NBA Players Who Should Be Traded in 2014
Considering all the viable candidates out there on the trade market, we should see plenty of fireworks in 2014.
Whether you're talking about the large expiring contracts, the troublesome personalities or the players that no longer fit with the direction of their current teams, there should be plenty of incentive for both the buyers and sellers out there on the market to pounce.
More than ever before, teams are being aggressive with their decisions to rebuild or contend, and that should equate to more mutually beneficial trades going down.
Narrowing the list of players who should be dealt to 10 names isn't easy, but here are the players who should be changing addresses in 2014.
Andrew Bynum, C, Cleveland Cavaliers
Let's start with the most time sensitive trade target. Cleveland Cavaliers center Andrew Bynum will have the second half of his $12.2 million salary guaranteed if he isn't waived before January 7, and that's something you would think the Cavs would avoid at all costs.
Bynum has been suspended for conduct detrimental to the team and placed on paid leave, so we can reasonably assume that his time in Cleveland is coming to an end within the next few days, one way or another.
The thing is, Bynum should probably be dealt if at all possible, as his non-guaranteed deal could really help reduce or completely remove the luxury tax payment for teams like the Los Angeles Lakers or Chicago Bulls. That's a big deal, and so long as Kyrie Irving is healthy, the Cavs may want to try and make a playoff run with whatever piece they can get in return for Bynum.
Ben Gordon, SG, Charlotte Bobcats
The Charlotte Bobcats have been one of the most pleasant surprises of the early going, as first-year head coach Steve Clifford has them defending incredibly well and playing very hard on a nightly basis.
The Bobcats look like a potential playoff team in the increasingly shaky Eastern Conference, and they have an excellent trade chip to offer in Ben Gordon's expiring deal worth $13.2 million. Gordon has been pretty awful this season, so an upgrade is almost a certainty in any deal the Bobcats want to explore.
What would make the most sense is dealing Gordon to a team looking to shed future salary. Charlotte isn't exactly a premium free agent destination, so this could be a smart way to acquire talent that's locked up for the future while also helping the playoff push this year.
Pau Gasol, PF/C, Los Angeles Lakers
All that being said, there is plenty of incentive for the Lakers to try and move Gasol's expiring deal worth $19.2 million. Finding a match may be tough, but if the Lakers want to have max cap room this season to try and lure the likes of Carmelo Anthony, they'll have to renounce the cap hold and Bird Rights to Gasol first.
Basically, Gasol staying in Los Angeles next year is a real long-shot at this point. Although the Lakers will likely have a hard time finding a team that can take on Gasol's massive expiring deal without giving back contracts that go on past this year, it's not completely impossible. That's the main reason why the Cleveland Cavaliers make for such a logical trading partner. If that deal doesn't materialize, however, trading Gasol is going to be difficult in more ways than one.
Omer Asik, C, Houston Rockets
The Omer Asik trade situation has dragged on so long that we need to start making up terrible names for it, like the Asikstakes. We don't know when this madness will end, but it still makes plenty of sense for the Houston Rockets to deal their cranky backup center.
At this point, you probably know the complications. Although it's not his actual cap number, Asik will be due $15 million from whatever team takes him on, which is tough to swallow. Houston ideally wants draft picks in return, because Houston always wants draft picks, but those are going to be hard to come by as well.
Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey might have to get creative, but that shouldn't be a problem. There's no place for Asik in Houston with Dwight Howard manning the middle, so you have to imagine a trade is imminent.
Thaddeus Young, PF, Philadelphia 76ers
Thaddeus Young is a very solid player in the prime of his career, so you can understand why he'd want no part of the rebuilding process that the Philadelphia 76ers are very clearly entrenched in.
For Philadelphia and general manager Sam Hinkie, the feeling may be mutual. Young still has two seasons and $19.4 million left on his contract, which is a hefty amount for a team that appears to have no plans of contending anytime soon.
