Entering the final stretch of the year, a few teams have made key moves to shore up for a playoff push. Here’s a look at recent buyouts and signees across the league:
Johnson, a 7-time All-Star, has looked very good since joining the Miami HEAT last week. He provides plenty of long-distance shooting, playmaking prowess and another clutch shot-maker next to D. Wade in the starting five.
It’s early but performances like the one he put up on Tuesday v. Chicago (24 points, 4 assists) will be commonplace as JJ is rejuvenated on dark horse contender.
Related Move: HEAT release G Beno Udrih
Lee played sparingly for Brad Stevens and the C’s, providing little relief in the second unit. A veteran-laden Dallas bunch makes a lot more sense moving forward – Lee will keep the rock moving and can finish plays off feeds from Devin Harris & JJ Barea.
Related Move: Mavs release G John Jenkins
A 17-year vet, Miller is geared up for a title run in the twilight of his career. Now, a healthy Tony Parker and Patty Mills obviously factor into Coach Pop’s primary rotate but Miller offers a savvy shot creation and can play more physical with bigger guards like Golden State‘s Shaun Livingston.
Related Move: Spurs release G Ray McCallum
Hump’s past couple of weeks have been a whirlwind. After landing in PHX shortly before the trade deadline, Humphries tallied a double-double in his debut (18 points & 12 rebounds) while showcasing his readiness to play. So, the Valley of the Sun is his new home, right?
Not exactly. Turns out, it was simply an “audition,” as Phoenix is definitely bottoming out while rotating young players for 10-day contracts (Phil Pressey, John Jenkins, etc.). Hump didn’t last long on the market, however. Atlanta swooped in and signed Kris after he was bought out a week later. He’ll add rebounding and floor spacing in short stints.
Hickson was buried in Denver as Mike Malone (rightfully) pushes youngsters Nikola Jokic, Joffrey Lauvergne & Jusuf Nurkic. Washington needed more help up front after dealing DeJuan Blair and Humphries.
Can Hickson play the role of third big?
Despite all of the success in Golden State, JT did not contribute anything noteworthy. The forgotten man in rotation that favored Marreese Speights and James Michael McAdoo more heavily off the bench, Thompson was expendable once Anderson Varejao inked a deal last week.
Toronto presents a fresh opportunity to earn minutes at the 4 & 5.
Related Move: Raptors release F Anthony Bennett
Last but not least, Ty Lawson has found a home after a rocky stint with Houston. Indiana is an interesting fit since Paul George, George Hill, Monta Ellis and Rodney Stuckey handle the bulk of ball-handling and PnR duties.
However, Indy is looking to ramp up the pace and Lawson is utilized best when given free reign to run and gun. It’s a pretty low-risk move since there’s already enough guards to mix and match if Ty struggles to adapt.
Related Move: Pacers release F Chase Budinger
G Kevin Martin – released by MIN
Martin remains a deadly outside scorer, though his averages are way down this year (10.6 ppg, 21.4 mpg). He’ll have no shortage of suitors from contenders who crave more second-unit shooting.
Best Fit: San Antonio
G Marcus Thornton – released by HOU
After a bizarre failed trade that sent Thornton back to Houston, he’s on the market and looking to latch on for the remainder of the year. Similar to Martin, the Bayou Bomber heats up in an instant and has a ton of moxie.
Best Fits: Miami, Chicago