10 NBA Players Guaranteed to Wind Up in Trade Rumors Next Season
Trade speculation and rumors are a major part of every NBA season, and the 2012-13 campaign will be no different.
Now it's just a question of which players will find themselves enveloped in distracting trade rumors over the span of the coming season.
Players like DeAndre Jordan, Carmelo Anthony, Tyreke Evans and James Harden are bound to see their names pop up. But they're not alone.
Ahead is a list of 10 players guaranteed to wind up in trade rumors next season.
Carlos Boozer, Chicago Bulls
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Carlos Boozer isn't a stranger to trade rumors, and that much won't change during the 2012-13 season.
The Bulls have about as much money as the U.S Federal Government, and if they struggle throughout the start of next season, they will definitely look to move some contracts to free up cash for free agency.
The Bulls have $47-plus million tied up in Boozer over the next three seasons, and while his career production of 17 points and 9.9 rebounds per game is impressive, it's certainly expendable. Boozer's veteran experience would draw interest from youthful rebuilding teams, which would, in turn, maximize his value on the trade market.
The Bulls can survive without Boozer, especially if Taj Gibson continues to develop.
Tyreke Evans, Sacramento Kings
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Tyreke Evans could be a perennial All-Star in the NBA. The only problem is, he has to find the right team to help reach that level.
On the Kings, Evans just doesn't have enough veteran leadership to help him develop as a point guard and a leader.
The Kings undoubtedly realize that, and they would be foolish to let the 2012-13 season go by without first gauging his value on the trade market. Evans will be in the qualifying-offer year of his contract at the end of next season, so now is the right time to trade him.
Evans would benefit greatly from a trade, so long as he's moved to a team that has solid leadership and veteran guidance. A team that would be an ideal spot for Evans is the New York Knicks. The Knicks might not have enough to offer the Kings, but the Kings would be foolish not to at least explore the possibilities.
Josh Smith, Atlanta Hawks
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It seems like ever year Josh Smith finds himself amidst a plethora of trade rumors. Amidst his indecisiveness in Atlanta, Smith has been able to maintain his dominant play, and that will maximize his value on the trade market.
If the Hawks fail to make a deal involving Smith, there is a high likelihood that he will explore his options in free agency, even though the Hawks have a decent amount of cap space now that Joe Johnson and his massive contract are gone.
Smith has been in the NBA for eight years, and yet he's just 26 years old. That mix of youth and experience will make him a highly sought-after free agent, which means quite a few teams will be interested in acquiring his 2011-12 averages of 18.8 points, 9.6 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game.
Smith is a legitimate superstar, and the Hawks absolutely cannot allow him to leave without getting anything in return.
Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks
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If the New York Knicks reach the All-Star break with a losing record, they will undoubtedly put one of their superstar players on the trade block.
Carmelo Anthony could be placed on the trade block for one specific reason: the fact that he's not a leader on the court or in the locker room.
The Knicks will never win a playoff series and be more than an average team until they find that player.
I'm not knocking 'Melo; I'm just pointing out the fact that he will never be that type of player, no matter which NBA team he is on. The Knicks need a leader, and 'Melo will never be that.
The Knicks have $64.5 million tied up in 'Melo over the next three seasons, and that is too much for a player who can't help the Knicks reach that elusive next level.
DeAndre Jordan, L.A. Clippers
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Over the next three seasons, the Clippers have $32 million tied up in DeAndre Jordan. That's more than any other player on their roster aside from Blake Griffin, and that is way too much for a player who can only score from within three feet of the basket.
Jordan is a player with huge upside, but upside isn't worth $10 million per year, especially when that upside is only producing averages 6.0 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game.
Once the Clippers realize they are clearly overpaying for an athletically-gifted player, they will have no decision but to put him on the trade block in attempt to further progress as a franchise. Unless Jordan develops into a more polished player of offense next season, he will undoubtedly find his name in trade rumors.
Athleticism can only take a team so far, and the Clippers are bound to see that the coming season.
