NBA Trade Deadline: Available Point Guards
Who could be on the move with the Trade Deadline looming?
It’s NBA All-Star Week, and that means the Trade Deadline is just a week away. Things started to heat up with the Plumlee-Nurkic swap over the weekend and the Birdman trade Monday, then burst into a #WojBomb ball of flames when Ibaka was moved to the Raptors Tuesday.
What other names could be on the move over the next week? Here’s a sneak peek with a three-part series previewing the point guards, wings, and bigs that could be on the move by the trade deadline. Not everyone below will be moved but they’re probably the most available.
So if you’re shopping for your team and hoping to add a piece, you’ve come to the right place…
Borderline All Stars
PHX Eric Bledsoe
MIA Goran Dragic
Bledsoe and Dragic are having All-Star seasons; they’re just doing it in a year loaded with even more outrageous guard performances. Both are stars fit to lead a team, a good team, but both are trapped on young, incomplete rosters.
If Bledsoe is actually available, he might be low-key the best buy on the entire market. He’s on an awesome contract with 3 years and $44 million remaining, well below market value for a guy worth the max when he’s healthy and playing well. Bledsoe has long been called Mini-LeBron because of the similar build and driving ability. He’s having his best year with 21 points, 6 assists, and 5 rebounds a game. He has near-elite abilities as a scorer, rebounder, and his best underrated skill, as a defender. Bledsoe has struggled on defense this year but is usually one of the top point guard defenders. That’s incredibly valuable in a league where just about every team has an awesome point guard. And he’s still just 27. The injury history is real and it is scary, but if Phoenix is ready to sell, some team may be able to buy an in-prime top-10 below-market-cost point guard at the deadline.
Dragic is less likely to move now that the Heat have gone on their incredible 13-game win streak and pulled within a couple games of the East 8-seed. He’s posting similar numbers to Bledsoe with 20 points, 6 assists, and 4 boards a game, and he’s hitting a career high 44% from downtown. He’s not as good defensively but runs an offense very well, especially when he has the ball in his hands more like he has this season with Dwyane Wade gone. Dragic doesn’t have Bledsoe’s injury history, but he’s three years older. At age 30, his 3-year $51-million contract could be troublesome later on, especially with an additional $19-million player option at the back end.
It’s probably more likely that either or both are moved this summer, and all the steady playoff teams already have a top point guard, but either of these teams could send a middling contender right into the playoff mix.
NOP Jrue Holiday
DET Reggie Jackson
MIN Ricky Rubio
Holiday is finally healthy again and has turned the Pelicans’ season around next to Anthony Davis. The Pels are still hanging around the playoff race and word is that they want to sign Holiday long-term after his deal expires this summer, so he’s not super available but you have to think New Orleans would listen if a team hits them with a big offer.
Rubio is a valuable starter-caliber NBA point guard no matter what you think. He’s a good defender and an awesome passer. He still can’t shoot but his other skills are useful and his team is better when he plays. Three years and $42 million is a perfectly fine value for that.
Jackson actually shoots just as poorly as Rubio, and he’s really struggled this season after missing a lot of early time to injury. Detroit can’t score effectively this year unless Ish Smith is on the court instead of Jackson, and that’s a problem for a guy on a 4-year $66-million contract. The Pistons will probably just need to hang onto Jackson and hope he gets healthier and more effective.
The league is loaded with point guards, and that makes all of these guys feel like disappointments, but they’re all definite starters and valuable players on almost any team.
Veteran starters on expiring deals
DAL Deron Williams
NYK Derrick Rose
CHI Rajon Rondo
D-Will’s body can’t quite hold up how it used to, but the man can still ball. Teams were surely eyeing Williams as a possible buy-out candidate earlier in the year, but they can kiss that goodbye with Dallas back in the playoff hunt and nothing to gain by cutting him. They’ll have to pay up now if they want him for the last few months of the year.
