With the NBA trade deadline now just about 48 hours away, here are some of the latest rumors and reports as the Feb. 8, 3 p.m. ET buzzer for teams to make moves rapidly gets ready to sound.
Will the Warriors trade Andrew Wiggins?
While Shams Charania of The Athletic reported on Monday’s episode of Fanduel’s “Run It Back” that “there is no mandate” from Warriors owner Joe Lacob for his team to shed salary, it does sound like the team is at least still making Andrew Wiggins available, and that there are a few suitors interested (emphasis mine):
“They’ve gotten player-for-player deals for Wiggins where they don’t have to move a draft pick to get rid of him, but the players that are coming back, are they better than Wiggins? Do they make sense for this group with Steph Curry and the rest of the roster? The Mavericks and Pacers are two teams, I’m told, that are expressing interest in Wiggins to keep an eye on, but I don’t think they’re going to just move guys to move guys… I think for the Warriors right now it’s a lot of wait and see. If a team comes out and gives them a crazy offer for one of their guys I think they have to look at it, but as of right now they just don’t have anything on the table that really moves the needle.”
As Shams notes — and as our own Joe Viray has broken down for Golden State of Mind — Wiggins has been playing better lately. But with the Warriors’ leading the league in payroll and potentially facing massive luxury tax penalties for keeping Wiggins’ three years and approximately $84 million in salary beyond this season on their books moving forward, will they really want to keep the whole band together while sitting in 12th place in the conference at 22-25? Maybe, but it also wouldn’t be a surprise to see them go the other direction by Thursday.
One team that is unlikely to fully go in the tank by Thursday, however, is likely the Chicago Bulls, which brings us to…
DeMar DeRozan unlikely to get traded, may get extension
As we covered yesterday in regards to Alex Caruso, the Bulls do not appear to be in a hurry to blow up their play-in-contending team. But while Caruso would likely be one of the hottest names on the market if he were to be made available, DeRozan — a 34-year-old on a $28.6 million expiring contract — seems to have less interest leaguewide.
Chris Haynes of Turner Sports reported the latest on DeRozan — who shares an agent with Damian Lillard — on the latest episode of his podcast with fellow insider Marc Stein, “#thisleague UNCUT”:
“I’m not hearing really anything on the DeMar DeRozan trade front, which leads me to believe that he will be kept through the deadline, and I would think that both sides would come back to the table and start trying to talk about an extension… The Bulls, and DeMar DeRozan, and his agent, Aaron Goodwin, they had some contact early on in the season and both sides were far apart. That still is the case, but I think past the deadline they’ll get back to the table and see if anything can be handed out, because as you mentioned Stein, he’ll be an unrestricted free agent and they could risk losing him for nothing.”
The Bulls extending DeRozan would be their firmest commitment to mediocrity since … doing basically the same thing to retain Nikola Vucevic last summer, which is to say it would also be completely predictable. At some point, an actual winner needs to free my guy AC from this directionless organization. Alas, hopefully next trade deadline.
But speaking of guys teams had to bid against themselves to sign…
Will the Lakers actually trade D’Angelo Russell?
D’Angelo Russell has been one of the most frequent names in the rumor mill this season, in part due to his choice to waive his no-trade clause when re-signing with the Lakers last summer, leading many to believe it was a marriage of convenience for both sides, with Russell serving as something of a human trade exception as Los Angeles looked to improve at the deadline.
Russell bristled at those trade rumors earlier this year, but his choice to waive said implicit no-trade clause — that he would have automatically gotten for re-signing with his incumbent team using Bird rights on a deal that could be only one year long — also led to one of the funniest follow-ups to an athlete’s “control what I can control” cliche coachspeak in NBA history on Monday night, so we have that to be grateful for at least:
D’Angelo Russell: “I can’t control that my contract makes sense to be traded, so, just play.”
When asked about waiving his implied no-trade clause this summer, he said: “I just thought it made sense. … I know what the requirements are to be successful here are.”
— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) February 6, 2024
But with Russell shining amidst the chaos of late, there is reason to question if trading him and the Lakers’ only currently tradeable first-round pick (in the 2029 draft) could even lead to a meaningful enough upgrade to make moving him worthwhile. Still, that hasn’t stopped the Lakers from shopping around, as Dave McMenamin of ESPN reported on Tuesday:
Russell’s name has been mentioned in trade talks with the Brooklyn Nets, Toronto Raptors and Atlanta Hawks in recent weeks, sources told ESPN, while the point guard managed to play some of the best basketball of his career.
The Hawks (for Dejounte Murray) and the Nets (as a possible third team in Murray talks) were previously known, but to my knowledge this is Russell’s first explicit link to the Raptors, which is interesting. The most logical candidate there is 2024 All-Trade Machine Team member Bruce Brown, but this is the first we’ve explicitly heard of Russell being the outgoing salary there. His $17.3 million salary works relatively easily for Brown’s $22 million (and one-to-one swaps are always easiest in-season) in the trade machine, but he’s not the only player the Lakers could trade for him, as a combination of Gabe Vincent and Rui Hachimura also legally works, for example.
With the Raptors already boasting Scottie Barnes and Immanuel Quickley’s ball-handling (plus Dennis Schröder off the bench), Russell doesn’t make a ton of sense for them on the court, but they’d likely just be doing the deal for the Lakers’ draft pick anyway, so maybe that doesn’t matter.
Still, is Brown enough of an upgrade on Russell — or an upgrade at all? — to be worth the Lakers attaching a first-rounder to his salary, given how DLo has played lately? I’m skeptical, and maybe that logical skepticism is part of why Russell feels so secure despite the rumors.
But finally, speaking of constantly rumored trade machine names, there is one more candidate to get moved we have to address…
Suns still trying to trade for Miles Bridges
A few hours before Bridges scored a career-high 41 points in a Hornets loss to the Lakers on Monday night, Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports reported that the Phoenix Suns are still “the leading suitor” for Bridges on the trade market, and gave some details on what the Suns are willing to give up, as well as what the Hornets are looking for on the market:
Phoenix continues to be mentioned as the leading suitor for Charlotte forward Miles Bridges, league sources told Yahoo Sports. The Suns see Bridges, a Michigan State product, as a strong fit with their big three of Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and Bradley Beal. However, the Suns only have second-round draft capital to play with. And while Phoenix has indicated a willingness to add Josh Okogie into a package of Nassir Little and two second-round picks for Bridges, sources said, Charlotte remains hopeful it can generate a first-round pick in return for Bridges.
But while the Suns and owner Mat Ishbia, also a Michigan State product, may see Bridges as “a strong fit” basketball-wise, we also need to point out why they appear to be the only team strongly pushing for him. Bridges is currently awaiting a Feb. 20 court date over accusations he breached a domestic violence protection order given to the mother of his children by, among other things, allegedly “throwing billiard balls at her vehicle while the children were inside it, smashing the windshield and leaving dents in the car” and “threatening her that if she ‘told the police he would take everything from her and withhold child support’” while allegedly also allowing “‘his current girlfriend to yell, scream and kick the victim’s car while the children were inside it.’”
This, of course, came after the reason for the protective order, which was that he pled no contest to a felony domestic violence charge for allegedly assaulting the same woman in front of their children.
One would think that would be enough to make Bridges radioactive to any team, but after the NBA only suspended him an extremely soft 10 games (while applying a retroactive 20 games to the time he missed while unsigned in restricted free agency following the first incident, which we should note, is not a suspension, it’s teams choosing not to sign him because of his abhorrent conduct) and the Hornets have let him launder his reputation with people who don’t care about such issues by scoring a bunch of points all year, it appears that the Suns — bereft of any real trade assets — are willing to swallow hard, ignore any moral compass they possess, and hope that Bridges can help them win a title.
It’s not a choice I would want my favorite team to make — although my favorite team the Lakers, admittedly, definitely have their own history of doing such things — but given all the buzz around this transaction, it does seem to be one the Suns may get done by the deadline.