When the NBA offseason began, there were questions about how teams would navigate the first and second tax aprons that carry new penalties and roster implications. Virtually every team has evaluated their financial situation and made moves accordingly, yet the NBA trade market remains stagnant. Other than a couple of moves, most of the trades made so far were agreed to on draft night or in free agency via sign-and-trades.

While many stars like Lauri Markkanen, Brandon Ingram, and others have come up in trade rumors, Mikal Bridges and Dejounte Murray have been the only notable players dealt to this point. Many other key names, like Klay Thompson, Buddy Hield, and Jonas Valanciunas, were on the move via sign-and-trade agreements. Of course, the main topic of discussion right now pertains to the Sacramento Kings and their recent acquisition of DeMar DeRozan in a sign-and-trade with the Chicago Bulls.

DeRozan, who will play his 16th NBA season in Sacramento this upcoming year, was the latest domino to fall after the Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks finalized their agreement involving Bridges. These two transactions hold a lot of weight right now, as many teams will use them as a baseline for moves to come.

Whereas the trade with Bridges will be looked at and evaluated by teams to set a value on their own assets. DeRozan going to the Kings makes the Western Conference even more talented than it already is. This directly impacts the trade market and which players will be on the move before training camp due to teams in the West lining up for the services of the best available, which points in the direction of Markkanen and Ingram.

Lauri Markkanen's vast trade market

Utah Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen warms up before the game against the Dallas Mavericks at Delta Center.
Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

There were really no indications that Lauri Markkanen was going to be the hottest name on the trade block when the Utah Jazz finished the 2023-24 season with a 31-51 record. Since the Jazz acquired the Finnish forward from the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2022 Donovan Mitchell trade, Markkanen has been the face of Utah's rebuild alongside Collin Sexton and veteran sixth man Jordan Clarkson. As a whole, the Jazz do have talented players on their roster, and the front office believes they have the talent needed to work their way back into the playoff picture.

The only question that exists in Utah is whether or not their current timeline matches up with Markkanen's own situation. The 2022-23 NBA Most Improved Player is now 27 years old and is entering the final year of his contract. Markkanen will make $18 million during the 2024-25 season. He will be eligible to receive a four-year extension worth upwards of $200 million when he becomes extension-eligible in August.

That is not only a lot of money for Markkanen to potentially turn down, but it is a lot for the Jazz to offer up in the first place. Other than John Collins and Clarkson, the 7-footer finds himself as one of the veterans on Utah's roster. Although his age may not be the biggest concern for the Jazz, the fact that Markkanen has yet to play over 68 games in a single season is somewhat alarming for a player who is on the verge of securing a $200 million long-term contract. Markkanen missed 16 games during his first season with the Jazz, followed by 27 absences this past year.

Perhaps this is the best time for Danny Ainge and his Jazz front office to capitalize on Markkanen's value and stockpile even more future assets to aid in their current rebuild or retooling phase, whatever they want to call it. That is why Utah has made Markkanen somewhat available in terms of fielding offers from rival teams and gauging interest on the trade market, especially after seeing what the Nets got for Bridges.

At this time, the Jazz have received a handful of legitimate offers for Markkanen, league sources told ClutchPoints. Of the teams interested in his services, the Golden State Warriors, Sacramento Kings, San Antonio Spurs, and Miami Heat have been at the forefront of conversations with the Jazz since the start of July. While it is unknown if they held actual trade conversations with the Jazz, the Indiana Pacers were another team mentioned by league personnel as a sleeper team for Markkanen. After all, the Pacers were a team expressing interest in Markkanen ahead of their trade to acquire Pascal Siakam in January.

After adding DeRozan to their roster, the Kings have not slowed down in their pursuit of more talent. Markkanen remains a player Sacramento is highly interested in, yet the Kings lack the assets needed to pull off a trade for the Jazz star compared to what other teams have offered. Keegan Murray is a player the Jazz are high on, sources said, with the Kings showing zero interest in moving on from the former fourth overall pick.

Many around the league are also skeptical about the Heat's ability to truly pursue Markkanen. Miami is currently above the first tax apron, and as a result, they are unable to take back more money in total salary than they send out via trades. Other than talents like Tyler Herro, Jaime Jaquez Jr., and Nikola Jovic, the Heat don't have much to offer that would intrigue Utah. Not to mention, Miami only has the capability to trade two outright first-round picks between 2029 and 2031. An upcoming extension for Markkanen would also maim the Heat's long-term financial balance since they recently just gave Bam Adebayo a three-year max extension worth upwards of $166 million.

