Free Agent Stock Watch

Free Agent Stock Watch: Atlantic Division

Throughout the season, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents this off-season. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. This week, we take a look at players from the Atlantic Division:

Blake Griffin, Nets, 32, PF (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $1.23MM deal in 2021

Well, Griffin proved he could still dunk when after agreeing to a buyout with the Pistons and joining the Eastern Conference favorite. He’s also proven that he’s a shadow of the All-Star performer who carried Detroit into the playoffs just two years ago. Other than a 17-point outing against his former team and drawing some charges, Griffin has made a minimal impact with Brooklyn. He went scoreless in 41 minutes of floor time against the Lakers and Timberwolves this week before getting rested on the second game of a back-to-back. Griffin might go from a max player to a veteran’s minimum backup as soon as this offseason.

Dwight Howard, Sixers, 35, C (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $2.56MM deal in 2020

Speaking of former perennial All-Stars playing on a veteran’s minimum contract, Howard has managed to stay healthy again after playing just nine games for Washington two seasons ago. Howard helped the Lakers win last season’s title but his production has dropped as a second-unit center in Philadelphia. His turnovers are up and his field goal percentage is down, though he does lead the league in one category – most technical fouls. Howard has nearly as many turnovers (12) as shot attempts (16) in the last six games. Perhaps Howard will get another minimum contract to stay in the league but it appears the end is near for an NBA career that began in 2004.

Reggie Bullock, Knicks, 30, SF/SG (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $8.2MM deal in 2020

While the playing time of the Knicks’ younger players has fluctuated quite a bit under Tom Thibodeau, Bullock has been a steady presence in the starting lineup. He’s the quintessential 3-and-D player, spacing the floor offensively and providing hard-nosed defense at the other end. Bullock is attempting 8.1 field goals, with 5.6 of them beyond the arc. He’s made 39.9% of his long-range attempts, connecting with incredible consistency. He drained 40% in both January and February, 40.5% in March and 43.1% this month. He’ll be in demand when he hits unrestricted free agency this summer.

Gary Trent, Raptors, 22, SG/SF, (Up) – Signed to a three-year, $3.92MM deal in 2018

The Raptors traded away Norman Powell to the Trail Blazers in part because they weren’t sure they could re-sign him in unrestricted free agency. Trent, one of the two players they acquired for Powell, will be a restricted free agent this summer. While Toronto can match any offer, it may have a dilemma if another suitor makes a big offer to the young sharpshooter. He’s averaging 17.4 PPG in 11 games with the Raptors, including a 44-point eruption against Cleveland on Saturday when he missed just two of 19 field-goal attempts. He tossed in a clunker against Atlanta on Tuesday but no doubt, Trent is hitting restricted free agency at a very good time.

Free Agent Stock Watch: Pacific Division

Throughout the season, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents this off-season. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. This week, we take a look at players from the Pacific Division:

Nicolas Batum, Clippers, 32, PF/SF (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $2.56MM deal in 2020

Batum had several teams interested in him last fall when Charlotte waived him and stretched out the $27.1MM remaining on his contract. He’s proven to be a bargain for the Clippers after signing for the veteran’s minimum.

Batum has been a regular presence in the rotation (28.4 MPG), serving as a “glue guy,” content to play defense and grab some rebounds without getting a lot of shot opportunities. His shooting percentage has dropped lately, but he’s still averaging a career-best 41.4% on 3-point attempts. It’s been a bounce-back season after he languished on the Hornets’ bench a year ago. He’ll get offers commensurate for a veteran role player.

Andre Drummond, Lakers, 27, C (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $794K deal in 2021

Cleveland couldn’t find a way to trade Drummond due to the $28.75MM in the final year of his contract. Once he cleared waivers, he had a choice of contenders and landed with the defending champions. It’s a tricky situation with Marc Gasol still on the roster and not thrilled about losing his starting role, but Drummond finds himself pursuing a championship for the first time in his career. If he can blend well with LeBron James and Anthony Davis once they return from injuries, the league’s most prolific rebounder can enhance his resume as he heads into unrestricted free agency this summer.

