Buying or Selling Latest NBA Offseason Rumors
The NBA offseason could be far shorter than previously speculated, meaning there could be a ton of draft, trade and free-agent activity packed into the next few months.
It's also rumor season, meaning it's important to separate fact from fiction when listening to the latest buzz from around the league.
For the following five rumors swirling around regarding trades, free agency and the 2020-21 season, it's time to buy or sell.
Does Detroit Have a Trade Market for Blake Griffin?
An injured Griffin is one of the worst contracts in the NBA, a 31-year-old owed $75.6 million over the next two seasons.
But what if he's healthy?
Now nine-and-a-half months removed from January knee surgery, Griffin is reportedly at full strength again and has had plenty of time to rest and recover. With the Detroit Pistons on a rebuilding path yet again, the team should almost certainly be looking for someone to take on Griffin, something ESPN's Zach Lowe reports they should be able to do (h/t The Athletic's James L. Edwards III and John Hollinger):
"Enough people have asked me what I’ve heard about Blake Griffin and how he’s looking, that I think Detroit is gonna have a market for him. I don’t think it’s gonna be strong, but I think there is still interest in what he can do to help you win."
Griffin averaged 24.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, 5.4 assists and shot 36.2 percent from three on 7.0 attempts per game during the 2018-19 season, making both the All-Star team and third-team All-NBA.
While a healthy Griffin is certainly worth having, he's not getting any younger, and injuries have played a large part in five of his last six seasons. Outside of 2018-19, the last time Griffin played 75 games or more was during the 2013-14 season. While he may be healthy now, it's fair to wonder how long his durability will last.
His contract is awful, and there's no way Griffin is passing on that $39 million player option in 2021-22. Teams wanting to preserve cap space in 2021 will steer clear of Griffin, and finding a trade partner that will swap bad deal for bad deal may be Detroit's only chance.
Not exactly a market.
Pacers Interested in Trading for Gordon Hayward?
Hayward has a $34.2 million player option for the 2020-21 season, one that he'll almost certainly pick up even after a strong season with the Boston Celtics.
This makes him a trade candidate for teams looking to bring in a do-it-all veteran wing who averaged 17.5 points, 6.7 rebounds and 4.1 assists on 50.0 percent shooting.
The Indiana Pacers could be a destination, as SNY's Ian Begley reports that, "some within the Pacers organization continue to have interest in trading for Celtics' Gordon Hayward."
Begley notes that it's unclear what the Celtics would want in return for Hayward or if they would even consider trading him at all.
Boston reached the Eastern Conference Finals this past season and shouldn't be looking to salary-dump Hayward.
The Pacers should be interested in Hayward.
The 30-year-old forward was born in Indianapolis and played his college ball 15 minutes north of Bankers Life Fieldhouse at Butler University. In addition to his on-court skills, Hayward should sell plenty of jerseys in a return to his hometown.
Building a deal around Hayward and current Pacers center Myles Turner would make sense for both sides, as Turner would represent an upgrade over Daniel Theis in the middle for Boston. Indiana could play smaller and faster, opening the 2020-21 season with a starting lineup of Malcolm Brogdon, Victor Oladipo, Hayward, T.J. Warren and Domantas Sabonis.
We're not only buying the Pacers' interest in Hayward, but also actively pushing for a Hayward-Turner deal to get done.
NBA Starting Dec. 22, Planning 72-Game Season?
After a report that stated the NBA was targeting Martin Luther King Jr. Day for a start to next season, sources told The Athletic's Shams Charania that the league office told the Board of Governors Dec. 22 is now the ideal date to begin the season.
This moves the start of the 2020-21 season up nearly a month and provides just over 10 weeks of time for the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat to recover from the NBA Finals.
Of course, other teams have enjoyed a much longer break, with the eight teams not invited to the bubble having been out of action since the second week of March.
Starting Dec. 22 means the NBA would get its Christmas Day games in, often the most watched day of the regular season.
