In terms of player acquisition, there are a few important dates
in the NBA calendar. The NBA Draft and free-agency period kick off
the new league year, while the trade deadline is a key benchmark
for teams to decide if they are buyers or sellers.
However, there's one more stretch with plenty of player movement
and it always seems to fly under the radar: buyout season.
Every year following the trade deadline, bought-out players are
signed by teams with playoff aspirations. Teams compete in a
pseudo-bidding war for veterans who want a fresh start in a winning
For this upcoming season, there’s potential for the buyout
market to coalesce before the regular season even tips off. With
that being said, let’s dive into the realistic buyout candidates
who could potentially help energize a playoff contender.
What happens next for Love and the Cleveland Cavaliers? They
just drafted Evan Mobley at No. 3 overall to be their new franchise
power forward. Jarrett Allen re-signed on a five-year, $100 million
deal in free agency. Larry Nance Jr. is still around as one of the
best backup bigs in the Association. The opportunities for Love in
Cleveland are rapidly dwindling away. And it seems like this marriage has been on the rocks
for a few years now anyways.
Love’s effort in certain situations has been poor for a team
leader, and he would be wise to maneuver a buyout with the
Cavaliers’ front office during the 2021-22 season.
In the meantime, is Love really going to accept a bench role for
a rebuilding team? (He admitted he'd probably have a reduced role
publicly when he was with Team USA, but what's that look like when
it actually happens?) Also, are the Cavaliers willing to block
much-needed on-court development time for Mobley by putting Love
ahead of him on the depth chart?
The answer to both of these should be no, but the biggest
roadblock is Love’s remaining $60.2 million salary through the end
of the 2022-23 season. Similar to what happened with Blake Griffin
and the Detroit Pistons, a mutually agreed-upon buyout should be
the next move. The question is: when will that occur and how much
money is Love willing to sacrifice — if any — to join a win-now
Recently traded from the Los Angeles Clippers to the Memphis
Grizzlies in the Eric Bledsoe swap alongside Patrick Beverley (who
was re-routed to Minnesota) and Daniel Oturu, Rondo seems destined
for an early-season buyout. He might not even report to camp for
Memphis, just like what happened with Andre Iguodala before he was
traded to Miami.
Currently, the Grizzlies have 18 players on their roster.
Movement needs to occur, and a Rondo buyout is one of the most
logical first steps. Although the 35-year-old would be a great
mentor for ascending star point guard Ja Morant, a disgruntled
Rondo who would rather be on a title contender might not provide
Rondo ending back up with the Los Angeles Lakers, or even
another win-now Finals contender like the Brooklyn Nets or Miami
Heat, seems like the best bet to place at the moment. Rondo and the
Grizzlies are not a perfect match, and it wouldn’t be surprising if
the veteran has already made this clear to Memphis'
Young was involved in the DeMar DeRozan sign-and-trade that sent
him to a rebuilding San Antonio Spurs squad earlier this month.
With the Spurs looking more like a potential tanking team
than realistic playoff contender, Young would be wise to get
out of the Alamo City as soon as possible.
There have already been rumors of the Spurs dangling Young in
trades to contenders like the Phoenix Suns, who are in need of one
more piece to fortify an already strong second unit. Whether it’s
eventually in Phoenix or elsewhere, Young’s leadership, defensive
versatility and all-around offensive game allow him to be a snug
fit on any roster. Honestly, knowing Young’s value, it wouldn’t be
a shock to see San Antonio trade him for a young prospect or a
future pick at some point.
However, if the Spurs decide to keep Young until the middle of
the season — a realistic possibility with San Antonio seemingly
believing that the team can make a playoff push with an extremely
inexperienced roster — he instantly becomes one of the best buyout
options to keep an eye on.
Is Thompson really going to play an entire season with the
Sacramento Kings? I don’t think so. I would imagine Thompson
doesn’t want to either.
The Boston Celtics traded Thompson to the Kings in a three-team
deal that netted them Kris Dunn, Bruno Fernando and a future
second-round pick. Now in Sacramento as the backup to Richaun
Holmes, Thompson is another expiring-contract player who could
change the fortunes of another organization on the buyout market.
Thompson’s strong rebounding ability would help bolster weaker
Looking around the league for potential Thompson destinations
via buyout, a few immediately stand out: the Milwaukee Bucks,
Chicago Bulls, Denver Nuggets, Los Angeles Clippers, Dallas
Mavericks, Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Lakers. As you can
see, a lot of teams that are determined to make a deep playoff run
could use a big like Thompson off their bench.
Thompson won’t be an early-season buyout, but he certainly could
top the list for realistic options when we get towards March.
Favors was salary-dumped to the Oklahoma City Thunder right
after the 2021 NBA Draft so that the Utah Jazz could re-sign Mike
Conley without much consequence in the luxury tax. Now, Favors is
stuck on a Thunder roster that was constructed with sole intention
of tanking for lottery balls. Oklahoma City owns 35 draft picks
over the next five years, so their rebuilding stage is still in its
With two years remaining on his current deal, which includes a
$10.2 million player option for 2022-23, Favors may be wise to play
the Al Horford role as a veteran leader in Oklahoma City. However,
if he would rather forego the money and chase a championship, he
instantly becomes an intriguing buyout candidate down the road.
Like Thompson, Favors’ rebounding and defensive versatility
would be welcome on any contending roster as a reserve big.
Although the buyout market usually doesn’t pick up steam for
another six-plus months, these names are already standing out among
the rest as contenders circle rebuilding teams like vultures,
waiting for the right opportunity to pry away their win-now