Buying or Selling Latest NBA Trade Deadline Rumors

Dan Favale@@danfavaleFeatured ColumnistMarch 17, 2021

Buying or Selling Latest NBA Trade Deadline Rumors

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    Troy Taormina/Associated Press

    Brace yourselves: The NBA's March 25 trade deadline is approaching.

    And fast.

    Like clockwork, the rumor mill is churning as the big day draws near. The usual suspects continue to travel down Anonymous Sources Boulevard, but they're joined by new names who haven't incited as much speculation over the past couple of months.

    Nobody can predict with certainty what will happen by March 25. Few expect anything seismic. But the NBA is always good for a surplus of rumblings in the lead-up to the trade deadline. Our mission is to parse the most noteworthy of those whispers and provide some clarity.

    As ever, all buy-and-sell verdicts are not comments on the validity of included reports. They are instead barometers of the sensibility and feasibility of each rumor.

Clippers in the Market for Point Guard

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    Jim Mone/Associated Press

    To everyone calling for the Los Angeles Clippers to trade for a point guard: They hear you.

    Give up on the Kyle Lowry pipe dream. The Clippers cannot cobble together enough outgoing salary without dealing multiple key players. They have instead zeroed in on George Hill, Terry Rozier and Ricky Rubio, according to Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix.

    This is quite the trio of point guards, a collection that suggests the Clippers are less interested in acquiring another playmaker—though Rubio qualifies—and more inclined to beef up their defensive depth. All three of Hill, Rozier and Rubio can cover both backcourt slots, either as an alternative to Patrick Beverley or in his stead should this latest right knee injury prove to be a larger issue.

    Going after Rubio feels suspect. The Clippers have more than enough spacing and shooting, but he's close to a non-factor off the ball. He's downing just 31.1 percent of his threes, and Los Angeles can't take touches away from Paul George and Kawhi Leonard to lean on his strengths. Piecing together the matching salary necessary to squeeze his $17 million price point under the hard cap will be tough as well.

    The Clippers run into that same problem with Rozier and his $18.9 million sticker. And then there's the little matter of his availability. Rozier is once again flame-throwing from beyond the arc (43.0 percent) and friskier off the dribble. The Charlotte Hornets are more likely to dangle soon-to-be restricted free agents Devonte' Graham and Malik Monk than a quintessential complement to LaMelo Ball who's under contract for another year.

    Hill is the more sensible target. He hasn't played since Jan. 24 after having right thumb surgery, but few expect him to finish the season on the Oklahoma City Thunder, per ESPN's Tim Bontemps. His offensive fit in L.A. would be seamless. He's canning 38.6 percent of his threes and hitting 61.5 percent of his looks on drives—a top-six mark among 177 players who have taken at least as many shots in such situations.

    Mashing together the contracts necessary to reel in Hill's $9.6 million salary still won't be easy. It will cost the Clippers Lou Williams or Ivica Zubac unless they can broker some wild four-for-one scenario. Even then, they're still inside $1 million of the hard cap, making it so they essentially have to match Hill's salary dollar for dollar.

    Verdict: Sell the Clippers' interest in Rozier and Rubio. Buy their interest in Hill. Sell their ability to acquire him.

Aaron Gordon Sweepstakes Heating Up?

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    Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

    Aaron Gordon rumors are a trade-deadline rite of passage. Except this time, something might actually come from them.

    Sources told Bleacher Report's Jake Fischer that Gordon is "particularly available" and that the Minnesota Timberwolves were close to striking a deal with the Orlando Magic "centered on Ricky Rubio and future draft capital" before the 25-year-old combo forward suffered a left ankle sprain. Talks could reignite now that Gordon is back on the court after missing six weeks of action.

    But the Timberwolves won't be on their own. The Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets, Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets are all interested in getting their hands on Gordon, according to Fischer. Action Network's Matt Moore added that the market for Gordon "is heating up even if the offers are below what Orlando has asked for."

    Identifying a potential favorite to land him verges on pointless. So many teams can talk themselves into the idea of Gordon. He wields defensive range across all frontcourt positions, has honed his playmaking over the past two seasons and is shooting a career-best 36.5 percent from beyond the arc.

    Smart suitors will envision him in even more of a secondary role that doesn't require—or, perhaps, allow—as much ball-handling responsibility. Couple that with his reasonable price point next season ($16.4 million), and his sweepstakes should include noticeably more than the aforementioned five admirers.

