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The Warriors reportedly wasted no time finding a replacement for Klay Thompson, agreeing to trade for Kelly Oubre from the Oklahoma City Thunder. Thompson, who suffered a torn Achilles’ tendon Wednesday, was ruled out the season Thursday, and within a few hours Golden State had utilized its trade exception to acquire Oubre, according to ESPN.
Oubre was a member of the Thunder for less than a week after arriving from the Phoenix Suns in the return package for Chris Paul. The 24-year-old forward, who averaged 18.7 points and 6.4 rebounds per game last season, will need to play major minutes as the Warriors cope without Thompson, their five-time all-star. Oubre is a capable starter, but he can’t replicate Thompson’s elite shooting and on-ball defense.
Oubre will earn $14.4 million in the final year of his contract, but the Warriors’ luxury tax bill will balloon upon his arrival. According to one estimate, Golden State’s tax bill would rise from $66 million to $134 after adding Oubre, although the Warriors and all other taxpaying teams will get a partial refund on their tax bills that is proportional to the NBA’s revenue decline during the upcoming season due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Thunder GM Sam Presti is in full asset acquisition mode, and he will reportedly add a protected first-round pick plus a $14.4 million trade exception in the deal.
New president Daryl Morey is off and running with the first major trade of his Sixers tenure, sending Al Horford to the Oklahoma City Thunder along with a 2025 first-round pick and a 2020 second-round pick for shooting guard Danny Green. The Thunder recently acquired Green in a trade with the Los Angeles Lakers for Dennis Schroder.
Horford, who signed a four-year, $109 million contract with the Sixers in 2019, proved to be a poor fit alongside center Joel Embiid. Given the size of his contract and his declining production at age 34, Horford had negative trade value and it’s no surprise that Philadelphia had to attach a first-round pick to free itself of the long-term financial commitment. However, the Sixers addressed their dire need for outside shooting by adding Green and Morey will be glad that he didn’t need to trade a more immediate pick or multiple first-rounders to get this done. Green, 33, was an inconsistent piece for the Lakers during their title run, but his 3-and-D game is a more natural fit alongside Ben Simmons and Embiid.
Oklahoma City GM Sam Presti agreed to absorb Horford so that he could pocket another first-round pick — incredibly, he now has 18 total through 2027 — and attempt to turn around and trade the five-time all-star center down the road. The Thunder pursued a similar strategy with veteran guard Chris Paul last season before trading him on to the Phoenix Suns earlier this week. Additional trades for the Thunder are possible this week, given that Presti appears to be directing the franchise into a full-scale rebuilding effort.
Multiple reports Tuesday indicated that the Houston Rockets were struggling to generate much of a market for disgruntled guard Russell Westbrook, who has reportedly requested a trade amid talk that James Harden also wants out. The New York Times reported that the New York Knicks and Charlotte Hornets were the “only teams with verified trade interest.” The Athletic reported that the Rockets and Washington Wizards had discussed a possible Westbrook for John Wall swap, although the talks had “no traction” currently because Houston wanted additional pieces. Such a deal, if it were to go through, would reunite Wizards Coach Scott Brooks with Westbrook, whom he coached for years on the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Houston’s efforts, of course, are hampered by Westbrook’s contract, which will pay him $41 million this season, $43.8 million next season and $46.7 million in 2022-23. The nine-time all-star remains productive at 32 years old, but his dwindling efficiency, turnover problems, poor outside shooting, inconsistent defense and ball-dominant style have held back his teams in the playoffs in recent years. His trade value is also suffering from the worst postseason run of his career in the bubble, as a leg injury and a battle with the coronavirus saw him score a career-low 17.9 points per game while shooting 42.1% from the field and 24.2% from deep.
Although the Rockets sacrificed two first-round picks and two pick swaps to acquire Westbrook from the Oklahoma City Thunder last year, it would be hard for the Knicks, Hornets or Wizards to justify including a single first-round pick for Westbrook given his massive contract, age and diminishing skills. If New York or Charlotte wanted to offer salary relief to Houston by packaging together players on short-term or expiring contracts, it might be worth gambling on Westbrook’s fame and exhilarating play style. Any inclusion of a top young talent or a meaningful draft asset should be avoided at all costs because the ceiling of a Westbrook-led team is a swift first-round exit.
