BS Meter on Latest NBA Trade Buzz
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We’re roughly three weeks away from the 2023 NBA trade deadline, meaning there’s fresh buzz to be consumed on a daily (and sometimes hourly) basis around the league.
Trying to decode who’s putting information out there can be a tricky exercise, however, as there’s a great deal of posturing going on between teams, players and agents.
The BS meter is here to help decipher what’s truly to be believed and what to be wary of as we approach one of the most interesting times on the NBA calendar.
Spurs Would Like to Keep Jakob Poeltl, Even If They Get No. 1 Pick
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Following a shocking 5-2 start to the season, the Spurs have done wonderfully in their tanking efforts.
San Antonio ranks dead last in net rating (minus-10.8) and is tied with the Charlotte Hornets for the fewest wins (eight) since Nov. 1, putting the Spurs in a prime position to try to win the No. 1 overall pick and the chance to select Victor Wembanyama.
The Spurs can also help these odds by selling off some of their remaining veterans at the deadline. This is a group that includes Doug McDermott, Josh Richardson and Jakob Poeltl, who ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski believes the Spurs could get “real significant offers” for.
Poeltl looks like a prime candidate to be traded. He’s past San Antonio’s contending timeline at age 27, plays the same position as Wembanyama at center and will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason. Making just $9.4 million this year, Poeltl can easily be salary-matched by teams wishing to acquire his services.
Despite all of this, Wojnarowski states that the Spurs would like to keep the veteran center, especially if they select Wembanyama.
There would be little reason for Poeltl to want to return to San Antonio in free agency this summer, especially if the franchise just drafted someone who’s likely to start from Day 1, most likely at his position. The Spurs are years away from becoming title threats again, even if they land a generational prospect like Wembanyama. This will mark the fourth straight season that Poeltl will miss the playoffs after reaching it his first three years in the league, so joining a contender should be high on his priority list as a free agent.
This seems like classic posturing from the Spurs organization to try to drive the price up for their starting center. We don’t blame them for doing so, but Poeltl will almost certainly be gone before the deadline passes.
BS Meter: This is some high-quality BS by the Spurs to increase the asking price for Poeltl. We respect it.
Heat Have ‘Registered Interest’ in Wolves’ D’Angelo Russell
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While the Minnesota Timberwolves have recently climbed back to the .500 mark and into the West playoff picture, they still have a D’Angelo Russell problem.
The former All-Star is putting up 17.0 points and 6.2 assists per game on a career-high 58.7 true shooting percentage and is still only 26 years old. He’s been remarkably durable this season, suiting up in 41 of Minnesota’s 44 games overall.
So what’s the problem?
Russell’s individual production hasn’t equaled team success.
The Wolves have a lowly net rating of minus-4.1 this season when their three leading scorers (Anthony Edwards, Karl-Anthony Towns and Russell) all share the floor together. With just Edwards and Towns in the game and no Russell, however, this number jumps all the way to plus-10.5 (95th percentile, per Cleaning the Glass).
Moving Russell, who’s set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, before the deadline makes sense if Minnesota doesn’t want to re-sign their starting point guard to a big contract.
According to Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports, the Miami Heat have registered interest in Russell, although Fischer writes that a direct deal for Kyle Lowry (an easy salary and positional match) would appear unlikely.
With an offense that ranks just 23rd overall this season, Miami could be an interesting fit for Russell, who spent most of his high school years just a few hours north at Montverde Academy.
A deal centered around Russell and Lowry would make a lot of sense for both teams, as Minnesota could use the latter’s veteran presence at floor general.
BS Meter: No BS here. The Timberwolves are no longer a good fit for Russell. A fresh start with the Heat would be best for all involved.
Knicks’ Immanuel Quickley Has ‘Generated Considerable External Interest’
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The New York Knicks could be one of the most interesting teams to watch at the deadline, a team capable of making a big splash given its collection of first-round picks and combination of veterans and young talent that could become available.
Among the group of youngsters is Immanuel Quickley, the 23-year-old guard who’s played well recently in an expanded role.
“The Knicks’ Immanuel Quickley has generated considerable external interest, league sources say, but the strong signals emanating from Gotham indicate that New York is increasingly reluctant to part with him,” Marc Stein wrote on The Stein Line substack.
Following a rocky start to the season, Quickley has put up 18.4 points, 4.3 rebounds and 4.2 assists on 36.3 percent shooting from three over his last 13 games, a streak that includes eight appearances in the starting lineup.
Teams should be checking on the price of Quickley, who’s mostly been used as a combo guard off the bench during his three seasons in New York. He’s extension-eligible this offseason and will enter the final year of his rookie contract this fall.
