1 Player Every NBA Team Would Like to Trade
If you were in charge of running your favorite NBA team for a day, who’s the one player you would like to trade?
Poor fits, awful contracts, veterans losing their stride…which type of player would you choose?
Granted, many of the players on this list would only get traded with the help of Obi-Wan Kenobi’s Jedi mind tricks. “This is the terrible contract you’re looking for…”
With that said, it doesn’t hurt to think of scenarios in which certain players would no longer be clogging cap space or sucking up playing time on your favorite team.
Some players on this list will be traded in the coming months. Others might. Others still will play out the remainder of their deals exactly where they are now.
In every case, these are the players each NBA team would like to trade.
Note: All stats in this article are accurate as of Dec. 9, 2013 (prior to games played).
Atlanta Hawks: Elton Brand
Danny Ferry has made plenty of respectable moves as the Atlanta Hawks general manager. Signing Elton Brand was not among them.
The former No. 1 overall pick was signed to a one-year, $4 million contract last summer. It’s clear that Brand and his agent are the big winners.
The veteran out of Duke was brought to Atlanta to provide frontcourt depth behind Al Horford and Paul Millsap, but his impact has been negligible thus far.
In 13 games played, Brand is averaging 2.4 points, 3.2 rebounds, 0.5 assists, 0.5 blocks, 0.2 steals and shooting just 42.9 percent from the floor in 10.8 minutes per game. All of those numbers are career lows.
Mike Scott, Gustavo Ayon and even rookie Pero Antic have played bigger roles for Atlanta so far this season.
With a $4 million expiring deal, Brand is a tradable asset. His contract could be used to even out a possible trade involving an incoming player with a larger salary.
Perhaps the Hawks could package Brand and Lou Williams in an effort to improve depth at small forward.
Boston Celtics: Gerald Wallace
Gerald Wallace holds claim to having one of the least favorable contracts in all of basketball. He's owed more than $30.3 million over the next three seasons.
On top of that, his career path has started to embody his nickname, “Crash.”
Wallace’s numbers have been on a steady decline since the 2009-10 season when he made his first and only All-Star appearance as a member of the Charlotte Bobcats. That trend has continued in 2013-14.
The veteran is averaging 4.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game. In addition to the lackluster stats, Wallace has been downright putrid at the charity stripe this season. He’s made just 12-of-34 free-throw attempts (35.3 percent).
The Boston Celtics will have a difficult time moving his egregious contract unless Wallace gets packaged into a Rajon Rondo trade. That’s not all too likely.
Brooklyn Nets: Joe Johnson
Joe Johnson is set to make more than $21.4 million this season. Next season he’ll haul in more than $23.1 million. And oh yeah, he’s also under contract for the 2015-16 campaign to the tune of more than $24.8 million.
Atlanta Hawks GM Danny Ferry must have hypnotized Brooklyn Nets general manager Billy King to take on that absurd contract, because Johnson is very clearly not worth that kind of cash.
The shooting guard out of Arkansas is averaging 15.8 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game. He doesn’t crack the top 40 in any of those three statistical categories, yet he’s the fourth-highest paid player in the league. That doesn’t add up.
The Nets are a laughingstock because they’re losing games, but their financial situation and a lack of draft picks is truly the biggest problem.
There’s zero chance Brooklyn will be able to trade Johnson in the near future, he’s just the guy they wish they hadn’t acquired.
Charlotte Bobcats: Ben Gordon
Some Charlotte Bobcats fans want to see Ben Gordon earn more minutes because he’s getting paid $13.2 million—second-most on the team and at least double what every teammate not named Al Jefferson is making.
At this point, however, Gordon is a sunk cost. He’s riding out the final year of his contract with a team that appears to have no intention of playing him.
As a result, it makes sense for the Bobcats front office to shop Gordon around to contending teams in need of three-point shooting. The Memphis Grizzlies, Minnesota Timberwolves and Oklahoma City Thunder come to mind.
Gordon’s contract is ugly, but it’s an easier pill to swallow simply because it’s set to expire after this season.
The Bobcats may just let that $13.2 million come off the books, but perhaps they can get some pieces or a late second-round pick for the veteran guard.
Chicago Bulls: Carlos Boozer
Unless opposing general managers are dumber than we think (certainly a possibility), Carlos Boozer will only be removed from the Chicago Bulls roster via the amnesty clause.
That doesn’t mean the Bulls wouldn’t want to trade the talented big man.
Chicago has more than $39 million already committed to Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson for the 2014-15 season. In addition, Bulls general manager Gar Forman reportedly hopes to keep Luol Deng. That won’t be possible with Boozer’s salary clogging the cap.
