NBA Trade Rumors: Who May Be Dealt?
Over the past four months, NBA executives have been working the phones and trading players left and right. There are a decent amount of trades every offseason, but this summer was particularly chaotic. Since June, there have been 31 trades involving 96 players. Twenty-nine teams completed at least one trade, ranging from minor swaps to blockbuster deals, with the San Antonio Spurs finishing the summer as the only franchise that didn’t make a move (but not for lack of trying, especially on draft night).
All-Stars such as Dwight Howard, Andrew Bynum, Steve Nash, Andre Iguodala and Joe Johnson were dealt. Notable players like James Harden, Kyle Lowry, Ryan Anderson, Kevin Martin, Arron Afflalo, Mo Williams, Marvin Williams, Darren Collison, Emeka Okafor, Trevor Ariza, Raymond Felton, Lamar Odom, Devin Harris, Ben Gordon, Corey Maggette, Courtney Lee and Jason Richardson changed scenery as well.
Even after such a busy summer, the rumor mill continues to churn. Around the league, there are a number of players who find themselves on the block because they don’t fit into their team’s long-term plan for one reason or another. Some are veterans who are stuck on a rebuilding team, some are impending free agents who will likely be out of their team’s price range and some are starting-caliber players who are redundant because they’re on a deep team that has a logjam at their position.
Here are some players who could be dealt prior to the trade deadline on February 21:
Josh Smith, Atlanta Hawks – Smith will be an unrestricted free agent after the season, and he has made it clear that he’s going to test the market and explore his options. If the Hawks aren’t confident that they can re-sign Smith, they may decide to trade him rather than lose him without receiving anything in return. Smith has said all of the right things and seems content with the direction of the franchise. Even though they traded away Joe Johnson this offseason, Smith understood that the move gives the Hawks more flexibility going forward, and he was happy that the team brought in shooters such as Lou Williams, Anthony Morrow, Kyle Korver and John Jenkins to surround himself and Al Horford. Smith demanded a trade last year – he had grown frustrated with the organization because he didn’t feel they were committed to building a contender – but Atlanta wasn’t ready to part ways with their star forward. In February, the Hawks will have a tough decision to make. Atlanta would prefer to keep Smith and continue to build around him, but trading him is the right move if he’s planning to walk as a free agent.
Jose Calderon, Toronto Raptors – It’s no secret that Calderon is available. When the Raptors acquired Kyle Lowry over the offseason, the Raptors worked with Calderon’s camp and tried to find a new home for the 31-year-old point guard. Toronto didn’t find a deal that they liked, but they’ll continue to explore their options in the coming months. Calderon remains on the block and his name is going to come up a lot between now and the trade deadline. The Raptors like Calderon and believe he’ll thrive as a sixth man, making everyone in the second unit better. However, they have a lot of holes to fill and moving Calderon’s $10,561,985 expiring contract seems to make more sense than keeping him in a limited role.
Monta Ellis, Milwaukee Bucks – The general consensus around the league is that Ellis is going to exercise his Early Termination Option after this season, leaving $11,000,000 on the table to become an unrestricted free agent. In recent years, Ellis has expressed interest in joining a contender. After all, Ellis has been to the playoffs just once in his career, and it was during the 2006-07 season when he was still coming off of the bench for the Golden State Warriors. He has had plenty of individual success, but he wants to experience the postseason and have the opportunity to perform on that big stage. Milwaukee missed the playoffs last year and enters this season as bubble team in the Eastern Conference, so Ellis may be eyeing greener pastures. If the Bucks aren’t confident that they can retain Ellis, they may decide to trade him prior to the deadline. After parting ways with Andrew Bogut to land the 26-year-old guard, they can’t afford to lose him for nothing.
Rudy Gay, Memphis Grizzlies – If the Grizzlies struggle during the first few months of the season and come to the realization that they can’t compete with Western Conference contenders like the Los Angeles Lakers, Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs, they may decide to go in a different direction and cut costs at the trade deadline. Dealing Gay, who is owed $53,666,790 over the next three years, may be considered. Gay’s name surfaced a lot this summer, and sources say he would be open to a trade. The general consensus around the league is that Memphis would be willing to move Gay if the right offer comes along. If he becomes available, there are plenty of teams that would love to acquire the 26-year-old, who has improved every year he’s been in the league and still has plenty of potential.
Tyreke Evans, Sacramento Kings – Because of Evans’ struggles over the last two years, Sacramento’s front office didn’t give the 23-year-old a contract extension. Instead, he’ll become a restricted free agent after the season. The Kings wanted to let the market set Evans’ value and they want to see him take the next step in his development since he has regressed each year since his impressive rookie campaign. Trading Evans is also an option for the Kings. Evans’ name started to appear in trade rumors over the offseason and, if the Kings no longer see him as a cornerstone of their franchise, they may decide to move him and build around their other young stars such as DeMarcus Cousins and Thomas Robinson. Evans is still an attractive trade chip because he’s young and his best basketball is likely still ahead of him. There are plenty of executives around the league who love his versatility and unique skill set. Evans isn’t necessarily on the block, but he could be moved if Sacramento decides to go in a new direction.
Wilson Chandler, Denver Nuggets – George Karl loves Chandler’s versatility, but are there minutes for the 25-year-old in Denver? To say the Nuggets have a logjam on the perimeter is an understatement. Swingmen make up half of their roster. Outside of Chandler, they have wings in Andre Iguodala, Danilo Gallinari, Corey Brewer, Jordan Hamilton, Evan Fournier and Quincy Miller. Karl likes to get creative with his lineups, but keeping Chandler in a limited role while paying him $26,201,154 over the next four years may not be the best option for the Nuggets. Chandler is a starting-caliber forward who still has high trade value due to his untapped potential and consistent improvement so it wouldn’t be hard for Denver to move him. If Karl can make it work, Denver may hold onto all of their wings and be one of the deepest teams in the league. Or, if the experiment fails, the Nuggets will be active at the deadline.
Paul Millsap, Utah Jazz – The Jazz tried to sign Millsap to a contract extension, offering a new deal worth $25 million over three years, but it sounds like the 27-year-old wants to test free agency. That puts Utah in a tough spot. If Millsap is preparing to test the market, Utah may decide to trade the forward before he can walk next summer. Further complicating matters is the emergence of Derrick Favors. The Jazz see Favors as a franchise cornerstone and the 21-year-old has been terrific when given significant minutes. On most teams, Favors would be in the starting lineup, but his development has been slowed because he plays behind Millsap in Utah. It may be time to trade Millsap for several reasons, mainly to avoid losing him for nothing next summer and to free up minutes for Favors.
Al Jefferson, Utah Jazz – Jefferson finds himself in the same boat as Millsap. He’s in the final year of his contract and will be a highly coveted unrestricted free agent next offseason. There’s a chance that the 27-year-old big man re-signs with Utah, but there’s also the possibility that he signs elsewhere and the Jazz miss their opportunity to cash in. Just as Millsap has Favors nipping at his heels, Jefferson is backed up by Enes Kanter, who seems ready to take on a bigger role in his sophomore season. Kanter was outstanding during the preseason and it’s only a matter of time before the 20-year-old becomes Utah’s starting center. Millsap and Jefferson are the present, but Favors and Kanter are clearly the future. The Jazz need to decide if it’s time to hand the reins over to their young bigs, trading away Millsap and/or Jefferson before they test free agency and either leave for nothing or demand a big payday.
