6 Potential Under-the-Radar NBA Trade Targets Worth Watching
You don't have to be a marquee name on the trade block to be valuable to a potential suitor. The truth is that, buried at the end of an NBA bench or trapped in a coach's doghouse, there are hidden gems just waiting for the right opportunity to present itself.
With the Feb. 20 NBA trade deadline drawing near, teams will be sifting through opposing rosters with a fine-toothed comb, looking for someone who can help them down the stretch. It could be a team in the market for a shooter or some extra size to bang bodies down low or even a prospect worth taking a flier on.
Because of their low profiles, these guys won't generate the same buzz as their more popular counterparts. Their potential availability won't garner prime real estate on sports news sites. In fact, they might not even be on a trading block at the moment but can be had for the right offer.
It's time for these athletes to get their just due. The six men mentioned in this piece are underrated talents who should draw the interest of teams in dire need of their services.
As always, reader participation is encouraged. If there are any names that you'd like to add to the list or if you have anything to add, feel free to make your voice heard in the always entertaining comment section.
Pierre Jackson, PG, New Orleans Pelicans/Idaho Stampede
Pierre Jackson has made a name for himself as a member of the Idaho Stampede in the NBA's D-League. The rookie out of Baylor leads the NBDL in scoring with an average of 29.9 points per game. He's also chipped in a 5.1 assists a night as well.
Jackson was drafted in the second round by the New Orleans Pelicans in this past June's NBA draft. After briefly flirting with the idea of playing overseas, he found a home in Idaho and is now hoping to take the next step in his pro career.
The problem is New Orleans, even with the recent injury to Jrue Holiday, is loaded at both guard spots. Brian Roberts and Austin Rivers are handling the point guard duties, while Eric Gordon and Anthony Morrow hold it down at the 2.
That's why, according to Yahoo! Sports' Nathan Raby, Jackson's reps are pushing the team to deal the 5'10" rookie.
On the surface, it makes a ton of sense. The Pelicans have a ton of needs elsewhere (especially up front), and they don't have any room for Jackson's services. Since he's unproven in the pros, New Orleans won't be getting much in return, but it's worth the effort.
For potential suitors, Jackson's an emerging talent who brings a scoring punch. At the very least, he makes for an intriguing backup point guard prospect for a team that can afford to accommodate him.
Injuries at the position have put the Brooklyn Nets and Chicago Bulls in the market for a point guard. The Nets have a bevy of big men they could send to New Orleans to fill the Pelicans' need for size in the frontcourt.
The most likely scenario would be the Pelicans getting a future draft pick for a talented-yet-unproven rookie.
Spencer Hawes, PF/C, Philadelphia 76ers
Spencer Hawes is one of the league's most underrated big men. He's a legit seven-footer who can score, rebound and defend his position. He has a bevy of offensive moves, including a sneaky outside jumper, and can play the 4 or the 5.
The former Washington standout is putting together a solid season with the Sixers. He's averaging 14.3 points, 8.6 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game. He's shooting 48.5 percent from the field, including 43 percent from behind the arc.
Hawes was on the trade radar earlier in the year, when his name was tossed around in potential deals for disgruntled Rockets center Omer Asik. Now that those talks have died down, it's been back to business as usual.
Philadelphia already has its big man of the future in rookie Nerlens Noel, who is recovering from a torn ACL. Hawes is a free agent at the end of the year, and the Sixers are currently near the bottom of the East at 12-25.
The Sixers could use this opportunity to exploit a contender's need for size as well as get something for a a player who might leave this summer.
With Al Horford out for the season, it would make a ton of sense for Atlanta to get Hawes' services. Houston could revisit a possible Asik-for-Hawes deal. Hawes would be a good complement to Dwight Howard, while Asik would be a nice stopgap who could allow Noel to take his time coming back.
Teams such as San Antonio, Miami, New Orleans and Portland (to name a few) could also use someone with Hawes' talents.
Jimmer Fredette, G, Sacramento Kings
My 2014 New Year's resolution is to include Jimmer Fredette in every trade piece I write until he finds a new home. It just seems unfair that he's found himself buried on the Kings' depth chart for the better part of two years.
It's time to free Jimmer.
Fredette came into the NBA with a lot of momentum after establishing himself as a scoring machine at BYU. However, his time in the pros has exposed some flaws.
For one, he's a bit of a 'tweener. He's too short (6'2") to be a full-time shooting guard and isn't quick enough to run point. Second, his lack of defensive ability makes him a walking turnstile. It's hard to justify a guy with that many red flags.
