NBA Rumors Tracker: Buying and Selling the Latest Trade Buzz

Bleacher Report NBA StaffFeatured ColumnistFebruary 3, 2020

Golden State Warriors' D'Angelo Russell plays during an NBA basketball game against the Philadelphia 76ers, Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Matt Slocum/Associated Press

Calling all sellers, buyers and curious offer-listeners of the NBA world.

Trade deadline week is here, so you all have between now and 3 p.m. ET on Thursday to finalize your transactions and exit basketball's biggest swap market before closing time.

Early forecasts for the last days of #TradeSZN call for a quiet deadline. Only a handful of teams are truly out of the playoff hunt, and motivations are scarce for those teams to willingly self-destruct. The upcoming free-agent class is thin. The incoming crop of draft prospects looks underwhelming. Even if all normal fire-sale conditions are in place, external factors could lead some to decide to sit this out.

Of course, sleepy prognostications are often followed by frenzied action. Deadline time can be funny like that.

No matter where the week heads from here, we'll keep you clued in on all the latest whispers and rumblings bouncing around the rumor mill.

              

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Are Clippers Championship Favorites With Morris?

The bidding for Marcus Morris Sr. is over.

The Los Angeles Clippers, New York Knicks and Washington Wizards worked out a three-team arrangement sending Morris and Isaiah Thomas to L.A., Jerome Robinson to Washington, and Maurice Harkless and a 2020 first-round pick to the Knicks, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

The Los Angeles Lakers were in the Morris sweepstakes as well, but they effectively surrendered when they removed Kyle Kuzma from consideration, per Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadidum.

This is a big win for the Clippers, both in getting Morris and keeping him away from the Lakers. Morris gives them size, toughness, defensive versatility and more shot-making. Even though L.A. has all-world perimeter defenders in Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, Doc Rivers could let Morris handle some of the trickier assignments (at least in stretches) to keep his stars fresh for the other end.

The Lakers could've used Morris' defensive presence. If they lock horns with the Clippers this postseason, they might have to ask 35-year-old LeBron James to lock up one of their stars, which sounds less than ideal.

A resurgent IT could be a sneaky-good investment for the Clippers, too (though his arrival presumably pulls them out of the Darren Collison sweepstakes). The 30-year-old Thomas isn't back to All-Star form or anything, but his per-36-minute averages of 19.0 points, 5.7 assists and 3.0 triples show how he can help.

It's a great get for the Clippers, and they look like the favorites if the Lakers can't find an impact acquisition of their own.

                 

Are Cavs Being Smart With Drummond Deal?

Seek shelter, everyone. The Woj bombs are dropping all over the place, and the deadline is still a half-hour away.

The Cleveland Cavaliers are finalizing a deal for Andre Drummond, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. The Detroit Pistons are bringing back Brandon Knight, John Henson and a second-round pick, per The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor.

This is a salary dump for Detroit, which sort of makes sense. Drummond is good, but he isn't $28.8 million—the rate of his 2020-21 player option—good. The Pistons don't want to be on the hook for that, and who would blame them? But is this the start of something more? Can they turn that flexiblity into an impact player? Are they fire-selling now and collecting assets for Derrick Rose, Markieff Morris and the like?

As for the Cavaliers—whoa. That's a ton of coin for Drummond, especially when Kevin Love's deal is also on your books. But if you aren't signing impact free agents and your most critical players are on rookie-scale contracts, there isn't a lot of risk (just a lot of dollars).

Drummond is 26 years old. He's averaging 17.8 points, 15.8 rebounds, 2.0 steals and 1.7 blocks. He has been an All-Star twice. If he exercises his option, the Cavs have all of next season to determine whether he's someone they want to keep. If he's freeing up Darius Garland and Collin Sexton with screens and they're giving him room to roll, the connection could work.

Setting the money aside, the Cavs just added an impact big for nothing. That's hard to second-guess.

             

Wolves, Grizzlies Swap Pricey Bigs

The James Johnson era of the Memphis Grizzlies is over before it started.

A money-matcher in the Andre Iguodala deal, Johnson won't rejoin the Grizzlies but will instead head to the Minnesota Timberwolves in what's now a three-team swap, per Wojnarowski. Gorgui Dieng will head to Memphis.

Johnson makes $15.3 million this season and holds a $16 million player option for 2020-21. Dieng costs $16.2 million now and $17.3 million next year. Neither player averages 17 minutes per game.

They are usable players, but vastly overpaid. With that said, it might be easier to play Johnson alongside Karl-Anthony Towns than it ever was with Dieng, who could prove to be a better fit alongside Jaren Jackson Jr. in Memphis.  

                    

Blazers Trim Tax Bill, Hawks Get Labissiere

Not every deadline deal is a headliner, folks.

The Portland Trail Blazers and Atlanta Hawks linked up for a minor move. Skal Labissiere is heading from Portland to Atlanta with cash, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. The Blazers lower their tax bill by $3.8 million and open a roster spot, per ESPN's Bobby Marks.

