With the 2011 NBA Finals underway, the NBA offseason is right around the corner. Chances are it will not be as exciting as last offseason’s free-agent fiasco, but rest assured, there is plenty of talent to be had on the trading block in the league.
There is a lockout looming, but I will disregard that for a moment. Here is my evaluation of every NBA team’s top trade assets going into the offseason ranked 30-1 (this excludes untouchable, franchise players like Kobe Bryant, Derrick Rose, LeBron James etc.).
Ramon Sessions finds himself in a logjam at the guard position on a bad Cleveland roster.
The team plans to draft Kyrie Irving, and they like Baron Davis as a starter going forward. That makes him expendable.
He averaged 13.3 PPG and saw an increase in playing time after the trade to Cleveland. A team could take a chance on him.
This is pure speculation because the Clippers roster is so young all around and franchise players like Blake Griffin and Eric Gordon are not going anywhere.
Al-Farouq Aminu saw a decent amount of playing time in his rookie season. He is oozing with potential as a rebounder and ball-handler.
With some added strength and commitment to improving his shot, I could see a team taking a chance on the young forward if the Clippers decide to make some moves.
C.J. Miles was a spot starter for the young Jazz last season. He’s 24 years old but a five-year veteran with a lot of experience and an improving shot (he averaged 12.8 PPG last season).
Derrick Favors and likely third overall pick Brandon Knight will lead the youth movement of the Jazz. The Jazz will likely pick up his option and play him until a contending team needs a solid role player to add at the trading deadline.
Andrea Bargnani has (rightfully) been labeled as a bust in his short NBA tenure.
That being said, the man averaged 21.4 PPG this past season. He’s a liability defensively at this point in his career, and he will never be the dominant big man the Raptors hoped he would.
But after his recent comments regarding his home city and his future with the team, his time may have run up in Toronto.
Put it this way, he’s much better offensively than Darko Milicic. If Milicic can get another chance, so can Bargnani.
It’s clear that Miami’s Big Three is going nowhere, and the majority of the roster is made up with older veterans who were acquired to play a specific role.
The only role player on Miami’s roster that teams would be interested in is Mario Chalmers. He is young, with a great three-point shot and excellent ball-handling. But again, Miami’s not likely to be in the market for trades anytime soon.
In light of the recent news that Ricky Rubio has finally agreed to play in Minnesota, Jonny Flynn will be put on the trading block.
The Timberwolves are trying to keep Kevin Love long-term, so trading him is highly unlikely. While Flynn may never be the star point guard he was pegged as coming out of the draft, he has potential off the bench as a shooter and quick slasher.
Injuries have also plagued his short career, but he is young enough where someone will take a chance on him.
Contending teams like the Knicks and Heat have reportedly expressed interest in Samuel Dalembert.
The big man from Sacremento will be a free agent, but Kings owner Gavin Maloof stated the team would like to bring him back. Dalembert played a role in the development of young players like DeMarcus Cousins and Jason Thompson, but Sacramento won’t be contending anytime soon.
He’s got value to the league’s best team.
He was already dealt via trade last season in the Gilbert Arenas deal. But don’t be surprised if the Wizards move Rashard Lewis again this offseason.
Lewis has made tremendous strides defensively the last few seasons. Even in a down season, Lewis managed to shoot almost 35 percent from beyond the arc.
He’d be a welcome addition to a contending team if he adjusted his attitude, and God knows the Wizards could use some draft picks.
Stephen Jackson can’t seem to find a place to lay his head.
He’s bounced around the league for the entirety of his career, but despite attitude problems and a short fuse, Jackson has found ways to consistently score and play tough-nosed defense.
Charlotte finished just short of the playoffs last year and will likely be a buyer come trade deadline. Jackson can start for a contender and put up 16-18 points a game every night.
The Knicks' future lies with Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire. New York’s brass will be in aggressive pursuit of Chris Paul as long as he is available, and Chauncey Billups would have to be a part of a trade for Paul.
Billups does have a big contract, but they don’t call him Big Shot for nothing. He’s a proven winner and an excellent leader of an offense. He spearheaded turnarounds in Detroit and Denver and would likely do the same for another middling franchise if dealt.
The Dallas Mavericks have made an improbable run to the NBA Finals.
This has been in part thanks to their great bench play, more specifically backup point guard J.J. Barea. He does a nice job of drawing fouls and penetrating the lane.
He’s proven that although he probably is not a starter, he’s a good guy to change up the pace of an offense and keep opponents off balance.
Raymond Felton was a highly sought-after trading chip at the NBA trade deadline. He scores around 16 points a night and has a high number of assists for one of the best offenses in the NBA.
Unfortunately for Felton, Ty Lawson is a younger, better option at point guard for the new-look Denver Nuggets. Plenty of teams would love to add Felton's ability to defend and push the tempo for an offense.
He could add a lot to a team looking for a good leader in the backcourt.
Steve Nash is at the end of his brilliant career. He's 36 years old, and the Suns are a franchise in flux.
Nash has still never won a championship. He could join a title contender and give them excellent experience and leadership in a bench role and really be of value.
He's a two-time MVP and one of the best passers in the game. There's no question he could bring a lot to the table for one last season.
Andre Miller is a veteran guard with great rebounding ability. While Portland is a good team, they are trying to stay away from injury-prone players.
They could sign-and-trade him to a team in need of some depth and experience in the backcourt. Miller won't take over the game, but he can provide leadership to a young team like Denver and play quality minutes.
The Rockets are trying to get back into the playoffs, and one trading chip at their disposal is the young Courtney Lee.
He was almost traded for Omer Asik of Chicago at the trading deadline, but Chicago backed out at the last minute.
