Buyout Candidates: The Top Available Players to Watch – Basketball Insiders

After the NBA trade deadline passes by, there is still a way for teams to tweak their rosters ahead of the postseason. The buyout market has always been a place where contending teams can find valuable help at a minimal price. That will be the case once again this year as teams try to recruit veteran players that are of little help to their current teams.

Buyout Candidates: The Top Available Players to Watch

Players trying to negotiate a buyout have about two weeks to do so. They will need to be on a roster by the March 1 deadline in order to be eligible for playoff teams. Many people view the buyout market as false hope. While these players may not alter the playoff landscape, they can make a significant impact in a seven-game series.

One team that has already been linked to the buyout market is the Lakers. After not being able to find a dead before the trade deadline, they will now have to look at this market in an effort to address their roster. The question is, will any of these candidates want to join the sub-.500 Lakers that might not even make the playoffs?

These veteran players are looking for their best opportunity to win a championship, and that will not likely come in Los Angeles this year. These are the top buyout candidates to monitor.

Goran Dragic, $19.4 million

At the top of the list, this year sits Dragic, who has played just five games this season after being traded from Miami to Toronto last summer. The Mavericks are considered the frontrunners to land the veteran point guard, who played on the Slovenian national team with Luka Doncic. Dallas just traded for Spencer Dinwiddie though, and already has Jalen Brunson who has been sensational this season.

Dragic played for the Heat during the 2020 playoffs, but a foot injury kept him from playing in the Finals. The 35-year old teams will offer a valuable playmaker at the guard position. He is a solid three-point shooter and would be a great distributor off the bench. Other interested teams would include the Bucks, Nuggets, Jazz, Bulls, Clippers, and Heat.

Robin Lopez, $5 million

Orlando continues to build their young team and Lopez is one of many veterans there that could be on their way out of town. Mo Bamba and Wendell Carter Jr have made Lopez expendable with their solid progress this season. Gary Harris and Terrence Ross are two other Magic players to watch but it is Lopez that could be the most impactful. Several teams will be looking for size, as they try to find ways to defend stars like Giannis Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid, Nikola Jokic, and Rudy Gobert.

This is the same problem that Phoenix ran into last year during the Finals, trying to defend the Greek Freak. They have since gone out of their way to sign both JaVale McGee and Bismack Biyombo. While Lopez doesn’t have an area where he jumps out in terms of statistics, he does have the size and the ability to defend these guys. He could be a major addition for teams such as the Heat, Bulls, Warriors, Mavericks, and Clippers.

Dennis Schroder, $5.9 million

Houston may not be able to reach a buyout with John Wall, but they have another point guard that would be much easier to come to terms with. After turning down a four-year deal from the Lakers worth up to $84 million, the 28-year old signed a one-year deal with Boston for just $5.9 million. The Rockets are rebuilding with Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr, so there isn’t much use for Schroder on this team.

The point guard market is deep, but Schroder is clearly better than guys like Eric Bledsoe, Michael Carter-Williams, DJ Augustin, and Corey Joseph. Teams that are looking for creators and solid perimeter defenders will have Schroder at the top of their lists. Some of those would include Cleveland, Toronto, Utah, Denver, and both teams in Los Angeles.

Thaddeus Young, $14.2 million

Early in the season, it looked as though Young would be one of the most sought-after trade candidates, but then he fell out of the rotation in San Antonio. The Spurs eventually traded the versatile forward to Toronto in the deal for Dragic, but it remains to be seen if he will have a spot in the rotation with the Raptors. He may not possess the shooting ability that most teams would like, but he could play a role similar to what Stanley Johnson has done with the Lakers. If Toronto is open to a buyout, he could be a key target for many teams.

Young is a valuable asset because of his defense, and more specifically his ability to defend multiple positions. He is an underrated passer and works hard on the glass. He could be a major help to several teams just by being able to guard the likes of Antetokounmpo, Kevin Durant, LeBron James, DeMar DeRozan, and Jimmy Butler. Interested teams would include the Suns, Warriors, Grizzlies, Jazz, Bulls, 76ers, and Cavaliers.

DeAndre’ Bembry, Free Agent

One player that is already available is Bembry, after being waived by the Nets following their blockbuster trade on Thursday. The 27-year-old played well in his role during his 48-game stint with Brooklyn. He is shooting 42 percent from deep this season and moves well without the ball. Bembry is a two-way player that could provide great value to a team needing help on the perimeter. A team could actually claim him off waivers before he becomes a free agent.

Over the course of his career, Bembry has guarded some of the league’s best offensive players. This season, in particular, he has been a menace on the defensive end, acting as a swiss army knife in his role. There should be plenty of suitors for his services, as he could fit into any system. Keep an eye on Milwaukee, Atlanta, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Memphis, Utah, Dallas, Denver, and the Los Angeles Lakers.

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