The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Chicago Bulls. All opinions expressed by Sam Smith are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Chicago Bulls or its Basketball Operations staff, parent company, partners, or sponsors. His sources are not known to the Bulls and he has no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NBA accredited member of the media.
By Sam Smith | 2.16.2015 | 1:56 p.m. CT
Now that the NBA has celebrated its stars with its winter fun and games at All-Star break, it’s time to see which stars will need mail forwarded. Thursday, as NBA games resume is also the trading deadline, the final day for trades until teams are out of the playoffs. There still can be buyouts and players joining teams from buyouts until the end of the season, though players on rosters have to be released by the beginning of March to be eligible for playoffs. But Thursday is generally the final major personnel day, and there seem plenty of players who could still influence the playoffs.
Goran Dragic: The Suns point guard, an all-league player last season, nevertheless, lost his job when the Suns gave in to Eric Bledsoe’s contract demands. Dragic is a free agent and it seems questionable he would return to the Suns. The Suns are now rumored trying to trade Isaiah Thomas, who for some odd reason, they signed last summer despite having Bledsoe and Dragic. The Suns are headed out of the top eight in the West, and Dragic would be an All-Star in the East. Or really anywhere. The Rockets, basically involved in leaking every trade rumor, are rumored. Also watch with Gerald Green, who has lost most of his playing time amidst the point guard happy game there.
Evan Turner: He remains an intriguing possibility with a relatively modest—under $4 million, which we know to be NBA throwaway money— contract as the Celtics continue to stack up draft picks and probably wouldn’t need a big one. They would probably like to deal Marcus Thornton, a pretty good reserve shooter who can win you a playoff game and is to be a free agent. The problem is salary matching in these deals and the length of contracts in return as bad teams want the cap room. Maybe Brandon Bass, another free agent but making almost $7 million. Gerald Wallace remains in Celtics jail with a contract for $10 million next season.
Enes Kanter: The Jazz’ young big man has been losing playing time to Rudy Gobert, who’ll come much cheaper. Kanter is a free agent and the Jazz has locked up Gordon Hayward, Alec Burks and Derrick Favors. He said he’d like to be traded. The Celtics have been most rumored chasing big men and the Bucks are said to be interested as well. Another Celtics’ big man rumor floating around during All-Star weekend has been their pursuit of All-Star DeMarcus Cousins. There is no indication he’s available from the team, but the speculation has been he and George Karl won’t work together and Karl wants to play faster without a low post center. So Boston is rumored to give it a try. Hey, who thought they would get Kevin Garnett? The Kings have been offering Jason Thompson around for most of the last two seasons and rarely used rookie Nik Stauskas. But that could change with Karl.
Arron Afflalo: He’s been most prominently mentioned among the Denver Seven, basically about seven players the Nuggets would be willing to trade in their disappointing season. The tough part with Afflalo is matching his salary which is above $7 million. But he’s the sort of player who can step in. Similarly with Nate Robinson, who is much cheaper, though having a poor season. Jameer Nelson is a possible buyout. Darrell Arthur with an expiring deal may be attractive as well.
Brook Lopez: He’s been much rumored, though how much discussed is the question with a $16 million salary and option for next season. With the Nets for sale, it’s about trying to reduce payroll as much as possible as they likely fall out of playoff possibilities. His health issues give you pause; as does his rebounding. But there aren’t many centers.
Jose Calderon: The Knicks are in full salary dump mode with reports of a buyout for Amar’e Stoudemire as well. Other than Carmelo Anthony, the only non-rookie contracts beyond this season are for Calderon, Pablo Prigioni, Tim Hardaway and Shane Larkin. You take one and they’ll throw in a Jason Smith or Cole Aldrich.
Thaddeus Young: The former 76ers forward has been in basketball purgatory for some time, a hard working type enduring multiple losing teams. It’s part of being lucky and getting your long term deal but not good enough to make enough impact. He’s likely among many Timberwolves you could have if you have the expiring deals and picks as they are another with a youth movement. With the entertaining slam dunk performance of Zach LaVine you wonder their plans regarding Ricky Rubio.