Pau Gasol, L.A. Lakers
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The Lakers' payroll heading into the season is sitting right at $99,140,731.00. Their massive payroll is in large part because of their offseason acquisitions of Dwight Howard and Steve Nash, but it's also because of Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol's massive contracts.
Kobe is due $58 million over the next two seasons, and Gasol is slated for $39 million. There is no chance that the Lakers will part ways with Kobe, which means their biggest trade asset is Gasol.
Gasol is certainly a productive player, averaging 17.4 points, 10.4 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game last season. With that being said, he is also the most expendable Lakers star. If the Lakers want to re-sign Dwight Howard this offseason, they are going to need some serious cap space, and moving Gasol is one of the only ways they can achieve that.
Last season, Gasol's name was thrown around in dozens of trade rumors, and the same will happen in the 2012-13 season, especially if the Lakers struggle to win with their new roster.
James Harden, Oklahoma City Thunder
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After signing Serge Ibaka to a four-year, $48 million contract extension, the Oklahoma City Thunder are going to have a difficult time retaining reigning Sixth Man of the Year James Harden when he hits free agency next summer.
Harden will be in the qualifying year of his contract at the end of the season, and he will undoubtedly draw a max offer from a number of teams around the league. While the Thunder might have enough cap space to retain him, it will mean parting ways with a number of other players on their depth chart to free up space.
Instead of trying to hold on to Harden, the Thunder would be wise to see what kind of value he has in the trade market. Harden is certainly a special talent, but they should at least see what kind of talent they could get for him before committing themselves to him for the long term.
Amare Stoudemire, New York Knicks
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Again, if the Knicks struggle during the 2012-13 season, don't be surprised if Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire both hit the trade block.
The 'Melo and Amar'e experiment hasn't worked out all that well in the Big Apple, and it's mainly because they can't figure out how to play together. Last season, they averaged 40.1 points and 15.1 rebounds per game combined, and while that's solid production, it means nothing if they fail to make the players around them better.
The Knicks will certainly place one, if not both, of their superstars on the trade block should they fail to find their groove by All-Star break. First-round exits from the playoffs aren't what the Knicks front office shelled out the big bucks for.
The Knicks need leaders, and 'Melo and Amar'e will never bring that to the table. If veteran players like Tyson Chandler, Jason Kidd and Marcus Camby can't bring the Knicks together, it will be time to rebuild. The only way to do that is to trade away the players that aren't getting them anywhere—Amar'e and 'Melo.
John Wall, Washington Wizards
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The Washington Wizards is a team with a lot of potential. John Wall finally has his backcourt partner in Bradley Beal, and they also have a tenacious frontcourt duo with Nene Hilario and Emeka Okafor.
If the Wizards struggle, though, the focus of their misery will be placed on the lack of development and leadership from former No. 1 pick John Wall.
While this season will be just his third in the NBA, Wall hasn't improved that much over his past two seasons, with efficiency being his biggest struggle. The Wizards have a number of foundational pieces in place to succeed, and if Wall can't get the job done at the point, the Wizards would be wise to part ways with him.
Interest in Wall would be high, as he was the No. 1 overall pick for a reason. But he might not be the kind of player the Wizards need at the point, and it would be wise to move him before an untenable situation arises in DC.
Anderson Varejao, Cleveland Cavaliers
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The Cleveland Cavaliers gave up three 2012 draft picks for Tyler Zeller, which speaks volumes about their intentions with him being the future of their franchise at center.
While Anderson Varejao could be a solid mentor for Zeller, there isn't enough room on the court for both of them. Seeing that the Cavs have $27 million tied up in Varejao over the next three years, it's reasonable to think that the Cavs wouldn't be too upset about parting ways with him.
Varejao is a tenacious rebounder and a gritty defender, but that won't help the Cavs reach that next level in the Eastern Conference. They need a more polished center on the offensive side of the ball who can help spread the floor, and that's the kind of player Zeller.
There's no doubt that the Cavs could hold onto Varejao, but if they plan on giving Zeller the majority of the minutes, it doesn't make much sense to keep Varejao and his expensive contract. The fact is that Varejao is worth more on the trade block than he is on the Cavs roster.