Dante Cunningham

Trade Deadline day tracker: All the latest rumors, deals in one place


The NBA Trade Deadline is a frenzy of activity — with all the civility and patience of a piranha feeding. Rumors fly, misinformation is leaked, and through it all trades are made.

It’s been a wild day of rumors and trades. It’s almost impossible to keep up, but we’re going to do our best in this one place to encapsulate all of it for you. In the hours running up to the deadline — 3 p.m. Eastern of Thursday, noon Pacific — we’re going to do our best to encapsulate all of it right here. Consider it a little bit news scrawl, a little bit running diary, but we will have everything you need to know right here. Then as the day goes on check back to NBC Sports and its NBA page for a podcast breaking down the trade deadline, plus analysis of the Cavaliers moves, and Winners and losers. 

3:14 PM: Joe Johnson was moved from Utah to Sacramento as part of a three-team deal, and he’s understandably going to ask for a buyout.

3:05 PM: Adding to the wild day — the guys we expected to see traded, and teams we thought would be active, were quiet. At the top of that list, Tyreke Evans, the man most expected to be traded, stayed in Memphis because nobody would cough up a first round pick for him.

Also, DeAndre Jordan is still a Clipper. Los Angeles couldn’t get an offer it liked, and now with DJ, just re-signed Lou Williams, and Tobias Harris, Los Angeles will try to make the playoffs in the crowded back half of the West.

Also, Boston did not pull the trigger on anything. They will play the cards in their hand (which may well be good enough to reach the NBA Finals).

3:00 PM: We have reached the trade deadline. Teams can no longer submit deals to the league office, but some deals that just snuck in under the wire will still trickle in.

Be sure to check back at NBCSports.com throughout the afternoon as we will have stories on what the Cavaliers have done, winners and losers, and a podcast breaking down a wild day.

2:57 PM: The Orlando Magic have thrown in the towel on Elfrid Payton, trading him to Phoenix, a team looking for a point guard to put next to Devin Booker and willing to take a risk.

2:53 PM: Time is running out for deals and the big ones — DeAndre Jordan, Tyreke Evans — seem to be without resolution. However, we do have a minor trade that could get Sheldon Mac a little extra run in Atlanta.

2:34 PM: LeBron James was not left in the dark by the Cavaliers before their radical roster makeover on Thursday — and that included letting him know about the Dwyane Wade trade. Ramona Shelburne has it all:

2:32 PM:
The one guy that seemed a sure bet to be traded today, Tyreke Evans, is the one guy who may be staying put. There’s still not a first rounder for him out there.

2:25 PM: When the Nets picked up Rashad Vaughn in a trade just days ago, I thought it might be his last step before sliding out of the league after the season. I was wrong, he’s on the move again to New Orleans for Dante Cunningham. (Brooklyn turns guys like Cunningham into far more productive players, this will be interesting to watch.)

2:22 PM: The Trail Blazers have not been able to add a piece that vaults them up in the Western Conference hierarchy, so they have made a move to save them some cash.

2:18 PM: There are reports that if the Lakers plan to bring Isaiah Thomas off the bench he will ask for a buyout. However, as soon as Lonzo Ball returns from injury (maybe before the All-Star break, or right after) that is exactly what Los Angeles should do — this is all about developing Ball and the other young parts of the Lakers core (Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, etc). The Lakers can buy IT out if he gives them a steep enough discout to make it worth it, but they don’t have to.

Thomas is going to be disappointed in the size of the Brinks truck that is going to back up to his house this summer.

2:05 PM: The Knicks have landed another young point guard in a three-way trade broken by Adrian Wojnarowski.

Emmanuel Mudiay is a former lottery pick but one pushed aside in Denver because Jamal Murray is just better at the point. The Knicks can experiment playing him and Frank Ntilikina together to see if that’s a backcourt pairing that works. (With Kristaps Porzingis out and the playoffs dead to New York, they should experiment a lot the rest of the season.)

2:00 PM: One hour to go.

1:58 PM Utah plans to waive Derrick Rose once the trade is complete, which makes sense, he doesn’t fit what they want to do so give him a chance to play for something (including his next contract).

How about with his old friend Tom Thibodeau in Minnesota?

The problem with this: Tyus Jones needs more run, not less, and to cut his minutes for the empty shell of Derrick Rose?

