NBA Rumors: Latest Buzz and Trade Talk for Opening Week of Season

The 2014-15 NBA season is officially underway, with every team having played at least one game. It’s the start of a long journey for everybody involved, and the rumor mill is starting to heat up on several fronts.

Right now, the two most prominent categories are extensions for players whose rookie deals are ending and early trade talk. The former is more pressing, as the deadline is Friday at midnight, leaving front offices a small amount of time to hammer out details.

Trade rumors are a constant year-round, but they tend to pick up at certain times, including the early stages of the season. So let’s check out the latest buzz from around the league in both areas as opening week continues.

 

Kawhi Leonard Extension?

Leonard is set to return for the San Antonio Spurs on Friday after missing seven games—six preseason games and one regular-season game—due to an eye ailment. Though that’s good news for Gregg Popovich and Co., the rising star’s long-term status is far more important.

As of now, it sounds like he’s heading for restricted free agency. Marc Stein of ESPN.com reports that while talks between the two sides on an extension have continued with the deadline lurking, it appears unlikely they will be able to bridge the gap in time.

“There is a strong likelihood that Friday’s midnight deadline for contract extensions for first-round picks from the Class of 2011 will pass without a new deal for reigning NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard, according to league sources,” Stein writes.

It’s still highly unlikely he’ll be playing anywhere else next season. The Spurs will have the ability to match any offer that comes in from the open market. But with no extension in place, they could be forced to match a cap-complicating max offer.

Given the aging nature of San Antonio’s roster, it’s important to keep a younger building block in place. That’s Leonard. At 23, he’s already showcased significant progress on both ends of the floor and should see his offensive numbers rise as he becomes a bigger focal point in that part of the game.

 

Little Jimmy Butler Progress

Like Leonard, Butler is also awaiting word on potential extension offers while missing time with an injury. The shooting guard is sidelined with a thumb injury, which is preventing him from getting off to a strong start after making some positive strides last season.

Also like Leonard, it sounds like any type of agreement before the Halloween deadline is a long shot. K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune states there’s a lot of ground to cover in very little time if they want to get something done:

The concern with Butler is the fact that his offensive efficiency dropped when he was placed in a starting role last season. His shooting percentage dropped 70 points, including a marked drop from beyond the arc. It transformed him from a valuable role player into a volume scorer.

He’s still a promising young talent, of course, but the Bulls may want to see another full season of play before they make any type of major commitment to him. So it doesn’t come as a shock that the deadline will probably come and go without an extension in place.

 

Fading Number of Rajon Rondo Suitors

Few, if any, players have been involved in more trade rumors over the past couple of years than Rondo. It seems like there’s always a new potential destination or trade package on the table. Yet he’s still a member of the Boston Celtics.

That trade talk may begin to diminish this season, though. Lang Greene of Basketball Insiders reports that the overall depth at the point guard position paired with Rondo’s injury history could cause teams to shy away:

The market for Rajon Rondo is indeed shrinking. Point guard position is stacked throughout the league. Rondo is approaching 30 (28), coming off an ACL injury, an unrestricted free agent next summer, doesn’t shoot a good FT percentage and doesn’t have the best mid-range jump shot. All of that is true. Plus there are rumors he’s not the most warm and fuzzy guy to deal with on a day to day basis. This is might be true.

Rondo looked healthy in the Celtics’ opener. He scored 13 points to go along with 12 assists and seven rebounds. It’s that type of production that interested teams in the first place. But whether he can hold up for 82 games plus a playoff run is a mystery.

Ultimately, the biggest problem for Boston would be trying to get fair-market value for him. He’s a top-end player when healthy, but other general managers likely aren’t going to pay that type of price right now. If he shows he can stay healthy, perhaps the market will heat up again.

 

Jason Thompson Interest

Thompson has filled several different roles over the past six years with the Sacramento Kings. For the most part, he’s remained a solid option regardless of how he’s used. But he is approaching 30, and his team is not viewed as a contender, so the question is whether he could be of more help elsewhere.

