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Trade conversations stemming from Thursday night’s NBA draft brought a long list of veteran players to the forefront of the start of the offseason, where Jerami Grant, John Collins, Rudy Gobert, OG Anunoby and future free agents like Jalen Brunson and Deandre Ayton dominated discussions among league executives.
A new name to emerge in various trade discussions on Wednesday: San Antonio Spurs All-Star guard Dejounte Murray, whose enigmatic tweet eye-emoji ignited the Internet on Tuesday.
Spurs are submitting offers for Murray and have told several interested teams it would take a ‘Jrue Holiday-type package’ for San Antonio to part ways with the 25-year-old general, setting a rough benchmark of three first-round picks for n any suitor to release Murray.
San Antonio’s biggest talks over Murray appeared to be with the Atlanta Hawks, in a setting that would send Collins back to the Spurs, league sources told B/R. San Antonio and Atlanta have skirted that concept of a deal at least since the February trade deadline. Atlanta, among other offseason goals, explored various options to add a dynamic ball handler and defensive partner alongside Trae Young in the Hawks’ backcourt, sources said. Ironically, the first indications of Atlanta’s efforts to find a top teammate for the Young in the Hawks guard rotation were when New Orleans made Holiday available in 2020.
Other teams currently known to be aggressively seeking point guards are the New York Knicks and Washington Wizards, while the Minnesota Timberwolves have been actively exploring the market for D’Angelo Russell trade scenarios, sources told B/R.
Murray is coming off a stellar year at San Antonio, where he picked up his first All-Star nomination and flirted with season-long triple-double averages: 21.1 points, 8.3 rebounds and 9.2 assists per game. But NBA executives feel San Antonio is still open to an extended rebuild, and Murray’s inevitably costly contract extension is already on the horizon. His current four-year, $64 million contract is set to expire in 2024, and Murray is expected to demand a maximum salary consistent with his current production and skill progression.
For Collins, Atlanta’s known motivation to advance the talented forward has swirled around the league, with San Antonio, Sacramento and Utah – in a potential trade for Gobert – seen as the most legitimate potential landing spots for the 24 year old player. Portland’s Wednesday night acquisition of Grant from the Detroit Pistons and the Trail Blazers’ priority of processing the No. 7 pick for Anunoby would appear to make Portland a less likely destination for Collins, despite frequent trade talks between the Blazers and Hawks. front offices.
DEANDRE AYTON IN DETROIT?
The other instant ripple effect of the Detroit Grant trade in Portland is the sudden wealth of financial flexibility now facing the Pistons’ front offices. Detroit has been linked as a potential bogeyman to steal Deandre Ayton, Mitchell Robinson, Miles Bridges, Jalen Brunson and Collin Sexton in free agency.
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While the Pistons can’t sweep all of those aforementioned players, Detroit should now have more than $50 million in cap space, with the hopes of the Pistons picking team options for Hamidou Diallo and Luka Garza.
Detroit has always seemed the biggest threat to offering Ayton the top salary he and his reps so clearly covet. Despite Portland’s rumored interest, the Trail Blazers are expected to retain starting center Jusuf Nurkic. The Atlanta brass have their hands in various other cookie jars, including Gobert. San Antonio was also frequently mentioned as a suitor for Ayton.
Now the Pistons could reasonably spend upwards of $30 million on Ayton’s big payday and continue to chase other free agents they covet. A signing and trade to Jerami Grant had long been mentioned by league staff as a potential mechanism to bring Ayton to the Pistons.
But even before Grant was transferred to Portland, Suns officials had begun sending messages to rival teams and other outside league personnel that Phoenix wouldn’t necessarily hesitate to match a sheet. offer for Ayton, sources told B/R. With no obvious signing-and-trade piece to send back to the Suns, it’s unclear if Detroit will pursue Ayton safely in the tight free agent market.
POINT GUARD CAROUSEL
Should New York ultimately fail in its effort to lure Brunson away from the Dallas Mavericks, Malcolm Brogdon should be the Knicks’ next point guard this offseason, sources tell B/R, not the splashiest title that is Kyrie Irving.
The Pacers have most regularly discussed Brogdon’s trades with the Knicks and Wizards ahead of Thursday’s NBA draft, sources said, but league officials are highly skeptical that Brogdon would in fact be traded to Washington or New York in a package centered around the #10 or #11 pick.
Wizards have been willing to discuss Kyle Kuzma and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in business conversations, sources said. New York explores all options regarding Alec Burks, Evan Fournier, Nerlens Noel, Kemba Walker and Cam Reddish.
Besides Murray and Russell, Utah Jazz point guard Mike Conley, Charlotte’s Terry Rozier, Pelicans point guard Devonte ‘Graham and Nuggets table setter Monte Morris are other ball veterans who would be commercially available.
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- The market for Pacers center Myles Turner would include Minnesota, Toronto and Charlotte. New York has also long had an interest in Turner, but the Knicks are only considered a serious suitor for Turner if Mitchell Robinson leaves in free agency.
- Philadelphia continued to explore Tobias Harris trade packages. The Sixers called a good chunk of teams to assess the value of each of Harris, Danny Green and Matisse Thybulle, sources said, and called several teams specifically looking for a first-round pick in exchange for Thybulle in part of a three-frame team deal to land a veteran impact rotation player.
- Indiana, Utah, Boston and Detroit were all described as teams looking to acquire picks in the second half of the first round.
- To do that, the Celtics seem willing to start conversations about rotating players like Grant Williams and Payton Pritchard, but only for the right price.
- Utah is looking for a first-round pick to move any non-Donovan Mitchell or Rudy Gobert rotation player. Royce O’Neale has registered a host of trade interests from across the league.
- Phoenix has called rivals to gauge Jae Crowder’s value in the trade market, sources said, while the Suns have once again been linked to Eric Gordon. Phoenix had discussions with Houston to acquire Gordon, a former teammate of Chris Paul with the Rockets, at the February trade deadline. Phoenix is also reportedly looking for a second-round selection.
- Serbian playmaker Vasilije Micic remains a hot name in the trade market. OKC holds draft rights and Nikola Jokic would be a key factor in Denver’s interest in securing the EuroLeague MVP. San Antonio, Milwaukee and Chicago were also mentioned as legitimate contenders.
Jake Fischer covers the NBA for Bleacher Report and is the author of Built to Lose: How the NBA’s Tanking Era Changed the League Forever.