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NBA Trade Deadline: With George, Butler Staying Put, Focus Shifts To 3 Contenders Vying For Bogut

Andrew Bogut, battling against the Lakers in a game this season, is going to be targeted by the Rockets, Cavaliers and Celtics as a buyout candidate. Photo: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images.

Now that the NBA trading deadline has passed, without Paul George or Jimmy Butler heading to new teams after a lot of talk and speculation, the attention now shifts to where Andrew Bogut winds up after taking a buyout from the Sixers.

Bogut, 32, has emerged as the hottest post-trading deadline commodity.

After being traded from Dallas in a package to Philadelphia in the Nerlens Noel deal, the former Warrior center’s top destination appears to be Houston, which has more money than any other contender as the bidding war will begin after he clears waivers. Their chief competition will be defending champ Cleveland and Boston, which was unable to land George after extensive talks with the Pacers.

The Rockets carved out around $3.3 million in cap space for Bogut by trading K.J. McDaniels to the Brooklyn Nets, who are under the cap and didn’t have to send the Rockets back anything. Besides getting in position to sign Bogut, the Rockets also landed Lou Williams, the NBA’s top bench scorer, in a deal with the Lakers.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">The Houston Rockets intend to pursue Andrew Bogut — but not Deron Williams — in the upcoming buyout market, league sources tell ESPN.</p>&mdash; Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) <a href="https://twitter.com/ESPNSteinLine/status/834876497693331456">February 23, 2017</a></blockquote>

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Making $11 million this season, Bogut is going to also expected to get an offer from LeBron James’ Cavaliers, who have been focused on adding the 7-footer for most of the season. They have a roster spot available. James went public with his plea for the Cavs to add a playmaker and it looks as if Bogut’s former Dallas teammate, Deron Williams, will be heading to Cleveland in another buyout move.

But James also knows that the team needs depth behind the undersized Tristan Thompson. With Chris Andersen gone, Bogut would be a good addition to help on the defensive end.

The Cavs well remember how the Warriors were dealt a major blow in last June’s Finals when Bogut was injured and missed the final two games as Cleveland completed an historic comeback from a 3-1 deficit.

Bogut has had reservations in the past about joining the Rockets, one of the NBA’s surprise teams. The Rockets had a 40-18 record entering Thursday’s game at New Orleans. Bogut had a chance last summer to be traded there, but instead picked the Mavs. One of the reasons he cited for not joining Houston was that he didn’t feel he could play in Mike D’Antoni’s fast-paced style.

Last October Bogut told ESPN’s Tim McMahon: “Obviously, D’Antoni is a pretty good coach, too, but probably not suited for my style of play. I would have probably had to drop about 20 pounds to play in his system. They play a tough system, get up and down the court.”

Bogut has looked to move on from Dallas almost ever since he arrived. He did very little for Dallas, averaging three points and 8.3 rebounds in 22 minutes, while playing only 26 games. So the question is what does he has left? According to the Dallas Morning News’ Eddie Sefko, "Bogut still has some tread on his tires, but it’s getting pretty well worn. The question is whether he can land in a place that can utilize him for 20 minutes a game and get the most of his skills.He’s proven he can be a helpful part of a title-worthy team.”

Bogut would also help the Celtics, who were engaged in trade talks for George but unable to pry the Pacers’ star away from Indiana. The Celtics are small up front, so Bogut would fill a need, as Boston Herald Celtics beat-writer Mark Murphy points out on Twitter:

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">And so the Andrew Bogut watch begins. Celtics need to sign him by March 1 (presuming he’s bought out) for playoff eligibility.</p>&mdash; Mark Murphy (@Murf56) <a href="https://twitter.com/Murf56/status/834859792564940800">February 23, 2017</a></blockquote>

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To get Bogut the Celtics have to create a roster spot to accomodate him.

One team that can’t bring in Bogut: The Warriors. Since they traded Bogut last July 7 to the Mavs, they can’t reacquire him until July. Golden State didn’t make any moves at the deadline, thinking it has enough rim protection, primarily with Kevin Durant.