With under 24 hours until the NBA’s Trade Deadline, here’s a breakdown of where all 28 former Wildcats stand, whether or not you should expect them to be traded and where they could end up.
Though there haven’t been any rumors (yet), you should expect all-stars DeMarcus Cousins (out for the season), John Wall (out for two months) and Karl-Anthony Towns to stay put. Wall and Towns are considered “untouchable” and Cousins, who will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, likely won’t be of any interest to anyone following his season-ending Achilles injury.
The other all-star from Kentucky is Anthony Davis. He’s healthy and certainly having one of his best seasons as a pro. But why wouldn’t he be considered untouchable? Adrian Wojnarowski has reported multiple times that the Boston Celtics have the assets to go get Davis if he ever becomes available.
With Cousins having the option to leave this summer, the Pelicans being short-handed on the wings and committing max-money to a high-injury-prone point guard... it wouldn’t be foolish for the Pelicans to at least consider cashing in on a treasure chest of assets from a team like Boston.
Trading Davis would be tough to swallow, but the return of multiple young players and quality first round draft picks may be exactly what a small-market team like New Orleans needs.
However, it’s clear the Pelicans have no intentions of moving Davis at the moment. They’ve recently traded a first round pick for Nikola Mirotic, indicating they’re ready to make a playoff push this spring.
If Davis is traded, expect more serious reports to surface this summer.
All-star snub Devin Booker was linked to trade rumors involving Kyrie Irving last fall. However, the Suns pretty much claimed the rising star untouchable, choosing him as their building block going forward.
Booker’s running mate, Tyler Ulis, is one of many Wildcats who are certainly not untouchable but aren’t likely to be moved at the deadline, either. Names such as Alex Poythress, Andrew Harrison, Bam Adebayo, Brandon Knight, Dakari Johnson, Darius Miller, De’Aaron Fox, DeAndre Liggins, James Young, Jodie Meeks, Patrick Patterson and Rajon Rondo are in similar situations as Ulis.
Most of these players, while contributing as much as they can to their respective teams, aren’t players who buyers are in a dying need for as the deadline comes to an end.
Players such as Jamal Murray, Trey Lyles and Willie Cauley-Stein would be useful to many teams in both the short and long run. However, their respective teams would be foolish to move them unless an “overpay” offer was made.
One Wildcat was bought for the opposite (decently cheap) earlier this season: Eric Bledsoe, who was traded in the first quarter of the season from the Phoenix Suns to the Milwaukee Bucks for just an expiring contract and a first-round draft pick.
It’s highly uncommon for a team to overpay at the trade deadline, therefore don’t expect many of the players mentioned above to be included in any rumors.
However... with 22 of the 28 now out of the way, that leaves us with six former Cats who have at least been mentioned in rumors as of late.
Enes Kanter, who was traded last summer to the New York Knicks in a deal that involved Carmelo Anthony, is set make north of $18 million next season in the last year of his deal. His 23.7 PER leads all Knicks but with Kristaps Porzingis’ huge payday coming up, despite his ACL tear, the Knicks are looking to capitalize on moving some money off of their books.
According to Bleacher Report, teams have been “interested in the possibility” of acquiring Kanter.
Kanter has played exceptionally well in the Big Apple, but there’s no doubt the reports are true that the Knicks would like to move on from either Kanter or his teammate, Joakim Noah. They both make around the same money per year, but Noah has hardly seen the floor as a Knick and is considered to have arguably the worst contract in the Association. Therefore, if a team is looking to make a move for one of the two bigs, they’d most certainly be interested in Kanter over Noah.
A pair of Charlotte Hornets have had their names in the swirl of trade rumors since mid-December. Malik Monk and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, both former lottery picks out of Kentucky, have been tied to trade rumors suggesting their futures in Charlotte may be in jeopardy.
Kidd-Gilchrist, though finally healthy, has yet to develop a jumpshot and certainly hasn't lived up to the expectations of a second-overall pick. Monk had a solid start to the season but has been heavily overshadowed by his former teammates (Bam Adebayo and De’Aaron Fox) since the first quarter mark.
Steve Kyler reported that Kidd-Gilchrist’s $13 million per year contract is one the Hornets could look to get away from. Gary Woelfel followed by reporting that if Monk indeed becomes available, the Bucks may be first in line.
One name that hasn’t drawn a big headline but will certainly be interesting is Nerlens Noel. Noel’s stint with Kentucky was cut short following an ACL tear, and he hasn’t quite figured out the NBA in what is now his fifth year.
Noel has only averaged double digit scoring once over the course of a full season and has never averaged a double-double. After turning down a 4 year/$70 million contract this summer, things have taken a bit of a tumble for the big man. He’s averaging just four points, as many rebounds and just over half a block in only 18 games this season.
While it’s highly unlikely he’s bought out of his contract, it will be interesting to see if any team makes Dallas a rare “overpay” offer for his defensive upside.
Another “under the radar” name at the trade deadline will be Sacramento Kings prospect Skal Labissiere. With Cauley-Stein the clear starter at center and the injury-bitten (but highly-talented) Harry Giles on roster, Sacramento has multiple wings to where they can play today’s small-ball and capitalize on Skal’s value by moving him elsewhere.
An instance like this could be where Cleveland trades for Kings point guard George Hill and in order to take on multiple contracts, as well Cleveland’s first round pick, Labissiere would be the odd man out to be traded with Hill to the Cavaliers.
It’s a win-win situation for Skal, though, as he’ll either stay with Sacramento and continue to develop or go to a true title contender and have a chance to excel with the best player on the planet: Lebron James.
It’s unclear if the Kings will move Skal, but certainly don’t count this one out as one of the smaller moves that could be made before Thursday’s deadline.
Now, for the most likely trade rumor... Julius Randle is freed from the Lake-Show. Randle has had a very productive season coming off the bench for the Lakers. In his fourth season, Randle is averaging 14 points and seven rebounds with a PER of 19 that is tied for first on his team.
Where could Randle end up?
It’s an interesting question. If the Lakers are sold on chasing marquee free agents this summer instead of retaining Randle, it’s almost certain he’ll be dealt. But again, the question is who will make the offer.
The Mavericks are the most intriguing team, as they can offer an expiring contract like Devin Harris and a protected first round pick for Randle. He fits their age timeline with rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr. and wing Harrison Barnes who is just entering his prime. They currently have over $13 million in cap space and that number will increase by the end of the season.
Dallas is one of multiple suitors for Randle, as he’d fit well on a team trying to make a playoff run but also a team who is more youth-based with cap space to sign Randle to a long-term deal.
For the latest news on former Wildcats, check back with ASeaOfBlue.com.