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NBA buyout market: 9 playoff contenders that could make post-trade deadline moves

It’s NBA buyout season, everybody. This usually means it’s time for playoff-bound teams to fight over the right to sign flawed or past-their-prime players in the hopes that they could provide injury insurance or swing a game in May. I admit this doesn’t sound super exciting. 

This year, though, could things be different? Maybe! A number of players expected to be moved for a first-round pick before Thursday’s deadline stayed put in situations that don’t make sense for them. If they’re all bought out, there will be numerous free agents who could actually be in a postseason rotation. Let’s take a look at the teams that have a chance to sign these guys and what they could be thinking:

Golden State Warriors

Do the Warriors need anything? Not really, but that doesn’t mean they won’t try to make an upgrade. Joe Johnson has already been linked to them, via Yahoo Sports’ Chris Mannix, and ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reported that they would consider Channing Frye, too. I love the idea of Frye giving this team a true stretch 5, and Johnson potentially providing some playmaking off the bench is interesting. How worried are the Warriors about Andre Iguodala and Patrick McCaw’s disappointing play in the regular season? Adding Johnson probably wouldn’t be awesome for McCaw’s McConfidence. 

Cleveland Cavaliers

The Cavaliers were so far down the road to signing Kendrick Perkins that the 33-year-old center announced he was back. This was premature, though: the Cavs do not intend to fill their two open roster spots until the All-Star break, according to cleveland.com’s Joe Vardon. While Perkins’ leadership could be helpful, it might not be more valuable than, say, Johnson’s versatility. I wonder if Ersan Ilyasova might be a possibility here, too — after trading Frye, Kevin Love is Cleveland’s only big man who can stretch the floor.  

Houston Rockets

The Rockets are often active this time of year, but I’m not sure that will be the case this time. Would another shooter like Marco Belinelli even be necessary now that they have Gerald Green? Would they consider signing Andrew Bogut for his defense and insight on the Warriors? Tyreke Evans is an interesting name for any contender, but Houston doesn’t really need more playmaking and it’s unclear if the Memphis Grizzlies will even consider buying him out. My favorite move for this team is signing Frye and positioning him several feet behind the 3-point line the way they do with Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon. It might be difficult to guarantee him significant minutes, though. 

Boston Celtics

The Celtics already acquired Greg Monroe, and that could be all they do. They’ve been linked to Johnson, which would be a funny reunion given that they drafted him in 2001 and traded him after 48 games. If his poor shooting this season with the Jazz was an aberration, then he can help Boston’s bench and give the offense more punch. Belinelli also seems like a fine fit in Brad Stevens’ offense. 

Oklahoma City Thunder

Joakim Noah hasn’t wanted to take a buyout, but if the Knicks convince him to do so, it would make sense for him to go play for Billy Donovan, his college coach. ESPN’s Ian Begley reported that rival executives expect the Thunder to be interested in Noah if he does hit free agency. This is a team that needs depth, especially on the wing, so don’t be surprised if they wind up in the mix for guys like Johnson, Belinelli, Arron Afflalo or even Tony Allen. Also — and this is a theme — Frye would be a nice addition here, as he would open up more space for their stars.

San Antonio Spurs

I’d love to see the Spurs reunite with Boris Diaw, who has an NBA out in his French contract and has been in touch with playoff teams, according to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon. Frye would also work if he was willing to accept a limited role. Even if the Spurs do nothing, though, they will have a talent infusion at some point before the postseason — we don’t really know how good they are until they get Kawhi Leonard and Rudy Gay back at full strength.  

Toronto Raptors

Vince Carter could make a triumphant return if the Kings buy him out, per Sportsnet’s Michael Grange. Adding a vet to Toronto’s young bench makes some sense, but there are a couple of roadblocks. Toronto’s young guys are so good that Carter might not deserve a consistent role, which would be awkward for the player who put the franchise on the map. Also, the New York Times‘ Marc Stein reported that Sacramento is hoping Carter will choose to stay there. Other things to think about: Johnson would be a similar signing without all the hysteria, the Raptors inquired about Diaw last summer and Frye would fill their biggest need: 3-point shooting.

Minnesota Timberwolves

 In news that surprises nobody, this is the other team that has been linked to Noah. They have also been linked to Derrick Rose, which doesn’t make a ton of sense as long as Jeff Teague and Tyus Jones are healthy. Would Rose be OK with being a third-string point guard? I’d rather look for shooting — if Frye, Belinelli or Carter joined the Wolves, coach Tom Thibodeau would have more lineup flexibility in the playoffs. 

New Orleans Pelicans

The Pelicans wanted hometown hero Greg Monroe for obvious reasons. Anthony Davis doesn’t want to be a full-time center. Some big guys to keep an eye on here: Willie Reed, Brandan Wright, Bogut, Frye and Marreese Speights.

Odds and ends: If the Lakers wind up waiving Isaiah Thomas (which is apparently not the plan), would he accept a sixth-man role on a contender? Could Brook Lopez change his mind about staying in Los Angeles? Could the Mavericks change their mind about not releasing Nerlens Noel? The Bucks, Wizards and Sixers did nothing at the deadline, but could they get somebody like Johnson or Belinelli to help them fight for playoff positioning? Are the Knicks really going to keep Jarrett Jack after adding Trey Burke and Emmanuel Mudiay? Would the Grizzlies bring Allen back? Does anybody want Shabazz Muhammad

Original Article on CBSSports.com: https://www.cbssports.com/nba/news/nba-buyout-market-9-playoff-contenders-that-could-make-post-trade-deadline-moves/