The NBA season is into its second half, and we will be here each weekday with the NBC Sports daily roundup Three Things to Know — everything you might have missed in the Association, every key moment from the night before in one place.
1) Aldridge (Miami?), Drummond (Lakers?) headline buyout class
With a hectic trade deadline in our review mirror, the NBA turns its attention to buyouts: Mostly veteran players with larger contracts on struggling teams who didn’t get traded — or did, to a team where they are not a fit — who now are willing take a little bit of a haircut in a buyout to become a free agent midseason, allowing them to jump to a contending or playoff team.
Usually, that’s a small pool of players, but this season it could look a lot more like a Vegas hotel pool party. A lot more players than normal seem buyout candidates. The teams they jump to generally offer minimum contracts just for the rest of this season, although this year Brooklyn ($4.6 million), Indiana ($7.5 million), Philadelphia ($3.9 million), Golden State ($2.8 million), and others have exceptions or cap space so they can offer a little more than the minimum.
Aldridge has already reached a buyout with the Spurs and, once he clears waivers, has long been expected to sign with the Miami Heat (a team in need of his stretch four/five skills). However, the Lakers, Clippers, and Nets want to have a conversation with him, too, reports Chris Haynes at Yahoo Sports.
Yahoo Sources: LaMarcus Aldridge will have conversations with the Miami Heat, Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers and Brooklyn Nets before deciding on his next destination.
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) March 26, 2021
Drummond is the center from Cleveland who was no longer part of that franchise’s future after the Cavs picked up Jarrett Allen in the James Harden trade. He averaged 17.5 points and 13.5 rebounds a game this season, is an elite rebounder and a solid drop-back rim protector, but he brings an old-school game that does not space the floor, and he can be exposed defensively by top pick-and-roll tandems. Drummond had been linked to the Lakers, and they are still the favorite, but in recent days a lot of Knicks buzz has come up because they are under the salary cap and could sign him to as much as a four-year, $64 million contract as soon as he clears waivers. Will Drummond want to try and raise his value with the Lakers or take the Knicks’ cash?
Or does he choose door No. 3 with the Celtics or Hornets or some other team?
Yahoo Sources: Andre Drummond will listen to pitches from the New York Knicks, Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, Boston Celtics and Charlotte Hornets.
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) March 26, 2021
Other players traded yesterday who may become available on the buyout market include Otto Porter Jr., Kelly Olynyk, Cory Joseph, Rodney Hood, Austin Rivers, and Avery Bradley. Other names to keep an eye on include Hassan Whiteside, Gorgui Dieng, Wayne Ellington, Jeff Teague, Sterling Brown, and James Ennis.
Fans usually have high expectations for these players, and they can help — Markieff Morris was a boost to the Lakers last year — but they are being waived for a reason. These are role players at this point, not players who change the fortune of a team.
2) De'Aaron Fox takes his star turn, scores career-high 44
Most of the attention in Sacramento on Thursday was on the Kings standing pat at the trade deadline — they didn’t sell on Harrison Barnes or Buddy Hield. Instead — while they did trade Nemanja Bjelica to Miami — they added Delon Wright and made the moves of a team wanting to make playoffs this season. That’s possible, but the Kings would need to make up ground in the West and leap three teams just to get into the play-in games.
Beating Golden State on Thursday helped that cause — the Warriors are the current 10 seed in the West, and following a 141-119 win the Kings are now just two games back of that final play-in slot. De’Aaron Fox sparked Thursday’s blowout with a 44-point game, a new career-high for the Kings’ face of the franchise.
Sacramento has a legit star in Fox. Whether the Kings are doing the right things to build around him is up for debate, but Fox himself is unquestionably special.
3) Philadelphia now 6-1 without Embiid after beating Lakers
However, that win on TNT Thursday night lifted the 76ers to 6-1 since Joel Embiid went down with a bone bruise in his knee. It’s an excellent sign for a team trying to prove that Ben Simmons Tobias Harris, and the rest of the roster help make the Sixers a worthy contender.
Danny Green had a revenge game against his former team, scoring 28 points on 9-of-14 shooting, plus hitting a dagger three late in a 109-101 win.
However, what everyone is talking about is Dwight Howard‘s ejection. Howard bumped Montrezl Harrell — the kind of thing Howard does a lot to try to get under an opponent’s skin. Harrell pushed back and walked off. Then referee Kane Fitzgerald jumped in and sent Howard packing.
Dwight Howard gets ejected after going at it with Montrezl Harrell. 👀 pic.twitter.com/mcifm7cXR9
— House of Highlights (@HoHighlights) March 26, 2021
Howard was the instigator, no question, but was that really worthy of an ejection? A lot of quick triggers on officials around the NBA recently.