NBA Trade Deadline: 4 Buyout Candidates Who Can Help Contenders

Numerous NBA teams will hope to acquire veteran players ahead of the February deadline. For other squads strapped for cash and lacking trade assets, the focus should quickly shift to the buyout market.

Hosts of aging vets typically get bought out at or shortly after the deadline. Here are five players who could help contenders, including New York Knicks guard Kemba Walker.

F Thaddeus Young, San Antonio Spurs

The San Antonio Spurs‘ curious handling of Thaddeus Young suggests he might get bought out rather than traded. Granted, the Spurs will deal the veteran forward if they get an offer they deem suitable. But it’s hard to imagine San Antonio getting great offers considering he’s hardly seen the floor.

Young has appeared in just 23 games this season and registered numerous DNP-coach’s decision designations. The Spurs are trying to build for the future and give minutes to lesser experienced players, but one would imagine they’d at least give Young some run to boost his value ahead of the February deadline.

In any event, the 33-year-old has the skill set to help a number of frontcourt units. Young is a strong rebounder who gets after it on the offensive glass. He racks up screen assists and is a willing passer when setting rubs or orchestrating dribble-handoff actions.

Indeed, Young is averaging 6.1 assists per 36 minutes this season. His playmaking and rebounding should appeal to several teams. He also creates offensive opportunities sometimes by barreling to the rim and collecting his misses.

The Phoenix Suns are among the teams that might show interest in Young, both ahead of the NBA trade deadline and in the buyout market.

G Goran Dragic, Toronto Raptors

Goran Dragic is guaranteed to attract attention as a hot commodity in the buyout market sometime around the NBA trade deadline.

Dragic went to the Toronto Raptors in the sing-and-trade deal that sent Kyle Lowry to the Miami Heat. He appeared to want a trade to an established contender, with countryman Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks looking like one of the best options. However, the Raptors refused to engage in trade talks.

All signs still point to a separation. Dragic has not played since Nov. 13, with Toronto announcing at the end of November that the veteran point guard would spend time away from the team to deal with a personal matter. The veteran point guard is on a fairly sizable contract, so he is unlikely to get traded.

A buyout is the most probable scenario, and teams are sure to come calling. Dragic offers strong bench scoring and floor-spacing from the point guard spot and has quite a bit of craftiness when he gets into the painted area.

After such a long layoff, the 35-year-old could need time to build up his strength and conditioning. Still, Dragic can soak up minutes for some teams, with the Mavs being one of those organizations.

G Kemba Walker, New York Knicks

Kemba Walker had that fun little stretch around Christmastime after being reinserted in the New York Knicks’ starting lineup. But he is still unlikely to stick in the Big Apple much longer.

Walker is currently sidelined with a knee injury that has cost him the last six games. Knee soreness has plagued Cardiac Kemba in the past few years, and New York might prefer to open up a roster spot for a more dependable backcourt. The eventual return of Derrick Rose could ultimately result in the Knicks buying Walker out and clearing some cap space.

At his best, Walker remains a strong shot-creator and playmaker who can create off the dribble. He’s also capable of filling space away from the ball and making himself available as a catch-and-shoot option.

New York probably won’t find a suitable trade for Walke. If the Knicks still move on, expect him to make his way to a championship-ready team.

F Torrey Craig, Indiana Pacers

Indiana Pacers forward Torrey Craig isn’t the sexiest name out there, but his versatility, rebounding, floor-spacing, and affordability should make him attractive to multiple contenders. If the Pacers cannot package Craig in a deal ahead of the NBA trade deadline, he’ll almost certainly get snatched up in the buyout market.

Craig is averaging 12.6 points and 7.4 rebounds per 36 minutes this season. His 3-point numbers have taken a dip, but he shot 36.8% from deep during the 2020-21 campaign, so he’s more than capable of knocking down the open jumper.

Rebounding and defense really define Craig’s value. He exhibits a tireless work ethic on the offensive boards, racking up 2.6 per 36 minutes. That’s impressive for a wing player. While Craig’s on-off splits seem to suggest he’s a minus defensively, his efforts on Chicago Bulls star and MVP candidate DeMar DeRozan on New Year’s Eve (DeRozan shot 8-of-24 from the field) indicate the value he offers on that end.

Craig could find his way to a contender in a trade. Otherwise, Indiana will likely buy him out and allow him to sign with a team of his choosing.

Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.

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