Roughly a month away from the start of training camp before the 2016-17 NBA season, the trade market has come to a screeching halt and that’s because many of the superstars previously believed to on the trading block are evidently staying put. At least for now.
Top stars like the Sacramento Kings’ DeMarcus Cousins, the Cleveland Cavaliers’ Kevin Love, the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Russell Westbrook, and the Los Angeles Clippers’ Blake Griffin are all expected to remain with their respective teams after months of trade speculation.
Cousins, who’s been linked to the Boston Celtics and others before, has reportedly told the Kings he’s happy with the hiring of new head coach Dave Joerger (previously with Memphis) and that while Sacramento still has a lot of work to do Cousins is “all the way on-board” with the future plans to build around him.
Given Sacramento’s playoff drought and prolonged rebuilding process, it’s encouraging Cousins wants to stick around even if his cryptic draft-night tweet seemed to apply otherwise. The 26-year-old is coming off his second-straight All-Star season, notching 26.9 points and 11.5 rebounds with 3.3 assists per game, and Cousins is unquestionably one of the best all-around big men in the game.
Cousins could even improve next season should he parlay his experiences with Team USA at the Rio Summer Games, especially some of the wisdom he likely gained from now-former head coach Mike Krzyzewski and recently dubbed national team head coach Gregg Popovich.
Meanwhile, the defending champion Cavs are keen to keep Love, even if many around the league have questioned how well he fits on the roster or within the offense. Love, 27, went through several rough patches during his second season in Cleveland, scoring 16.0 points off a career-low 41.9 shooting percentage and pulling down 9.9 rebounds a contest.
Trade speculation around Love heated up after Cleveland dismissed former head coach David Blatt despite leading the Eastern Conference early last season, but Love came up big in major spots for the Cavs during their first title run and Basketball Insiders cites sources close to the Cavs that say moving Love isn’t “remotely a consideration.”
Westbrook, who inked a contract extension with Oklahoma City after nearly a month of speculation following Kevin Durant’s departure to Golden State, technically can’t be moved for six months per league rules. And the Thunder reportedly won’t field any trade scenarios for the triple-double machine this coming season.
After Durant bolted to the Warriors and Oklahoma City received nothing in return, speculation immediately turned to Westbrook and if he would do the same. Thunder general manager Sam Presti didn’t want to risk losing a second superstar with nothing to show for it, which led to Westbrook trade rumors while the team simultaneously pushed for him to sign a contract extension.
At this point, it appears highly unlikely Oklahoma City moves Westbrook unless the squad completely drops to the West’s cellar next season.
And similar to Cousins, the Clippers’ Griffin reportedly wants to re-sign with the team next summer while head coach Doc Rivers isn’t interested in moving the All-Star power forward and flying highlight reel.
Griffin battled injuries and off-court drama last season, which led to a career-low 35 games played and heavy trade speculation involving the 27-year-old former No. 1 overall pick. An injured tendon in Griffin’s knee and a fight with a team equipment manager could’ve led to a trade, but Rivers is intent on keeping the Clippers core of Griffin, point guard Chris Paul, and first-team All-NBA center DeAndre Jordan intact.
A source close to Griffin told Basketball Insiders that the pending unrestricted free agent is “adamant” about re-signing with the Clippers next summer, a move that makes excellent financial sense for Griffin since L.A. can pay him the most and is still among the West’s top teams.