Damion Lee, Warriors, 28, SG/PG (Down) – Signed to a three-year, $4.5MM deal in 2019

Lee started 36 games for Golden State last season after the team went into tank mode. He earned his way from a two-way contract to a standard three-year deal. However, his 2021/22 salary – albeit a modest $1.9MM by NBA standards – isn’t guaranteed. It includes a partial guarantee of $500K if he’s still on the roster in mid-summer.

Lee has gotten steady minutes as a second-unit player, but really hasn’t contributed much offensively – he’s averaging 4.4 PPG over his last seven games. As a tax team, Golden State needs to fill its bench with low-cost options, so Lee could stick but the club could also seek a better scoring threat at that spot.

Frank Kaminsky, Suns, 28, PF, (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $1.88MM deal in 2020

It’s been a rough stretch for Kaminsky, who was placed under the league’s health and safety protocols at the beginning of the month. Prior to being sidelined, Kaminsky saw his playing time diminish – he averaged 3.5 PPG in 13.3 MPG during six appearances in March. Kaminsky was on Phoenix’s roster last season, had a $5MM option declined, then returned to the Suns after the Kings placed him on waivers. The ninth overall pick of the 2015 draft will find it difficult to regain his second-unit role once he returns. Kaminsky will likely have to settle for the veteran’s minimum to stick around in the league next season.

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Free Agent Stock Watch: Southwest Division

Throughout the season, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents this off-season. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. This week, we take a look at players from the Southwest Division:

Justise Winslow, Grizzlies, 24, SF/PF (Down) – Signed to a three-year, $39MM extension in 2019

The Grizzlies waited a long time to see what they had in Winslow after acquiring him from the Heat last February. The 25-year-old was injured when he was traded and never returned to action last season. During the summer restart in Orlando, he suffered a left hip displacement, which also caused him to miss the first 25 games this season.

Winslow appeared in 16 games off the bench since returning to action and hasn’t provided much punch, averaging 7.1 PPG and 4.8 RPG with a woeful PER of 5.28. He’s currently sidelined by a sore thigh. The team holds a $13MM option on his contract for next season and Winslow, whose career seemed to be taking off two seasons ago as a point forward, will be hunting for another fresh start this summer.

Gorgui Dieng, Spurs, 31, PF/C (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $1MM deal in 2021

The Grizzlies couldn’t find a trade for Dieng because his contract was too big but after he cleared waivers, he reportedly had at least eight teams interested in signing him. The Spurs, who had just reached a buyout with LaMarcus Aldridge, won him over with a recruiting pitch. Dieng’s popularity as a free agent last week bodes well for him this summer, though he’s currently sidelined by a sore shoulder. Minnesota overpaid him for him in 2017 (four-year, $62.8MM). Dieng’s next contract will probably be closer to veteran’s minimum numbers but he’s still valued as a quality second-unit big.

Boban Marjanovic, Mavericks, 32, C (Down) – Signed to a two-year, $7MM deal in 2019

Boban still has enough star power to land a Goldfish cracker commercial. In another era, Marjanovic might have been one of the game’s biggest draws. Alas, there’s little use for a slow-footed 7’4’’ center the way the game is played today. Marjanovic can still dominate in spurts against certain opponents but those opportunities are few and far between. The gentle giant is always fun to watch when he gets a chance to play but he’s only seen spot duty in 22 games. Hopefully, Dallas or another team will give him at least a minimum deal this summer so he can make a few more commercials with his pal Tobias Harris.

