As the dust settles following another manic trade deadline, many NBA contenders find their rosters incomplete. The Cavaliers are still without the additional playmakerLeBron James covets, and the Rockets still hope to add a much-needed presence at the rim.
But there’s still time for these title contenders to bolster their depth before the playoffs. Here are the top buyout candidates with a chance to alter the championship picture.
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Andrew Bogut, C, Philadelphia 76ers
Less than a year removed from appearing in the Finals for Golden State, Bogut’s 2016–17 campaign has been underwhelming to say the least. The former No. 1 overall pick is last among qualified players in points per 36 minutes and looks likely to be bought out by Philadelphia after being traded by the Mavericks on Thursday.
But don’t discard Bogut’s value throughout the league. He is sure to draw interest from contenders hoping to add a rim protector, including the Spurs and aforementioned Rockets. One team Bogut won’t join: the Warriors. Bogut can’t reunite with his old team due to the Zydrunas Ilgauskas rule, which forbids teams from signing a player it traded or released within one year.
Sullinger had been held out of the lineup for most of the season while recovering from foot surgery before being shipped across the border to Phoenix on Thursday. And while he brings little value to the tanking Suns, he can still provide added frontcourt depth to a bevy of playoff hopefuls. Teams on the bubble like Charlotte and Miami could benefit from Sully’s services.
Rajon Rondo, PG, Chicago Bulls
With the Bulls acquiring young point guard Cameron Payne from Oklahoma City on Thursday, Rondo’s days in Chicago may be numbered. The veteran has been a lightning rod for controversy this season, feuding with star players Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler as well as Bulls management.
Chicago opted against dealing Butler at the deadline, but still sits a game under .500. And in a year filled with disappointment in the Windy City, it may be best for the Bulls to cut bait with Rondo before season’s end.
Jones looked to be on his way out of New Orleans as soon as the DeMarcus Cousins trade went down over All-Star Weekend. And after half a season in which he averaged 11.5 points per game, Jones can fill a meaningful role for numerous teams.
Eastern Conference challengers like Washington and Boston could both use Jones in their attempts to dethrone the Cavs. The Wizards are in desperate need of production off the bench, while the Celtics desire additional rebounding help. Boston currently ranks No. 26 in the league in rebound differential.
Deron Williams, PG, Dallas Mavericks
The three-time All Star was the odd man out in Dallas’s crowded backcourt, ceding his job to the likes of Yogi Ferrell, Seth Curry, JJ Barea and Devin Harris. But the veteran point guard can still contribute to a variety of teams looking to improve their roster.
Cleveland seems to be the most obvious landing spot for Williams, who could thrive as a backup point guard surrounded by the Cavs’ surplus of shooters. After 13 seasons in the league—and eight years of playoff experience—Williams is a prime candidate to chase a ring alongside LeBron James come June.