    What the Magic might net for Gordon is anyone's guess. He'd be on a different team already if his market value wasn't so divisive despite the far-flung lusting. Now is the time to trade him anyway, even if it amounts to selling medium.

    Orlando extended the injured Jonathan Isaac this past fall, and like Gordon, his best position is the 4. The Magic can continue trying to deploy him as this quasi-3, but that's a square-peg-round-hole proposition, and they have Chuma Okeke to groom as another combo forward.

    Beyond that, they need more offensive creation than Gordon provides. He's best suited as a play-finisher. If they can get draft equity and a rotation player for his services, they might as well pounce—particularly when they're struggling to stay inside the Eastern Conference's play-in discussion.

    Verdict: Buy Gordon being traded at the deadline.

Knicks Interested in Andre Drummond?

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    Tony Dejak/Associated Press

    You aren't alone if you're thinking "Um, what?!?"

    If it helps, the New York Knicks aren't looking to trade for Andre Drummond while he's on the books for $28.8 million this season. They're apparently interested in using their $15 million of cap space to offer him a multiyear contract should he hit the buyout market, according to The Athletic's Shams Charania.

    Update: This doesn't help.

    Drummond isn't a no-brainer fit inside a Knicks rotation that has Mitchell Robinson (when he returns from a fractured right hand), Nerlens Noel and the option of using Julius Randle at the 5. It'd be different if Drummond represented a stark upgrade over anyone already in place. He won't.

    He doesn't have a ton of gravity as the roll man and is an iffy finisher around the rim. His defense exists in a weird space; he gobbles up rebounds and can hold his own inside, but he's inconsistent when drawn away from the restricted area. New York will also be committed to posting him up a few times a game if they add him. Noel may have stone hands, but both he and Robinson are lower-maintenance on offense.

    Perhaps the Knicks' reported interest in Drummond is purely due diligence. Or maybe it's a nod toward other moves they're considering.

    Robinson is slated for restricted free agency this summer, assuming New York declines his team option rather than risk his entering unrestricted free agency in 2022. If the front office isn't sure he's worth a long-term agreement that pays him mid-eight figures annually, it could decide to peddle him as the centerpiece in other packages. The Knicks would then need another big—unless they're content to roll with Taj Gibson and actual Obi Toppin minutes—if said deals don't bring back a center.

    Approach this scenario with a heavy dose of skepticism. Robinson isn't going to command a hefty premium on the trade market with free agency (probably) on the horizon and before he returns from his injury. The Knicks are better off revisiting his future over the offseason, in which case they should have minimal desire to pay Drummond.

    Verdict: Sell the Knicks' interest in Drummond.

Nuggets Shopping Will Barton, Bol Bol and Gary Harris?

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    Will Barton, Bol Bol and Gary Harris are all available for the taking, according to Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix. Michael Porter Jr. currently is not.

    The latter tidbit informs the former. The Nuggets aren't flush with coveted trade chips beyond MPJ, Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray. Removing Porter from the table precludes them from acquiring another star.

    That's just as well, because it doesn't appear as though any red-carpet names are actually available.

    In the absence of blockbuster-hunting, the Nuggets have the semi-sizable salaries of Barton ($13.7 million) and Harris ($19.6 million) to use as money-matching anchors. Attaching players like Bol, PJ Dozier or R.J. Hampton to those contracts is their most likely path to acquiring someone who could be part of their closing lineup.

    Whether the Nuggets have access to that type of target remains to be seen. Murray and Jokic won't be displaced from the starting lineup, and Porter has settled in as their starting power forward. Anyone they acquire must be able to hang with 2s and/or 3s while registering as upgrades over Barton or Harris.

    Finding that someone isn't a given, nor is actually getting him. It depends on how many sweeteners the Nuggets are willing to include.

    Does Barton and Bol get them Aaron Gordon? Does Harris and Bol net them Harrison Barnes? Denver can open up a lot more avenues if its 2021 pick or Hampton is also in play.

    Verdict: Buy the Nuggets shopping Barton, Bol and Harris. Sell them actually making a move.

Plenty of Teams Pining After Myles Turner?

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    Myles Turner, another rumor-mill veteran, is once again a wanted man. The Clippers, Hornets, Knicks, Los Angeles Lakers and New Orleans Pelicans have all phoned the Indiana Pacers about his availability, according to the Indianapolis Star's J. Michael.

