History points to an upside when players rumored to be traded are not traded. Free agency and paydays are coming next. Even the ones still under contract have hopes of trades to playoff teams and their fates changing as the new team is willing to offer an extension.
The clique of men left behind on February 8th have a nervous wait because this summer things are a lot different. The money that was floating around two summers ago has all but dried up. The Players Union did that to themselves. Took the money then instead of spreading it out over time. For those that came later…oh well. Timing matters. And so the market this summer is going to be a little thin if you are not Paul George or LeBron James and both those players may stay put and let the rest of the dogpile fight it out.
DeAndre Jordan, Clippers. Opt-out. By all accounts he is going to forgo $24 million which is a big mistake. He is gambling on the fact that he is going to get more and a longer contract but Jordan is a specialist. Great defender. Scores at the rim. He needs a pick and roll point guard in order to thrive. In a Warriors world, that isn’t the easiest thing to find. He’d like to go back to Texas but the Rockets have Clint Capela who is a restricted free agent, the Spurs don’t have the money, and he already tried the Mavs once and it didn’t go very well. Jordan may sign a deal outside of L.A. for less money than he was making in L.A. The Clippers had a lot of offers for Jordan at the deadline but they were not taking on extra salary. In other words, they are fine with him walking and getting less money. (22nd ranked Center, Real-Plus Minus)
Avery Bradley, Clippers. He’s a free agent who will be highly coveted because of his perimeter ball hawking and his ability to make open shots under pressure. He makes nearly $9 million this year and should get a $5 million raise upping his salary into the $14-$16 milliion atmosphere. Bradley is likely to sign with a contender. Don’t be surprised if he takes Andre Iguodala’s place on the Warriors who is having an awful year or if Gregg Popovich finds a way. The Clippers are buyers but won’t break the bank for Bradley, despite being a Doc guy. (93rd ranked Shooting Guard, Real-Plus Minus)
Tyreke Evans, Grizzlies. Evans had the best contract for cheapness this year. He is making $3.2 million this year and leads the league in bench scoring, averaging nearly 20 points a game. The knock on Tyreke before this season was he couldn’t make a jumper. But he hasn’t shot this well percentage wise since his rookie year and his 3-ball is a career high 39% wet. He has career highs in offensive rating and PER and usually when that happens a payday is on the way. But does he deserve more than Lou Williams who has a history as a lights out scorer? Williams extension was 3 years, $24 million. Evans probably wants twice as much. (4th ranked Shooting Guard, Real-Plus MInus)
Julius Randle, Lakers. Randle is being squeezed. What happens to him in the off-season depends on what happens with Paul George. If Paul George wants in then Randle is somewhere else. The Lakers aren’t going to give him more than $14 million to come off the bench and with a different team, say like the Suns, he might get $18 million in a restricted offer sheet. He’s paid his dues with the Lakers and has been yanked up and down. I don’t see him giving them a discount. (40th ranked Power Forward, Real-Plus Minus)
Marcus Smart, Celtics. Drafted just ahead of Randle in the 2014 draft, Smart is that gritty, hard nosed, cheap shots defensive player every contender needs. Boston doesn’t want to get rid of him but they have max deals with Gordon Hayward, Al Horford and Kyrie Irving. A team who really wants Smart can front load a restricted deal and make sure that the Celtics can’t match. But is that smart NBA economics? Even if you give Smart who is a 9.4 ppg player more money than he is worth to diminsh the Celtics, you are stuck with him the way the Hornets are stuck with Nic Batum and the Blazers are stuck with Evan Turner. (34th ranked Point Guard, Real-Plus Minus)
Marcin Gortat, Wizards. He has one year left on his deal but he’ll be complicated to move, not because of his salary- 2018-19 is a team friendly $13 mil- but because the Polish Hammer is old, slow and can’t guard the athletes that make up the league. In his conference is Giannis Antetokounmpo, LeBron James, Hassan Whiteside, Al Horford etc. He can’t run out to the three point line and then recover in pick and roll. His offense is nothing special since he can’t stretch the floor. Who can he actually make better? The Wizards will try to make something happen, maybe if the Clippers lose Jordan and they want an expiring deal and size up front who can only play 23 minutes a game.(34th ranked Center, Real-Plus Minus)