Zach Lowe of Grantland notes that the Kings would have more lineup flexibility if they used Thompson off the bench or traded him for future assets. The latter is possible, as teams are inquiring with the plan of using him as post depth:

They’ll also be active on the trade market, and I’d love to see them either move Jason Thompson or use him as a backup center. In Gay, Derrick Williams, and even Omri Casspi, the Kings have the tools to play small-ball lineups, but that will be a tiny feature of their rotation as long as Malone starts the Cousins-Thompson duo. The rising cap has renewed interest in Thompson as a bench big, according to several sources across the league.

At this stage, that seems like a good option for both sides. Thompson could play a key reserve role for a contending team, and the Kings would get a piece or two in return with an eye toward the future. Exactly how hot the trail is right now is unclear, though.

Teams may wait at least a month or two to decide whether to make a run at a player of his caliber. He’s not a game-changing talent, but he would definitely help a frontcourt. Once the direction of each team becomes clearer, Thompson may become an intriguing target.

 

Chase Budinger Available

The first two games have showcased Budinger‘s situation with the Minnesota Timberwolves. He played 15 minutes in the opener but missed all four of his shots from the field. Then, he didn’t play at all in the team’s second game.

Minnesota’s depth at small forward leaves him in a tough spot, one that could eventually find him moving to another squad. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports reports the team is actively looking to find a trade partner:

The Minnesota Timberwolves are shopping forward Chase Budinger in trade talks, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

Among talks with several teams, the Detroit Pistons and Houston Rockets have shown an interest, league sources said.

Budinger was a pretty consistent bench presence during his first four seasons in the league. He was good for around 10 points and three rebounds, frequently providing a spark with his outside shooting. But it appears unlikely he’ll carve out a similar role for the Wolves this season.

The problem in getting a deal done isn’t his ability to help off the bench but rather his contract. The report states his $5 million option is causing teams to think twice, at least for now. But a change of scenery would definitely help his cause.

 

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Dwight Howard Trade Killed Lakers’ Chances of Winning with Kobe Bryant

As big a basketball no-brainer as it seemed for the Los Angeles Lakers to acquire All-Star center Dwight Howard ahead of the 2012-13 season, the trade still required a massive amount of faith.

Specifically, the notion that no one—especially someone of Superman’s stature—would dare refuse to re-up for a fresh tenure the following summer.

“We’re the Lakers,” the thinking seemed to go. “If 16 banners and sun-soaked beaches can’t convince a star to stay, nothing will.”

Twelve months later, Howard—propelled by equal parts drama and economics—headed to the Houston Rockets, leaving the Lakers in a lurch from which they have yet to fully recover.

And so it is that what once would’ve seemed impossible has become, with the hand of hindsight, only too real: The Dwight Howard trade destroyed the Lakers’ chances of winning another title with Kobe Bryant.

Not that there was much margin for error to begin with, of course. Even at 34 years old, the closing of Bryant’s superstar window was already well underway. The Lakers didn’t need high-upside prospects; they needed proven ones, and in Howard and Steve Nash—acquired in an earlier, equally asset-draining trade—they were getting nothing if not two, title-ready talents.

But the pieces never quite clicked, and by the end of the spring of 2013 it had become screamingly obvious that the trio might never strike the desired hardwood harmony. Further complicating matters was the health of Bryant himself, cast into dire doubt following a late-season Achilles injury.

On July 13, 2013, L.A.’s dream of a banner Big Three officially died when Howard signed a four-year, $88 million deal to join James Harden in Houston.

On the surface at least, Bryant was a paragon of unflappability.

“Honestly, man, I don’t really give a s–t,” he told Pro Basketball Talk’s Brett Pollakoff. “If he would have come back, it would have been great. If he didn’t … It is what it is.”

Bryant’s flippancy aside, Howard’s departure didn’t just sting the Lakers’ ego; it derailed what was already the league’s most precarious financial high-wire act.

Hamstrung by the league’s salary cap, L.A. was forced to weather a tumultuous 2013-14 mostly without the oft-injured Nash and Bryant, who suffered another season-ending injury—this time to his right knee—just six games into the slate.

