The latest rumblings as we move toward Thursday’s trade deadline …
The Cavaliers continue to engage Sacramento on George Hill, sources told Yahoo Sports, and the Kings have quietly been looking for a third team to involve. The Cavs — who have little interest in taking on the $19 million Hill is owed next season — have pushed for J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert to be part of the package, a source said, which the Kings have no interest in. Cleveland has shown a willingness to part with its own first-round pick in other deals, but thus far trading the coveted unprotected Brooklyn Nets pick has not been seriously considered.
The Celtics shored up the frontcourt last week, agreeing to terms on a one-year, $5 million deal with Greg Monroe. While there is some concern as to the impact Monroe will have on Aron Baynes — Baynes has been a key contributor to Boston’s top-ranked defense — there is excitement internally about Monroe’s potential as an offensive anchor on the second unit. The Celtics have canvassed the league for a bench scorer — Tyreke Evans and Lou Williams have been discussed — but have shown a strong reluctance to include a first-round pick in any deal.
Teams that have discussed deals with Boston in recent weeks say the Celtics are acting like a team that is confident it can win the Eastern Conference. Boston has shopped Marcus Smart — the recent emergence of Terry Rozier has made that easier — but the asking price (a first-round pick) has been deemed by some teams with interest to be unrealistic. The Celtics believe they will have options on the buyout market, so they could sit this deadline out.
The Nuggets are a team to watch. Denver could have cap problems next season, so there is some momentum there to make a deal now. Emmanuel Mudiay is available, and Denver would love to get out of the final year of Wilson Chandler’s contract. The Nuggets have interest in Smart, but are among the teams unwilling to meet Boston’s asking price.
Oklahoma City Thunder
The Thunder — who never had any intention of trading Paul George — have canvassed the league in search of bench help. The need for a wing defender increased in the wake of Andre Roberson’s season-ending knee injury, and OKC has indeed done due diligence on Avery Bradley, Jonathan Simmons and any other wing defender it believes could be on the market. But with limited assets, the Thunder will likely wait and see if the asking price for that type of player comes down closer to the deadline, or wait and try to land someone on what could be a robust buyout market.
The Hawks, under the leadership of first-year GM Travis Schlenk, have made everyone available, several rival team executives said. As Atlanta rebuilds, Schlenk — who shed Dwight Howard’s contract this summer and let Paul Millsap walk — has been seeking expiring contracts and draft picks in deals. Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova, veteran, floor-spacing players, have generated interest, as has second-year swingman Taurean Prince. Dennis Schroder is available, but the three-years and $46.5 million remaining on Schroder’s deal coupled with a string of maturity issues have made interest minimal.
Like Atlanta, the Magic are open for business. Jonathan Isaac is considered untouchable, while it would take a significant offer to pry Aaron Gordon loose. Orlando’s new management doesn’t seem interested in bringing back Elfrid Payton, whose 3-point shooting percentage has spiked to 37.3 percent this season, and Mario Hezonja has been shopped hard in recent days.
The Hornets continue to field calls on Kemba Walker, but no Walker deal gets done unless a team absorbs one of the handful of bad contracts on Charlotte’s roster, sources said. Another variable at play: The future of GM Rich Cho. Cho is in the final year of his contract and there have been rumblings that former Los Angeles Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak is a favorite among high-ranking team officials to take over next summer. If Hornets owner MichaelJordan is resolved to replace Cho, he may not sign off on dealing Charlotte’s most appealing asset.
Relax, Marc Gasol fans — it’s unlikely the Grizzlies’ franchise center is moved this week. Memphis has fielded offers for Gasol, but Grizz officials have been underwhelmed. Tyreke Evans has been shut down in anticipation of a trade, and there is an expectation that if Memphis can’t procure a first-round pick for Evans — difficult given Evans’ contract status — it will take the best offer on the table for Evans.
THE WILD CARDS
Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers are telling teams they are fine holding on to DeAndre Jordan and Lou Williams through the deadline — though you would be hard-pressed to find too many who believe them. Portland has engaged the Clippers on Jordan. Cleveland and Milwaukee have, too. A team to watch: Washington. There is some buzz that the Wizards could put together a Marcin Gortat/Kelly Oubre-headlined package that the Clippers, who have vowed not to bottom out, could find appealing.
The Blazers have shopped their bad contracts — Maurice Harkless and Meyers Leonard are there for the taking. But would Portland break up its star backcourt? The Blazers have serious cap issues, and the underwhelming play of Jusuf Nurkic has made the magic the team discovered at the end of last season elusive. Damian Lillard isn’t going anywhere, and there doesn’t seem to be an offer for C.J. McCollum that makes sense — yet. Portland has cooled on the pursuit of Jordan in recent days, but there is a sense that the Blazers could re-engage there before the deadline.
If you want Tyson Chandler or Jared Dudley, call — Phoenix is willing to send out both of them.
Brooklyn will continue to be opportunistic, willing to absorb a bad contract if the right draft consideration comes with it.
Houston continues to dangle Ryan Anderson.
The Jazz are in a weird place. They have won six straight to climb back into the playoff picture, but teams that have checked in got the sense that everyone but Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell is available. Mitchell’s emergence and a reluctance to pay Rodney Hood this summer has made Hood expendable.
There is a growing sense that the Lakers could hold on to Julius Randle through the deadline. Teams’ awareness that the Lakers need to move Randle to clear the cap space to make a run at the top free agents this summer has diminished the market significantly.
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