As the NBA season progresses, some teams will be looking to shake things up as notable names find themselves the subject of trade gossip. However, not every target believed to be on the market is worth the trouble of acquiring.
Rapper Mos Def once said, "The shiny apple is bruised but sweet and, if you choose to eat, you could lose your teeth."
That's a perfect metaphor for this year's trade market. While the talent is tempting, there is a considerable risk that comes with any potential deal.
A good example is the Sacramento Kings' recent acquisition of former Grizzlies/Raptors forward Rudy Gay, which was first reported by Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski.
Gay clearly has the skills to be a solid scoring option, but he comes with a price tag that will pay him close to $18 million this year and a $19.3 million player option for next season.
That's a hefty sum for a player who hasn't carried his teams very far during his seven years in the league. Time will tell if this deal was worth the gamble for the Sacramento Kings.
As for the players on this list, they come with a warning label. They are either grossly overpaid (like Gay), have trouble staying healthy or both.
One thing to keep in mind is that not everyone on this list is currently the subject of trade rumors. However, in the NBA, very few players are untouchable. While a deal may be unlikely (given the circumstances), crazier things have happened in the past.
In the coming weeks, we are sure to see a few trades. If GMs are smart though, they will avoid the 10 men on this list.
Once upon a time, Marcus Thornton was considered a prospect on the rise. After an impressive rookie season with the then-New Orleans Hornets in 2009-10, he was traded to Sacramento midway into his second year.
After the trade, Thornton closed the season out by averaging 21.3 points a night in 27 games. The Kings rewarded the former LSU standout with a five-year, $40 million extension later that summer.
His scoring numbers have dipped ever since. With Rudy Gay, DeMarcus Cousins, Isaiah Thomas and Derrick Williams ahead of him in the pecking order, Thornton is unlikely to reach those numbers ever again while wearing a Kings uniform.
Instead, he finds himself in a crowded backcourt making a little over $8 million a year for the next two seasons.
At 26 years old, Thornton can still be a viable option on the right team, but the price is a bit steep for a player who hasn't been the same since his sophomore season. For the close to $17 million he's owed over the next two years, teams could probably find a cheaper alternative who could provide comparable numbers.
Much like former teammate Marcus Thornton, Tyreke Evans appeared to have a bright future after his huge debut season (20.1 points, 5.3 rebounds, 5.8 assists) en route to winning Rookie of the Year.
However, while he put up respectable numbers in the four seasons that followed, Evans couldn't match his rookie numbers on a team in a constant state of flux. He finally found his way out this past summer in a trade to New Orleans that came with a four-year, $44 million contract.
It is too early to say the Pelicans' investment was a bust, but consider everything the team lost by adding Evans. Center Robin Lopez wasn't a world-beater by any means, but he was a serviceable big man on a good contract. Instead of helping a Pelicans team desperate for size, he's averaging 9.6 points and 8.5 rebounds for the Portland Trail Blazers.
Point guard Greivis Vasquez, while expendable with the addition of All-Star Jrue Holiday, could have been a nice trade piece had the team decided to hang on to him.
Now, think about what Evans would cost another potential suitor. He'll make nearly $11.8 million this year and another $11 million next season. After that, he's owed $21 million for the following two seasons.
Currently, he's averaging 11.6 points and shooting 41 percent from the field (including a putrid 10 percent from three) for the Pels. That means New Orleans is paying him a million bucks per point.
Does that sound worthwhile to you?
While we're talking about expensive Pelicans, let's discuss Eric Gordon. It had seemed for a while that Gordon's days in the Big Easy were numbered. He never seemed to endear himself to fans since coming over in the Chris Paul trade a couple years ago and has struggled to stay healthy.
This season, the former Indiana Hoosier has been surprisingly durable. He's started all 21 games and is averaging 16.3 points per game. He's also shooting 44 percent from the field and 40 percent from behind the arc.
That being said, the Pelicans will be paying him a little over $14 million a year for the next two seasons. After that, he has a $15.5 million player option in 2015-16.