With their salary cap finally loosened heading into the summer, the Lakers were forced to undertake one last two-year plan: land a big-name free agent or two over the next two summers or risk watching Bryant’s twilight dim diminutively into the dark.

One summer down, one to go.

Having whiffed on the likes of LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, L.A. resorted instead to reinforcing the fringes—trading for the expiring contract of Jeremy Lin, signing a recently amnestied Carlos Boozer and doubling down on the basketball crapshoot that is Nick Young.

To call the 2014-15 season a wash would be selling the story short. At this point, the Lakers would be lucky just to avoid the Western Conference cellar.

This year’s hopes wholly dashed, the team’s sights now turn to the summers of 2015 and 2016, when stars including Rajon Rondo, Marc Gasol, Kevin Durant and LeBron James could hit the market.

The Lakers’ legacy and forthcoming largesse alone will be enough to make them serious free-agent players. Whether any of them will want to tether their talents and fortunes to a famously mercurial superstar on the wrong side of 35, however, is another question entirely.

Especially when said superstar is slated to make $48.5 million—the terms of Bryant’s late 2013 extension—over the next two seasons.

Defeatist as that may sound, neither is it a baseless observation. Take, for instance, this particularly scathing paragraph from Henry Abbott’s much-discussed expose of the Bryant era for ESPN The Magazine:

So did Kobe Bryant deserve the extension? And if not, why give it? The answer might lie in yet another question: Is it possible the Lakers felt free to squander cap space on the contract because there was no point in having cap space? When you can’t even bribe players to play with Kobe Bryant, what’s the point in bribe money? As one rival front office executive says: ‘I’m sure Mitch already investigated and found out he didn‘t need two max slots because the destination isn’t all that attractive until Kobe has completely left the premises.’

Has the famously perfectionist Bryant become too much to deal with? Such speculation is probably best saved for the media’s more plugged-in practitioners.

This much, though, is beyond doubt: When your team’s championship prospects are hanging by a hair-thin thread, even the residue of drama can be enough to crash the plan entirely.

Which brings us back to Howard, whose departure last summer Bryant deemed a “positive” according to a source quoted in a recent piece by CBS Sports’ Ken Berger.

For a perennial All-Star whose PER has dipped below 20 only thrice in a 10-year career, Howard’s being pegged as a problematic presence speaks to just how caustic he and Bryant’s chemistry had become.

This confronts us with a pair of possibilities: Either Howard’s attitude and motivation were so poor that not even Bryant felt himself capable of reaching him; or Bryant’s trademark taskmaster reputation was simply too much for the typically happy-go-lucky Howard to handle.

In both cases, the implications are dire. If Howard really is that aloof, what does that say about L.A.’s ability to properly identify compatible talent? On the other hand, if Bryant is really that impossible to please, what prospects do the Lakers have of reeling in more top-tier stars?

To suggest the Lakers would’ve contended with an agreeable Howard-Bryant dynamic—to say nothing of a healthy Nash, whose playing days might be officially over—is to speak in the service of speculation.

Looking back, though, it’s hard not to see the Howard trade as the foremost in a freeway-long line of dominoes, all felled to find the Lakers where they are today: desperate, downtrodden, a mere shadow of their once-mighty selves.

The question now becomes whether the franchise brass has the wit and wherewithal to pick them all back up again. All while Kobe’s clock ticks ominously toward zero.

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Knicks trade Travis Outlaw to 76ers

The New York Knicks will trade veteran forward Travis Outlaw to the Philadelphia 76ers to create the roster room needed to keep undrafted rookie forward Travis Wear, reports ESPN’s Marc Stein.   The Knicks also sent a 2019 second-round pick to the Sixers and agreed to swap rights on another future‎ second-rounder. Wear, undrafted out of UCLA, had a strong training camp and played his way onto the Knicks’ roster. “Travis Wear is another impressive rookie,” Knicks president Phil Jackson said recently. “He’s 6-10 with a terrific handle, outstanding athleticism and a nice touch from beyond the arc. He was overshadowed at UCLA, but has the skill set to play every position from 1 to 4. We’ll eventually place him in the D-League, where his possible NBA future solely depends on his ability to learn how to defend.” The Sixers sent Arnett Moultrie as part of the transaction.  He has been waived by the Knicks. Outlaw, drafted by Portland with the No. 23 overall pick in 2003, was acquired

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Marquis Teague to 76ers: Latest Trade Details, Analysis and Reaction

The Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers have agreed to a trade that will send Marquis Teague to the City of Brotherly Love.