Washington should listen to any trade proposal that involves Wall, even though he has a long history with the franchise and its fan base dating back to his selection as the top pick in the 2010 draft. Wall, 30, hasn’t played in an NBA game in nearly two years, and he’s coming off multiple surgeries and a ruptured Achilles. Like Westbrook, he is owed more than $130 million over the next three seasons. Like Westbrook, his poor outside shooting will hamper his ability to age gracefully. Washington has been stuck in limbo since Wall’s Achilles injury, and its 2021 playoff hopes largely rest on his comeback and his ability to stay healthy.
Even so, the Wizards have at least strong reasons to pass on a Westbrook deal. First, Wall and all-star guard Bradley Beal have a long-standing partnership and a mutual respect. Beal has spoken regularly about his excitement for Wall’s return. Second, Wizards GM Tommy Sheppard has indicated that Wall’s game is in a good place after his extended recovery period.
If Wall can stay healthy, he is a better fit alongside Beal and he is far more likely to help Washington’s younger players reach their potential. In both Oklahoma City and Houston, Westbrook’s success has often come at the expense of his teammates. As the Wizards progress through their retooling effort, Westbrook’s high-usage style could limit Beal’s effectiveness and make it difficult to build functional team chemistry.
ESPN.com reported Tuesday night that the Rockets were willing to be patient in their search for a Westbrook trade that would net them a young player or draft assets.
Needing to add a difference-maker to support two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo on his quest for a first title, the Milwaukee Bucks agreed Monday night to acquire veteran guard Jrue Holiday from the New Orleans Pelicans.
Holiday, 30, averaged 19.1 points, 4.8 rebounds and 6.7 assists per game last season, and his arrival marks one of the biggest and boldest moves of Bucks GM Jon Horst’s tenure. Milwaukee will send Eric Bledsoe, George Hill, three first-round picks and two pick swaps to New Orleans in the deal, which will help keep Antetokounmpo and company near the top of the East’s projected standings. In a sign-and-trade agreement for Bogdanovic, the Bucks will send Ersan Ilyasova, Donte DiVincenzo and D.J. Wilson to the Kings. Bogdanovic, 28, averaged a career-high 15.1 points, 3.4 rebounds and 3.4 assists last season.
If trading for Holiday helps convince Antetokounmpo to sign a five-year supermax contract before the Dec. 21 deadline, it will be worth the steep price in draft assets. If not, the Bucks could find themselves without Antetokounmpo or Holiday next season, as the latter is owed $26.1 million this season and holds a $27 million option for 2021-22. In that scenario, which would necessitate a full-scale rebuild, parting with so many picks could prove to be disastrous.
The Bucks also agreed with the Sacramento Kings Monday on a sign-and-trade for Bogdan Bogdanovic, but the veteran guard has yet to sign off on the deal by Wednesday, according to multiple people with knowledge of the evolving situation. If the sign-and-trade agreement for Bogdanovic is completed, the Bucks will send Ersan Ilyasova, Donte DiVincenzo and D.J. Wilson to the Kings.
If the Bogdanovic sign-and-trade can be salvaged, the message from management would be clear: The Bucks are fully committed to the 2021 title chase. If Bogdanovic finds a different home, Milwaukee will need to reconsider its options and search for another starting-caliber wing.
With James Harden and Russell Westbrook both eyeing exits from Houston, the Rockets agreed Monday to trade forward Robert Covington, a defensive specialist, to the Portland Trail Blazers in exchange for Trevor Ariza, the 16th pick in Wednesday’s draft, and a 2021 first-round pick. The deal was first reported by ESPN.com, and it could be an early indicator that a wider teardown is coming for the Rockets.
Covington, 29, was acquired by the Rockets at the trade deadline in a deal for Clint Capela, and his arrival ushered in a brief era of center-less lineups. The micro-ball approach presented matchup problems for some opponents, but it wasn’t able to hold up against the Los Angeles Lakers in the Rockets’ swift second-round series loss. Houston needs whatever draft assets it can muster after trading away multiple first-round picks and pick swaps to land Westbrook last year, and this move helps on that front. The 35-year-old Ariza is no more than a role player at this point of his career, though, so the move amounts to a step backward when it comes to competing in the 2020-21 season.
Portland has needed defensive help in the frontcourt and on the wings since parting with Al-Farouq Aminu and Moe Harkless in 2019. Covington, who is under contract for the next two seasons, cleanly fills that need. His capable, if streaky, three-point shooting should also make him a good offensive fit alongside lead guards Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. Still, the Blazers will probably enter the season in a deep pack of teams fighting for one of the West’s bottom four playoff seeds.
