Trade Candidate Watch: Veteran Guards

Leading up to the February 9 trade deadline, we’re keeping an eye on potential trade candidates from around the NBA. We’re continuing today with a handful of veteran guards.

D’Angelo Russell, Timberwolves

2022/23: $31.4MM

2023/24: UFA

Like many players on Minnesota’s roster, Russell had a slow start to the season, averaging 14.4 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 6.7 APG and 1.3 SPG on a sub-optimal .425/.318/.759 shooting line (53.1 true shooting percentage) through the end of November (22 games, 31.3 MPG).

However, he has been on fire ever since, averaging 20.5 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 5.9 APG and 1.0 SPG on .496/.441/.931 shooting (65.7 TS%) over his past 27 games (34.4 MPG).

Overall, he is averaging 17.8 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 6.2 APG and 1.1 SPG. He’s posting career-best shooting splits from all over the court, including 54.2% on twos, 39.1% on threes (46.6% from the field), and 87.1% from the free throw line, for a career-high (by far) 60.5 TS%.

Part of the reason he’s had so much success scoring lately is because the Wolves been using him more off the ball – he’s shooting 39.3% on catch-and-shoot threes, per It will be difficult for the Wolves to replace the former All-Star’s production, as they rank just 18th in 3PT%, and he has been the team’s second-leading scorer with Karl-Anthony Towns injured.

That’s not to say he’s a perfect player by any means, as he has always been a below-average defender and rebounder who can frustrate with lack of effort. His decision-making can also be questionable at times, which is why he’s best utilized as more of a combo guard than a traditional point.

Russell, who turns 27 next month, is not making it an easy decision for the Wolves to move him in his contract year. They have been winning lately, and he’s had a big role in that. Do they want to pay him in free agency if they don’t extend him, especially after last year’s poor playoff performance?

Mike Conley, Jazz

2022/23: $22.7MM

2023/24: $24.4MM ($14.3MM guaranteed)

Conley, on the other hand, is more of a traditional pass-first floor general, with an elite 4.73-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. At 35 years old, he is on the downside of his career, but the Jazz have been better (+2.0 net rating) when he’s on the court, going 21-19 when he plays and 5-7 without him.

While he isn’t scoring much this season (10.3 PPG), Conley is dishing out a career-high 7.6 APG, and his 36.6% mark from deep is above league average. He’s fallen off a little more on the other end – Conley used to be one of the better point-of-attack defenders in the league, but isn’t as quick as he once was.

The big thing with Conley isn’t whether he provides an immediate positive impact (he does), it’s more about paying a small, aging point guard $24.4MM next season. His large partial guarantee makes it impractical to waive him, because whichever team he’s on would still be on the hook for a substantial amount.

Patrick Beverley, Lakers

2022/23: $13MM

2023/24: UFA

As is the case with Russell, it’s been a tale of two halves for Beverley. Through 20 games (26.9 MPG), he was averaging just 4.5 PPG on a miserable .298/.234/.760 shooting slash line.

Over the past 21 games (26.7 MPG), that has completely flipped, as he’s averaging 8.2 PPG on an excellent .473/.434/.875 shooting line. He’s up to 34.7% from deep on the season, which isn’t great, but it’s respectable (his career mark is 37.6%).

Beverley’s fit with the Lakers has been a little more awkward than anticipated, but it’s probably not a coincidence that he’s been playing some of his best basketball while two other guards (Austin Reaves and Lonnie Walker) have been injured (Walker just returned on Saturday against Boston). That’s more a product of poor roster construction than anything against the players individually.

The 34-year-old is a natural trade candidate because he’s the only player on the roster who makes more than $7MM and less than $37MM, plus his deal expires at the end of the season. Beverley’s improved play of late makes him more than just a salary-matching piece – the Lakers will need a legitimate upgrade if they move him, even if it almost seems inevitable.

Seth Curry, Nets

2022/23: $8.5MM

2023/24: UFA

Fun fact: Curry is the NBA’s active leader with a career mark of 43.9% from three-point range, good for third-best all-time. In ’22/23, he’s shooting 43.8% from deep.

Curry, who turns 33 this summer, is an impending free agent with an affordable expiring contract. He got off to a slow start following offseason ankle surgery, but he is a very good offensive player due to his elite shooting (he’s also great on mid-range pull-ups).

The problem is he’s only 6’2” and is definitely more of a two guard than a lead ball-handler. He has always been a negative defensively.