Per Rod Boone of Newsday, the Nets will receive Casper Ware and a second-round pick in the 2019 draft in exchange for Teague:

The move was officially confirmed by the Nets and general manager Billy King on NBA.com:

The Brooklyn Nets have traded guard Marquis Teague, along with the 2019 second round draft pick that was obtained from Milwaukee this past June, to the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for guard Casper Ware, Nets General Manager Billy King announced today.

The 76ers continue to be a franchise that’s hard to figure out. Their drafts on paper have looked good with Nerlens Noel and Joel Embiid representing a huge part of the future, but Noel missed all of last season and no one has a definitive answer if Embiid will play this season. 

Teague certainly isn’t going to change their fortunes. He’s averaged 2.3 points on 34.9 percent shooting in two seasons. Tim Bontemps of The New York Post noted during a Nets preseason game on October 22 that Teague looked as bad as his regular season stats suggest:

The upside is Teague is only 21 years old and two years removed from being a first-round pick by the Chicago Bulls. He should get an opportunity to play with a Philadelphia team that needs bodies to fill out a roster and make it through 82 games. 

It’s not a move that will dramatically change the fortunes of the Nets or 76ers, but neither side is assuming that much risk. The 76ers gain some upside, however small it might be. 

 

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Marquis Teague Trade Rumors: Latest Buzz and Speculation on Nets Guard

For the second time in his three-year NBA career, 2012 first-round pick Marquis Teague appears to be on the precipice of being shipped out of town. The Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers are closing in on a deal that will send the former Kentucky star to Philadelphia, per Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

Brooklyn is not expected to receive “anything of significance” in return. NBA rules prohibit assets to be traded without compensation, so the likeliest outcome is a conditional or highly protected draft pick or a non-guaranteed contract that can be easily waived.

Teague, 21, was drafted No. 29 overall by the Chicago Bulls in 2012. He left after only one up-and-down season at Kentucky, with the Bulls hoping Tom Thibodeau could mine the talent that made Teague a highly touted prep star.

The relationship did not work out. Teague struggled mightily on both ends of the floor and was excised from the Bulls rotation to the point he was relegated to D-League duty. He played in only 67 games with Chicago before the team cut bait, sending him to Brooklyn in exchange for Tornike Shengelia.

“It just wasn’t clicking with Thibs the right way,” Teague told reporters in January. “Just trying to figure out the system was kind of tough for me. The way they play isn’t really my style, so it’s kind of difficult for me.”

The Nets experience went a little better for Teague, as he averaged 3.0 points and 1.4 assists per game on 41.5 percent shooting in 21 appearances. But Brooklyn’s offseason acquisition of Jarrett Jack leaves Teague without much chance at playing time.

His only extended preseason audition came in Wednesday night’s loss to the Boston Celtics, where he scored 10 points and made four assists (with six turnovers) in 24 minutes. In four other appearances, Teague had a total of 13 points in 37 minutes played.

Moving on allows Brooklyn to shave Teague‘s $1.12 million salary and its subsequent luxury tax costs off the books. The Nets have well north of $90 million in guaranteed contracts on their books, per Sham Sports, putting them well above the $76.83 million luxury tax. In 2013-14, Brooklyn paid an NBA record $90.57 million in luxury taxes.

The Sixers, far under the salary cap as they continue their rebuilding effort, can absorb Teague‘s contract without sending salary in return. Philadelphia is likely willing to give Teague a shot due to Michael Carter-Williams’ expected absence. The reigning Rookie of the Year has set a Nov. 13 target date for his return following offseason shoulder surgery, per Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com.