1:28 PM: We have a swap of project players that have not really worked out well for their respective teams so far. Maybe new surroundings change things up for these guys (probably not, but it’s worth the shot because what the teams have been doing is not working).

The Kings will waive Caboclo, this clears up a roster spot for their involvement in all the other trades involving Cleveland. The Raptors get a guy who a number of teams wondered could be developed into a good shooter and rotation player outside of Sacramento. Good gamble by the Raptors.

1:16 PM: Just to sum up Cleveland’s day:

With more going out than coming in, Cleveland also has a couple of roster spots and can be aggressive on the buyout market.

1:07 PM: NOBODY SAW THIS COMING — Dwyane Wade is being traded out of Cleveland.

That’s LeBron’s buddy, but this is business. The Cavaliers needed to get younger and more athletic and have done that with bold strokes today — long-term payroll be damned — and with that Wade was going to get squeezed. So they offered him an out.

Wade and family are all good with this.

For a Miami team that has lost five in a row and is in danger of falling behind both Philly and surging Detroit — and out of the playoffs — this is a shot in the arm. Limited though he is, Wade can help the Heat.

1:00 PM: Cleveland is going all-in on this season, reworking a roster that needed it to get younger and more athletic, and to add more shooting. The Cavs got Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. from the Lakers first.

Now they have added Rodney Hood from Utah and George Hill from Sacramento in a three-team deal that sees Iman Shumpert headed to Sacramento and both Derrick Rose and Jae Crowder going to Utah. The Cavaliers have completely remade their roster.

12:45 PM: Cleveland took on a big risk with this Jordan Clarkson/Larry Nance trade. First, they did it without asking LeBron James about it, and just took on $28 million in long-term salary without a commitment from Lebron he would stay past this season. That’s one big gamble — they can sell it as a sign of long-term commitment, but it’s still a big risk.

The other is on Clarkson himself. He’s putting up 14.5 points a game off the bench for the Lakers this season, but it’s one thing to be the attacking energizer player on a team not expecting wins, it’s another to go against the John Wall/Kyle Lowry/Kyrie Irving group of guards in the East in the playoffs. Clarkson also is an okay but not great shooter from three (32.4 percent). He’s dangerous in the pick-and-roll and in isolation, things Tyronn Lue runs a lot, but he’s not a shooter in the classic sense. Clarkson is an upgrade from where Isaiah Thomas is right now, but is he really ready for this step?

12:25 PM: Detroit is shipping Brice Johnson to Memphis, but not for Dante Cunningham, rather for Long Beach State’s own James Ennis.

Ennis gives the streaking Pistons another solid rotation wing, he can shoot the three (35.7%), finish in transition and at the rim, and is a good defender. He will fit into the rotation where some of those Tobias Harris minutes were (he’s not as good as Harris, but Ennis is solid).

12:20 PM: We have the Luke Babbitt trade everyone has been waiting for. Miami adds a little shooting in this move.

12:06 PM: The Cavaliers needed to add youth and athleticism, and they are doing that by being close to a deal that lands them Jordan Clarkson (the Lakers wanted to move to get off his salary) and Larry Nance Jr., a story broken by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

For whom? Isaiah Thomas — who did not want to be traded and is not going to be re-signed by the Lakers — Channing Frye and a pick. This deal is reportedly done.

The Cavs get another playmaking guard — one fully healthy and playing better on both ends than Thomas — and some help on the wing with an athlete like Nance. This is an upgrade for Cleveland. Not a “watch out Golden State” upgrade, but one that helps them in the East. Is that enough to sway LeBron James this summer… I doubt it, but they probably think so.

The Lakers get off Clarkson’s salary helping open up free agency room in 2018 to go after both LeBron and Paul George — the Lakers will have the cap space with another couple moves like renouncing Julius Randle, now whether those two big fish are interested is a completely different question — and get a first (Cleveland’s late first, protected). They will not keep Thomas or Frye around after this season but are expected to keep them through the remainder of this season and not buy them out. Both are free agents come July 1.

12:01 PM: Clippers are remaining active trying to find a new home for DeAndre Jordan. The Raptors have long seen him as an upgrade to Jonas Valanciunas but the Clippers don’t want to just take on an inferior big man, so they want a lot more in the deal. The Raptors are trying, though.

