Aaron Bruski

The Step-back 3

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Bruski: Trade Deadline Primer

Monday, February 10, 2014



There are some players like Greg Monroe that are in the crosshairs for reasons similar to Al Jefferson last year, the roster is clogged down low and Monroe is the only movable asset.  Josh Smith isn’t going anywhere with his bloated contract and Andre Drummond is too good to consider moving right now.  Embattled GM Joe Dumars reportedly doesn’t believe that Monroe is worth a max contract and the thinking around the league is that Monroe can get that elsewhere even if his production has been down.  Getting something for him rather than nothing makes a lot of sense if you're Detroit, and a trade out of town can only help his borderline value in 12-team leagues. 


In Phoenix, the domino that could kick off the whole deadline this season is Emeka Okafor.  His $14.5 million expiring contract will be paid nearly in full by an insurance company due to his neck injury.  That’s a sizeable chip to help catalyze a deal with a cash- and/or cap-strapped team.


Pau Gasol might be the best combination of cachet and likelihood of being traded, as the Lakers don’t need him this year and he’s sitting on a massive ($19M) expiring deal.  L.A. and Phoenix stopped talks surrounding Gasol and a first round pick after he suffered a groin injury, but mostly because it was too premature to assign that type of value to the big man with no other suitors in play.  Similarly, it was too early for the Lakers to move the needle on their demand for a first round pick, and as expected the sides are back talking again.  Aside from Gasol’s injury risk at this stage in his career, there is no landing spot that profiles as well as the shallow Lake Show, and he’s a prime sell-high candidate if owners aren’t already spooked. 


Rajon Rondo has been in plenty of rumors all season but none of them have been credible to date.  If that changes we can all cross that bridge when we get there. 


As alluded to earlier, Deng and Waiters are both guys that need a change of scenery.  The Cavs have already started showcasing Waiters after a 21-shot effort on Sunday, and it doesn’t get much better than Deng if you’re looking for a playoff mercenary.  Waiters couldn’t do much worse than he’s doing in Cleveland and for Deng his value projects to be better elsewhere, though owners shouldn’t rule out a partial rehabilitation of his value in Cleveland if he isn’t moved.  The team will settle down and he’ll be assimilated by then, perhaps with less distraction if the bad apples are dealt with. 


Anderson Varejao’s $10 million contract next season is only partially guaranteed, with some sources saying that $4 million is what teams will be on the hook for next year.  Because his value is still in that ballpark anyway, he’s among the most mentioned names in the rumor mill right now and the salary flexibility is a big reason why.  The fact that the Cavs don’t want to lose Kyrie Irving a la LeBron will go a long way toward motivating them to improve the roster, which should make them buyers at the deadline. 


Angry Andre Miller is a man without a team right now even though he technically plays for Denver.  There’s not a lot of fantasy value here but he’s still good enough to tilt the scales somewhere.  It would be somewhat shocking if he isn’t moved now that he and the team aren’t talking. 


Omer Asik has been all-but traded from the Rockets by some reporters, but he has a real tough deal to move with $15 million owed to him next season.  It’s not awful money if he can play at last year’s level, but the knee issue and his fish-out-of-water act this season are hard to overcome objections when talking about that kind of money.   In an 8-cat league where his turnovers don’t hurt he has some upside, but without any rumor about a landing spot in play it’s hard to get excited about a stash. 


The Kings desperately want to move Marcus Thornton, Jimmer Fredette, and Jason ThompsonCarl Landry’s name even popped up in one rumor.  It’s a soft market out there for those guys, and though the Kings want to be splashy and improve the roster as fast as possible they’d need to throw in Ben McLemore and/or Isaiah Thomas to do that – and I don’t think that’s happening even if it can’t be ruled out.  To be clear, Thomas shouldn’t be discounted at all right now. 


Austin Rivers’ name is as hot as most in the trade rumor mill, but even in a prime situation it’s unclear if he could return any real fantasy value in standard leagues.  He’s certainly somebody owners can watch from the wire throughout the next two weeks. 


Kyle Lowry was a hot name right around the time Rudy Gay got traded, but he has played so well that he has lost all trade buzz.  In other words, he’s lifted his own value higher than what teams are willing to pay, primarily because of his attitude, injury history and questions about whether or not he can keep up that level of play over the long haul. 


Either the Magic are playing a lot of good writers or they’re truly in listening mode, as was reported by USA Today.  Jameer Nelson is perhaps the easiest asset to move with his $8.6 million deal next season only being guaranteed to the tune of $2 million.  Arron Afflalo was a presumptive trade deadline candidate as a solid, but unspectacular veteran on a rebuilding team according to preseason reports.  But then he went on a tear and moved into something much more than that, and opposing teams don’t know what exactly that is just yet.  His market value has yet to be set, and at this time it seems doubtful that a team will be willing to pay more than what he is worth to the rebuilding Magic right now – a solid No. 1 guy that would be a No. 3 on any contending team. 


Of course, the buy low hit on Victor Oladipo has been out for a while and unlike other young stashes, he’s already producing. 


The Clippers will attempt to move Jared Dudley and the $8.5 million he will earn in the following two seasons.  Considering he looks about three steps slow he’ll be a liability for the Clippers in any deal, so unless the Clips get a wing in return it doesn’t make a ton of sense for them to trade him.    




Kris Humphries has a $12 million expiring deal and Danny Ainge is reportedly willing to move him.  His value will be tethered to any landing spot so there’s not enough to grab on here for a guy that has fallen off the radar lately. 


The Bobcats are sitting on expiring deals for Ben Gordon ($13.2M) and Ramon Sessions ($5M) and that’s among the reasons they’re believed to be an active team for this deadline.  Bismack Biyombo’s name has been included as a sweetener to any deal, though the slowly developing big man isn’t going to swing any deal. 


Chris Kaman is on an expiring mini mid-level deal and assuming the Lakers are comfortable rolling with Robert Sacre and injury risk Jordan Hill as their only centers, Kaman is a guy that can be moved to a team with playoff aspirations.  With Gasol’s future in L.A. cloudy right now, he is positioned as well as an owner could hope for.  In any event he’ll be worth watching as the deadline goes down.    


While Greg Monroe will get all the trade deadline attention in Detroit, it’s the expiring contracts of Rodney Stuckey and Charlie Villanueva that are most likely to be dealt with $17.1 million between them combined.  Jonas Jerebko could also be on the move with a $4.5 million player option for next season as he’s buried in Detroit and he still carries some mild appeal around the league.


In Utah, they have as much cap room as any team in the league and they’ve embraced tanking like never before, though I don’t think they thought they’d be this bad.  Ty Corbin and the development team there have some splainin’ to do after the seasons that Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter have had.  Or haven’t had.  In any event, the Jazz have $31.5 million locked up in expiring contracts for Marvin Williams (who has played well), Richard Jefferson, Andris Biedrins and Brandon Rush.  It feels like something has to give there. 



Aaron Bruski has covered hoops for Rotoworld since 2008 and has competed in national fantasy sports competitions for nearly two decades. You can also find his work over at ProBasketballTalk, where he received critical acclaim for his in-depth reporting of the Kings' relocation saga. Hit him on Twitter at Aaronbruski.
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