Tony Wroten will likely start at point guard while Carter-Williams is injured. Adding Teague may spell the end in Philadelphia for Casper Ware, a second-year guard who is on a non-guaranteed contract. Ware was impressive during his summer league run, but Philly’s flirtation with adding a point guard may signal a dissatisfaction with the guard rotation.

Or it may just be Sam Hinkie rolling the dice on a former first-round pick available for pittance. You never know with this team.

 

Follow Tyler Conway (@tylerconway22) on Twitter

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Another trade coming? Investigating ways the Celtics can get their roster to 15 players

With less than two weeks until opening night, the Celtics have 20 players in camp, five more than the 15 player maximum that they need to cut down to before their first game.However, four of those cuts are relatively easy to project, as Christian Watford, Erik Murphy, Rodney McGruder and Tim Frazier are all working under non-gauranteed contracts/camp invitations. Whenever the Cs want to release them, they can do so without paying them a dime. So that gets us to 16, but what about the final move? The Celtics are one of only two teams in the NBA with 16 players under guaranteed contracts (weirdly enough, the other is Detroit, the team the Celtics just traded Joel Anthony to in exchange for Will Bynum, which solved neither team’s roster crunch), and they’re going to either need to cut or trade someone before they take the floor on the 29th against the Nets. Here are some thoughts about how the Cs could do just that. Cuts: Barring something truly shocking, here are the players I…

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Celtics trade Joel Anthony to Pistons for Will Bynum

The Boston Celtics have traded center Joel Anthony to the Detroit Pistons for guard Will Bynum. The Celtics made the move to reduce their books.  Anthony is set to make $3.8 million this season, while Bynum will earn $2.9 million, saving the team $900,000. Anthony, 32, was acquired by the Celtics from the Miami Heat in January. “We’re getting a physical, experienced player who has a lot of intangibles and a lot of basketball savvy and strength to help our front line,” Pistons general manager Jeff Bower said Friday of Anthony. It’s unclear if the Celtics will keep Bynum. He appeared in 56 games for the Detroit Pistons last season where he averaged 8.7 points, 1.8 rebounds and 3.9 assists in 18.8 minutes per game. The post Celtics trade Joel Anthony to Pistons for Will Bynum appeared first on Sports Glory.

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Celtics find Rondo sub in trade with Pistons

The Pistons added size, while the Celtics got a short-term replacement for Rajon Rondo.

      
 

 

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Chase Budinger Trade Rumors: Latest Buzz and Speculation on Timberwolves Forward

The Minnesota Timberwolves are making waves on the trade front for the second time in two months, though this one may not cause the same ripple effect around the NBA.     

According to a report from Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, the Timberwolves are fielding offers for Chase Budinger:

The Minnesota Timberwolves are shopping forward Chase Budinger in trade talks, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

Among talks with several teams, the Detroit Pistons and Houston Rockets have shown an interest, league sources said.

However, as Wojnarowski also notes, neither the Rockets nor Pistons are hungry to take on Budinger’s contract, which includes a $5 million player option for next season:

Houston is reluctant to take on the $5 million player option Budinger’s deal has in 2015-16, as are the Pistons, sources said. Nevertheless, the Pistons are taking a long look at Budinger and considering the possibility of making a deal. No trade is considered imminent for Budinger. 

Detroit lost shooting guard Jodie Meeks for two months because of a fractured back.

One reason the Timberwolves might be keen to get rid of Budinger, and why few teams will have interest, is because of his injury history. The 26-year-old has appeared in just 64 games since 2012-13, and he missed half of last season due to surgery on his left knee. 

Budinger addressed the topic of his health during the preseason, via the Timberwolves’ official public relations staff on Twitter:

Jon Krawczynski of The Associated Press confirmed Budinger’s assessment of his health with this tweet from Minnesota’s training camp:

It’s not a surprise the Rockets would have interest in Budinger, however muted it might be due to his salary. The forward was drafted 44th overall by Detroit in the 2009 NBA draft before being traded to Houston. He spent three seasons with the Rockets and averaged 9.4 points per game. 

Budinger is a valuable bench piece to have if he can stay healthy. He’s shot 35.7 percent from three-point range in his career and shoots 80.6 percent from the free-throw line. Given the amount of time he’s missed since being traded to Minnesota, teams will need to see proof of a resurgence before biting on any deal. 