    Targeting Turner makes so much sense for a bunch of teams. He remains a floor-spacer by virtue of volume over efficiency (31.3 percent from three), but he is a transformative defender.

    Opponents are shooting nearly eight percentage points worse around the rim with him on the floor, and he's shown a penchant for busting up multiple actions in the half court even when it requires him to journey further away from the basket. Indiana's defensive rating improves by a team-high 7.9 points per 100 possessions when he's in the lineup.

    Understandable interest in Turner doesn't give way to actual availability, though. The Pacers reportedly offered him to the Boston Celtics over the offseason in a deal for Gordon Hayward, but his rumor mill has been crickets ever since.

    Perhaps Indiana is open to anything. Fine. But scant few of the listed suitors have the assets or incentive required to make any Turner deal worthwhile for the Placers.

    Neither the Clippers nor the Lakers can dangle attractive picks. Indiana will have to be intrigued by some of their actual players. Someone like Patrick Beverley, Marcus Morris Sr. or Kentavious Caldwell-Pope probably isn't enough to headline a Turner package.

    New Orleans would be a tantalizing destination...if this were four months ago. Trading for and extending Steven Adams should pull the Pelicans out of the running unless he's part of any deal, and he can't be moved until the offseason.

    The Knicks, meanwhile, have little need for Turner unless they're pivoting away from Mitchell Robinson long term. Even then, the Pacers aren't in a position to accept a package built around cap relief, picks and, say, Kevin Knox. They'd have to reaaally love Robinson—or be hell-bent on clearing money in advance of new contracts for T.J. McConnell (2021), Doug McDermott (2021) and T.J. Warren (2022).

    Charlotte could be a somewhat realistic landing spot if it's open to parting with some combination of Miles Bridges, Terry Rozier, P.J. Washington and a pick. Rozier might be the breaking point. The Hornets have to be in love with Devonte' Graham or Malik Monk (or both) for that to register. Well that, or the Pacers must be enamored with Cody Zeller.

    Verdict: Sell Indiana trading Myles Turner

Miami Is the Favorite to Land Victor Oladipo and P.J. Tucker?

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    Nell Redmond/Associated Press

    No two names are being bandied about the rumor mill more frequently than Victor Oladipo and P.J. Tucker. It turns out they could be headed to the same place.

    Rival executives have identified the Miami Heat as the favorite to land Tucker, according to Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix. And as The Athletic's Sam Amick noted about Oladipo on an episode of Tampering with Sam Amick (h/t HoopsHype): "Regardless how he's playing, you know, there's noise about Miami with him, there's noise about New York, there's there's more than enough noise for Houston to feel pretty confident that he's not coming back."

    Miami has the expiring contracts and wiggle room under the hard cap (and luxury tax) to field a viable offer for both. Potential buffers are the sticking point.

    The Heat aren't expected to surrender one of their young players in an Oladipo trade, per the Miami Herald's Barry Jackson. If they're against tossing in Tyler Herro (duh) or Duncan Robinson (less duh) for him, nabbing Tucker as well isn't enough to bridge the gap.

    Kendrick Nunn should be a different story. Precious Achiuwa might be as well. 

    Would that tickle the Rockets' fancy? They punted on Caris LeVert and a second-rounder to get Oladipo, and their asking price on Tucker has thus far proved prohibitive. Would Nunn plus expirings get the job done for them considering he's due to enter restricted free agency this summer?

    It also isn't clear whether the Heat are as interested in Oladipo as he appears to be in them. And if the feeling is mutual, they should still have the cap space to sign him outright over the offseason if his starting salary dips below the max. (It should.)

    At the same time, Miami and New York seem like natural destinations for Oladipo. Both will have the cash to go after him in free agency, but they also possess the expendable contracts (or cap space) to explore his fit before then if his market nosedives right along with his play.

    Verdict: Buy the Heat landing at least one of Oladipo or Tucker, just because.


    Unless otherwise noted, stats courtesy of, Basketball Reference, Stathead or Cleaning the Glass and are accurate entering games on March 10. Salary information via Basketball Insiders and Spotrac.

    Dan Favale covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter (@danfavale), and listen to his Hardwood Knocks podcast, co-hosted by B/R's Adam Fromal.