NBA AM: 5 Players Most Likely To Be Traded
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Five Players Most Likely To Be Traded
It’s a foregone conclusion that, at some point this coming season, a handful of players are going to be traded. For some fans, major transactions are almost as fun as watching the game itself, which is why it’s never too early to take a look at which players might hit the trading block early in the 2013-14 campaign.
The trade deadline isn’t for seven more months, but at this point, here are a handful of players that seem destined for more than their fair share of trade rumors:
Danny Granger, Indiana Pacers – Despite the fact that he’s a $14 million expiring contract, Granger’s value has never been so low. He barely played last season, and when he did he looked awful, which means it will be really hard to deal him before the season begins. Also, Indiana brass is really curious to see how a healthy Granger’s scoring will work with a lineup that came one win away from the NBA Finals last year, which is another reason not to move him. If he shows he’s healthy or the team chemistry just isn’t quite right, the Pacers may see what’s out there, but if nothing else Indy could hold onto him and bank the cap space at the end of the season. One way or another, Granger isn’t likely to be part of this team long-term, and a trade is one way they could go about severing their ties while acquiring some assets in the process.
Jeremy Lin, Houston Rockets – It’s hard to gauge whether or not Houston is really interested in moving Lin or if they think he’s part of their future with Dwight Howard now a member of the Rockets gang. Lin is the kind of scoring point guard that is most effective with the ball in his hands. He’s really not a distributor, which doesn’t necessarily suggest he’ll fit with the other guys on this roster that need the ball in Howard and James Harden. Houston reportedly made Lin available over the summer, which shows they could be open to moving him, but Howard and Harden at least want to give it a try with Lin and Omer Asik, who could also end up part of the rumor mill by the time February rolls around. If either is traded, it probably won’t be until closer to the deadline.
Rajon Rondo, Boston Celtics – We talked a couple of weeks ago about some potential trades for Rondo should the Celtics decide to trade him, but the question is still whether or not Boston will completely purge themselves of the 2008 championship team and start fresh. One of the league’s best point guards has no business rotting on a rebuilding team, and with Boston doing everything they can to acquire young assets and draft picks, this could be a good time to continue along those lines by shipping off Rondo. He may end up being the prettiest girl at the ball come trade deadline time, and it’s absolutely realistic to envision half the league contacting the Celtics about his availability.
LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland Trail Blazers – While everything appears to be hunky-dory between Portland and Aldridge right now, there were entirely too many rumors about Aldridge discussing trade possibilities with his current team over the summer for there not to be a little bit of truth Aldridge’s getting restless, despite his denials. He was arguably the best power forward in the NBA last season, so he’d be a hot commodity should the Blazers actually make him available, but it would take a really splendid offer to get Neil Olshey to bite. With Portland’s bolstered bench, they should be back in the postseason hunt this year, and that may change Aldridge’s mind about greener pastures. If he sees a better opportunity to pursue a championship, though, and that team can put together a desirable package for Portland, a trade really could be a possibility.
Joel Anthony, Miami HEAT – By no means the biggest name on this list, Anthony could very well be the first one to be moved. By re-signing Chris Andersen and acquiring Greg Oden, the HEAT hope they’re solving some of their frontcourt issues. That means Anthony, who is on the books for $7.6 million the next two years if he picks up his player option in 2014-15 (and he will), is entirely expendable. Since Miami has over $82 million in salaries this year, they’ll no doubt explore ways to dump some money, and Anthony seems like the most logical guy to move.
There are, of course, many more players whose names will pop up as the season rolls on, but for now these seem like the most likely candidates to be moved or at least mentioned in conversations between teams.
Flip Saunders Believes Pekovic Deal Will Get Done
Looking at the list of remaining free agents, there simply aren’t a lot of big names left. Cole Aldrich, Rodrigue Beaubois and Antawn Jamison are probably the best of what remains, with one glaring exception: Minnesota Timberwolves restricted free agent center Nikola Pekovic.
Pekovic, who averaged 16.3 points and 8.8 rebounds last season, was supposed to be one of the most coveted free agents in the league this summer, but there’s always a couple of free agents who should have gotten paid but just end up last on the list having to decide between taking a qualifying offer or accepting a long-term deal at annual dollars lower than what was hoped for or expected.
This year, that guy is Pekovic, but Minnesota president of basketball operations Flip Saunders is confident a deal will get done and Pek will stay with the team for the foreseeable future.
“I do believe that Pek knows what we have in place, the people we’ve brought in, that this is a positive place,” Saunders told Jon Krawcynski of the Associated Press. “I’m confident we’ll have a meeting of the minds.”
He continues to have conversations with agent Jeff Schwartz, but with the bulk of free agency all wrapped up, there has to be a sense of urgency in getting a deal done for Pekovic.
“Jeff and I have had very good conversations,” said Saunders, who has been adamant since taking over for the fired David Kahn that the Wolves would do whatever it takes to keep Pekovic. “Nothing’s been adversarial. There’s things that we’ve agreed upon. There’s things we’ve agreed to disagree upon. I think we’re moving in the right direction.”
Coming to an agreement is challenging in this situation because Minnesota wants to make their franchise center feel valued, but they also don’t want to pay more for him than the market has dictated, and that’s where they’re struggling to find a balance. There are plenty of things to like about the direction Minnesota is headed right now, but that future gets significantly less bright if the team loses out on Pekovic.
“I believe we’re moving forward,” Saunders said. “I think it’s been more of an education process on both sides about why they believe where each is at, as far as offers. I think we’re moving in a positive direction.”
Hopefully that positive direction will turn into a done deal before camp starts in a couple of months. This has dragged out long enough, and both sides have to be pining for a conclusion. Saunders, at least, seems confident a happy ending is coming relatively soon.