The NBA season is nearing closer, and once it begins there are a lot of players who could find themselves on the trading block.
And for many reasons.
In some cases, players will demand a trade to get away from their current team. Sometimes they'll be traded even without showing any dislike for the organization. Expiring contracts are also often traded at the deadline as a way of obtaining some value from an upcoming free agent.
Whatever the reason, there are good players switching uniforms midseason every year. Here are predictions for which star players could be on the move this season.
Eric Gordon was a restricted free agent this summer and was retained by the Hornets despite wanting to play elsewhere.
Although Gordon is now on a huge four-year/$58 million deal, that won't necessarily be enough to keep him happy.
This season, Gordon will have to be the leader of the Hornets despite his young age. He'll have a little help from rookies Anthony Davis and Austin Rivers, and Ryan Anderson is a nice new addition, but the Hornets simply don't have enough talent on the roster to make the playoffs or come anywhere near it.
Gordon recognizes that he's one of the best shooting guards in the NBA, and sooner or later he'll likely want to win a ring. If he decides midseason that the Hornets are nowhere near a championship, then he might not hesitate to pull a Dwight Howard and whine his way out of town.
Now, if he wants to do that, he has a lot to prove.
First, he needs to establish himself as a truly great talent, because it'd be risky for a team to make a blockbuster trade for a young player coming off an injury who also has a monster contract.
But if he can start the season strong, then it wouldn't be surprising to see him flirting with other teams halfway through the season.
Rudy Gay's name has come up in trade rumors for a couple seasons now, including during the several weeks before the 2012 NBA draft.
He's owed almost $54 million over the next three seasons and the Grizzlies are $12 million over the cap. The team is in need of some serious cap relief, and some new young talent on the roster wouldn't be a bad thing either.
Though the Grizzlies aren't old, they don't really possess any promising young talent. However, that could change if they trade Gay. They could then land a package of young prospects and/or picks and take a huge load off the cap.
Now, they would be a worse team if that happens, but it isn't like they were really contenders anyway. They have a good team on paper, but they lack the chemistry to ever win a title with their current team.
It might be time to make some adjustments to the roster and try again in a couple years.
Among those draft picks is shooting guard Jeremy Lamb, who was picked 12th out of UConn. Lamb was absolutely amazing during the summer league and has earned himself some considerable playing time.
That's where Kevin Martin comes in.
With the Rockets rebuilding, now is a perfect time to trade Martin and give Jeremy Lamb a chance to start. Martin is still a very capable player who can score 20-plus points a game and can easily be the go-to scorer for a team in need.
Best of all, he's paid $12 million this year, but it is an expiring contract, so he can also be rented by a team trying to make a playoff run and then be free to sign elsewhere over the offseason.
If he's traded, Martin could help a team, the Rockets would get some cap relief and they would also get some value because Martin is still a fairly good player. Everyone wins in that situation.
The Rockets would be a pretty awful team now but would also have some of the best youth in the league.
Tyreke Evans was once believed to be a player with superstar potential, and he had an outstanding rookie year to back up that claim. He put up 20.1 points, 5.3 rebounds and 5.8 assists a game in his rookie season and looked like he could be the savior of the Sacramento Kings.
Now it might be time for Sacramento to give up and trade Evans.
Last season, the guard put up a career-low 16.5 points a game. He continued to be a mediocre overall shooter and a pretty awful three-point shooter. And in the three years he's played there, Evans has never really made a difference for Sacramento.
The team has tried playing him at PG, but he racks up turnovers and isn't a stellar passer, and the team has other talent at that position now, anyway. And at SG, the team does have a potential replacement for Evans in Marcus Thornton.
If Sacramento really wants to start winning games and compete with the other teams in the Pacific Division, it might be time to trade Evans and add an established veteran to the team; the Kings only have one player with more than 10 years of experience on the roster.
At this point, it's obvious Smith wants out of Atlanta. He wants to win and is frustrated with the fact that the Hawks have been incapable of creating a contending team. But this year, Smith could get his wish and finally be traded.
Smith is in the last year of his contract, and all he has to do is tell the organization that he won't re-sign.
If he does that, they'll be quick to trade him at the deadline because they'd like to avoid getting nothing. It wouldn't be all bad for the Hawks either. He is an expiring contract, but he's close to being a 20-10 guy who plays great defense and rallies the fans by posterizing opponents with his nasty dunks.
That type of talent could net the Hawks a good package of young talent in a trade as they prepare to build for the future.
However, after signing Serge Ibaka to a four-year/$48 million contract extension, the Thunder may just not have the money to re-sign Harden. Kendrick Perkins is an amnesty candidate that would free up some cap space, but Harden could still be looking for a max deal. And whether he's worth a max deal or not, Harden's demands could leave Oklahoma City's hands tied, leaving them only a couple options, one of which is to trade him before he hits free agency.
Harden has boosted his reputation and trade value over the past couple seasons, and if teams would be willing to offer him a max contract, he could probably net some good offers on the trade block.
It would be hard for Harden to leave Oklahoma City, and it would be hard for the fans of the team too, but if Thunder GM Sam Presti were smart, he'd trade Harden and get some value instead of letting him walk without receiving anything.