That leaves the Warriors and Spurs as two very real suitors for Markkanen, sources said, that have been in contact with the Jazz multiple times within the past week. After failing to pull off a trade for Paul George and after losing Klay Thompson in free agency, the Warriors have remained steadfast in their pursuit of championship-level talent around Stephen Curry and Draymond Green. All options are on the table for Golden State, yet it is unknown if they have offered their best young talent, Jonathan Kuminga, for Markkanen despite holding him out of trade conversations for George.

The Warriors only have the ability to offer two outright first-round picks for Markkaken, which they have done to this point, sources said. Any scenario in which the Dubs would have a chance at landing Markkanen would more than likely require a third team, as Golden State would be attempting to get the Jazz another draft pick or two in a proposal that would include former All-Star wing Andrew Wiggins. Moses Moody, pick swaps, and the expiring contracts of Kevon Looney and Gary Payton II are other assets the Warriors have to offer in trade talks at this time.

The Spurs have been a lot more active than many give them credit for this offseason. Despite still being labeled as a rebuilding franchise, San Antonio made moves to bring in both Chris Paul and Harrison Barnes this summer, two veterans who are the definition of leaders for their organization. Paul and Barnes are two fantastic mentors for the Spurs to have as they enter the Victor Wembanyama era. Markkanen is a player the Spurs would be interested in giving a long-term contract to, sources said, and his fit next to Wembanyama as another 7-footer would be impossible to stop. Keldon Johnson has been made available in trade talks dating back to the trade deadline, sources said, yet the Spurs have kept Devin Vassell's name out of all discussions to this point.

Markkanen is a valuable asset, as he can immediately improve any team's outlook heading into the 2024-25 season. However, the Jazz are truly torn on whether now is the right time to trade him simply because there is still a path where Markkanen can be the face of the organization in Salt Lake City for years to come.

Utah is currently leaning more in the direction of keeping Markkanen, who wants to remain with the franchise and receive a long-term extension, despite receiving an offer that included three first-round picks, sources said. Ainge and the Jazz have yet to truly progress in any trade discussions centered on Markkanen, even with the Warriors making a strong push for the forward in multiple conversations since the start of free agency. Teams interested in Markkanen are expected to meet with the Jazz braintrust in person at Summer League in Las Vegas in an attempt to further trade talks.

Pelicans open to Brandon Ingram trade

New Orleans Pelicans head coach Willie Green talks to forward Brandon Ingram (14)
John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Like Lauri Markkanen, Brandon Ingram is entering the final year of his contract with the New Orleans Pelicans. The contrast between the two players, who are basically the same age, is the value attached to them. Ingram is set to make $36 million this upcoming season, and he will be seeking a long-term contract worth upwards of $200 million.

What is interesting about this situation is Ingram is happy in New Orleans, and the Pelicans value his production. There don't appear to be any ill feelings from either party, yet the Pelicans are actively searching the market to see what they can get for Ingram. It truly feels like a given that Ingram will be on the move this offseason.

The problem right now is the market for the former All-Star wing has shrunk considerably. The Philadelphia 76ers aren't in the market for Ingram anymore after landing George in free agency. The Sacramento Kings are another team that can likely be taken out of the running for the Pelicans All-Star after acquiring DeRozan. The Cleveland Cavaliers have long been linked as a potential landing spot for Ingram, but absorbing his $36 million contract, plus an upcoming extension, wouldn't be favorable to the franchise whatsoever.

One of the only teams that has the capability to trade for Ingram and has a clear need for his scoring production is the Orlando Magic. Next to Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner, Ingram would give the Magic the 20-plus points per game scoring that they were missing last season when they lost in seven games to the Cavs in the opening round of the playoffs. If they were to pursue Ingram, the question for Orlando becomes which players they would be willing to part ways with, as they recently re-signed Jonathan Isaac and agreed to terms on a contract with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in free agency.

Wendell Carter Jr. is a player the Pelicans have liked for a long time, sources said, yet the Magic have kept the big man out of trade discussions to this point in the offseason. It is also unlikely that Orlando would look to part ways with defensive standout Jalen Suggs.

