I'd like to say I'm strong willed and can resist NBA Trade Rumor SZN, but that would be a lie. I love it. I crave it. I don't care what the rumor is or the fact that 99.9% of them never actually end up happening, they are loads of fun to debate/talk about if you're someone like me that loves the NBA and loves the drama.
So with a week to go and things starting to heat up on the rumor mill, I figured let's take a look at some of the "leaks" and talk about which (if any) seem likely or if they're just your usual media leaks to drive up market value.
Last week when Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck went on TV and said it was time for Brad Stevens to "muscle up" this trade deadline, my brain went to one place and one place only
I knew Danny Ainge heard that shit, which is why this latest leak by long time Celts beat reporter and friend of Danny Ainge was not at all surprising. The Celts absolutely have a need for a player like Kelly and his skillet, and there are pieces currently on the Celtics roster that we know Ainge likes because he drafted them.
Because Olynyk makes $12.8M this season, he makes too much money for the Celts biggest TPE. That means you need to get close to that number via salary, and there is a path to do it. For this exercise, assume Brad is willing to include whatever picks gets the job done, from a salary standpoint something as simple as
Gallo/Jackson/Pritchard for Olynyk works.
This would assume a few things. First, Ainge would have to be willing to take on Gallo's money not just this year, but he's for sure picking up his $6M player option for next year. Given Payton's comments about being ready for a new home and the fact that Ainge loves him, my guess is if you sweeten the pot with picks, there can be a deal to be made here. I can understand the Celts interest not only because of the skillset, but also because only $3M of Olynyk's $12M salary for 2023-24 is guaranteed.
I also know Ainge hates Pat Riley with a passion, so I'm not too worried about them.
VERDICT: I'd say there's a good level of substance to this rumor
If you look at the Cavs roster currently, there aren't a ton of holes. They have elite guard play, elite frontcourt play, some decent depth etc. If you had to choose one position they should be exploring this deadline, it has to be their wing slot. Nothing against Caris LeVert or Isaac Okoro, but it's a weakness at the moment.
Does that mean Cam Reddish is the answer? Eh, maybe (probably not). The point is he's young enough where maybe as long as he doesn't play for a head coach that hates him that maybe there's something of value there, and the price to get him won't be all that expensive. For a team like CLE that just unlaoded a bunch of picks to bring in Donovan Mitchell, it wouldn't shock me if they were kicking around the idea of trading a protected 2nd or something for Reddish.
They have the bi-annual exception ($4.1M) and their TPE from Ochai Agbaji ($3.9M), but unfortunately those are too small to fit in Reddish's $5.9M. Looking at their roster I'm not sure it makes sense to give up any rotation player for Reddish, so maybe Dylan Windler? He hasn't played this season but does make $4M, so maybe him and an end of bench guy that isn't playing? I dunno, I don't really see the path.
VERDICT: This feels more like smoke in an effort to maybe raise Reddish's value if teams hear a good team like CLE is interested
The Bulls are currently in NBA hell. Currently in the Lottery at 23-37, they are now 5 games back of a top 6 seed, but only 3 games back of the 7 spot. Not good enough to truly contend, but not shitty enough to truly tank, plus they don't even own their first round pick this summer unless it falls in the top 4, but they've won too many games to think that'll actually happen.
Some people may want them to blow it up, but really I'm not sure that does them any good unless you think there's a stud outside of the top 5 or whatever. Maybe the Bulls see this as their best chance to restock their asset treasure chest, but you also have to remember that this is LaVine's current deal
Not only is that a high salary number to match, the team also has to be willing to be in the Zach LaVine business for 4 more years. No chance he's turning down that $48M player option in 2026. Looking at the names of the teams listed in the rumor, my question is how on earth are those teams making this trade happen? What could they possibly have that the Bulls would want?
I suppose if the Lakers are throwing both unprotected 2027 and 2029 picks on the table that could be enticing, but the rub there is you need the Bulls to be willing to bring in Westbrook. Given their issues with Lonzo Ball, I guess that's not totally crazy considering he comes off the books this summer.
The Heat, I mean I know by rule they have to be mentioned in every rumor, but this one is tough for me to rationalize. Unlike Westbrook who is expiring, I'm not sure the Bulls would want someone like Kyle Lowry who still has a guaranteed $29M next year, and I'm certain they don't want Duncan Robinson who has 3 more years of at least $18-19M on his deal. So, how exactly do the Heat get to that $37M salary this year?