Rose and Rondo are the definition of beauty-is-in-the-eye-of-the-beholder. Rose will stay in New York unless the Melo deal happens; if it does, anyone and everyone could go. He’d be tough to incorporate into an offense as a starter this far into the season, and at $21 million you’re not really paying him to be a backup. Rondo sucks and isn’t even technically expiring, but he’s only guaranteed $3 million next year if (when) he gets cut this summer.
There’s some talent on the bones here but all three of these guys have had their locker room issues. Be careful what you wish for.
Combo guard sixth men
LAL Lou Williams
PHX Leandro Barbosa
IND Monta Ellis
Honestly this section should’ve just been called “You should trade for Lou Williams.” Sweet Lou has been awesome this year for the Lakers. He is the real 6th Man of the Year, matching Eric Gordon stride for stride in per-game totals but doing it in way fewer minutes and more efficiently. He’s at a ridiculous 27 points per 36 minutes with over 60% true shooting and he doesn’t have much help either. And if that’s not good enough, he’s got 2 years and $14 million on his contract, easily half his true value. If your team needs a scoring punch off the bench, there’s no better target in the league.
Monta Ellis is no longer starting for Indiana and it’s fair to wonder if he’s starting to fall out of usefulness, especially at 3 years $34 million. But Indiana has plenty of shoot-first no-defense options so Monta is superfluous there. On an offensive starved team, he could still create off the bench.
Barbosa is more like an 8th or 9th man at this point but still has some burn left as you saw in last year’s NBA Finals.
Sneaky targets that could be available cheap
BOS Terry Rozier
NOP Tim Frazier
WAS Trey Burke
Publicly, Boston is saying all the right things about Terry Rozier. They love him and he’s come a long ways (and was a standout at Summer League). But he’s getting only 18 minutes a game even with Bradley sidelined and he’s clearly the fourth guard in the Boston rotation at best with three guys ahead of him (Thomas, Bradley, Smart) that define this Celtic team and aren’t going anywhere. Plus Boston has a great shot at the #1 pick in a point-guard loaded draft. So maybe Rozier is actually available after all. He’s still only 22.
Tim Frazier keeps bouncing around and just can’t seem to stick. He was playing big minutes for the Pels early on but has largely been out of the rotation since Christmas. He’s a perfectly fine player. He runs the offense effectively and is a good passer at 8.2 assists per 36 minutes, and he’s improved his three-point shot each season. And he’s on a 2-year $4-million deal that is a real bargain. He’s the point guard you hope your team steals at the deadline.
Trey Burke is almost definitely not an NBA player. But he’s still got this year left on his rookie deal plus a qualifying offer for next year if you’d like to take a chance.
Cheap veteran targets
DEN Jameer Nelson (2/$9m)
NYK Brandon Jennings (1/$5m)
ORL C.J. Watson (2/$10m)
DAL Devin Harris (1/$4m + team option)
MIL Jason Terry (1/$1.5m)
DET Beno Udrih (1/$1m)
IND Aaron Brooks (1/$3m)
LAL Jose Calderon (1/$8m)
PHI Sergio Rodriguez (1/$7m)
Remember these guys?
Still in the league! All of them! And all still logging various levels of useful minutes. If your team needs a backup point guard and doesn’t have much cap room or want to give up much in a trade, these are the sort of names you’re looking at. Lookin’ at you, LeBron.
Jameer Nelson is the one name on the list unlikely to move with Denver in great position to make the playoffs and probably not ready to turn things over full time to Mudiay and Murray just yet. And the Knicks have no real reason to seek a Jennings trade but, assuming they trade Melo, they may as well tear down the team completely and get anything they can for their pieces.
You know the rest of the guys on this list. Got a spare second rounder and need a veteran for your playoff run? Check the Rolodex.
You’d have to pay us to take them
PHX Brandon Knight
ORL D.J. Augustin
Don’t count on Knight or Augustin moving at the deadline. Both are signed three more years at way above-market prices. Knight is still owed $56 million while Augustin is at $29 million. D.J. is at least a useful veteran but with so many of those around (see above) he’s closer to a minimum than $7 million a year. Knight has been terrible of late and has become one of the worst guard contracts in the league.
These guys should grab a Snickers; they ain’t going anywhere for awhile.