Predicting NBA's Biggest Names Who Will Be Traded Before Deadline
With the 2014 NBA trade deadline officially less than one month away (set for Feb. 20), executives around the league will have to ascertain exactly what their team's plan is moving forward. After those decisions get made, there’s a chance big names in the Association will be moved.
Contrary to every NBA fan’s desire, the 2013 NBA trade deadline was a disappointment. After weeks of rampant speculation that marquee NBAers would be shipped to different parts of the country, deadline deals included Marcus Morris, Thomas Robinson, Sebastian Telfair, Jordan Crawford, J.J. Redick and Tobias Harris, among others.
Those weren’t exactly the blockbuster deals for which fans were pining, to say the least.
While the 2013-14 season has already played host to the trade that sent Rudy Gay to the Sacramento Kings from the Toronto Raptors, rumors suggest the biggest deal has yet to go down.
There are plenty of teams looking for trade suitors, so let’s hope the 2014 trade deadline isn’t as uneventful as last year’s.
The following NBA players only reach the honorable mentions category because their odds of getting traded are admittedly low.
Although this section includes some huge names who have been floated in rumors and speculation, their general managers may prove to be too gun-shy to pull the trigger on a possible long-term (or short-term) outlook deal.
Danny Granger is in the final year of his contract with the Indiana Pacers, who are set to pay him more than $14 million. Needless to say, that’s not an easy contract to move.
Pacers president of basketball operations Larry Bird called out the 30-year-old forward in December by saying, “He doesn’t work hard enough (in the offseason),” per Bob Kravitz of the Indianapolis Star.
Bird went on to say, “I’m not looking to trade him. But you never know. If the right thing came along that would help the franchise, I would have to look at it.”
Indy could decide to move Granger for additional pieces to try to ensure a trip to the 2014 NBA Finals, but that decision may not pan out in the long run because the Pacers still need to pay Lance Stephenson after his contract expires this summer.
Due to that, keeping Granger’s expiring deal is appealing for the long-term outlook.
Unless the Pacers were content trading the veteran swingman to the Detroit Pistons for a package of Charlie Villanueva and Rodney Stuckey (two expiring contracts that may also help in the short term), I’d expect Granger to stay put.
The Minnesota Timberwolves are figuratively stuck between a rock and a hard place with their current situation.
Star power forward Kevin Love is not happy, head coach Rick Adelman has repeatedly called out his players for lackadaisical effort, and the on-court product is underperforming in a huge way.
Should the Timberwolves consider trading Ricky Rubio? Perhaps they should shop Nikola Pekovic.
One possible outcome that’s lurking in the shadows, though, is a K-Love trade.
The UCLA product can opt out of his contract following the 2014-15 season, and he already stated a while ago that his patience is not high in Minnesota.
If T-Wolves president of basketball operations Flip Saunders wants to keep Love and build around him, time is running out.
It would be hard to fault Minny for accepting a Godfather trade offer of young players and draft picks for the 25-year-old before he threatens to leave the franchise via free agency.
I just don’t see it happening—at least not this season.
Much like Minnesota’s situation with Kevin Love, the New York Knicks are facing a difficult decision of their own with regard to star player Carmelo Anthony.
Contrary to Love, however, who is under contract through the 2014-15 season, ’Melo can become an unrestricted free agent at the end of this year if he chooses to exercise the early-termination option in his contract.
At this point, what is compelling Anthony to stay put from a winning perspective?
Aside from Tyson Chandler and rookie Tim Hardaway Jr.—who has proven to be a draft-day steal—the Knicks are constructed with overpaid veterans (Amar’e Stoudemire and Andrea Bargnani), underperforming role players (J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert) and a collection of aging pieces (Pablo Prigioni and Metta World Peace).
New York also sits out of the Eastern Conference playoff picture at 15-26.
On top of everything, Anthony said to Al Iannazzone of Newsday after a recent blowout loss to the Indiana Pacers, “I don’t want to feel like if I’m not scoring the basketball that we don’t have a chance of even being in the game. I don’t never want to feel like that."
’Melo is clearly frustrated, but Iannazzone did point out that the Knicks have the ability to pay the 2012-13 scoring champion $34 million more than any other team. At this point, the money appears to be the only logical factor that could keep Anthony in town.
The Knicks should trade him, because if they lose him for nothing, they’ll be moving forward with a core of Stoudemire and Bargnani.
With that said, when does the Knicks organization ever make the right decision?
5. Omer Asik, Houston Rockets
Disgruntled Houston Rockets center Omer Asik reportedly asked to be traded back in November as new addition Dwight Howard took his starting job and the vast majority of his minutes, according to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle.
A trade seemed imminent in mid-December when Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe tweeted the framework of a proposed deal that would have sent Asik to the Boston Celtics, but those talks never came to fruition.
The Turkish big man hasn’t played in a game for Houston since Dec. 2, when he notched 15 minutes in a loss to the Utah Jazz. If you’re keeping score at home, that’s 24 straight games since his last appearance.
Asik is a gifted defensive center who experienced a breakout campaign with the Rockets a season ago, but he isn’t doing Kevin McHale’s squad any good from the sidelines.
If Houston is serious about becoming a title contender in 2014, it needs to move the 27-year-old for someone who can help this team immediately.
