Buying or Selling Latest NBA Trade Buzz
Harden is no longer on the market now that he's been dealt to the Brooklyn Nets, but a fallout of deals could soon take place. One other Houston Rockets veteran is already popping up in trade talks, and the crown jewel of the market now resides in Washington, D.C.
Even the four-team Harden trade itself has set up future deals for at least one team, while another recently moved star may already be unhappy in his new location.
It's time to buy or sell the latest NBA trade rumblings.
Rockets Would Only Trade Harden to Sixers for Simmons, Maxey, Thybulle and Picks
Before James Harden was dealt to the Brooklyn Nets, the Philadelphia 76ers were rumored to have made a strong push for the former MVP, as well.
Such a deal between the Sixers and Houston Rockets would certainly have sent All-Star point guard Ben Simmons to the Rockets and was reportedly so close to happening that Simmons was informed of a potential deal by his agent, according to Keith Pompey and Marc Narducci of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Bad blood between Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta and former Houston general manager Daryl Morey, now the Sixers president of basketball operations, may have prevented Harden from going to Philly.
While Brooklyn's offer mostly consisted of four first-round picks and four pick swaps, Fertitta wanted even more from the Sixers.
"Fertitta did not want to make a deal with the Sixers due to Morey leaving Houston to become the Sixers president of basketball operations, as reported," Pompey wrote. "And if he made a deal, Fertitta was only going to make it for Simmons, Matisse Thybulle, Tyrese Maxey and two draft picks, according to sources."
While Simmons was probably the best player the Rockets could have gotten back for Harden, asking for Thybulle, Maxey and draft capital was way too much, if true.
Simmons, 24, is under contract until 2025 and is already one of the best passers and defenders in the league. Maxey, 20, has been an immediate contributor as a rookie (11.4 points, 2.5 rebounds, 2.4 assists), and Thybulle, 23, would have the highest steal rate (3.8 percent) in the entire NBA if he'd played enough minutes to qualify for the leaderboard.
While the Rockets ended up getting Victor Oladipo and a haul of draft picks from the Nets, this potential package from the Sixers would have been far greater at the start of a rebuild. Philly was smart to refuse such a deal, assuming that's what Fertitta ultimately demanded.
Buy or Sell: Buy Fertitta asking for this ransom, one wisely turned down by the Sixers.
Victor Oladipo Doesn't Want to Be in Houston, Hopes to End Up in Miami
Despite being the newest member of the Houston Rockets, Victor Oladipo may already be eyeing another team.
As part of the James Harden swap, Oladipo was traded to the Rockets while Caris LeVert ended up with the Indiana Pacers, who presumably preferred the latter's three-year contract and age (26) to the former's expiring deal and two extra years of mileage.
While Oladipo is now probably the Rockets' best player (apologies to Christian Wood), he may not be in Houston for long, either.
"Houston could also still flip Oladipo, who wanted out of Indiana but landed in another place he doesn’t want to be," The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor wrote. "League sources say Oladipo still hopes to find himself in Miami."
A two-time All-Star, the 28-year-old Oladipo has looked good this season following two injury-plagued campaigns. He's averaging 20.0 points, 5.7 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 1.7 steals in 33.3 minutes per game while hitting 43.3 percent of his catch-and-shoot threes.
Miami's dreams of acquiring Giannis Antetokounmpo (and Harden, if those dreams ever existed) have now died.
Like Antetokounmpo, other 2021 free agents such as LeBron James, Paul George and Rudy Gobert have already signed extensions, leaving Oladipo as one of the biggest names left on the market. The Heat could trade for him when his restriction is up (Feb 2., if aggregated with other players) or simply wait and try to sign him in free agency after the season.
The Rockets clearly want to keep Oladipo, though, as they essentially chose him over LeVert in the deal. A backcourt comprised of him and John Wall has a lot of scoring, playmaking and athleticism, assuming no further injuries flare up.
Although Oladipo reportedly doesn't want to be there, expect the Rockets to keep him.
Buy or Sell: Buy Oladipo wanting to go to Miami, but sell the Rockets trading him there.
Timberwolves Looking to Re-Engage with Rockets About P.J. Tucker
With James Harden traded away from Houston, expect the buzzards to start circling, looking to pick off what's left of the Rockets' useful veterans.
Power forward P.J. Tucker is almost guaranteed to be moved. The 35-year-old is on a team-friendly $8 million deal that expires this offseason. With no talk of a contract extension in sight, he'll likely be the next Rocket traded off a roster that looks vastly different than the one that played in the bubble just a few months ago.
Tucker is still a strong defender who's been one of the NBA's top corner three-point shooters for years. He can start or come off the bench and doesn't need the ball to be effective.
While plenty of contenders should be exploring trades for Tucker, the 3-8 Minnesota Timberwolves are already expected to pursue him despite their poor record.