Anderson Varejao, Cleveland Cavaliers – The Cavaliers aren’t going to trade Varejao just to trade him. They’ll only move the 30-year-old if they’re able to acquire a draft pick or a player that makes them better. Cleveland received plenty of calls about Varejao over the summer, but decided to hold onto the eight-year veteran. While they would like to free up some minutes for their stable of young big men – Tristan Thompson, Tyler Zeller, Jon Leuer and Samardo Samuels – they also believe that Varejao can be a mentor and leader for this young team and feel that his production would hard to replace. Varejao’s name will be mentioned in plenty of trade scenarios between now and the February deadline since he’s in the prime of his career and Cleveland is still in the rebuilding phase. With that said, it’ll take an attractive offer for the Cavaliers to part ways with him.
Al Harrington, Orlando Magic – Magic general manager Rob Hennigan has made it clear that he’ll explore his options prior to the trade deadline and may move some of the veterans on the roster. Orlando is clearly in rebuilding mode and Harrington isn’t part of the team’s long-term plan. Moving the 32-year-old would free up minutes for rookie forwards Andrew Nicholson, Maurice Harkless and Kyle O’Quinn. Remember, Hennigan wants to follow the Oklahoma City Thunder model in Orlando. That means letting young players learn on the job, which speeds up their development and puts the team in position to land a top draft pick. Harrington wasn’t thrilled to leave a contending Denver Nuggets team for a rebuilding effort, so his days in Orlando may be numbered. He’ll start the season on the sidelines as he recovers from offseason knee surgery and a subsequent staph infection. Harrington is an attractive trade chip for several reasons. Not only is he a veteran contributor, he also has a cap-friendly contract because the final two years and $14,758,400 remaining on his deal are only 50 percent guaranteed.
J.J. Redick, Orlando Magic – Redick is another Magic player who could be available at the trade deadline. The 28-year-old is in the final year of his contract and the Magic will likely move him rather than lose him for nothing. While Redick has expressed interest in re-signing with Orlando for the right price, it’s unlikely that the Magic will give him a big payday since the team views Arron Afflalo, who is owed $22,687,500 over the next three years, as the long-term answer at shooting guard. Redick has made huge strides over the course of his six-year career and there are plenty of teams that would welcome his contributions on both ends of the court. Everyone in the Magic organization loves Redick and appreciates how professional he has been during this transition period. He has emerged as a leader for this young team and he hasn’t complained about playing a reserve role behind Afflalo. However, Redick – like Harrington – will likely hear his name mentioned a lot as the trade deadline approaches.
Derrick Williams, Minnesota Timberwolves – It didn’t take long for Williams to learn that the NBA is a business. Williams’ name has appeared in plenty of trade rumors, even though the 21-year-old has only been in the league for one season. It seemed like the trade speculation would go away and Williams would take on a bigger role this year, especially once Michael Beasley left as a free agent. Williams vowed to step up and worked hard over the summer, improving his midrange jumper and losing nearly 20 pounds. However, Minnesota had other plans. The Wolves signed Andrei Kirilenko and Dante Cunningham and traded for Chase Budinger so Williams’ role is up in the air once again. During the preseason, he came off of the bench in five of seven games, and he struggled compared to the team’s three new forwards. It feels like just yesterday that the Timberwolves selected Williams with the second overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, but now the sophomore is definitely someone who could be dealt.
Tyrus Thomas, Charlotte Bobcats – The Bobcats would love to move Thomas, but finding a trade partner is easier said than done. When Charlotte was shopping the second overall pick prior to this year’s draft, they tried to package the selection with Thomas, but couldn’t find a taker. Thomas doesn’t have much trade value after an awful 2011-12 season in which he averaged just 5.6 points and 3.7 rebounds and posted a 9.06 Player Efficiency Rating, which ranked 12th on the Bobcats. His physical confrontation with former Bobcats head coach Paul Silas and struggle to keep on weight has also scared teams off. To make matters worse, Thomas’ contract isn’t pretty – he’s owed more than $26 million over the next three years. As we’ve learned in recent years, no contract is untradeable. Thomas isn’t the attractive trade chip that he once was, but maybe there’s a team out there that sees something in him and thinks they can salvage his career. If the Bobcats don’t trade Thomas, it won’t be for lack of trying.
