Put a finger to the wind to know which direction the rumors are headed. Inhale and enjoy the familiar scent of buyouts and trades. It’s February, which means it’s officially trade season. Here are some of the rumors bouncing around the NBA on Thursday.
The Pelicans are Eyeing Greg Monroe
New Orleans had pushed hard for Monroe, according to an ESPN report Thursday morning. Monroe was just bought out by the Phoenix Suns after playing only 11 minutes a game. Head coach Alvin Gentry reportedly called Monroe, who grew up in the New Orleans area, to offer him the chance to be the team’s starting center alongside Anthony Davis in the team’s post–DeMarcus Cousins frontcourt. It could be a perfect fit at a low cost:
Pelicans could also use $1M of the Disabled Player Exception to sign Monroe. Minimum for Monroe as of Saturday is $758K with $565 counting towards the tax. https://t.co/WXtbTlGH6f— Bobby Marks (@BobbyMarks42) February 1, 2018
But just a few hours later, the Pelicans traded for the Bulls’ Nikola Mirotic, who will presumably fill that starting 4-spot alongside Davis and provide New Orleans with some badly needed 3-point shooting. Where could Monroe go now? Boston could use his services, and the Celtics have the most money available to pay him, but as USA Today’s Jeff Zillgitt reported Thursday, Monroe’s buyout paid him enough to make money a secondary factor in his decision. Meanwhile, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Pelicans could still be in the mix if they play with their available cap space.
Joe Johnson Wants Out
Iso Joe! It’s been too long. The Jazz are 22–28 and 3.5 games out of the playoff picture. Even if Utah somehow sneaks into the postseason, this team is headed toward a roster rebuild centered on Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert. According to The New York Times’ Marc Stein, Johnson is trying to find a way out of Utah. Even at 36, the 17-year vet has the ability to help out a contending team in search of off-the-bench scoring. Buckets are a hot commodity, and Johnson might still have enough gas left in the tank to get some.
Brook Lopez and Jordan Clarkson Could Be Gone From Laker Land
A report from Woj on Wednesday night suggested that the Cavs have been in talks with the Lakers about a trade for Jordan Clarkson after failing to make a deal with the Kings for George Hill. Right now, with Isaiah Thomas struggling, Clarkson would not just make sense as an option at point guard, he might even their best option at the position. Even though he is not a great defender, I find it hard to believe he’d be worse than Thomas, who, this season, has the worst defensive rating recorded by any player in the past 25 years. Clarkson can also score (he’s averaging 14.7 points in 23.6 minutes per game), and he’s aggressive with the ball. He’s also an athletic 6-foot-5, a solid fit in the Cavs’ second unit.
Brook Lopez’s situation is more speculative. The center is nearly 30 on a young team without playoff potential. He’s barely getting to play (he’s averaging a career-low 20.6 minutes a game), and, after playing only nine minutes in Wednesday night’s 127–105 loss to Orlando, he seemed to get emotional.
Brook Lopez waved off reporters postgame. He played 9 minutes tonight, including 1:33 in the 2nd half. During the 4th he looked upset, covered his head with a towel, rubbed his eyes with it, and got up and walked off the court at the next time out, returning shortly thereafter.— Tania Ganguli (@taniaganguli) February 1, 2018
As Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post pointed out, it looks like Lopez is heading toward a buyout. It’s a situation similar to Monroe’s in Phoenix: A big man on a young team is looking to revive his season elsewhere. Lopez’s shooting numbers have declined this season, but he is decent from long range. He would be a perfect big body and floor spacer on another team’s second unit.