In the first big deal of the 2020 trade season, the Oklahoma City Thunder agreed to send Chris Paul to the Phoenix Suns, where he will form an all-star backcourt with Devin Booker. Phoenix will send a package that includes Ricky Rubio, Kelly Oubre Jr., and a 2022 first-round pick to Oklahoma City.
This qualifies as a splashy deal for the Suns, who are seeking to build on the momentum generated by their 8-0 run through the bubble and return to the playoffs for the first time since 2010. Paul, 35, earned all-NBA second team honors last season by leading the Thunder to an unexpected playoff berth. In Phoenix, the future Hall of Famer will be reunited with Monty Williams, his former coach on the then-New Orleans Hornets.
Paul and Booker should be a clean fit, functioning similarly to Paul’s pairing with James Harden on the Houston Rockets. Paul’s shooting ability should create more space for Booker to operate in the half-court, and Williams can stagger their minutes to ensure a quality lead playmaker will always be on the court. While Paul is set to earn $41 million this season and holds a $44 million option for next season, Phoenix had sliced its payroll and had cap space to use to facilitate this move.
The Suns will hope Paul can serve as a veteran mentor for Booker and center Deandre Ayton, who are both seeking their first playoff appearances. Adding Paul is a signal to the 24-year-old Booker, who would generate significant interest if he ever sought a change of scenery, that Phoenix is serious about winning.
Meanwhile, the Thunder continues what appears to be an aggressive cost-cutting and rebuilding approach during the pandemic. After parting ways with coach Billy Donovan and replacing him with first-timer Mark Daigneault, Oklahoma City has also reportedly agreed to trade Dennis Schroder, one of the league’s leading sixth men, to the Los Angeles Lakers.
Houston has recently messaged a desire to keep James Harden for this season amid the departures of general manager Daryl Morey and coach Mike D’Antoni. Yet Brooklyn represents an attractive partner if Rockets ownership decides to pursue a full rebuilding effort by honoring Russell Westbrook’s trade request and moving Harden.
Assembling a Big 3 of Kevin Durant, Harden and Kyrie Irving would be a dream for the Nets, who have been linked to interest in a third star such as Bradley Beal in past rumors. That trio would represent the best top-end talent in the Eastern Conference and offer a lethal combination of scoring, playmaking and shooting to Steve Nash, the Nets’ new coach. Durant and Harden remain friends after their shared time together in Oklahoma City, and both could be expected to feast on the East’s weaker competition.
For Harden, Brooklyn would be appealing because it is a big-market organization that is ready to win now and boasts Durant to aid in his assimilation. After years as the ball-dominant centerpiece of Houston’s offense, Harden is a tricky fit to drop onto most other contenders. Sacrifices would need to be made and personality conflicts could arise, but the Nets wouldn’t require Harden to start over from scratch on a rebuilding team or to find a fit in an already established group. Durant missed last season due to injury, and Irving was in and out with his own health concerns.
If the Rockets are reluctant to trade Harden to the Philadelphia 76ers, where Morey now runs the show, the Nets are perhaps the best option on the board. Brooklyn doesn’t have an all-star piece to include in its return package, but it does have numerous quality rotation players on the upswing — including Spencer Dinwiddie, Caris LeVert and Jarrett Allen — and a full cache of future draft picks.
Houston, which is down future assets after trading for Westbrook last year, could replenish its stockpile and still put out a somewhat respectable on-court product next season. Harden is an MVP-caliber player under contract through 2022-23, so he should fetch even more assets than Oklahoma City received for Paul George last summer if he were to be traded.
The Los Angeles Lakers have agreed to trade shooting guard Danny Green and the No. 28 pick in this week’s draft to the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for guard Dennis Schroder. The deal will be finalized later this week once the NBA’s trade window opens and the draft takes place on Wednesday.
Schroder, 27, gives the Lakers a proven ballhandler and playmaker to add to their backcourt, which could lose Rajon Rondo to free agency. The German guard finished second in 2020 sixth man of the year voting after averaging 18.9 points and 4.0 assists per game during a stellar season in Oklahoma City. Schroder will probably be expected to run the offense when LeBron James is off the court, and his ability to break down defenders off the dribble should be valuable on a Lakers roster filled with spot-up complementary pieces.
Green, 33, was signed by the Lakers in 2019 as a three-and-D wing. He filled that role well, but his confidence in his shot wavered during L.A.’s run to the title. Moving Green clears the way for the Lakers to re-sign free agent guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who is due for a significant raise from his $8.5 million salary after a strong playoff run. Green was one of the Lakers’ top trade chips due to his $15.4 million expiring contract, which made for a clean swap for Schroder, who will earn $15.5 million.