Tayshaun Prince, Detroit Pistons – The Pistons are rebuilding and this season will be about developing their young core, which consists of Greg Monroe, Brandon Knight, Rodney Stuckey and Andre Drummond among others. How does Prince, who will turn 33 years old in February, fit into the equation? Prince doesn’t want to waste the final years of his career on a perennial bottom feeder. He’s in his prime and he likely wants to play for something rather than going through the motions and serving as a mentor. He has three years remaining on his contract so a trade is his only way out of Detroit. Prince started to decline a bit last year, but the 10-year veteran is still a very efficient contributor who can make an impact on both ends of the court. Don’t be surprised if Prince gets traded at some point during this season, most likely to a winning team that feels they’re one piece away. If the Pistons decide to hold onto Prince, they may try to flip Corey Maggette’s expiring contract prior to the deadline.
DeJuan Blair, San Antonio Spurs – Blair has been on the block for awhile. The Spurs worked the phones in the days leading up to the 2012 NBA Draft, gauging interest in the 23-year-old. They didn’t receive an offer that blew them away so they decided to hold onto Blair, but that doesn’t mean he’s suddenly part of the Spurs’ plan going forward. Even though the team kept him, Blair understands that he could be shopped again. He’s not sure what the future holds, but he’s hoping to play a decent amount of minutes as long as he remains in San Antonio. During last year’s playoffs, Blair surprisingly fell out of the Spurs’ rotation. After starting 62 games and averaging 21.3 minutes during the regular season, Blair didn’t start a single game during the postseason and averaged just 7.6 minutes. He sat out four games and when he did get a chance to come off of the bench, he didn’t stay on the court very long and was on a very short leash. Blair, who lost a significant amount of weight over the summer, hopes he can play his way back into the rotation. If he plays well and gets back on Gregg Popovich’s good side, he may stay in San Antonio for the duration of the season. Or, Popovich may decide to go with Boris Diaw, Tiago Splitter and Matt Bonner, which would likely mean Blair gets dealt in the next few months.
Jimmer Fredette, Sacramento Kings – Fredette hasn’t panned out for the Kings and he currently finds himself buried on the depth chart. The emergence of Isaiah Thomas and the acquisition of Aaron Brooks likely mean his days in Sacramento are numbered. Fredette struggled in the Las Vegas Summer League and was mediocre during the preseason. Some scouts have already started predicting that Fredette will end up playing overseas within the next year or two. His future in the NBA isn’t guaranteed, as the final few years of his contract are team options. The Kings will likely shop him as the deadline approaches and hope that a team is willing to trade for him because of his name recognition and potential.
Raja Bell, Utah Jazz – It’s only a matter of time until Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey trades Bell. The disgruntled shooting guard publicly blasted Jazz head coach Ty Corbin at the end of last season, calling him unprofessional and criticizing his communication skills. Bell vowed to never play for Utah again. Over the summer, the Jazz tried to negotiate a buyout with the 36-year-old, but the two sides couldn’t come to an agreement. Last month, Bell was told not to report to training camp. Now, a trade seems imminent. The 12-year veteran can still contribute on the defensive end and, at this point in his career, he’d love to play for a contender. Don’t be surprised if Bell is traded in the coming weeks.
Larry Sanders, Milwaukee Bucks – Sanders still has plenty of upside and, if put in the right situation, he could still develop into a solid NBA player. However, the 23-year-old may need a change of scenery to realize his full potential. Sanders saw his minutes decrease last season, and his role will be even more diminished this season. In the past eight months, the Bucks have traded for Ekpe Udoh and Samuel Dalembert, signed Joel Przybilla and drafted John Henson. Sanders is buried on the depth chart, especially after a mediocre showing during the Las Vegas Summer League. The Bucks seem more committed to their other young big men and Sanders may not fit into their long-term plan, which means he could be dealt at the trade deadline if the right offer comes along.
HOOPSWORLD will keep you up-to-date on all of the latest trade rumors as they surface throughout the course of the season.