While his health hasn't been an issue so far, it is worth noting that Gordon's never played a full season nor has he played in more than 60 games since 2009-10 with the Clippers.
Both of those reasons put the Pelicans in an awkward position. Do you try to trade Gordon now that he's healthy and playing well, or do you roll the dice that his injury woes are behind him and keep him as your franchise guard?
Now, look at it from the perspective of another team. Do you want to pay close to $45 million over the next three years for a surly, oft-injured shooting guard who's another knee injury away from possibly being the next Brandon Roy?
I think not.
You can't have an article about risky trade targets and not talk about New York Knicks forward Amar'e Stoudemire.
Let's take a look at what might scare off a potential trade partner:
Could it be that, coming into this season, Stoudemire has played in 84 games (including playoffs) in the past two seasons due to a litany of injuries?
Would his new team be concerned that STAT's uninsured knees seem to be made of aluminum foil? How about the fact he's set to make $21.6 million this season and $23.4 million next year?
Did I mention he's 31 years old and in the midst of his 12th NBA season?
Stoudemire was once one of the game's most physically imposing forwards. He was an athletic freak with a wide array of offensive weapons. That ship has since sailed.
All that is left is a fragile big man with a terrible contract trying to salvage what is left of his once-promising career. Stoudemire could still be a contributor if his knees cooperate, but that's a huge IF.
At that price, only an extremely desperate team would take that chance.
When healthy, Tyson Chandler is a rebounding machine who doubles as one of the league's best defensive big men. He even has a Defensive Player of the Year award from 2011-12 to show for it.
The problem is with Chandler's immense athletic ability comes a frustrating physical fragility. Entering his 13th year in the league, he has yet to play a full 82-game season. He played in all of four games this season before suffering a knee injury that he's yet to return from.
With the Knicks in the midst of a disappointing season (7-16 as of Dec. 14), the question becomes when to decide to blow up the team and start auctioning off expensive pieces.
Once he returns, Chandler could still be a strong defensive presence in the middle for a team interested in his services. The flip side to that is he's 31 years old and owed close to $30 million for the next two seasons.
At that price and age combined with a fragile body, teams would be wise to let Chandler remain the Knicks' problem.
The case can be made that Brooklyn Nets guard Joe Johnson holds the title of having the worst contract in the NBA. Here's what Johnson will make in the three years remaining on his deal:
- $21.46 million this season
- $23.18 million next season
- $24.89 million in 2015-16
When you round up, that comes to about $70 million over the next three seasons for a player who's already 32 years old and playing in his 13th NBA season. Currently, Johnson is averaging 15.5 points per game for the Nets.
The upside to Johnson is he's remarkably durable and versatile. He can play either guard spot and has the size to dabble as a small forward. The big issue is that contract. Who wants to pay close to $25 million for a 35-year-old Joe Johnson in 2015-16?
Johnson isn't washed up, but his days of being a premier option on a contender are dwindling (if they aren't over already). He would help a team in need of offense, but you can find cheap scoring almost anywhere.
The Nets made their bed last year when they willingly took on Johnson's albatross contract. This is the price they are going to have to pay (no pun intended).
I've always been a fan of Carlos Boozer. He's a throwback to the old-school power forwards who used brute force more so than athleticism to dominate in the paint. He also has a sneaky outside jumper. Plus, in the right light, we could pass for brothers.
Boozer is having a decent 2013-14 season. He's averaging 15.2 points and nine rebounds a night while shooting 45 percent from the field. The problem is the growing uncertainty surrounding this Chicago Bulls team.
With point guard Derrick Rose out for the season and Chicago barely clinging to the eighth seed in the East, there is concern that the team will throw in the towel and look to rebuild for down the road.
According to Mitch Lawrence of The Daily News, Rose himself has "told several confidantes that he is worried that the Bulls will start to let the team hit the skids by allowing key players to leave via free agency, forcing him to go through a rebuilding program that he wants no part of."
“Derrick is worried that the Bulls are going to lose what they have,” said a league source. “He doesn't want to go through rebuilding.”
