The NBA trade block is one of the most unpredictable places in the world. Stars often find themselves sitting on it twiddling their thumbs, wondering how the hell this even came about.
Professional basketball is unreliable when it comes to expectations—most of the time they are never met. NBA players are scolded for taking hold of their own futures while executives are allowed to manipulate it to their liking.
As untouchable as some players may seem, there are times when their futures are just as questionable as those mid-level players that play their role. Still, there are players who will never grace the trade block.
Any moves being made in their honor will be primarily on their own accord. Maybe they did not think the payday was worth their while. Maybe another franchise has a better chance at winning a championship. Maybe family reasons force them to reconsider their home arena.
In either scenario, there is only a small group of men in the NBA that will never have to worry about having a trade target stamped on their backs. Their exits will be their own.
Besides the no-trade clause in his contract, the LA Lakers’ have no spot in household mentions with Kobe Bryant. Why would they risk dropping into a category of bottom-feeders? Trading Bryant would be them at the bottom of the totem pole.
Even if they were to get two or three players in their prime, there is no NBA player that has Bryant’s drive or ambition. His stroke is still one of the Lakers’ offensive painkillers. His defense is stingy against some of the best players in the league.
What’s the biggest reason why the Lakers would never touch Kobe Bryant in a trade situation? He is Kobe Bryant and they would be laughed out of ownership if they ever considered it.
Bryant is and always has been the prime representative of the Lakers’ brand. As integral a part of their success as Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Kobe Bryant will retire a Laker because the franchise would be ignorant not to let him.
He will never walk away from the Lakers’ brand and they would never attempt to push him out. It is blasphemous to think that it would even be an option.
If you hate him, then this segment of the slideshow is just not for you. LeBron James is a great basketball player. With a stronger and broader mentality, James could retire as one of the top five players to ever grace a court.
As much as most sports’ fans may not agree with me, one fact remains simple and relevant to his career: James will never be a player that a general manager feels he needs to get the hell out of town.
LeBron is one of those once in a lifetime players. He frustrates the world in ways that are menacing to the fundamentals of the game, this is true. However, his talent merits the attention of the world at the exact same time.
Cleveland Cavaliers’ owner Dan Gilbert screamed and shouted in a letter to the Cavaliers’ fans that he felt LeBron just gave up on the franchise. He felt like the superstar gave up in one of the most defining moments of his career.
Yet, he was still willing to pay top dollar to James to lure him back into Cleveland’s lockerrooms. LeBron James is now in Miami.
There is not a fraction of evidence in the atmosphere of the league that he will ever be traded from the trio that is assembled in South Beach. James is the most talented player in the league right now and to give him up to another contender would be suicide.
No general manager in the league is that stupid.
And then there was Flash, Batman or whatever else NBA onlookers call him to demean LeBron James’ involvement in Miami’s success. Dwyane Wade was there first and he deserves to be the captain and last shot taker of the franchise. He has earned it.
Wade has also earned the right to never be traded from an organization that he has put such a solid mark on. Miami Heat’s sole championship was won under Wade’s watch, of course with the Robin help of Shaquille O’Neal.
His next will most definitely be earned under the watch of James. That still does not take away from what Wade means to the league.
Not only is he still a perennial scorer who can shoot from the outside and in the low post, Wade is also a carefree basketball player that knows no boundaries. His finesse mixed with his die-hard nature is brutal to offensive players as well as defenders who feel as if they can shut him and the Miami Heat down—or up.
Wade’s passion is enough to take a franchise all the way to the NBA Finals. His talent is just the icing on the cake that makes the deal that much sweeter.
The Washington Wizards are on the cusp of oblivion. They are going nowhere fast, and the removal of Coach Flip Saunders seemed to only leave the young men in more disarray than they had been in with his leadership.
The two key plays that could describe their season are JaVale McGee’s ridiculous run back up the court to get on defense and Nick Young’s fast break lay-up gone terribly, terribly overthrown. There is no telling when the Wizards will be on the up and up again.
There is one thing that will never change. John Wall will always be Washington’s first option, no matter if his leadership capabilities were widely overvalued in the 2010 NBA Draft.
