We are now two weeks from the trade deadline and most mid-season deals take place in those final 14 days before the clock strikes 3:00 p.m. ET at the deadline. Already, we can see the pace quickening with recent big deals between the New York Knicks and Toronto Raptors; the Miami Heat and the Charlotte Hornets as well as the Miami Heat, Raptors and New Orleans Pelicans.
For the Brooklyn Nets, there seem to a few realistic rumors out there: Mikal Bridges is not available while Dorian Finney-Smith, Royce O’Neale and Spencer Dinwiddie, the team’s three oldest players at 30, are. The Nets also want no part of the luxury tax this season because of implications for salary cap management in the future. They have an $8.0 million cushion right now. Moreover, the Nets are close-mouthed about their ambitions, as more than one NBA writer has reported.
Finney-Smith and O’Neale, the Nets two 3-and-D forwards, have been linked to a number of teams with the price tag two first-rounders (or player “equivalents”) for DFS and one for O’Neale.
As of Thursday, the Los Angeles Lakers, Oklahoma City Thunder and Milwaukee Bucks are seen as top possibilities for Finney-Smith’s future services (with some speculation that his former team, the Dallas Mavericks, may be interested as well.) On Friday, Jake Fischer added the Suns to the list.
[T]he Suns now seem to be generally looking at various rotation-level players, ranging from Jae’Sean Tate to Royce O’Neale, sources said, to [Miles] Bridges and Charlotte teammate Nick Richards.
For O’Neale, the list includes the Denver Nuggets, Minnesota Timberwolves, Indiana Pacers, the Bucks and Mavericks, reports Vecenie.
On Thursday, Sam Amick of The Athletic spoke with the Sactown Sports podcast and said the Kings are interested in both because of any obvious issue with a crucial piece of the Sacramento roster.
Appearing on The Carmichael Dave Show with Jason Ross on Thursday morning, Amick, a former Kings beat writer, said he was confident the two are Sacramento targets.
“This is a bad defensive team that is trying to get better, and those guys could help,” said Amick. He did not speculate on who on the Kings roster or what draft compensation might be attractive to the Nets.
Indeed, Vecenie wrote in his trade rumor round-up that Brooklyn is sowing confusion about its goals:
Based on conversations with sources across the league, no one is entirely sure what direction the Nets will go. They remain well-positioned to be in the hunt to trade for a star with all the draft picks they’ve accumulated from other teams. But they don’t control their own future draft picks, so tanking isn’t a great option.
He also wrote that while O’Neale is a player who a “real contender would love to have coming off its bench,” the Nets reported price tag of a first round pick seems unrealistic.
I don’t think O’Neale will return a first-round pick, but he might yield some lower-level draft capital for a Nets team that needs all the youth it can find, regardless of the franchise’s overall direction.
Meanwhile, Mike Scotto of Hoopshype discussed Dejounte Murray rumors Thursday with Jovan Buha, The Athletic’s Laker beat writer, The Hawks point guard, who supposedly likes the prospects of playing in Brooklyn, is more likely headed to L.A., said Buha.
“To me, he’d be the most likely trade outcome right now if I was handicapping the odds,” Buha told Scotto. “I think they’re the favorites to land him. Again, the big hurdle right now is finding that third team.”
Buha was referring to the well-traveled rumor that the Hawks would be willing to accept to do a deal with the Lakers but only L.A. can find a third team to take on the Russell contract, which has $36 million and two years left, assuming he exercises a player option this summer.
Scotto mentioned the speculation that the Nets could be that third team, accepting DLo and possibly a younger prospect in return for their willingness to facilitate a Lakers-Hawks trade. (The Nets have two huge trade exceptions at $19.9 million and $18.1 million and two other big TPEs at $6.8 million and $4.5 million they could use to play the facilitator role.)
“Some people wonder if the Brooklyn Nets would be willing to take Russell back with Spencer Dinwiddie being involved in a trade to either the Hawks or the Lakers,” said Scotto. “He’s a proven point guard on an expiring contract. But I’m not sure of Brooklyn’s appetite for Russell to do that.”
Regarding the Nets own interest in Murray, there are reports that the Nets think the Hawks price tag, starting with two firsts, is too high.
On DFS, Buha told Scotto the Lakers have interest, but Finney-Smith is attracting a of attention. Buha seemed to waffle on whether Nets could get two firsts for Finney-Smith, first saying he doubted it but saying with the competition for his services, he could “command” what the Nets want in return.
“There’s going to be a lot of competition for Dorian Finney-Smith,” Buha told Scotto. “I saw the report that the Nets want two first-round picks for him. That’s a lot. (The Lakers) don’t have two first-round picks to trade, but you can throw in (Jalen) Hood-Schifino who’s halfway through his rookie season. You can also throw in a pick swap to get to that price point. Are you doing that for Finney-Smith? I don’t think so, at least from the Lakers’ perspective...
“Right now, there are a lot more buyers than sellers. For guys like Caruso and Finney-Smith, those guys can command two firsts.”
Vecenie also listed two other players the Nets may have interest in: Zach Lavine, the Bulls guard who Chicago is basically trying to give away, and Miles Bridges, the controversial Hornets forward who was suspended for 30 games this season after being charged with assault against his ex-girlfriend. He pleaded guilty last year to some charges, but he was arrested again in October, charged with another violent confrontation involving the same woman. It seems highly unlikely Brooklyn would be interested in the other Bridges.
Meanwhile, Jacque Vaughn was asked Thursday about how trade rumors affect a team, particularly one already buffeted by losses and injuries.
“I acknowledged to the group in all honesty,” Vaughn said. “I just like being transparent. I told these guys this is the nature of our business. That’s what we do. For some guys. It’s going to be harder just because either they haven’t been traded or they’re not used to their names being in rumors. But that’s the world we live in. There’s so many sites that you can go on. You got your phone with you 24/7.”
“You got a job,” he added. “Either play for the name on the front or pay for the name on the back. So playing for name on the back, make your kids, your mom, your aunt proud of you, that you have pride when you go out on the floor. Play for the name on the front. On the first and 15th you get a check. You have a job. This is unbelievable career. Play as hard as you can. I acknowledge that to the group. That’s the world we live in. It might affect some dudes more than others.”