Curry would provide value on a lot of teams – the main issue is the Nets have multiple small guards who can shoot and struggle defensively, making his skill set a little redundant. Adding frontcourt size and depth seems like it should be a priority.

Note: This list isn’t meant to be comprehensive, just a brief overview. There are a number of other guards that have been in the rumor mill, including Kyle Lowry (though he seems unlikely to be traded), Russell Westbrook (ditto), Bones Hyland, Derrick Rose, R.J. Hampton, Grayson Allen and Gary Harris, among others.

Central Notes: Theis, Wade, Pistons, Bucks

Pacers center Daniel Theis hopes to make his 2022/23 season debut this coming week, according to Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files (subscription required). Acquired from Boston over the summer, Theis was dealing with recurring right knee soreness entering the season and underwent surgery in November to address the issue.

Although Theis seems unlikely to be part of the Pacers’ long-term plans, he has another guaranteed season on his contract beyond this one, so it would be a challenge for Indiana to extract much – if any – value for him at the February 9 trade deadline.

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • Cavaliers forward Dean Wade is getting an opportunity to show whether he can help solve the team’s issues on the wing, according to Chris Fedor of, who notes that Wade’s minutes restriction following his return from a shoulder injury has been lifted. Fedor explores what it means for the rest of Cleveland’s rotation if Wade is getting regular playing time and whether there might be an odd man out.
  • It has been an up-and-down week for the Pistons. While Detroit’s impressive road win in Brooklyn on Thursday served as a reminder that the team’s future is worth believing in, per James L. Edwards III of The Athletic, Saturday’s home loss to Houston was the worst of the season and signaled that a trade deadline deal should be welcomed, Edwards contends in another story for The Athletic.
  • Eric Nehm of The Athletic evaluates a series of reader-proposed trades for the Bucks. Nehm considers hypothetical deals involving Cam Reddish, Bojan Bogdanovic, and Josh Hart, among others, but concludes that none of them quite work, with either Milwaukee or its proposed trade partner likely to say no.

Minimum Salary Players Who Can’t Be Acquired Using Minimum Salary Exception

As we explain in our glossary entry, the NBA’s minimum salary exception doesn’t just allow over-the-cap teams to sign players to minimum salary contracts. It also allows clubs to trade for players on minimum contracts without having to send out any matching salary.

However, not every player on a minimum salary contract can be acquired using the minimum salary exception. Since the exception only allows teams to sign players to one- or two-year contracts, similar rules apply in trades. A team can’t use the minimum salary exception to acquire a player on a three- or four-year contract, even if he’s earning the minimum.

What does that mean in practical terms? Let’s use Rockets forward Kenyon Martin Jr. as an example, since his name has surfaced in some trade rumors in recent months.

Martin is earning $1,782,621 this season, which is his minimum salary based on the contract he signed in 2020. Since he’s currently in the third year of a four-year contract though, a team acquiring him can’t absorb his salary using the minimum salary exception. That team, assuming it’s over the cap, would either have to own a trade exception big enough to take on Martin’s $1,782,621 salary or send out a player to match it.

If Martin were on a one- or two-year minimum salary contract, he could be traded straight up for, say, a draft pick without his new team requiring a trade exception or an outgoing salary. That’s the case for a trade candidate like Bucks big man Serge Ibaka, who is on a one-year minimum deal.

This rule shouldn’t be a major impediment for any transactions this season, since many teams have trade exceptions available and those that don’t should have at least one expendable minimum salary player to send out for matching purposes.

Still, it’s worth keeping tabs on the minimum salary players like Martin who fit this bill, since it could affect how certain deals are constructed at this season’s deadline.

Here’s the list of players earning the minimum salary who can’t be acquired using the minimum salary exception in 2022/23:

Atlanta Hawks

Boston Celtics

Charlotte Hornets

Chicago Bulls

Cleveland Cavaliers

Dallas Mavericks

Detroit Pistons

Golden State Warriors

Houston Rockets

Indiana Pacers

Los Angeles Clippers

Memphis Grizzlies

Miami Heat

Minnesota Timberwolves

New Orleans Pelicans

New York Knicks

Oklahoma City Thunder

Philadelphia 76ers

Portland Trail Blazers

Sacramento Kings

San Antonio Spurs

Washington Wizards

Spencer Dinwiddie Earns Bonus, Guarantees 2023/24 Salary

Mavericks guard Spencer Dinwiddie appeared in his 50th game of the season on Saturday in Utah, reaching an important contract-related milestone. As Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets, Dinwiddie’s 50th appearance earned him a $1.5MM bonus this season and ensured that his 2023/24 salary will now be fully guaranteed.

