This 2020-21 NBA season has proven to be one of the strangest we have ever seen in the sport. Amidst a worldwide pandemic, the league chose to forgo it’s recent “NBA Bubble” experience and operate with teams traveling to cities across the country, similar to the NFL and MLB’s protocols.
As a result, with players regularly missing games due to virus contact tracing or having COVID-19 for extended periods of time, this has put an added emphasis on general managers around the league to build team rosters that have deep rotations to counteract this problem.
With the NBA’s trade deadline of March 25th fast approaching, we here at Clarity Stripe will be reporting the latest in team transactions, free agency signings, contract buyouts, and rumors league-wide.
List of Notable Transactions
3/13/21 – Oklahoma City Thunder trade Hamidou Diallo to the Detroit Pistons for Svi Mykhailiuk
3/10/21 – Utah Jazz sign forward Ersan Ilyasova for the rest of the season
3/7/20 – Blake Griffin has signed with the Brooklyn Nets
3/5/20 – Blake Griffin and the Pistons agree to a contract buyout
Reports and Rumors
3/12/21 – PJ Tucker leaves Houston Rockets indefinitely, impending trade or contract buyout
After weeks of trade rumors and openly expressed frustration, PJ Tucker has left the Houston Rockets indefinitely; deciding not to play Thursday night against the Kings, and is not expected to return to the team. Regarding Tucker’s status, Houston Rockets head coach Stephen Silas announced the following, “We’re going to try to figure out something that works for him and works for us as far as him not being on the team anymore” – per ESPN’s Tim MacMahon.
Stephen Silas on PJ Tucker: “We’re going to try to figure out something that works for him and works for us as far as him not being on the team anymore. I was under the assumption that he was going to play tonight and he didn’t play. That was disappointing.”
— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) March 12, 2021
Also worth mentioning, Stephen Silas mentioned that Tucker’s decision came to him at a surprise. Silas said in another statement that “He decided that he was just not really with it, and we decided that that’s a good idea. Let’s move on.” PJ Tucker now joins Andre Drummond and LaMarcus Aldridge as players away from their teams while the front offices determine the next steps.
3/12/21 – OKC trades Hamidou Diallo to the Pistons for Svi Mykhailiuk and a 2027 second-round pick
The Thunder and the Pistons have agreed to a perfect contract swap in trading Hamidou Diallo for Svi Mykhailiuk. Each player is making $1,663,861 this year, and are both entering restricted free agency this offseason. This marks the Pistons third mid-season transaction, following the trade of Derrick Rose to the Knicks, and the contract buyout of Blake Griffin just last week. Meanwhile, Thunder GM Sam Presti has now added yet another future pick to his overwhelming arsenal of draft capital.
Sam Presti and his plethora of draft picks: pic.twitter.com/O44a5xmLsN
— Esfandiar | Darth Es (@JustEsBaraheni) March 13, 2021
Diallo, the 2019 slam dunk contest champion, has been performing well for the Thunder this season, averaging career bests with 11.9 ppg, and 5.4 rpg. Meanwhile, Mykhailiuk has been in the midst of a bad shooting slump, hitting just 37.7% overall, and 33.3% from three point range.
3/10/21 – LaMarcus Aldridge and the Spurs have “mutually agreed” to part ways
Much to everyone’s surprise, in the first NBA pre-game interview following the All Star break, Spurs head coach Greg Popovich announced that LaMarcus Aldridge and the team have “mutually agreed” to part ways. Popovich explained, “He’s done everything we’ve asked. At this point, we’d just like to do something that will work for him as much for our club, because he deserves that”, per ESPN’s Tim MacMahon.
Spurs are working on trade scenarios with LaMarcus Aldridge and have been engaged on several fronts, sources tell ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) March 11, 2021
Rumors of LaMarcus Aldridge and Demar Derozan’s departure from the Spurs have been rumbling for months now, but this announcement is still surprising, given that San Antonio is currently sitting at the seventh seed in the West with a 19-16 record. As the Spurs approach a 2021 offseason with a projected $50M+ in cap space and a young roster, it was never expected for Aldridge and San Antonio to negotiate a contract extension.
Aldridge’s contract will be difficult for the Spurs to move via trade. The 35-year-old Center is on an expiring $24M deal, averaging a career low in rebounds this season (4.5 rpg), as well as his worst points per game average since his 2006-2007 rookie season (13.7). Despite his contract and performance woes, he’s still garnered interest from several teams, including the Heat, Celtics, and Trail Blazers.
