The Cleveland Cavaliers seem eager to try to make a big splash on trade deadline day, but at least one option doesn’t seem to be happening.
The Cavaliers remain interested in Charlotte Hornets guard Kemba Walker, but owner Michael Jordan is not motivated to move him and little progress is being made on trade talks.
The Cavaliers, by all indications, are definitely trying to make a big move on Thursday. They’ve been linked to DeAndre Jordan which, while still difficult, seems a bit more likely than Walker. They’re definitely a team to keep an eye on.
On February 2nd, Punxsutawney Phil will emerge from his underground burrow on Groundhog Day to determine whether or not we will have six more weeks of winter. Several days later, on February 8th, NBA general managers will emerge from their underground bunkers on Trade Deadline Day to determine whether or not we have a nuclear winter. The Detroit Pistons’ jaw-dropping trade for Blake Griffin on Monday was one heck of a start and knocked many of us dead in the process. But the fact of the matter is that we in the basketball fandom still crave infinitely more chaos. So in the spirit of the season, here are ten major trade candidates that are still out there.
DeAndre Jordan, C, LA Clippers
Jordan being the only Clippers player left from the notorious Navy SEALS unit that descended upon Dallas in 2015 was a plot twist that I, for one, wasn’t expecting. Nevertheless, he may want to keep an extra suitcase handy as the Griffin trade signaled that, if not a full-scale rebuild, the team is remodeling this roster like an HGTV show. Jordan’s value speaks for itself – basket-to-basket activity with ironman-like consistency (this season’s brief five-game absence was the first time he missed action due to injury in his ten-year career). His expiring contract does give him a specific niche market, but for the lob of God, players of his caliber ain’t available for trade all that often.
George Hill, PG, Sacramento Kings
It took all of six months for the Hill-Kings marriage to go sour, and now we wait and see which team will win custody. A prolonged stay in Sacto is likely untenable – rookie De’Aaron Fox has already lapped Hill on the depth chart, and the Kings’ Western Conference-worst record is pretty much purgatory for a player who has made the postseason in eight of his nine NBA seasons so far. A classic veteran point guard of the 3-and-D mold, Hill would probably be an ideal depth piece for a host of playoff teams. As such, he may not be locked in the royal castle humming “Someday My Prince Will Come” to himself for long.
Cleveland’s desperation for roster upgrades is nearing DEFCON 1 levels.
Appearing Tuesday on ESPN’s “SportsCenter,” basketball insider Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Cavaliers have “checked in” with the Charlotte Hornets about the possibility of a Kemba Walker trade. Wojnarowski notes Cleveland’s desire to improve defensively in the backcourt and to do so soon.
The 27-year-old Walker, who was recently reported to be available for trade, is averaging 21.8 points and 5.9 assists per game this season. He also has a reputation as one of the better defensive point guards in the NBA.
Granted, the Cavs likely do not have the assets to acquire an All-Star like Walker on a team-friendly deal ($12 million a year through 2019). Thus, they may be better off focusing on their pursuit of this fellow point guard instead.
H/T NBA Reddit
Kemba Walker is not taking his surprising inclusion in trade talks all that well, and it is definitely hard to blame him.
Jordan Schultz of Yahoo! Sports reported Saturday that the Charlotte Hornets All-Star point guard is “legitimately hurt” that he could be traded by the team before the Feb. 8 deadline and found out the news through media coverage.
The 27-year-old Walker, who is averaging 21.7 points and 5.8 assists per game this season, appeared to be the one untouchable on the Hornets roster. But the team is just 18-25 on the year and has never made it past the first round of the playoffs since Walker arrived as a rookie back in 2011. The rumors about where he may end up next likely won’t make Kemba feel much better either.
The Charlotte Hornets appear quite motivated to move point guard Kemba Walker, and they’re reportedly hoping one team steps up with interest.
According to Ian Begley of ESPN, the Hornets are hoping the New York Knicks get involved in the Walker sweepstakes. Charlotte is said to be seeking a good young player or a first-round pick in exchange for Walker, and Knicks rookie point guard Frank Ntilikina would be of interest.
However, the Hornets also want to shed some salary as part of a deal, which would not be of much interest to the Knicks. The two sides have not had major discussions, and it is unlikely New York would meet Charlotte’s current asking price.
Walker doesn’t want to be moved, but it sounds like something the Hornets are very interested in doing. It’s a storyline worth watching ahead of the Feb. 8 trade deadline.
The Charlotte Hornets have reportedly put Kemba Walker on the trade market, but the star point guard would much rather stay put.
Walker said Friday that he would be “devastated” if the Hornets dealt him, admitting that he would prefer to stay put and turn the franchise around.
“I would definitely be devastated if I was to get traded,” Walker said, via Dan Feldman of ProBasketballTalk. “I do want to be here.”
Walker admitted that dealing with trade rumors for the first time in his career hasn’t been easy.
“I’ve never really been in trade rumors like that, like I’ve been hearing lately about myself,” Walker said. “But I mean, I don’t know. I don’t even know. I don’t know.
“This is very new, and I really just don’t know.”
Walker has, in the past, been frustrated with Charlotte’s lack of success, but he clearly wants to be a part of the turnaround. That may no longer be possible. He’s a 27-year-old signed on a very team-friendly deal through 2019, which could fetch the 18-25 Hornets a big haul in a possible trade.
The mother of all NBA seasons is almost here. So as you finalize your League Pass subscriptions, complete your fantasy drafts, and prepare the guacamole for your watch parties, take some time to ponder the true meaning of the season — specifically, the benevolent stars who make such a joyous holiday possible with their prodigious athletic talents.
