Buying or Selling Latest NBA Trade Deadline Rumors

Dan Favale@@danfavaleFeatured ColumnistMarch 24, 2021

Buying or Selling Latest NBA Trade Deadline Rumors

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    Rumblings and mumblings and mutterings—oh my! The (hopefully) gripping conclusion to NBA trade season must be rapidly approaching.

    With so little time to go until the league's 3 p.m. ET Thursday deadline, the rumor mill is, as 1990s teens would say, straight popping. It can be a tricky situation to navigate.

    Anonymous sources are out in droves. New reports are contradicting old reports. Player X is available, but only if Team Y gets a haul. No big names are expected to be moved. Or a couple of big names are expected to be moved. We can't be too sure.

    Information is outdated within minutes. Player A was almost shipped to Team B, but then Team C heard an offer from Team D and decided Player A was actually worth more than it realized and resolved to solicit overtures from Teams E, F and G.

    Don't bang your head against the wall just yet. We're here to help.

    We've meticulously, perhaps obsessively, monitored the churn of conjecture and put together a list of only the juiciest, most important, mission-critical rumors circulating around the basketballsphere. And from there, being well-intentioned hoops addicts, we unpacked whether each news bite is more smoke or fire.

    Remember: All buy or sell verdicts are not comments on the validity of included reports. They are barometers of sensibility and feasibility for each rumor. Let's get to it.

Toronto 'Likely' to Move Norman Powell

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    Ron Schwane/Associated Press

    Kyle Lowry's name is garnering most of the attention, but the Toronto Raptors have another soon-to-be free agent drawing intense interest: Norman Powell.

    Sportsnet's Michael Grange reported Toronto has "been more aggressive in soliciting offers" for the 27-year-old, who holds an $11.6 million player option for next season that he should decline. Grange also went as far as to write, "The Raptors are going to work the Powell angle hard, is my guess, and I think it's more likely he gets moved than he doesn't."

    The interest is understandable. Powell is averaging 19.5 points while downing 55.0 percent of his twos and 43.4 percent of his threes—including 42.0 percent of his pull-up triples. He stands only 6'3", but he can defend true wings when fully engaged.

    Someone is going to pay him in free agency. Zach LaVine is the only other player clearing 19 points per game while matching Powell's shooting splits, and very few talented wings project to be available on the open market. Plenty of teams are already trying to pry him from Toronto leading into the trade deadline, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

    If the Raptors aren't prepared to fork over $15 million (or more) annually, they would be better off capitalizing on his value now. Most suitors should be willing to part with a first-rounder and more. Having Powell's Bird rights is valuable when you don't have cap space.

    Then again, would it make sense to ship him out for a late first? Powell will turn 28 in May. Rebuilding teams won't come out of the woodwork peddling lottery picks. His next price point also won't be much of an issue if the Raptors plan to re-sign Lowry. Letting Lowry go will be crucial to carving out cap space. Pay Lowry, and backing up the Brink's truck for Powell will have little bearing on flexibility.

    Maybe Toronto doesn't trust this career year from Norm. He is notoriously up and down. Or perhaps the Raptors are wary of investing so much money in too many sub-6'5" players when they've already paid Fred VanVleet and might elect to keep Lowry. This still feels like a situation they'll ride out into the summer unless they enter full-on seller mode—which is tough to imagine even amid a nine-game losing streak.

    Verdict: Sell Powell finishing the year with another team.

Miami Needs to Include Tyler Herro to Get Kyle Lowry

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    Speaking of Kyle Lowry: He continues to have his admirers. The Philadelphia 76ers and Miami Heat are chief among them, and the likelihood he gets moved is on the rise, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

    In the event the Raptors jettison Lowry, Philly has always felt like the most plausible destination. It is not only his hometown, but the Sixers also have more draft equity and potentially expendable prospects than Miami. They have made Tyrese Maxey available in trade talks, per HoopsHype's Michael Scotto.

    The Heat aren't going to beat that offer—which presumably includes a first-round pick, too—by pairing Duncan Robinson with matching salary. Tyler Herro is their trounce-it card. Putting him on the table would almost guarantee they'll have the best package.

    Dangling Herro is something Miami has yet to do. He is reportedly the sticking point in discussions between the Heat and Raptors, per Sportsnet's Michael Grange. That makes perfect sense for both sides.

    Toronto should not settle for a return without Herro. Robinson (and Kendrick Nunn) will command contracts this summer in restricted free agency, inherently driving down their values. Herro has two more years left on his rookie-scale deal. That level of team control jibes with whatever timeline the Raptors opt to follow next offseason.

    This goes for the Heat, too. Even if Herro isn't a superstar in the making, his teensy price point means everything to a team that already gave Bam Adebayo a max extension and will have to pony up for Robinson this summer.

    Acquiring Lowry would only add to that conundrum. He won't come cheap in free agency; he will have other suitors. Miami will have no choice other than to re-sign him if it surrenders Herro.

    Remove pay grades from the equation, and the Heat still have to reconcile dealing a 21-year-old lottery ticket for a soon-to-be 35-year-old. Math like that almost never adds up.

