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We’re less than a week away from the NBA trade deadline, and rumors are swirling at a tornado’s pace, so let’s simplify things: Here are the most likely players to be dealt by every team before next Thursday.
Atlanta Hawks: Marco Belinelli
The 31-year-old wing is working on an affordable expiring contract ($6.6 million), and the tanking Hawks have little use for his helpful production the rest of the way. Belinelli’s sharpshooting, adaptability to defensive schemes and championship experience make him an attractive fit for a contender like, say, the Oklahoma City Thunder. Hawks forward Ersan Ilyasova is another candidate for similar seasons, and both could probably be had for a second-round pick and contract filler.
Boston Celtics: Guerschon Yabusele
With a young core and a host of talented prospects still working on rookie deals, it’s unlikely the first-place Celtics make changes to their rotation, especially with an $8.4 million designated player exception available and the possibility that Gordon Hayward could return. Boston likes Yabusele and his potential as Draymond Green Lite, but there’s no real path to playing time for him on the Celtics, so if they were to part with an asset for some veteran help on their playoff run, Yabu would be it.
Brooklyn Nets: Spencer Dinwiddie
Dinwiddie has been good, and the 24-year-old is producing on a deal that pays him just $1.66 million next season, so why would a desperate Nets team part ways with him now? Because his value may never be higher. He may also never play better. As his usage rate and field-goal attempts have climbed, his efficiency has dwindled. So, if Nets general manager Sean Marks could swing a first-round pick from a team looking for backup point guard production, that would be tough to turn down.
Charlotte Hornets: Kemba Walker
Hornets owner Michael Jordan has made his star point guard available for the right price, which as best we can tell, is another All-Star-caliber player and the trading partner’s willingness to take on additional salary. That seems unlikely, and once the Hornets brass comes around on the idea that Kawhi Leonard is not walking through that door, a Jordan compromise combined with another team’s desperation might result in a deal that helps a Charlotte team stuck in the middle start to rebuild.
Chicago Bulls: Robin Lopez
With Nikola Mirotic now gone to New Orleans, the Bulls will continue to strip their roster of valuable veterans as the rebuild continues. Outside of Omer Asik, who came with a first-round pick in the Mirotic deal and has little trade value on his own, Lopez is the only player left who fits that bill. The rim-protector was a beast in the first round of last year’s playoffs, and he has one year left on his deal after this at an about-right $14.4 million. How much he would fetch in return is the only question.
Cleveland Cavaliers: Tristan Thompson
The struggling Cavs, as we know, are desperate to get more help around LeBron James for the stretch run, and the 26-year-old Thompson, if paired with draft assets, is the only player outside of Kevin Love with the salary ($16.4 million) and talent to fetch much meaningful value in return. Any deal for DeAndre Jordan or a similar talent would likely have to start with Thompson and the Brooklyn pick.
Dallas Mavericks: Wesley Matthews
The Mavs have made Matthews and his hefty price tag ($17.9 million this season and an $18.6 million player option for 2018-19) available, looking for a first-round pick in exchange. The 31-year-old isn’t the elite 3-and-D wing he was before an Achilles injury, but he’s still good on both ends, and those contributions are being wasted on a lottery-bound team. If Dallas were to score a first-rounder for him, it would probably come with heavy protections, and the Mavericks may ultimately take even less.
Denver Nuggets: Kenneth Faried
Once the darling of USA Basketball and lovers of intense interior effort, Faried has found himself on the back end of Denver’s rotation to the point you occasionally forget he’s still playing for the Nuggets, what with years’ worth of trade rumors involving him. He has just one year remaining on the $50 million extension he signed in 2014, and now might finally be the time a team will bite, so long as any still believe he’s salvageable as a power forward with declining production who can’t shoot.
Detroit Pistons: Stanley Johnson
Speaking of guys who can’t shoot. But Johnson is promising and still just 21 years old. He works hard on both ends, and his numbers everywhere else are up across the board. He’s precisely the type of player other rising teams should target in hopes of finding the upside we all imagined when he was selected eighth overall in a deep draft in 2015. Now that the Pistons have Blake Griffin paired with Andre Drummond in a frontcourt that needs more floor spacing, they have less use for Johnson than before.
Golden State Warriors: JaVale McGee
The Warriors don’t need anything, really, and it’s doubtful they make any moves. But, The Athletic’s Marcus Thompson reported back in December that McGee has been both unhappy with his minutes (8.1 per game, 16 DNPs) and veteran minimum contract, so if a deal is to be done, that’s the one.