Avery Bradley, Rockets, 30, PG, (Down) – Signed to a two-year, $11.6MM deal in 2020

Bradley started 44 games for the Lakers last season, then opted out of the restart and watched the team win the championship from afar. He declined a $5MM option to stay with the Lakers and signed a two-year deal with Miami to join its guard rotation. That didn’t go well, as Bradley has been injured most of the season. His salary was thrown into the Victor Oladipo trade and he now finds himself on one of the league’s worst teams. It’s hard to imagine that Houston will exercise its $5.9MM option on Bradley’s contract for next season, so he’ll be shopping his services again this summer.

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Free Agent Stock Watch: Northwest Division

Throughout the season, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents this off-season. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. This week, we take a look at players from the Northwest Division:

Mike Conley, Jazz, 33, PG (Up) – Signed to a five-year, $152.6MM deal in 2016

After an injury-marred season, Conley has bounced back in a big way for a team with the league’s best record. He got a chance to play in the All-Star Game for this first time and he’s managed to stay on the court for the most part. His production has been steady and efficient (16.4 PPG, 5.4 APG, career-high 42.4% on 3s).

Despite his age, Conley has given himself some leverage in his walk year. However, he professed his love to Utah’s organization and style of play last month, saying he doesn’t want to go elsewhere. Barring another early-round playoff flameout, the Jazz will probably shrug off luxury-tax issues and retain their floor leader.

JaMychal Green, Nuggets, 30, PF (Down) – Signed to a two-year, $14.76MM deal in 2020

Green’s playing time was already diminishing before the Nuggets went on a shopping spree Thursday to fortify their frontcourt. The additions of Aaron Gordon and JaVale McGee mean that Green won’t be shedding his warmups very often the remainder of the season. Even with playing time factored in, Green’s rebounding numbers dropped significantly this month. The saving grace is that Green’s $7.56MM salary for next season is a player option. He won’t be pumping up his value, so it’s safe to assume he’ll opt in and let the Nuggets decide whether to keep him or deal him.

Kenrich Williams, Thunder, 26, SG/SF (Up) – Signed to a three-year, $6MM deal in 2020

While the Thunder’s front office continues to pile up draft picks, the current roster has the feel of tryout camp, especially with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander out for an extended period. The flip side is that players like Williams get a chance to show where they fit into the league.

Williams has been receiving steady playing time and he’s been productive of late, scoring in double figures in six of the last seven games. He’s also averaging 3.3 APG during that span, displaying his ability to make plays for others. His free throwing shooting remains woeful (54.1%). Williams’ $2MM salary for next season is non-guaranteed, but that’s a pittance for a rotation player, so expect him to remain on that contract.

Harry Giles, Trail Blazers, 22, C, (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $1.68MM deal in 2020

Opportunity knocked for Giles – and once again, he wound up in the trainer’s room. With Jusuf Nurkic sidelined for two months by a wrist injury, Giles got a chance to jump into the rotation as Enes Kanter’s backup. He was relatively ineffective before suffering a calf injury that sidelined him for over a month. With Nurkic back in action this weekend, Giles returns to third-string status at best. The 20th pick of the 2017 draft is still very young but his career is already at a crossroads as he enters unrestricted free agency again this summer. Will another organization give him a chance or will he have to seek employment overseas?

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Free Agent Stock Watch: Southeast Division

Throughout the season, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents this off-season. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. This week, we take a look at players from the Southeast Division:

Moritz Wagner, Wizards, 23, PF/C (Down) – Signed to a three-year, $5.99MM deal in 2018

Wagner’s younger brother Franz is pursuing a national championship with Michigan and could be a lottery pick this summer. Moe Wagner, who played in the national championship game with the Wolverines in 2018, is currently biding his time on the Wizards’ bench.

Despite the season-ending injury to starting center Thomas Bryant, Wagner has fallen behind Alex Len and Robin Lopez in Scott Brooks’ rotation and hasn’t gotten his number called in the last four games. Washington declined its fourth-year option on Wagner in December, so he’ll be an unrestricted free agent this summer. A first-round pick by the Lakers in 2018, Wagner can only hope he’ll get a fresh start after seeing his career stall in Washington.