Logically speaking, the Bulls should move forward with Gibson as the starter after using the amnesty clause to eliminate Boozer’s contract.
If they can find a trade partner willing to take on Boozer's contract before that happens, then the entire front office in Chicago will deserve a raise.
Cleveland Cavaliers: Dion Waiters
The Cleveland Cavaliers are openly shopping sophomore guard Dion Waiters because he “has a contentious relationship with several teammates, including star point guard Kyrie Irving,” according to ESPN’s Chris Broussard.
If the reports are true, this is a mess of a situation.
Instead of drafting Victor Oladipo with the first overall pick in June, the Cavs selected Anthony Bennett out of UNLV. They already had Tristan Thompson and Anderson Varejao at power forward, but went with Bennett over the potential of Oladipo. Bennett has struggled mightily, while the Indiana product has played extremely well for the Orlando Magic.
Now the Cavaliers are reportedly shopping last year’s first-round pick because he doesn’t get along with his teammates…Yikes.
If Waiters truly doesn’t get along with his teammates, then trading him appears to be the only option. It’s a scary thought considering that he’s still young and could develop into an All-Star, but the most important thing at this juncture is keeping Irving happy.
Dallas Mavericks: Vince Carter
The Dallas Mavericks showed on Saturday that they’re a legitimate playoff hopeful in the Western Conference by pulling out a gutsy road win over the Portland Trail Blazers. However, they may still be a player or two away from securing a playoff berth.
The offense has been solid—ranking seventh overall with an average of 103.7 points per game—but Dallas needs help on defense. Don’t be surprised if Vince Carter’s $3.18 million expiring contract gets shipped away at some point to acquire some D.
Carter is shooting just 37.8 percent from the field and posted a plus/minus rating of minus-11 in the win against the Trail Blazers.
At this point, he’s more of a liability than an asset.
Denver Nuggets: JaVale McGee
JaVale McGee continues to possess plenty of untapped potential as an NBA center.
With that said, the 7-footer is already 25 years old and will turn 26 in January. After he celebrates his birthday next year, he’ll be three years older than Nikola Vucevic, four years older than Tristan Thompson, six years older than Andre Drummond and six years older than Anthony Davis. All of those guys are far more polished than McGee.
The “Shaqtin’ a Fool” mainstay has played just five games this season due to injury, and Russian big man Timofey Mozgov has stepped up big in his place.
Mozgov is averaging more points, more rebounds, shooting a higher percentage from the floor and has a player efficiency rating of 19.04, which dwarfs McGee’s PER of 10.93.
After being fired, former Nuggets coach George Karl said, “Continuity, consistency, togetherness all are so much more valuable than what (the front office has) on their priority list of playing JaVale McGee or the young players,” per Benjamin Hochman of The Denver Post.
It’s clear that Denver’s higher-ups like what McGee brings to the table, but this year’s team is 1-4 with him and 11-4 without him.
It’s a small sample size, but this Nuggets team may be better off without McGee, especially if they can get valuable yield for him via trade.
Detroit Pistons: Charlie Villanueva
While Greg Monroe is a viable player to put in this spot, it’s hard to believe that the Detroit Pistons would actually like to trade him.
They probably will do so at some point this season because he’s in the final year of his contract and he doesn’t fit well by forcing Josh Smith to play the 3, but that's beside the point.
Another trade-eligible guy likely to be moved is Charlie Villanueva.
The veteran who is playing his fifth season in Detroit has an $8.58 million contract set to come off the books in 2014. That’s an appealing number to teams looking to shed salary.
So while Monroe is the biggest name involved in trade speculation, Villanueva is the contract the Pistons would move in an ideal scenario.
Golden State Warriors: Marreese Speights
The Golden State Warriors’ bench ranked 19th in scoring last season by averaging 30.6 points per game. Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry led the way, each earning votes for Sixth Man of the Year by season’s end.
Since those two players departed prior to the 2013-14 season, the Warriors needed to find new guys to provide production off the bench. The key replacements—Toney Douglas, Jermaine O’Neal and Marreese Speights—haven’t provided much at all. In fact, Golden State’s bench ranks 28th in scoring (22 points per game).
Speights—the guy brought in to replace Landry—has struggled. He’s averaging just 4.1 points and 3.5 rebounds while shooting 33.3 percent from the field and 30 percent from three-point range.
His trade market is probably nonexistent, but I imagine the Warriors would love to trade him for a big man who can shoot at least 40 percent from two-point territory.
Houston Rockets: Omer Asik
Whether or not you believe trading Omer Asik is in the Houston Rockets’ best interest as a basketball team, it’s clear that the big man is on the trade block, according to ESPN’s Marc Stein.
