The buyout market is to the NBA’s annual trade deadline what a late December birthday is to Christmas. Most of the time, it gets overshadowed by the big holiday that precedes it, with the brighter lights, prettier wrapping paper and a wider embrace.
Occasionally, though, buyout time is a welcome second chance for teams that struck out at the deadline.
This year is no different. In fact, given the flurry of trades across the league before Thursday’s cutoff, the quantity and quality in the discard pile might be unusually high. Rosters get reconfigured, goals get reassessed, finances need adjusting and a big, fat round of musical chairs seems like an ideal solution.
For all practical purposes, the last chair gets pulled on March 1, the date by which a player must be bought out if his next team wants him for the playoffs. But calculations and moves began almost immediately when the trading dust settled as teams look for ways to add depth, plug holes and otherwise tweak for the season’s final third.
Here are 15 players who already are or soon could be made available, with contenders (real or delusional) lining up for the cut-outs. And since we’re going with alphabetical order, the biggest name shows up here last:
Will Barton, Washington: The market for this veteran wing depends on whether GMs think they’ll get the scorer who averaged 14.7 points in 2021-22 or the guy who is at 7.7 points this season on 38% shooting. Opportunity has been a key factor for the 32-year-old – he averaged 32 minutes in Denver while starting 181 of 185 games the past three seasons, compared to 19.6 minutes with zero starts for the Wizards – but his per-36 production isn’t far off (14.1 points on 13.1 shot attempts).
Patrick Beverley, Orlando: Will he return to Minnesota? There have been conflicting rumblings about Beverley’s future whereabouts, with Orlando waiving the point guard in the wake of the Mo Bamba trade that delivered the 34-year-old guard from the Lakers. On one hand, Beverley’s pesky defense and brashness helped the Timberwolves reach the playoffs last spring. But on the other hand, the Wolves with Mike Conley might have moved on from the aging irritant.
Dewayne Dedmon, San Antonio: Miami needs frontcourt depth, yet shed the 7-footer for cash, also gifting a second-round pick to the Spurs, who promptly cut him. In spot duty, though, Dedmon’s production — particularly on the boards — isn’t bad. Via ESPN, he is reportedly headed to the 76ers to serve as a backup for All-Star center Joel Embiid.
Bryn Forbes, Minnesota: Everybody craves shooting, so you’d expect interest in a career 41% 3-point guy. He was waived by the Wolves to open up room for the incoming Conley and Nickeil Alexander-Walker, after limited impact (268 minutes in 25 games, 14-of-46 from the arc).
Danny Green, Houston: Green stuck around Memphis rehabbing since summer, played three games in February and got shipped out in the Eric Gordon deal. Multiple outlets reported Sunday that Green is nearing an agreement to join the Cleveland Cavaliers to bolster their playoff run.
George Hill, Indiana: It doesn’t look as if Hill will be cut loose by the Pacers, a nod to his five formative seasons in Indy (2011-2016). At least he likes the destination. Some Bucks fans probably feel for the veteran guard, considering Milwaukee traded him in 2020 in the process of acquiring Jrue Holiday and now has championship ambitions again with Hill out of their picture.
Serge Ibaka, Indiana: Ibaka, waived by Indiana, might have more interest in suitors than suitors do in him. He fell out of the rotation in Milwaukee by Thanksgiving and never got back, even when big Bobby Portis went out three weeks ago.
Reggie Jackson, Charlotte: The Clippers opted for size (Mason Plumlee) over Jackson’s popularity and perimeter shooting, which hadn’t been so great recently anyway. He could give a nice offensive boost off the bench for several contenders, but Denver apparently called dibs and will be Jackson’s next employer, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania. The Nuggets’ need opened with the four-team deal that sent Bones Hyland to the Clippers while delivering Thomas Bryant.
DeAndre Jordan, Denver: Bryant arrives, so Jordan departs? That’s the scenario that would play out if the Nuggets buy out the 34-year-old center on a one-year deal. He’s been a decent contributor when he plays, though, chipping in about five points and five boards in 15 minutes.
Kevin Love, Cleveland: Love has been asked to sacrifice yet again in Cleveland, taking a seat completely when Dean Wade returned from injury. But the 34-year-old forward has been enjoying this iteration of the Cavaliers, off the floor as well as on, and doesn’t seem likely to push for the exit.
Derrick Rose, New York: With Tom Thibodeau as coach, Rose falling out of the Knicks’ rotation doesn’t speak well of what he has left in the tank. A buyout now would likely be a sentimental move, enabling Chicago (which needs some positive PR) to sign him so Rose could wrap up his NBA days with his hometown Bulls.
Terence Ross, Orlando: Near the end of his four-year, $54 million deal, Ross reportedly is headed to Phoenix, according to Wojnarowski after being waived by the Magic on Sunday. The Suns could use Ross, hitting 38% from deep in his limited Magic role this season, to help space around Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, Chris Paul and Deandre Ayton. Ross isn’t that far removed from his Top 5 finish (2019) in Sixth Man balloting.
Dario Saric, Oklahoma City: Finally looking like his old self after missing all of 2021-22 recovering from ACL knee surgery, Saric had upped his production for the Suns to 8.1 points, 4.9 rebounds and 18.4 minutes since Jan. 1 – only to get traded to OKC for defensive-minded Darius Bazley. If he’s not bought out, Saric could end up filling the Thunder’s hole opened by Mike Muscala’s move to Boston.
John Wall, Houston: First Wall gets warehoused by the Rockets, straining already taut relations between the former five-time All-Star and the team. Then he gets bought out last June, departing with a reported $41 million of his $47.4 million due for 2022-23. Then he wound up back in Rocketsland at the deadline in the Eric Gordon deal. Off the Clippers bench, Wall was good for 18.4 points and 8.5 assists per 36 minutes, while shooting 40% overall and 30% on 3s.
Russell Westbrook, Utah: All possibilities remained open as this weekend began, from Westbrook heading back home to L.A. to join the Clippers, cutting a deal with the Heat, the Bulls, the Nets or the Wizards, or even staying put in Salt Lake City. At 34, after the failed stint with the Lakers, some have speculated that the former MVP’s next stop could be his last unless he embraces a lesser role and modifies his game to fit.
Others mentioned in buyout chatter: Justin Holiday, Cory Joseph, Frank Kaminsky, Kevin Knox, Thaddeus Young
* * *
Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.
The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Warner Bros. Discovery Sports.