The NBA Players Most Likely to Be Traded
The new year is almost here, which means plenty of NBA trade rumors will begin to surface pretty soon. The trade deadline is only 60 days away and a handful of players have already started to hear their name mentioned in potential trade scenarios. Here are some of the players to keep an eye on as February 21 approaches:
Anderson Varejao, Cleveland Cavaliers – Entering this season, the Cavaliers had playoff aspirations. However, Cleveland is currently 6-23 and poised for another trip the lottery. One bright spot for the Cavs has been Anderson Varejao, who is having a career-year, averaging 14.1 points, 14.4 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game. The Cavaliers aren’t contending anytime soon and Varejao’s trade value is at an all-time high, which is why right now is the perfect time for Cleveland to cash in their 30-year-old center.
The Cavaliers are building around their young core of Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters and Tristan Thompson among others, and adding another young player or high draft pick makes the most sense for Cleveland going forward. As outstanding as Varejao has played this season, he’s not part of the Cavs’ long-term plan. Varejao has been an excellent leader and mentor for Cleveland’s young core, but moving him creates opportunities for the team’s younger contributors and better positions the Cavs for the future.
There are plenty of teams calling the Cavaliers about Varejao because not only is he having an All-Star season, he also has a very reasonable contract. This season, Varejao is making just $8.4 million, next season he’ll make $9.1 million and the following year he has a $9.8 million team option.
Pau Gasol, Los Angeles Lakers – Steve Nash is back in Los Angeles’ lineup, which means it’s time for Pau Gasol to step up. Before seriously considering a Gasol trade, the Lakers wanted to see if Nash could help their power forward return to form and fit in with Mike D’Antoni’s offense. If Gasol continues to struggle with Nash back in the starting five, there will be no more excuses and he’ll likely be on the trade block.
At this point, trading Gasol is easier said than done. Because he has struggled this season and been sidelined with knee tendinitis, there’s no guarantee that the Lakers will be able to find a team that’s willing to give up significant pieces for the 32-year-old Gasol, especially considering he’s making $19,000,000 this season and $19,285,850 next season. In the past, Los Angeles has shopped Gasol but couldn’t find a taker because they were overvaluing the big man and setting the asking price too high.
Gasol has been the subject of trade rumors since the start of the season and he’s certainly a player whose name will continue to surface as the trade deadline approaches.
Jose Calderon, Toronto Raptors – After Toronto acquired Kyle Lowry from the Houston Rockets over the offseason, Raptors President and General Manager Bryan Colangelo and Jose Calderon’s camp tried to find a trade that worked for both parties. Obviously, Calderon wasn’t traded, but that doesn’t mean he won’t be dealt prior to the deadline. The 31-year-old point guard is on an ending contract and he’ll likely walk as a free agent next summer if the Raptors don’t trade him since he wants to be a starter.
Like Varejao, Calderon has playing very well this season, which has significantly increased his trade value. Calderon has had to fill in for Lowry several times due to injuries and in 13 games as a starter he’s averaging 13.5 points and 11.3 assists. He has had two triple-doubles in the first two months of the season, which is extremely impressive for a back-up point guard. If teams lose their starting point guard to injury or realize that their starter isn’t getting the job done, Toronto will be the first team they call.
The Raptors will likely deal Calderon so they can get some kind of compensation rather than losing him for nothing. The only question: Will they try to package Calderon with Andrea Bargnani?
Andrea Bargnani, Toronto Raptors – Rather than just trading Calderon’s expiring contract, league sources say that the Raptors would like to package the veteran point guard with Andrea Bargnani to complete a splashy blockbuster deal.
Toronto failed to land a big-name small forward last summer and they would likely target a similar player if they shop a package of Bargnani and Calderon as expected. As the trade deadline gets closer, don’t be surprised if there are plenty of rumors surfacing involving Bargnani and Calderon.
Bargnani is now 27 years old and he hasn’t emerged into the franchise player that the Raptors thought they were getting when they selected him with the first overall pick in the 2006 NBA Draft. This season, Bargnani has been inconsistent and he’s averaging just 16 points, 4.3 rebounds and .71 blocks. He doesn’t lead the Raptors in a single statistical category, despite playing 32.8 minutes per game. His Player Efficiency Rating is 12.6, which is below the league average (15) and ninth-best on the Raptors.
Toronto is currently 9-19 and they haven’t lived up to expectations this season. They could certainly use some change and they’re expected to be one of the most active teams in the next two months.
Derrick Williams, Minnesota Timberwolves – When has Derrick Williams not been on the block? The Timberwolves tried to trade the second overall pick in last year’s draft prior to selecting Williams and they’ve been shopping him ever since his name was called. As the deadline approaches, it seems like the Timberwolves want to make a move, which is why a trade involving Williams may finally be coming.
Even though Michael Beasley is no longer in Minnesota and Kevin Love missed a chunk of the season, Williams failed to step up and show what he could do when given significant minutes. He continues to look more like a role player than a future star, which is why the Timberwolves would part ways with him if the right deal were to come along. This season, Williams has averaged 8.2 points and 4.4 rebounds in 17.8 minutes.
Even though Williams has already been labeled a bust by some critics, he’s only 21 years old and still has plenty of potential, which is why there are executives who would still be willing to take a chance on him.
J.J. Redick, Orlando Magic – The Magic have exceeded expectations this season and so has J.J. Redick, who has emerged as a Sixth Man of the Year candidate and the team’s most attractive trade chip. Coming off of Orlando’s bench, Redick is averaging 14 points, 4.9 assists and 2.3 rebounds in 31 minutes per game. The 28-year-old is putting up career-highs across the board and looks nothing like the one dimensional shooter who came out of Duke seven years ago.
Redick is also one of the longest-tenured Magic players, a fan favorite and a leader for Orlando’s young core. Even though Redick is a veteran who is used to winning more games than not and making deep postseason runs, he has been nothing but positive and supportive.
When Rob Hennigan and his staff first took over in the Magic’s front office, it seemed like Redick’s days in Orlando were numbered. Hennigan had just traded for Arron Afflalo, the team’s shooting guard of the future, and they weren’t sure what they were going to get from Redick on or off the court. However, after spending time with him and seeing how productive he has been, the Magic are much more hesitant to trade Redick.
With that said, Redick is in the final year of his deal. Would he re-sign to be a reserve on a rebuilding Magic team? While Redick and his wife have said that they love Orlando and are extremely happy right now, it remains to be seen if he would ink a long-term deal with the team. Like the Raptors with Calderon, the Magic have to decide if keeping Redick and risk losing their most attractive asset for nothing over the offseason is the right move.
Even though he has been the model player and teammate, trading Redick may be the best move for the Magic, especially since Orlando could likely get another young piece or draft pick, which Hennigan would love to stockpile as he rebuilds the team.
Honorable Mention: Paul Millsap, Al Jefferson, Tyreke Evans, Gerald Henderson, DeMarcus Cousins, Richard Hamilton, Ersan Ilyasova, Tayshaun Prince, DeJuan Blair