NBA buyout market 2023: Russell Westbrook and 7 candidates who can crack a playoff rotation

The names on the NBA's buyout market are always bigger than their impact, and we tell ourselves every year this time will be different. Keep that in mind when a one-time MVP joins a contender in the near future.

Goran Dragic and DeAndre Jordan were last season's biggest buyout names. The former did not win a playoff game, and the latter played a total of 30 garbage minutes off the bench in two playoff losses. Jevon Carter, whom the Brooklyn Nets inexplicably waived after last season's trade deadline, was more impactful, and the Milwaukee Bucks probably should have played him more than the 11.5 minutes per game they did.

Yet, this year's crop does feel different. The names are bigger, and the role players are better. With all of that in mind, here are the seven buyout candidates most likely to earn significant minutes in a playoff rotation ...

Russell Westbrook is expected to reach a buyout agreement with the Utah Jazz after being traded by the Los Angeles Lakers before Thursday's deadline. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Russell Westbrook is expected to reach a buyout agreement with the Utah Jazz after being traded by the Los Angeles Lakers before Thursday's deadline. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Russell Westbrook, Utah Jazz

As soon as news broke of the three-team trade that sent Westbrook to the Jazz, the league’s 2017 MVP was linked in multiple reports to the Los Angeles Clippers, who jettisoned veteran point guards John Wall and Reggie Jackson at the deadline. Westbrook’s troubled history with fans in Utah — and the team’s pivot to rebuilding for the rest of this season — almost certainly precludes him from ever playing for the Jazz.

The Clippers need depth at the point beyond Terance Mann, a modified shooting guard, and shoot-first trade acquisition Bones Hyland. Per ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, Paul George is already recruiting Westbrook back to Los Angeles, where he could raise the stakes of a crosstown rivalry with the Lakers. Westbrook’s ex-teammates on the Lakers were quick to leak word of his “toxicity” and “vampirism” in the locker room, failing to mention that they have publicly lobbied for the team to trade Westbrook for months.

Westbrook’s greatest sins are his inefficiency (sub-.500 true shooting percentage) and stubbornness (14 shot attempts per game). He is a remarkable athlete with an unmatched drive, but he has not contributed to a winning team in four years. Theoretically, Westbrook could be a valuable setup man for George, Kawhi Leonard and the Clippers’ offensive weapons, but reality has worked against that theory for a while now.

The Miami Heat have also received interest from Westbrook, per The Athletic’s Law Murray.

John Wall, Houston Rockets

The Rockets bought out most of the $47.4 million left on the 32-year-old Wall’s expiring contract this past June, and now that he has returned in a trade from the Clippers, the franchise he called "trash" intends to reach an agreement on the remaining $6.5 million on his deal, Houston general manager Rafael Stone said.

Wall is a five-time All-Star who played a total of 72 games in four seasons prior to his debut for the Clippers this season. That he has retained some of the athleticism that made him great is a testament to his perseverance in returning from career-threatening knee and Achilles injuries. His true-shooting percentage, while never elite, has dropped below 50% for the first time since his rookie year, and there is a reason the Clippers unloaded him. They are 8.7 points per 100 possessions better with him on the bench this season.

The Heat also registered interest in Wall when last the Rockets bought him out in June.

Reggie Jackson, Charlotte Hornets

Jackson has had a turbulent career. He was traded at age 24 by a contender frustrated with his insistence on an expanded role, and he was bought out five years later by a tanking team frustrated with his performance in that expanded role. Jackson had carved out a complementary role in the last three years with the Clippers, even serving as their second-leading scorer in the 2021 Western Conference finals.

The Clippers’ willingness to trade him for reserve Hornets center Mason Plumlee at the deadline, leaving a hole at the point guard position, tells us what we need to know about how they regarded his current play.

The Hornets expect to buy out Jackson's expiring $11.2 million contract, according to The Athletic's Shams Charania, and early reports have already linked him to the contending Phoenix Suns and Denver Nuggets.

Will Barton, Washington Wizards

Barton averaged 14 points per game over eight seasons with the Nuggets, who traded him and Monte Morris to the Wizards this past summer for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Ish Smith. Barton has struggled in his first season with Washington, shooting 38.7% from the floor, and recently fell out of the rotation. The Wizards and Barton are already working toward a buyout, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

Despite his struggles, Barton is a 6-foot-6 wing with experience filling a variety of roles on a contender for the past several years. Expect a number of playoff teams to register interest in his services, especially a contender like the Suns, who just dealt much of their wing depth in their trade acquisition of Kevin Durant.

Terrence Ross, Orlando Magic

Ross has been rumored in trades for as long as we can remember, and yet he has been a member of the Magic for so long that he has become one of the organization's most beloved figures. Orlando may have more interest in retaining his veteran leadership on a young roster, but the 31-year-old has been languishing on a perennial lottery team, and the $54 million contract he signed in 2019 is coming to an end in June.

He falls into a similar category to Barton, although Ross' 3-point accuracy returned to 38.1% this season from a career-worst 29.2% last year. He has never played with an MVP-caliber talent in his 11-year career, and an elite playmaker might be able to tap into his scoring punch as an end-of-the-rotation contributor.

Patrick Beverley, Orlando Magic

Beverley talks a big game, and he can talk his way out of one, too, but he has started playoff games each of the last four seasons. It is more than a concern that, at 34 years old, his player efficiency rating has fallen to 8.4 — 190th out of 192 players who qualified in Basketball Reference's database — and a Lakers team desperate for warm bodies around LeBron James and Anthony Davis traded Beverley for a reserve center.

The Magic are negotiating a buyout agreement on Beverley's $13 million expiring contract, according to The Athletic's Shams Charania, and there will no doubt be interest in the former All-Defensive guard as a bench contributor. There are conflicting reports about whether the Minnesota Timberwolves will be among those interested in a reunion with Beverley, whose intensity helped rally a young team to the playoffs last season.

Danny Green, Houston Rockets

It is difficult to tell how prepared Green is to contribute to a playoff rotation. He tore two ligaments in his left knee as a member of the Philadelphia 76ers during the playoffs this past May and returned at the start of this month, playing only 43 total minutes for the Memphis Grizzlies before they traded him at the deadline.

Green had not yet reported to Houston as of Friday afternoon, and it is unclear if the Rockets will buy out his $10 million expiring salary or try to retain him as a veteran presence for their developing roster. Should he be waived — and be healthy enough to meaningfully contribute — there are few more experienced role players in the league. The 35-year-old wing has appeared in the playoffs every season since 2011, winning championships with the Lakers, Toronto Raptors and San Antonio Spurs. Someone will take a flyer on him.

Other buyout possibilities of note: Goran Dragic, Chicago Bulls; Derrick Rose, New York Knicks; Khem Birch, San Antonio Spurs; Serge Ibaka, Indiana Pacers; Dewayne Dedmon, San Antonio Spurs; Nerlens Noel, Detroit Pistons; Kelly Oubre Jr., Charlotte Hornets; Dario Saric, Oklahoma City Thunder; Thaddeus Young, Toronto Raptors; George Hill, Indiana Pacers; Frank Kaminsky, Houston Rockets.

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Ben Rohrbach is a senior NBA writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @brohrbach