I see both sides to this situation.
On one hand, with Asik the Rockets will always have 48 minutes of rim protection on a game-to-game basis. When Dwight Howard is in, he’ll defend the basket. When he catches a breather, Asik can do the same. Very few teams around the NBA can lay claim to that strength.
On the other hand, Asik is unhappy with his situation in Houston and has an intriguing trade market as a durable big man who defends.
Sam Amick of USA Today said via Twitter that Houston is looking for a lottery pick or a “high-level power forward” for Asik.
It remains unclear whether they'll find an offer to their liking.
Indiana Pacers: Danny Granger
If the Indiana Pacers have proved anything through last season and the start of this season, it’s that they don’t need Danny Granger to contend for a championship.
The Pacers have an incredible amount of team chemistry, they play great defense and they score enough points to get by.
Granger is an intriguing trade chip because his expiring contract of more than $14 million may allow Indy to grab up multiple game-changing role players in exchange for immediate cap relief.
This is Indiana’s most interesting subplot as it tries to attain an NBA championship.
Los Angeles Clippers: Nobody
The Los Angeles Clippers are stuck between a rock and a hard place because they don’t appear to have enough pieces to compete for a championship, but they also don’t have any obvious trade pieces.
DeAndre Jordan is a possible trade candidate as an underperforming defender who's a liability in crunch time due to poor free-throw shooting, but head coach Doc Rivers clearly likes his potential.
Bill Simmons of Grantland.com predicted in an NBA preview that Jamal Crawford would be traded. While “J Crossover” would have his fair share of suitors, his ability to create offense and score in bunches off the bench is a valuable asset (even though his defense is lackluster).
I sense that the Clips need to make a deal, there’s just no clear-cut option right now.
Los Angeles Lakers: Nobody
Much like the Los Angeles Clippers, the Los Angeles Lakers simply don’t have any pieces that lend themselves to a trade.
Pau Gasol would only be traded as a panic move toward the deadline if the Lakers have little to no chance of a playoff berth. Aside from that, nothing stands out.
This team is going to live and die by what Kobe Bryant is able to do during his return from an Achilles tear. If he returns to form, they may make the playoffs. If he doesn’t, management will have to go back to the drawing board.
On the bright side, the Lakers’ second unit has been incredibly efficient so far this year, so there's no need to explore the trading block for guys who could add a spark off the bench. Right now, the Lakers are far more likely to sign a roaming free agent like Shannon Brown to fill in for injured guards Steve Nash and Jordan Farmar.
If all else fails, at least the Lakers will have cap space in 2014 (although they have far less cap room following Bryant’s hefty extension).
Memphis Grizzlies: Tayshaun Prince
Tayshaun Prince is set to make nearly $15 million over the next two seasons. This is a terrible omen for Memphis Grizzlies fans, because the lanky small forward is averaging just 6.7 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.5 assists with player efficiency rating in single digits at 7.88.
At this point in time, Quincy Pondexter is a better (and far cheaper) option. Even guys like Mike Miller and Jon Leuer—who are both making less than $1 million from the Grizzlies in 2013-14—have proved themselves to be far more efficient than the former NBA champion.
Prince provides veteran leadership, but he’s lost almost all of his previous allure on the court.
I’m sure John Hollinger and Co. would like to flip him in a trade to open up more minutes for other guys, but the chances of that happening are slim.
Miami Heat: Joel Anthony
Joel Anthony, a forward/center who has fallen completely out of favor within the rotation over the past few years, is the most obvious trade candidate.
Anthony is set to make $3.8 million this season and has a player option for the same amount in 2014-15. He was a productive interior player when he got minutes for Miami, but Chris Andersen has essentially replaced him.
The Heat won’t be able to get a top-tier replacement for Wade, but they should be able to get a viable role player to fill in when he misses time.
If Miami makes a trade, expect to see Anthony's name in the headline.
Milwaukee Bucks: Ersan Ilyasova
Following one of the most befuddling offseasons in recent memory, the Milwaukee Bucks organization needs to completely reevaluate their on-court product.
Here are some of the head-scratching signings Milwaukee made last summer:
- O.J. Mayo: three years, $24 million.
- Gary Neal: two years, $6 million.
- Zaza Pachulia: three years, $16 million.
- Carlos Delfino: two years, $6.5 million.
Those signings suggest that Milwaukee was trying to build something. Exactly what their plan was remains unclear.
The Bucks are the worst team in the Eastern Conference through one month of the season with a 4-16 record.
