The countdown to the NBA’s trade deadline has reached four weeks, and with 25 teams within 3.5 games of a postseason slot, the league swap meet could be as confused as ever.
Let’s have a look in this week’s Friday Rumor-rama, or as it is known in Canada, Rumour-rama.
One of the difficulties that arises for those with players to peddle at this time of year is the way teams clasp tightly to first-round picks, protecting them as though they possess part of the nuclear codes. First-rounders are the best way to get high-quality cheap labor and, naturally, there is little incentive to part with cheap labor.
But, according to league sources, there are a handful of teams that have been willing to offer up first-rounders this year. For teams seeking to rebuild — and with so many teams angling for the postseason, there are not many — that figures to be good news.
One of the teams most eager to move its first-rounder along for immediate help is the Pelicans, who have won two straight games as they’ve gotten Elfrid Payton and Nikola Mirotic back from injury but are still desperate for small forward help. A source told SN that the Pels made a pitch for small forward Kelly Oubre before Washington traded him to Phoenix, and New Orleans has continued to look for a starting-quality wing.
The Pelicans have shown interest in Orlando small forward Terrence Ross, who has had a career year, but is a free agent this summer and uncertain to re-sign with the Magic.
Orlando has been reluctant to deal Ross as the team has been within range of a playoff spot, but four straight losses have left the Magic seven games under .500 and perhaps ready to give up the postseason dream and get back to the long-term rebuilding project. They have a difficult five-game slate ahead and could be out of the playoff mix by next weekend.
The Magic’s preference has been to trade Jonathon Simmons, who has struggled this season. Simmons is signed for next season, at $5.7 million, but only $1 million is guaranteed. Still, teams pushing for the postseason (like New Orleans) prefer Ross for a first-rounder. The Magic may have to budge on that if they want a pick.