Kris Dunn, Hawks, 27, PG/SG (Down) – Signed to a two-year, $10MM deal in 2020

Dunn left Chicago and signed a two-year deal with the anticipation that he’d be a second-unit mainstay in Atlanta. Hawks fans are still waiting to see Dunn take the court. He underwent right ankle surgery in late December and has yet to make his team debut, though he has returned to practice. For a team intent on making the postseason, the Hawks may not have the luxury of waiting for Dunn to get into a rhythm. Thus, there’s no guarantee he’ll be in the rotation when he suits up. Dunn likely agreed to a $5MM player option with the aim of playing well enough to test the market again this summer. It’s a safe bet now he’ll exercise that option.

Duncan Robinson, Heat, 26, SF (Up) – Signed to a three-year, $3.1MM deal in 2018

Robinson’s name has been linked to some trade rumors, but whether or not Miami retains him, he’ll be making way more money next season. Robinson is expected to command an offer in the $15-$20MM range annually as a restricted free agent. That’s the value of a wing who can consistently knock down 3-pointers. Robinson established himself as a big-time shooter when he made 44.6% of his 3s last season in his second NBA campaign. That percentage is down to 38.9% this season but he’s still receiving around 30 MPG as a starter in coach Erik Spoelstra’s rotation.

Devonte’ Graham, Hornets, 26, PG/SG (Down) – Signed to a three-year, $4MM deal in 2018

It’s been a rough season for Graham after his breakout sophomore campaign in which he averaged 18.2 PPG and 7.5 APG. He’s dealt with some injuries, including a sore knee, and now he’s lost his starting job to rookie phenom LaMelo Ball.

The less he plays, the more time he spends hanging around the 3-point line rather than attacking the rim. With Ball leading the pack for the Rookie of the Year award, there’s speculation that Graham – a restricted free agent after the season — is available in trade talks. If Charlotte doesn’t deal Graham, it will have to decide how much it’s willing to pony up to retain him if he receives an offer sheet.

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Free Agent Stock Watch: Atlantic Division

Throughout the season, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents this off-season. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. This week, we take a look at players from the Atlantic Division:

Bruce Brown, Nets, 24, SG (Up) – Signed to a three-year, $3.92MM deal in 2018

The Pistons uncovered a diamond in the rough when they selected Brown with the 42nd overall pick in 2018. Brown quickly became a starter due to his defensive prowess, so it was surprising when Detroit’s new GM Troy Weaver dealt him in the off-season. He’s become an increasingly important role player on the star-laden Nets with his all-around contributions.

In the last six games prior to the All-Star break, Brown averaged 18 PPG, 6 RPG and 3 APG. He becomes a restricted free agent after the season – if he receives an offer sheet, can Brooklyn afford to keep him given all its salary commitments? The way Brown is playing, the Nets can’t afford to let him go.

Nerlens Noel, Knicks, 26, C (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $5MM deal in 2020

The Knicks have displayed dramatic improvement in part because players have settled into their roles. No one needed to tell Noel that he’d be the fifth option on the offensive end when he signed a one-year deal in the fall. The sixth pick in the 2013 draft had already carved a niche in the league as a post defender and rebounder.

With his team’s other centers, Mitchell Robinson and Taj Gibson, sidelined prior to the break, coach Tom Thibodeau relied heavily on Noel to patrol the middle. Noel averaged 40 MPG in the last four games prior to the break and the Knicks won three of them. Noel ranks fourth in the league in blocks despite playing just 22.2 MPG. He’ll continue to be valued for his strengths when he enters the free agent market again this summer.

Aron Baynes, Raptors, 34, C (Down) – Signed to a two-year, $14.35MM deal in 2020

The Raptors sit three games below .500 and are contemplating whether to trade long-time star Kyle Lowry. A big reason for their first-half struggles was the poor play of their middle men. Baynes seemed like a quality addition coming off a season with the Suns in which he posted career highs in points, rebounds and assists. It hasn’t worked out that way. Among qualified centers, Baynes ranks dead last – 62nd overall – in ESPN’s PER calculations.

