During the offseason, NBA fans were kept on their toes with a handful of blockbuster trades. Deals sent stars named Steve Nash, Dwight Howard, Andrew Bynum, Andre Iguodala and James Harden to different teams, even different conferences.
Trades are not all too common in the early stages of seasons (i.e. where we’re at right now). Coaches need to be able to evaluate their roster before they're able to define who fits and who doesn't. However, there are still plenty of players around the league who could find themselves calling a new locker room home at season’s end.
There’s certainly no foolproof way to predict future deals. The Howard trade came as a relief for some, while the Harden trade was much more shocking and unexpected. Even so, there’s good reason to believe the following players have a high likelihood of changing uniforms in the not-so-distant future.
(Note: All statistics used is in this article are accurate as of Nov. 26, 2012).
Derrick Williams had an impressive collegiate career at the University of Arizona, which led to him being selected No. 2 overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves. At the time, some members of the NBA community believed Williams to be the safer pick for the Cleveland Cavaliers at No. 1 overall over Kyrie Irving.
In spite of that, Williams has been a bit of an enigma to start his NBA career. His lack of a true position between the small forward and power forward spots, coupled with inconsistent playing time, has hindered his NBA development.
Williams has experienced highs and lows throughout his brief NBA career, and this season is no exception. Williams had a 0-for-10 shooting night on Nov. 10 against the Chicago Bulls. However, the 21-year-old forward also had a 23-point, seven-rebound, four-block effort against the Golden State Warriors on Nov. 16.
The former UA Wildcat has had his ups and downs, but following that 23-point outburst against Golden State, Williams didn’t play a single minute the next game against Denver (during Kevin Love’s surprise return). This was a befuddling occurrence even with the return of Love, and it speaks volumes about Williams’ place in Minnesota.
What place is that you ask? Well, I suppose we don’t exactly know.
Williams will conceivably get vastly fewer minutes now that Love is back in the rotation following injury. In addition to that, Andrei Kirilenko, who was signed as a free agent this offseason, has played very well for Minnesota. His 19.10 Player Efficiency Rating is much better than that of Williams (13.99).
Also, Kirilenko is more experienced and brings a veteran presence to a very young team, so it’s hard to see Williams getting heavy minutes as long as Kirilenko is healthy.
As a former No. 2 overall pick in the draft, Williams still has a great deal of potential. However, with the players Minnesota has on its current roster, D-Will may be the odd man out.
Unfortunately for the Timberwolves, Williams’ stock isn’t exactly at a high point. Even so, there should be plenty of teams looking to add the young forward’s services.
If nothing else, at least the 5-7 Timberwolves would be mixing things up.
The Milwaukee Bucks currently lead the Central Division with a 7-5 record. Bucks fans are in no position to boast though, because Milwaukee basically inherited the top spot due to injuries.
The Chicago Bulls have struggled without Derrick Rose and the Indiana Pacers lost their best player, Danny Granger, to injury as well earlier this season. But hey, the Bucks are tops in the division, so why would they want to make any changes?
Well, according to Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio, the Bucks are trying to move forward Drew Gooden. The problem with that is Gooden’s contract, which is set to pay him $6.7 million per year for the next three seasons. That’s not exactly the easiest contract to move.
If, however, the Bucks’ front office decides to sweeten the pot by adding Monta Ellis to the mix, they could be able to shed themselves of that bad contract.
Brandon Jennings will be a free agent at season’s end and Ellis has an early termination option to become a free agent as well. The threat of losing both of those players in 2013 should have Milwaukee at least entertaining trade scenarios.
The reason Ellis was traded from Golden State last season is because he and Stephen Curry created a case of dueling banjos in the backcourt. They are both score-first guards looking to get their looks. Although that same situation seemed poised to play itself out with Ellis and Jennings in Milwaukee, the two have been able to score in droves.
But even though Jennings and Ellis are both averaging more than 17 points per game (17.5 for Jennings, 19.9 for Ellis), their shooting percentages have been absolutely abysmal.
