Sunday, April 2, 2023

NBA trade rumors: Pelicans, Grizzlies high on OG Anunoby; Nuggets’ Bones Hyland wants larger role

One week before the NBA trade deadline, the Rui Hachimura deal is the only one that has gone down. There are, however, plenty of rumors to go around.

Here’s the latest batch of reporting that, come Feb. 9, will either look prescient or funny:

Hawks have lowered asking price for Collins; Jazz, Rockets interested

If the Atlanta Hawks haven’t been the league’s most disappointing team this season, they’re not far off. After a beatdown of the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday, the Hawks are 26-26 and clinging to a play-in spot, just a single game up on the 11th-place Chicago Bulls in the loss column.

Does Atlanta have a move up its sleeve before next Thursday’s NBA trade deadline? On Wednesday, Sam Amick of The Athletic reported that “half the league” is calling the Hawks about Bogdan Bogdanovic, but it’s John Collins who is “most likely” to be traded, with the Hawks having recently reduced their asking price for the athletic forward. 

From Amick:

[Trae] Young isn’t going anywhere. The same goes for [Dejounte] Murray. Collins is the most likely one on the way out, of course, and it’s worth repeating that the asking price is known to have decreased significantly from recent years (per league sources, there is a focus on landing a quality player, or players, in return but no mandate for a first-round pick). 

That development is clearly a reflection of the focus on salvaging this season, as opposed to recouping the vast assets lost in the Murray trade with San Antonio in the summer. As we’ve reported recently, the Jazz and Rockets are known to be among the teams in pursuit [of Collins].

Collins has been on the trade block for a few years now, but former GM Travis Schlenk was never moved enough by any of the packages offered for Collins to pull the trigger. It started back in 2021 when the Hawks caught fire late and suddenly moving Collins at the deadline threatened to interrupt the good vibes. 

After making a surprise trip to the conference finals that year, Schlenk inked Collins to a five-year, $125 million extension. It didn’t remove Collins entirely from trade consideration, but with Schlenk no longer pulling the levers and Landry Fields now in charge, the desire to deal Collins, who has been pretty well fazed out of Atlanta’s offense, has ramped back up. 

Problem is, that contract Schlenk gave Collins is now considered to be a hindrance for Atlanta, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Turns out, teams aren’t too keen on paying nearly $80 million to a guy who has lost his 3-point shot, and thus his ability to stretch the floor. Collins is due $25.3 million and $26.6 million in each of the next two seasons, and a potential for another $26.6 million player option in 2026.

Atlanta might be willing to make a Collins deal without asking for a first-round pick in return, but it’s highly unlikely that they view him as some kind of salary dump that would require them to attach one of their own picks to a deal. 

We’ll see how motivated Atlanta is to get a deal done with its season teetering. 

-Brad Botkin

Raptors rumblings

Toronto remains the most talked-about team heading into the deadline. According to Sportsnet’s Michael Grange, nobody knows exactly what the Raptors will do, but the general consensus is that they’re not going to keep Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet and OG Anunoby around long-term. VanVleet has outplayed his $22.8 million player option for 2023-24.

Gary Trent Jr., another popular trade candidate, will surely decline his $18.6 million player option and become an unrestricted free agent in July. He could return a protected first-round pick or two “good” seconds, but he and the Raptors have mutual interest in re-signing, according to Sportsnet. The Raptors believe they can bring back both Trent and VanVleet on new deals, and “there is no expectation that the Raptors are ready to move on from Siakam at the moment,” per Sportsnet. 

And then there’s this, on Anunoby:

It’s widely believed the New York Knicks are the team that is prepared to offer three future first-round picks for Anunoby, but the quality of those picks isn’t exactly high-end: They have picks belonging to Dallas, Washington and Detroit that are top-10 protected, top-14 protected and top-18 protected, respectively. Not nothing, but the best case is one more chance in the Victor Wembanyama lottery than they are projected to have now. Otherwise, a pair of mid-to-late first-round picks aren’t likely to change the Raptors’ trajectory in the short-to-medium term. Teams such as Memphis and New Orleans have more attractive draft capital and better talent to deal. Denver could be a dark horse too. 

During a podcast with Marc Stein, Turner Sports’ Chris Haynes said that Anunoby “would like a change of scenery,” adding that “management knows how he feels.” Haynes added that the New Orleans Pelicans are “definitely high on him,” adding that both they and the Memphis Grizzlies see him as a player who can “take them to that next step” and “are trying to box each other out in pursuit of OG.”

