The NBA buyout market has gained a lot of attention in the past decade usually because it’s a big name or at least well-recognized name that becomes a free agent midseason, usually after the trade deadline.
But how often does a buyout player change a team?
It sounds good in theory but the impact rarely matches the hype. You have to remember a team usually isn’t getting the player in his prime. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t have something to offer in the right situation with the right team.
The Brooklyn Nets recently signed Blake Griffin in the buyout market, and the remainder of the season will determine how he helped the Nets.
Andre Drummond (3) could provide a jolt for teams needing a traditional big man. Drummond averaged 17.5 points, 13.5 rebounds and 1.2 blocks before the Cavaliers benched him on Feb. 12 as they sought a trade. (Photo: The Associated Press)
Let’s take a look at buyout candidates who could help a playoff team:
Aldridge reached a buyout deal with San Antonio and once he clears waivers on Saturday, he will be a free agent. Even though Aldridge was no longer part of the Spurs’ plans, he averaged 13.7 points and 4.5 rebounds in 25.9 minutes per game. There was talk at one time about Aldridge rejoining Portland, but the Trail Blazers are set in the frontcourt and timing isn’t right. Boston and Miami are in need of bigs, and the Heat probably can offer the better opportunity with a better team.
Cleveland hasn’t played Drummond since Feb. 12 as it tried to find a trade for the veteran big man. The trade deadline passed without a deal so the Cavs will look to reach a buyout agreement. In 25 games with Cleveland this season, Drummond averaged 17.5 points, 13.5 rebounds, 1.6 steals and 1.2 blocks. For a team looking for a traditional center, Drummond is the answer. The Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets are strong possibilities. The Nets lost frontcourt depth when they traded Jarrett Allen in the James Harden deal, and the Lakers need help inside after losing JaVale McGee and Dwight Howard in the offseason. Drummond doesn’t have to play big minutes, but he can help.
Orlando acquired Teague in the trade that sent Evan Fournier to Boston, and the Magic said they don’t plan to keep Teague on the roster. It didn’t work out with Boston for Teague, who signed with the Celtics in free agency. There aren’t a lot of great options for Teague given the depth at guard some of the contenders have. But a team looking for spot help in the backcourt could give Teague a try.
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Whiteside receives about 15 minutes per game with Sacramento but he can still rebound and block shots. If he is bought out by the Kings, one of the teams looking for interior help and didn't get their top target could go after Whiteside.
Oklahoma City acquired Rivers in a deal with New York. Normally, Thunder executive vice president and general manager Sam Presti isn’t keen on buying out players, but Rivers is on a team friendly contract that is non-guaranteed after this season. A team (perhaps Milwaukee, Indiana, Dallas, Denver) looking for shooting and backcourt depth could find a role for Rivers.
Ellington would be a strong addition for the aforementioned teams looking for shooting, especially Denver and Milwaukee. The Detroit Free Press’ Omari Sankofa II said the Piston don’t plan on buying out Ellington but things could change, especially since Ellington has a team friendly contract and it wouldn’t cost the Pistons much to buyout Ellington, who is shooting 43.1% on 3-pointers this season.
Miami traded Olynyk to Houston in the Victor Oladipo deal, and he is in the final year of his contract headed for free agency after the season. Olynyk is not part of Houston’s plans. But with about $6 million left on his contract, is Houston willing to spend money in a buyout? There’s no doubt a team, such as Boston where Olynyk used to play, could use his services. He was a valuable rotation player for the Heat.
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