With the NBA’s trade deadline firmly in the rearview the next window for teams to improve is the buyout market, where veterans on bottom-dwellers are bought out and can sign with a contender.
Some players who can help provide reliable, tertiary scoring have already found new homes — like Joe Johnson (Houston Rockets) and Marco Belinelli (Philadelphia 76ers) — but by the March 1 deadline, the buyout market is expected to have more players switching teams in the pursuit of a ring and a chance to help a team down the stretch.
Here’s a look at some of the latest reports, rumours, and rumblings from the buyout market:
Raptors “moved on” from Vince Carter
As Sportsnet’s Michael Grange reported, the Raptors, who as recently as last week were said to be exploring the idea of bringing Carter back into the fold, have “moved on” from the notion of making a Carter-Raptors reunion happen this season.
Presumably the team either feels the “Vince Returns” narrative — a prime distraction to placate its fan base during trying times — could overshadow or get in the way of the best season in franchise history, one in which the Raptors are legitimate contenders to advance to the East finals and beyond.
More likely is that the team doesn’t feel Carter can have an impact on the floor that would make the much-hoopla’d return worthwhile. Should the Raptors explore the buyout market, they would be looking for a veteran wing to add depth and insurance should their young bench unit shrink in the spotlight of the post-season.
If the Raptors add to their roster via buyout, they’d be looking for another shooter who doesn’t require big minutes or a lot of touches to catch fire. Carter is shooting a little over 35 per cent from beyond the arc this season.
Given how well the Raptors’ second unit has played — a clear-cut differentiator between Toronto and other clubs — it’s hard to imagine any player coming in via the buyout market and disrupting Dwane Casey’s rotation in a significant way.
The New York Times‘ Marc Stein reports that the Sacramento Kings are looking to keep Carter on their roster for the remainder of the season — he is a good role model for their young players, after all — but the 41 year-old Carter would certainly be validated for wanting to play on a contender this season.
One team that has been discussed as a potential Carter landing spot if he’s bought out is the Boston Celtics, who were looking for wing scoring and defence ahead of the trade deadline, and can find both attributes in Carter.
The Celtics have already gone the buyout route to add talent this season, signing former Phoenix Suns big man Greg Monroe to a one-year deal earlier this month.
No Rose-Thibs reunion?
When the Cleveland Cavaliers restocked half of their roster on trade deadline day, point guard Derrick Rose was dealt to the Utah Jazz. He is expected to be bought out by the Jazz. The leading landing spot was believed to be the Minnesota Timberwolves, whose head coach Tom Thibodeau coached Rose during his best years in Chicago starring for the Bulls.
Rose, the 2011 NBA MVP, is a shell of what he once was but can still provide decent — albeit limited — minutes off the bench for a team in need of depth at point guard. But according to a recent report, Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor said his team is not planning to offer Rose a contract for the remainder of this season.
The Wizards, who are without all-star point guard John Wall as he recovers from a left knee procedure, are reported to be another potential destination for Rose.
Tony Allen, anybody?
Although he wasn’t technically bought out — he was waived by the Chicago Bulls after being traded from New Orleans as part of the Nikola Mirotic deal — Tony Allen is expected to find a new home with a contender. Allen may not be the starter-quality player he was during his years in Boston and Memphis, but still has enough left in the tank to make a difference in the backcourt.
Allen has been linked to the Oklahoma City Thunder, who have a noticeable hole to fill at shooting guard with similar defensive-minded starter Andre Roberson out for the season.
Tyreke Evans still available?
One of the biggest surprises from the trade deadline was that, after a solid month of reports and speculation, Memphis Grizzlies guard Tyreke Evans wasn’t dealt.
It didn’t make sense for Memphis to keep him, given their best shot at getting better now lies in the draft lottery, but there’s speculation the team may buyout the remainder of Evans’ deal this season in order to improve next season (read: tank). Evans is averaging over 19 points per game, and will be likely be the most sought-after buyout target given his age (28) and ability to produce at a high level.