Here I present, each NBA team’s most important player heading into 2017-18:
Atlanta Hawks — Dennis Schroder, PG
“All my friends are dead,” said Schroder in his best Lil Uzi Vert voice as he gazed upon his roster following the respective exits of his last remaining All-Star teammates in Paul Millsap and Dwight Howard this summer. Yes, the Hawks are now as thin as a toothpick, and the incentive for them to “Do Badly for Bagley” or “Make The Fans Puka for Luka” will be enormous. But someone has to lead this JV squad, and their resident German is as good of an option as any. Perhaps we will see Dennis the Menace gun for 20 and 10. Maybe he develops some nice pick-and-roll chemistry with new additions Dewayne Dedmon and rookie John Collins. Perhaps he finally bleaches his entire head blonde. Anything to give this team a modicum of watchability this season.
Boston Celtics — Kyrie Irving
After selling an arm, a leg, and a hip for him this summer, the Celtics will hope that Irving’s performance in his first season with them does not fall flat. The outside noise in Uncle Drew’s ear will be deafening — mockery of his decision to ditch LeBron James and go off in search of his own empire, jeers at the perceived stagnation of his playmaking skills, pervasive meme treatments of his unorthodox views on astronomy. But Irving is here for one reason and one reason only: to ball out. And that’s what he’s gonna do. Just remember kids, there’s no such thing as distractions when you’re very much woke. [mic drop]
With all the shuffling in the NBA this offseason, the common sentiment among fans is that all the talent has headed West — with the exception, of course, of Mr. LeBron Raymone James.
Earlier this summer, I swung by the Big3’s tour stop in Charlotte, and the legend Clyde Drexler had this to say: “The West, in my opinion, had the majority of the good players. After all these trades, now they’ve got all the good players. If ‘Bron comes to the West, they might as well do away with the East.”
The West has won five of the past six All-Star Games and three of the past four NBA titles. It’s unquestionably the more competitive conference, and now that Jimmy Butler and Paul George have been traded to Minnesota and Oklahoma City, respectively, it’s also leaps and bounds ahead of the East in star quality.
But really — there is a case to be made that the West has 13 out of the 14 best players in the league. ESPN made that case, and also argued that the West’s second-flight All-Stars are better than the East’s first flight.
That certainly may be true, but the East still has some studs — especially in its top five. As we rev up for the 2017-18 season, below is our ranking of the 20 best players in the NBA’s Eastern Conference.
1. LeBron James, F, Cleveland Cavaliers
What more can I say about LeBron than what’s already been said? He’s the best player in our generation, and he’s unquestionably one of the three best players of all-time. What’s missing from that all-time debate is that James is still only 32, and he hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down.
Is it out of reason to say he could play another 10 years? What if he keeps posting the same numbers for another five years — then is he the G.O.A.T.? That question will be answered in the future, but the point is this: there’s still plenty left to come before we can judge James’ career against that of the other greats.
2. John Wall, G, Washington Wizards
Wall has always had the talent to be one of the best players in the league, but he really put it all together last season. Anyone who saw his vicious charge through the playoffs knows this dude is not to be slept on — Wall will take on anyone in the league. He has that Dion Waiters “I’m the best player on the floor every time I’m on the floor” mentality.
Wall got a monster contract extension this offseason, and it appears he’s entering his prime. Last year he set career marks for points (23.1) and assists (10.7).
The Charlotte Hornets will not be returning to the playoffs this year, and their All-Star guard is already looking ahead to the free agent recruitment trail.
In a recent interview with Glenn Burkins of Q City Metro, Kemba Walker specifically mentioned Los Angeles Clippers big man Blake Griffin as a free agent who would make for a nice fit on the Hornets.
“I think one of the bigger free agents this year is probably Blake Griffin,” said Walker. “I think Blake would be a great fit for us. I mean, don’t get y’all’s hopes up. (laughter) It sounds good.”
The 28-year-old Griffin, who is averaging 21.7 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 4.9 assists per game this year, has a $21.4 million player option for the 2017-18 season that he seems likely to decline in order to test free agency. On paper, he would indeed be a strong fit in Charlotte, as their power forward depth chart currently consists of Marvin Williams, who is more of a hybrid forward, and Frank Kaminsky, who may have a higher ceiling as a stretch five.
However, it’s difficult to envision the five-time All-Star leaving behind more money, more years, and his entertainment interests in Los Angeles, even if we heard recently that he might actually be growing more open to the idea. The fact of the matter is that the Hornets are a small-market, non-contending team, and even if Griffin does wind up leaving the Clippers, other interested parties probably stand a much better chance of landing him.
Add Kemba Walker’s name to the list of players downplaying the importance of the NBA All-Star Game.
After his Charlotte Hornets defeated the Portland Trail Blazers by the final of 107-85 on Wednesday, Walker responded rather matter-of-factly to a question about if he thinks he should be an All-Star this season.
“Not really, if you ask me,” Walker said, per the Associated Press. “Especially because of where my team is. But like I said, I really don’t care honestly. We haven’t been doing a great job of winning consistently, [so] the All-Star game is the last thing I’m going to think about right now.”
Walker’s numbers this year are certainly All-Star caliber: 23.0 points on 46.1 percent from the field (both career-highs) to go with 4.2 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game. But unluckily for him, he has to compete with a deep pool of Eastern Conference point guard talent that includes Kyrie Irving, Isaiah Thomas, Kyle Lowry, John Wall, and others. At the last All-Star voting update, Walker had 105,637 votes, ninth amongst backcourt players in the East.
Deserving guys get left off the All-Star team every year, and Walker, who seems like a longshot to be selected, even as a reserve, may fall into that category this time around. But with the Hornets currently a seventh seed at 21-21 on the year, Walker is joining an increasing number of players, this fellow Eastern star included, who are much more concerned about making the playoffs than about a meaningless exhibition game in the middle of February.