The Mavs have a similar issue. If they don't feel like they can keep Christian Wood with an extension, maybe they try and flip his $14M with someone like Bertans' $16M, but even then you're still a little short. Also with Vucevic on the roster, I'm not sure that would make sense, so the Bulls would really have to be smashing that rebuild button. They could float Finney-Smith and his $12M, but I don't get why the Bulls would trade a main piece like that just to stay in NBA purgatory.
VERDICT: The Lakers are the only ones with juice here as long as both of those picks are on the table
You can tell we're all starved for NBA trades when OG is being talked about like he's this All Star level player. He's good. The defense can be elite but other than that…
You then hear about how the Raptors want 3 first round picks for OG and it feels like maybe we're getting a little out of hand here.
In terms of the teams listed here, it makes sense on paper. OG makes $17M this season, and both the Grizzlies and the Pelicans have ways to get there. Whether it's Dillon Brooks ($11M) or Danny Green ($10M) and filler or guys like Jaxson Hayes ($6M)/Garrett Temple ($5M) and filler, the money part doesn't really seem like much of a roadblock.
It more comes down to which side is going to blink first when it comes to paying the price in terms of picks. As we know, the Pelicans are basically the Thunder-Lite when it comes to their treasure chest of picks, and I also think maybe their current 9 game skid could lead them to overpay. With the Grizzlies, OG would be more a "nice to have" more than anything, but it's not like that teams needs the defensive help. They're already an elite Western Conference team. If they are in on OG, they would have to feel like he's a guy that can get them over that hump.
VERDICT: I'm buying this rumor, but I would also throw PHX in the convo for OG as well
Bogdanovic is a legit scoring option on the wing, and because of that, I imagine he has a fairly decent trade market considering he's signed for 2 more years and doesn't exactly make a ton of money ($19M). Given where the Pistons are in their season, I find this report to be interesting. You're telling me that if the Lakers put those unprotected picks on the line that the Pistons still say no?
To me, this is more of a leverage play than anything else. It's the Pistons way of telling the league that if you want Bogy, you're going to have to overpay. At 33 years old, even if you love him as a player, he is not part of your future. Getting something like that 2027 or 2029 pick from the Lakers could not only bring in another legit young piece, but it could also be flipped in the future for more of a win now player if the Pistons continue to progress once Cade Cunningham comes back.
VERDICT: I'm not buying it. If you have an unprotected first that is projected to be pretty good, I bet the Pistons listen.
Pretty simple logic here. The Hornets could get off some money (say Terry Rozier), get some valuable picks, and then be clear of Westbrook's salary after this season. He's a Jordan Brand athlete, so it's not totally crazy to think this is somewhere where Russ could end up. I'm not sure they would want both guys considering that's like $50M in salary, but if the Lakers are willing to take Rozier/Hayward deals in return? I could see it.
VERDICT: I'm buying this rumor. There are only so many spots for Russ that could theoretically make sense, and CHA is one of them
The Clippers for sure could use some point guard depth, but there's a risk here. Based on what you believe, there's a chance that FVV turns down his $22M player option for next season and enters UFA this summer. That has to be factored into his trade price, because how many teams are going to give the Raptors what they want while they have no idea if they'll have FVV after these next few months? Even if he does opt in, he's UFA in 2024. I'm not sure the Clippers are going to even be able to give him that massive payday he wants in free agency, so this one doesn't pass the smell test for me.
To get to FVV's $21M this season is pretty easy for LAC since they have a billionmplayers that make between 10-16M, so it once again comes down to the TOR asking price. You're probably not getting a full 100 cents on the dollar for FVV given his contract situation, so that means you're looking at some not so great players and definitely not the amount of picks you probably want. The risk for TOR is FVV turns down his player option and then leaves the Raptors for nothing, which would be a big time disaster for the Raptors. Usually when teams are in this situation, the price ultimately comes down.
VERDICT: This feels more like smoke than anything else
So that's where we stand as of now on the trade rumor front. As you can imagine there will be plenty more that hits our timelines over the next 7 days and remember, double and triple check when you see something get tweeted. This is when fake accounts flourish and there's nothing more embarrassing by getting tricked by one of those things. It'll be even harder with Elon's new Twitter Blue bullshit, so be on high alert.