With the trade deadline in the review mirror, the last chance for teams to improve themselves for the final stretch of the season and the playoffs is here:
The buyout market.
Fans can overestimate how much this will help — your team is picking up a player another team willingly let walk out the door. There can be good financial reasons for said player to be available, but nobody is letting a true difference-maker walk. That said, some players can help in a specific role.
One difference this year under the new CBA is that teams over the first tax apron cannot sign a buyout player who made more than the midlevel exception. That means seven teams — the Warriors, Clippers, Suns, Celtics, Bucks, Nuggets and Heat — cannot sign Spencer Dinwiddie, Kyle Lowry, or any other player who made more than $12.4 million but was waived after the trade deadline.
Here are five players to watch on the NBA buyout market.
1. Spencer Dinwiddie
Traded from Brooklyn to Toronto in a deal involving Dennis Schroder, Dinwiddie was two games shy of a $1.5 million contract bonus for games played. However, the Raptors didn’t want to pay it, so they waived him. That’s cold.
While the Lakers are very interested, league sources told NBC Sports to expect Dinwiddie to land with the Dallas Mavericks — they can offer more money. Dallas could offer up to $5.3 million, while the cap-strapped Lakers can offer no more than $1.5 million. The fact Dinwiddie was in Madison Square Garden Thursday night to watch the Mavericks take on the Knicks can be taken as a sign he is leaning toward Texas. Dinwiddie averaged 12.6 points and six assists a game for the Nets.
2. Kyle Lowry
Lowry had fallen out of favor with Erik Spoelstra in Miami and the Heat were looking to move on, which they did sending Lowry to Charlotte in the Terry Rozier trade. Lowry hasn’t touched the court for Charlotte and is expected to be bought out soon. This season with the Heat he averaged 8.2 points and four assists a game, and he still knows how to draw a charge as well as anyone in the league.
Once bought out, all signs point to him signing in Philadelphia to back up Tyrese Maxey and bring a veteran presence to a team thinking of a deep playoff run. Both the Lakers and Magic are known to be interested as well.
Shooting never goes out of style. Gallinari doesn’t move all that well anymore, but he can still shoot the rock — in six games with the Pistons after being traded there, he averaged 8.7 points per game while shooting 58.3% from 3. That said, they still waived him (he started the season with the Wizards but was traded to Detroit as part of the Marvin Bagley III trade). This is not a guy teams are picking up to play a big playoff role, but he has a valuable skill that can help teams through the remainder of this regular season.
The Lakers and Celtics are reported to have some level of interest.
He’s been waived and was last seen sitting on the bench reading a book, waiting for the chance to talk to teams. There were a handful of teams expected to add size at the trade deadline but instead stood pat — we’re looking at you, Oklahoma City — and any of them could bring him in. (With the Thunder looking at a playoff run where they could see Nikola Jokic and the size of Denver, plus big teams like Minnesota and the Lakers, adding a center makes sense). Other teams could also use a little more size for the stretch run.
The team’s mascot should have a say in bringing in Lopez.
He was traded to Philadelphia as part of the James Harden deal, and he played 17 minutes a night for the 76ers (in the 37 games he got into), averaging 6.7 points and 2.9 rebounds a game. He’s not the key cog he used to be, but Morris could fit for a team looking for a veteran big to be an innings eater down the stretch. The Timberwolves are rumored to have some interest.
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