11:45 AM: Not much buzz around the Knicks, who aren’t going to make a win-now playoff move at the deadline after the Kristaps Porzingis injury. The Knicks would love to trade Joakim Noah, but I would love to date Margot Robbie. About the same odds. Other teams are circling like vultures.

I have no idea why the Knicks would do this. Noah has zero reason to give the Knicks a discount on the more than $37 million he is owed, and if the Knicks stretch and waive him he’s on the books for five more seasons. Why do that? Just tell him to stay home and eat the cost for a year, maybe find a deal next season.

11:43 AM: The Pelicans and Pistons are talking about switching guys on their bench, according to Adrian Wojnarowski.

11:08 AM: We have a trade! A minor trade, but a trade. Chicago is sending Jameer Nelson to Detroit — a team in need of help at the point — for center Willie Reed.

The teams are also swapping second rounders. Detroit had just gotten Reed from the Clippers in the Blake Griffin trade. Expect the Pistons to be one of the teams very active on the buyout market.

10: 55 AM: Not to start this tracker on a down note, but Adrian Wojnarowski just tweeted something along the lines everyone has been hearing — this may be a dull deadline. Teams overspent in 2016 and don’t have cap space to take on money, and with that nobody wants to give up the cheap labor of a first-round pick. So the market has stalled.

10:52 AM: Adrian Wojnarowski reports the Clippers and Cavaliers are still talking DeAndre Jordan trade, maybe even trying to find a third team. I had heard the Clippers were not in without the Brooklyn pick from Cleveland, which is not on the table, so it’s going to take a third team or one side to cave to get a deal done. (The Cavs will give up their own first in the 20s, but the Clippers want more than that and some big salaries.)

10:49 AM: Teams have called the Lakers, who would prefer to move Jordan Clarkson (and his contract), but most teams are interested in Julius Randle. With good reason, he’s a quality rotation big man (he makes a quality small-ball five). But in the theme of this deadline, nobody yet is willing to part with a first-round pick to get him (in part because he’s a restricted free agent this summer) so the Lakers will wait. They don’t mind keeping through the rest of the season.

10:47 AM: The Grizzlies are still not trading Marc Gasol, and they are still holding out for a first-round pick for Tyreke Evans. Memphis is not budging on Gasol. Eventually, they will have to on Evans unless a team panics and caves.

10:45 AM: The Clippers have no intention of moving Tobias Harris, they already re-signed Lou Williams, and it’s hard to see a deal getting done for DeAndre Jordan. But Avery Bradley, he could be on the move. The Clippers reportedly want a first-round pick, but nobody is willing to give one up yet (that may be the theme of the day).

10:40 AM: No, Cleveland is not putting the Brooklyn pick in play. Nor should they.

Three coaches on the hot seat this season

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The NBA is in the midst of unprecedented coaching stability.

Logically, it’s only a matter until that gets upended.

But, team by team, it’s hard to find situations ripe for change. Still, here are the coaches on the hottest seats entering the 2017-18 season:

Alvin Gentry (Pelicans)

The list must start here. Gentry is coaching a mismanaged Pelicans team with undue expectations. He’s far closer to getting fired than anyone else in the league.

In fact, it’s surprising Gentry has lasted this long.

Monty Williams got fired immediately after leading New Orleans to its first playoff appearance in four years. Gentry’s two Pelicans teams haven’t come particularly close to reaching the postseason.

Now, the pressure intensifies. DeMarcus Cousins is entering a contract year. The clock is always ticking until Anthony Davis becomes an unrestricted free agent. And, of course, the West is incredibly strong.

Gentry doesn’t have much to work with considering the circumstances. Davis and Cousins are excellent players, but they prevent Gentry from implementing his preferred up-tempo style. Jrue Holiday is a fine third wheel, but roster-construction issues shift him to less-than-optimal shooting guard. Those problems are particularly evident at small forward, where Dante Cunningham (ideally a power forward) and Tony Allen (ideally a shooting guard) will split time with Solomon Hill injured.

Gentry’s boss, general manager Dell Demps, also appears on thin ice. If/when things go poorly will Demps fire Gentry to shift blame? Or will the Pelicans clean house completely?

Gentry faces an uphill climb to make those questions irrelevant.

