The NBA trade deadline is approaching, but that’s not the only way contenders can pick up new players. Multiple players will reach buyout agreements with their current teams, then try to join a contender.
Danny Grange and Caron Butler were among the buyouts last season.
A number of teams could really use a boost heading into the final stretch of games and playoffs. The Clippers’ bench is horrible. The Blazers could use a swingman. The Mavericks need at least one backup big man. The Wizards need a scoring boost. The Cavaliers still want a backup point guard. The Heat need a lot of things. And so on.
Check out the top potential buyout targets below.
Stoudemire is the latest name to be linked to a potential buyout, since the Knicks have been struggling so much.
Stoudemire, 32, told Yahoo recently that he’s pondering his future. “It’s not an easy decision to make,” Stoudemire said. “Over time, we will see how things pan out. You give yourself a break during the All-Star break. You think about it with your family. … That will give me a good solid week on how to weigh out the rest of the season.”
The 13-year-veteran said that he’ll discuss the possibility with Knicks president Phil Jackson and general manager Steve Mills soon.
The 6’10” power forward/center has been dealing with injuries this season, but still presents an upgrade for a number of teams. In the 34 games he has played this season, he’s looked relatively fresh and spry, and has scored in double figures multiple times.
Teams looking for an offensive-minded big man off the bench will want to acquire Stoudemire. His defense, though, isn’t so great.
Teams that could use him: Mavericks, Warriors, Blazers, Clippers, Pelicans
Reported frontrunner: Mavericks
Garnett has piqued interest in a number of teams, who value his locker room presence and intensity even as he’s become one of the oldest players in the league.
Problem is, some believe a buyout is unlikely.
“First of all, it’s hard to see Garnett going to the Nets and asking for one. This is a guy who has built his entire career around loyalty, and is famously resistant to the idea of change. Now he’s going to change teams midseason for the first time in his career in the middle of the season? It’s hard to see that happening,” reported the New York Post.
“Then there’s the fact that the Nets need him. Without Mirza Teletovic, who is out for the rest of the season after the discovery of multiple blood clots in his lungs, the Nets only have two power forwards on the roster – Garnett and rookie Cory Jefferson. With the Nets in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff chase, as oxymoronic as that statement may be to some, it wouldn’t make sense for them to let Garnett leave.”
Asked by reporters earlier this month, Garnett wouldn’t say he would ask for a buyout, but also didn’t rule out the possibility.
If Garnett does become available, he brings a unique skill set to the table. He still has an outside shot, although not to the 3-point line. He provides a defensive presence with his height and length. He also can mentor younger players, as he’s done with Mason Plumlee. Garnett’s main skill is rebounding–he’s rebounded 75 percent of the rebounds he was within 3.5 feet of, according to player tracking from the NBA. That’s good for sixth among players that have played at least 15 games.
Teams that could use him: Mavericks, Warriors, Clippers, Raptors, Heat, Rockets
Reported frontrunner: Clippers
Prince is another player who may or may not reach a buyout.
Sources told multiple outlets that Prince and the Celtics were negotiating a buyout soon after the Jeff Green trade went through, but Prince later said it might not happen.
“All options are on the table right now, whether it’s me being here for the rest of the year or it’s a buyout or whatever the case may be,” Prince told the Boston Herald last month.
“But the most important thing is, even though all options are on the table, my job is to be a Boston Celtic at this point in time and help where help is needed. So that’s the main thing, and I can’t have one foot in and one foot out the door right now — even though everything’s on the table. That would be wrong on my behalf. So we’ll see how it plays out.”
Prince, 34, was averaging 7.3 points on 41 percent shooting in Memphis before the trade. His role had been reduced from last season, when he started all 76 games he played.
Prince brings a veteran presence who has won big–he was part of the vaunted Detroit Pistons group that won the NBA championship in 2003-04, made the NBA finals one other time, and made the Eastern Conference Finals three other times. His three-point percentage has dipped but is still above 45 percent for the season, and he can still provide tough defense in limited minutes.
Teams that could use him: Blazers, Heat, Nets, Bucks, Bulls
Reported frontrunner: None
Nelson has had an interesting year, his first ever away from the Orlando Magic. He signed with the Dallas Mavericks and started 23 games for them, but was then dealt to Boston in the surprising Rajon Rondo trade.
After appearing in just six games with the Celtics, he was dealt again, this time to the Nuggets.
Nelson has been coming off the bench behind Ty Lawson with Denver.
Nelson’s name was linked to buyout talks during his short stint with the Celtics, but he has not even been rumored to be pursuing a buyout since joining the Nuggets. Still, Denver is free falling right now having lost five straight and gone 1-9 in their last 10. Nelson, 32, would likely prefer to get back with a contender.
Nelson isn’t very good at defense but can provide a scoring spark off the bench. He was shooting a tidy 37 percent from 3-point range with the Mavs, although his overall percentage of 37.5 percent was pretty bad. He’s also an underrated passer, averaging 4.1 assists in his 25.4 minutes per game in Dallas.
Teams that could use him: Clippers, Heat, Pelicans, Cavaliers, Wizards
Reported frontrunner: None
Robinson has already acquired a buyout from the Celtics after being traded by the Nuggets for Nelson.
Robinson has been linked to a number of teams, although some of those reports were later dispelled. For instance, some said the Wizards had interest in the guard but the Washington Post shot down those rumors.
Robinson, 30, provides a scoring punch off the bench, although he’s struggled with injuries in the last couple years. When healthy, he averaged 10.4 points on 42 percent shooting in 19.7 minutes a game, as well as 2.5 assists. This season, in 33 games, he was averaging 5.8 points on 35 percent shooting, as well as 2.3 assists.
Robinson has been strongly linked to the Clippers and his former coach Doc Rivers.
Depending on how the other free agents sign, such as Will Bynum, Robinson could also find another home.
Teams that could use him: Clippers, Heat
Reported frontrunner: Clippers