Fortunately, for Budinger and the Timberwolves, there is still time in the preseason and early in the regular season to show what he’s still capable of doing. If he establishes enough value in that time, then some team is more likely to bite on his salary. 

 

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The Problem with Philadelphia 76ers Pursuing Michael Carter-Williams Trade

Even though Michael Carter-Williams is coming off a season in which he won Rookie of the Year for the Philadelphia 76ers, his spot in the future plans of the rebuilding organization isn’t exactly secure. While he’s filled with upside and could develop into a star point guard down the road, the Sixers are apparently trying to strike while the iron is hot. 

According to Grantland’s Zach Lowe, Philadelphia attempted to find a deal for Carter-Williams during the 2014 NBA draft, and general manager Sam Hinkie may well end up pursuing that route at least one more time: 

They tried hard during the draft, but they couldn’t draw the trove they envisioned or guarantee that the player they wanted with an acquired pick would be there, per several league sources. Expect Philly to repeat the exercise. It’s not a shot at Carter-Williams, or even a signal that the Sixers are dying to trade him. He may well end up a long-term cog in Philly.

The team knows point guard is the most replaceable position in the league today, and it will seek out any deal that adds to its stockpile of high-value draft picks.

Whether the Sixers should deal the reigning ROY is another issue in and of itself, but let’s assume they can continue stockpiling talent, working toward future success and disavowing any notion of competing in the present. While it may seem to some as though trading Carter-Williams is akin to dooming the franchise to a perpetual rebuild, that doesn’t have to be the case. 

Hinkie is just taking his strategy to an extreme. Rather than attempting a quick turnaround that gets Philadelphia into the playoffs as a low seed, he’s not settling for anything less than a team brimming over with top-notch players, even if he’s potentially putting the fanbase through years of futility in order to get there. 

It’s risky, but it could work. As Mike Sielski illuminated in a January column for The Inquirer, the strategy in Philadelphia is all about shooting for those stars, both literally and metaphorically: 

Nevertheless, Hinkie remains confident that the Noel trade will prove a smart one. He’s willing to bank that a 19-year-old can recover from knee surgery and develop into an elite center. And if he doesn’t, well, in Hinkie‘s mind, one failed draft pick won’t destroy a franchise, especially one in the Sixers’ state, just as they have nothing to lose by signing a series of John Does and seeing whether any of them might turn out to be a newly earthed diamond.

‘Nerlens,’ Hinkie said, ‘is indicative of what we’re doing here,’ and that means taking chances on players who can become superstars. It means ignoring the bunt sign and swinging for the fence at every pitch.

Isn’t that what’s happening here, too? Why settle for the reigning Rookie of the Year when you can potentially get even more by removing him from the roster?

So again, let’s assume that trading Carter-Williams is an advantageous strategy. Even if that’s the case, there’s one major problem with the team attempting to find a new home for his immense basketball talents, not all of which manifested themselves during his first go-round in the Association. 

The team knows point guard is the most replaceable position in the league today,” Lowe wrote in that excerpt given in its entirety above. 

While that’s true, it doesn’t prevent many franchises from being satisfied with their starter at the 1. Point guards may be replaceable due to the sheer depth of talent at the league’s deepest position, but how many organizations are actually willing to give up their current starter? 

Carter-Williams checked in as the No. 18 point guard in the league last season, based solely on his 2013-14 production. So while it doesn’t necessarily mean there are 17 floor generals more valuable than him on the open market, it does give a ballpark estimate for his worth at the position. 

The next step in finding a deal revolves around isolating the teams that aren’t satisfied with their current point guard situation. By my count, there are nine. 

The Brooklyn Nets have a potential All-Star running the show for them in Deron Williams, but his contract situation is quite problematic. He’s an albatross for the next few years, preventing the Eastern Conference playoff contender from making any big moves, and the Nets would almost assuredly jump at any opportunity to remove him from the books while getting back a quality package in return. The Minnesota Timberwolves may be in a similar boat with Ricky Rubio, simply because the two sides have had trouble coming to terms on a contract extension. 

