With the trade deadline a little more than a month away the NBA rumor mill is beginning to light up. Teams all across the league are looking for that one last piece to take them over the edge. Unlike most years, half the league isn’t actively trying to tank, so we can expect more buyers. The thing is not everyone can be buyers, so it will be interesting to see who actually goes all in. With all these rumors flying around I’m going to try and provide some clarity on what might actually happen.
The Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond Situation
Both Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond are currently riding the pine for no reason other than that their teams don’t want them anymore. Both players are blocking minutes and development of their younger teammates, so they have mutually agreed to part ways. The big challenge when it comes to moving these two is their contracts. Drummond’s deal is expiring with 28 million for this season, while Griffin still has two years and 74 million left on his deal. The number of teams that could realistically trade for these players is a short list. The list of teams that actually want them is probably much shorter.
In the eyes of many, Griffin and Drummond are relics of the past. Griffin, a former superstar that just clearly isn’t the same and Drummond has a style of play that would be more appropriate for 1985. Of the two of them, I do think Drummond ends up actually getting traded. Drummond has quietly been putting up a nice season in Cleveland, he’s averaging 17.5 ppg and 13.5 rbs. I could see a team like the Kincks being very interested. They wouldn’t have to give much up and he could help them actually make the playoffs. I know the Knicks and playoffs don’t exactly go together, but Drummond could put them over the top. It doesn’t hurt that the Knicks trading for Drummond would prevent their cross town rival, the Nets, from signing him after a buyout. Also, look for teams like Toronto, Dallas, or Charlotte to show interest.
While Drummond’s situation isn’t great for the Cavs, Griffin’s situation is much worse for the Pistons. He’s got $36 million for this season and a $38 million player option for next year. Given Griffin’s age and injury history, I can, as Charles Barkley would say, GUARANTEE that no one trades for Griffin. This means a buyout is the most likely scenario. The real question is how much Griffin is willing to give back. I do think it ultimately gets done and Griffin goes onto greener pastures. For some reason people seem to forget Griffin made an all NBA team only two years ago. He’s probably not giving you that, but when healthy he can still be a very productive player. The Celtics could be a great fit for Griffin. They have a need for more of a presence in the paint and the Celtics have shown interest in Griffin in the past. A return to LA, but for the Lakers instead also would not surprise me.
Does an elite scorer get moved?
Two of the more talked about names leading up to this year’s deadline have been Zach Lavine and Bradley Beal. This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone since both players are having stellar seasons on bad teams. Beal was just elected to his first all star start and Lavine should be on track to join him as a reserve. With both players having multiple years left on their deals, I think a move is pretty unlikely. Despite Beal’s visible frustration on the court, he still appears to be committed to winning in Washington, for now at least.
The Bulls and Wizards are in similar spots, but heading in different directions. Since the Bulls, unlike the Wizards, are trending upwards and it makes trading Lavine a tough choice. Lavine still has two years on a team friendly deal, so the Bulls are in no rush to trade him. Lavine has made a notable jump in his game this season, so he could be a long term piece going forward. It seems pretty unlikely either of these guards is getting dealt this season. It also not impossible someone blows them away and they get moved, we’ll just have to wait and see.
Zach LaVine: Closer pic.twitter.com/pLSVfsEG2K
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) February 21, 2021
Other Names To Watch
Thad Young has taken his game to a different level this season. There’s a reason Zach Lavine recently called him the MVP of the Bulls. He’s a master of none, but good at a lot of different aspects of the game. This season his defense and play making skills have notably improved. Young is on a reasonable deal with a team option for next season, so the Bulls probably won’t trade him unless their price is met. Any contender would want a player like Young on their team, but if I were to pick one in particular it would be the Celtics.
I cannot stress this enough: Thaddeus Young pic.twitter.com/Cg7QLjFCr8
— Will Gottlieb (@wontgottlieb) February 18, 2021
This season has not gone the way that the Hawks would have hoped. They have struggled after a good start and rumors of trouble in the locker room have emerged. Specifically, John Collins being upset with his role in the team’s offense. With this and the fact Collins and the Hawks couldn’t get an extension done, it looks more likely he will be moved. It has been reported that the Hawks are looking for a lottery pick in return for Collins. This is a high asking price, so it will be interesting to see if it’s met. I do think he’s ultimately moved, the question is for what.
— Bleacher Report NBA (@BR_NBA) February 15, 2021
Lonzo Ball has had a very up and down career in the NBA. Despite not living up to the hype, Ball is still a talented player with potential. It feels like he’s already been around forever, but he’s still only 23. A team like the Bulls would make a lot of sense for a Ball. They are a young up and coming in team with a big need for a playmaking defensive minded guard like Ball. He, like Collins, didn’t get a deal done prior to the season, so it is obvious the Pelicans aren’t 100% sold on him.
— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) February 15, 2021
Most of you are probably surprised to be seeing this name here and you should be. Derozan is quietly having an excellent season for the sixth seated Spurs. Even though in the short term losing Derozan will make the team worse, it will help in the long run. Derozan is 31 and on an expiring deal; it doesn’t help that last season he expressed some unhappiness when things weren’t going as well. The Spurs have a nice young core and I just don’t see Derozan as part of their long term plans. So you shouldn’t be too surprised if you see Woj dropping some bombs about Derozan come the deadline.
— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) February 15, 2021
We still have a little over a month before the deadline, so I’m sure we’ll get a bunch of new rumors popping up in the coming weeks. The good thing is I have my notifications set for Woj and Shams, so I couldn’t be more excited. In the mean time I’ll be refreshing Twitter over and over again.