Houston Rockets: Ryan Anderson
Same goes for Anderson. Not the unhappy part. The “I doubt they’re making a splashy trade, but if they do, he’d be it” part. Anderson has thrived in Houston, even playing better defensively this year, and maybe that’s left the Rockets less desperate to dump the remainder of the four-year, $80 million deal he signed in 2016, as they were in their pursuit of Carmelo Anthony this past summer. If they’re creative enough to land a third star that gets Anderson off their books, they would leap at the chance.
Indiana Pacers: Al Jefferson
The Pacers, believe it or not, are gearing up for a playoff run, currently tied for the East’s fifth seed and just two games out of third. If Jefferson’s expiring contract (he’s only partially guaranteed next season) and draft assets can land Indiana a helpful piece in pursuit of a conference semifinals showing, they could pull the trigger, especially if the guy they get can help them beyond this year.
Los Angeles Clippers: DeAndre Jordan
With Chris Paul and Griffin already gone, the Clippers might as well send Jordan packing, too, and completely rebrand from Lob City. Jordan is owed a $24.1 million player option next season, but he’s expected to decline that in favor of another sizable long-term contract. The Clippers should have real questions about paying Jordan max money again, because despite his rim-protecting and rim-running prowess, he’s not proven capable of being even a third option on a title-contending team. The Clips might consider moving Lou Williams, too, but he could be far less expensive to keep around.
Los Angeles Lakers: Jordan Clarkson
The Lakers have made no secret of their intention to clear as much cap space as possible in pursuit of two max-contract free agents this summer, and Clarkson will be a casualty of that sooner or later. He’s an inefficient scorer slotted to make $13.4 million in 2019-20, and that’s not going to net much, but he is nothing more than a salary dump. Julius Randle is in a similar boat, only with more value.
Memphis Grizzlies: Tyreke Evans
Evans is one of the most coveted players on the trade market, because he’s averaging an efficient 19.5 points, five rebounds and five assists per game on an expiring $3.3 million contract. He could swing playoff games as a playmaker off the bench, and nearly half the league is bidding for his services — so much so that the Grizzlies are keeping him on ice until a deal is done, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Miami Heat: Hassan Whiteside
The Heat are closing in on the third seed in the East, so why would they deal a rim-protecting double-double machine? Inconsistency and effort have led to clashes with Miami coach Erik Spoelstra ever since Whiteside signed a max deal in 2016, and the Heat have performed just as well without him. Whiteside was recently linked to Milwaukee, and if they could fetch a Jabari Parker or Khris Middleton while dumping Whiteside’s salary, they’d be wise to do it. Keep Justise Winslow in mind here, too.
Milwaukee Bucks: John Henson
Parker and Middleton are possibilities, should the Bucks be in the market for a blockbuster, but more likely they will try to swing Henson or Mirza Teletovic — two veterans working on tradable contracts — for help to make a run around Giannis Antetokounmpo and the potentially dangerous core they’ve never been able to keep healthy. But you wonder if Henson or Teletovic and future draft picks would be enough to net Milwaukee anything better than what they’ve already got.
Minnesota Timberwolves: Gorgui Dieng
After averaging 10 points and eight rebounds for three straight years in Minnesota, Dieng has fallen back in the rotation. The Wolves have frontcourt depth to replace Dieng’s minutes if necessary, and they’re short on backcourt contributors. He’s a talent, still under 30 and is nice trade bait for guard help from a team looking for long-term help in the middle (Dieng is owed $17.3 million in 2020-21).
New Orleans Pelicans: Dante Cunningham
The Pelicans just swung a trade for Mirotic, dealing Tony Allen and Jameer Nelson as well, and they’re in the market for recently bought out hometown product Greg Monroe. That probably covers most of the movement in New Orleans, but Cunningham now finds himself in a crowded frontcourt, and if the Pelicans can turn his $2.3 million expiring salary into an asset, there’s one more deal to be made.
New York Knicks: Willy Hernangomez
It is genuinely bizarre that Hernangomez — a First-Team All-Rookie pick who averaged close to a double-double in 18.4 minutes a game last season — has fallen so out of favor on a Knicks team that can use all the help it can get. Maybe that gives potential trade partners pause, but he’s available, and if New York isn’t even willing to showcase him, it might as well take what it can get now.