When Dinwiddie signed a three-year contract with the Wizards during the 2021 offseason, he was coming off an ACL tear, so his deal included some protections related to playing time.

Since Dinwiddie appeared in more than 50 games last season, he earned his $1.5MM bonus in 2021/22 as well — as a result, it was considered likely to be earned in ’22/23, so it’s baked into his $20.17MM cap hit. Dinwiddie is now assured of making at least $19.5MM this season, via his $18MM base salary and $1.5MM games-played bonus — his deal also includes some likely and unlikely incentives related to how far the Mavericks advance in the playoffs.

As for next season, Dinwiddie’s salary ($18.86MM base, $2.57MM in incentives) had previously only been partially guaranteed for $10MM. Now, his full base salary will be guaranteed and at least $1.5MM of his incentives will be considered likely.

The full guarantee for 2023/24 reduces the odds that Dinwiddie will be waived in the summer, but given the way he has played this season, that didn’t really seem like a realistic outcome anyway.

The 29-year-old has been one of Dallas’ most reliable role players alongside Luka Doncic, averaging 17.6 points and 5.4 assists per game on .464/.412/.823 shooting in 50 starts (34.2 MPG). Dinwiddie leads the Mavs in both games played and overall minutes (1,708).

Notes On Myles Turner’s New Deal With Pacers

The Pacers‘ ability to use their remaining cap room as part of Myles Turner‘s extension makes the deal extremely team-friendly over the next two seasons, writes Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star.

Turner will receive an extra $17.1MM for the current season as part of a renegotiation that adds two years to his contract. Dopirak notes that he will earn $21MM in 2023/24, which is less than 16% of a projected $134MM salary cap. Turner will take up an even smaller percentage of the cap in 2024/25, when his salary declines to $20MM. As Dopirak points out, that’s significant because 2024/25 will be the first year of Tyrese Haliburton‘s expected extension.

Turner is putting up career numbers this season, which has coincided with his full-time move back to center after Domantas Sabonis was traded to the Kings at last year’s deadline.

“He’s been itching to play the five,” lead assistant coach Lloyd Pierce said. “What that means and what it does is it puts him into the action in terms of setting screens, being in trail, reversing the ball through him. Any player knows when they get to touch the basketball, whether they’re shooting it, passing it or just reversing it, it just engages their mind a little bit.

“We’re seeing him finish at the rim. We’re seeing him get more shots at the rim this year. We’re seeing him make a concerted effort to get offensive rebounds, especially against teams that switch and he’s got a smaller guy on him. But I think he’s embracing the role. I think he’s embracing the physical nature that we need from him.”

Here’s more on Turner’s renegotiation and extension with the Pacers:

  • There are conflicting interpretations on whether the rules related to renegotiations in the Collective Bargaining Agreement would allow Turner to be traded prior to the February 9 deadline. ESPN’s Bobby Marks stated on Saturday that Turner remains trade-eligible, and cap expert Larry Coon agrees with that interpretation (Twitter link), but Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report (Twitter link) isn’t so sure. As Pincus notes (via Twitter), the language in the CBA is vague, indicating that a renegotiation can’t be completed in conjunction with a trade, but not providing any information on whether a player could be traded a week or two after finalizing a renegotiation.
  • The CBA provides specific guidelines for extensions and trades, making players ineligible to be dealt for six months if their new contract exceeds the extend-and-trade limits (Turner’s doesn’t). For now, we’re assuming Turner remains trade-eligible, but the extension seemingly eliminates the Pacers’ motivation for moving him, since they no longer have to worry about losing him for nothing in free agency this summer.
  • Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files hears that Turner’s agent Austin Brown and the Pacers’ front office were engaged in contract negotiations over the last two weeks, with the agreement being finalized during the last 48 hours.
  • The Pacers will still have approximately $10.7MM in cap room after completing their deal with Turner, Marks states in a YouTube video breaking down the renegotiation and extension. Indiana’s team salary is now above this season’s minimum salary floor, Agness notes.

Arthur Hill contributed to this post.

Kings Parting With PJ Dozier, Will Give 10-Day Deal To Deonte Burton

The Kings won’t re-sign guard PJ Dozier, whose second 10-day contract expired on Saturday night, tweets Chris Biderman of The Sacramento Bee.

The open roster spot will go to Deonte Burton, who is currently with the team’s G League affiliate in Stockton. Burton will receive a 10-day contract that will begin Monday to make him eligible for that night’s game at Minnesota.