The good news for the Raptors is that Baynes’ $7.35MM salary for next season isn’t guaranteed. He’s posted best numbers the last few games but it’s difficult to envision a scenario in which Baynes will ever see that money.

Jeff Teague, Celtics, 32, PG (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $2.56MM deal in 2020

Teague started on some good teams in Atlanta earlier in his career but he’s bounced around the league the last few seasons. Seeking a chance to play for a contender, Teague signed a veteran’s minimum deal with Boston to provide insurance behind Kemba Walker and his gimpy knees. He’s generally been a non-factor, though he perked up during the Celtics’ four-game winning streak heading into the break. With Marcus Smart returning to action and rookie Payton Pritchard earning steady minutes, Teague will likely find himself scrounging for playing time during the second half of the season.

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Free Agent Stock Watch: Central Division

Throughout the season, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents this off-season. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. This week, we take a look at players from the Central Division:

T.J. McConnell, Pacers, 28, PG (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $7MM deal in 2019

McConnell delivered one of the rarest triple-doubles in NBA history this week. He became the first player to record a point-assist-steal triple-double since Mookie Blaylock in 1998 when he racked up 16 points, 13 assists and 10 steals against Cleveland on Wednesday. He also had a 17-point, 12-assist outing against New York on Saturday.

McConnell isn’t a 3-point threat, but he’s been maximizing his skills as one of Indiana’s top reserves this season, averaging a career-best 6.8 APG. He’s a good fit with the Pacers but he’ll attract interest from other teams as a solid second-unit floor general.

Saben Lee, Pistons, 21, PG (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $449K deal in 2020

Lee was selected with the 38th overall pick in the draft and signed a two-way contract. He’s taking advantage of some unexpected playing time and showing he’s worthy of a spot on the 15-man roster. With Killian Hayes and Delon Wright sidelined by injuries, Lee has provided a spark off the bench behind recently-acquired Dennis Smith Jr. In Detroit’s last two victories, Lee had a 21-point, 4-assist performance against Orlando and a 20-point, 7-assist outing against Toronto. He needs to become more of a perimeter threat but he’ll fearlessly attack the basket and he’s endeared himself to the coaching staff with his work ethic.

Jarrett Allen, 22, C (Up) – Signed to a four-year, $10MM deal in 2017

With the awkwardness of sharing the center spot with Andre Drummond behind him, Allen has settled in as the Cavaliers’ main man in the middle. In 17 starts at center this season, Allen is averaging 16.2 PPG, 11.8 RPG, 2.2 APG and 1.7 BPG while shooting 69.5% from the field. It’s well-known that Cleveland has every intention of re-signing Allen as he enters restricted free agency. The intrigue will come if one of the teams with ample salary-cap space delivers a giant offer sheet. In any case, Allen will become a very rich man this summer.

Thaddeus Young, Bulls, 32, PF (Up) – Signed to a three-year, $43.6MM deal in 2019

Young has a partially-guaranteed $14.19MM salary next season. He’ll get $6MM for sure; he’s giving the Bulls plenty of incentive to hand him the remaining $8.19MM and keep him off the free agent market. Young has been one of the best reserves in the league this season, providing the Bulls with a steady finisher at the rim (career-best 60.9% from the field) and plenty of rebounding. Coach Billy Donovan has turned Young into a playmaker and he’s embraced that responsibility, averaging a career-high 4.4 APG. If the Bulls opt to trade Young this month, they’ll get a decent haul in draft picks and/0r young players.