    Whether the Raptors actually deal Lowry is a separate matter. It will no doubt be largely his call. And though it seems he's warming up to the idea of relocating, he does want assurances of an extension wherever he goes next, per the Philadelphia Inquirer's Keith Pompey. This largely seems like a Philly-or-bust proposition.

    Verdict: Buy the Heat refusing to include Herro in a prospective Lowry trade. And buy Lowry finishing the season with Toronto or Philly.

Indiana Listening to Offers for Malcolm Brogdon and Myles Turner

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    Even the most mundane trade deadlines are usually good for a surprise buyer or seller. Might the Indiana Pacers be this year's latter?

    "Multiple teams are saying the Indiana Pacers are listening to pitches on Malcolm Brogdon and are monitoring Domantas Sabonis as well," Yahoo Sports' Vincent Goodwill wrote. "On Brogdon, the belief is the Pacers feel Caris LeVert can man the point guard adequately enough should they get a real deal for Brogdon, who's in the second year of a four-year, $85 million contract."

    Goodwill added that the Pacers are looking to move seldom used backup point guard Aaron Holiday for a first-round pick. Myles Turner, meanwhile, is also in play. Sort of. It will take a "no-brainer" return for Indiana to consider sending him anywhere, according to the Indianapolis Star's J. Michael.

    There is a lot to unpack. Moral of the story, though: The Pacers aren't holding a fire sale.

    They have yet to see their best five-man lineup—Brogdon, LeVert, Sabonis, Turner and T.J. Warren—in action this season. The Brogdon-LeVert-Sabonis-Turner quartet hasn't even logged 200 possessions. Indy needs more information before stripping down its roster.

    Yes, the Pacers will have tax concerns if they intend to re-sign Doug McDermott and T.J. McConnell and keep Warren, a 2022 free agent, beyond his contract. That's not cause to shop a fringe All-Star in Brogdon, actual All-Star in Sabonis and top-three Defensive Player of the Year candidate in Turner. They are more likely to entertain offers for McDermott and McConnell.

    Holiday's availability is believable. Much of his mystery-box sheen has worn off, and he's cleared 15 minutes in just two of Indiana's last nine games.

    And yet for an ultraconservative franchise such as the Pacers, dealing him might be too risky. They could need the reserve-guard depth if McConnell leaves in free agency. More than that, Holiday's play doesn't guarantee he'll secure a first-rounder. He could be in two-quality-seconds territory.

    Verdict: Sell the Pacers moving any of Brogdon, Sabonis or Turner. Buy them shopping Holiday.

Houston 'Likely' to Trade Victor Oladipo

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    Troy Taormina/Associated Press

    Who ordered the incredibly vague Victor Oladipo trade rumor, with extra indistinction on the side? Because ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski has you covered:

    "The Houston Rockets are progressing on several fronts in talks to trade guard Victor Oladipo, and there's strong confidence they'll execute a deal ahead of Thursday's NBA trade deadline, sources told ESPN. The Rockets are increasingly comfortable with the offers on Oladipo in the marketplace, which include young players and first-round pick combinations that the franchise believes are suitable returns to make a deal, sources said."

    Though Woj did not specify which suitors are prepared to unload a combination of firsts and young players for a struggling might-be All-Star, he noted that Oladipo has interest in the Heat and New York Knicks, and that some of his suitors do not have the cap space to sign him outright over the summer. The latter group includes neither Miami nor New York. They both have the scratch to pay Oladipo as a free agent.

    Pinpointing teams that will give the Rockets a combination of firsts and prospects isn't worth our time. Maybe the Boston Celtics. Or the LeBron James- and Anthony Davis-less Los Angeles Lakers. Or the Dallas Mavericks. The list could go on. It might end there. Perhaps it's not even that long. Whatever.

    Oladipo's future is the primary focus. And it will not be unfolding in Houston.

    He already reportedly turned down a two-year extension, and the Rockets have zero business shelling out $20-plus-million per year over the long term for an almost-29-year-old with a troubling history of right quad issues who hasn't sniffed All-NBA form in more than two seasons.

    Trading him should be a given. Granted, the optics of any deal may not be great. Houston effectively punted on Caris LeVert and a second-round pick to roll with Oladipo as part of the James Harden blockbuster. That was the wrong choice even if cap space is the priority. LeVert could have been sent into another team's cap space this summer while bringing back actual value. The Rockets should count themselves lucky they have anyone willing to concede first-round value for an impending free agent playing far from his best basketball.

    Verdict: Buy Oladipo getting dealt before the deadline.

LaMarcus Aldridge, DeMar DeRozan and Andre Drummond Headed for Buyouts

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    Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

    LaMarcus Aldridge, DeMar DeRozan and Andre Drummond are all eminently available, according to Bleacher Report's Jake Fischer. They're each also being monitored by buyout vultures.

    So what's going to happen?

    Teams hoping the San Antonio Spurs broker a buyout with DeRozan should keep dreaming. Fischer noted the chances of that are "low" if they cannot hammer out a trade. Good luck arguing against that sentiment.

