Every year, the NBA trade deadline comes and goes with varying impact. We’ve already seen one major deal this year and it’s entirely possible we see a few more prior to Thursday’s 3 p.m. deadline.
That’s not, however, the last chance teams have to add talented players who can contribute to a playoff run. We saw just last year how the buyout market can help elevate a team when the Philadelphia 76ers picked up Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova.
This year’s buyout market carries similar potential. While the unexpected playoff contention of the Brooklyn Nets and Sacramento Kings has potentially removed players like DeMarre Carroll, Jared Dudley, Ed Davis, Iman Shumpert, and even Kosta Koufos from the market, the fortunes of other teams as well as the recent Kristaps Porzingis trade have brought some enticing new entries onto the scene. Let’s take a look at some of the players who, logically, make sense as potential buyout candidates who can help a playoff team become a contender.
Wesley Matthews, DeAndre Jordan, and Enes Kanter
At this point, Matthews seems likely to end up the most sought-after player on the buyout market. The Knicks have reportedly been contacted by at least one team about acquiring him in a trade in order to prevent him from becoming available at all, but if he hits waivers, there are any number of contenders that will and should be immediately interested in his services, whether as a starter or as a reserve.
Matthews is no longer at his 3-and-D peak, but he can still be valuable as a multi-positional defender on the wing who can knock down spot-up shots, post up smaller defenders, and take advantage of rotations as a second-side ball-handler. The Rockets and Sixers make sense as potential fits, but teams like the Thunder, Warriors, and especially Lakers (if they trade half their roster for Anthony Davis) should unquestionably get involved if he becomes available.
New York may apparently decide to hang onto Jordan due to his friendship with Kevin Durant. Assuming the organization comes to the realization that that particular line of thinking doesn’t make much sense, Jordan should have several potential suitors. The Rockets could make a good deal of sense with Clint Capela still on the mend, but with the likelihood that Jordan would be pushed into a bench role upon Capela’s return, it’s tough to see him being overly interested. The Warriors may have other targets in mind, although being able to split their center minutes between Jordan and DeMarcus Cousins would be a blast.
But the best fit may be the one that’s been talked about the most: A return to Los Angeles, this time with the Lakers. He’d make a ton of sense there whether L.A. trades for Davis or not. We all know AD would prefer not to play center and LeBron James would prefer not to play the 4, so Jordan could slot in ahead of JaVale McGee and Tyson Chandler as the preferred center option when the team goes big.