What other veterans could hit post-deadline free agency via buyout?
Several players almost assuredly who’ll get bought out and become free agents if they are not traded this week, leagues sources said, include Boston’s David Lee, Denver’s JJ Hickson and Brooklyn’s Andrea Bargnani.
J.J. Hickson has fallen from the Nuggets’ rotation, as they’re stacked with several other bigs: Nikola Jokic, Kenneth Faried, Darrell Arthur, Jusuf Nurkic and Joffrey Lauvergne. Hickson finishes pick-and-rolls well, but he’s limited otherwise – especially defensively.
Hickson will be owed $1,816,132 of his $5,613,500 salary after the trade deadline. A minimum deal would pay $411,194 for the rest of the season.
Given his defensive shortcomings, Hickson might have trouble finding win-now teams that want him for depth – especially given the league’s trend toward going smaller. Maybe he can find a team that would put him in the rotation, though as teams fall from the playoff race, they should be less inclined to use a 27-year-old over younger players.
Bargnani has a more complicated case, because he has a player option for next season on his minimum contract. It’s unclear whether that second season is guaranteed if he’s waived.
The Nets have mostly kept Bargnani in the rotation. He still doesn’t defend, still doesn’t rebound. He has just shifted his shot selection from beyond the arc to mid-range jumpers. Though he makes those long 2s at a decent clip, he’s less valuable with that specialty – in terms of both efficiency and floor spacing.
Returning to Europe might be his best option. He played well at EuroBasket last summer, and that style might suit him. But what prime European jobs would be open now? That route could make more sense in the offseason.
Both Hickson and Bargnani ought to think carefully about surrendering salary in buyouts.