Labissiere, once the second-ranked prospect in his high school class, never set the world on fire at Kentucky, and it's been more of the same at this level. He theoretically offers an interesting combination of length and shot-making, but it rarely shows through the stat sheet. This is his second-best season by player efficiency rating, and he's only averaging 5.8 points and 5.1 rebounds in 17.2 minutes per game.

Still, if you're the Hawks and clearly playing for the future, why not add a 23-year-old for cheap and see what happens?

            

Are Wizards Asking Too Much for Bertans?

The Washington Wizards told us they were big Davis Bertans fans, and apparently they weren't kidding.

The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor reports the Wizards want two first-round picks for the three-point splashing big man, and if Bertans is still in the District after the deadline, they'd like to re-sign him. Multiple playoff teams, including the Boston Celtics, are in pursuit.

Earlier, NBC Sports Washington's Chase Hughes reported Bertans' camp was "confident he won't be traded" and "have gotten assurance from the Wizards throughout the process."

If the Wizards think they'll be competitive next season—when a healthy John Wall gives Bradley Beal the help he hasn't had this year—it's understandable why they'd want to keep Bertans. He's one of the Association's premier spacers (tied for ninth in threes, tied for eighth in three-point percentage), and considering he's stretching the floor as a 6'10" big, he opens the door for all kinds of offensive possibilities.

Even as an elite shooter, though, he's still a role-playing specialist. If a team will part with multiple firsts for Bertans, you have to take it. That feels awfully rich, but clubs with a chance to contend might bite the bullet, especially ahead of an underwhelming draft.

                

Wolves Get D'Lo, Warriors Get Wiggins and Picks

Sound the alarm. This is not a drill. The Woj bomb has officially dropped.

The Minnesota Timberwolves are getting D'Angelo Russell, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, while Andrew Wiggins is joining the Golden State Warriors. The Dubs are also getting a 2021 protected first-round pick and a 2022 second-rounder, while Minnesota adds Jacob Evans and Omari Spellman. The first-rounder has top-three protection for 2021 and otherwise becomes unprotected in 2022, Wojnarowski adds.

This ends a lengthy pursuit for the Timberwolves, who've been chasing Russell since last summer. They needed a point guard and another scoring threat to pair with Karl-Anthony Towns. They scratch both itches with Russell, who just so happens to be close friends with his 2015 draft classmate.

To do that while also shedding Wiggins' bloated contract (which has another three years and $94.7 million) is no small victory for this front office.

For Golden State, it either really likes the 2021 draft class or believes it can get much more out of Wiggins. It's probably both.

Wiggins, the top overall pick in 2014, boasts a wealth of physical tools, but they've yet to transform into stardom. His career 14.7 player efficiency rating is below league-average, and he has yet to deliver a positive defensive box plus/minus. The Warriors clearly trust their developmental program, though, and must think that putting Wiggins in a winning environment could have a dramatic effect.

So much for a sleepy deadline, right?

                      

Rockets Lean Further Into Small-Ball Strategy

Mike D'Antoni, Daryl Morey and the rest of the Houston Rockets are laughing in the face of your conventional basketball wisdom.

Size doesn't matter, and they have another small-ball big man to help prove it.

According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, the Rockets are sending recently acquired Jordan Bell to the Memphis Grizzlies for Bruno Caboclo. Under traditional position designations, Houston is technically exchanging a center for a small forward, but Caboclo is actually an inch taller (6'9" to 6'8") and a couple of pounds heavier (218 to 216).

Caboclo has spent 36 percent of his floor time at the 5 spot this season, and that number will only increase with the Clint Capela-less Rockets. While Caboclo has battled a bone bruise in his knee, he'll give this new-look frontcourt more versatility when healthy.

Bell, meanwhile, lands in Memphis in need of a recharge. He played some encouraging (and critical) minutes for the world-champion Golden State Warriors in 2017-18, but his role has been diminishing ever since. An offseason move to the Minnesota Timberwolves came with a clean slate, but Bell failed to snag a consistent rotation spot.

                   

Grizzlies, Heat Details Emerging; Is Gallo Deal Dead?

After a night spent in suspense, we now have the particulars on the deal sending Andre Iguodala to the Miami Heat.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reports Iguodala, Solomon Hill and Jae Crowder are heading to the Heat, while the Memphis Grizzlies will receive Justise Winslow, Dion Waiters and James Johnson. Miami has also given Iguodala a two-year, $30 million contract extension, although the second year is nonguaranteed.

What's worth watching here is whether this is the full swap, or if the Heat can convince the Oklahoma City Thunder to join a three-teamer and send along Danilo Gallinari. Woj reported Miami and Oklahoma City have not reached an agreement yet, and while there's still time for it to happen, "those talks are fully stalled."

