For all the talk of a tight trade market (and that is still the case in some quarters) we have already seen a blockbuster trade — Blake Griffin is now a Detroit Piston. We’ve also seen an expected trade, with Nikola Mirotic getting moved and the Pelicans stepping up to land him.
Who else could be on the move before the NBA’s trade deadline before Thursday at 3 p.m. Eastern? There are a lot of names being bandied about around the league, but here are five to watch closely, the five most likely to have a new address by the end of the week.
1) Tyreke Evans, Memphis Grizzlies. If there is one sure thing on this list, it’s that Evans will have a new home, the Grizzlies have already shut him down to avoid an injury before the deadline. Evans is scoring 19.5 points a game and is shooting 39 percent from three in an impressive bounce-back season for the former Rookie of the Year who last summer had so little of a market he could only get a one-year, $3.3 million contract with Memphis. He’s played himself into a much bigger contract next season, one the capped-out Grizzlies can’t afford so they will trade him before the deadline to get something back.
So far the Celtics, Sixers, Cavaliers, Nuggets, Heat and other teams have inquired about Evans, who could be a bench spark for a playoff team, but Memphis is holding out for a first-round pick in the deal. Other teams are not offering that yet (more like a second rounder and a player on a cheap contract) because he is just a rental and teams would need to use cap space to re-sign him next summer (no Bird rights on a one-year contract). Which is why this one could well go down to the wire. Eventually either a team will cave and throw in a first-rounder, or Memphis will cave and take a couple of second-round picks for Evans. One way or another, he is certainly going to be on the move.
2) Lou Williams, Los Angeles Clippers. After the Blake Griffin trade, logic dictates the Clippers should move on from other veteran stars on their roster (except for Danilo Gallinari and his unmovable deal) and start a full-on rebuild. However, owner Steve Ballmer doesn’t want to bottom out, so the Clippers are holding out for real value at the deadline. Which brings us to Lou Williams — the current leader in the Sixth Man of the Year race averaging 23.5 points per game — who teams are calling about, but the Clippers are holding out for a first-round pick. Boston is the most mentioned team looking at Williams, but Toronto, Detroit, and Miami all also have been mentioned as possible destinations.
Unlike Memphis with Evans, the Clippers may well get a first-round pick for Evans, which is what they are demanding. The reason is that a trade for Williams brings his Bird rights, making it much easier for the team to re-sign him next summer.
3) Rodney Hood, Utah Jazz. I could have put Joe Johnson from Utah here too, because he wants out and his agent and the team are trying to make that happen. However, the reality is anyone not named Rudy Gobert or Donovan Mitchell is available from Utah, and shooter Rodney Hood is drawing a lot of interest. While there are other flaws in his game, Hood can shoot the rock from deep — averaging 16.4 points per game and hitting 38.7 percent from three — and that is a valuable commodity around the league. Denver is said to be interested, as are the Pistons among others.
One other name to watch from Utah at the deadline: Derrick Favors. He also is available and drawing some interest from teams.
4) Stanley Johnson, Detroit Pistons. An athletic and long wing with a world of potential but still not a reliable jumper, Stanley Johnson has not developed as hoped in Detroit. However, he’s just 21 years old, and other teams around the league think he could be a good player and want to see if a change of scenery and a different coach could break him out. He’s available in a trade, and has been mentioned as someone who could go to Utah for Hood (and Utah has one of the best player development programs in the league). Also reportedly interested are the Spurs among others. Detroit isn’t going to get a lot in return for him (no first-rounder for him in this market), but if Van Gundy is ready to move on a lesser deal may be enough.
5) DeAndre Jordan, Los Angeles Clippers. Much like Lou Williams, it would make sense for the Clippers to move on from Jordan, especially since he is a free agent this summer and, after the Griffin trade, it’s hard to see him re-signing with the Clips. The challenge in trading him is two-fold. First, he’s a more traditional pick-and-roll big man who can defend the rim, get boards, and finish around the basket for a team, but he can’t space the floor at all and his free throw shooting can make it hard to play him at the end of games. Not every team wants a traditional center like him now, and if a team is going to get DJ they need a good point guard (or ball handler) to run pick-and-rolls with Jordan and use his skill set well. Jordan is an All-NBA level player but he needs to be in a specific system to be truly effective.
The other problem for teams is they don’t want to put a lot of assets into a deal — and since Jordan makes $22 million this season it’s going to take a lot of assets in a trade to make it work — and then lose him as a free agent this summer. Teams will want behind-the-scenes assurances from Jordan he will re-sign (or that he would opt into his $24.1 million for next season, something he has so far been unwilling to do).
The Clippers want a first-round pick and a player for Jordan, and if a team believes it can re-sign him they may well get it. But not yet, and the Clippers may need to make a decision about taking less back or keeping him and then trying to re-sign him this summer.
Among the teams interested are Portland, Cleveland, Milwaukee, Miami, and Orlando.