When looking around the league, there are some pretty good players on some pretty bad teams. Those players are more than welcome to soak in the monetary value of their contract, but if they were wanting out and were wanting to sacrifice some money for a chance to compete, some contenders would be happy to welcome these players with open arms.
Some players chose their team in free agency and their franchise is reaping the effects of a bad contract. Others were traded via sign-and-trade, or before the deadline. Some teams are missing that spark. We saw Blake Griffin provide that for the Nets last season. Which player could do that for 2021-2022? These five players are interesting buyout candidates and these are their best fits.
Ricky Rubio - Phoenix Suns
2020-2021 Stats: 8.6 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 6.4 APG, 1.4 SPG, 0.1 BPG
After a stellar showing in the Olympics, Ricky Rubio has to think that his value has soared. There had to be teams watching and hoping that Rubio can agree on a buyout with the remaining $17 million on his deal. The Timberwolves are going to be bad next year and Rubio’s salary is too much for a backup point guard, which makes a buyout the most reasonable option if Rubio wants to contend for a title.
In 2019, Rubio signed a three-year, $54 million deal with the Suns. In his first year playing under Monty Williams, he averaged a career-high in points (13.0) and dished out 8.8 assists per game. Cameron Payne is a much better shooting guard than Landry Shamet, which would allow Payne to move from the one-guard to the two-guard to make room for Rubio. With NBA Finals aspirations again, Rubio is a proven veteran that could contribute right away with a familiar team.
Thaddeus Young - Milwaukee Bucks
2020-2021 Stats: 12.1 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 4.3 APG, 1.1 SPG, 0.6 BPG
There were times that Thad Young was the point-forward for the Chicago Bulls. Last year, he shot a career-high 55.9% from the field, while his assists were also career-best. Young is one of the better post players that can pass the ball. At 33 years old, he doesn’t provide much value to a Spurs team that is trying to play younger players.
However, he provides astronomical value to a Bucks team trying to defend their title. Pat Connaughton is technically the backup shooting guard and small forward despite the addition of Grayson Allen. Regardless, Young is a much more complete player at small forward and can even play a little power forward if needed as well.
Goran Dragic - Dallas Mavericks
2020-2021 Stats: 13.4 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 4.4 APG, 0.7 SPG, 0.2 BPG
After being dealt with the Toronto Raptors in a sign-and-trade with Kyle Lowry, nobody expects Dragic to truly play for the Raptors long term. His best option is to find a buyout agreement, so the 35-year old can join a contender. His best fit would be the Dallas Mavericks given his connection with Luka Doncic.
Dragic is from Slovenia, just like Doncic. For now, the backup to Doncic is Trey Burke. No knock on Burke, but Dragic can not only supply better basketball play but provide an element that the rest of the team can’t give their nationality. If Dragic gets bought out, this seems like an easy decision.
Kevin Love - Los Angeles Lakers
2020-2021 Stats: 12.2 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 2.5 APG, 0.6 SPG, 0.1 BPG
The theme of the Lakers is to bring in older veterans, so why not bring in a 32-year old former All-Star in Love, who won a championship with LeBron James in 2016. LeBron and Love made four straight NBA Finals appearances together dating back to their time in Cleveland. In the present, Love’s numbers have taken a dip due to injuries. Love has played a combined 103 games the last three years.
The Cavaliers failed to find a trade partner for Andre Drummond last year and we saw how that played out. Love has $31 million owed this year and $28 million the following year. Love could negotiate a buyout to try and win one more championship. If he were to be bought out, joining the Lakers would make the most sense based on his connections to the team.
John Wall - Los Angeles Clippers
2020-2021 Stats: 20.6 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 6.9 APG, 1.1 SPG, 0.8 BPG
Wall is set to make over $44 million this year and owns a player option that is worth $47 million for next year. That begs the question. How much is a championship worth to you? Right now, the Clippers are struggling with star power due to the anticipated absence of Kawhi Leonard this season. Wall played just 40 games last season before being shut down but produced respectable numbers when on the court.
The problem with Wall is that he fails to stay on the court. Wall has played a combined 113 games the last four years. He appears to be the healthiest he has been since 2018, but he's not worth over $40 million. Still, the Clippers have a hole at point guard with Reggie Jackson slated to start. Jackson is better suited for the bench, while Wall and Paul George would be an interesting tandem.
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