The Knicks have a lot to figure out with their roster, as seldom-used players like Evan Fournier, Derrick Rose and Cam Reddish could all be out the door before the deadline.
Quentin Grimes has cemented himself as a starter in the backcourt next to Jalen Brunson, so it appears Quickley will have to continue as a sixth man should he remain in New York. He’s certainly proved capable of being a starter, however, as rebuilding teams and contenders alike should have interest in the third-year guard.
While he won’t be one of the biggest names on the market, the Knicks should at least be listening to offers for Quickley.
BS Meter: The word “considerable” is doing a lot here, but teams should have interest in Quickley. With another year left on his rookie deal, the Knicks have no reason to move him, however. We won’t call BS on this one.
John Collins Doesn’t ‘Give a Damn’ What Happens at Trade Deadline
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At 21-22 overall, the Hawks have been one of the more disappointing teams in basketball, especially after adding Dejounte Murray to the mix this past offseason.
Add Collins’ play to the list of things that have gone wrong, as the 25-year-old is averaging 13.1 points (the lowest since his rookie season) and shooting 23.0 percent from three (a career worst). His shot attempts have decreased each of the past four years as Atlanta has continued to add talent, and Collins’ name has long popped up in trade rumors.
The Athletic’s Sam Amick spoke to a clearly frustrated Collins, who said, “I don’t give a damn honestly, you know what I mean?” when asked if he’d prefer to stay in Atlanta or play for a new team.
Collins would go on to say: “And when I say I don’t give a damn, it’s just like, man, I’m gonna wake up every day and be positive, and I’m going to go play basketball. If I think about that s–t all day, I’m gonna be a mess. And that’s me trying to preserve my mental [health]. That’s really it.”
Clearly, the sixth-year forward is tired of the uncertainty revolving around his future with the Hawks, and who could blame him?
It would be one thing to buy-in to a lesser role if the team was playing well, but doing so on one that’s woefully underperforming is another. Even with his numbers dropping, the Hawks are still 6.6 points per 100 possessions better with Collins on the floor (81st percentile, per Cleaning the Glass).
At this point, some of that mental fatigue may have carried over to Collins’ game. He was a 40.1 percent three-point shooter just a few years ago, averaging 20 and 10 a night when given the opportunity.
Collins needs a new opportunity somewhere else to thrive again, be it with the Indiana Pacers, Utah Jazz, Washington Wizards or another team that could better use his talents.
BS Meter: This is BS from Collins, although it’s easy to understand why he’s talked himself into feeling this way. A split would be best for everyone here, as long as Atlanta gets some win-now talent back in return.
Lakers Have Talked Bojan Bogdanović and Nerlens Noel Deal with Pistons
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Despite all that’s gone wrong for the Los Angeles Lakers this season, the team sits just two games behind the Minnesota Timberwolves for the No. 6 seed in the West.
The Lakers owe it to a 38-year-old LeBron James to be aggressive in improving the roster around him, especially since he signed an extension with the team this past summer.
While Los Angeles simply doesn’t possess the assets to go chasing a star like Bradley Beal, there are some quality starters available that would fit what this team needs.
The Detroit Pistons’ Bojan Bogdanović would be an ideal addition, a tough, sharpshooting forward with 47 games of playoff experience to his name. The Lakers reportedly want more from the Pistons’ collection of veterans as well.
“I’ve heard the Lakers and Pistons have discussed a deal that would include both Bogdanović and Nerlens Noel. Since the Pistons are demanding draft assets in any deal for Bogdanović, it’s sort of a given that the Lakers would have to surrender a first-round pick to make a deal,” writes SI’s Howard Beck.
The Lakers shouldn’t stop with Bogdanović and Noel, as Alec Burks is a two-way wing who’s shooting 44.4 percent from three this season as well. Bleacher Report recently proposed a trade idea that would have Bogdanović, Noel and Burks all go to the Lakers in exchange for L.A.’s unprotected 2027 first-round pick, their 2023 second-round pick, rookie guard Max Christie and the expiring contract of Russell Westbrook.
There may be some awkwardness between LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Noel at first given the latter’s lawsuit filed against Klutch Sports, one that was recently settled, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium.
Still, the Lakers pursuing a deal not only for Bogdanović, but also one that includes Noel as a veteran defensive center, makes a lot of sense and would help push the Lakers closer to the playoffs.
BS Meter: None. Getting Bogdanović would be great for Los Angeles, but Rob Pelinka and Co. shouldn’t stop there.
All stats via Basketball Reference and accurate as of Jan. 14 unless otherwise noted.