The two guards are shooting a combined 41 percent from the field and a combined 25 percent from three-point range. I’m no mathematician, but those numbers aren’t going to lead the Bucks to many wins.
The experiment is working for now, but committing to one score-first guard may be in the Bucks’ best interest; especially if they can get solid talent in return.
If only Ersan Ilyasova would live up to his extravagant contract…
The Sacramento Kings’ backcourt is an absolute mess. Despite having a log jam of guards including Tyreke Evans, Aaron Brooks, Isaiah Thomas, Jimmer Fredette and Marcus Thornton, the Kings rank dead last in the NBA in assists per game. As a team, they average just 18.2 assists per contest.
In addition to the lack of passing, the Kings rank 26th in the NBA in rebounding and 22nd in points per game. There’s truly no aspect of the game that the Kings do well. As a result, shaking up the roster would be a wise decision.
In order to get the most value in return, however, Sacramento would likely have to part ways with the 23-year-old Evans.
During his rookie season, Evans averaged 20.1 points, 5.8 assists and 5.3 rebounds per game. In back-to-back-to-back seasons since his rookie campaign, though, Evans’ scoring and assist totals have been on a steady decline, dropping year-to-year.
At this point, Evans may simply need a change of scenery to get back on track. It doesn’t appear as if the Kings are going anywhere with him on the roster, and if they can get value in return, perhaps they can finally head toward greener pastures.
Even during their heyday during the run-and-gun era, the Phoenix Suns never had a legitimate starting center. The trade that brought Marcin Gortat to Phoenix from Orlando was meant to make that stigma a thing of the past.
Gortat had a breakout season last year (his first full year in Phoenix) alongside Steve Nash. “The Polish Hammer” averaged 15.4 points and 10 rebounds per game (both career highs).
Recently however, Gortat has reportedly voiced his displeasure with his situation in Phoenix.
According to an article by Seth Pollak of brightsideofthesun.com, Gortat expressed his feelings to a Polish media outlet, saying “I don’t think I’m even an option for (Suns head coach Alvin Gentry).”
Additionally, the Polish media outlet is reporting that Gortat rejected a contract extension offer from the Suns.
This was certainly seen as an odd change of events given Gortat’s hot start to open the season. Through the Suns’ first five games, Gortat recorded 21 blocked shots and looked well on his way to another career year. His stats have since been vastly underwhelming and could be contributed to his lack of faith in coach Gentry.
The Suns have looked like a borderline playoff team at best this season, but it would be hard to envision them trading Gortat before trying to quell his concerns.
However, if Gortat won’t sign an extension with Phoenix, the organization would be smart to deal him for some value in return while his stock is still at an all-time high.
As Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap both play out the final year of their current contracts, the Utah Jazz organization has some key decisions to make.
With Jefferson and Millsap on board, the Jazz have one of the most formidable frontcourt duos in the entire NBA. However, keeping both of those players on the roster past this season simply isn’t financially feasible.
So far this season, the Jazz are 6-0 at home, but just 2-7 on the road. They’re fighting to attain another playoff berth this season, but their chances at winning an NBA championship stand at “slightly better than the Washington Wizards.”
Luckily for the Jazz, trading Jefferson or Millsap for new pieces to the puzzle wouldn’t be disastrous by any stretch. With Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter providing depth off the bench, they have guys who can immediately step in and shoulder the load.
Both Jefferson and Millsap are the same age, so there’s no clear advantage on that front. Millsap has had less injury trouble throughout his career, but Jefferson has proven to be a more dynamic NBA talent.
It’s hard to go wrong with either guy, but from a logical perspective, the Jazz only have the cap space to keep one big man around past this season.
Not only would trading one of the two ease some of the pressure the Jazz will feel next offseason, but it would also provide time for Favors or Kanter to gain valuable experience with more minutes.
I’d be surprised if the Jazz play out the remainder of the season without making a deal, but you never know what will happen in the NBA.