The Wizards have a player-first mentality that will force their hand to keep Wall on board for as long as he wants. Wall is a raw talent that needs a lot of refining.
Still, his potential is so high that Washington is unwilling to take the chance of watching him succeed elsewhere.
The Los Angeles Clippers are smelling themselves right now, for lack of a better phrase. Don’t know what that means? “Smelling yourself” is when you have had too many doses of how great you are. The compliments begin to go to your head and you become victim of your own success.
The Clippers seem to have forgotten the great deeds of a supreme supporter they had in Clipper Darrell. However, they will never forget the efforts of Blake Griffin that has brought their franchise back from the dead. Griffin will never be a casualty of the trade block.
His talents are just of as much importance as the Portland Trailblazers feel Greg Oden still can be, despite his countless surgeries. Griffin spearheaded the re-emergence of the Clippers in Los Angeles and has even given the organization the opportunity to compete in popularity with the Lakers.
The Clippers may be becoming a bit self-serving, but they are not stupid. Blake Griffin is the end-all, be-all of their franchise. They will never let him go.
The Los Angeles Clippers matched a $43 million, four-year contract that DeAndre Jordan signed with the Golden State Warriors back in December of 2011. A franchise does not throw that type of money at a player without some ambitions of his future with the team.
According to ESPN, Jordan’s high payday was a product of his dirty work personality and the on-court relationship he and Blake Griffin share.
Clippers' coach Vinny Del Negro said Jordan is worth it.
"The expectations are so high at those type of numbers, but if you really know the game and understand that DeAndre brings a defensive presence for us. Shot-blocking, he runs the court well," Del Negro said. "He's very young still, he's only going to get better. Blake and him play off each other well. He brings you an athletic, big dynamic that we're fortunate to have."
Plainly stated, at this stage in Griffin’s career, we have already realized that he needs a big man to operate off of that has just has much potential. What better candidate than Jordan?
Franchises all over the league are loading their rosters up with a 1-2 big man punch. The Lakers have Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, for the time being. The New York Knicks have Amare Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler.
These are prime examples of the blueprint the Clippers are trying to follow. The two teams mentioned have what many would consider the best of both worlds. There are the elite big men who give the refined offensive edge.
Then there are the elite dirty work players.
That is what the Clippers have with both Jordan and Griffin.
Derrick Rose is everything the Chicago Bulls needed to remember what a dynasty they had become in the Michael Jordan era. There was no more Phil Jackson. No more Jordan. No more Scottie Pippen, at least not suited up. No Dennis Rodman. And then there was Rose.
Derrick Rose has revived a lost franchise and the fans of the city could not be represented by a grittier, harder-working young athlete. Rose embodies the state of the city with his unrelenting drive for greatness and his humility to cast a diamond shadow over it all.
His talent speaks for itself. Rose pushes the men around him to be great and operates at such a high level that they have no choice but to step it up. What better man to build a franchise around?
Not to mention that Rose has tackled a different avenue of his personality lately. It is the more defiant, Jordan-like Rose that voices his opinions regardless of the possible fines in his future.
Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose uncharacteristically lashed out at officials during and after his team's 104-99 victory over the New York Knicks Monday night, showing his frustration at what he sees as a lack of fouls called against those defending him.
"I just go out there and try to play hard," Rose said. "I keep hearing that I create the contact, and I just try to fight through it. That's all I tried to do (Monday night). There were certain situations where things got pretty intense, and I thought I was going to get the call I was supposed to get and I didn't. I guess I was seeing something that they weren't. I just tried to play through it, play my game and just keep going."
The Chicago Bulls embrace his nature and his talents, knowing that he can cascade much further than the sky. Derrick Rose has been labeled the point guard of the future, and he is maintaining that potential quite well. Following up a great 2010 season would have been a harsh task for anyone else.
This is Rose we are talking about—not your average run-of-the-mill point guard. He is Derrick Rose. He has become the standard.
Joakim Noah has propelled himself over the last few seasons within the Chicago Bulls’ organization. Noah is an integral part of Chicago’s offense and defense and has become the second-most influential player in the organization.
