We have entered that part of the NBA season where losing teams are willing to sell off bad contracts for draft picks and good teams are looking for help to cement their playoff run. The Cavs want rim help. The Heat want a star. The Thunder want a bench. The Cavs want anyone who can play defense. The Rockets want more shooting. The Wizards want an agile big man. The Spurs want young talent. The Jazz want three point scoring The Bucks want rebounding. The Clippers want brain cells (dangling Blake Griffin for Karl-Anthony Towns, really?). And on and on it goes.
More than likely, no one will go anywhere. First off, teams are hesitant to give up first round draft picks to win now. The CBA has made first round talent a high commodity since players who stay with their drafted teams and become All-Star talents can get huge paydays and it doesn’t matter if you contend for a title. The pressure is on organizations to scout first round talent well so they can get a player they want to keep for a decade. Giving up first round picks can be a disaster. Ask the Brooklyn Nets. They may indeed get the #1 pick this year ( a longshot with the 8th worst record) which the Cavs will cash in as theirs because of the Kyrie/IT swap. The lesson is: be careful if you want to win now. If it doesn’t work out you have mortgaged your future.
But the lure of giving up your first round pick is to get help immediately. Several players are likely, in theory, to change teams. They have a valuable skill set. Here are a few.
Lou Williams. The combo guard is having a career year and he will probably win his third Sixth Man of the Year award. Williams is the Clippers leading scorer. His PER is a career high, 22.5. He will be an asset to a team needing three point shooting. He is draining 41.3% of his threes and averages 23.1 points per game. He is the 20th ranked shooting guard (Real Plus-Minus). He is a free agent. Why would the Clippers want to dump him? To get another first round draft pick. The Clippers need young talent.
Jordan Clarkson. The shooting guard is making almost 45% of his two point shots. He would be a good fit for a team that doesn’t need three point shooting but someone to score from the mid-range or at the rim. He is averaging the lowest point per game since his rookie year but he is only playing 22 minutes. This is Jordan’s 4th year. He is 25 years old. The second round draft pick would be instant offense coming off the bench. His contract is doable but long. Two more years after this year. $12.5 million and $13.4 million. Lakers want a first round pick or an expiring contract, preferably both.
Tyreke Evans. Tyreke hasn’t played this well since he was Rookie of the Year and that was 8 years ago. He should win Most Improved but he won’t. He has a high usage rate, a low turnover rate, and is almost dropping 20 points a game. His weakness, can’t shoot threes, is over. He is draining 41.3% of this threes. He has the most assists per game since his third year. He has a 22.9 PER. He’s not a mid-range shooter. He has his James Harden game down pat, threes or at the rim. But he’s been a great story no one is talking about. He is a free agent at the end of this year, so a great get.
George Hill. He never should have signed with Sac town in the first place. That decision he has to own. The last time the Kings were in the playoffs, Barack Obama was still a community organizer in Chicago. Hill’s having a dreadful year because he has no veteran protection creating double teams. This is a young team or an old team. Hill does not fit and hasn’t been shy about wanting to get out. He gives a playoff team defense. The only problem is that contract he signed. $19 million next year. $18 million in 2019-20.
Nikola Mirotic. Ever since he got punched in the face he wanted out and wasn’t shy about saying so. He came back and did the good soldier thing to save his rogue rep. He’s having a career year. 48%, 46% from three. He has a no-trade clause. He has indicated an interest in going to Utah who needs his perimeter scoring but not his sulkiness. That Bobby Portis punch may have gotten him out of town quicker than just marching up to Gar Forman’s office. Getting rid of him helps the Bulls on their hunt for Marvin Bagley III. Easy contract. Team option 2018-19, $12.5 million.
Nerlens Noel. Does anyone want Nerlens Noel? This past summer no one did. Noel overexaggerates his worth. He had surgery on his thumb in December. Because he signed a qualifying offer, the Mavs need his permission to move him but if it was a playoff team Noel would probably run a 5K to get out of town and away from Rick Carlisle. In a league with stretch fours, Noel plays around the rim and rebounds. He has little offensive skill. He’s not particularly explosive, particularly when guarded by jump out the gym athletes. Free agent in July.
Tyson Chandler. He has been great on a bad team. Meaning he hasn’t pouted, whined, taken back stabs at the dreadful Suns organization or at the revolving door coaches. He understands he’s a vet. Plus he has a ring so he’s pretty chill. But he’s still seven feet and on a contender who needs size, like the Wizards and Cavs, he’d be a 2018 gift. He’s not much of a scorer anymore but still is big on the boards, almost 10 a game and his offfensive rebounding is special. One more year at $13.5 mil. Suns want a first round pick.
Kenneth Faried. When the Nuggets signed Paul Millsap, Kenneth Faried knew his time was done and he wanted out. Faried has never developed into more than what he started out as. A high energy player who can fly, rebound, dunk but his offensive skill is average. Career lows across the board but he’s only playing 15 minutes which is why he is pouting. One more year at $13.7 million.
photo via llananba