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2022 NBA Buyout Candidates

NBA buyout

NBA buyout
Will Eric Gordon be a Rocket for much longer? (Photo: Rick Bowmer/AP)

With an utterly nuts 2022 trade deadline in the rear view, it’s time to turn our attention to the NBA buyout market, as a slew of contenders look to make some final improvements around the edges of their rotations.

This season’s buyout market shouldn’t be as high profile as the last, when luminaries such as Blake Griffin, LaMarcus Aldridge and Andre Drummond all found new homes after the trade deadline, though there is probably more depth in this years expected crop. That said, there are still some very well known athletes that should become available via buyout in the next few weeks, as well as a group of veterans that could prove more than handy additions to a championship contending roster.

Robin Lopez

Orlando Magic

The owner of the most wonderful hook shot in the modern NBA has been underused by the Magic this season. That’s understandable, though. The rebuilding Magic are rightly prioritising the younger Wendell Carter Jr, Mo Bamba and when he returns, Jonathan Isaac over the soon-to-be 34 year old Lopez.


Lopez, however, still produces like a mid range starting NBA centre. His per minute numbers are still near career high and his defense remains very good, as per usual. With the litany of health concerns surrounding their big man, the Warriors would be an ideal landing spot, as would the Sixers who moved their primary back up in Andre Drummond at the deadline.

Eric Gordon

Houston Rockets

Gordon might just be too valuable to the rebuilding Rockets to be bought out, given his solid, multi positional defense, veteran leadership and of course his deadly jump shot. Since inserting the veteran into the starting lineup in the place of recently jettisoned centre Daniel Theis, the Rockets have been a team transformed. The wins haven’t always come, of course – the Rox are squarely at the beginning of their rebuild – but Gordon has proven the leader that the team has lacked with John Wall (more on him below) not on the court.

Signed through the 2024 season (though that season is non-guaranteed), Gordon would be an expensive buyout which, given Rockets owner Tillman Fertitta’s, shall we say….parsimonious nature, might be the biggest hurdle to his leaving Houston.

Should Gordon choose to give back a large wedge of what he’s owed, then practically every contender and the Lakers would love to get their mitts on him.

Goran Dragic

San Antonio Spurs

Dragic is already negotiating his buyout from San Antonio – the team that drafted him all the way back in 2008, though he never suited up for them – after coming over from Toronto at the deadline.

It was only two seasons ago that Dragic’s ill timed injury in the finals was seen as a major reason that the Heat were not able to go toe-to-toe with the Lakers. Yet, in the two subsequent campaigns Dragic has barely taken to the court. This season he’s played a grand total of 90 minutes.

The soon-to-be 36 year old can still fill a role for a team as a steady back up point guard. He’s a career 36.4% shooter from beyond the arc and has always been a crafty playmaker. Any team that needs another trusted ball handler who will also knock down catch-and-shoot jumpers (Sixers, Suns, Warriors) could do far worse.

John Wall

Houston Rockets

The Enigma. What, exactly, does John Wall have left in the tank?

Still only 31 years old, Wall has only played 72 games in the past four seasons and has infamously not suited up at all this campaign. Last season Wall still put up 20.7 points, 8.7 assists and 1.5 steals, though his efficiency was notably down from his usual levels. His overwhelming athleticism – his hallmark through his best seasons – has been all but eradicated by a litany of lower leg injuries, though he still has enough speed and craft to get to the bucket with some regularity.

Like Dragic, Wall would suit a team that needs a little bit of playmaking off the bench from somebody who can hit the open jump shot (Wall, a terrible shooter off the bounce, has always been decent in catch-and-shoot scenarios).

Dennis Schroder

Houston Rockets

We come to another Houston guard in the recently acquired Dennis Schroder.

The German is in such an unusual position. He’s only a few years removed from turning down a long term $84 million deal, only to find himself shuffling between teams and now a legitimate buyout candidate.

Schroder had been decent for an under performing Celtics team this season, posting 14.4 points (44/35/85 shooting splits) and 4.2 assists per game. However he’s not a traditional point guard and as such exacerbated Boston’s lack of ball movement, rather than helped it. His defense remains underrated. In Houston, he may have a role to play.

The Rockets are currently putting the ball in the hands of a pair of young scoring guards in Kevin Porter Jr and rookie Jalen Green. To this point that has worked exactly as expected. For all of his foibles, Schroder can run an NBA offense and as such could proved a modicum of order to a chaotic Houston attack.

On the other hand, the famously prickly point guard may be seen as too much trouble for the rebuilding Rockets. If he is bought out then a move to Philadelphia or Milwaukee, who have just lost Pat Connaughton to injury and traded away Donte Divincenzo, could be on the cards.

Gary Harris

Orlando Magic

During his last few campaigns as a Nugget and his first season in Orlando, Harris flat out forgot how to shoot the ball. He was still a fine defender and a capable ball mover, but without the threat of a three ball, Harris became very, very replaceable. As such, he and his $20 million expiring salary were seen as either a trade or buyout candidate this season.

Alas, he’s recovered his stroke, connecting on 38.6% of his 4.9 deep shots per night, whilst retaining all of the other strings to his bow. That said, it’s still somewhat surprising that he wasn’t moved to a contender at the recent trade deadline, given his contract status and the Magic’s rebuilding efforts. As a result Harris will likely be bought out, should he want to move onto a contender.

Mike Muscala

Oklahoma City Thunder

By no means the sexiest name in this list, Muscala is an excellent situational player. The 6’10” veteran is shooting 42.9% from the arc this season, and is putting up some formidable numbers per 36 minutes: 20.9 points, 7.8 boards, 1.6 blocks and 1.1 steals. He won’t do anything offensively outside of shooting the rock, but if a team wants a genuine stretch five who won’t get physically overwhelmed, then Muscala is a fine option.

Given the Clippers have jettisoned the oft-injured Serge Ibaka, Muscala could be an option there. Ibaka’s new team in Milwaukee could do worse, given his and Brook Lopez’s back issues.

Derrick Favors

Oklahoma City Thunder

On an expiring deal, it’s likely that Favors was kept around by the rebuilding Thunder as possible salary ballast in any potential trade. As that trade never eventuated, Favors is likely to be bought out should a team express an interest in pursuing him.

Still just 30 years old, injuries have ravaged Favors body, to the point where he moves these days like Charlotte era Robert Parish (ask your parents, kids). He’s lost most of his explosive power and lateral movement, though he’s still able to provide stout post defense against the bigger centres of the NBA and roll to the rim effectively. If there is a team that wants to throw a capable body at a Jokic or an Embiid for 15 minutes, then Favors could be a low maintenance option.

Paul Millsap

Philadelphia 76ers

A throw in as a part of the Harden/Simmons blockbuster, Millsap – who turned 37 on deadline day – could still do a job in small minutes for a playoff team, if not a genuine contender. The veteran is a career 35% shooter from deep – though his efficiency has plummeted this season – and might prove attractive to a team that lacks any serious front court depth, such as the Takers. At 6’7” and 260 lbs, he’s still incredibly strong and with a little luck can function as a short minutes version of the stretch four he was in his All Star prime.


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