With Summer League set to begin in Las Vegas at the end of the week, it doesn't appear as if a trade is imminent here. These discussions and talks will resume and heat up once again when front-office personnel meet in Las Vegas. The possibility of a team like the Warriors, Kings, or another playoff contender emerging as a destination for Ingram remains. However, it is much more likely that Ingram will be moved to a team that not many are discussing. That is where the Portland Trail Blazers, Detroit Pistons, and Utah Jazz come into play.

The Blazers are a young team that is going to be making some roster moves in the offseason. Portland recently dealt Malcolm Brogdon to the Washington Wizards in a package for Deni Avdija, and they drafted Donovan Clingan to be the new face in their frontcourt, which already features Deandre Ayton and Robert Williams III.

The question mark for the Blazers revolves around what they are going to do on the wing, with Jerami Grant's name coming up in trade rumors. Ingram being traded to Portland is not as crazy as it may sound, especially since the Blazers are in need of an immediate source of scoring next to their high-potential backcourt. After all, the Pelicans have long held interest in Ayton and Anfernee Simons, sources said.

Ingram and his connection to Detroit revolve around the ties to new Pistons president Trajan Langdon, who came over from New Orleans this offseason. Langdon knows what Ingram is capable of on the court, and the 26-year-old would be another experienced veteran the Pistons could add this offseason, joining the likes of Tobias Harris and Tim Hardaway Jr. The Pistons need scorers next to Cade Cunningham, and they may be willing to sacrifice players like Jalen Duren or Isaiah Stewart for a player of Ingram's caliber.

The Jazz are another interesting scenario to discuss since they have their whole ordeal with Markkanen to sort through. Should Utah decide to keep Markkanen, as indications right now suggest, the Jazz are going to be on a mission to surround him with win-now talents. Ingram is certainly this type of player, as the Jazz would know what kind of scorer they would be adding on the wing, which has been a weak point for them over the years. The only problem with trading for Ingram is the Jazz would have two players up for massive extensions.

The Spurs are a team that has not shown interest in Ingram at this time, sources said, as they are focused on the continued growth of their young core. One of the main goals San Antonio has is to maintain roster flexibility and not get tied down with long-term contracts, with the Markkanen pursuit an exception to this strategy because of his more seamless fit. It is also unlikely that the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, or Atlanta Hawks pursue a trade for Ingram this summer.

The Pelicans will continue to hold trade conversations surrounding Ingram heading into Summer League, leading to the forgone conclusion around the league that he will not be on their roster to begin the 2024-25 season.

Wizards hold firm on Kyle Kuzma asking price

Washington Wizards forward Kyle Kuzma (33) brings the ball up court against the Detroit Pistons during the second quarter at Capital One Arena
Reggie Hildred-USA TODAY Sports

Ahead of the trade deadline during the 2023-24 season, the Washington Wizards made it clear to teams that they were wanting multiple first-round picks in exchange for Kyle Kuzma. This thought process has not changed, league sources said, especially after the Wizards saw what Brooklyn received for Bridges.

The Wizards understand Kuzma's value as a key secondary contributor for a playoff-contending team. After all, he was a major part of the Lakers' success during their 2020 title run alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Washington is rebuilding, and as a result, they are looking to accumulate future draft assets to open up flexibility for roster growth and trade opportunities down the line.

Kuzma, who is set to make $23.5 million this upcoming year, will see his contract decline in value by $2 million through the 2026-27 season. This is a very advantageous contract for teams to pursue due to the new financial rules set forth by the first and second tax aprons. At 31 years old and in the final year of his contract during the 2026-27 season, Kuzma will only be making $19.4 million.

Over the last three seasons with the Wizards, Kuzma has increased his scoring production and has proven to be a player who is more than just a catch-and-shoot threat on the wing. Since joining the Wizards, he has averaged 20.2 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 3.8 assists per game while shooting 45.5 percent from the floor. This kind of production can be utilized right away by a variety of teams.

Like Ingram, there is no trade imminent involving Kuzma. The Wizards are open to discussing real trade scenarios involving the soon-to-be 29-year-old if they can get multiple first-round picks in return, sources said. It is also a very real possibility that Kuzma begins the 2024-25 season in the nation's capital before being the top player available at the trade deadline in February.

The Kings have been linked to Kuzma since before this past year's trade deadline. There was also a push from Sacramento ahead of the 2024 NBA Draft to try and acquire Kuzma, utilizing their 13th overall selection, league sources confirmed to ClutchPoints. No trade was made, and the Kings made their pursuit of DeRozan a priority. Still, Kuzma remains a player Sacramento is highly interested in.

