The 2018 NBA trade deadline came and went on Thursday, with the Cleveland Cavaliers completely overhauling their rotation, several former lottery picks getting a change of scenery, and a few other smaller-scale deals joining the bigger-ticket business done well before Thursday’s deadline. For teams that didn’t get any business done, though — or who didn’t get everything they’d hoped for — the focus now shifts to the NBA buyout market.
If you’re a veteran player on a going-nowhere team with hopes of playing postseason basketball, you want your agent doing everything he can to come to terms with your current employer that get you out of your contract, onto the waiver wire and then, hopefully, into the loving arms of a playoff hopeful before the March 1 deadline for postseason eligibility. Here’s a quick look at some potentially enticing vets who could be changing addresses very soon.
Joe Johnson, Sacramento Kings
The 36-year-old Johnson has averaged a career-low 7.3 points per game, shooting just 27.4 percent in 22 minutes a night off the bench for a Utah Jazz team that is just outside the Western Conference playoff window this season. After Thursday’s stunning three-team deal sent the 17-year vet to Sacramento, the rebuilding Kings have no use for his services, but plenty of other teams will remember what Johnson did for Utah in the playoffs last year as a clutch scorer capable of playing multiple positions.
Joe Johnson is expected to seek–and receive–a buyout from Sacramento, per sources, and will be coveted: Golden State, Boston will be among the early favorites.
— Chris Mannix (@ChrisMannixYS) February 8, 2018
Same goes for the 41-year-old Vince Carter, who is playing out a one-year, $8 million deal on a Sacramento team that is going nowhere. He too had a key role for a playoff team last season, starting for the injury-riddled Memphis Grizzlies in their first-round series, and can still fill out a rotation. — Ben Rohrbach
Brook Lopez, Los Angeles Lakers
There haven’t been any reports of a buyout for the former All-Star center yet — in fact, ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne reports that Lopez “wants to stay with the Lakers [for] the rest of the year” — but keep an eye on his expiring $22.6 million contract. The Lakers will need to clear him from their books this summer if they hope to pursue multiple high-profile free agents, and he has been visibly frustrated on the bench by his lack of playing time recently, calling it a “different situation.” If he were to make enough of a stink, he may be able to work himself free from L.A. and find a team in need of a still-useful 7-foot scoring threat. — BR
Brook Lopez appeared to be near tears before leaving the bench on Wednesday. He did not speak to reporters after the Lakers 127-105 loss to the Magic. https://t.co/1nEa1Sa8Nu
— Bill Oram (@billoram) February 1, 2018
Marco Belinelli, Atlanta Hawks
The Hawks actually held the Italian sharpshooter out of a recent game as they discussed trade possibilities, but a deal never came. Atlanta is battling Sacramento and Dallas for the league’s worst record, so they have no use for useful veterans, and Belinelli’s one of those. He’s an above-average 3-point shooter with a high basketball IQ and championship experience from his time with the San Antonio Spurs.
Hawks teammates Ersan Ilyasova and Dewayne Dedmon are in a similar boat, as vets on expiring contracts who could respectively help playoff teams as a versatile stretch forward and post defender with an emerging 3-point-shooting game. (For what it’s worth, Ilyasova told Michael Cunningham of the Atlanta Journal Constitution that he’s not looking for a buyout, so long as the Hawks are “playing to win.” Atlanta entered Thursday at 17-37, the worst record in the East.) — BR
Boris Diaw, Paris-Levallois
When he signed in his home country of France last season, the coffee- and wine-loving, playmaking big man included an NBA out for just such an instance. He’s averaging 11 points (on 50 percent 3-point shooting), 7.1 rebounds and 4.6 assists in 28.2 minutes per game in Paris, albeit against far lesser competition than what he faced last year during a subpar season for Utah. Still, nobody forgets what a 31-year-old Diaw did as a central figure of the Spurs’ beautiful basketball in the 2014 NBA Finals. — BR
Name to keep in mind as buyout market begins: Boris Diaw. Has NBA out with his French team Paris-Levallois. 35-year-old's camp has touched base with several playoff teams expressing interest. Great locker room presence, unselfish role player with 119 games of playoff experience.
— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) February 8, 2018
Derrick Rose, Utah Jazz
Rose has underwhelmed since knee injuries began derailing his career in 2012. He has taken leaves of absence from the New York Knicks and Cleveland Cavaliers the past two years, even contemplating retirement. Yet, he’s a former MVP who hasn’t reached his 30th birthday, and for that he will get fourth and fifth chances to revive a once-dazzling game. His explosion may be gone, but if anyone can extract what’s left out of Rose after the Jazz officially waive him, it might be Tom Thibodeau, his former coach in Chicago, who seems to have his eye on adding depth at the point in Minnesota. — BR
With Tom Thibodeau in charge, Minnesota is a natural landing spot for Derrick Rose, who has interest in a reunion, league sources say
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) February 8, 2018
Tony Allen, Chicago Bulls
Allen remains on the roster a week after being sent to his hometown of Chicago in a deal that netted the Bulls a first-round pick, but now that they couldn’t flip him elsewhere, it would appear he’s not long for a rebuilding team. The 36-year-old six-time All-Defensive selection still has lockdown ability in him, even if his never-all-that-great offensive game is even less impactful now. As a stopper off the bench, though, you could do worse than a guy Kobe Bryant called “the best defender I ever faced.” — BR
It is unlikely the Bulls will keep Tony Allen, league sources tell ESPN. He will likely be waived and become a free agent.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 1, 2018
Willie Reed, Chicago Bulls
The Clippers traded the 27-year-old Reed to Detroit nine days ago in the Blake Griffin deal, only for the Pistons to redirect him to the Bulls on Thursday for Jameer Nelson, with Chicago subsequently releasing him. Reed’s currently serving a six-game suspension stemming from a domestic violence incident last August; the National Basketball Players Association has filed a grievance on his behalf in the matter, calling the NBA’s punishment “excessive and inappropriate.” When he’s eligible to return, the 6-foot-10 center — who spent the last two seasons with the Brooklyn Nets and Miami before signing on in L.A. this summer — could draw interest from teams looking for an energetic shot-blocker, rebounder and finisher off the bench. — Dan Devine
Jarrett Jack, New York Knicks
The veteran’s slotted in as New York’s starting point guard all season, averaging 7.7 points, 6.1 assists and 3.2 rebounds in 26.4 minutes per game. Whether there’d be a market for Jack’s services as a backup point guard on a playoff team remains unclear, and whether he’d even be interested in trading in playing time in Manhattan for a spot on a postseason bench elsewhere, remain unclear. But with the Knicks’ season unofficially over after losing Kristaps Porzingis to a torn left ACL, and with the backcourt now featuring three young options at the point — 2017 first-round pick Frank Ntilikina, just-arrived former lottery pick Emmanuel Mudiay, and G-League reclamation project Trey Burke — it would make sense to waive the 34-year-old in favor of letting the 25-and-under contingent get their reps and take their lumps down the balance of a circling-the-drain season. — DD
Arron Afflalo, Orlando Magic
The 32-year-old shooting guard has been kind of a trainwreck in Central Florida this season, playing a career-low 12.7 minutes per game, shooting just 38.1 percent from the field for Frank Vogel’s dismal club, continuing to lose a step defensively, and only achieving mainstream recognition for taking a wild swing at Timberwolves forward Nemanja Bjelica. But he can still shoot 3s — 36.4 percent this season, 38.6 percent for his career — and he’s got postseason experience from his days with the Pistons, Denver Nuggets and Portland Trail Blazers, which might be of interest to a team seeking a spot-minutes shooter. (Just about all of that also goes for his Magic teammate, center Marreese Speights, except for the “tried to fight Professor Big Shots” part.) — DD
Shabazz Muhammad, Minnesota Timberwolves
The UCLA product has all but fallen out of Thibodeau’s rotation, playing just under 10 minutes per game in just 31 appearances. He’s never been much of a defender, but he’s also shot poorly this season as he’s struggled to earn minutes and find rhythm. After the trade he requested didn’t come to pass, he’s been mentioned as a buyout candidate; are there any teams out there who’ve liked his work as a small-ball/bully-ball scorer in years past enough to look beyond this year’s sour numbers and defensive concerns and take a flyer on the 25-year-old? — DD
Josh McRoberts, Dallas Mavericks
Injuries have kept the former Duke standout sidelined for the bulk of the past three years, limiting him to just 83 appearances since the start of the 2014-15 season. He’s seen a grand total of six minutes in Dallas this year, though he said last month that he felt he was “on the right track” to getting back on the floor after foot problems derailed his years in Miami. The Mavs were unable to use his $6 million expiring contract as an enticement to get a deal done by Thursday afternoon, and they really have no reason to keep him around; if he’s able to prove he’s ready to handle NBA minutes again, his combination of floor-spacing and playmaking — he averaged 4.3 assists in 30.3 minutes per game and shot 36.1 percent from 3-point land in his last full season with the Charlotte Bobcats — could draw interest from teams looking for some savvy in the frontcourt. — DD