Given the lack of shooting in an Iguodala-Jimmy Butler-Bam Adebayo trio, Miami needs the breathing room Gallinari would provide. Crowder (career 33.4 percent from deep) and Hill (33.8) wouldn't ease the spacing concerns.

This might be the biggest story leading up to the deadline. With Gallinari, the Heat might have the juice to win the East. Without him, Miami still looks like one of a handful of teams chasing the Milwaukee Bucks.

              

Clippers Prepare For Buyout Market

Whether or not the Los Angeles Clippers find something worth buying between now and the deadline, they'll have an interest in scouring the buyout market for potential contributors.

They just made a deal to give them that flexibility.

They're moving Derrick Walton Jr. to the Atlanta Hawks for cash, according to Wojnarowski. Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes adds the Clippers are also getting a second-round pick.

As ESPN's Bobby Marks notes, this swap gives L.A. an open roster spot and a $1.55 million trade exception.

The Clippers are now even more open to opportunity's knock. The roster spot and exception leave more wiggle room for acquisitions. Maybe that happens today. Maybe it waits for buyout season. Maybe it arrives in the form of Darren Collison.

Either way, L.A. has a new avenue to a contributor. Atlanta, meanwhile, is not planning to keep Walton, per The Athletic's Chris Kirschner.

             

Quiet Deadline in Detroit?

So much for sweeping changes to the Detroit Pistons. They might be in need of a reset, but it doesn't sound like that will happen at the deadline.

Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes reports there is "an increased likelihood" Andre Drummond is going nowhere. Haynes' colleague, Keith Smith, says "it's looking similar for Derrick Rose and maybe Markieff Morris, too." Yahoo's Vincent Goodwill writes, "Barring an unforeseen offer, [Rose will] be a Piston for the remainder of the season" and they would only "seriously consider" an offer if it "includes a lottery pick."

Rose's market is full of contenders. They don't have access to lottery picks (which is a huge request for a 31-year-old with a frightening injury history, anyway). Saying it would take a lottery pick to consider a deal is effectively saying he's going nowhere.

On Wednesday night, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported talks with the Phoenix Suns regarding Luke Kennard had "reached an impasse."

This felt like the expected outcome for Drummond. He's an awesome rebounder, but interior bigs have never been less valuable, which makes his looming $28.8 million player option tough to stomach. It wasn't going to be easy to fetch an actual asset for him, and Detroit probably wants more than a salary dump for its best (healthy) player.

No big surprise with Kennard, either. Unless the Pistons have long-term concerns about his knees (he has tendinitis in both and hasn't played since Dec. 21), the motivations to move him are hard to decipher. He's a third-year player in the middle of a breakout—that's the kind of asset teams hope to have in a rebuild.

It's fair to wonder if this might be a leverage ploy with Rose and Morris, though, since they seem like such obvious trade candidates. Each is on the wrong side of 30 and has a lengthy list of contenders in pursuit. The Pistons could acquire real assets for either one, and maybe leaking word that they're comfortable keeping both is a way to try to maximize the incoming offers.

If the Pistons do nothing at the deadline, it will be tough to label it as anything other than a missed opportunity.

            

Knicks Planning To Hire Leon Rose As Next President

Days after dismissing former president Steve Mills, the New York Knicks have settled on the next person to run their basketball operations. Like some other franchises have done in recent years, they're planning to hand control to a player agent, CAA's Leon Rose, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

If that name sounds familiar, it should. Rose has represented some of the biggest names in the game. His current clientele list includes Joel Embiid, Karl-Anthony Towns, Devin Booker, Chris Paul, and Kyle Kuzma, per HoopsHype. Considering the Knicks have reportedly eyed Towns from afar, per Marc Berman of the New York Post, this selection grows only more interesting.

Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne reported that a formal arrangement is not likely to be announced soon, but "formal negotiations are expected to begin shortly after the end of the NBA's trade deadline."

So, what does that mean for the Knicks as deadline participants? Is interim president Scott Perry free to do as he pleases? New York could (should?) be among the most active sellers, which makes the front office shakeup—how should we put this?—interestingly timed.

                      

Are Kings Right to Keep Bogdanovic?

Bad news for any contenders in the market for shooters and shot-creators. Bogdan Bogdanovic, who thrives on both fronts, apparently is going nowhere.

"NBC Sports California has learned through a league source that Bogdan Bogdanovic will remain a King through the deadline and enter the summer as a restricted free agent, where the team is likely to match any offer," James Ham reported.

Had the Sacramento Kings shopped Bogdanovic, they wouldn't have been short on suitors. With polish as a 27-year-old but also growth potential as only a three-year NBA veteran, he could've appeared to buyers of all types. For his career, he has averaged 17.1 points, 4.5 assists and 4.0 rebounds per 36 minutes. For context, fewer than 30 players are posting a 17/4/4 line this season.

Of course, the reasons for suitors to seek him out are the same reasons for Sacramento to keep him. He's a good enough spacer to play off De'Aaron Fox, and he's a slick enough table-setter to create scoring chances for Marvin Bagley III and Buddy Hield.

The only question is about finances. The Kings have already committed huge contracts to Hield and Harrison Barnes, and they could give significant extensions to Fox this summer and Bagley the next. A bloated offer for Bogdanovic could theoretically give them pause, but after shedding both Trevor Ariza and Dewayne Dedmon, the Kings should have the flexibility to match anything short of the most unreasonable offers.

Sacramento probably needs to trim this core at some point, but delaying that decision is fine for now. The Kings still haven't gotten a great look at what this group could do, and once they do, they might conclude Bogdanovic's well-rounded skills make him less expendable than others.

              

Heat, Gallinari Ironing Out Contract Extension

Opportunity knocks for the Miami Heat, and Pat Riley is always ready to answer. With no superteam ruling over the Association, and 30-year-old Jimmy Butler helping the Heat shatter preseason expectations, Miami sees a window right now and plans to launch through it.

The team already added Andre Iguodala (more on that below) and is working to rope in Danilo Gallinari in a three-team trade. With Gallo on an expiring deal, his reps are working with Miami on a contract extension, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, though the Heat's "desire to preserve cap space for 2021" (i.e. the Summer of Giannis) has presented a challenge.

This is a case of Miami wanting to have its cake and eat it too, but it also seems doable. If Gallinari was already going to hit the market this summer—when few teams have cap space, and most of them are focused on developing their young cores—then adding another year (perhaps with a team option tacked on after) at a healthy salary seems like a win.

The Heat, meanwhile, needed to find someone who packs an offensive punch like Gallinari. They'll be squeezed for spacing when Iguodala, Butler and Bam Adebayo share the floor, but Gallinari could provide critical breathing room. Since the start of last season, the 6'10" scoring forward is tied for the 18th-most three-point makes, and his 62.8 true shooting percentage is second-best among that top 20.

                

Philadelphia Lands Reinforcements

Since the calendar turned to 2020, the Philadelphia 76ers are 8-7 with a minus-2.3 net rating that ranks 22nd in the NBA. Those who've long questioned how well Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid fit together have received a lot more evidence for their case.

While analysts around the internet have contemplated what Simmons or Embiid trades might look like, the Sixers pursued more subtle moves.

"76ers have fortified their bench with two veteran scorers and shooters -- Alec Burks and Glenn Robinson III," The Athletic's Shams Charania tweeted. "Three second-rounders (Dallas 2020, Denver 2021, Toronto 2022) sent to Warriors."

This feels like a no-brainer for Philly. Burks is averaging 16.1 points with an above-average three-point percentage. He adds some pop to a second unit that sorely lacks it.

Robinson's shooting should help, too. He's averaging 12.9 points and shooting 40.0 percent from deep.

During the 2017-18 campaign, the 76ers received a boost when they acquired Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova. Burks and Robinson have a shot to do the same, and three second-round picks isn't much of an asking price.

       

Miami Isn't Done

The Miami Heat already have Andre Iguodala on the way (more on that below), but it appears they're still dealing.

"Miami, Memphis and Oklahoma City are working on an elaborate three-team deal that would land the Heat both Andre Iguodala and Danilo Gallinari," ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted. "Talks are ongoing and could extend into Thursday, sources said."

We'll keep you posted as details emerge on this front. But the already-good Heat would become even more dangerous if supplemented with Gallo (his offensive impact is detailed below) and Iguodala.

                    

Heat Land Iguodala

Shortly after Wojnarowski reported the Heat's interest in Iguodala and Gallinari, The Athletic's Shams Charania broke the news that the deal was done.

"Memphis is finalizing sending Andre Iguodala to Miami..." Charania wrote. "Iguodala is believed to be prepared to play for the Heat."

The ideal Jimmy Butler complement on defense might be a healthy and engaged Iguodala. It's fair to wonder what the 36-year old has left in the tank after taking much of this season off. But if he's anywhere near the player he was for the Golden State Warriors over the next couple of seasons, Miami will now have one of the league's most daunting defensive combinations on the wing.

And in case you were worried Miami wasn't among the teams Iguodala would actually approve being traded to, he's already signed an extension there.

"Andre Iguodala and Miami's two-year, $30M extension has team option in second season (2021-22)," Charania wrote.

Of course, Miami isn't the only team in this trade. Memphis landed another intriguing young player to add to a core that already includes Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr. and Brandon Clarke.

"Justise Winslow is part of the package headed to Memphis in the Iguodala trade," Wojnarowski tweeted.

Injuries have kept Winslow out of all but 11 games this season, but he showed enough as a versatile point forward last season to excite Grizzlies fans. He has the size (6'6", 225 lbs) and defensive ability to do a lot of the same things Jae Crowder does on that end. But he has the potential to provide much more offensively, particularly as a playmaker for his teammates.

         

Dedmon Back to Atlanta

Dewayne Dedmon emerged as one of the league's better three-and-D bigs with the 2018-19 Atlanta Hawks. He averaged 1.8 threes, 1.5 steals and 1.5 blocks per 75 possessions, something that had only been done six times (by three different players) up to that point in NBA history.

The performance was enough to earn him a three-year, $40 million deal from the Sacramento Kings this past offseason. But it wasn't enough to earn him a consistent role with his new team. By the end of December, Dedmon publicly demanded a trade, which was a violation of the league's collective bargaining agreement.

On Wednesday, he got his wish.

"Sacrameto is trading Dewayne Dedmon to Atlanta for Jabari Parker and Alex Len," Wojnarowski tweeted. "Atlanta also gets two second-round picks."

The Hawks acquired Clint Capela earlier in the week, so Dedmon will return to the site of his breakout as a reserve. But perhaps familiarity with the coach, system and players will help get his career back on track.

For Sacramento, perhaps Len can provide center depth without the drama that accompanied Dedmon. Parker can add some scoring punch off the bench for his fifth team in six NBA seasons.

                           

Miami Pushing the Chips In

Miami has been one of the league's big surprises this season. Their final preseason projection from FiveThirtyEight pegged them as a 41-41 team. Now, they're trending toward a 53-29 finish.

With the team exceeding expectations, it looks like the front office may be trending toward some significant win-now moves.

"Pat Riley clearly sees an opportunity to make a run with these Heat," Wojnarowski wrote. "Riley has been working to trade for Memphis' Andre Iguodala AND Oklahoma City's Danilo Gallinari. ... Talks are ongoing."

Miami has good salary-matching fodder in the contracts of Dion Waiters and James Johnson. The obvious question is what kind of sweeteners would have to be attached to land Iguodala and Gallinari.

If they were able to pull that off, Miami would have to be taken seriously as a threat to represent the Eastern Conference in the Finals.

Gallo is one of the league's most underrated offensive weapons. He's 79th throughout NBA history in career offensive box plus/minus. Over the last two seasons, among players with at least 1,000 minutes, he's 17th in that same metric. During that same stretch, among players who averaged at least as many points per 75 possessions (23.0), his true shooting percentage trails only Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Giannis Antetokounmpo.

His modern scoring ability (threes and an ability to draw fouls) would complement superstar Jimmy Butler perfectly.

           

Lakers Shopping

The Los Angeles Lakers have LeBron James, Anthony Davis and the best record in the Western Conference, but that hasn't kept them out of this year's rumor mill.

On Wednesday, various reports connected them to role players who might be able to shore up their title odds a bit.

"The Lakers inquired about Dennis Schroder as they look to fortify the PG position leading up to the trade deadline," ESPN's Dave McMenamin wrote. "The conversation did not go very far, as OKC -- currently the No. 7 seed in the West -- were not looking to move him without a hefty return."

The interest in Schroder makes sense. L.A.'s playmaking takes something of a dive when LeBron is off the floor. But if OKC isn't looking to deal him, the Lakers may have to look elsewhere.

The Detroit Pistons look ready to head into a rebuild, and Derrick Rose is on a very tradable contract. He could be the kind of spark that bench needs.

Elsewhere, rumors persisted on the Lakers' interest in Marcus Morris Sr.

"Lakers/Clippers in trade conversations about Knicks' Marcus Morris," the Los Angeles Times' Brad Turner tweeted. "NY interested in Kyle Kuzma; would need Danny Green's contract to make work. NY would want to move Green to another team. Clippers willing to part with Mo Harkless, but like Landry Shamet, who NY wants."

Interest in Morris makes sense. He's a clear short-term upgrade over Kyle Kuzma. But that price is wild. Danny Green remains one of the game's premier three-and-D players, and the Lakers are better with him on the floor.

Piecing smaller contracts together with Kuzma's is more logical. The math works if you send out Kuzma, Avery Bradley and DeMarcus Cousins.

         

Are the Spurs Finally Ready to Rebuild?

The San Antonio Spurs were an underlying force in every title conversation for nearly two decades. But the current iteration, led by LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan, is, at best, mediocre.

For a team that became so accustomed to championship contention, these must feel like strange times. At this point, a full rebuild may be in the cards.

Wojnarowski said that the team has explored the trade market for Aldridge and DeRozan on Wednesday's Woj and Lowe (h/t Project Spurs' Paul Garcia).

The catch is that the asking price is currently high. It will be interesting to see if the organization relents on that between now and Thursday's deadline.

This team is currently outside the playoff picture. Even if it scratches and claws its way to eighth, it'll almost certainly get steamrolled by the Lakers.

A couple of losing seasons would be painful for a team that hasn't experienced that since before scores of NBA fans were born. But moving forward with Dejounte Murray, Derrick White, Lonnie Walker IV and assets (presumably coming back in return for the stars) would yield a better shot at long-term success.

