Three Things to Know: Trade rumor roundup as deadline nears
Three Things is NBC’s five-days-a-week wrap-up of the night before in the NBA. Check out NBCSports.com every weekday morning to catch up on what you missed the night before plus the rumors, drama, and dunks going that make the NBA great.
1) Trade rumor roundup just over 48 hours out from deadline
It’s almost here — Thursday at 3 p.m. Eastern is the NBA trade deadline, and nothing gets done in the NBA without a deadline. Teams are talking. We’ve seen a couple of trades — Norman Powell to the Clippers, Caris LeVert to the Cavaliers — and more are coming. But will we see a blockbuster?
Here is a roundup of the trade buzz highlights around the league as of Tuesday morning:
• Don’t bet on a Ben Simmons trade happening. While one can never say never around this league, Philadelphia is not backing off its demands for an All-Star, maybe an All-NBA player who can help Joel Embiid win a ring. Brooklyn is uninterested in moving James Harden, according to both league sources and their own words. Maybe that’s a smokescreen, but Harden has reportedly told the Nets he wants to stay, and so long as that is the case the Nets are more likely to bet they can get healthy and still contend more than they are likely to ship Harden out of town.
• The biggest name likely to be moved may be CJ McCollum of the Trail Blazers. New Orleans is a buyer at the deadline (which feels like a GM trying to save his job, but that’s another discussion) and has long been linked to McCollum. However, the Knicks are interested (potentially sending Julius Randle out West in a deal). Dallas and Indiana both have interest as well. Portland is trying to retool its roster and build a contender around Damian Lillard, they do not just want a couple of picks for players they can develop over years. The Trail Blazers want help now (or picks they can flip into players who help now).
• One thing to watch with the Knicks is them trading out one or two wings or guards, opening up a rotation slot and forcing Tom Thibodeau to play Cam Reddish (the guy they just traded a first-round pick for, and Thibs has glued to the bench). Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier get mentioned in trade buzz a lot, but the value for both is low at this point.
• Buzz around a Jerami Grant trade out of Detroit has died down and he may be moved in the offseason, not now. There are contenders/playoff teams interested (Chicago, Utah, others), but Grant’s people have made it clear he wants a prominent role in the offense, not a third-option role player, and he expects a $112 million max contract extension after the season. That is his right, but it has the playoff teams backing off, and the other teams are not close to meeting Detroit’s asking price. The Sacramento Kings have been linked to Grant in the past.
• Speaking of Sacramento, there are still a lot of teams calling and talking about a Harrison Barnes trade. That still feels likely to happen, according to league sources. De’Aaron Fox also is available, but the Kings see a future All-Star, while other teams watched him plateau this season and have not made offers that interest the Kings.
• If you’re going to bet on one team making a trade before the deadline, bet on the Celtics. They need to shed a little salary to get under the luxury tax line and it’s no secret point guard Dennis Schroder is available and teams are calling. The Bucks and Bulls both reportedly made offers for Schroder, but nothing has happened yet.
• The other good trade bet: Toronto will move Goran Dragic somewhere before the deadline. They hope for a backup center or a wing, but one way or another a trade will get made (likely to a team that is looking for an expiring contract, a team that will buy Dragic out, and then he may head to Dallas).
• Indiana is still actively looking to trade one of Myles Turner or Domantas Sabonis, and after nearly getting two first-round picks for Caris LeVert the asking price for those bigs has not come down. The Pacers also could flip one or both of the picks they got in the LeVert trade as part of another deal.
• Cleveland is still active and is open to trading Collin Sexton before the deadline, according to multiple reports. However, Sexton is both out for the season with a knee injury and a restricted free agent this summer, so any team that trades for him will have to pay him and hope he returns to form next season when healthy. That risk keeps his trade value low. Cleveland may keep him, re-sign him this summer, then look for a trade once Sexton returns to action.
• There hasn’t been a lot of buzz about San Antonio trading veteran Thaddeus Young, but he wants to go to a contender and could undoubtedly help teams. Michael Scotto of Hoopshype reports the Suns and Timberwolves have expressed interest.
• Oklahoma City still sits out there as the one team with significant cap space they have/can create to take on a bad salary and facilitate a trade. The price is more draft picks (or a promising young player) to fuel the Thunder rebuild.
2) Booker’s 38 bests DeRozan’s 38 as Suns hold off Bulls for win
A couple of All-Stars were putting on a show in Phoenix. There was Devin Booker, putting up 38 points.
The Bulls’ DeMar DeRozan matched him.
The Bulls also got 32 from Zach LaVine, but the All-Stars did not get a lot of help.
The Suns are balanced, deeper, and the better team — this game was not as close as the final score indicates. Phoenix led by 29 in the third quarter and was up by 15 — 127-112 — with 1:41 left when both coaches emptied their benches. Then the Bulls went on a 12-0 run to make it look closer than it was.
Phoenix is now a ridiculous 43-10.
3) LaMelo Ball, Dejounte Murray named to All-Star team; Jayson Tatum now starter
We knew that Kevin Durant and Draymond Green were out for the All-Star Game due to injury, on Monday Commissioner Adam Silver stepped up and named their replacements — and went with guards to fill in for the frontcourt players.
San Antonio’s Dejounte Murray and Charlotte’s LaMelo Ball will play in Cleveland as All-Stars. Also, Silver moved the Celtics’ Jayson Tatum up into the starting lineup to replace Durant.
No real controversy here. Murray was a tough cut by the coaches, a player who made a leap this season and is putting up All-Star numbers — 19.6 points, 9.2 assists, and 8.4 rebounds per game — just not on a team many people are watching.
Ball becomes the third youngest All-Star in history, older than only LeBron James and Kobe Bryant. Ball is putting up impressive numbers —19.6 points, 7.1 rebounds and 7.5 assists per game — and the big leap in his game is the 36% shooting from 3 this season.
Don’t be shocked if we see a couple of other players have injuries (hopefully minor) that have them bow out of the All-Star Game; it seems to happen every year. There will be more replacements.
Highlight of the night: Klay Thompson hits dagger in OKC, says, “This is my house”
Not only is Klay Thompson’s game rounding into form, so is his smack talk.
After draining a dagger 3 to end any dreams of a Thunder comeback at home on Tuesday, Thompson said, “this is my house.”
Did he really say it? Thompson doesn’t remember.
He said it.
Last night’s scores:
Toronto 116, Charlotte 101
Miami 121, Washington 100
Phoenix 127, Chicago 124
Golden State 110, Oklahoma City 98
Utah 113, New York 104