The Warriors, Lakers, and Houston Rockets are three other teams that have expressed interest in Kuzma dating back to the trade deadline. Houston is a young team on the rise that came up just short of making the play-in tournament last season. The addition of Kuzma, whom Ime Udoka is said to be a fan of, would surely give the Rockets that extra scoring punch on offense they were lacking late in the season.

Kuzma can provide value to any team vying for a playoff spot, and his price tag is much lower than that of Markkanen and Ingram.

Other notes and intel from around the NBA

Atlanta Hawks: After trading Dejounte Murray, the Hawks are expected to keep Trae Young alongside new first overall pick Zaccharie Risacher. Atlanta has not held extensive trade talks with any team involving Young this offseason due to the organization's belief in their All-Star point guard.

Chicago Bulls: DeMar DeRozan and Alex Caruso have both departed the Chicago Bulls this offseason. In return, the Bulls received Josh Giddey and two second-round picks. This is far less value than the organization could have received for either player at this past season's trade deadline. Now, the Bulls are looking for ways to create financial flexibility and start fresh by moving on from Zach LaVine, who hasn't garnered any interest from teams around the league this summer.

The Warriors, a team the Bulls reached out to regarding LaVine, are not interested in taking on that long-term contract, sources said. It is also highly unlikely that the Lakers, another team mentioned as a possible destination for LaVine, would have a different line of thinking. One team that could wind up being the only landing spot for LaVine is the Jazz, who are still discussing the possibility of pursuing impactful talents to put next to Markkanen moving forward.

Los Angeles Clippers: The Los Angeles Clippers have been searching for a third team to facilitate a trade involving former league MVP Russell Westbrook, league sources told ClutchPoints' Tomer Azarly. The Jazz have not been wanting to bring Westbrook back in a sign-and-trade involving Kris Dunn. The Denver Nuggets and Westbrook hold strong mutual interest, sources said. The problem the Nuggets face is they have yet to sign first-round pick DaRon Holmes II, and they are still exploring the possibility of trading former 2020 first-round pick Zeke Nnaji. At some point, the Clippers will move Westbrook, and he should eventually find himself in a very favorable spot in Denver.

Los Angeles Lakers: To this point, the Lakers have been fairly quiet this offseason because they struck out on landing Klay Thompson in free agency. Although this roster is practically set in stone, Rob Pelinka still has flexibility in terms of trades he can pursue using the contracts of D'Angelo Russell ($18.6 million), Rui Hachimura ($17 million), Gabe Vincent ($11 million), and Christian Wood ($3 million). If the Lakers are to make a trade this offseason, it will likely be a move to add an impactful secondary player rather than another star. Keep an eye on players like Gary Trent Jr., Jerami Grant, and Cam Johnson for Los Angeles.

Milwaukee Bucks: Despite rumors surrounding Brook Lopez, it would come as a surprise to many around the league if the Milwaukee Bucks did in fact move on from the veteran center. The Bucks gave Lopez a big contract last year to keep him because of how impactful he has been on the defensive side of the ball in the frontcourt next to Giannis Antetokounmpo. Khris Middleton's future, on the other hand, is certainly worth discussing. He is set to make $31.6 million this upcoming season and owns a $34 million player option for the 2025-26 season. No matter what trade they possibly make, the Bucks are wanting to win right now, which is why they will be wanting talent over draft picks.

Philadelphia 76ers: A variety of teams, like the Phoenix Suns and the Lakers, have expressed interest in signing Kyle Lowry to a minimum contract this offseason. However, it appears likely the 38-year-old will be heading back to the Philadelphia 76ers. Lowry, who is from Philadelphia, also holds strong ties to Nick Nurse, dating back to their championship run with the Toronto Raptors in 2019.

Washington Wizards: A sign-and-trade is still an option for Tyus Jones. Currently the best player available in free agency after DeRozan joined the Kings, Jones views himself as a player who can be a starting point guard in this league. The catch is there really aren't any starting jobs left, which is why he is likely going to have to settle for a sixth-man role.

The Magic, Nets, and Pistons all showed interest in Jones over the last year. The Pelicans could be an interesting team to keep an eye on regarding Jones if he is willing to accept a one- or two-year contract and less money to be the team's sixth man behind Dejounte Murray and CJ McCollum. There have been no indications to suggest Jones would be willing to sign a minimum contract at this time.