The trade deadline may have come and gone, but the buyout market offers teams an opportunity to further shake up their rosters.
Kevin Love is making his way to the Miami Heat. Terrence Ross already debuted for the Phoenix Suns. The Denver Nuggets will add Reggie Jackson to their rotation after the break.
A number of other potential difference-makers remain, though. And that list includes former MVP Russell Westbrook.
He and four others could still be on the move before the March 1 deadline to release players and preserve their playoff eligibility, and they’re ranked below by their ability to impact a playoff rotation.
His 38.7 field-goal percentage is the second-lowest mark of his career, trailing only his rookie campaign, and his 7.7 points represent his lowest average since 2014-15.
He was almost completely out of the rotation in Washington by January. However, he’s only 32 years old and one season removed from a 14.7-point scoring average and a 36.5 three-point percentage for the Denver Nuggets.
Plus, there’s still a hunger throughout the league for wings, especially as we near the playoffs, when lineup versatility becomes even more important.
Any team that signs him probably wouldn’t be looking for double-digit scoring, but as a fourth or fifth wing in the rotation, he can be an upgrade for a handful of teams headed to the postseason.
Derrick Rose hasn’t appeared in a game with the New York Knicks since New Year’s Eve, and the New York Daily News‘ Stefan Bondy wrote of the former MVP point guard: “… a source close to the situation wouldn’t totally dismiss a buyout after the dust settled on the new rosters after a crazy trade deadline.”
Given the fact that Rose has fallen entirely out of the rotation and injuries limited him to 26 appearances in 2021-22 (and an average of just 44 over the four seasons prior to that), it may be hard to imagine him being helpful to a contender this season.
But Rose was tied for 33rd
And perhaps all the time on the bench this season could have something of a refreshing effect like the one Al Horford experienced in 2020-21, when the Oklahoma City Thunder simply sent him home midseason.
If Rose has his legs under him and doesn’t need to go through the grind of an entire 82-game campaign, he could have some moments in 10-15 minutes off the bench.
L.A. was 2-10 in the first 12 games of the season, and Beverley averaged 4.9 points while shooting 28.6 percent from the field and 26.7 percent from three during those contests.
He never really cleared himself from the stench of those first few weeks. And despite averaging 7.9 points, 2.7 assists and 1.6 threes while shooting 42.6 percent from deep over his last 25 appearances, he now finds himself on the buyout market after a trade to the Orlando Magic.
For teams with ball-dominant wings or forwards, that second version of Beverley is one that can still help a playoff contender.
Beverley doesn’t need to handle the ball much. On offense, he’s seemingly happy to simply space the floor, take open catch-and-shoot threes and occasionally start a set play. And even with that limited role, he’ll always play hard on defense.
At 34 years old, he may have been overtaxed as a starter for a fringe playoff team, but he could thrive as a ninth or 10th man.
John Wall was shooting 40.8 percent from the field and 30.3 percent from three and averaging what would be a career-low 11.4 points for the Los Angeles Clippers, but he still had moments when he looked like some version of his old self.
No, he can’t blow by the majority of perimeter defenders the way he once did, but Wall’s first step is still quick enough to gain an advantage against plenty of backup guards. And while that might not lead to a ton of his own points, he can still be a table-setter for second units.
On the season, Wall’s 8.7 assists per 75 possessions rank 10th in the league. A team that already has a solid backup 5 in need of some setups could use Wall in a limited role.
Russell Westbrook was often the scapegoat for the Los Angeles Lakers’ issues over the last two seasons, but he didn’t ask to be traded to a situation that made no sense for him or the incumbent stars. And he didn’t build the roster that exacerbated the fit-related issues between him, LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
What he did do was eventually accept a bench role and continue to play with the relentless energy that helped him make the NBA’s 75th Anniversary Team.
And while his shooting percentages will be an issue wherever he goes, raw averages of 17.4 points, 7.2 assists and 6.9 rebounds over the last two seasons suggest he can still produce.
In the right (very specific) capacity, those numbers and Westbrook’s competitiveness could be leveraged toward winning minutes.
On a team with plenty of shooters, Westbrook’s ability to get to the paint and spray out to catch-and-shoot options could be dangerous, especially against second units.