Of all the bad contracts they possess, Ersan Ilyasova’s contract that pays him a minimum of $23.7 million through 2015-16 is ideally the one they should try to move. The more minutes for John Henson, the better.
Minnesota Timberwolves: Nobody
The Minnesota Timberwolves already dealt the most obvious trade chip on their roster by sending Derrick Williams to the Sacramento Kings in order to add the defensive-minded Luc Richard Mbah a Moute.
For now, the T-Wolves simply need to wait until Chase Budinger and Ronny Turiaf return to full health and then reevaluate their situation.
The on-court product hasn’t produced a winning record, but everyone provides a specific niche.
Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio and the rest of the T-Wolves just have to find a winning formula with the talent they have available.
New Orleans Pelicans: Austin Rivers
Austin Rivers had a historically bad rookie year last season, and he hasn’t shown signs of turning things around.
The New Orleans Pelicans already have Jrue Holiday, Eric Gordon, Tyreke Evans, Anthony Morrow and Brian Roberts solidifying the backcourt. That doesn’t leave much of an opportunity for Rivers.
Perhaps the Pelicans front office could call the Los Angeles Clippers in an effort to unite the youngster with his father, Clips head coach Doc Rivers.
Young players need opportunities to develop and improve. Rivers simply isn’t going to get that chance in New Orleans.
New York Knicks: Amar'e Stoudemire
New York Knicks fans should already know this, but the Knicks have a better chance of finding an actual unicorn to be the new mascot than they do of trading Amar’e Stoudemire and his egregious contract.
It’s simply not going to happen.
Stoudemire is currently the third-highest paid player in the entire NBA behind Kobe Bryant and Dirk Nowitzki. He’ll make approximately $21.6 million this year, which is more than the Knicks are paying Carmelo Anthony.
Oh, and he’ll make more than $23.4 million next season as long as he doesn’t exercise the early termination option in his contract.
James Dolan just needs to sell this team before Spike Lee develops an ulcer.
Oklahoma City Thunder: Kendrick Perkins
Kendrick Perkins shouldn’t be starting for any NBA team, let alone a legitimate title contender like the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Nevertheless, head coach Scott Brooks has stayed in the big man’s corner despite his totally inept level of play. Perk has started all 17 games he’s played in to start the 2013-14 campaign.
He’s averaging 3.1 points, 3.6 rebounds and has a player efficiency rating of 6.9, which ranks him 302nd out of 322 qualified players.
All the while he’s set to make more than $18.1 million combined between this season and next season.
Good luck trading that contract.
Orlando Magic: Glen Davis
In his last four games, Glen Davis has scored two points, 33 points, four points and 18 points, respectively. Consistency has been a major issue for Big Baby, but the Orlando Magic would still be selling while his stock is high by trading him.
Davis may not be the best option to start for an NBA team, but he was a valuable piece of the Boston Celtics playoff teams in 2009 and 2010.
By trading him, Orlando could open up more minutes for youngsters like Andrew Nicholson and Maurice Harkless.
Arron Afflalo was an early contender for "guys the Magic should trade," but his otherworldly performance thus far suggests that Orlando should keep him unless they receive a Godfather offer.
Philadelphia 76ers: Spencer Hawes/Thaddeus Young/Evan Turner
The Philadelphia 76ers front office did everything right entering this season. By trading their best player (Jrue Holiday) for an injured lottery pick (Nerlens Noel), they appeared to be the odds-on favorites to land Andrew Wiggins in the 2014 draft.
As it stands, Michael Carter-Williams looks like he’s going to win Rookie of the Year, Evan Turner has finally broken out, Thaddeus Young is playing great (even knocking down threes!) and Spencer Hawes has been an absolute stud.
So where does Philly go from here?
Well, if they aren’t totally enamored with Turner, Hawes or Young, they should pull the trigger on a deal that can improve them long-term.
Could they get, say, Greg Monroe and a throw-in contract (Peyton Siva) for Evan Turner?
What about sending Young to Detroit for Monroe and Charlie Villanueva’s expiring contract?
The Pistons need to move Josh Smith to power forward, ideally while acquiring a capable small forward to stay in contention. The Sixers can certainly provide that.
Regardless of what the trade is, I’d be surprised if changes weren’t made in Philly moving forward.
Phoenix Suns: Nobody
Phoenix Suns new general manager Ryan McDonough wasted no time trading every ill-fitting piece on this Suns squad. As a result, he may just sit back and put all of his efforts into scouting incoming talent.
