Which NBA Stars Are Auditioning for a Trade During 2013-14 Season?
Motivations vary in the NBA, but some quality players end up performing well so they can be traded to a different situation. Of course they still want to help their teams win, but in the back of their minds, they're hoping for a phone call from the general manager.
It happens every year, and going into the 2013-14 campaign, there are six players who have emerged as auditioning stars. And do note that we're being pretty liberal with the definition of "star," including both household names and players who have no choice but to function as a "star" on their own squad.
These featured players just aren't in the right situations.
Some of them aren't part of the long-term plans and need to find a new role. Others just know they might be moved and want to impress the league's best teams. Others still are stuck in roles they don't deserve and need to find a more promising landing spot.
Regardless, they're all auditioning.
Team: Houston Rockets
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 10.1 points, 11.7 rebounds, 0.9 assists, 0.6 steals, 1.1 blocks
Omer Asik doesn't deserve to be in this situation.
He proved his value throughout the 2012-13 season, asserting himself as a fantastic rebounder and defender while filling in the starting center spot for the Houston Rockets. According to Basketball-Reference, the team allowed 5.8 fewer points per 100 possessions when he was on the court, and that's a massive impact, even for an interior defender.
But now, Asik is going to be sitting on the bench far too often.
Following the acquisition of Dwight Howard, the Rockets have two options. They can either let Asik rot on the pine, picking splinters out of his derriere as D12 plays the bulk of the minutes at center, or they can try to play the two together, sliding Howard over to power forward.
The latter won't work (floor spacing is a thing, after all), and the former isn't going to make Asik particularly happy. Expect him to play as hard as possible so that he can force the Rockets into biting the bullet and trading him for a stretch-4.
Team: Toronto Raptors
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 18.2 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.5 steals, 0.7 blocks
The Toronto Raptors don't need to trade Rudy Gay, but he's not necessarily part of Masai Ujiri's long-term plans.
Remember, the new general manager was brought aboard after the team parted with Jose Calderon to acquire this volume shooter. As he's proved in the past, Ujiri likes to put his stamp on a team, and he's willing to deal any and all of the best players in order to do so.
On the Denver Nuggets, Ty Lawson was the only one who played a significant part of last year's rotation and wasn't acquired by Ujiri through a trade or free agency, and the Nigerian-born general manager still managed to ink him to a long-term contract extension.
If the team isn't working, Gay will be auditioning for a trade. That's just how the front office works now in Toronto. It's not a knock on the small forward's skills, especially if the offseason vision correction works wonders.
Just a reality, as his vision might not matter to Ujiri's vision.
Team: Indiana Pacers
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 5.4 points, 1.8 rebounds, 0.6 assists, 0.4 steals, 0.2 blocks
During the 2011-12 season, Danny Granger played 33.3 minutes per game and averaged a team-high 18.7 points per game. He had the green light throughout the contest, unless the Indiana Pacers call it a yellow light for some reason.
Now he enters the 2013-14 campaign as an afterthought.
The Pacers belong to Paul George, David West and Roy Hibbert at this point. They deserve to be considered the leaders after bringing the team within a single game of beating the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals.
In fact, Lance Stephenson played a crucial role and has made some believe that he should still be starting next to George, thus forcing Granger to the bench. Is a 30-year-old former All-Star just going to accept this?
I can't see it happening. At some point, a healthy Granger might get frustrated and start desiring a trade to a team that can actually give him the minutes he feels he deserves.
Team: Milwaukee Bucks
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 13.2 points, 7.1 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 0.9 steals, 0.5 blocks
At some point, the Milwaukee Bucks have to stop striving for mid-level mediocrity.
They need to begin playing for the future once it's clear that the 2013-14 season isn't going to be filled with immediate success, and that means turning things over to the young guns. Ersan Ilyasova will just be in the way.
And that's why he must play like he wants to be traded.
Ilyasova is still a top-notch stretch-4. His range extends well outside the paint, and he's proven himself as a quality spot-up shooter time and time again, shooting 41.5 percent from beyond the arc when he can stand and wait for the pass, according to Synergy Sports (subscription required).
But he doesn't have the same upside as John Henson and Giannis Antetokounmpo, both of whom should be receiving more run than they do with him in the starting lineup.
Don't you want to see what the ridiculous length of a frontcourt featuring the Greek Freak, Henson and Larry Sanders could do? Ilyasova might, but only from afar.
Team: Detroit Pistons
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 16.0 points, 9.6 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.3 steals, 0.7 blocks
The Detroit Pistons are going to have trouble working with the current makeup of the roster.
Andre Drummond, Josh Smith and Greg Monroe are all great players on their own, but the combination of the three isn't particularly promising, especially with the shot-happy Brandon Jennings running the show.
Someone is eventually going to be on the way out, and Monroe is the most likely candidate. He should know that, seeing as the team is undeniably committed to developing Drummond and just splurged on Smith in a big way. Plus, each of the two has more elite upside than the 23-year-old center.
If the Pistons' season fails to live up to the expectations before the trading deadline, expect to see Monroe on the move. He becomes a restricted free agent after the final game of the season, and it doesn't seem likely that Detroit will be willing to match the inevitable offers that will inevitably border right on the max.
It's better to get something rather than nothing, and Monroe should be playing so that he makes a contending team in need of a true center start to fall in love with him.
Team: Philadelphia 76ers
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 14.8 points, 7.5 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.8 steals, 0.7 blocks
Poor Thaddeus Young.
He's the lone quality player on the Philadelphia 76ers roster, and he's in no way suited for being a No. 1 player on any team. In fact, Young should be more of a third option on a successful team.
There's a serious chance that even with Young, the Sixers struggle to win 10 games. Seriously, they're that bad. Without him—whether he gets traded away or has to deal with injuries—I'm not even sure how they could manage to win a single contest unless Evan Turner somehow breaks out and starts looking like the second coming of Dwyane Wade.
But Young doesn't have to put up with this. He doesn't seem to be a part of the long-term plans, especially with a draft class loaded with forwards looming in the not-so-distant horizon.
Both for his own career and for the Sixers' futility-based dreams of tanking, it's better if he's moved to a stronger team.