A part of trade season that’s generally overlooked is the buyout market. Trades often have throw-ins and bad contracts that teams take on for the sake of sweeter assets, only to waive the undesirables soon after.
A buyout allows a player to sign with a team with an open roster spot, and are oftentimes veterans looking to join contenders. All of the buyouts on this list have been in the league as early as 2011, making them locker room presences for the young guys on their new teams.
But will these moves help each team reach their season-end goal? Here’s a look at buyout signings since the trade deadline:
Jeremy Lin to the Toronto Raptors
Jeremy Lin adds point guard depth to Toronto, with backup Fred VanVleet to miss five weeks after thumb surgery. Lin’s biggest moment in The Six has to be the game-winning three against the Raptors during Linsanity in 2012, and now he has the opportunity to help out Canada’s team.
Lin debuted for the Raptors against the Washington Wizards this past week, putting up a solid 8 points, 5 assists, and 5 rebounds. During his time with the Atlanta Hawks, Lin averaged 10.7 points and 3.5 assists while backing up new franchise point guard, Trae Young.
One issue to address is the playing time he’ll see when VanVleet comes back — will he sit, replace VanVleet, or potentially play alongside the original backup? Another question mark is Lin’s long-term impact into the playoffs. The Raptors are looking to make the Finals this year, and will need Lin to be an integral part of a run to get there.
Wayne Ellington to the Detroit Pistons
For a team that’s trying to make the playoffs this season, Wayne Ellington is a pretty good pickup. Detroit is currently sitting at 8th place, but barring a great run until April, will be tussling with the Charlotte Hornets, Miami Heat and Orlando Magic for a spot at the bottom of the East.
The Pistons don’t have much depth at the shooting guard position, with rookie Bruce Brown in the starting lineup. Langston Galloway and Luke Kennard follow in the depth chart, but Ellington surely leapfrogs over those two.
Ellington has come off the bench in two games with the Pistons, shooting a meager 17.6 percent from three. After shooting nearly 40 percent last season, Detroit should be confident in his ability to find his shot when it matters. With Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond on their roster, the Pistons needed to find parts to help them compete, and Ellington is just that.
Wesley Matthews to the Indiana Pacers
It’s encouraging to see the Pacers not lying down and phoning in the rest of the season after Victor Oladipo suffered a ruptured quad tendon. Indiana is 6-5 since losing their star player, winning six straight before losing to Milwaukee in their last game before the All-Star break.
The Pacers are sure to make the playoffs this season, but it’s hard to imagine them going anywhere without Oladipo. Cue…Wesley Matthews? Matthews is a decent player but hasn’t been the same since tearing his Achilles in 2015.
With Dallas and New York this season, Matthews has had incredibly high usage with nearly 30 minutes a game and about 12.5 points per game. Through two outings with Indiana, Matthews has put up 8 points a game on 30% three-point shooting.
It’s a small sample, but Matthews and the Pacers won’t be a match made in heaven this season. If he re-signs this summer and Indiana has Oladipo back, the grade has potential to go up.
Enes Kanter to the Portland Trail Blazers
If Enes Kanter were to grade this trade, he’d give it an A+ and some extra credit. Kanter is guaranteed playing time as Portland’s backup center, and is no doubt ecstatic after sitting out for the tanking New York Knicks.
Averaging similar numbers to last season at 14 points and 10.5 rebounds per game, Kanter will make an immediate impact for the fourth-seeded Blazers. After being swept by the Pelicans in last year’s postseason, this could be the last chance for success for the Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum backcourt.
What bumps the trade down a few grades is Zach Collins’ position going forward. Collins was a big part of the Blazers’ recent win over the Golden State Warriors, swatting shots and getting into it with Klay Thompson. By the looks of it, both Collins and Kanter are more than comfortable getting in opponents’ faces, but when it comes to the playoffs, it seems only one of them will get significant minutes.
Markieff Morris to the Oklahoma City Thunder
Like Kanter, Morris is another player happy to leave his previous situation. The Washington Wizards are in a tailspin, especially with John Wall out for at least a year, and Morris couldn’t find a better situation than the one in OKC.
Morris has been dealing with a neck injury, but when on the court, can help the surging Thunder as a gritty, energy-setting stretch-four. Patrick Patterson has been nothing close to what OKC thought they were getting, and Morris can fill that role as a starter or coming off the bench.
Going from a tumultuous locker room to the third-best team in the West, Morris fills a hole that the Thunder need and is a reliant player down the stretch for OKC.