When Carlos Boozer stepped in and was not immediately cohesive with Noah under the rim, the question was never what to do with Noah. Boozer automatically became a possible trade target. Noah was never in danger of no longer representing the Bulls’ brand.
Just like Rose but not as flashy or athletically geared, Noah works hard for his squad. The system that Coach Tom Thibodeau implements with the young men of the Chicago franchise works so well for Noah because it requires such a strong presence around the basket.
Noah has only improved in his moves in the low post and has only become stronger when facing more experienced opponents. As a matter of fact, when facing teams like the Boston Celtics, the Miami Heat and the New York Knicks this season, Noah has averaged a double-digit points per game, and the lowest average of 9.5 rebounds against the Heat.
He performs well in the face of pressure and against the new kids on the block—the LA Clippers—scoring 19 points on 71.4 percent field-goal shooting.
To get rid of him would be like striking a vital artery in the heart of the Bulls' franchise. Chicago has most recently returned to a dose of glory. They are one of, if not the best defensive team in the league. Noah is one of the primary reasons for that and Chicago’s front office firmly understands this.
Kevin Durant is the best scorer in the league. Yes, I said it and there is no taking a revelation like that back. Durant brings a firestorm to the OKC Thunder starting lineup.
Alongside Russell Westbrook, though he may attempt to swipe some of the spotlight, Durant is only able to progress and focus on perfecting other fractions of his game.
Durant has been doing just that. During the offseason, Durant was scripting a processed presence under the rim and building body mass to create stronger drives. That is the only thing missing from his game.
At the ripe age of 23, Durant is much more of a complete player than most of the men that have come into this league before him. Not only that, but under his command, the Thunder are the only franchise in the NBA speculated to dethrone the preseason predictions of Miami Heat’s championship run.
Durant is the ideal centerpiece to a youthful franchise that has at least a decade of greatness left in the tank. None of the men on the team, including Durant, have reached their potential yet. What they are able to do individually is escalated by Durant’s involvement in the offense and the pressure he takes off of his teammates, especially in the clutch.
Kevin Durant is a new-age player with an old soul for competition and excellence.
The Denver Nuggets do not have a star. Even though Danilo Gallinari sits at the forefront of the Nuggets as far as points per game, Ty Lawson is really the leader of the franchise. During the talks of last season that would eventually separate Carmelo Anthony from the Nuggets, Lawson was never included in a deal with the Knicks or the Nets.
The Nuggets are first in points per game, fourth in rebounds per game and second in assists per game. Why are they seconds in assists per game? Why is there a silver lining in the starless galaxy for the Denver Nuggets?
Lawson has a multidimensional game working for him and the Nuggets. Not only can he create his own offense, but he can become the prime facilitator for Denver’s shooters like Al Harrington and Aaron Afflalo.
Fans may not understand that the reason why Carmelo Anthony was so sound in the Nuggets’ offense was because he was not forced to create. Lawson was always dictating the Nuggets’ offense while Anthony was at the end of the chain receiving dishes from perfect placement on the floor.
Lawson is steadily improving in his role as a point guard with the Nuggets and continues to make his position in the franchise solid. He is the only sure thing the Nuggets have right now and consistency is something that they are not willing to throw away.
Zach Randolph has become a steadfast instrument for the Memphis Grizzlies since last year’s postseason. In Rudy Gay’s absence, the Grizzlies were not expected to go any further than the first round.
Hell, they were not even expected to graze the playoffs after Gay went out with an injury.
Randolph and Marc Gasol, the unsung Gasol it may seem, took a hold of the first round of the Western Conference playoffs as the eight seed. They accelerated past the San Antonio Spurs, who held the second-best regular season record in the league. Memphis also forced a tough series for the OKC Thunder to overcome in the second round.
All of this was without their All-Star at the starting position. The more enticing chunk of his game has been apparent all along. Randolph has been averaging big time numbers since his ’03 season with the Portland Trailblazers.
Even after an almost season-ending right knee-ligament tear, Randolph is nearing a return and his placement with the Grizzlies has not been questioned once. He is not on the trading block. After such a crucial injury like that, without talks of dumping his contract, Randolph should be secure that Memphis is thinking long term.
