With the NBA trade deadline around the corner, executives are working the phones aggressively, trying to hammer out deals that have been discussed for weeks.
Some teams are trying to bolster their rosters for the playoffs, while others are trying to sell off veterans and rebuild for the future.
Below is the latest intel gathered by HoopsHype on some of the top names mentioned on the trade market.
Nets and 76ers: James Harden and Ben Simmons
Brooklyn’s stance remains to keep James Harden and let him and Kevin Durant get healthy alongside a part-time playing Kyrie Irving and chase the championship this season.
“The Nets aren’t trading Harden,” one NBA executive said when speaking with HoopsHype. “He’s staying, and they’ll take their chances in the playoffs. Maybe they’ll look to trade in the summer. They gave up too much to get him and have to see it through this year.”
Leading up to Thursday, Brooklyn is looking to improve the team around its star-studded trio and has received calls on players such as Joe Harris and Nicolas Claxton. Harris’ value on the trade market has been affected by the possibility of a second operation on his ankle. Any team trading for Claxton would be able to have him enter the market as a restricted free agent by extending him a $2.23 million qualifying offer.
Without Harden going to Philadelphia, Ben Simmons is expected to remain with the 76ers. Philadelphia will assuredly circle the wagon on Harden again this summer. Should the 76ers fail to land Harden, other notable free agents like Bradley Beal could be in play, and the trade market will be broader, heading into a new season.
(Colleague Yossi Gozlan and I broke down all the trade scenarios between the Nets and 76ers in a 12-minute segment recently on the HoopsHype podcast).
Cavaliers: Caris LeVert and Collin Sexton
Cleveland got its top trade target for months, Caris LeVert, and reunited him with his former pick-and-roll partner, Jarrett Allen, from their time with the Brooklyn Nets.
LeVert is eligible for an extension with Cleveland after the moratorium and was acquired with the vision of the Cavaliers retaining him long-term.
Before acquiring LeVert, the Cavaliers also inquired about the availability of several guards, including Clippers guard Luke Kennard, league sources told HoopsHype. During a December episode of the HoopsHype podcast, Cavaliers beat writer Chris Fedor also cited LeVert, Joe Harris and Terrence Ross, among other names to watch. Eric Gordon was another trade candidate, but Cleveland was reluctant to part with a first-round pick for a 33-year-old player coming off two injury-riddled seasons.
With the acquisition of LeVert, some executives wondered what it meant for the future of Cavaliers guard Collin Sexton, Cleveland’s eighth overall pick of the 2018 draft.
Sexton, who failed to agree to a long-term extension with Cleveland before the season, is eligible for an $8.56 million qualifying offer that will make him a restricted free agent this summer.
While some teams have called to gauge Sexton’s trade value following his injury, the Cavaliers want to keep him. For Cleveland, a surplus of ball handlers and scoring looking ahead with Darius Garland, LeVert and Sexton isn’t a bad problem to have.
According to our HoopsHype salary cap expert Yossi Gozlan, Cleveland is currently projected to be $21.4 million below the luxury tax going into next season with 12 players. Thus, there’s a chance the Cavaliers retain Sexton and avoid the luxury tax.
Timberwolves: Malik Beasley
According to several rival executives who spoke with HoopsHype, there’s a belief that including a first-round pick in a trade offer could pry Malik Beasley from Minnesota.
Beasley’s name was mentioned as part of a potential package for Celtics guard Marcus Smart, and his salary makes him a prime trade candidate for salary matching purposes.
The Timberwolves own all their upcoming first-round picks but could look to stockpile more in an attempt to trade for Ben Simmons, whom Minnesota has coveted since he became available on the trade market.
When Beasley and his agent Brian Jungreis of Par-Lay Sports and Entertainment negotiated a four-year, $60 million deal with Minnesota, former Timberwolves general manager Gersson Rosas rolled out the red carpet for him as noted in a previous HoopsHype story.
However, Beasley has struggled in a sixth man role averaging 12.3 points on 37.8 percent shooting this season. Previously, he averaged 19.9 points on 44.9 percent shooting from the field and 40.6 percent from three-point range in 51 combined starts for the Timberwolves before this season.
Beasley is owed $32.08 million over the next two seasons, including a team option for the 2023-24 season, as noted on our HoopsHype Timberwolves salary page.
Spurs: Thaddeus Young
Several teams, including the Minnesota Timberwolves and Phoenix Suns have expressed interest in trading for Spurs forward Thaddeus Young, league sources told HoopsHype.
Young, 33, has openly stated that he’d like to play for a contender. He averaged 12.1 points on 55.9 percent shooting with 6.2 rebounds last season before being shifted to a reduced role on a rebuilding Spurs team this season after being acquired via trade.
The Suns and Spurs had previous discussions centered around Jalen Smith, Dario Saric and second-round draft pick compensation for Young, league sources told HoopsHype.
As our HoopsHype salary cap expert, Yossi Gozlan, previously noted on our podcast, any team that trades for Smith can’t re-sign him to a salary next season more than the amount he was supposed to get on his rookie-scale deal. This scenario puts any team who trades for Smith at risk of losing him if another team offers him more than $4.7 million.
The Timberwolves and Spurs had exploratory talks on a trade involving Taurean Prince and a second-round pick for Young, league sources told HoopsHype.
Prince suffered a left ankle sprain on Sunday. Before his injury, Prince averaged 17.5 points on a blistering 68.2 percent from three-point range with 6.8 rebounds in his last four games.
You can follow Michael Scotto on Twitter: @MikeAScotto