    DeRozan has been one of the Spurs' best players this season and thrived within lineups that feature three and four shooters, and San Antonio remains in the thick of the Western Conference playoff hunt. Keeping him is hardly egregious even with free agency on the horizon. He's at the stage of his career in which he's too valuable to just give up but not so important the Spurs will lose sleep should he walk for nothing in the offseason.

    Aldridge and Drummond are different stories. They already have likely destinations post-buyouts. Aldridge is expected to head for the Heat, while the Lakers have the edge over the Brooklyn Nets for Drummond, according to the New York Times' Marc Stein.

    That sounds about right. Aldridge and Drummond are not immovable as expiring contracts, but their price points—$24 million and $28.8 million, respectively—remain prohibitive. Both the Spurs and Cavs are only compounding the issue by refusing to take back long-term money, per Stein. It also doesn't help that neither player is part of his team's rotation.

    Unless Cleveland or San Antonio move off their "no multiyear deals" stances, Aldridge and Drummond probably aren't going anywhere via trade.

    Verdict: Buy Aldridge and Drummond getting bought out. Sell a possible DeRozan buyout.

Will Harrison Barnes or Richaun Holmes Be Traded?

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    Ashley Landis/Associated Press

    Harrison Barnes and Richaun Holmes will top a wish list or five if the Sacramento Kings decide to steer into the future at the trade deadline. Barnes has long been a rumor-mill staple. Boston was previously considered his staunchest suitor, and Denver has now joined the fray, per the Denver Post's Mike Singer.

    Sacramento has tons of leverage in negotiations for Barnes. He has two years and what profiles as a reasonable $38.6 million, at a declining scale, left on his contract. Admirers should, at minimum, have to cough up one first-round pick, if not two, and a young player.

    Identifying teams that would meet the theoretical asking price is difficult. Can the Celtics talk themselves into giving up that much for someone who may not be part of their closing lineup unless he can guard 5s? Do the Nuggets trust him enough to defend power wings to cobble together that type of package?

    Holmes' situation is even more complicated. On the one hand, he's entering free agency this summer and looking to get paid. The market for bigs is always wonky, but he forecasts as the best available 5. He should be able to suss out a lucrative deal. The Kings have to be cognizant of how much they've already committed to De'Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield and, if they keep him, Barnes.

    On the flip side, Holmes has been their second or third-best player. And, well, the market for bigs is always wonky. Sacramento might get the chance to bring him back for sub-$14 million per year, a price point palatable enough to bankroll or trade down the line.

    A lot depends on whether the Kings even consider themselves sellers. They're only 3.5 games outside the play-in spot. They've acted as buyers in the past with less motivation. 

    That apparently won't happen this season. They're willing to discuss pretty much anyone on the roster other than Fox or Tyrese Haliburton, according to Bleacher Report's Jake Fischer. And with so few ready-made sellers, they should get an offer glitzy enough to move at least one of Barnes or Holmes.

    Pick which at your own risk. Barnes seems like the better bet, if only because it'll be hard to turn away multiple firsts or their equivalent, and Holmes isn't netting nearly that much value.

    Verdict: Buy Barnes or Holmes being moved.

Aaron Gordon and Evan Fournier on the Move

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    Shawn Thew/Associated Press

    Few teams are as incentivized to sell, sell, sell at the deadline as the Orlando Magic. Injuries have ravaged their roster—mainly those to Markelle Fultz and Jonathan Isaac, who are both out for the year—and the Detroit Pistons are the only team in the Eastern Conference sporting a lower winning percentage.

    Ambitious suitors will be lusting after All-Star Nikola Vucevic. Bargain-bin hunters will see whether Orlando is willing to sell low on Mo Bamba. Evan Fournier and Aaron Gordon fall somewhere in between—non-stars who can still tip the scales for fringe and actual contenders.

    Not surprisingly, the latter two are the Magic players generating the most buzz ahead of the deadline. Gordon, in particular, has morphed into a hot commodity. A bunch of teams are chasing him—the Rockets, Mavericks, Denver Nuggets and Portland Trail Blazers—but the Celtics are considered the favorites to land him, according to Action Network's Matt Moore:

    "Boston, multiple sources confirmed, has offered two first-round picks. No other teams on the board have yet to reach that offer level. It's not known yet what types of protections are attached to those talks but there is an assumption there will be some, if not significant, protections on the first-rounders."

    Fournier would be headed to Boston in the above scenario, as Moore noted, which includes plenty of other moving parts and permutations. But he will command the attention of other teams, including the Mavericks, per Bleacher Report's Jake Fischer.

    Potential destinations for both Fournier (an ideal third scorer) and Gordon (switchy defender who is shooting well from three and has improved his playmaking) will no doubt continue to grow heading into Thursday's deadline. And while the Magic have been mentioned as prospective sellers in the past only to hold serve, this time feels different given their plunging playoff stock and the sheer breadth of noise.

    Verdict: Buy Evan Fournier and Aaron Gordon being dealt ahead of the deadline.


    Unless otherwise noted, stats courtesy of NBA.comBasketball ReferenceStathead or Cleaning the Glass and are accurate entering games on March 23. 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.