Aaron Bruski

The Step-back 3

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2014 NBA Trade Deadline Guide

Wednesday, February 19, 2014



Players in the Rumor Mill Heading OUT: None at this time.


Players in the Rumor Mill Heading IN: Spencer Hawes


Commentary: The rumor for Hawes is the only one involving a Portland player over the last two weeks, unless you want to count my pure speculation that Chris Kaman could provide a boost a rumor (and it’s not, note I didn’t list it).  If you’re just catching up, the Blazers needed a backup big man anyway (preferably a PF but any backup big would do) prior to Aldridge’s groin injury and injuries to Meyers Leonard (finger, week-to-week) and Joel Freeland (knee, month-to-month).


Bottom Line: Until there is a second report about Hawes or some news about other players, owners can assess the Blazers like they normally would. 




Players traded IN: Jason Terry, Reggie Evans


Players traded OUT: Marcus Thornton


Players in the Rumor Mill Heading OUT: Isaiah Thomas, Jimmer Fredette, Jason Thompson, anybody not named Ben McLemore or DeMarcus Cousins


Players in the Rumor Mill Heading IN: Rajon Rondo, Luol Deng, Jarrett Jack, Andre Miller


Commentary: First things first, the Kings did exactly what they needed to do by trading Thornton’s contract to the drunken sailors in Vegas by way of Brooklyn.  Stellar for Pete D’Allesandro and the Kings.  This opens up the door for Ben McLemore who will get double-digit shot attempts per game as long as he doesn’t totally fall off the cliff, and I’d expect the Kings to give him a much longer leash this time.  Evans is added toughness and a potential timeshare candidate opposite Quincy Acy if the Kings can deal away Thompson, which they very much would like to do. 


Even with that trade in the books there’s no telling where the deals stop for the Kings.  One of the most fascinating stories in Sacramento has been the constant arguments about Isaiah Thomas’ play among a media that by and large has bet on the wrong side of Thomas’ ledger at every juncture.  The plugged in guys know where to draw the line for the most part, but sources near the team constantly relay subtle signals that management isn’t fully sold on Thomas. 


Sources close to the team also maintain that Mike Malone loves Thomas and the ice at a management level, if it exists, has been thawing with each game that Thomas carries a bad team on his back while taking the criticisms in stride.  Regular readers know where I stand on Thomas – he’s an above average defender in space that is suffering from severe deficiencies behind him, most notably because Sacramento bigs are lost on the pick-and-roll.  He struggles to maintain fundamentals off the ball defensively, and in the same category of raw he was developed to score for his first two years under Keith Smart as the only way he could stay on the floor.  With 35 games under his belt as starter this year, many of which he was encouraged to force the issue scoring the ball, he has not been able to shake the low-hanging fruit of reports that he’s scoring point guard only.  This, despite solid assist numbers depressed by flawed offensive teammates, has been the bulk of what the media has read if they follow traditional local outlets or national news outlets. 


Now with the Kings facing the luxury tax if a team signs Thomas to a big offer there has been talk that he is available, which is true, but the idea that he is at his highest value is sort of hilarious when local reports treat him as Allen Iverson reincarnate.  He’s basically a 25-year old rookie learning the game and entering his prime.  The Kings are on the lookout for a backup point guard but they appear committed to giving Ray McCallum a solid look-see for the rest of the year.  If they can secure a guy like Jack that could change and Thomas might see his minutes creep into high 20s or low 30s, but that’s nowhere near a foregone certainty.  A skeptical person might also say that doing this could help keep another team from signing Thomas to a big offer sheet, but he's already as undervalued as it comes in the NBA. 


Indeed, late on Wednesday night reports trickled in that the Cavs and Kings are talking trade.  Jack would go to the Kings, and Thompson would go to the Cavs but they want him to immediately go to a third team.  That's no easy task and why Marc Stein, who broke the report, called this deal a maybe heading into Thursday. 


Thomas is the ultimate moneyball player, ringleader from the island of misfit toys.  Whichever team chooses to stock their point guard position with this affordable and undervalued player will be free to spend elsewhere, and I can’t see the Kings moving him in anything but a bigger than average deal. 


The Rondo reports were mostly wishful thinking for any number of teams but the Kings have pushed hard for that type of impact play.  Owners shouldn’t make any adjustments based on the Kings involvement at this time. 


Luol Deng has been linked to the Kings and there have been no reports on that since, so talks are likely in the exploratory phase if they’re happening at all, which they probably are.  Jimmer would be a logical piece to link to Cleveland considering both Jack and Deng have been linked, but nothing substantial has hit the wire yet. 


Bottom Line: Thomas could be viewed as a slight sell-high candidate for the chance his heavy workload is reduced by trade, or simply because McCallum ends up giving meaningful minutes as a backup.  Neither that or a Jack acquisition should be viewed as a foregone conclusion that Thomas' minutes will go down appreciably.  I wll add, however, that Jack does represent the perfect storm that could theoretically impact Thomas' early round value, and the fact that Thomas' shooting hand was swollen after the game is running up against my rule to take shooting wrist injuries seriously.  I was told the injury wasn't serious by sources close to the team and I'll keep believing that for now. But if you want to add a half-round discount to your valuation because of that it's probably a prudent play. 


