B/R NBA Insider Predictions for 2020 Trade Deadline
The NBA trade deadline may not be until Thursday at 3 p.m. ET, but the Houston Rockets, Atlanta Hawks, Minnesota Timberwolves and Denver Nuggets wasted no time kicking things off early.
On Tuesday, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported that all four teams agreed upon a deal involving 12 players, with the swap largely centered around Rockets-turned-Hawks center Clint Capela.
With the trade fates of Capela, Robert Covington and others decided, attention now shifts to the futures of Kevin Love, D'Angelo Russell, Andre Iguodala and more.
Bleacher Report asked NBA insiders to predict where these guys will go and which ones might stick based on what they're seeing and hearing across the league.
Big Goals, Small Moves for Thunder
The Oklahoma City Thunder entered the 2019-20 season with an open mind as a team in transition, willing to listen to trade offers for almost anyone but Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. After a slow start, they gradually rose in the Western Conference standings and currently sit in the seventh seed at 30-20.
With that in mind, they're unlikely to make a blockbuster trade involving Chris Paul, Danilo Gallinari or Steven Adams.
Instead, look for the Thunder to make a much smaller move to get below the NBA's $132.6 million luxury-tax threshold. The team is about $800,000 over the line with 14 players.
It may not be a sexy move, but look for one of Deonte Burton or Isaiah Roby (recently acquired in a trade with the Dallas Mavericks) to be sent to one of several teams with an available trade exception. For instance, the Minnesota Timberwolves have a $1.6 million trade exception for Treveon Graham and an open roster spot.
The Thunder would need to sign an additional player to get back to the minimum of 14, but they'd be able to sign one to a prorated minimum contract to help them for their playoff push.
Grizzlies Hold Firm on Andre Iguodala Ask
I wouldn't be shocked if Andre Iguodala remains a member of the Memphis Grizzlies once the alarm rings at 3 p.m. ET on Thursday. Zach Kleiman has done a savvy job in his opening season as executive vice president of basketball operations, having replaced longtime general manager Chris Wallace.
If you missed the announcement last April, Memphis was very keen on informing the public their new basketball chief was merely 30 years old. The proclaimed whiz kid has indeed performed. Memphis owes its top-six-protected pick in the 2019 draft to Boston, but now, in addition to all its other future firsts, it has Utah's protected 2020 first and seven other incoming draft picks—each acquired this offseason.
But all the shrewd tinkering becomes a lot easier when you luck into the No. 2 pick on lottery night and land a generational point guard in Ja Morant. Now, Kleiman's front office faces the trade market under different, grander circumstances.
On the postseason doorstep, the Grizzlies can be buyers or sellers—or even both.
Kleiman's Mike Conley return did wonders for Memphis' asset chest. But all trades ultimately come down to ownership approval, and it was Robert Pera who was responsible for the Grizzlies not trading Tyreke Evans for multiple second-round picks at the 2018 deadline, even after Memphis shut the guard down for six games as a precaution.
This situation just feels oddly familiar. A Memphis source said the Grizzlies won't buy Iguodala out. But the possibility remains that a fresh executive like Kleiman, dealing up against the trade deadline for the first time and under an owner such as Pera, holds firm on his price for the veteran swingman and simply eats Iguodala's contract on principle.
Hassan Whiteside Deal Still Inevitable? Not so Fast
One of the most widely held assumptions around the NBA in the weeks leading up to the deadline was that the Portland Trail Blazers had a big win-now move to make involving Hassan Whiteside's $27.1 million expiring contract. With Jusuf Nurkic set to return soon from the broken leg suffered last March and Whiteside up for a new deal in July, keeping him past the deadline never made much sense.
However, as Thursday afternoon draws nearer, the chances of a Whiteside trade seem more and more remote.
The market for him hasn't materialized—a giant expiring contract doesn't hold the same appeal it normally would heading into a summer with few (if any) big names hitting free agency. If teams are trying to open up space, it's for the 2021 offseason.
And the truth is, Whiteside is more valuable to the Blazers than anything they'd realistically be able to get back. Nurkic may be poised to return shortly after the All-Star break, but coming off an injury as serious as his, he can't reasonably be expected to play more than 15 to 20 minutes per game off the bench this season.
Offseason concerns about Whiteside's effort and the value of his flashy counting stats have, at times, been warranted this season. But during the Blazers' recent hot streak, he's been legitimately impactful at both ends of the floor.
Portland's season looked to be on life support two weeks ago. Following Damian Lillard's otherworldly stretch, the Blazers look poised to make a push back into the playoff picture.
Last month, general manager Neil Olshey made a cost-cutting move, sending Kent Bazemore and Anthony Tolliver to the Sacramento Kings for Trevor Ariza, Caleb Swanigan and Wenyen Gabriel. What looked to be a trade to trim Portland's luxury-tax bill has paid dividends on the court as Ariza has slotted seamlessly into the starting lineup and proved a significant upgrade over Bazemore. The Blazers have won five of their last seven games since that move.
With this group clicking and the market for Whiteside not what Olshey thought it would be, the smart money is on the Blazers being done dealing.
D-Lo Trade Never Loads
The Golden State Warriors are primed to make a move at the trade deadline.
D'Angelo Russell is the biggest trade chip of all, but a four-team trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves, Atlanta Hawks and Houston Rockets never came to fruition, as ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski had suggested. Instead, the Nuggets became the fourth team involved in the deal after The Athletic and Stadium's Shams Charania reported Golden State had moved on from Russell talks with the 'Wolves.
Expect the Warriors to make a smaller trade involving Glenn Robinson III, Alec Burks, Kevon Looney or Jacob Evans.
Robinson, 26, has drawn trade interest from the Rockets and 76ers. Before signing with the Warriors, his decision came down to Houston and Golden State, a league source told Bleacher Report. He's due a significant pay raise as an unrestricted free agent this summer, which the Warriors won't be able to afford. Some talent evaluators around the league believe Golden State can get a second-round pick for Robinson.
Burks, 28, is having the best scoring season of his career (16.1 points) and could help a playoff contender fortify its bench similar to Jordan Clarkson with Utah.
The Warriors also have shopped Looney and Evans to save luxury-tax money, league sources told Bleacher Report. Looney is owed $4.8 million next season and has a $5.2 million player option for the 2021-22 season. Evans is owed $2 million next season and has a $3.6 million team option for the 2021-22 season.
Cavs Won't 'Take a Loss' on Kevin Love Deal
While Kevin Love is one of the most talented and accomplished players on the trade market, the five-time All-Star power forward may not be moved at all.
One league source told Bleacher Report that the Cleveland Cavaliers "would have to take a loss" to get off the three years and $91.5 million remaining on his contract, even given his current production.
Love has played in 44 of the Cavs' 51 games this season, averaging 17.8 points, 9.8 rebounds and 3.0 assists while shooting 38.1 percent from three. While he showed his frustration during a January game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Love has been playing high-level basketball since, even looking engaged defensively.
It doesn't make sense for the rebuilding Cavs to attach an asset to trade their best player away, especially since they're already poised to to open up cap space this summer with Tristan Thompson, Brandon Knight, John Henson and Matthew Dellavedova all coming off the books.
The Portland Trail Blazers and Phoenix Suns might have made sense as Love landing spots, but the Blazers have been re-energized following a trade for Trevor Ariza, while the Suns are nearly out of the playoff race at 20-30. Neither team should be particularly motivated to acquire Love at this point.
The only hope for a Love trade may be for other big deals to take place first, creating desperation for other teams to catch up.
While a trade from Cleveland to a contender would be best for both parties, expect Love to stay with the Cavaliers past the deadline.