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How the Terry Rozier trade has reset the point guard market

Atlanta Hawks guard Dejounte Murray, right, moves the ball while defended by Golden State Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2024, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vásquez)
Hawks guard Dejounte Murray is considered the premium lead guard option on the trade block. (AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vásquez)

The NBA’s marketplace works in cycles and precedents, with yesterday’s price often setting today’s. When Devin Vassell signed a five-year, $135 million extension with San Antonio this fall, agents and executives around the league noted how the deal established a benchmark for every rookie-scale extension to follow. When Miami traded Kyle Lowry and a 2027 protected first-round pick to Charlotte on Tuesday in exchange for Terry Rozier, that price point certainly added further context around discussions for backcourt playmakers between now and the Feb. 8 trade deadline.

“At least a first-round pick” has thus been described as the necessary compensation for the Washington Wizards to part with table-setter Tyus Jones, league sources told Yahoo Sports. The same goes for Portland to move on from guard Malcolm Brogdon and Toronto with recently acquired Bruce Brown Jr. — not a straightforward floor general, but Brown is surely a reliable ball-handler, fresh off a championship with Denver. The Hawks, sources said, are searching for two first-round picks and a starting-caliber player to part with Dejounte Murray, considered the premium lead guard option on the trade block.

Lowry being dealt to Charlotte adds another name to the field of backcourt players available. He’s a potential re-trade candidate for the Hornets, sources said, but also as a potential player on the buyout market, should Charlotte not find a deal for the veteran floor general. At that point, one destination that currently appears to be a real possibility: Philadelphia, where the Sixers stand as one of the few contenders below the first luxury tax apron and capable of signing a player who was bought out from a contract pricier than this year’s mid-level exception ($12.4 million.) Lowry is not expected to join the Hornets prior to the trade deadline, league sources told Yahoo Sports, and will likely remain away from the franchise while the future of the respected 18-year veteran gets resolved.

There are several teams looking for point guard help across the board. The Lakers are chief among backcourt buyers, sources said, with an apparent goal to upgrade at the position currently being filled by D’Angelo Russell. New York, Milwaukee and Philadelphia have all been mentioned by league personnel as interested in finding point guard reinforcements. Those teams seem to be the main clubs involved in evaluating players at the upper echelon of the position, now that Miami has acquired Rozier. Brooklyn has also poked around on several names, sources said.

Los Angeles Lakers guard D'Angelo Russell (1) dribbles against the Dallas Mavericks, during the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2024, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Lakers guard D'Angelo Russell continues to be linked to trade talk. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Some further details across the NBA’s point guard market before the trade deadline:

  • The Lakers appear to have made the most aggressive known bid to date for Murray. Los Angeles has been willing to include a 2029 first-round pick plus a pick swap in its attempts to land the Hawks guard, league sources told Yahoo Sports. Atlanta is searching for a better player return than Russell, sources said, and the Hawks seem to prefer not taking back future salary, leaving the possibility for another three-team deal at the deadline that includes Russell — after he joined the Lakers by way of last February’s Utah-Minnesota-Los Angeles triple dip. Russell holds an $18.6 million player option for next season that will factor into any team’s decision to obtain the Ohio State product.

  • The Sixers are prioritizing fit alongside Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey with any potential deadline addition, sources said, and don’t seem to covet Brown, a career 33.8% shooter from deep, as the optimal missing piece. Philadelphia has continued seeing a strong return from Patrick Beverley, leaving the Sixers with a clear barometer for any newcomers at this deadline. The Sixers will have to ask themselves if Murray is really that perfect pairing with Maxey in the backcourt, considering his long-term salary and Philadelphia’s current projected cap space for this upcoming summer.

  • The Utah Jazz are being considered both a buyer and seller at this juncture, with ball-handlers Jordan Clarkson, Collin Sexton and Talen Horton-Tucker considered available for trade, sources said. And while the Jazz are confident in rookie Keyonte George’s fitness as their point guard of the future, the Jazz have also registered interest in several veterans, including Murray, sources said, to possibly hold the position in the interim.

  • The Jazz are also one of several teams who’ve called on Charlotte Hornets forward Miles Bridges, league sources told Yahoo Sports, along with Detroit and Phoenix. Bridges would have to be consulted prior to any deal, as he received trade veto rights when he signed a qualifying offer from Charlotte. While there was originally league-wide skepticism that the Hornets would be able to retain Bridges this summer, Charlotte’s newfound flexibility, creating as much as $45 million in upcoming cap space by dealing Rozier, could push an interested team in trading for him now, as opposed to leaving Bridges available to re-sign with the only NBA club he’s known.

  • T.J. McConnell was another veteran point guard on the radar in Utah and with many other teams like Phoenix, sources said, but the Pacers have indicated to rival teams they don’t want to move him.

  • Keep an eye on Cleveland sniffing around for reserve guards, sources said, after buying out Ricky Rubio.

  • If there’s any room for improvement with the West-best Timberwolves, despite Minnesota’s depleted asset pool, rival executives have indicated the Wolves are searching for reserve backcourt help.

  • Phoenix only has second-round capital at its disposal, plus Nassir Little and his four-year, $28 million contract, to consider for legitimate upgrades, as Phoenix appears intent on keeping Grayson Allen. While the Suns were once considered primarily shopping for guards – and they remain connected to players in that salary range such as Delon Wright and Monte Morris, sources said – the Suns now seem to be generally looking at various rotation-level players, ranging from Jae’Sean Tate to Royce O’Neale, sources said, to Bridges and Charlotte teammate Nick Richards.

  • In addition to the Knicks and Lakers, league personnel believe Brogdon has another team with legitimate interest in his services: Houston, which has plenty of former Boston staffers who overlapped with Brogdon during his season with the Celtics. Head coach Ime Udoka’s Rockets are also one of the teams that is considering a move for injured Portland big man Robert Williams, sources said.

  • New Orleans, according to league sources, is primarily focused on adding at the center position, but rival executives are pegging the Pelicans, as well as the Orlando Magic, as likely buyers on the point guard market this summer.

  • Meanwhile, San Antonio, without a clear point guard to pair with Victor Wembanyama, will be considered a potential point guard destination until the Spurs make a move at the position.

  • Other point guards known to be available, according to league sources: Davion Mitchell in Sacramento, Cameron Payne in Milwaukee, Devonte’ Graham in San Antonio, and Cory Joseph in Golden State.