He has been somewhat disappointing for Houston, but he showed flashes of being a very good player in Orlando. He could get back on track with a change of scenery.
Tony Parker's recent comments about the Spurs' old age may be a sign that it is time for him to go.
Parker is still a productive player and an efficient passer at the age of 29. He's got three rings to his name and proved he can still lead an offense for the duration of a season.
Trading him could give the Spurs some desperately needed youth and Parker a chance to win somewhere else.
This is another speculative opinion, considering James Harden had a great postseason for the Thunder this year. However, Harden still is not a starter for the team that drafted him third overall in the draft.
They also have an All-Star guard in Russell Westbrook who at times can be quite the ball-hog. If Oklahoma City was tempted enough, they could get a great deal in return for dealing Harden.
That probably won't happen, but he would bring the most value outside of Kevin Durant and Westbrook.
O.J. Mayo's resurgence was a big part of the Grizzles' surprising run in the NBA playoffs.
But for all of Mayo's talents, he has been somewhat of a headache for Memphis. He has starting potential but hasn't cracked the starting lineup for the Grizzles recently.
He seems to have straightened out some issues for now, and that could make him extremely appealing for teams in need of a talented shooting guard.
Monta Ellis is the best scorer you've never heard of in the NBA.
All kidding aside, Ellis is a great offensive threat and an underrated player in the league. Jerry West was just hired to take over the team, and one of his first moves could be trading Ellis for a lucrative package.
Ellis was doing it alone for a bad Golden State team. But on contending team with help around him, he could flourish.
Carlos Boozer was a candidate here, but his contract and age diminish his value. Joakim Noah has proven his critics wrong by blossoming into a solid, All-Defensive Team NBA player.
Noah is a great defensive center and a high-energy rebounder for the top-seeded Bulls. The Bulls would be hard-pressed to part with him unless they packaged him for Orlando’s Dwight Howard.
Boston has said they will not break up "The Big 3" that won them a title in the 2007-08 NBA season. Then again, they also said they would not trade Kendrick Perkins.
Boston is an aging team with a cornerstone point guard in Rajon Rondo to build their franchise around. Their newest addition, Jeff Green, is another player they hope will develop into a great young player.
Boston needs youth to compete past the next season, and one way they could acquire draft picks would be to trade one of these three players. Ray Allen would be the most likely to go of the three because he has a shorter contract.
Richard Hamilton's days in a Pistons uniform are numbered. He was a part of the infamous walk-out at a Detroit practice this season, and his poor attitude greatly affected his play.
That being said, many teams are interested in the 33-year-old's services. He is still an effective scorer, and a change of scenery could inspire him to play to his potential.
The Bulls are among the interested teams. He would no doubt be an upgrade at the position for a contending team.
Josh Smith has been a polarizing figure for the Atlanta Hawks during his seven-year tenure with the team.
He is a boom-or-bust player on any given night, and many fans are fed up with his inconsistency. The Hawks could use him to acquire a more complete center to pair with All-Star Al Horford for years to come.
Smith is no doubt talented, and a new team could allow him to re-focus and play more consistently.
Brandon Jennings followed a spectacular rookie season with a middling sophomore campaign. His Milwaukee Bucks were a big letdown as a team and horrible offensively.
Jennings is one of the most gifted point guards in the NBA. When he wants to, he can be a dominant scoring threat.
At 21 years old, he still has room for improvement and would draw the interest of many teams if put on the trading block.
Indiana's Danny Granger is not an elite player, but he is a 20-point-a-night player with a very good all-around game.
The Pacers are an up-and-coming franchise, but Granger could be dealt to a contender if he wants to win now. He is the kind of player who can make a good NBA lineup a great one with his total skill set.
A player of Granger's caliber would be of great value to any NBA team.
However, the rest of the Nets roster is not very promising, and they were one of the worst teams in the NBA. Williams can leave after this season, and it may be better for New Jersey to deal him while they still can.
He is an All-Star point guard, and without question, the team's best player. If the Nets do not think he will stay, they could get a package similar to the one they sent to Utah in return for him.
Andre Iguodala has quietly been one of the better players in the NBA as a Philadelphia 76er.
He's been largely alone in Philly before the team's youth movement and hiring of Doug Collins pushed the team to the playoffs. There are rumors that Iguodala has requested a trade from the team, which he has disputed.
If he was traded, he would add experience and elite athleticism to a contending team's backcourt. He can do it all on offense and has the potential to be elite defensively.
He's a lot better than most of the starting shooting guards in the NBA.
Andrew Bynum has always been a player with seemingly boundless potential. He can't seem to put a full season together, yet is still regarded as one of the best centers in the NBA.
The Lakers still believe he is the future, but if they want to land Dwight Howard in a trade, they would need to send Bynum in return.
Bynum is 23 years old and if he could overcome his struggles with injury and a poor attitude, his potential is sky-high as player in the league.
Chris Paul is a one-man wrecking crew in New Orleans. You could argue that Paul is the best point guard in the NBA.
His performance against the Lakers in this year’s playoffs is an example of just how good he can be. The Knicks and Lakers will be prime candidates to acquire the gifted point guard in a trade.
Chances are he would welcome a trade if he felt he could compete for titles consistently.
Dwight Howard is the biggest prize sitting on the table for NBA contenders.
The four-time defensive player of the year is the best center in the NBA and a top-five overall player. He can walk away from Orlando after next season but don’t expect the Magic to allow that to happen if they feel Howard will leave via free agency.
The Lakers, Bulls and Knicks will be in play for Howard as they try to make their version of Miami’s Big Three. Howard is a beast in the prime of his career.
He will instantly make any of those teams a legitimate contender for an NBA title.