Terry looks like a candidate to be bought out and Evans has no fantasy value at this time.  Ben McLemore is a mid-level pickup following the news of his promotion to the starting lineup, though he was terrible on Wednesday night and I wouldn't hold it against anybody if they called him something less than that.   The Kings were short-handed and Mike Malone hinted that the team was tight about the deadline.  Not exactly ripe conditions to evaluate the rookie, though his body of work has been similar all year. 




Players in the Rumor Mill Heading OUT: None at this time.


Players in the Rumor Mill Heading IN: Beno Udrih


Commentary: The Spurs are familiar with Udrih but the rumor comes from Berman of the Post (NY), who was probably just relaying management’s attempt at leverage.  The Spurs’ window is right now and they have about $8 million in salary and their own draft pick this year that they can send out in a deal, but nothing along those lines has been even remotely on the radar. 


Bottom Line: Fantasy owners don’t have any adjustments to make in San Antonio right now.




Players in the Rumor Mill Heading OUT: Kyle Lowry, Amir Johnson


Players in the Rumor Mill Heading IN: Rajon Rondo, Kenneth Faried, Iman Shumpert, Raymond Felton, Beno Udrih, Tim Hardaway Jr., Metta World Peace


Commentary: None of the incoming players listed here have much expectation of actually being traded for, but the Knicks have been trying fruitlessly to put out media reports centering on the acquisition of Kyle Lowry.  The Shumpert, Felton, Udrih, Hardaway and MWP piece is a mix that Toronto hasn’t seemed all that interested in, and that is probably more true after Shumpert's injury on Wednesday. Owners should consider a trade very unlikely here until a credible rumor proves otherwise. 


If the Raptors are indeed worried that they won’t re-sign Lowry and want to get something now, a third team would be a unique way to facilitate a trade sending him away.  That is also very unlikely at this time.  The last piece here involves Rondo, and the Raps are genuinely interested in him but that deal is unlikely both because of Danny Ainge’s demands and also because he may not be willing to sign there long-term. 


Reports for Faried don’t make sense right now unless the Raps lose a power forward, and though Johnson’s name popped up in a Warriors report there’s not a lot of traction there and he was one of six players listed in that report.  


Bottom Line: Fantasy owners will simply want to watch and see if any of these rumors gain steam before updating their projections on Raptors players.   




Players in the Rumor Mill Heading OUT: Gordon Hayward, Richard Jefferson, Andris Biedrins, Marvin Williams, Brandon Rush


Players in the Rumor Mill Heading IN: None at this time.


Commentary: The Celtics made their interest in Hayward known but there have not been any substantial reports to suggest anything is brewing here.  Conversely, there have been multiple reports stating that the Jazz plan to hold Hayward through the end of the season at the very least.  The remaining players listed are all expiring contracts, but the market is soft for those right now. 


Bottom Line: Owners shouldn’t expect changes to Jazz assets’ values as a result of the trade deadline, at least at this time.   




Players in the Rumor Mill Heading OUT: Trevor Ariza, Martell Webster, Otto Porter Jr., Chris Singleton, Eric Maynor


Players in the Rumor Mill Heading IN: Beno Udrih, Jameer Nelson, Luke Ridnour, Andre Miller


Commentary: All of the Ariza, Webster and Porter talk is coming from David Aldridge, who thinks the Wizards and Grizzlies are a match because of the latter’s desire to upgrade at small forward.  He claims Memphis is willing to go into the tax for an upgrade, which would mean Ariza, who Aldridge also detailed as a guy that probably wouldn’t be re-signed by the Wizards this summer.  It sounds more like informed speculation with a hint of armchair GMing, but he’s a connected guy and it’s worth keeping in the back of your mind if you own Ariza.


Udrih has been strongly linked to the Wizards, who are hoping they can get convince the Knicks to “send him to DC instead of Denver” according to Marc Stein.  Prior to that report there were multiple prior reports confirming Washington’s interest.  There has also been a lone report tying Washington to Jameer Nelson from Sheridan Hoops that hasn’t been picked up, perhaps because it included the idea that Orlando would surrender Nelson for a second round pick.  That’s very unlikely and can be disregarded for now.  The Wiz previously hadn't been able to convince Denver to part with Miller, but Stein's comments may indicate a change there.  Miller is still connected to at least four teams.  Ridnour is also in the mix and it would be surprising if the Wizards didn’t have a new backup PG by the end of the deadline. 


Bottom Line: None of the backup point guards will have value in Washington playing behind John Wall, and owners shouldn't discount Ariza any more than a round at most until there is more smoke behind this rumor.  The Grizzlies don’t have much to package in a deal besides Ed Davis and they have been pretty high on him, while conversely the Wizards haven’t appeared like a team desperate to move Ariza.     


Aaron Bruski has covered hoops for Rotoworld since 2008 and has competed in national fantasy sports competitions for nearly two decades. In 2015 he was named FSWA Basketball Writer of the Year. 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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