Still, Fredette deserves more than the nearly 11 minutes a game he's logging in Sacramento. He's a talented scorer with a good shooting touch (career 39 percent three-point shooter), and if the Kings aren't going to use him, he should get a chance with a team that will utilize his skills.
Fredette is an asset to a team that could use a shooter as well as a scoring punch. Chicago is dead last in the NBA in points per game (91.4) and is 28th in three-point percentage (nearly 33 percent). The Bulls are also without Derrick Rose for the rest of the season.
Sure, coach Tom Thibodeau would pull his hair out watching The Jimmer try to play defense, but the Bulls aren't playing for this year anyway. Charlotte and Milwaukee are intriguing options as well, as are the New York Knicks.
Donatas Motiejunas, F/C, Houston Rockets
Donatas Motiejunas finds himself in the inconvenient position of being a developmental project on a team determined to win right away. Even with the Rockets decimated by injuries up front, D-Mo has found playing time hard to come by. He's played a total of 17 minutes in his last five games.
To help fix the situation, Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted that Houston has been making calls to find the raw Lithuanian a new home. The Rockets shouldn't expect much in return for a 23-year-old who has yet to prove himself but could get something worthwhile if they put together other assets.
In the right hands, Motiejunas could live up to his vast potential. He's an athletic seven-footer with good quickness and a sneaky outside jumper. He needs to get better defensively and on the boards, but that could come with more experience.
A team that isn't looking to win immediately and has the patience to bring D-Mo along slowly would be the perfect landing spot for this once highly touted prospect.
The Rockets could go in one of two directions here. They could throw Motiejunas in a deal with other parts (such as fellow benchwarmer Ronnie Brewer) in exchange for immediate help. The other option is finding one of the many rebuilding teams in the NBA to take D-Mo off Houston's hands.
For the former, B/R's own Ethan Norof tweeted out a potential trade involving Chicago that would send Mike Dunleavy to Houston in exchange for D-Mo and Brewer. For the latter, a team such as Utah or Boston would be intriguing. The New Orleans Pelicans could also use someone like Motiejunas.
Rodney Stuckey, SG, Detroit Pistons
Rodney Stuckey is a talented guard stuck on a team with a number of superior options. With Andre Drummond, Greg Monroe, Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings on the roster, the 27-year-old is lucky to be fifth in the pecking order.
When you throw in the presence of rookie Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and what's left of Chauncey Billups, it would appear as if Stuckey has worn out his welcome in Motown.
To his credit, the former Eastern Washington star got off to a hot start. He averaged 16.9 points and shot 49.5 percent from the field (including 37.5 percent from three) for the month of November. Since then, his numbers have taken a bit of a hit.
Currently, he is averaging 13.3 points per game. His percentages have dropped down to his usual career numbers. He's shooting 44 percent from the field and 31 percent from behind the arc.
With his contract expiring at the end of the year and the Pistons having other options, Stuckey could be more useful on a team in need of a scoring punch in the backcourt.
It will be tough for Detroit to find a deal for Stuckey. First, at $8.5 million, he's quite the expensive rental. Next, for all of his scoring prowess, his offensive game isn't very versatile. His lack of consistency from downtown hurts his overall appeal.
Still, teams could use his ability to put numbers on the board. Milwaukee could use some scoring and has disgruntled Gary Neal to send in return. Brooklyn has never shied away from taking on salary and could use some more offense. Even a team like Denver would be an interesting spot for Stuckey.
Mike Dunleavy, SG, Chicago Bulls
The recent trade of Luol Deng to Cleveland has opened the door for veteran Mike Dunleavy to attempt a career resurrection. He's moved into the starting lineup, and injuries have forced him to take on a larger role.
With the Bulls shifting from contender to rebuilding mode, the NBA's elite will look to Chicago to pick what's left of the bones. Dunleavy has value because he's a good shooter (career 37 percent from three) on an affordable contract ($3 million a year for this season and next).
According to USA Today's Sam Amick, Dunleavy is high on the Houston Rockets' wish list. Amick also writes that the former Duke star "is held in extremely high regard by his current bosses and there will certainly be a hefty price to pay for anyone who comes calling."
Houston has the trade assets and the need to make a Dunleavy trade work. Dunleavy would be a nice backup to James Harden, and his shooting would be crucial to a team that is dependent on the three-ball (second in the league in three-point attempts per game).
As enamored as Chicago claims to be with Dunleavy, it makes sense for it to deal the well-traveled veteran. At 33 years old, there isn't much of a future on a team that looks to be going back to the drawing board.
Houston shouldn't be alone in its pursuit of Dunleavy. The Clippers could use another shooter. The same goes for Oklahoma City and Detroit. Depending on Chicago's price, a deal could easily be made by the deadline.