Paul Pierce is still on fire. He may not be exactly what the Boston Celtics need, but he is definitely what they want. They want him to retire in a Boston jersey and that is not that unlikely of a desire.
For a while, Pierce has been the franchise’s rejuvenator. He has been the Celtics’ leader for more than a moment and anything different would be a shock to Beantown fans’ senses. The arrival of Rajon Rondo has shaken things up, in the worst way at times.
However, Pierce has remained as concrete as he has ever been. Even Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett have been options for trade. Rondo has more than often been up for grabs, even though his worth to the organization has only continued to skyrocket.
The youth in his joints alone is a wilted commodity in the Celtics’ lockerroom compared to Paul Pierce.
At 34 years old, Pierce should be awaiting trade rumors to bang on his hotel room door. Kendrick Perkins was released as soon as a more youthful cast member became available. Why should Pierce be immune to such disregard?
He should not. In the minds of Boston’s front office executives, Pierce still has about three or four more years of greatness left in him. They must think so, if they are willing to risk the on-court performance of their young premiere point guard.
Refusing to recognize that the tide is shifting in the league and in their franchise, they are keeping their championship dreams at a standstill. They are still intact with Pierce at the head of the leaderboard, but they are not moving too far along.
Still, Paul Pierce stands and will continue to until he is ready to retire as a member of the Boston Celtics.
Tony Parker’s engine has yet to realize that the wheels guiding it are getting older and less dependable. No matter how old the point guard gets, the San Antonio Spurs can continue to look towards him as a fundamental piece of their game plan.
Sure, you have Tim Duncan who came back slightly renewed. Then there is always Manu Ginobili who is the squad’s X-factor above all others.
His presence in the Western Conference Playoffs was of utmost importance simply because he gives the Spurs the burst they need to compete against the younger teams in the West.
While it may not be enough to fight off the Kevin Durant-led OKC Thunder or the Kobe Bryant-led LA Lakers, Parker is still the Spurs' most valuable player. There have even been chants that he may have been the most valuable player in the league this season.
That notion is shot out of the window. However, Parker is still at the top of the point guard food chain and does not appear to be rescinding his position among the league’s most efficacious players.
Kyrie Irving stepped up to the challenge to refurbish the Cleveland Cavaliers’ name. Dan Gilbert made a great decision by bringing in someone of Irving’s caliber and work ethic.
From his days at Duke as a Blue Devil, Irving showed an outrageous potential that made every NBA scout drool. He was a complete NBA player amongst lesser evils during his college days.
He has proven that every bit of attention he received as a college freshman was warranted.
People are already proclaiming that he is the second coming of Chris Paul. Although I may not completely agree with that early assumption, Irving is the best thing to happen to the Cavaliers in a long time.
With him, they have gained a reliable point guard with the athleticism and speed of Rajon Rondo, the court vision of Chris Paul and a more tailored jumper than Derrick Rose.
Irving has a lot to learn, but his ceiling is incredibly high. He has a thirst for improvement and has done exactly that throughout the 2011 season.
Dan Gilbert is not going to let another gem slip through his fingers.
The Monta Ellis trade just proved exactly what the smarter Golden State Warriors’ fans have felt all along. Stephen Curry is much more important to the future success of the franchise than Ellis ever was.
This move has been a long-time coming. Ever since Curry was drafted by the Warriors, Ellis has been on the move. Maybe not as obvious as most would have liked it to be, but he has been on the move for a long time.
Ellis is a great post-up guard. He is a beautiful shooter, at times. Monta can even drop a good 25 or 30 points on his opposition on any given NBA Sunday. Andrew Bogut is better.
Not only that, but Bogut fits into a system that Coach Mark Jackson has been trying to instill since his arrival. Who else fits into that system?
The point guard will be essential to Bogut’s inclusion on the Golden State squad. A nice percentage of the scoring load will be placed on him, but he will have help that he did not have previously. The paint presence that Bogut grants the team will give them an added dimension.
Ellis was flashy, but Bogut is big and fundamental. He is stronger. The addition to the franchise only proves that the organization is looking to build around the young Curry.
An annoying injury that often rears its ugly head may stall his growth at times. However, Curry is still the most important and stable man in Golden State.