3/7/20 – Blake Griffin signing with the Brooklyn Nets
After agreeing to a buyout of his remaining $56.5M salary with the Pistons just two days ago, Blake Griffin is now headed to Brooklyn on a one-year, veteran minimum exception. Griffin is expected to be a “small-ball center option off the bench” for the Nets, who are currently sitting at 2nd in the Eastern Conference, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Free agent forward Blake Griffin has agreed to a deal with the Brooklyn Nets for the rest of the season, his agent Sam Goldfeder of @excelbasketball tells ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) March 8, 2021
The signing adds some much needed depth for Brooklyn at the power forward slot, especially in games without Kevin Durant. The MVP forward has played just 19 of the Nets 37 games this season, having now been out since February 13th. Amidst his absence, the team has relied on secondary power forward options in veteran Jeff Green and stretch-guard Timothe Luwawu-Cabarro. But with these players battling injury in recent weeks, it has left the Nets running heavily small-ball lineups.
The addition of Blake Griffin allows head coach Steve Nash more flexibility for taller opponent lineups like the Clippers and the 76ers, as well as higher efficiency for a James Harden-led second unit.
3/5/21 – Blake Griffin has agreed to a contract buyout with the Detroit Pistons
According to ESPN’s Bobby Marks, Griffin gave back $13.3 million in his contract to get the deal done. This leaves Detroit with a $32.7M cap hit for this season, and a $29.8M cap hit for 2021-2022; which the Pistons have elected to not use a stretch provision on.
Cap hit on the Griffin buyout in Detroit:
No stretch provision for the Pistons for next year which is the smart play.
— Bobby Marks (@BobbyMarks42) March 5, 2021
Griffin hasn’t played since Feb 12th, as he was held out of the lineup indefinitely while the Pistons worked toward a potential trade or contract buyout. Finding a trade was nearly impossible, as the six-time All Star was owed a remaining $36.6 million on his contract this season, as well as $39 million for his 2021-22 option.
Prior to his benching last month, Griffin was averaging a career low 12.3 ppg this season, as well as 5.2 rpg and 3.9 apg. Following a string of knee injuries that forced him to miss a bulk of last season, many fans and analysts were calling for him to begin coming off the bench. Despite his struggles, Griffin has already spurred interest from multiple championship contending teams, including Los Angeles Lakers and the Clippers, with the Brooklyn Nets reportedly as leaders to sign him.
3/5/21 – Andre Drummond receiving trade interest from the Bulls and Knicks
With the team sitting near the bottom of the Eastern Conference yet again, at 14-22, the Cavaliers appear to be receiving trade calls regarding multiple players, including Andre Drummond.
Drummond has been out of the lineup indefinitely since Feb 12th, as Cleveland explores his potential trade or buyout options. The Bulls have reportedly explored trade options to acquire him, as well as the Knicks, Celtics, Trail Blazers, and Clippers over the past month. The Knicks, however, are viewed as frontrunners, according to Sam Amico,
Ever since Cleveland obtained Jarrett Allen via trade in mid-January, Drummond’s team status has been in question ever since. He and the Cavaliers were reportedly far apart in contract extension negotiations heading into this final year of his contract, making him a likely trade option this year. Now with Jarrett Allen thriving at the center position, (leading the league in field goal percentage, and among the Top 15 in rebounds per game), Cavs GM Koby Altman has all the more reason to explore the market on the former Detroit bigman.
3/4/21 – PJ Tucker drawing interest from playoff contenders, including the Lakers and Nets
The 35-year-old Forward for the Houston Rockets is reportedly on the trade radar of the Nets, Bucks, Heat, Nuggets, and Lakers, per Shams Charania of The Athletic.
Tucker has been in Houston since 2017 and has thrived as a defensive swiss-army knife for the team. Many remember his pivotal role in guarding Anthony Davis during the Western Conference Semifinals of the recent 2020 NBA bubble.
— DStv Senegal (@DStvSn) September 5, 2020
Tucker has been struggling this season, averaging career lows with just 4.4 ppg. and a poor 31% from the three. However, those numbers aren’t stopping championship level teams from exploring the market for the 15-year veteran. He’s currently in the final year of his four-year, $32 million contract. Shams Charania reports that the Rockets are seeking a young player in return for their veteran, as Houston sits at 14th in the Western Conference, with a 11-23 record.