The Rockets are still one or two tweaks away from becoming the Western Conference favorites.
4. Tyreke Evans, New Orleans Pelicans
The new-look New Orleans Pelicans took a big risk by acquiring Tyreke Evans via sign-and-trade last summer. They traded Greivis Vasquez (to the Sacramento Kings) and Robin Lopez (to the Portland Trail Blazers) in the process, while signing Evans to a four-year, $44 million contract.
That signing hasn’t worked out for New Orleans.
’Reke’s offensive output has seen a steady decline in four straight seasons since he won Rookie of the Year in 2009-10 as a member of the Kings. He’s averaging a career-low 12.8 points per game for his new team in 2013-14 while shooting 41 percent from the field and a pitiful 17.5 percent from three-point range.
Due to the poor performance thus far, the Pelicans are shopping Evans to try to find a trade suitor, according to Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News.
At this point in the season, anything the Pelicans front office can do to make the team less competitive will be in the team’s best long-term interest.
New Orleans owes the Philadelphia 76ers a top-five-protected first-round pick in 2014, stemming from the Nerlens Noel trade that netted NOLA Jrue Holiday.
The Pelicans currently stand as the 10th-worst team in the NBA. The ping-pong balls would have to be very kind to vault New Orleans into the top five of the NBA draft lottery, ensuring the Pelicans keep the pick.
Ryan Anderson’s neck injury has basically sealed this team’s fate as a lottery team, so the goal now (at least for the front office) should be trying to get that pick to stay in Louisiana. Trading Evans would be a step toward bottoming out.
3. Eric Gordon, New Orleans Pelicans
Let’s just agree that the New Orleans Pelicans are better off tanking in order to keep the top-five-protected draft pick they traded to Philly.
Eric Gordon hasn’t played poorly for the Pels in 2013-14—and he’s been healthy for the first time in ages—but 15.9 points per game is the lowest average of his career.
The Indiana product signed a four-year, $58 million offer sheet with the Phoenix Suns in 2012, even saying that Phoenix was where his heart was, but New Orleans overlooked that sentiment and matched the offer to keep him.
That turned out to be a huge blessing for Suns fans, because Gordon certainly isn’t worth the max contract he’s now earning.
According to the column by Mitch Lawrence (referenced on the previous slide), team executives are saying that Gordon is on the trade block right beside Evans.
It’s time for the Pelicans to embrace the future with Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday and, hopefully, a top-five pick in the loaded 2014 draft.
Trading Evans and Gordon won’t be easy, but it’s the right move if the front office can make it happen.
2. Greg Monroe, Detroit Pistons
We’re shifting gears from the Western Conference to the Eastern Conference, but the general theme is similar.
After adding Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings during the 2013 offseason, the Detroit Pistons appeared to be a team on the rise (much like the Pelicans). Instead, a lack of team chemistry has doomed them to a 17-24 record, leaving them in ninth place in the lowly East.
This team simply has to make a trade moving forward, because the current product isn’t jelling. The trade chip with the highest value right now is Greg Monroe.
The 23-year-old big man has played relatively consistent basketball for Detroit this season by averaging 14.2 points and 8.7 rebounds, but his presence is bringing this team down via the domino effect.
Because Monroe is logging minutes on the interior, it bumps J-Smoove to the role of small forward. Simply put, Smith isn’t a small forward.
Not only is he shooting just 23.9 percent from beyond the arc, but he’s also jacking up 3.8 attempts from deep per game. On top of that, his shooting percentage at the rim (54.4 percent) is way down from last season when he shot 62.7 percent at the bucket, per NBA.com/Stats.
Detroit has to find a way to limit Smith’s three-point tries and make him more comfortable when attacking the basket. Moving Monroe may not solve that problem, but it’s worth a shot since the big man is in the final year of his contract.
According to Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders, the Washington Wizards are interested in his services.
1. Thaddeus Young, Philadelphia 76ers
Nobody on this list seems to be destined for a trade more so than Thaddeus Young.
The 25-year-old lefty’s trade stock is at an all-time high, as he’s in the midst of his best professional season. He’s averaging career highs in points (17.3), assists (1.8), steals (1.8) and three-point percentage (35.8 percent).
He’s performed well for the Philadelphia 76ers, but they’re not a playoff team. According to reports, that doesn’t sit right with Young.
In an article by Jake Fischer of Liberty Ballers, an anonymous source close to Young said, “Thad is ready to leave Philly. He isn’t with the whole tanking thing.”
The seven-year veteran out of Georgia Tech doesn’t want to play for a losing team, and there could be an upstart squad in the Western Conference looking to oblige him.
According to Fischer via Twitter, the Phoenix Suns are “very interested” in Young.
As a solid veteran who is coming into his own as a player, Young would be a nice building block around guys like Goran Dragic, Eric Bledsoe, Channing Frye and Miles Plumlee. His ability to slash to the bucket would open up new avenues for a Suns offense that is built around three-point shooting and pick-and-roll plays.
While no trade rumor is ever a sure thing, I’d be surprised if Philadelphia didn’t trade Young moving forward. Given how he’s played so far, the Sixers will likely be able to land a first-round pick for him.
You can follow Ben Leibowitz on Twitter: @BenLebo.