    

Is Kelly Oubre Jr. Available?

After a plucky start that had some fans thinking playoffs, the Phoenix Suns have slid to 10 games below .500. They're down to a 2 percent chance on FiveThirtyEight's playoff projection model.

So, it may not be all that surprising that Phoenix is reportedly listening to offers for players not named Devin Booker or Deandre Ayton.

"The Suns are fielding trade calls on Kelly Oubre with 22 hours and change to go before the NBA trade deadline," the New York Times' Marc Stein tweeted.

Oubre is averaging 18.5 points per game with a slightly below-average three-point percentage (.346). The Suns are better with him on the floor. He has some positional versatility. And he's just 24 years old.

Why move him then?

If some team is willing to part with a pick, maybe it makes sense to unload Oubre. Perhaps there's still some fire behind the Luke Kennard-to-the-Suns smoke. Moving Oubre would create more minutes for an incoming Kennard.

But the chances that a 2020 pick would become a near 20-point-per-game scorer who can defend multiple positions aren't high. And there's no reason the Suns can't roll out some mostly positionless lineups with Devin Booker, Kennard, Mikal Bridges and Oubre.

In the end, this might simply be the team doing due diligence. That's advisable. Actually dealing Oubre would be surprising.

           

Are Major Changes Coming in the Motor City?

The Detroit Pistons have the NBA's sixth-highest payroll and seventh-lowest winning percentage. That's a brutal combination, and one that could spur this squad toward a hyperactive deadline.

"Detroit, per sources, is open for business and willing to discuss anyone on the roster," Sam Amick and John Hollinger reported for The Athletic.

Willing to discuss is different than willing to deal, of course, so it's hard to tell what the Pistons are doing. Clearly, they'd like to move Andre Drummond, who holds a $28.8 million player option for next season, but that pesky option has "cooled" his trade market, per ESPN's Zach Lowe.

Derrick Rose seems an obvious trade candidate. Rebuilders don't have much use for a 31-year-old scoring guard, but any contender needing to perk up its perimeter collection would surely have interest. But the Pistons are aiming for a "lottery-level first-round pick," per The Athletic and Stadium's Shams Charania, which might be why one source "downplayed the notion" of a Rose deal to Amick and Hollinger.

Luke Kennard seems like a keeper, since Detroit needs youth for its reset, and he's a third-year player who was breaking out before knee injuries forced him off the floor. But the Pistons have held trade talks involving Kennard, per Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press, so who knows what to make of this roster.

If the Pistons commit to a rebuild, you'd think Rose, Drummond, Markieff Morris (who has at least five contenders after him, per The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor) and Langston Galloway would all be available to the highest bidder. But Detroit could surprise us with which (if any) players go and which stay put.

                       

Do Knicks Have Any Shot at D'Angelo?

Even after reworking their front office, the New York Knicks remain in pursuit of D'Angelo Russell, per Shams Charania of Stadium and The Athletic. As one would assume, though, the 'Bockers haven't reached the Golden State Warriors' "price point."

Anything the Warriors would want would probably draw a laugh (or disgust) out of the Knicks. Mitchell Robinson is likely at the center of the Dubs' desires, and the Knicks shouldn't even entertain moving the explosive, young center.

Similarly, anything the Knicks are offering might warrant a hang-up on the Warriors' end. SNY's Ian Begley reported Monday that Bobby Portis and Frank Ntilikina had been mentioned in these trade talks. Kevin Knox has reportedly come up, too, per Charania. That's a pu pu platter of no thank you from our vantage point.

On paper, Russell might be an imperfect fit with Stephen Curry. But Russell is also a 23-year-old who has made an All-Star appearance and averages 23.8 points and 3.8 triples per game. He has significant trade value, and this package isn't getting it done. Knox, who presumably headlines the package, owns a career player efficiency rating of 9.0—15.0 is the league average.

A Russell return to the Empire State (where he previously ascended with the Brooklyn Nets) is a fun narrative, but it's virtually impossible to imagine the pieces lining up.

          

Can Rockets Find a Center?

The Houston Rockets and the four-team blockbuster could both be getting bigger.

According to The Athletic's Kelly Iko, Houston is "closing in on a deal for a center." As ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski previously noted, this swap is structured in a way that allows the Rockets to expand this deal and take on as much as $12 million in salary ahead of Thursday's deadline. Iko notes that in addition to searching for a center, Houston is also willing to take on salary to bring back assets.

None of this deviates from the plan to push small ball over everything. As ESPN's Tim MacMahon reported, the Rockets "aren't searching for a starting center" and are "rolling with P.J. Tucker at the 5." They just also recognize the need for a big body to throw at the likes of Nikola Jokic, Anthony Davis and any other big bruiser in their postseason path.

