BS Meter on Latest 2020 NBA Draft and Trade Rumors
Following nine months with virtually no player movement, we could now see a week full of NBA trades and draft picks.
Christmas has indeed come early for basketball fans.
With more trade and draft rumors flooding the timeline, it's once again important to distinguish fact from fiction.
Ahead of Wednesday's NBA draft, let's take a look at the B.S. Meter.
Knicks Want Russell Westbrook Without Giving Up Assets
With Russell Westbrook reportedly asking out of Houston, the Knicks have emerged as a potential trade destination as long as the price is right.
According to Marc Berman of the New York Post, the Knicks, "feel they have a lot of leverage and aren't trying to give up any key future pawns, according to sources."
Westbrook represents the star player the Knicks have long coveted, albeit one past his prime and on an awful contract.
New York would have to pay Westbrook salaries of $41.0 million, $43.8 million and—if he exercises his player option—$46.7 million over the next three years. For a team that likely plans to make a splash in the 2021 free-agent class, his deal represents a massive hit in cap space.
The Knicks only have $28.4 million on the books for 2021-22 (if Julius Randle is bought out for $4 million), although Frank Ntilikina and Dennis Smith Jr. will be restricted free agents. Adding Westbrook's salary on and their existing number becomes $72.2 million, leaving them $39.8 million below the projected salary cap of $112 million.
This is where the outgoing trade package for Westbrook matters.
If the Knicks simply send out expiring deals they'll still have max cap space in 2021, but making sure to include Randle in the deal clears up even more money.
If New York can include Randle and his $19.8 million 2021-22 salary (or $4 million buyout) in the deal, however, this brings the cap space total up to $43.8 million, even with Westbrook, RJ Barrett and Mitchell Robinson.
That's enough for an elite free agent plus another starter, at least. If the Knicks have dreams of adding a third star via trade, it would make sense that they aren't willing to "give up any key future pawns" in a deal for Westbrook.
Getting Randle back as a headliner for Westbrook doesn't make much sense for the Rockets, however, so a third team may need to be brought in.
Trading for Westbrook doesn't do much for the Knicks in the short term, but if they can flip Randle in the deal, they'll be far better positioned to land a star in 2021 free agency.
B.S. Meter: No B.S. The Knicks should only do a Westbrook deal if they can send out Randle and keep draft picks and young talent.
Celtics Trying to Trade Up to No. 5 in Draft for Okongwu, Wiseman
The Boston Celtics have a roster that featured five first-year players (seven counting two-way players) this past season. They have four 2020 draft picks, and they seemingly won't have roster space for four rookies.
With pick Nos. 14, 26, 30 and 47 in the 2020 draft, it's no surprise that they are reportedly looking to package them to move up.
Cleveland.com's Terry Pluto wrote that the Celtics offered the No. 14 overall pick and another first-rounder to the Cavaliers for the No. 5 overall pick.
In terms of who the Celtics may be targeting, HoopsHype's Michael Scotto lists a pair of prospects:
"I've heard Boston is looking to upgrade in the frontcourt. I've heard they're trying to get into the top 10 to get Onyeka Okongwu or even James Wiseman."
On a team loaded with talent at guard and on the wing, it makes sense that Boston would want to trade its quantity of draft picks for a quality big man.
Wiseman will likely be gone by the fifth pick. Okongwu could very well be there, although the Golden State Warriors (No. 2 overall pick) and Charlotte Hornets (No. 3 overall) both need a center.
But it seems unlikely Cleveland would accept the rumored offer. Trading back to 14 would be too far of a slide for a team that needs foundational pieces.
While the Celtics are doing the right thing, finding a trade partner picking that high may be difficult.
B.S. Meter: Not even a little B.S. from either report. Boston doesn't need four rookies and should be looking to swap its picks for a better pick or star player. Okongwu would be a perfect fit.
Lakers Interested in DeMar DeRozan Trade
Looking to add to a roster that already won an NBA championship, the Los Angeles Lakers could be eyeing a four-time All-Star coming off the most efficient season of his career.
The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor wrote in his mock draft that the Lakers have interest in acquiring DeMar DeRozan from the Spurs in exchange for Kyle Kuzma and Danny Green. While Green looks like he's headed to Oklahoma City in a trade for Dennis Schroder, the Lakers can still keep a trade for DeRozan alive.
If both JaVale McGee and Avery Bradley opt into their respective player options, the Lakers can get close enough to match salaries for DeRozan by also including Kuzma, Quinn Cook and Alex Caruso.
Would gutting the roster for DeRozan be worth it? Probably, especially for a core of LeBron James, Anthony Davis, DeRozan and Schroder. There should be plenty of veterans looking to jump on board for the mid-level or veteran's minimum to chase a ring.
For the Spurs, there's probably a better package for DeRozan out there besides one headlined by Kuzma.
While Caruso has proved to be a quality role player and there would be a lot of expiring salary included, DeRozan is coming off a season in which he averaged 22.1 points, 5.5 rebounds and 5.6 assists and shot 53.1 percent.
With Green off the board, a trade between the Lakers and Spurs is far more unlikely, but L.A. should still pursue the 11-year veteran.
B.S. Meter: No B.S. that the Lakers want DeRozan; B.S. they can get him for a package based around Kuzma.
James Harden to Nets 'Real Possibility'
Could James Harden really be reuniting with Kevin Durant just a year after Russell Westbrook joined him in Houston?
As originally reported by SI's Farbod Esnaashari, Harden to the Nets "seems like [a] real possibility." ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski noted that Harden and Durant had discussed playing together again, but no trade talks had taken place between the two front offices.
With Russell Westbrook having asked out of Houston, per Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium, it's unlikely the Rockets can get equal talent back from teams willing to absorb his contract. Houston is tapped out asset-wise, and running Harden back with whatever it can get in return for Westbrook almost certainly won't be good enough to win a title.
Durant, Harden and Kyrie Irving may be the most offensively talented trio to ever play together, combining for seven scoring titles, 18 All-NBA teams and 24 All-Star Games.
The Nets have some good trade assets in the form of Caris LeVert, Spencer Dinwiddie, Jarrett Allen and all their first-round picks (aside from this year's, but they have Philly's in its place), but even that may not be enough for a player of Harden's caliber.
The fact that Harden is considering a move from Houston should give Nets fans hope, but both front offices need to agree given the 31-year-old is under contract for two more seasons plus a player option.
B.S. Meter: There's too much smoke here to be B.S. Still a long way to go to get a deal done, but it looks like Harden's time in Houston may be coming to an end.