"The Wolves have maintained contact with the Rockets on Tucker and were expected to re-engage now that Harden is gone," Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic reported.
Minnesota has long needed a defensive-minded power forward to place next to Karl-Anthony Towns in the frontcourt. Landing a veteran known for his toughness would be an added bonus in a young Wolves locker room that averages just 23.9 years in age.
The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor reported that Tucker's trade value around the league is about three second-round picks but that the Rockets may "hold out" for a first-rounder before the deadline.
Minnesota already traded its 2021 first- and second-round picks to the Golden State Warriors in the D'Angelo Russell-Andrew Wiggins deal, but it owns all its picks in 2022 and 2023 (including the more favorable of the Philadelphia 76ers' and Denver Nuggets' second-rounders in 2022).
The Wolves have to be careful investing in a 35-year-old who could walk out the door at season's end, especially if their campaign continues to slip away. Tucker would be a perfect fit for what they need, though, so they should absolutely try to trade for the veteran if the price is right.
Buy or Sell: Buy. The Wolves need a defensive-minded veteran power forward like Tucker.
Andre Drummond 'Happy' the Cavaliers Traded for Jarrett Allen
As part of the four-team James Harden trade, the Cleveland Cavaliers acquired center Jarrett Allen and forward Taurean Prince, sending out Dante Exum, a 2022 first-round pick (via the Milwaukee Bucks) and a 2024 second-round pick.
The move came just seven months after they traded for two-time All-Star center Andre Drummond. Cleveland also acquired JaVale McGee from the Los Angeles Lakers in November, a move that opened up cap space for L.A. and netted the Cavs a future second-round pick.
While Allen's future in Cleveland is secure (he's a restricted free agent this offseason), Drummond's was always in doubt. After he picked up his $28.8 million player option, he and the Cavaliers were unable to come to a long-term contract extension, which means the 27-year-old will become an unrestricted free agent after 2020-21. His future with the franchise is very much in doubt.
Getting the 22-year-old Allen all but guarantees Drummond's time with the Cavaliers will be over following the season, if he's not traded before.
It also means things might get awkward in Cleveland for a while.
Drummond has been a good sport so far, reportedly sending general manager Koby Altman a text congratulating him on making the trade for Allen and Prince and later telling the media he was "happy" with the move, per Cleveland.com's Chris Fedor.
Drummond also addressed his own future with the team.
"The trade, it is what it is. There's nothing I can do about that," he said. "If I do get traded, I don't control that either. I'm just here to play basketball with whatever jersey I have on. That's all I can focus on right now."
Drummond likely sees the writing on the wall, but he responded with a monster night (33 points, 23 rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocks) against the New York Knicks, leading an injury-plagued Cavs team to a win.
While he and Tristan Thompson successfully shared the center position following his initial trade to the Cavs, Cleveland is clearly ready to commit to Allen as the long-term answer.
Regardless of whether Drummond saw himself staying with the Cavaliers for a long time, the trade for Allen likely means he'll be forced to move midseason once again, and it eliminates one of the few teams that could have signed him to a big contract this offseason.
Buy or Sell: Sell. No player is happy watching his team trade for a replacement.
Miami Heat Have 'High' Level of Interest in Bradley Beal
Since the Miami Heat reached the NBA Finals last season, a number of other top teams in the East have made moves in order to jump past them.
The Philadelphia 76ers swapped out Al Horford, adding Danny Green and Seth Curry for a better overall fit. The Milwaukee Bucks traded for two-way star point guard Jrue Holiday, and the Brooklyn Nets have assembled the Avengers of Offense with James Harden, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.
The pressure is now on the 4-7 Heat to respond.
With Giannis Antetokounmpo and Harden now off the trade market, the biggest potential prize has become Washington Wizards shooting guard Bradley Beal. The 27-year-old is under contract for two more guaranteed years (with a $37.3 million player option in 2022-23) and is leading the NBA with 34.9 points per game.
According to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, the Heat have a "high" level of interest in trading for Beal.
While Washington hasn't put its star on the market, the Wizards are just 3-8 on the season and have already lost starting center Thomas Bryant to a torn ACL. Russell Westbrook is currently sidelined with a quad injury, and six Wizards have tested positive for COVID-19.
So, yeah. Things in Washington aren't great.
The Heat were unwilling to offer a package of Tyler Herro, sharpshooter Duncan Robinson and rookie Precious Achiuwa to the Houston Rockets for Harden, but they may have to make a similar offer for Beal. They can't trade a first-round pick until 2025.
Miami ranks just 23rd on offense (106.7 offensive rating), so it should definitely have interest in trading for the league's leading scorer if the Wizards make him available.
Buy or Sell: Buy. The East is getting better, and Miami's offense has struggled.