I think we’re all sort of feeling around this year’s trade deadline. The extended All Star break has given general managers and agents a smooth ramp-up to the big day, and yesterday we saw the first real motion on that front. Besides, extra time off means more leeway to schmooze and party during the All Star break -- something everybody in the NBA can appreciate during an 82-game grind.
Earlier in the year I felt like this could be the year we could see some action during the deadline with all the old, oversized deals from the previous CBA falling off the balance sheet. But so far all signs point to another tepid deadline and that’s why the coverage here at Rotoworld has been toned down. There just isn't a lot going on, at least yet.
We’ll still run heavy coverage throughout tomorrow and I’ll be back with a follow-up piece in the morning.
In the meantime, get your decoder rings out as we sift through all of the articles written by agents and general managers in exchange for future access and information.
For NBA news and information leading all the way up to the deadline, you can click here to follow me on Twitter.
Editor's Note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $200,000 Fantasy Basketball league for Thursday's NBA games. It's $25 to join and first prize is $20,000. Starts at 8pm ET on Thursday. Here's the FanDuel link.
THE BIG STORY
Goran Dragic dominated yesterday’s news after differing reports littered the landscape for days, adding fuel to fire up his marketplace and then maximizing his value by saying he was basically untouchable. As of last night when he notified the Suns he would not re-sign with them this summer, there were up to seven or eight teams interested in him. According to Woj, a wish list including the Lakers, Heat and Knicks was handed to the team by his agent.
I’ll just throw out what my sources have been saying the past few weeks. It’s not exactly breaking news now, but the gist of it is that paying both Dragic and Eric Bledsoe wasn’t a gamble the team wanted to make on two point guards. Knowing where this was heading over the summer, they signed an undervalued asset in the starting quality Isaiah Thomas and they didn’t do it because they thought it would ingratiate themselves to either Dragic or Bledsoe.
Now if the Suns could convince Dragic to re-sign in Phoenix at a discount they’d be thrilled, and in that case they’d be fine dealing Thomas and his team-friendly contract to any number of suitors. In that regard, if there is an unlikely reversal in this situation and Dragic somehow stays, I’m told the Lakers might have been the favorites to acquire Thomas – as they're interested in him now just as they were over the summer.
I’m also told the Kings are very interested in Dragic and they’ll be working every angle possible to swing a deal. The problem is that they’ll have to find a team to take on some salary in order to be able to theoretically pay Dragic, giving up an asset like Nik Stauskas or Ben McLemore alongside a bad contract in order to do so. Then they’ll have to find other assets in order to win over the Suns. Then they’ll have to convince Dragic to re-sign, and that’s before we get to the idea of a protesting Dragic playing out his player option before the new TV money hits the CBA in 2016-17.
The Lakers, Heat and Knicks could all use a player like Dragic, but which team is actually likely to spend massively on him? They’ll all need to feel like they’re not bidding against themselves on a deal, and that’s why agent-side leaks have been fired up on all cylinders this week. The Suns are working the media rounds on this issue, too. Knowing they don’t have the appetite for a huge Dragic deal, they’re fine with the narrative that Dragic is in demand and that they badly want to keep him.
The Pacers have also been heavily linked to Dragic, and moving this into a fantasy discussion this whole scenario is a big fat win-win-win for everybody involved. Dragic, Bledsoe and Thomas are likely to see their values increase regardless of where Dragic goes. Dragic and Thomas will get the biggest bump, unless in Thomas' case the Suns take back a ball-dominant player. Gerald Green also becomes a guy you want to take a hard look at even if he still isn’t off the trade table just yet. I added Green on a 'hunch' in my National Fantasy Basketball Championship team last week.
THE HOT STOVE
I'd expect at least 5-10 more names added to this fairly exhaustive list of trade deadline candidates. But here's what I'm seeing pop up the most as we sit 24-36 hours away from the deadline. Also, you can check out Mike Gallagher's takes on the deadline here, and for more of my thoughts on both the deadline and the playoff picture you can bang it here.
Wilson Chandler’s team-friendly contract for next season ($2M guaranteed) has him higher on teams’ wish lists than Afflalo, but that might cause him to be harder to deal because Denver might overvalue him as a result. That and they'll be more likely to keep Chandler once they ditch Afflalo and his player option for next year. I might upgrade Chandler's outlook because Afflalo leaving would help him out, and this is also the point in time that owners looking for a flier can eyeball either Danilo Gallinari or Darrell Arthur.
Kenneth Faried is certainly on the block and he’ll be a hard guy to get a good return on if you’re Denver, but there will certainly be interest around the league. Look for Sacramento with their Denver connections to be big players for Afflalo and they’d love to luck into a deal for either Faried or Ty Lawson. While Denver is ready to sell anybody not named Nurkic, Sacramento may be just as desperate as they look to make headlines for something other than firing Mike Malone.
THE SIDE BURNER
Jordan Hill has a team option for next season and he could have some value for a contender, but there would have to be some bad money heading to the Lakers, too. Hill’s $9M price tag this year and next is steep for his middling play and that’s before we get to his injury risk.
Enes Kanter’s agents are working with Utah to ensure that everybody knows how valuable Kanter can be. The problem is that nobody else shares that opinion. We’ve seen Utah not pull the trigger on deals when they should have in past deadline action, but there is enough bad blood here that I think the Jazz might buckle and give him up for much less than their reported demands. They could limit his playing time down the stretch in order to reduce his value as a restricted free agent this summer, and if they don’t trade him that’s exactly what will happen, but that spells trouble in this case and I think the Jazz will learn from past mistakes.
And no, there’s no way in hell that I’ll be downgrading my Rudy Gobert early round projections including first round upside.
Reggie Jackson is back on the trade block according to USA Today and that’s a great thing for his value. The dynamics are complicated here, including the fact he probably needs to go to a team not competing in the West. But the Thunder need to get something of value for him before the disgruntled player gets shooed away like he’s James Harden or something.
Woj deftly dropped a note on Greg Monroe probably not re-signing with Detroit, where GM Jeff Bower said the team was going to be active at the deadline. It’s going to be interesting to see if Monroe is really in play now that Josh Smith is out. If Dragic wasn’t heading out of Phoenix, I’d lay a small bet on a Thomas for Monroe framework, though I haven’t heard anything about the Suns’ interest in the latter. The former was interesting enough to the Pistons for the team to do deep background checks.
Kevin Martin could be heading toward a buyout according to Ken Berger, though chatter out of Minnesota has been muted at best. Martin and Thaddeus Young are the guys to watch here, and this is probably your last, best time to make a buy low offer on Andrew Wiggins. Even if those guys stick around, the reins are going to be handed over within the next few weeks.
Larry Sanders buyout talks are something else considering he’s in the first year of a $44M, four-year deal. Assuming he wants to play, and assuming the “expected” buyout from some reports pans out, this is big news for the current Bucks’ frontcourt of Giannis Antetokounmpo, John Henson and Zaza Pachulia. He’d be intriguing in a Hawks uniform from a reality basketball perspective.
The Sixers are looking to take on bad contracts in order to accumulate second round picks according to a local Intelligencer report. Stay woke in case they actually bring back a good player.