Jeff Hornacek (Knicks)

A whopping 10 (!) coaches work for front-office heads who didn’t hire them: Jeff Hornacek (Knicks), Mike Budenholzer (Hawks), Brett Brown (76ers), Frank Vogel (Magic), Luke Walton (Lakers), Tyronn Lue (Cavaliers), Jason Kidd (Bucks), Doc Rivers (Clippers), Nate McMillan (Pacers) and Dwane Casey (Raptors).

Take your pick of which has the hottest seat. The internal politics at play can be far from evident.

Brown, Kidd and Walton face higher expectations than last season. Lue faces the highest expectations this side of Golden State. Rivers, McMillan and Casey have downgraded teams that have not given up hope of winning. Hornacek, Budenholzer and Vogel oversee teams that seem OK with losing in the short term, but poor records always hasten dismissals regardless of context.

The nod for hottest seat goes to Hornacek, who’s stuck in James Dolan’s top-down chaotic franchise. Patience never lasts in New York, and there are already rumors about Hornacek’s replacement and poor relationship with franchise player Kristaps Porzingis.

Fred Hoiberg (Bulls)

Again, you could easily pick one of the nine other coaches from the above section (except maybe Kidd, who might hold power over general manager Jon Horst). In the interest of variety, let’s mention Hoiberg.

The Bulls are a quagmire, knowingly entering a rebuilding stage but with the Gar Forman/John Paxson under increased scrutiny. Does Chicago actually have the appetite for sustained losing?

Hoiberg has already appeared in over his head connecting with established veterans. Maybe teaching young players will better suit the former college coach, but the NBA is still a different animal. If Hoiberg stumbles in this task, what reason will there be to keep him around?

Forman not wanting to admit firing Tom Thibodeau for Hoiberg was a mistake? Maybe. The pesky storyline that Hoiberg hasn’t had his type of players? Few NBA coaches are afforded that luxury.

Otherwise, it’s getting late early for Hoiberg, who’s entering his third season.

The Bulls just hired former coach Doug Collins as an advisor. If I were Hornacek, I wouldn’t feel great about that.

Report: Dante Cunningham re-signing with Pelicans

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An intriguing battle emerged late in free agency over Dante Cunningham.

The Pelicans and Timberwolves were desperate at small forward, and Cunningham rare contributor at the position still available. New Orleans even traded a second-rounder and cash to dump Quincy Pondexter and get far enough below the hard cap to take advantage of Cunningham’s Bird Rights.

That’ll pay off.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

It’s not the $3,106,500 Cunningham opted out of, but a $2.3 million salary beats his minimum ($2,106,470), which is all Minnesota could’ve offered.

That’s a great rate on someone who might be the Pelicans’ starting small forward, considering Solomon Hill‘s injury. Even if he plays behind Tony Allen on a team that starts small on the perimeter, Cunningham will reduce the time New Orleans must rely on also-rans.

Cunningham is probably better at power forward, but he can defend either position. He also has become a good enough 3-point shooter to credibly play small forward.

For the Pelicans, he’s a huge upgrade at a bargain price.

Timberwolves ace Jimmy Butler trade… then made some other moves

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NBCSports.com’s Dan Feldman is grading every team’s offseason based on where the team stands now relative to its position entering the offseason. A ‘C’ means a team is in similar standing, with notches up or down from there.

From the moment former Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau took over the Timberwolves, Minnesota was involved in Jimmy Butler trade rumors. But, as of last year, Chicago reportedly wouldn’t budge without receiving Andrew Wiggins, and I didn’t think that was enough for the Bulls. Since, Butler has only improved and Wiggins moved closer to a max salary that will diminish his value. A deal seemed unlikely.

Then, suddenly the Timberwolves traded for Butler – without surrendering Wiggins. A team bound to improve around Karl-Anthony Towns and Wiggins is now set to clobber a 13-year playoff drought.

Butler is a star in his prime who’s locked up for two more seasons at an affordable salary. The price to land him – Zach LaVine (injured and up for a contract extension), Kris Dunn (ineffective as a relatively old rookie) and moving down from the No. 7 to No. 16 pick – was absurdly low. By dropping only nine spots rather than give up the No. 7 pick entirely, Thibodeau just stunted on his old bosses.

That fantastic trade started a busy offseason in Minnesota, but the rest of it wasn’t nearly as inspiring. (To be fair, how could it be?)