Houston has a good chance of finding some kind of frontcourt reinforcement (Dewayne Dedmon would be great if they could stretch the budget; Alex Len is another option), but how much can this player help? If the purpose is to have someone pester the Jokic and Davis types, those guys are logging north of 30 minutes per night. How much time would a bargain big man really soak up?

Clearly, the Rockets are in win-now mode, so any improvement is a worthwhile improvement. But whatever center arrives is probably a bit player, and Houston's success hinges on creating enough small-ball magic on offense to withstand the bullying its "bigs" will take at the other end.

                        

Will Pistons Move Luke Kennard?

Word leaked late Monday night that the Detroit Pistons and Phoenix Suns were discussing a swap involving Luke Kennard and the Suns' first-round pick, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

Those talks are apparently ongoing, according to Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press. Ellis hears "there is interest on both sides" though they are "not there yet on the pieces that will make it work." It also sounds like the Suns aren't Kennard's only suitor.

At first glance, he seems a curious sell for a Pistons squad on the verge of a rebuild. The 23-year-old had been engineering a breakout season, setting a slew of personal bests including 15.8 points, 4.1 assists and 2.6 triples.

But he hasn't played since late December because of tendinitis in both knees. He's extension-eligible this summer, and if he doesn't get a new deal, he'll be a restricted free agent the next. If the Pistons think he'll get too pricey to keep, they have reasons to consider moving him.

Why do it now, though? Collecting picks is never a bad idea, but in a down draft year, can Detroit hope a protected pick brings back a player this talented? And surely his knees aren't helping his trade value. He needs a new contract by July 2021, so the clock isn't exactly ticking loudly.

It would make sense to field offers in hopes that one blows you away. Unless that deal is on the table, the Pistons should keep Kennard away from trade talks and focus on shipping out their older, more expensive players.

                           

Can Cavs Find a First for Tristan Thompson?

We know the Cleveland Cavaliers are willing to move Tristan Thompson, per Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes.

We also know what it will take to pry him out of Northeast Ohio: a first-round pick, according to Cleveland.com's Chris Fedor. That's the Cavaliers' asking price, at least.

Will anyone pay it?

It doesn't seem an outlandish request in this market, since the draft class isn't great and Thompson's game should allow for a smooth transition. He'll set hard screens, battle on the boards and handle defensive switches. His low-maintenance brand of basketball isn't hard to incorporate schematically.

And yet, a couple of things are complicated.

Only a select number of win-now teams are in the market for frontcourt upgrades—the Los Angeles Clippers, Boston Celtics and Miami Heat come to mind—and not all of them have the flexibility to match Thompson's expiring $18.5 million salary. It also didn't help the Cavs' leverage when word leaked that his camp has made a trade a "priority," as The Athletic's Joe Vardon reported.

Cleveland can ask what it wants, and a ticking clock might pressure someone to meet the request. But it's an ambitious target for a rental with offensive limitations, and it feels more likely than not the Cavs won't get it.

                     

Could Evan Turner Help a Contender?

One of many moving pieces in the four-team blockbuster (detailed below), Evan Turner might not be at his final stop.

The 31-year-old helped match the money with his expiring $18.6 million salary. The Minnesota Timberwolves have little use for Turner beyond that, and Heavy's Sean Deveney reports they are "expected to give Turner a contract buyout in the coming days if his contract is not used as part of another deal."

Unless Minnesota has a second megadeal in the works, it seems Turner could hit the buyout market. If he does, Deveney reports the Boston Celtics would be interested in a reunion, and the Miami Heat would be "expected to have interest" if they don't make a deadline deal for a playmaker.

This interest might be the break-glass-in-case-of-emergency option. The Celtics could stand to upgrade over Brad Wanamaker, but is Turner the right way to do it? At 6'6", he has more size and defensive versatility than the 6'3" incumbent, but neither is a shooter or scoring threat.

The Heat could need another distributor if Justise Winslow can't recover from his nagging back injury, but again, there has to be a more exciting option than Turner. Even during his best days, his teams fared worse with him than without, and these are not at all his best days. Last season, he ranked 421st in ESPN's real plus-minus, and he had the 12th-worst true shooting percentage among the 183 players who logged 1,500-plus minutes.

                   

Are Knicks Clear-Cut Sellers?

After reshuffling their front office—Steve Mills out, Scott Perry in charge (for now)—the New York Knicks have seemingly identified their deadline direction.

"Opposing teams are under the impression that moves will be made primarily with a 'seller's mentality' and that the Knicks will be active," SNY's Ian Begley reported.

New York has a handful of veterans—led by Marcus Morris Sr. (more on him below)—who could assist contenders, so it should be ready and willing to move players. The team has already fielded calls about multiple players, including Reggie Bullock and Allonzo Trier, per Begley.

Bullock had surgery for a herniated disk in July, and he's still getting his legs under him after making his first Knicks appearance in January. But teams short on shooting will give him a look. Over the previous two seasons, he averaged 2.2 triples per night and splashed them at a 40.5 percent clip.