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Free Agent Stock Watch: Pacific Division

Throughout the season, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents this off-season. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. This week, we take a look at players from the Pacific Division:

Kelly Oubre, Warriors, 25, SF (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $30MM deal in 2019

The Warriors were willing to explode their luxury tax bill by using a $17.2MM trade exception to acquire Oubre. Initially, it looked like a colossal waste of money. He got off to a woeful start, missing 28 of his first 30 3-point attempts. Oubre has settled in this month, doing what he does best – providing offensive punch while helping out around the boards. He’s averaging 20.5 PPG and 6.5 RPG and shooting 44% from long range in February. Productive wings are always in demand and Oubre – though his perimeter shot is still inconsistent — should be able to attract offers similar to the one he signed two years ago with the Suns.

Markieff Morris, Lakers, 31, PF (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $2.33MM deal in 2020

Morris had his contract bought out by the Pistons last season in order to join a contender. He made a good choice, giving the Lakers some rotation minutes during their championship run. He re-upped with the Lakers this offseason and has retained his rotation role. Morris’ playing time has recently increased in Anthony Davis’ absence, but he hasn’t moved the needle. He’s shooting 38.9% from the field and 30.4% from deep after making 39.7% of his 3s for Detroit last season. It’s quite possible that Morris will see his playing time evaporate when Davis returns and/or the Lakers add a frontcourt piece.

Langston Galloway, Suns, 29, SG (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $2MM deal in 2020

When Galloway signed with Phoenix for the veteran’s minimum, it initially appeared like one of the better under-the-radar moves of the offseason. It hasn’t worked out that way. At the moment, Galloway is under wraps. He was coming off a strong season for the Pistons, averaging 10.3 PPG off the bench while shooting 39.9% from the field and playing solid defense as well. With the Suns, Galloway finds himself out of the rotation with E’Twaun Moore absorbing most of the backup guard minutes. Galloway could still make his mark on a playoff team at some point.

Jabari Parker, Kings, 25, SF (Down) – Signed to a two-year, $13MM deal in 2019

Imagine if the Bucks had selected Joel Embiid in 2014 and waited out his foot injuries. Alas, Milwaukee chose Parker and missed out on a potential superstar pairing with Giannis Antetokounmpo. Parker is on his fifth NBA team, though if you weren’t aware that he’s on Sacramento’s roster, it’s perfectly understandable. Due to a back injury, personal reasons, and now COVID-19 protocols, Parker has appeared in just two games this season. He’s still young enough to reestablish himself as an instant-offense reserve but he’ll probably be looking at veteran’s minimum deals in free agency.

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Free Agent Stock Watch: Northwest Division

Throughout the season, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents this off-season. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. This week, we take a look at players from the Northwest Division:

Hamidou Diallo, Thunder, 22, SG (Up) – Signed to a three-year, $3.9MM deal in 2018

Diallo has entered the conversation for the Most Improved Player award. The Dennis Schröder trade to the Lakers opened up a little more playing time for the third-year guard and he has seized the opportunity, nearly doubling his scoring average (12.5 PPG from 6.9 PPG) and also contributing on the boards (5.4 RPG) while making more plays for his teammates (2.5 APG).

Diallo’s perimeter shooting remains an issue (28.9% on 3-point attempts) but he’s reached double figures in 13 of his last 15 games. He will be a restricted free agent and it will be intriguing to see if another team will overlook his perimeter woes and extend an offer sheet to force the Thunder’s hand.

Naz Reid, Timberwolves, 21, C (Up) – Signed to a three-year, $4.2MM deal in 2019

Very little has gone right for Minnesota this season but Reid continues to be a bright spot. The undrafted second-year big man is averaging 12.5 PPG, 4.9 RPG and 1.2 BPG and his 3-point shot is improving (39.7%). Reid had a 29-point performance against OKC and a 23-point outing against the Clippers this month. He filled the stat sheet with 18 points, nine rebounds, three assists and three blocks in an overtime loss to Indiana on Wednesday.

Reid’s $1.78MM salary for next season is non-guaranteed; the Timberwolves’ front office will have some tough roster decisions to make over the next year but that won’t be one of them.