A 28-year-old swingman, Burton spent two seasons with the Thunder before becoming a free agent in 2020. The former Iowa State standout has been in the G League since then, playing last year with the Maine Celtics before joining Stockton prior to the start of this season. Burton appeared in 71 total games for Oklahoma City, averaging 2.6 points and 1.2 rebounds in 8.4 minutes per night.

Dozier got into four games during his time with Sacramento and played 10 total minutes. Because players are limited to two 10-day contracts with one team, the Kings would have needed to sign him for the rest of the season to keep him on the roster.

Atlantic Notes: Thibodeau, Knicks, Grousbeck, Boucher

During an interview Friday with WFAN, Knicks owner James Dolan said reaching the playoffs will “definitely be a benchmark” for this season, writes Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. Dolan didn’t specify what will happen if the team falls short, but Bondy suggests the repercussions will likely be directed at head coach Tom Thibodeau, who is in his third season with the team.

New York is in seventh place in the East at 27-24 following Saturday’s loss to Brooklyn, so the prospects for at least the play-in tournament appear good. Thibodeau acknowledged Dolan’s statement, but said it won’t change his approach to running the team.

“I never worry about that stuff. Hey look, for me, I look at (Dolan) as — is he giving us everything we need to be successful? Yes,” Thibodeau said. “So, go out there and give him everything we have. Hopefully, we have the team that does that, so we want him to have belief in the team. I think that’s good.”

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Knicks are focused mainly on adding bench depth before the trade deadline, Ian Begley of SNY.TV states in a mailbag column. Begley adds that the front office appears committed to building a contender around the current core group and doesn’t view a full-scale rebuilding project as a viable option.
  • The Celtics will approach the trade deadline with a philosophy of trying to win the title this season, owner Wyc Grousbeck said in an interview with NBC Sports Boston (video link). When asked about his message to president of basketball operations Brad Stevens, Grousbeck responded, “It’s about this year. It’s not about ‘this will pay dividends in three years or this will do this next year. It’s this year; muscle up and let’s go get the job done.’ … If there’s anything to do, we’ll do it. If not, we love this team. We’re top of the league right now.”
  • Friday’s trip to Golden State brought back memories for Raptors big man Chris Boucher, who started his NBA career by appearing in one game for the Warriors in 2018, per Michael Grange of Sportsnet. Boucher faced an uncertain NBA future at the time, but he ultimately landed a rotation role with the Raptors. “I’m a lot older, I say that. I think I take things a lot differently than I used to,” Boucher said. “(I’m) less emotional, sensitive and (can) take criticism and not thinking that it’s all about me and everybody’s pointing fingers at me and all that. More able to see my mistakes and being able to fix them by myself, trying to be a better player every time I step on the floor.”

Sixers Notes: Embiid, Niang, Maxey, Luxury Tax

Joel Embiid turned in an MVP performance Saturday afternoon while matched up with Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, who has beaten him out for the award the past two seasons, writes Kyle Neubeck of The Philly Voice. Embiid posted 47 points, 18 rebounds and five assists and made several big plays late in the game to help the Sixers win the battle between two of the NBA’s best teams.

Embiid was a bit too focused on his individual matchup with Jokic early on, Neubeck observes, but he began to take over the game in the second quarter, showing off his full offensive arsenal. Many of Embiid’s points came via a two-man weave with James Harden that resulted in prime scoring opportunities.

Afterward, Embiid said he doesn’t have a personal rivalry with Jokic, but he felt it was “a little disrespectful” that he wasn’t named a starter when the results of this year’s All-Star voting were announced Thursday, relays Tim Bontemps of ESPN.

“I’m used to it,” Embiid said of the snub. “It’s not the first time. I think it’s more of a motivation to go out and win the whole thing. That’s the only way I’m probably going to get that respect.”

There’s more from Philadelphia:

  • Georges Niang is headed for a sizable payday in free agency this summer, Neubeck adds. Niang contributed 14 points in about 18 minutes off the bench today, shooting 4-of-7 from three-point range. Neubeck calls Niang one of the NBA’s best bench shooters and expects a lot of teams to be interested when he hits the open market.
  • Tyrese Maxey has adapted well to a reserve role since the Sixers changed their starting lineup earlier this month, Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer states in a mailbag column. Coming into today, Maxey was averaging 22.4 points and shooting 41.9% on three-pointers in his first five games off the bench. However, Pompey views Maxey as a long-term starter and says he needs to improve his defense this summer so he’ll be a better fit alongside Harden.
  • Luxury tax concerns will affect the Sixers’ strategy heading into the trade deadline, Pompey adds. Philadelphia is currently about $1.1MM over the threshold of $150.3MM, so Furkan Korkmaz or Jaden Springer could be unloaded to avoid the tax.