Victor Oladipo’s pledge to the Pacers comes days after a report suggesting he was shopping for a new basketball home. The 28-year-old guard will be a free agent next summer, and his name has been tossed into various trade scenarios before the start of the 2020-21 season. After two injury-plagued years, though, Oladipo must prove he is still an elite player worthy of a major long-term contract. His public statement about the Pacers could indicate that a lack of outside interest in trading for his services limited his options. First-time Pacers coach Nate Bjorkgren could be tasked with reintegrating Oladipo into a group that saw Domantas Sabonis, T.J. Warren and Malcolm Brogdon all take steps forward in their careers while Oladipo missed time last year.
Mike Conley picking up his $34 million option for 2020-21 was a total no-brainer. The 33-year-old point guard struggled in his first season with the Jazz, missing a long stretch due to a hamstring injury and seeing his scoring and shooting efficiency tumble. While Conley was a borderline all-star a few years ago with the Grizzlies, he has aged into a different phase of his career and will be more of a role player for Utah next season.
With better health and consistency from Conley and the return of Bojan Bogdanovic, the Jazz should bring back a well-balanced and experienced starting lineup that should have a chance to improve on its first-round playoff exit.
It’s difficult to see the fit between LaMelo Ball, who is gaining buzz as the likely top pick in Wednesday’s draft, and the Minnesota Timberwolves, who hold the No. 1 selection. Ball and D’Angelo Russell are both creative playmakers and poor defenders who don’t bring much to the table when they move off the ball. What’s more, the Timberwolves moved heaven and earth to land Russell at the trade deadline in an effort to appease franchise center Karl-Anthony Towns. Drafting the 19-year-old Ball would create positional conflicts with Russell and potentially send mixed messages to the Timberwolves’ two centerpieces about the organization’s desire to win now.
While Ball isn’t viewed as a can’t-miss prospect like other recent top draft picks, teams such as the Bulls, Knicks and Pistons have lottery picks and a need for backcourt playmakers. A best-case scenario for Minnesota might involve trading back a few slots and adding a rotation piece to a young and thin roster. Of course, the Timberwolves could always draft Ball if they believe he’s the best available player and hope for the best.
Top free agents
This ranking takes into account health, age, role, versatility, statistical production and upside.
1. Anthony Davis (Los Angeles Lakers), Player Option
After a scintillating postseason run that culminated in a title, Davis has indicated he plans to re-sign with the Lakers.
2. Brandon Ingram (New Orleans Pelicans), Restricted Free Agent
The 2020 Most Improved Player should anticipate a max-level rookie extension following a career year in New Orleans.
3. Fred VanVleet (Toronto Raptors), Unrestricted Free Agent
The tough and talented two-way guard said he is seeking a “cash out” after winning a title in 2019 and establishing himself as a full-time starter last year.
4. Gordon Hayward (Boston Celtics), Player Option
An ankle injury limited Hayward during the 2020 playoffs, forcing him to choose between opting into a $34.2 million option with Boston or testing his options as one of the bigger names in a weak free agency class.
5. Montrezl Harrell (Los Angeles Clippers), Unrestricted Free Agent
Harrell played poorly in the bubble following the death of his grandmother, but his scoring ability, pick-and-roll savvy and motor make him one of the best big men on the board.
6. Christian Wood (Detroit Pistons), Unrestricted Free Agent
The little-known Wood came on strong before the March shutdown, emerging as one of the few big men with upside in this year’s class.
7. Davis Bertans (Washington Wizards), Unrestricted Free Agent
Wizards GM Tommy Sheppard has said re-signing Bertans, who shot 42 percent on three-pointers last season, is the franchise’s top offseason priority.
8. Bogdan Bogdanovic (Sacramento Kings), Restricted Free Agent
Bogdanovic, a 28-year-old gunner, played his way into Sacramento’s starting lineup and represents a clean fit for any team looking for a jolt of perimeter offense.
9. Danilo Gallinari (Oklahoma City Thunder), Unrestricted Free Agent
The 32-year-old scoring-minded forward avoided injuries and played well for the Thunder, but he still has yet to advance out of the first round during his 12-year career.
10. DeMar DeRozan (Spurs), Player Option
While DeRozan remains a reliable scorer, his lack of outside shooting and poor defense could limit interest and lead him to pick up his $27.7 million option.
Other names of note: Mike Conley (expected to opt in), Andre Drummond (will probably opt in), Goran Dragic, Serge Ibaka, Malik Beasley, De’Anthony Melton, Joe Harris, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope