NBA Players Who Could Still Switch Teams Before 2013-14 Begins

Stephen Babb@@StephenBabbFeatured ColumnistSeptember 3, 2013

NBA Players Who Could Still Switch Teams Before 2013-14 Begins

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    The only thing you expect less than the Spanish Inquisition is a September trade in the NBA, to say nothing of rare last-second October deals like the one that brought James Harden to Houston a year ago.

    There are good reasons for the holding pattern in which teams find themselves once the leaves start changing.

    On the brink of training camps, only the most no-brained trade scenarios make general managers think twice about staying put. Those camps are the best way for coaches to distinguish between what they actually have on hand and what's still needed, information that's absolutely critical to GMs who know the difference between team-building and fantasy basketball.

    Even when a player's days are numbered, any number of factors may impact timing, and very rarely does that mean wheeling and dealing on the heels of the draft and height of free agency.

    All the same, some guys' days are more than numbered. They're borderline endangered. Those are the ones who could defy conventional wisdom and start packing their bags early.

Omer Asik—C, Houston Rockets

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    Even without Chris Broussard's report that the Houston Rockets and Atlanta Hawks were talking about a deal in the wake of Dwight Howard's arrival, all it took was a little common sense to imagine Omer Asik packing his bags. 

    Common or not, Houston is still saying all the right things. According to the Houston Chronicle's Jonathan Feigen, Morey claimed in July that both Dwight Howard and James Harden wanted Asik to stay, even joking that he'd, "been kicked down to assistant GM." 

    Then again, with Howard around, maybe he wasn't joking.

    In an ask-me-anything session on, Morey went on to suggest that head coach Kevin McHale would see if Howard and Asik could coexist on the floor in training camp, adding that for his part, Asik, "is a winner first & likes being on a winning team."

    If you take things at face value, it sounds like everyone's on the same page here. In fact, all this consensus might just be a little too good to be true.

    For a moment, let's assume it isn't true. Houston has every reason to do a little fibbing on this one. Were the rest of the NBA to believe Asik was good as gone, the Rockets wouldn't have much leverage when attempting to move him. Everyone knows he's superfluous at this point, too expensive a luxury to hand just 15-20 minutes a night.

    That knowledge is power in the hands of other general managers, and Mr. Morey can't have that. 

    Call it conspiratorial speculation (it probably is), but I'm guessing this is what went down when Asik caught word on D12 Day.



Hedo Turkoglu—SF, Orlando Magic

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    Given the Orlando Magic's forward-looking disposition at the moment, there's simply no room for 34-year-old Hedo Turkoglu to make any worthy contributions. Head coach Jacque Vaughn will continue seeing what he has in 20-year-old Maurice Harkless, an athletically-gifted project who managed to put up 8.2 points and 4.4 rebounds last season.

    So it shouldn't come as any surprise the organization is already looking to part ways as painlessly as possible. The Orlando Sentinel's Brian Schmitz reports that the Magic are in the midst of negotiating a buyout with Turkoglu, creating space for younger prospects like second-round pick Romero Osby.

    Turkoglu only played 11 games with Orlando last season, and superfluousness wasn't even the only culprit. A 20-game suspension for using anabolic steroids brought his season to a premature end in February, an almost merciful ending to a campaign that never really got off the ground.

    Where the aging shooter goes from here is anyone's guess, but it's been reported that Turkish club Fenerbahce made an offer worth $3.5 million a year and was still continuing talks as of Aug. 27.

    If Turkoglu can make anywhere near that much overseas, that's exactly where he's going.


Danny Granger—SF, Indiana Pacers

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    Paul George almost instantly made Danny Granger an abundantly tradable commodity. Even before he rose to the Granger-less occasion last season, his length and shooting ability created some serious redundancy in Indiana's rotation.

    The two swingmen proved capable of coexisting in each of George's first two seasons, and they could very well do so again only with Granger now playing second fiddle.

    But it's the price point that has to have the Pacers thinking trade. Granger won't make another $14 mil in 2014-15 (after his current deal expires), but he should still command a deal worth at least $7 or 8 million a year depending on how this season goes.

    That kind of money could go toward filling several more immediate needs, chief among them a playmaker to take pressure off George Hill. Indiana could wait for Granger's deal to expire and proceed to make improvements via free agency, but in the event a sure thing emerges on the trade market, it would be hard to pass up. The Pacers' imperative is to win now, and that means fielding a roster that fits.

    Finding the right trade could do the trick, but don't be surprised if that trade experiences some slight delays.

    HOOPSWORLD's Alex Kennedy had this to report in June:

    Sources close to the situation in Indiana have made it clear that the Pacers aren’t in any rush to trade Granger. If Indiana decides to move the eight-year veteran, it will likely be after the season starts and closer to the trade deadline rather than making any move over the offseason.

    Indiana would probably tell you that's because it believes Granger might still fit into the Paul George Program, but the more likely explanation is that it needs some time for his trade value to improve. Coming off a season in which injuries limited him to just five games, Granger has something to prove in the eyes of prospective buyers.

    A couple more months in Indiana should do the trick unless an optimistic club forces the action in the meantime.

Charlie Villanueva or Rodney Stuckey, Detroit Pistons

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    Charlie Villanueva hasn't exactly seen $40 million worth of action in Detroit, but at least the most masochistic of Pistons fans got some of their money's worth. 

    In four seasons with the team, Villanueva's production slid precipitously due in large part to ankle problems that held him to 13 games in 2011-12. A season later, Detroit's front-court was too crowded for Villanueva to get a foot in the door for more than 15.8 minutes a game.

    Rodney Stuckey hasn't had nearly as disastrous a run, but nor has he given the Pistons an incontrovertible reason to keep him around.

    Villanueva and Stuckey both have expiring contracts at season's end.

    Joe Dumars could test his luck in free agency, but other organizations looking to do the same may similarly value one of those expiring deals. Unless Detroit is especially optimistic about its fortunes on the free-agent market, it might as well do what it can to position its current roster for success—even if that only means making a minor move in the name of adding the right role player.

    Whatever goes into that recipe, neither Villanueva nor Stuckey seem to be essential ingredients.


Marcin Gortat—C, Phoenix Suns

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    At the moment, you could make a pretty argument that Marcin Gortat is the best thing happening on the Phoenix Suns' roster—and yes, that speaks volumes about the Phoenix Suns' roster.

    That would matter to most teams, but not those still in the nascent stages of a complete overhaul. There's been the occasional murmur that Phoenix is looking to move Gortat, which should make sense to everyone involved (or not involved).

    The 29-year-old is an ideal chip making less than $8 million in the final year of his contract, a perfect fit for any contender needing a big man. In turn, Phoenix could attract a modest package of prospects or picks who'd actually further the Suns' long-term ambitions.

    Waiting a little while may be wise, especially if marketing Gortat's services to contenders. Most of those contenders will look to gauge their status quo lineups before making any big changes. And as far as Phoenix is concerned, that wait could very well drive Gortat's price higher as title-chasers start getting desperate—and/or vying with one another for his services.

    On the other hand, the right deal could come around at any time, and there's no guarantee it will come from a legitimate contender. The Suns didn't hesitate to part ways with Jared Dudley when the opportunity to snag Eric Bledsoe arose. Why wait should a similar find emerge before the regular season kicks off?