Trier wouldn't seem such an obvious trade candidate, since he's only 24 and in his second NBA season. But he's been without a rotation role more often than not this season, and he's ticketed for restricted free agency this summer. If the Knicks don't value him, someone else could. The 6'4" scoring guard averaged 10.9 points per game on 44.8/39.4/80.3 shooting last season.

Begley notes Trier's name surfaced in trade talks with the Los Angeles Lakers, with whom the Knicks also discussed Kyle Kuzma and Alex Caruso. But those talks took place before the front-office changes, so it's hard to tell if there's still any interest on the Knicks' side. Still, whether in this deal or others, it seems this will be a busy day-plus for the 'Bockers.

         

Is Jrue Holiday Staying Put?

Few difference-makers seem available at the deadline, but Jrue Holiday is on that short list. The 29-year-old does a little bit of everything to form a two-way package that falls just shy of stardom.

Contenders would do well to grab him, but as a reasonably priced, high-level contributor, he won't come cheap. That could keep him in the Crescent City past Thursday, as ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reports the Pelicans are "content" to keep him around and haven't received the "overwhelming offer" required to pry him loose.

New Orleans doesn't need to do anything. It had a hunch Zion Williamson might be special and loaded up its post-Anthony Davis roster for a reason. Williamson has been awesome so far, and even if that's not enough to make a push into this year's playoffs, Holiday is under contract for next season and holds a $27.1 million player option for 2021-22.

The Pelicans have leverage, and they're right to use it. But market conditions don't appear conducive to a major move.

The Denver Nuggets just brokered a major deal (more on that below), and while they added a first-round pick (in a not-great draft), they lost a few youngsters who could have interested the Pels. The Miami Heat, Holiday's other biggest suitor according to The Athletic and Stadium's Shams Charania, have no draft capital to deal and no intention of moving Bam Adebayo or Tyler Herro, per Heavy's Sean Deveney.

New Orleans is waiting to see if anyone breaks the bank for Holiday. That seems unlikely, making a change of address for the combo guard unlikely too.

                  

Four-Team Blockbuster

There are so many potential pitfalls along the path to a completed NBA trade between two teams. Four-teamers are exponentially more difficult to push through.

Yet on Tuesday, the Houston Rockets, Atlanta Hawks, Minnesota Timberwolves and Denver Nuggets pulled off such a move. ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported the initial framework of the deal: "4-team trade agreement: Houston: Robert Covington; Atlanta: Clint Capela and Nene; Minnesota: Malik Beasley, Juancho Hernangomez, Evan Turner, ATL 1st round pick via Nets; Denver: Gerald Green, Houston FRP."

Variations of this deal had been floating through the rumor mill all day. The basic framework was always the same. So, we've already had a little time to work through the idea of this trade.

The Rockets get to lean even harder into their small-ball lineups with Covington. And they aren't going to be completely devoid of size. Isaiah Hartenstein can log some more minutes at the 5 now. And they're receiving Jordan Bell as well, according to The Athletic's Shams Charania.

They may need to add another big body in case they face the Nuggets or Los Angeles Lakers in the postseason, but lineups with James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Eric Gordon, Robert Covington and P.J. Tucker are going to be a nightmare to defend.

For Atlanta, a rim-rolling big has seemingly been on its mind for a while. The Hawks were linked to Andre Drummond in early January. Capela can provide similar value on a cheaper (and longer) contract. Per Wojnarowski, to complete this trade, the Hawks are waiving Chandler Parsons, who has an expiring $25.1 million salary and has only suited up five times all season.

Then there's Denver, whose addition to this deal happened late Tuesday. Beasley and Hernangomez had been in and out of the rotation all season, so getting a first-round pick (as Charania reported) as well as an assortment of youngish players (Shabazz Napier, Keita Bates-Diop and Noah Vonleh) makes sense. Wojnarowski also reported that the Nuggets might not be done.

And finally, there's the Timberwolves. Beasley and Hernangomez can help. Jarred Vanderbilt (surprise, surprise: he's headed there, too) is intriguing as a high-motor big who fights on the boards and has some positional versatility on defense. Evan Turner may prove to simply be salary-matching fodder in another deal.

That's sort of the key with Minnesota's return for now. All week, talks have centered on D'Angelo Russell for the Wolves. Can they now turn around and offer enough of a haul for the Golden State Warriors to bite? This feels like only Step 1 for Minny.

                  

Warrior Wiggins?

Rumors have been flying on the D'Angelo Russell front all week. The Minnesota Timberwolves appear intent on landing the All-Star guard, and we're now starting to get an idea of who they might send the Golden State Warriors in return.

"If D'Angelo Russell ends up in Minnesota, Andrew Wiggins will go to the Warriors," The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor wrote Tuesday evening. "Every iteration of a deal discussed between Golden State and Minnesota involves Wiggins."

An in-a-vacuum comparison of the two clearly favors Russell:

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