Out-of-rotation players who could become trade candidates

·4 min read

We are more than three weeks into the NBA regular season and most teams have settled on their rotations. Some aren’t fully healthy and will have tinkering to do when key players return, but some others have some rotation players that are not playing.

Here are some players consistently getting DNP-CDs despite being healthy who could become candidates for a trade.

Goran Dragic (Toronto Raptors)

Goran Dragic, Toronto Raptors
Goran Dragic, Toronto Raptors

Salary: $19,440,000

Trade eligible: Now

Goran Dragic being in Toronto has less to do with him as a player and almost everything to do with being the necessary salary filler in the Kyle Lowry sign-and-trade. Dragic has only appeared in the first four games of the season averaging only 15.5 minutes per game. The Raptors stopped playing him with the emergence of rookie 6-7 point guard Dalano Banton. who has also overtaken second-year guard Malachi Flynn in the rotation.

Trading Dragic will be no easy task as his large salary complicates any deal. Surely a buyout is in consideration, but they’ll likely hold onto him through the trade deadline in case a deal comes. Even if there isn’t a team interested in trading for Dragic’s contract, it could be used as part of a larger deal where his new team potentially buys him out if they aren’t an ideal situation for him.

Marvin Bagley (Sacramento Kings)

Salary: $11,312,114

Trade eligible: Now

Marvin Bagley has only appeared in one game for 10 minutes out of Sacramento’s 12 regular-season games so far. His absence from the rotation was expected after his representation posted a tweet blasting the Kings for the decision. They have about four other backup centers who could make this list with their inconsistent roles, but Bagley has the biggest pedigree of them. Like Dragic, the Kings will likely also hold onto him through the deadline in case a trade comes. Sacramento could use his $11 million salary as ballast to match for a player who can help them get back into the playoffs for the first time in 16 seasons.

Robin Lopez (Orlando Magic)

Bruno Fernando, Boston Celtics
Bruno Fernando, Boston Celtics

Salary: $5,000,000

Trade eligible: December 15, 2021

The signing of Robin Lopez was curious considering they already had two young centers in Wendell Carter Jr. and Mo Bamba to prioritize. Lopez has appeared in five of Orlando’s six first regular-season games averaging 12 minutes per game and has not played since. Mo Wagner has also passed him in the rotation and the Magic getting healthier won’t help Lopez either. His $5 million salary is both very tradeable and manageable as a dead cap hit in case Orlando decides to buy him out.

Juancho Hernangomez (Boston Celtics)

Salary: $7,012,440

Trade eligible: Now

Juancho Hernangomez was brought to potentially be the primary backup power forward who can play some small-ball center. That role has been locked up by Grant Williams and fellow third-stringer Jabari Parker has played 27 minutes more than Hernangomez. He could become available soon if he isn’t already, especially since the Celtics are $6.3 million above the luxury tax. Salary dumping Hernangomez would get the struggling Celtics completely under the luxury tax.

Hamidou Diallo (Detroit Pistons)

Hamidou Diallo
Hamidou Diallo

Salary: $5,200,000

Trade eligible: January 15, 2022

The Pistons acquired Hamidou Diallo as a potential rotation player but his role has diminished with Cade Cunningham finally healthy. Diallo has only appeared in one game since Cunningham returned and played just five minutes in it. That’s not to say Diallo can’t get back into the rotation, but the Pistons desperately need shooting as they are dead last in both offensive rating and three-point percentage. His services might be best suited on a team that is already set with shooters that could use his athleticism and ability to get to the rim.

Ben McLemore (Portland Trail Blazers)

Ben McLemore, Portland Trail Blazers
Ben McLemore, Portland Trail Blazers

Salary: $1,669,178

Trade eligible: December 15, 2021

Unlike Detroit, the Blazers have their three-point shooting situation figured out as they’re second in three-pointers made per game and 8th in three-point percentage. Portland has prioritized defensive personnel off the bench, which is probably why Nassir Little and Tony Snell are ahead of Ben McLemore in the rotation even though those players aren’t necessarily plus-defenders. Still, McLemore shot 37 percent last season with the Lakers and could be very useful for teams desperate for shooting. McLemore could also be a salary dump candidate before the trade deadline to help Portland get below the luxury tax.

KZ Okpala (Miami Heat)

KZ Okpala, Miami Heat
KZ Okpala, Miami Heat

Salary: $1,782,621

Trade eligible: Now

Miami has settled on their rotation with both Markieff Morris and Caleb Martin as the primary forwards off the bench. KZ Okpala is in the final year of his deal and it seems that he is no longer in the Heat’s plans. Given their contender status, they will surely look to make upgrades on the margins in the trade and buyout market. Miami is just $236,443 below the luxury tax and will probably need a little more flexibility to improve the roster during the season. Offloading Okpala’s $1.8 million salary could be the move.

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