Gary Trent Jr., Trail Blazers, 22, SG (Up) – Signed to a three-year, $3.92MM deal in 2018

Trent, who will be a restricted free agent, emerged as a valuable rotation piece in his second season a year ago. He’s become even more important with CJ McCollum sidelined by a foot injury. Trent is averaging 15.3 PPG while knocking down an impressive 44.7% of his 3-point attempts despite taking 7.2 shots per game from deep. He’s averaging 19.8 PPG during the team’s current six-game winning streak. The Blazers already have $70MM committed to their starting guards next season; can they afford to hold onto Trent if someone lavishes the sharpshooter with a lucrative offer sheet?

Will Barton, Nuggets, 30, SG/SF (Down) – Signed to a four-year, $53MM deal in 2018

Barton has a player option worth $14.67MM for next season and the way he’s played this season, he’ll have no reason to opt out. Barton missed the summer restart due to a knee injury and hasn’t been a consistent factor on a team with championship aspirations. He scored 10 or fewer points in six of his last 10 outings before taking off a few games for personal reasons. His PER for the season is 11.6, well below average. The Nuggets need more from their wings, including Barton, if they want to make another deep playoff run.

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Free Agent Stock Watch: Southwest Division

Throughout the season, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents this off-season. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. This week, we take a look at players from the Southwest Division:

Lonzo Ball, Pelicans, 23, PG (Up) – Signed to a four-year, $33.5MM deal in 2017

Ball’s status has been a hot topic around the league. He’s a prime trade candidate as New Orleans ponders whether it wants to commit long-term to the second overall pick of the 2017 draft. The Pelicans would have to extend a $14.36MM qualifying offer to make him a restricted free agent if they don’t deal him.

On the plus side, Ball’s recent play has pumped up his value. Prior to his quiet 12-point performance on Friday, he was averaging 17.3 PPG, 5.8 RPG and 4.3 APG in February while making 51.2% of his 3-point tries. Moreover, he’s kept his turnovers down. The Bulls have been linked to Ball for weeks and perhaps his recent play will convince them he’s the answer to their point guard conundrum.

Trey Lyles, Spurs, 25, PF (Down) – Signed to a two-year, $11MM deal in 2019

Lyles has been a disappointment since the Jazz made him a lottery pick in 2015. This season has been particularly trying for the Kentucky product. After starting regularly last season, Lyles has only seen spot duty in his walk year. With LaMarcus Aldridge out, Lyles scored a season-high 15 points in a blowout loss to Golden State on Tuesday. That was his first double-digit output this season, as he’s only averaging 12.0 MPG. Lyles doesn’t stand out in any one area and he’ll be looking at modest offers this summer.

Tim Hardaway Jr., Mavericks, 28, SG (Up) – Signed to a four-year, $70.95MM deal in 2017

The Mavericks have been a disappointment but Hardaway has fulfilled his role, averaging 17.2 PPG in 31.1 MPG. He’s turned into a consistent 40% shooter from long range and that skill will serve him well as he enters unrestricted free agency. It will be interesting to see how much teams value Hardaway’s overall game and if he can get similar money to what the Knicks offered him as a restricted free agent in 2017. But it’s a shooter’s league and Hardaway is a proven starting wing. At 28, he’ll likely receive some quality multi-year offers.

DeMarcus Cousins, Rockets, 30, C (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $2.33MM deal in 2020

The former perennial All-Star signed a veteran’s minimum deal with Houston to try to rebuild his value. He’ll get ample playing time in the next few weeks with Christian Wood sidelined by an ankle sprain. However, knee and Achilles injuries have robbed Cousins of his explosion. He can still occasionally post some big numbers (28 points, 17 rebounds, 5 assists vs. Dallas last month) but he can’t deliver those big stat lines on a consistent basis. He can do better than veteran minimum deals in the future, barring another major injury, but he’s not the force he was early in his career with the Kings.

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