NBA Rumour Roundup: LaMarcus Aldridge expected to be a hot commodity

Raptors basketball analyst Michael Grange says he doesn’t think Kyle Lowry will be traded before the March 25th deadline.

The all-star break has come and gone and the next key date on the NBA calendar is the March 25 trade deadline.

With two weeks remaining for teams to assess their rosters and make trades accordingly, the hot stove is expectedly kicking into overdrive.

Kyle Lowry‘s status with the Toronto Raptors has dominated recent headlines, especially north of the border, and has been covered extensively here on Sportsnet.

Lowry aside, there’s a lot of buzz out there so it’s a good idea to start adjusting your Twitter notification settings to stay in the loop. Here’s a look at the latest major rumblings from around the league, starting with a former all-star splitting from his current club.

Expect Aldridge to be a hot commodity

LaMarcus Aldridge‘s time with the San Antonio Spurs has come to an end after the two parties mutually agreed to part ways Wednesday night. The 35-year-old’s best days are behind him but he’s still a serviceable scoring option in the frontcourt.

The Spurs are expecting significant trade interest and believe they may even be able to find a deal within the next week, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Should a trade not come to fruition, San Antonio would negotiate a contract buyout, with some of the league’s elite reportedly interested in adding him as a free agent.

Gregg Popovich’s group has gone 6-3 without Aldridge in the lineup this season, so a major sell-off isn’t a foregone conclusion following this decision. DeMar DeRozan and Co. could make a run at the post-season as currently constructed.

Magic hanging on to Vucevic?

While Aldridge will be on the move, it’s looking like another impact big man will be staying put. Two-time all-star Nikola Vucevic is the centrepiece of the Orlando Magic and the team plans to keep it that way, according to New York Times reporter Marc Stein.

Vucevic is signed through the 2022-23 season on a team-friendly contract, so it’s safe to say the line of suitors would have been long. He’s averaging a career-best 24.6 points to go along with 11.6 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game. He’s also taken his three-point shooting to another level this year, converting at a 41 per cent clip from downtown.

Orlando (13-23) is in the middle of a disappointing season and hasn’t been able to get over the hump in the Eastern Conference with this core of players. Perhaps the Vucevic situation plays out in the off-season, or maybe the Magic will defer a decision even further down the line.

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How many players will Pistons, Rockets trade?

Keep a close eye on a pair of cellar-dwellers over these next two weeks. The Detroit Pistons and Houston Rockets are both well out of the playoff conversation and should be shedding assets soon.

Blake Griffin has already moved on to the Brooklyn Nets after his buyout, and Pistons GM Troy Weaver claims nobody on the roster is untouchable, so there could be plenty of action coming out of the Motor City. Forward Jerami Grant is having a breakout year at age 26 and could be the piece that fetches the most in return. There are plenty of role-playing veterans who could also be of interest to contenders, including Delon Wright, Wayne Ellington and Mason Plumlee.

Down in Houston, the Rockets have struggled to overcome the loss of James Harden and rival executives expect a “fire sale” at the deadline.

John Wall is one flashy name that figures to be available, though unloading his massive contract could be too big of an obstacle mid-season. Victor Oladipo hits free agency at the end of this season and reportedly rejected an extension offer from the Rockets last month, so he may be moved once again. P.J. Tucker is another name that constantly pops up in the rumour mill.

One player who reportedly won’t be going anywhere? Big man Christian Wood.

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Clippers content with core

The Los Angeles Clippers are comfortably in the upper echelon of the Western Conference standings and appear to be content with their current core heading into the playoffs. Any add the Clippers make between now and the deadline is expected to be for a role player and not a star, per Sam Amick of The Athletic.

Los Angeles was one of the teams linked to Lowry last month, but was reportedly dissuaded by the issue of trying to match his large contract in a trade. It appears the Clippers will be banking on what they have in house, and when Kawhi Leonard is involved, that’s a pretty solid bet to make.

Warriors looking to add?

Following an injury-plagued 2019-20 season, the Golden State Warriors are back in the mix in the Western Conference. Though not the juggernaut they were during their dynastic run, they still have a Steph Curry-led group that could put a scare into one of the conference’s top teams.

Warriors president and general manager Bob Myers says he expects to be “aggressive” in talks leading up to the deadline but will be mindful of balancing the present with the future.

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