Lonzo Ball Still “Nowhere Close” To Playing

Bulls coach Billy Donovan offered a pessimistic update on Lonzo Ball in Saturday’s pregame meeting with reporters and speculated that a decision on the injured guard could be coming fairly soon, tweets Julia Poe of The Chicago Tribune.

Ball hasn’t played since January of 2022 due to a torn meniscus and complications from two knee surgeries. The team hasn’t talked about a cut-off date to declare Ball out for the entire season, but Donovan said that topic will be addressed if he doesn’t show significant improvement in the next few weeks.

“Once you get out of the All-Star break, I think that, with the amount of time that’s left — you’re at the end of February, you basically have all of March and a couple of weeks, if not even two weeks in April,” Donovan said. “So if you start to get to that point, I think there will probably end up being some conversations: ‘OK, what if he’s still not close to playing? What’s the plan going forward?'”

Ball acknowledged recently that sitting out the rest of the season is a possibility. He has two years remaining on the four-year contract he inked in 2021 as part of a sign-and-trade with New Orleans and will make $20.5MM next season and $21.4MM in 2024/25.

He got off to a strong start in his first season with the Bulls, averaging 13.0 points, 5.4 rebounds and 5.1 assists in 35 games and helping the team contend for the best record in the East. Chicago collapsed without him, falling to the sixth seed and suffering a first-round playoff elimination, and is just 22-26 so far this season.

Ball created some excitement among Bulls fans earlier this month when he posted videos on Instagram that showed him dunking and running on a treadmill. Although that was encouraging, he still experiences pain in his knee and hasn’t received medical clearance for full-speed running or cutting.

“He’s made some progress, but I’d be the first one to tell you that he’s nowhere near playing. He’s just not,” Donovan added. “Because he’s not running on a consistent basis right now. So I think, when he can get to that place where he can do that consistently and be able to come back the next day and do it again, do it again and do it again, I think you’ll feel a little bit more optimistic.”

Wizards Notes: Wright, Nunn, Morris, Gill, Unseld Jr.

While Delon Wright was recovering from a severely strained hamstring, he was able to notice how much the Wizards need him, writes Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. The numbers back up his observation — Washington is 13-6 with Wright in the lineup, but only 7-20 when he doesn’t play. He’s especially been a difference-maker on defense, where the team’s rating is 6.0 points better with him on the court.

“Once I had seen that I have that type of impact on the game, it made me more confident. It made me feel more welcome here,” Wright said. “A lot of times when you get to a certain team, they will say that you can do certain things. But even if you’re doing it, you still might get subbed or might not have your minutes as much as you want. Here I feel like I’m playing a decent amount of minutes and my role is enormous.”

It’s a rare feeling for Wright, who is with his seventh team in the past five seasons. He’s being used as a backup, starting just one of the 19 games he has played, but he’s having a significant impact in his 20.9 minutes per night, leading the league in steals per 36 minutes.

“I actually signed (with the Wizards), so that means a little more than getting traded for,” Wright said. “I feel the most confident I’ve been with an organization since I was in Toronto (from 2015-19).”

There’s more on the Wizards:

  • Kendrick Nunn had a strong debut for Washington on Wednesday in his first game since being acquired from the Lakers in the Rui Hachimura trade, notes Bijan Todd of NBC Sports Washington. Nunn expected to have a larger role in L.A. after signing with the team in free agency in 2021, but a knee injury prevented him from playing last year and he was averaging just 13.5 minutes per night in 39 games this season. He played 22 minutes in his first game with the Wizards and helped spark a comeback with 12 points, four rebounds and four assists. “I just wanted to come in and impact winning,” Nunn said. “Play hard, be aggressive, be myself and just impact winning.”
  • Monte Morris has provided the type of leadership at point guard that the Wizards were hoping for, but that may made him of the team’s best trade assets heading into the deadline, according to Ava Wallace of The Washington Post. General manager Tommy Sheppard doesn’t plan to blow up the team’s core, Wallace adds, but more roster moves are likely coming.
  • Anthony Gill has entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols and will miss tonight’s game in New Orleans, Wallace tweets.
  • In an interview with Wes Hall of NBC Sports Washington (video link), coach Wes Unseld Jr. talks about the challenges he has faced midway through his second season with the team.