Marcin Gortat was traded to the Washington Wizards for Emeka Okafor’s expiring contract (which could be flipped moving forward). Luis Scola, meanwhile, was shipped to the Indiana Pacers for Gerald Green, Miles Plumlee and a first-round pick (which is shaping up to be the best trade Suns fans have seen in decades).
Looking up and down the roster, there are no obvious pieces remaining that should be moved.
First-year head coach Jeff Hornacek is looking like a Coach of the Year candidate, the Suns are jelling together and the only player making more than $7 million other than Okafor is Goran Dragic.
Don’t be surprised if the Suns stand pat moving forward.
Portland Trail Blazers: Nobody
Like other contending teams around the league, the upstart Portland Trail Blazers don’t necessarily have to move anyone moving forward. They’ve leaped out of the gates with a 17-4 record, tops in the Western Conference.
With that said, the eventual return of rookie C.J. McCollum brings up plenty of questions.
If the rookie returns and plays well, that could create friction in the backcourt. Specifically, Mo Wiliams—who is shooting just 41.8 percent from the field—could lose court time if McCollum becomes the more favorable option.
That doesn’t necessarily mean Portland will need to put Williams on the trade block, though, because he’s a veteran presence on a relatively young team.
However, you never know what could happen from a chemistry standpoint as the coaching staff inserts another talented player to the fold.
Sacramento Kings: Greivis Vasquez, John Salmons, Patrick Patterson, Chuck Hayes
If you haven’t heard a very important bit of NBA news, you might be thinking to yourself, “Hey, that’s an oddly specific list of players the Sacramento Kings should trade.”
In case you haven’t caught on, the four players listed—Greivis Vasquez, John Salmons, Patrick Patterson and Chuck Hayes—were the four guys traded to the Toronto Raptors in exchange for Rudy Gay, Aaron Gray and Quincy Acy. The news was first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.
Depending upon your viewpoint, you may hope that Gay is the next player to hit the Kings’ trade block. He is shooting a woeful 38.8 percent after all.
In fairness, though, I’ll give Gay and the Kings the benefit of the doubt. A starting five of Isaiah Thomas, Ben McLemore, Gay, Derrick Williams and DeMarcus Cousins is intriguing.
San Antonio Spurs: Nobody
The San Antonio Spurs aren’t the type of team that would trade players midseason. Sure they may scour the waiver wire for players who can help them win (i.e. Boris Diaw), but trades just aren’t part of their M.O.
Unless the Spurs can somehow make a big splash by trading for someone like Omer Asik (unlikely), I imagine they’ll simply hunt another championship with the core of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili.
As the saying goes, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."
Toronto Raptors: Kyle Lowry
If this article had been uploaded 24 hours earlier than it was, you’d be staring at a picture of Rudy Gay right now.
However, new Toronto Raptors GM Masai Ujiri already pulled the trigger on a deal that sent Gay to the Sacramento Kings. Since the Raptors acquired Greivis Vasquez in the deal, the next domino to fall is likely going to be point guard Kyle Lowry.
Vasquez is a bargain at approximately $2.1 million, while Lowry is making more than $6.2 million in a contract year.
Ujiri is no fool. He knows that he’ll have to acquire assets for Lowry before he hits free agency in the summer of 2014. Prepare for the 27-year-old guard to find a new home soon.
Utah Jazz: Nobody
The Utah Jazz are trapped in the basement of the Western Conference, but that doesn’t mean they have to make any rash decisions.
Quite the contrary, as every contract on Utah’s roster serves a purpose right now.
Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, Trey Burke, Alec Burks and Rudy Gobert are all young players locked in for the foreseeable future (Hayward will likely be retained in restricted free agency).
Guys like Richard Jefferson, Andris Biedrins, Marvin Williams, Brandon Rush and others serve to create heaps of cap space in the summer of 2014. Those four players alone account for $31.5 million coming off the books at season's end.
Stay patient, Jazz fans. Your team is exactly where it needs to be heading into a loaded 2014 NBA draft.
Washington Wizards: Nene
Nene’s contract puts him in the realm of guys like Amar’e Stoudemire, Joe Johnson and Carlos Boozer in terms of being impossible to trade.
He’s owed $39 million over the next three seasons, making $13 million each year.
This is a shame for Wizards fans, because Nene is a power forward who grabs just 6.2 rebounds per game. His inability to crash the glass is a major reason why Washington ranks 22nd in rebounds per game (41.3).
The Wiz could certainly use an upgrade on the interior. Marcin Gortat is proving to be a nice addition, but the Wizards don’t have anyone who likes to bang bodies on the inside (aside from Trevor Booker, who doesn’t get many minutes).
Swapping Nene’s ugly contract for a similar player who rebounds better would be great, but it’s not feasible.