Playing 72 games would only mean five fewer home games of revenue lost for each franchise, and an earlier start to the year makes the 2021-22 season more likely to return to normal. For the schedule to be approved, the National Basketball Players Association would have to agree.
There might be some pushback here from the Lakers and Heat, but this is a win for every other NBA franchise.
Getting in a Christmas Day slate of games is huge, as the Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers drew 8.76 million viewers across ESPN and ABC last year, with the Lakers and Golden State Warriors getting 10.21 million viewers in 2018.
After Finals ratings dropped 48 percent from last season, getting viewership interest back on Christmas is crucial.
Returning to a somewhat normal schedule is important, including wrapping up the season before the 2021 Summer Olympics start on July 23.
While the offseason may be the shortest we've seen for the teams that were in the playoffs, the other 14 teams (and especially the eight not invited to the bubble) should be itching to start as soon as possible.
Andre Drummond 'Undecided' on $28.8 Million Player Option?
Drummond would be one of the bigger names on the free-agent market should he choose to turn down his player option. He's the NBA's best rebounder and a two-time All-Star who just turned 27 this summer.
With free agency quickly approaching and the Cleveland Cavaliers having been off for the past seven-plus months, Drummond insists he still doesn't know what he'll do with his $28.8 million option.
"I still haven't thought much about what's going to go on with free agency," Drummond told Cleveland.com's Chris Fedor last week. "I'm in close communication with my agent, so we will start to have those conversations relatively soon."
Chris Sheridan of BasketballNews.com also reported that a well-informed league source told him that Drummond is "genuinely undecided" about what to do with his option.
Drummond averaged 17.7 points, 15.2 rebounds, 1.9 steals and 1.6 blocks between the Detroit Pistons and Cleveland Cavaliers this season.
Paying a non-shooting big man nearly $29 million in this economy? Drummond should have made plans to opt in to his 2020-21 money as soon as he could.
The Cavs haven't played since March 10, so Drummond claiming he hasn't thought about free agency much yet seems like an incredible lie, especially since his next big contract could be his last.
There's a possibility Drummond and the Cavs are still trying to work out an extension, but if no agreement is reached, then the clear choice is to take the $28.8 million and enter free agency next offseason.
This should be one of the easiest option decisions by any potential free agent.
Denver Nuggets 'Hot After' Jrue Holiday?
The New Orleans Pelicans are on the borderline of trying to win now and continuing to build up their young talent base headlined by Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball.
A 30-42 record this season would indicate that the young core isn't ready to become a serious threat in the West just yet, putting the future of veterans like JJ Redick and Holiday in question.
As Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports reports, there should be plenty of teams ready to make an offer for Holiday, especially one proven Western Conference title contender.
"According to sources, around 10 teams are inquiring about his services and one team hot after him is the Denver Nuggets, eager to capitalize on their appearance in the West Finals."
The 30-year-old shooting guard averaged 19.1 points, 4.8 rebounds, 6.7 assists and 1.6 steals and hit 35.3 percent of his three-pointers this past season. He plays some of the best on-ball defense in the league and was named Teammate of the Year.
All 30 teams could use a veteran like Holiday in their starting lineups, but Denver especially makes a lot of sense.
While Gary Harris is a nice defender next to Jamal Murray, he averaged just 7.4 points on 37.8 percent shooting in 14 playoffs games. Had the Nuggets had Holiday instead of Harris, they would have seriously pushed the Los Angeles Lakers for a spot in the NBA Finals.
Denver has Michael Porter Jr. as a prime trade asset, but giving up the 22-year-old would be too risky given Holiday can become a free agent in 2021. Harris would likely be included in any deal for Holiday for salary-matching purposes, and the Nuggets could offer Monte Morris, Bol Bol or future first-round picks.
Getting Holiday would move the Nuggets from a second-tier contender to one of the truly elite teams in the NBA.