The 7 Best Players Soon to Be on the NBA Trading Block

Ethan Sherwood Strauss@SherwoodStraussNBA Lead WriterAugust 20, 2012

The 7 Best Players Soon to Be on the NBA Trading Block

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    The Dwight Howard trade was an asteroid hit that rocked this sport. It changes the calculus of multiple teams, as suddenly their rosters aren't suitable for what the league now is.

    Orlando must rebuild, Houston must give up on its Dwight chase, Dallas must lie in wait, Atlanta must do the same, and Brooklyn must move on.

    In the meantime, Dwight Howard could be a disaster in Los Angeles. It's not out of the realm of possibility, though I believe he'll do fine in La La Land. If Howard does run into issues as a Laker, then he too will go on the trading block.

1. Chris Paul

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    Donald Sterling has not demonstrated a deep affinity for winning. He makes money on the margins, often skimping en route to a healthy profit. Right now, Lob City excites fans somewhat, and Chris Paul is more than worth his price tag.

    But, should CP3 convey a want to sign elsewhere at season's end, the Clippers would be wise to trade him. Another team would be willing to exchange assets or absorb contracts for the privilege of paying Paul more money than any other franchise can.

    Paul isn't on the trading block due to disappointing his team, but he might just place himself there because he plays for a disappointing franchise. 

2. JaVale McGee

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    Sure, the Nuggets just inked JaVale McGee to a $50 million contract, but Denver also signed Nene Hilario to a hearty deal last season. After Nene suffered a production downturn, he was quickly shipped out.

    McGee has a volatile game, and Denver might lose patience if his learning curve is slow under George Karl. The talented big averaged 16 points, 11 boards and three blocks per 36 minutes last season. He also did this: 

3. James Harden

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    Here's what we (think we) know: Some team out there is willing to hand James Harden a max contract. Per Zach Lowe of Sports Illustrated:

    Look at the teams w/ max cap room next summer, and it's clear Harden is getting a max offer sheet if he hits free agency.

    — Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_SI) August 20, 2012

    Here's what we're not sure of: Does Oklahoma City want to give Harden a deal of equivalent value? Harden is an efficient player and can appear—at times—the closest thing the Thunder have to a pure point guard. He's also primarily a scorer, as is Kevin Durant, as is Russell Westbrook.

    There lies the possibility that OKC inks James to a big deal, then immediately ships him out. The demand is there. Also, the image-conscious Thunder might be inclined to do such a trade if more pictures like this come out. 

4. Eric Gordon

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    Eric Gordon spent some of the offseason professing his love of the Phoenix Suns. Then the New Orleans Hornets swooped in and signed the (restricted) free agent, leading to this awkward interview at Team USA practice: 

    So we know that the talented two-guard would prefer not to play with his current team. Gordon is 23 years old, entering his third season.

    In his young career, he's averaged 18 points and 3.3 assists There aren't many young shooting guards with All-Star potential, so there will be suitors should the Hornets find this situation untenable. 

5. Nicolas Batum

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    Eric Gordon wasn't the only guy to pledge allegiances a little early in free agency. Via Nicolas Batum's agent (featured in CSN Northwest), he made some Minny overtures.

    Like New Orleans, Portland swooped in to reclaim their restricted free agent, against his wishes. 

    Batum is long, athletic and an accurate three-point shooter. He also can fade into the background of games and lacks the kind of handle that other dominating wings boast.

    "Max" might be too big an investment for Portland, especially if they get bounced early from the playoff hunt. Don't be surprised if this seemingly unhappy Blazer gets dealt. 

6. Stephen Curry

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    The Steph Curry era has been a frustrating one in Golden State. It's not for lack of talent, as Steph has an impressive 18.1 PER and a scalding .584 true shooting percentage over the course of his career. 

    Health is the issue here. Curry has a fragile right ankle and it's been perpetually hurt over the last two years. Though the Warriors traded positional rival Monta Ellis, more injuries could result in Steph getting traded as well.

    Also, it isn't exactly as though Curry has expressed his explicit want to remain with the Warriors.

7. Andrea Bargnani

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    Last year was a promising one for Andrea Bargnani, but the Bargnani era hasn't been promising in general.

    Raptors coach Dwayne Casey somehow managed to ring some defense out of the long-shooting big, but it's not clear if Andrea fits Casey's defense-first style going forward. 

    If Toronto (again) fails to make the playoffs, expect to hear some Bargnani trade rumors—the Raps have drafted a new frontcourt piece in Jonas Valanciunas.

    If Jonas performs well, Bargnani might not seem so essential to Toronto's future.