We’re now down to the final five NBA teams on the list. Unlike the majority of teams in the league, these five organizations need to make a deal moving forward. Whether that’s because current players are not great (or even good) fits, marquee players have expiring contracts or they need to address weaknesses by sacrificing some of their strengths, a trade seems inevitable for these squads.
Sacramento Kings: Tyreke Evans
Perhaps you expected to see the potential-packed immaturity of DeMarcus Cousins in this spot, but I doubt Sacramento would give up a guy with that level of talent before exhausting all other options. It simply wouldn’t be the wise decision.
While Cousins will likely be a member of the Kings for the foreseeable future, something needs to be done about the team’s logjam of a backcourt.
Tyreke Evans, Marcus Thornton, Isaiah Thomas, John Salmons, Aaron Brooks, Jimmer Fredette and Francisco Garcia make up the claustrophobic Kings’ backcourt. Of all of those players, Evans has the most trade value without question.
Since averaging 20.1 points, 5.8 assists and 5.3 rebounds per game during his rookie season, Evans has been on a statistical decline for the past three seasons. He desperately needs a change of scenery, and because he’s young with great potential, the Kings can get value in return.
The problem, however, is that Evans’ stock is at an all-time low.
Milwaukee Bucks: Monta Ellis
Addition by subtraction trades are a fickle beast. They don’t always work out, but when they do, they usually work amazingly well.
Case in point is this year’s Golden State Warriors team without Monta Ellis. So far in 2012-13, the Warriors have a 22-11 record. Last season, the Warriors finished with 23 wins total.
The dueling banjos duo of Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis was broken up in favor of a broken Andrew Bogut, who has played just four games this year. The Warriors have been vastly improved regardless.
The Milwaukee Bucks may need to make a similar decision with their dueling banjos: Ellis and Brandon Jennings.
The Bucks backcourt is a tremendous scoring tandem, but they provide very little defense and have close to no help in the frontcourt. If the Bucks decided to trade their leading scorer in Ellis, they can move forward with Jennings as the primary scorer.
Ideally, he’d have a new partner in crime who can defend and take care of the post.
Denver Nuggets: Wilson Chandler/Anthony Randolph/Timofey Mozgov
The Denver Nuggets have sputtered to a 19-16 overall record despite being one of the league's most consistent teams last season. They score efficiently, they share the ball and they grab a lot of rebounds, but they’re still ranked in the bottom third (22nd) in the NBA in opponent points per game.
The Nuggets have a lot of similar players on the roster by way of athletic swingmen who can score the ball. There’s just a piece missing to the puzzle here.
I don’t think any Nuggets player is exempt from a trade given the right offer, but Wilson Chandler, Anthony Randolph and Timofey Mozgov could all be names that fit better elsewhere.
Toronto Raptors: Andrea Bargnani
For a team with a logo as vicious as the Raptors, they don’t exactly strike fear in the hearts of opponents. That comes in large part because of Andrea Bargnani. While he is a great shooter, he’s also one of the softest players in the NBA.
Amir Johnson, Ed Davis and Jonas Valanciunas are all capable of changing that stigma. However, the Raptors first need to move on from the former No. 1 overall pick to make that change a reality.
Toronto isn’t close to competing for a championship, and playoff aspirations for this year appear to be a pipe dream. If they can find a taker for a seven-footer who doesn’t defend or rebound, embracing a new future would be the wisest choice.
Utah Jazz: Al Jefferson/Paul Millsap
Both Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap are in the final year of their contracts. From a financial standpoint, the Jazz won’t be able to keep both players on board past this season, as they’ll command hefty deals in free agency this summer.
On the bright side, the Jazz have both Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter ready to take over for a departed frontcourt star. Whether the departed will be Jefferson or Millsap, however, remains the million dollar question.
Both players are the same age, put up similar stats and have great work ethics. Logically speaking, the NBA trade market will dictate which player Utah decides to deal.