Then we have the Dallas Mavericks, whose three-headed monster of Jameer Nelson, Devin Harris and Raymond Felton is a passable option when there’s so much talent surrounding it in the rotation. The Detroit Pistons and Brandon Jennings haven’t exactly been a match made in heaven, and both the Houston Rockets and Indiana Pacers could use a better creator at point guard. Patrick Beverley and George Hill are high-quality defenders, but they’re very one-dimensional players. 

Beyond that, the Los Angeles Lakers don’t have their point guard of the future on the roster, as Jeremy Lin has limited upside and Steve Nash is on the brink of retirement. The Miami Heat would surely love to upgrade from Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole, though the organization has also been remarkably high on Shabazz Napier. 

Finally, there’s the New York Knicks, who have an underrated Jose Calderon running the point in the present but still need to find the heir apparent, preferably one with some star power. 

Those nine teams are the only ones Philadelphia should bother contacting if Hinkie is truly sold on finding a trade. He’ll surely do his due diligence and reach out to the other organizations, hoping against hope that one is willing to add a second high-quality point guard and meet a solid asking price, but his best bets come from the aforementioned group. 

So the first problem is the limited market, due primarily to the same depth at the point guard position that makes it easier to find replacements. However, the second issue is even more troublesome. 

Which of those teams actually has something tempting enough to offer that they can pry the reigning Rookie of the Year from Philadelphia’s clutches, however loose the current grip may be? 

The Nets can offer up Williams, counting on the Sixers using their loads of cap space to absorb his monstrous contract. But what use would his new squad have for an aging floor general with a huge contract who often seems to be made of glass? By the time Philadelphia is ready to compete, there’s no guarantee Williams is anything more than a replacement-level point guard. 

In addition, there are no draft picks to tempt Hinkie with. Brooklyn already owes its 2016 and 2018 first-round picks to the Boston Celtics, and due to the Ted Stepien Rule, teams are prohibited from trading future first-rounders in back-to-back years.

So, how much use would the Sixers have for a 2020 first-round pick? Probably close to none, and that’s the earliest one they could get from the Nets. 

The Knicks are in the same boat, as are the Lakers, Rockets, Heat and Timberwolves. Los Angeles could at least offer Houston’s current first-round pick, but it’s a lottery-protected one, and there isn’t much else to give up. You’re still looking at an earliest unprotected first-round pick of 2019 for the Lakers, 2018 for the Knicks and 2017 for the Rockets, Heat and Wolves. 

Additionally, no member of that quintet has high-upside prospects it would be willing to part with for Carter-Williams. Julius Randle has to be considered off the table, New York and Houston don’t have many high-upside but unproven players and Minnesota just intentionally acquired a bevy of young players to test out during its own rebuild. The Heat have a shallow roster and can’t afford to part with any key pieces.

Strike all five off the list of options, which has now dwindled to only three teams—the Mavericks, Pistons and Pacers. Which of those teams can make a realistic offer?

All three have devalued draft picks because they’re going to be in the playoff hunt, so it all depends on what’s meant by “any deal that adds to its stockpile of high-value draft picks.” Something tells me that selections in the tail end of the lottery aren’t going to cut it, nor will a collection of anything even later in the proceedings. 

Carter-Williams may have earned his prestigious award in part due to the overall lack of elite rookies, but he still displayed plenty of promise while running the show in his first year removed from Syracuse. He has quite a bit of value to the Sixers, and there’s no reason for them to part ways unless there’s a mind-altering haul coming back in return. 

There’s already a limited number of teams that would show legitimate interest in trading for Carter-Williams, and those that might come calling don’t have much to offer. Unless the Sixers drop their estimates of the point guard’s worth, we’re left with two sides whose expectations and desires in a trade are inevitably separated by a yawning chasm. 

As it stands, Philadelphia may be able to take its pick from a selection of second-round picks, first-rounders that won’t be conveyed for at least three years and middling prospects who won’t do much to change the direction of the franchise or at least accelerate the rebuild.

It’s not hard to see the problem here. 

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