This year’s NBA trade deadline was an exciting one, as several players swapped zip codes with another. Likewise, the buyout market generated much interest compared to previous years with veteran big men LaMarcus Aldridge and Andre Drummond moving to the Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Lakers, respectively.
As a reminder, a buyout is a mutual decision between a player and a team to separate ways from another. The former gives up a portion of his guaranteed salary and is then let go by the team and given permission to join another franchise as a free agent.
Buyout candidates are veterans with relatively high salaries, players with no role in the team, or those who were thrown into a deal to match salaries. Usually, said candidates are on expiring contracts.
NBA’s buyout candidate deadline is April 9
Despite these moves, there are still several players who could be bought out, but teams need to make their decision soon as the deadline is fast approaching. Below are the best buyout candidates.
4. Cory Joseph, PG, Detroit Pistons
Joseph is a solid, rotational guard, who will provide starters with much-needed rest in this season with numerous back-to-back games. In 47 games this season, he’s averaged 6.9 points, 2.4 boards, and 2.4 assists per contest. He is a below-average outside shooter and a capable defender. Joseph was a part of the 2013-2014 San Antonio Spurs team that won the championship.
He was recently traded from a Sacramento Kings squad vying to make the Play-In Tournament to a rebuilding Detroit Pistons team. Detroit is prioritizing the development of its young guards, like Dennis Smith, Jr. and Saben Lee.
3. Hassan Whiteside, C, Sacramento Kings
Whiteside had a strong 2019-2020 campaign for the Portland Trail Blazers, wherein he put up 15.5 points, 13.5 rebounds, and an impressive 2.9 blocks per game. One would think that with those numbers that he would be a highly sought-after free agent, but he received little to no interest in the market and signed a veteran’s minimum contract with the Kings. His playing time in Sacramento was cut nearly in half and with it his production.
Whiteside is the prime example of the need to look at context when evaluating a player’s stats. Take for example his high block totals with the Blazers. Many of those blocks came at the expense of bad positioning since he was chasing after the block instead of sticking to fundamental defense. He is limited in offense, and worse does not have a good passing ability, which can make possessions stagnant.
Nonetheless, a team in desperate need of size and depth at the frontcourt can consider Whiteside. If he plays within the team’s system, he can be one of the best budget moves this season.
2. Otto Porter, Jr. SF, Orlando Magic
Similar to the Pistons, Porter was traded to a team that is undergoing a full rebuild. Porter may take minutes away from young prospects like R.J. Hampton. A buyout would be good for Porter because if he can show solid play with a contender this will raise his value just in time for a new contract.
Porter is a well-rounded player and plays one of the most vital roles in today’s NBA, the 3-and-D wing. At 6’8, 198 pounds, he has enough size and agility to switch on to different kinds of players. His scoring has been consistently going down, but he is still firing with a 39% clip from distance on 3.8 attempts this season.
He contributes in other facets of the game like fighting for rebounds and rarely turns the ball over. Porter may not be the missing piece to a contender’s puzzle, but he certainly would be an upgrade for most teams.
The big question mark for Porter is his health, evidenced by the several missed games this season, due to a back injury.
1. Kelly Olynyk, PF/C, Houston Rockets
Olynyk was essentially a salary filler in the deal that brought Victor Oladipo to the Miami Heat. Like the other teams on this list, the Houston Rockets are in rebuild mode, which started the moment James Harden left.
Houston has interesting frontcourt prospects in Christian Wood, who is in the running for Most Improved Player, Jae-Sean Tate, and Kenyon Martin, Jr., so playing Olynyk will come at these players’ expense.
Olynyk is no stranger to postseason basketball as he has been a key cog in the Boston Celtics and Heat teams in the past. While he is not a great defender he certainly plays with a lot of effort and has good size for the position.
More importantly, he is a good outside shooter, although he was struggling in this area for most of the season. Looking at the bulk of his career, he should find his form soon enough, and that is what it looks like in his two games so far in Houston.