The first trade domino leading up to the deadline fell when the Lakers acquired Rui Hachimura from the Wizards for Kendrick Nunn and three second-round picks.
Below is the latest intel on how acquiring Hachimura signals a preview of the Lakers' offseason free agency plans and how it affects the pursuit of Kyrie Irving and other stars. Plus, updates on D'Angelo Russell, Cam Reddish, Grayson Allen, Serge Ibaka, Richaun Holmes, and two potential Suns additions to watch on HoopsHype.
What the Rui Hachimura trade means for the Lakers' chances to sign Kyrie Irving and others in free agency
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Following the Lakers' acquisition of Rui Hachimura, rival executives were immediately assessing what the move means looking ahead towards the trade deadline and free agency.
After giving up three second-round picks, the Lakers are expected to retain Rui Hachimura - who's eligible for a $7.7 million qualifying offer and restricted free agency.
Hachimura also provides the Lakers a frontcourt insurance policy if the team is unable to keep Thomas Bryant, who's expected to command a pay raise heading into unrestricted free agency this summer.
The acquisition of Hachimura means it'll be tougher for the Lakers to chase star free agents, including Kyrie Irving, according to rival NBA executives who spoke with HoopsHype. The move makes it less likely the Lakers will use cap space because bringing Hachimura back would significantly decrease it. Acquiring players like Hachimura now was a scenario our HoopsHype capologist Yossi Gozlan recently detailed as a path the Lakers could take towards trying to improve.
Regarding Irving, it's worth noting LeBron James publicly vouched for Irving on social media earlier this season during his suspension with the Nets. There's a belief around the league that James would welcome a reunion with Irving in Los Angeles if possible.
As reported by HoopsHype on Jan. 18, there was a belief from several NBA executives around the league that Irving and the Nets would continue their partnership together beyond this season. A week later, Irving's agent - Shetellia Irving - told Bleacher Report, "We have had no significant conversations to date. The desire is to make Brooklyn home, with the right type of extension, which means the ball is in the Nets' court to communicate now if their desire is the same."
Updates on Knicks and Bucks trade talks
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As reported in the most recent HoopsHype NBA notebook, the Knicks have expressed interest in acquiring Bucks sharpshooter Grayson Allen in trade talks involving Cam Reddish. However, Milwaukee has resisted including Allen in conversations surrounding Reddish thus far.
Instead, the Bucks have kicked around the idea of a 2023 second-round pick and salary fillers in trade talks with the Knicks for Reddish, league sources told HoopsHype.
Potential salary fillers could include George Hill and Serge Ibaka.
Multiple teams have expressed interest in Allen, league sources say. Allen has come up in several three-team trade concepts with Suns forward Jae Crowder. There have also been reports linking Rockets guard Eric Gordon with Milwaukee.
Why D'Angelo Russell could be traded
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Rival NBA executives believe the Timberwolves will look to move D'Angelo Russell before the trade deadline.
Russell and the Timberwolves were apart on the possibility of a contract extension, and the former No. 2 pick is set to enter unrestricted free agency this summer. With Minnesota projected to be over the salary cap, the Timberwolves can't replace him if he leaves and would lose his salary slot in the process as a means to acquire another player around his price range or multiple players equaling his salary's total.
Conversations between the Heat and Timberwolves kicking the tires on a trade involving Russell and Kyle Lowry originated around the G League Showcase in Las Vegas, league sources told HoopsHype. Since that time, Miami has regained its winning form and moved into sixth place in the East, and the team is not looking to move Lowry, according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald.
Russell is shooting a career-high 46.5 percent from the field and 38.3 percent from downtown, the second-best percentage of his career heading into free agency as one of the top players available.
Richaun Holmes' future in Sacramento
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Last week, Marc Stein reported rival teams in need of size were monitoring Kings center Richaun Holmes as a potential buyout candidate if Sacramento is unable to trade him before the deadline.
While Holmes is available on the trade market, a buyout won't happen if he's not traded, league sources told HoopsHype. Holmes is owed a combined $24.92 million over the next two seasons, taking into account his player option for the 2024-25 season.
In a recent fill-in start on Jan. 21, Holmes had a double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds.
What's next for the Suns with Mat Ishbia taking over?
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With Mat Ishbia set to officially purchase the Phoenix Suns just before the NBA's trade deadline, many around the league have wondered what changes could be coming in Phoenix.
Following Ishbia's purchase of the Suns, two names have emerged as potential candidates to join the Suns, according to various NBA executives who've spoken with HoopsHype: Former Thunder Vice President and Chief of Staff Paul Rivers and former NBA point guard Mateen Cleaves, who was Ishbia's teammate during Michigan State's national championship run in 2000.
In the meantime, Phoenix's focus on the court is finding a suitable trade for forward Jae Crowder, who's drawn interest from several teams such as the Bucks, Hawks, Heat, etc.
"I miss him," Suns guard Chris Paul said when asked about Crowder's absence from the team this season. "It ain't no secret about it."
You can follow Michael Scotto (@MikeAScotto) on Twitter.
Story originally appeared on HoopsHype
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