The Grizzlies are not among The Athletic’s Shams Charania’s four teams to watch on the Anunoby front. The Pelicans are listed, though, along with the New York Knicks, the Indiana Pacers and the Phoenix Suns.

Anunoby is not a star, but maybe he has star-adjacent trade value. He’s 25 years old, is a legitimate Defensive Player of the Year candidate and is a plug-and-play acquisition for both contenders and middle-of-the-pack teams. His $17.4 million salary isn’t difficult to take on, and he won’t get expensive until 2025-26. Players like this rarely get traded, but, given that Toronto has disappointed this season and might be able to create a bidding war, the timing could be right. 

According to TSN’s Josh Lewenberg, last summer Toronto came close to acquiring Deandre Ayton from the Suns in a sign-and-trade. Aside from trading Scottie Barnes, last year’s Rookie of the Year, everything is on the table for the Raptors, per TSN.

-James Herbert

Hyland hijinx

The noise about Denver Nuggets guard Bones Hyland is getting louder. On that same Haynes/Stein podcast, Stein said that “there has been tension about playing time and there is concern on that coaching staff about his defensive deficiencies.” Haynes said that a handful of teams have registered interest in the 22-year-old gunner, including the Charlotte Hornets and Minnesota Timberwolves, but the Nuggets would likely not be excited about reuniting Hyland with former team president Tim Connelly. 

“Potentially out of spite, there probably would not be a move that’s constructed between Denver and Minnesota,” Haynes said.

Haynes said that Hyland “obviously wants to play more” and “believes he deserves a larger role,” while the Nuggets want to give more minutes to rookie wing Christian Braun.

Braun, 21, was a plus defender the moment that he stepped into the league. Hyland can cook on the second unit, but Calvin Booth’s front office appears to be trying to surround Nikola Jokic with bigger, longer, two-way players. 

-James Herbert

DFS = Dallas, For Sure?

Another note from the Stein/Haynes pod: The Dallas Mavericks are now “more prepared to discuss” deals involving forward Dorian Finney-Smith than they were earlier this season, Stein said. The Utah Jazz, however, are “not, based on everything I’ve been told, in breathless pursuit,” adding that he thinks “they’ve been described as a little more thirsty for Dorian Finney-Smith than they actually are.” 

Some context: On Monday, The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported that the Jazz were “expressing strong interest” in Finney-Smith.

For a team that went to the Western Conference finals last season, Dallas is in an awkward spot. It wants a co-star for Luka Doncic, but it also needs more players like Finney-Smith, a multipositional defender who made more than 39 percent of his 3s in 2020-21 and 2021-22. (This season, that number is down to 34.6 percent, an inconvenient development for the Mavericks.)

No one has reported that Finney-Smith is on the block, only that he is not untouchable — according to The Athletic, the Mavs are open to including him in a trade for a star. I would suggest that they have to be open to moving anybody on the roster, except for Doncic, in a hypothetical trade for a hypothetical star.

-James Herbert

Chicago bullish on White?

Coby White is in the final year of his rookie contract, and he’s averaging a career-low 21.2 minutes for a team that has been without its starting point guard all season. His usage (16.4 percent) has never been lower, and his efficiency (54.5 percent true shooting) is lower than it was last season. None of this screams core player. 

And yet the Chicago Bulls have “rejected overtures from rival clubs” about White, according to The Athletic’s Darnell Mayberry, who stops short of declaring that he’s a keeper but raises the question. Could he be?

If the Bulls keep White and are open to re-signing him, then presumably they don’t think the offers reflect the subtle improvements White has made in a smaller role. Given that Lonzo Ball isn’t walking through that door anytime soon, White still fills a positional need in the short term.

Chicago’s needs are complicated, though, and could change drastically in the next week. Generally speaking, as long as DeMar DeRozan, Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic are on the team, the front office should be trying to surround them with versatile defenders who can shoot well enough to be viable in the playoffs. This season, however, the Bulls have been much better on defense (12th) than they’ve been on offense (22nd). And given that they are 11th in the East right now, it’s not certain that DeRozan, LaVine and Vucevic will all be on the team after the deadline. 

In another universe, in which Ball never hurts his knee, Chicago’s offense is humming and no team meetings are necessary this season, perhaps White’s impending restricted free agency would be the front office’s biggest concern. In this one, the Bulls have some big-picture stuff to figure out. It’s encouraging that they reportedly see him as more than a trade chip, but that doesn’t mean he is completely off-limits. We’ll have a clearer picture of his future when we have a clearer picture of Chicago’s.

-James Herbert

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