Welcome to an NBA Trade Deadline edition of TDC’s “The Basketball Roundtable”! Every so often, we’ll be throwing a few questions to some of our contributors, relevant to recent topics. This is meant to be a casual conversation, similar to those that we all have while sitting around a table. With that being said, welcome to “The Basketball Roundtable.”
- There has been some buzz over the last few days surrounding D’Angelo Russell, including Marc Stein of the New York Times tweeting that Golden State is “listening to pitches” on their star guard. Will Russell get traded? And if so, what potential return could GS get?
Sam Shin: I honestly don’t think he gets traded. It makes a lot less sense for the Warriors to deal Russell now before the trade deadline, considering they’ll have a lottery pick this offseason. I think the best course of action is still to let Russell play out the season, and if anything, he’ll continue to play his value up, not down. No team will look at Russell right now and say that he should be playing better with the team that he has around him. The Warriors are best suited to listen to offers right now but not actually make a move, and then depending on where the pick falls, either make a move or stand pat with Curry and Klay both returning. Because of how dry the free agent market is this off-season, it may make teams more tempted to want to trade for Russell.
Sam Johnson: This one is tricky. From all of the reporting, Russell has been the apple of the Wolves eye for over seven months now. Even after famously spurning their offer shortly amidst the helicopter ride accompanied by KAT and Wolves’ team brass, Minnesota has not relented on their pursuit. I can’t tell if all of the “prefer to wait until summer” talk is Golden State attempting to crank up the heat on MIN to get a better offer or if it’s serious. However, I think he is kept (until July). If he is dealt, I think it would take a very lightly (top 5?) protected 1st round 2020 pick along with matching salary possibly in the form of a player like Gorgui Dieng.
Aram Hanessian: I don’t see Russell getting traded before the trade deadline. The Warriors have a real issue getting back a big-time piece in-season with their hard cap issues, so any trade they make basically has to involve them sending out more money than they take in. Additionally, they probably aren’t interested in future picks or assets that don’t make them better while Steph, Klay, and Draymond are all still relatively in their primes, so a trade that makes sense is hard to construct right now. In the summer, once the hard-cap problem is gone and they have a high lottery pick to add to Russell, Golden State could really go star-hunting for a wing that better fits their needs.
Chandler Harper: I don’t think Russell gets traded this year. Once Golden State became terrible this year it seemed that their vision shifted. I think they now want to package their first round pick this year with Russell to go after the next superstar (looking at you Giannis). If they are not able to get a superstar, I think they end up moving Russell this summer; I can see the return being anywhere from two to three decent role players to an All-Star level player with maybe a bad contract attached to even value. I think what’s most likely is it falling somewhere in the middle, like a fringe All-Star player – maybe someone like Aaron Gordon.
Gabriel Rozier: From a logical standpoint, I don’t think Golden State trades Russell before the trade deadline. It would make much more sense for them to trade him around draft time, when the return would be much more lucrative. From a “hot take” standpoint, I think Russell could be the first piece in a transition to a new super team. Russell and his two friends Karl-Anthony Towns and Devin Booker seem like the next wave of stars who would like to play together, so maybe while the rest of the league is going after Giannis in 2021, Golden State will go a different route.
- Are there any other, more under-the-radar type of trades that you think make sense and could change the landscape of this year’s playoffs?
Aram Hanessian: I really like the idea of Nemanja Bjelica on some of the East contenders. He’s making under $7 million for this year, so he’s very easy to match salaries for, and he has a non-guaranteed $7.15 million for next year, which helps these teams that have luxury-tax concerns. Boston and Philly both just need bodies to shore up their depth and “Belly” would fit really well into both rotations. Boston only really has 5 non-centers on the roster that can be trusted, none of which are a 4. They should also have two extra firsts this year and maybe Memphis’ pick is too high, but I’d be willing to give up their own and/or Milwaukee’s pick, both of which should be near the bottom of the round – especially if they can get off Vincent Poirier’s $2.6 million for next year. Philly obviously needs shooting and values size. They have an OKC first this year that is top-20 protected, so it’s probably staying with the Thunder, but they have a bunch of juicy seconds (the next two from the Knicks and Atlanta’s this year) and all their own firsts after this year. Throw in Zhaire Smith and they should be able to construct a package that tempts Sacramento. Although, it should be remembered that Bjelica actually agreed to a deal with the Sixers in free agency in the summer of 2018, only to back out at the last second, so there may be some hard feelings there.
Sam Johnson: I have liked the idea of OKC trying to make a win-sooner-than-later trade since preseason. They have 10 extra first rounders in the next five drafts; instead of sitting on them, I would love to see them be aggressive and, without mortgaging all of them, try to swing a deal before the trade deadline to beef up this year. They are just as close to the 2nd seed as they are to the 8th seed right now (5 games) and have beaten HOU twice, Utah, LAC, and DAL this year. What a story that would be if they could dish Westbrook and George and be better this season without them. Maybe not totally under-the-radar, but I also would love Denver trying to land a big fish like Jrue Holiday.
Sam Shin: Brian Windhorst recently mentioned on the Lowe Post Podcast that the Clippers could be in the market for a big man, as they feel uneasy using the Zubac/Harrell rotation to guard legitimate center threats against some of the best teams in the West. Although I do think it’s a longshot, if the Clippers were able to somehow swing a deal for a big man that could not only tighten their defense even more, but also add another offensive option (Drummond??), it could really change the landscape of this year’s playoffs. That would not only be a big trade, but one that I feel other teams aren’t really expecting right now before the trade deadline. As a Lakers fan, however…really hoping this doesn’t happen.
Chandler Harper: I think Philly is in a great position to make some lower scale win-now moves. They have Atlanta and New York’s second round picks this year, plus plenty of extra seconds going forward. I think it makes sense to keep at least one of them; they need cheap production once their team gets super expensive starting next year, but they should definitely look to use those to get someone like Derrick Rose. Another thought is that I think the Lakers must pursue another ball-handler/creator. Their offense stalls out a lot and they have to rely on a non-shooter shooting a three, LeBron shooting a fadeaway two, or someone like Avery Bradley running a pick and roll; this will only get worse in the playoffs when teams lock in more on defense and the game is played even more in the half-court. Avery Bradley shouldn’t be playing much for a contending team, let alone be tasked with creating offense. Even if it is someone as simple as Alec Burks, they need another person who can create a shot.
Gabriel Rozier: Portland desperately needs to get a wing if they want to make the playoffs (they kind of need to make the playoffs when you look at their cap sheet). As much as they like Anfernee Simons, he should be made available. The Lakers also might be better off keeping Kuzma than forcing a trade right now. Maybe something will open up this summer, but it’s just difficult to match his low salary to a player who can contribute to their championship aspirations this season. The last thought I have is regarding Charlotte. The Hornets are sort of free falling. Is Devonte’ Graham still untouchable?