Oklahoma City Thunder: Alex Abrines
The Thunder are short on shooting guard depth after Andre Roberson’s injury, but they’re also short on tradable assets. Abrines and fellow two-guard Terrance Ferguson might be the only players on the roster who can help them solidify the position in a deal. Abrines is owed $5.5 million next season, and that’s the type of salary when packaged with a second-round pick that might fetch an upgrade.
Orlando Magic: Nikola Vucevic
Nobody on the Magic roster is safe. Soon-to-be free agents Elfrid Payton and Aaron Gordon could be had for the right price, but Vucevic — under contract for an affordable $12.75 million next season — seems the most likely candidate to be dealt for picks and players at the deadline. He’s nearing a return from breaking his hand just after Christmas, and he’s an intriguing player. He’s not much of a defender, but he can score and rebound — think of him as Enes Kanter, only cheaper, with a jumper.
Philadelphia 76ers: Dario Saric
Ben Simmons’ arrival made Saric somewhat redundant, but there are plenty of teams that could use a playmaking forward of his caliber. The 6-foot-10 Croatian remains on his rookie contract until 2020 restricted free agency, and that makes him an attractive trade piece for a Sixers team trying to hold off the Pistons for the eighth seed and looking to bolster its playoff hopes with more explosive talent.
Phoenix Suns: Tyson Chandler
Even at the age of 35, Chandler is still a helpful piece in the paint. The Suns are going nowhere fast and have no use for a veteran eating up 25 minutes a night on a team with lottery picks in need of seasoning. Chandler is owed another $13.6 million next season, which is a bit of a concern for any team that might be willing to trade for him, but he could still earn his paycheck in the right situation.
Portland Trail Blazers: Ed Davis
The Blazers like Davis, and Davis likes the Blazers, but Portland also has to clear about $3 million to get under the luxury tax line this season, and Davis fits that bill. Noah Vonleh also does, but he’s not as attractive on the market as Davis, who’s averaging 5.6 points (on 57.3 percent shooting) and 7.1 rebounds in 18.8 minutes per game off the bench. It’s an unfortunate reality for a small-market team.
Sacramento Kings: George Hill
The Hill-to-Cleveland talk has cooled in recent days, but there’s still plenty of fire there. Kings coach Dave Joerger would like to see Hill traded, according to a league source. Both teams are currently searching for better deals, and neither seems likely to find one. Hill’s two-way contributions would help Cleveland’s backcourt woes, and his departure would clear the way for Kings rookie De’Aaron Fox. And Hill isn’t the only player up for sale in Sacramento. Zach Randolph, Vince Carter, Garrett Temple, Kosta Koufos, Skal Labissiere and even Willie Cauley-Stein should be available for the right deal, too.
San Antonio Spurs: Brandon Paul
If the Spurs aren’t trading Leonard, and they’re reportedly hanging up the phone on anyone calling, then there isn’t much maneuvering the Spurs can do. LaMarcus Aldridge isn’t going anywhere. Neither, it would seem, are Tony Parker, Pau Gasol and Patty Mills, which leaves Danny Green or any number of low-priced contributors. San Antonio rarely makes moves, possibly because trade partners are afraid of being swindled, so if anybody were to go, it’s Paul, who’s fallen out of the rotation in recent weeks.
Toronto Raptors: Jonas Valanciunas
The Raptors, like the Spurs, are firmly entrenched in a high playoff seed with a clearly defined rotation. It doesn’t make much sense to make a middling trade, but Valanciunas — owed $17.6 million in 2019-20 — has the salary and ability to match if they’re looking for a bigger move. The Raptors can play Serge Ibaka at the five, and second-year center Jakob Poeltl is ready to take over the reins. If they can upgrade the roster and save the money Valanciunas is owed going forward, it’s a win-win.
Utah Jazz: Rodney Hood
Hood hasn’t met expectations in his first post-Hayward season, and he’s a restricted free agent this summer, so the Jazz have a decision to make. The fact that he’s been repeatedly mentioned in trade talks gives us a good indication as to which way they’re leaning on investing in their 2014 first-round pick. Unrestricted free agent-to-be Derrick Favors is in the same boat, and both are solid players who might land Utah a couple of first-round picks to build around Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert.
Washington Wizards: Marcin Gortat
The Wizards are in trouble, what with John Wall scheduled to miss 6-8 weeks and the team already struggling to recreate last year’s run to within a game of the conference finals. They have little of value to trade, and Gortat might not even qualify in that regard, since he’s already pondering retirement and playing fewer minutes than he has since coming to Washington in 2013. But he’s a productive player who, if packaged with a draft pick or two, might be enough to make a necessary shakeup. Maybe.
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