How Trade-Deadline Deals That Didn't Happen Set Stage for 2020 NBA Free AgencyFebruary 10, 2020
The 2020 NBA trade deadline saw a bevy of moves with big names changing teams, but the conversations that fell through will set the stage for more transactions heading into the draft and free agency this summer.
For example, Oklahoma City and Miami had several discussions leading up to the deadline centered on Danilo Gallinari, who will be one of the top forwards on the free-agent market this summer.
During trade talks, Miami's Kendrick Nunn, Kelly Olynyk, James Johnson (traded to Minnesota) and draft pick compensation were among the various assets discussed between the teams, according to league sources. However, after trade talks advanced to the point at which Miami was allowed to negotiate with Gallinari's camp, the Heat couldn't come to a short-term extension agreement while going back and forth.
After waiting anxiously to see if a deal and extension with Miami would get finalized, Gallinari and the Thunder will look to make a playoff push together while keeping the door open for a possible long-term deal this summer.
Despite failing to acquire Gallinari at the deadline, Miami remains a potential destination for the Italian sharpshooter in free agency because the Heat created additional cap space by moving Johnson, Justise Winslow and Dion Waiters.
Looking ahead, it's no secret Heat president Pat Riley is saving cap space for the summer of 2021 to make a run at Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Another team that could be a potential suitor for Gallinari is the New York Knicks with CAA's Leon Rose expected to take over as team president. After trading Marcus Morris Sr. for Maurice Harkless and draft pick compensation, the Knicks have plenty of cap space to use this summer. Rose and Gallinari's agent, Michael Tellem of CAA Sports, have worked closely together during their time at the agency.
Rose could also impact the future of other CAA clients on the Knicks, including Elfrid Payton's $8 million non-guaranteed salary for next season and Julius Randle, who is owed $18.9 million next season with a $19.8 million non-guaranteed salary for the 2021-22 campaign. Payton is guaranteed only $1 million in 2020-21, and Randle is guaranteed just $4 million in 2021-22.
Before trading Morris to the Los Angeles Clippers, the Knicks inquired about point guard Aaron Holiday of the Indiana Pacers. A package of Holiday, Doug McDermott and TJ Leaf was briefly kicked around but ultimately didn't go far, per league sources.
New York's failure to trade for such a point guard increases Payton's chances of having his salary guaranteed in 2020-21 as of now.
Holiday also drew trade interest from the Timberwolves before Minnesota acquired D'Angelo Russell, and McDermott was discussed in a separate trade for Milwaukee's Ersan Ilyasova, league sources told Bleacher Report. It's unclear which side initiated the McDermott and Ilyasova talks.
With McDermott owed $7.3 million next season, the final year of his contract, he's a prime candidate to be aggregated into a larger trade given his manageable salary.
The active phone conversations for Indiana could be a sign of what's to come this summer. Rival executives believe the Pacers will eventually break up their big man trio of All-Star Domantas Sabonis, Myles Turner and rookie Goga Bitadze.
Turner is the name most rival executives believe will be traded, and the Cavaliers were among the teams who called to do due diligence on his availability before they landed Andre Drummond from Detroit, according to league sources.
The team's face of the franchise, Victor Oladipo, will also be in the final year of his contract next season, and both sides must begin to decide if they remain a long-term fit together.
Another playoff team that was active during the trade deadline was the Nuggets. Denver discussed trading starting guard Gary Harris, along with Malik Beasley and Juancho Hernangomez (both dealt to Minnesota), in separate talks for Bulls guard Zach LaVine and Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday, league sources told Bleacher Report. The talks didn't go far, but based on the deadline, Harris could be the next Nugget dealt this summer.
The 25-year-old is owed $39.6 million over the next two seasons, and his scoring average (17.5 to 10.2), field-goal percentage (48.5 to 39.8) and three-point percentage (39.6 to 29.4) have all plummeted from two seasons ago. If he's moved this offseason, the Nuggets could experiment with different lineup combinations to get more minutes for Michael Porter Jr. A trade would also provide more cap flexibility to account for the possibility of Jerami Grant declining his $9.3 million player option for a higher salary and long-term deal this summer.
Lastly, another core player could be on the move for a team in the East.
The Brooklyn Nets inquired about the availability of Hawks forward John Collins, and Spencer Dinwiddie was mentioned in talks, per The Athletic's Chris Kirschner.
The discussion between the two teams was not advanced, according to league sources. However, this isn't the first time Dinwiddie's name has come up in trade talks.
With Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving both back in the fold for Brooklyn next season, the expectations to compete for a title will be heightened. Nets general manager Sean Marks will encounter a crossroads at which he must decide whether a player like Dinwiddie should be used in a trade package to land a third star at another position.
What makes Dinwiddie valued around the league is his ability to put up All-Star-caliber numbers as a starter (21.0 points and 6.5 assists per game) for a modest cost of $10.6 million. Next year, he is owed $11.4 million, and he has a $12.3 million player option for the 2021-22 season.
Dinwiddie, along with some combination of Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen, Nicolas Claxton, Rodions Kurucs and future draft picks, could entice a team to move a productive starter or fringe All-Star and position the Nets for a championship run next season.
In a few months, that same anxious feeling these players and others around the league felt on deadline day will resurface as the transaction mill continues to churn during the draft and free agency.