Although there's no rush on Philadelphia's side, Young may lose patience soon and have his trade requests, as reported by the Boston Globe's Jake Fischer, become a little noisier. He'll undoubtedly be shopped at the deadline this year, and he'll likely be one of the very best options available out there.
Luol Deng, SF, Chicago Bulls
Waiving the white flag is something the Chicago Bulls probably never thought they'd have to do this season, but with Derrick Rose's injury and the team's struggles early on, it might be time.
While Chicago may want to keep their core together, Luol Deng's expiring contract could throw a wrench into those plans. Deng and the Bulls may be far apart on what his next salary should look like according to Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times, and Chicago's ownership can't be happy about paying so much in luxury tax for a non-title contending team.
Moving Deng for draft picks or a young player on a rookie-scale deal would certainly be better than losing him for nothing in free agency, which feels like a distinct possibility at this point. Deng should have plenty of suitors and shedding at least some of his salary worth $14.2 million would certainly help alleviate some financial pressure.
Kris Humphries, PF, Boston Celtics
Kris Humphries was signed to this deal worth $12 million by the Brooklyn Nets specifically so he could be a trade piece, and that's exactly what happened. Now it's the Boston Celtics who could potentially use him the same way.
Although the Celtics are rebuilding, perhaps it's not out of the question that they'll use Humphries' large expiring contract to bring back an established player to pair with Rajon Rondo and Jeff Green for next year. It likely all depends on who that player would be, and if he'd be an upgrade from what could possibly happen in free agency with a decent chunk of cap space.
Either way, Humphries is a nice trade chip to have around, because at least he gets Celtics general manager Danny Ainge into the trade conversation. This year is lost for Boston, but Humphries might be able to land a decent piece for next season.
Spencer Hawes, C, Philadelphia 76ers
Spencer Hawes is the Goldilocks of expiring contracts. His salary isn't too big or too small ($6.5 million) and his skill level isn't too high or too low. For a contender looking to add a third big man, he fits just right.
Considering Philadelphia's direction, Hawes should be fairly easy to acquire as a rental for the remainder of the season. Hawes will hit unrestricted free agency after this year, where he's bound to get paid by someone other than Philly. As a big man who can step out shoot from the perimeter, pass pretty well and eat up space in the paint, he should be a hot commodity.
The 76ers may not have much leverage in any deal, but acquiring a draft pick or rookie-scale player shouldn't be overly difficult. We haven't heard much about potential destinations, but Hawes should be dealt before the deadline.
Dion Waiters, SG, Cleveland Cavaliers
It's possible that the rumors of Dion Waiters being a bad influence in the locker room are overblown, but that doesn't change the fact that he's a questionable fit next to Kyrie Irving.
Waiters has played significantly better coming off the bench for Cleveland, but it's yet unknown whether the Cavs or Waiters are satisfied with a sixth man role. As one of the more attractive trade pieces on the roster, it makes sense for Cleveland to put his name out there and try to find a much better fit next to Irving, who is clearly the franchise building block.
Moving Waiters isn't as time sensitive as many of the other players on this list, but it's hard to ignore the rumblings that he may want out, despite his firm denials that he didn't ask for a trade.
"Why would I do that?" Waiters told ESPN.com. "It doesn't make sense. This is the team that drafted me. People come up with their own things, man. I know what I said and what I didn't say. That's one of the things I absolutely never said."
Regardless of whether Waiters wants to be dealt, Cleveland has plenty of holes to address, and using Waiters as the ticket to do that might be the best option.
Jameer Nelson, PG, Orlando Magic
Jameer Nelson has been a fixture of Orlando Magic basketball for quite some time now, but with a contract that's only partially guaranteed for $2 million next season, this is likely his last year with the team.
For that reason, trading him to a contender and allowing him to compete for a championship would be a classy thing to do, but also a wise thing. Getting Victor Oladipo plenty of reps at point guard towards the end of the season is probably a good idea, as Orlando will be playing for lottery balls at that point with or without Nelson on the roster.
Orlando probably can't squeeze much more than a second-round pick or maybe a cheap young flier, but when you're rebuilding, every little asset helps.