Gordon would help the playoff cause right away with his half-court defense. Bamba might even do the same on offense. He's shooting 44.4 percent from deep over his past 10 games, albeit on negligible volume and with a 5-of-5 outlier against the Cleveland Cavaliers baked in.
If they don't, ahem, spur a renaissance, San Antonio would still get younger while assembling a rosier asset base for a potential rebuild. That's a big deal.
Orlando could be the tougher sell. It shouldn't be. DeRozan's value isn't the divisive debate it has mutated into. San Antonio's net rating improves with him off the floor, but that's owed more to a shaky starting five and, until recently, a rock-solid bench.
DeRozan is averaging 21.6 points and 4.5 assists while canning 53.2 percent of his twos. The Magic, unlike the Spurs, have room to explore playing him in no-point guard lineups. He helps.
Bryn Forbes' inclusion could alleviate whatever concerns the Magic have about DeRozan's impact on their spacing. Their floor balance can't get much worse to begin with, and he's drilling 37.5 percent of his pull-up triples. Marco Belinelli would even help if he ever finds his outside touch.
That Orlando would also get off Al-Farouq Aminu is a selling point. His three-year, $29.2 million pact devolved into one of the offseason's worst before he suffered a torn meniscus.
Even if the Magic feel like they're giving up two of the best three assets in this deal, they would grab a win by cutting his money and netting two players—DeRozan and Forbes—they wouldn't have the cap space to sign when they potentially hit free agency over the summer.
San Antonio Goes a Little More Nuclear
Oklahoma City Thunder Receive: Marco Belinelli, DeMar DeRozan
San Antonio Spurs Receive: Chris Paul
League executives "don't see a robust market" for Chris Paul, even after his solid start, according to the Los Angeles Times' Dan Woike. This tracks with ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski suggesting over the summer that Oklahoma City might need to "incentivize" suitors to absorb the two years and $85.6 million left on his contract after this season.
That makes this proposed deal a borderline no-brainer for the Thunder. They would skate under the luxury tax this season by saving nearly $5 million in salary and wouldn't be taking on any long-term pacts as part of the process.
DeMar DeRozan isn't a fit for what they're building, but he scores and passes enough to keep them on the fringes of the West's playoff discussion. They could try rerouting him before the deadline, but holding onto him would hardly be a worst-case scenario. He has a player option for 2020-21 he's almost certain to decline, and Oklahoma City could use the cap relief.
Taking on Paul would be a nuclear Hail Mary from the Spurs—one that makes much more sense if head coach Gregg Popovich plans on sticking around beyond this season.
Paul would not give San Antonio the switchable size it so desperately needs. And his arrival might only complicate a backcourt logjam that already includes Patty Mills, Bryn Forbes, Dejounte Murray and Derrick White.
Still, the Spurs shouldn't let that stop them. Paul would noticeably beef up their overall defense and has the outside touch to play off San Antonio's other ball-handlers. His offensive command would likewise be a boon for a team that has fallen to 13th in half-court efficiency.
The balance of Paul's contract is absolutely terrifying. On the flip side, though, the Spurs have proved they can manage players in their twilights better than most. Paul is an asset if they're hell-bent on keeping their 22-year playoff streak alive.
Unless otherwise noted, stats courtesy of NBA.com, Basketball Reference or Cleaning the Glass and accurate entering Monday's games. Salary and cap-hold information via Basketball Insiders, Early Bird Rights and Spotrac.