If that is indeed the case, Boozer could be the first one out of the door. He'll make $15.3 million this season and $16.8 million next year. He also just turned 32 years old.
Furthermore, for all of Boozer's prowess in the paint, he has slow feet and tends to be a defensive liability.
In a league that is trending more toward speed and smaller lineups, Boozer's game is a bit old hat. It doesn't help that his contract is a bit staggering. Of the players on this list though, the former Duke star is the most likely to be moved.
However, unless the expiring contract of All-Star Luol Deng is being thrown in as well, it's tough to see the benefit of taking on that kind of money for an aging one-dimensional player.
Realistically, forward Gerald Wallace never figured into the long-term plans for a rebuilding Boston Celtics franchise. The team needed his large salary to make the financial aspect of the Kevin Garnett/Paul Pierce trade with Brooklyn work.
However, as hard as it was to say goodbye to two future Hall of Famers, the Celtics will find moving the three years and little over $30 million left on Wallace's contract equally as difficult. From a production standpoint, the investment into Wallace has been a sunk cost thus far.
He's averaging 4.4 points per game while logging 24 minutes a night as Jeff Green's caddy.
Wallace wasn't always a disappointment. He excelled for years by attacking the basket, crashing the boards and playing solid defense. Now he's a 31-year-old forward on a young team that isn't terribly focused on winning right now.
The problem is his contract and flimsy numbers make it hard to generate interest on the trade market. The four-year, $40 million deal the Nets gave Wallace last summer was foolish enough. For a team to take on a player who hasn't been productive since the 2011-12 season, it'd have to be just as delusional.
There's a lot to like about Washington Wizards big man Nene Hilario. He's big, strong and physical in the post. He doesn't turn the ball over a ton, and he can hold his own defensively from time to time.
What's not to like is the fact he'll make $13 million a year for the next three seasons.
Nene is averaging a modest 14.8 points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game for the Wiz, but there's no reason he should be making more money than guys like Tim Duncan and Al Horford.
Hilario and fellow big man Marcin Gortat give the Wizards a nice tandem in the frontcourt, but you wonder if (a) they could find a better option for cheaper and (b) whether they can entice a size-deficient team to take Nene off their hands?
Let's say you're the New Orleans Pelicans. Would you be willing to take on Nene to give you a low-post presence next to Anthony Davis in exchange for Ryan Anderson? How about Nene and Martell Webster to the Lakers for Pau Gasol? (Note: I'm merely spit-balling here.)
Beyond the contract, Nene's health is also an issue, as he's struggled with injuries the last few years. Teams have rolled the dice on worse big men than Nene Hilario, so while Washington hasn't expressed a desire to move Nene, a deal isn't that far-fetched.
It's just a matter of whether a guy with these kind of issues is worth it to a team needing someone down low.
DeAndre Jordan spent the bulk of the summer as the subject of trade talk. The main rumor saw the 25-year-old going to Boston in exchange for Kevin Garnett and eventual head coach Doc Rivers (which was shut down by NBA commissioner David Stern, per CBSSports' Ken Berger).
Inevitably, the Clippers held on to their young center, and Jordan is having a decent year. He's averaging 9.8 points, 12.8 rebounds and two blocks per game. Los Angeles, meanwhile, is currently 16-9 (as of Dec. 13), which is fourth-best in the West.
There are a couple obstacles going forward in regards to Jordan and the Clippers. First, he's owed nearly $11 million this season and $11.4 million next year. While not as overpaid as other big men, that's a pretty penny for someone with Jordan's limitations.
While Jordan has improved defensively and on the boards, he isn't much on the offensive side of the ball. Plus, he's downright horrid at the free-throw line (39.5 percent). Is that worth the third-highest salary on the team?
The Clippers haven't expressed any interest in moving Jordan, and it's hard to fathom a team wanting to take on that contract anyway. Still, Los Angeles has a pricey commodity, and going forward, it might be in its best interest to allocate that money in other areas.