Every year in the weeks leading up to the trade deadline, it’s the same old story: Everyone is going everywhere. Hundreds of millions of dollars and loads of talent will be sent across the map. The NBA will be flipped upside down, cleansed in fire, and born anew; and out of the chaos, a new order will rise, etc. etc. Hail Giannis etc.
When an earth-shattering trade (such as the Knicks-Mavericks trade of last season’s deadline) does happen, more often than not it is preceded not by weeks of careful reporting; but rather by 45 minutes of intense Twitter chaos where basketball fans are literally screaming “BOMB!!!!!!”. But as sportswriters, it is our job to create content that stimulates conversations around the trade deadline—and imagining landing spots for the premier talent in the NBA is fun! So I decided to ruin it. Consider this party pooped.
Here are 6 NBA players who are staying put this trade deadline.
Kyle Kuzma, Los Angeles Lakers
2019-2020 per game stats:
13 points, 4.2 rebounds, 43.2% FG, 33.3% 3P
I’m going to be honest, as someone who likes Kyle Kuzma, writing out those stats just now was rough. There’s no way around the fact that it’s been a down year for one of the most popular young players in the NBA, but there’s also no way around the fact that Kuzma still is one of the most popular young players in the NBA.
It feels like there have been trade rumors about Kuzma getting traded to a different team every week since his rookie year started. But let’s be real: Kyle Kuzma means too much to the Lakers, and to NBA fans in general, for him to be traded.
Yes, he’s having a down year—the guy averaged almost 20 points a game last year and then his team added a second of the top 5 players in the league. Of course his usage went down, of course he was a bit thrown by that so his percentages went down too, that doesn’t mean that Kyle Kuzma isn’t valuable, and it doesn’t mean that the Lakers are going to bite at whatever lowball offer someone throws them for Kuz at the deadline.
The Lakers will have a patient approach with their last remaining golden boy. The organization—and its general manager, Rob Pelinka—are in mourning. They are not going to insult the fans, or the players, by making them process “losing” Kuzma, too.
Julius Randle, Marcus Morris, any other member of the New York Knicks
This one is really simple actually. In order to perform trades in the NBA, you need to not fire the person responsible for making trades two days before the trade deadline. The Knicks just did that, firing team president Steve Mills, and are quickly trying to replace him, their first target, per Woj, having been Masai Ujiri, who is…very happily under contract in Toronto. By the time these chucklefucks hire anyone, the new hire won’t have enough time to engage other teams and build packages.
The Knicks have once again shot themselves in the foot, and it looks like they will be sitting this trade deadline out. Sorry every member of the New York Knicks, you’re trapped!
D’Angelo Russell, Golden State Warriors
2019-2020 per game stats: 23.8 points, 6.3 assists, 43.3% FG, 38.3% 3P
The NBA world is still adjusting to the D’Angelo Russell-Kevin Durant sign-and-trade that came right out of nowhere this offseason, and I think to some extent, people still don’t quite accept that D-Lo is actually under contract with the Warriors for the foreseeable future. Especially not Scott Layden and his management team with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Per Woj, the Timberwolves have renewed their pursuit of Karl-Anthony Towns’ Fortnite buddy as the trade deadline approaches. They’re even talking to Houston and Atlanta about 4-way trade talks, though “a gulf has remained between the Warriors and the Timberwolves on a possible agreement”, which is a polite way of saying, this trade is not happening. The Warriors have consistently said since December that they prefer to wait and see what they have in a line-up with Steph Curry, D-Lo, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green than cash in on D’Angelo Russell now.
And why should they move Russell? Unless the Timberwolves are making Karl-Anthony Towns available, none of these trades give the Warriors a chance to pair their core with another All-Star level talent again. It’s not as though they need to be looking at a rebuild—Even with Curry and Thompson coming back from injury, they still have the core 3 pieces that led them to a 73 win season.
On the Timberwolves side of it, Minnesota has to move on. Even if they did pull off a trade for Russell, they would do it knowing that Russell chose the Warriors over them in free agency. I understand how you feel, Minnesota Timberwolves, but he doesn’t want you and you need to get over it.
Andre Iguodala, Memphis Grizzlies
Andre Iguodala, the Memphis Grizzlies organization, and the players on the Grizzlies, are currently locked in one of the pettiest situations in professional sports. Iguodala wanted to be traded or cut before the season to “play for a contender”, the Grizzlies wanted Iguodala to play to support their run at a low seed in the Western Conference playoffs and foster the talent of their younger players.
Now, the Grizzlies are tenuously in the eighth seed, Iguodala hasn’t played a game all season, and the younger Grizzlies such as Dillon Brooks and Ja Morant taking snipes at Iguodala in the media and on Twitter in a situation that has gotten way out of hand.
The Grizzlies have every reason to try to turn Iguodala into assets at the trade deadline…but if I were any other general manager in the NBA, I would play the waiting game. Iguodala clearly will never play a game as a Memphis Grizzly, that is out of the question at this point, there’s too much bad blood.
The only moves the Grizzlies have left at this point is to either luck out on a trade (not gonna happen), keep Iguodala under contract indefinitely to spite him, or cut him as a favor to one of the more respected players in the league to improve their cache with players at large. Other GMs know that the Grizzlies are stuck in a showdown with Iguodala, they have no incentive to give up assets for a player they should have a shot at once he clears waivers. Iggy is going alright—but not until after the trade deadline.
Clint Capela, Houston Rockets
2019-2020 per game stats:
13.9 points, 13.8 rebounds, 62.9% FG, 1.8 blocks
The Houston Rockets have been engaging in “serious trade talks” with the Atlanta Hawks, and Boston Celtics, centered around Clint Capela, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. The Rockets goals at the trade deadline, per Woj, is to convert Capela into picks that can be then put into a trade to bring back a replacement center and a defensive wing, with Andre Iguodala and a Robert Covington being names mentioned.
Here’s why it isn’t going to happen. For one thing, the Robert Covington part of this is going to be a sticking point. As I have mentioned, the Timberwolves are dead set on acquiring D’Angelo Russell from the Golden State Warriors at the deadline. Any trade sending RoCo to the Rockets would likely have to be part of a bigger deal involving the Warriors, and I honestly don’t see any situation with Golden State giving up Russell without acquiring Covington themselves, unless Karl-Anthony Towns is somehow on the table. Even with Covington going to Golden State, it’s a stretch that they’d take the deal.
Clint Capela is also already an excellent fit for the Rockets—he’s an elite rebounder and screen setter for Russell Westbrook and James Harden, while also converting at the rim at a highly efficient rate. Harden also has a lot of history with Capela, having advocated for him to play over Dwight Howard when Dwight was still on the Rockets a lifetime ago. I don’t understand why you would give up one of the league’s top 10 centers and risk upsetting your star player just for the slimmest of chances at acquiring Robert Covington, no offense to Robert Covington.
If I were the Rockets, I would stand pat on Clint Capela and wait for the Grizzlies to finally buy out Iguodala’s contract and nab him then—then they have a wing defender and a center, just like they wanted. Daryl Morey is one of the smarter managers in the NBA—I think these reports are all smoke.
Image Source: AP Images