Going from Ricky Rubio (two years, $29.25 million remaining) to Jeff Teague (three years, $57 million with a player option) at point guard wasn’t ideal in a vacuum. But Teague’s shooting was important considering Butler and Wiggins form a sketchy wing pairing on 3-pointers and Thibodeau insists on playing two traditional bigs. Plus, the Timberwolves got a first-rounder a first-rounder from the Jazz for Rubio.

Another former Bull, Taj Gibson, will bolster Thibodeau’s two-big rotation. But Minnesota already had Gorgui Dieng and Cole Aldrich (who’s overpaid and has disappointed, but can still eat up minutes) to limit the defensive burden on Towns, and No. 16 pick Justin Patton is in the pipeline. Does a 32-year-old Gibson have enough left in the tank to justify a two-year $28 million contract?

Likewise, will a 37-year-old Crawford provide value at the full room exception (two years, $8,872,400 with a player option)? The Timberwolves didn’t need another ball-handler. Butler, Wiggins and Teague can be staggered enough to handle that. Towns should be tasked with a greater offensive role, too. At least Crawford is a solid spot-up shooter, but his defense is a big minus.

Shabazz Muhammad won’t fill Minnesota’s 3-and-D void, either. But on a minimum contract, he was too talented to pass up. Dante Cunningham could help, though he’s better at power forward than on the wing, where the Timberwolves need more depth.

Thibodeau hasn’t exactly instilled faith in his ability to take this franchise into the future. But he hit a home run with the Butler trade, and that buys him leeway.

Offseason grade: A+

Pelicans trying to keep up with all the problems they’ve created for themselves

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NBCSports.com’s Dan Feldman is grading every team’s offseason based on where the team stands now relative to its position entering the offseason. A ‘C’ means a team is in similar standing, with notches up or down from there.

The entire operation could have cratered if Jrue Holiday left in free agency, as the Pelicans would have had only moderate cap space to replace him.

That didn’t happen.


Years of roster mismanagement caught up to New Orleans, which had its meager wing depth eviscerated when Solomon Hill suffered a long-term injury. Complicating matters, the Pelicans had already hard-capped themselves by signing Rajon Rondo and Darius Miller to a combined salary above the taxpayer mid-level exception. Holiday used his leverage to get a massive contract – worth up to $150 million over five years – that pushed New Orleans close to that hard cap.

Rondo might be a decent value as a $3.3 million backup point guard. But his ego complicates the situation, and the Pelicans will start him at point guard – pushing Holiday to shooting guard, where the team’s third-best player will make less of an impact.

Miller washed out of the NBA two years ago after three seasons in New Orleans. The former second-rounder went overseas and then drew a salary above the minimum. I’m curious to see what the Pelicans see in him now.

In a pinch on the wing – where Hill, best at power forward, was already playing out of position – New Orleans sent a second-rounder and cash to the Bulls to dump Quincy Pondexter. Presumably, the injury problems that have kept Pondexter from playing the last two seasons meant he couldn’t help the Pelicans on the wing this season. Otherwise, this deal was a farce. But it allowed the Pelicans to sign Tony Allen and presumably one other player. Re-signing Dante Cunningham would help, but even he is better at power forward than small forward.

Allen is still a strong defender at age 35, but he’s a poor shooter. Rondo generally has been, too.

Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins will have to be comfortable from deep for this team to have adequate spacing. The situation behind those two stars is woeful.

New Orleans spent a lot of time picking around the edges at point guard, though. In addition to re-signing Holiday and signing Rondo, the Pelicans traded effective backup point guard Tim Frazier (on a reasonable $2 million salary) to the Wizards for the No. 52 pick. Then, New Orleans essentially dealt the Nos. 40 and 52 picks and $800,000 to move up to No. 31 for injured point guard Frank Jackson, who’s already hurt again. The Pelicans also signed Ian Clark (defends point guards, handles the ball and distributes like a shooting guard). Combo guard E'Twaun Moore returns, too.

Between Davis, Cousins, Omer Asik and Alexis Ajinca, New Orleans is paying $57,396,659 this season to players most effective at center.

Meanwhile, small forward is a wasteland.

This is not the team I’d want to send into battle during Cousins’ contract year. Lose him, and how will that color Davis’ long-term view of the franchise?

The Pelicans keep bandaging major wounds, and it’s already catching up to them. The difficult situation entering the offseason must be taken into account.

They started the summer in a jam. Then, they got jammed.

Offseason grade: C-