With the trade deadline over, and many teams still hungry to improve, NBA buyout season is officially in full swing. There are already big names that have been officially bought out, such as Andre Drummond and LaMarcus Aldridge, but there will be plenty more to follow after a record deadline day.
NBA Buyout Season – Top Options and Best Fits
Official Buyouts and Their Best Fits
The Cleveland Cavaliers went the buyout option with Drummond instead of trading him off for assets, which is questionable, but something that appeases most contenders.
Drummond hasn’t played since February, indicating his departure for over a month. Now that it’s official, his two best landing spots are the Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers. That’s right, it’ll be a crosstown rivalry for him.
The allure of the Lakers is clear – they’re the reigning champions and have LeBron James and Anthony Davis. With the star duo sidelined and struggling with injury, it’s clear they need frontcourt help. Marc Gasol fits in well as a starter next to Davis, but Drummond can come off the bench to dominate the boards. He’s clearly a better option than both the undersized Montrezl Harrell and Markieff Morris to man the five. The Lakers will give him a chance to prove his worth before he hits free agency again as well as a chance to contend for a championship.
The Clippers also offer a championship run as well as a star duo in Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. Their frontcourt has more options than the Lakers, however. Marcus Morris and Nicolas Batum man the four, while Serge Ibaka and Ivica Zubac are a great pair to have at the five. Drummond will find his way into this rotation, but likely won’t see as much floor time as he would with the Lakers.
Like the Cavaliers, the San Antonio Spurs failed to trade Aldridge and decided to buy him out. The veteran big man has clearly declined, but still offers a winning mentality as well as the ability to score in the post and behind the three-point line. His two best landing spots are the Miami Heat and the Portland Trail Blazers.
Miami was the biggest winner on deadline day, and will only become better with Aldridge. Their power forward depth is relatively weak – with Nemanja Bjelica and possibly unnatural fours like Andre Iguodala and Trevor Ariza. Aldridge can offer what Kelly Olynyk brought, and then some. His defensive and rebounding deficiencies will be masked by Bam Adebayo. If Aldridge chooses the Heat, he’ll likely be a starter on a team capable of making it back to the Finals.
Portland would be a homecoming for Aldridge, where he started his career and enjoyed some fantastic years. This Portland team, however, may be better than the ones he played for in the past, especially if he returns. Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, and Norman Powell are a terrifying scoring trio, Robert Covington is a defensive stud, and Jusuf Nurkic and Enes Kanter form a strong center pair.
Aldridge would come off the bench behind Covington in this situation. With that being said, he’ll be on the floor plenty of times with another successful veteran in Carmelo Anthony. Led by a legitimate superstar in Lillard, Aldridge can help transform the Trail Blazers into more than a darkhorse contender.
Potential Buyouts and Their Best Fits
Otto Porter was shipped to the Orlando Magic from the Chicago Bulls. Deadline day made it clear that the Magic are shifting into rebuild mode, making Porter and his hefty contract expendable. The often-injured forward has struggled lately, but ideally would want to move to a place where he can showcase his skills before hitting free agency this offseason. If bought out, the two best fits for him are the Milwaukee Bucks and Dallas Mavericks.
Milwaukee’s allure is simple – playing for a championship and alongside Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Bucks will also certainly look into the buyout market with the Heat getting stronger as well as the Philadelphia 76ers and Brooklyn Nets making recent moves. Milwaukee added PJ Tucker, who will help with postseason defense, but adding shooting and scoring will always be considered. Porter could slot in as a backup to Khris Middleton. He’ll definitely provide more than Pat Connaughton.
The Mavericks will always be looking for more offense to complement Luka Doncic. This deadline was no exception, as they added J.J. Redick. After trading James Johnson and Wesley Iwundu, however, Dallas is loaded with shooting guards and short on small forwards. It’s unlikely that rookie Tyler Bey becomes a mainstay in the rotation behind Dorian Finney-Smith, so Porter fits in well. He’ll find himself again in this offense and have plenty of open looks alongside Doncic. Playing in Dallas may be a smart move for Porter if he wants to increase his value for this offseason.
The Houston Rockets acquired Avery Bradley from the Heat. With Houston going into a full rebuild for this upcoming draft, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Bradley is bought out. He hasn’t played since February, but teams know he offers strong perimeter defense and outside shooting. His two best fits are the Phoenix Suns and the Washington Wizards.
Phoenix is a legitimate championship contender. They could, however, improve their guard depth behind Chris Paul and Devin Booker. Cameron Payne is playing well, but Bradley is a better option than the likes of Langston Galloway and Jevon Carter. The Suns also recently acquired Torrey Craig, but he can also play the three. Phoneix was always talented, but the tide shifted when they added veterans. Bradley, of course, fits in this mold. He can play excellent defense alongside Paul or be a very solid backup for Booker.
Washington isn’t considered a contender, and isn’t exactly in the thick of things in the playoff race, but have improved massively this season. This comes behind the backs of Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook. More veteran help behind them can push them into a play-in spot in the Eastern Conference. This move will be more about a challenge for Bradley, as well as showing his worth for another future contract. It’s a decent option to consider.
Hassan Whiteside has received plenty of DNP-CDs this season and playing for a team likely to miss the playoffs. The Sacramento Kings may be best suited to buy him out and allow Richaun Holmes to flourish. Whiteside is now best as a bench option, but will always provide strong rebounding and rim protection. His best fits are the Nets and the Lakers.
Brooklyn has the most star-studded roster in the league. Current superstars like Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving do the bulk of the work, while role players like Joe Harris, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan make the rich richer. Whiteside will do the same, as Brooklyn has needed frontcourt help since trading Jarrett Allen. Five years ago, Jordan and Whiteside were the two best rebounders in the league. Both have declined, but having a rotation of the two will be fine for Brooklyn with their other stars handling the duties on offense.
The Lakers will surely prioritize Drummond, but Whiteside is a decent second option if he’s bought out. Simply put, the Lakers need him for the same reasons they need Drummond. Rebounding and rim protection is always a plus, especially come playoff time.
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