NBA Players Whose Trade Value Have Never Been Lower

D.J. Foster@@fosterdjContributor IOctober 18, 2013

NBA Players Whose Trade Value Have Never Been Lower

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    Last week, we took a look at NBA players whose trade values will never be higher. This week, we'll look at players on the other side of the equation.

    These are the "buy low" candidates of the NBA, players who for one reason or another have seen their trade value take a fall.

    Whether it's contract, injury or performance-based concerns, each of these players have seen their trade values hit rock bottom. The trajectory depends on the circumstance, but the following players are all primed to boost their trade values this season. 

Rajon Rondo, G, Boston Celtics

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    This has to be as cheap as Rajon Rondo will come.

    Recovering from an ACL tear can be a lengthy process, and Rondo's shooting deficiencies won't help keep him afloat while he regains his explosiveness. Rondo's game is based mostly on shiftiness and balance, and that could take some time to regain.

    More importantly, though, is Rondo's contract status. Because Rondo can be a free agent after next year, any team who trades for him would have to trust they could keep him. That's a big risk for a team to take, although it did work out for the Los Angeles Clippers and Chris Paul.

    The problem is, Boston has very little leverage in a Rondo trade. Unless Rondo agrees to sign an extension, why not wait until he's fully recovered and a free agent instead of squandering assets?

    If a team is willing to make the plunge and trade with the Celtics, it can operate from the position of power knowing that the Celtics are highly unlikely to retain Rondo, who may not be all that happy playing on what should be a pretty bad team.

    Rondo is undoubtedly a star and one of the game's very best point guards, but the uncertainty of his health and contract status have his trade value at an all-time low. 

    What it would take

    Any package for Rondo would have to at least include two of the following three assets: first-round draft pick(s), salary relief and young talent still on rookie contracts.

    The Clippers deal for Chris Paul is a decent precedent, although Paul was the better player and had fewer injury concerns. Anything that doesn't aid Boston's rebuild (like a straight player swap, for example) is highly unlikely to be considered.

Danilo Gallinari, F, Denver Nuggets

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    Danilo Gallinari is another ACL injury casualty, and his style of play could be impacted heavily by the injury as well.

    Although Gallinari's probably best known for his size and shooting touch on the perimeter, it's his ability to put the ball on the deck and draw fouls (5.2 free-throw attempts per 36 minutes) that makes him a versatile scoring threat.

    Gallinari could certainly get that quick pump-and-go move back, but truth be told, his lack of notable development during his three seasons in Denver had his value on the decline even before the injury. 

    Gallinari will make an average of $10.8 million over the next three years, and that's a hefty contract for a player who always seems to be on the cusp of a breakout season but never fully delivers.

    For now, Gallinari is practically untouchable because of the injury, and there are reasons for concern going forward. That said, not many wings possess the size, touch and penetration skills that Gallo does. He's a risky investment, but he's a great "buy low" candidate, especially considering Denver's depth at small forward.  

    What it would take

    An expiring contract and a first-round draft pick. Denver is in the position to survive Gallinari's departure thanks to the presence of Wilson Chandler, Jordan Hamilton and Quincy Miller, but this is a team starved for cap room and chances at a game-changing talent.

    Given Gallinari's injury and contract, a trade is unlikely to happen this year. Eventually, though, if the right team dangled a first-round pick at some point, Denver would be hard pressed to say no.

Quincy Pondexter, G/F, Memphis Grizzlies

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    There were a few breakout performances in last year's playoffs that caught everyone's eyes. We'll remember Stephen Curry's unreal scoring efforts and Danny Green's incredible shooting as primary examples, but there were breakouts on a smaller scale as well. 

    One of those surprising showings belonged to Memphis Grizzlies swingman Quincy Pondexter. The Grizzlies found something in Pondexter in the postseason, as he shot 45 percent from behind the arc in the playoffs, knocking in 2.4 threes per 36 minutes.

    That perimeter shooting is a big deal for Memphis, and Pondexter's elite defense and ability to cover multiple positions make him an ideal option on the wing.

    Pondexter's playing time may be blocked by veterans Tony Allen and Tayshaun Prince, however, and opposing teams may want to see the young swingman "prove it" with a bigger sample size.

    Still, Pondexter could very well establish himself as one of the best 3 and D guys in basketball once he gets more time. The secret might not be out yet, and we'll see if Memphis knows what they have, but it's hard to imagine Pondexter's trade value goes anywhere but up from here on out.

    He's the type of guy all contending teams need.

    What it would take

    Memphis is competing now, but shedding salary is always an objective. If a team were willing to deal an expiring contract and draft picks, perhaps the Grizzlies would consider dumping Zach Randolph and attaching Pondexter as a sweetener.

    Any small trade solely for Pondexter is unlikely, as Memphis has starters and depth at every position. Pondexter can probably be had only in a much bigger deal.

Kevin Love, F/C, Minnesota Timberwolves

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    With a good amount of certainty, you can say Kevin Love's injury-riddled campaign last year was and will be the worst season of his career.

    A broken shooting hand and knee issues kept Love sidelined for all but 18 games in 2012-13, and in those games Love shot a dreadful 35 percent from the field, nearly 10 percentage points lower than his career average.

    That can't happen again. Remember, this is the same player who averaged 26 points and 13 rebounds a night two seasons ago. He might be the league's best rebounder, he's an excellent passer and he stretches the floor very well.

    Offensively, there's probably not a more valuable big man in basketball.

    The injury concerns could blow over soon, and the poor shooting should be remedied once Love can actually feel and use his hand properly once again.

    The looming player option on his contract in 2015-16 doesn't help his trade value now or going forward, but it's hard to imagine Love will ever perform worse on the court than he did last year.

    He's simply too talented to have that happen again.

    What it would take

    A whole lot. The Minnesota Timberwolves reportedly declined an offer from the Cleveland Cavaliers this offseason for the first pick in the draft, Tristan Thompson and Dion Waiters. Love almost definitely isn't going anywhere this season, but if Minnesota struggles this year a trade demand could be in the cards. 

    A deal similar to the trade that sent Deron Williams to the Nets might be a good starting point. The Jazz received Derrick Favors, Devin Harris and two future first-round picks, and Minnesota would likely want a promising young star and two future picks as well.

Goran Dragic, G, Phoenix Suns

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    The Phoenix Suns were the rough last year, Goran Dragic was the diamond.

    In his first season as a full-time starter, Dragic impressed as a two-way guard who distributed well but didn't get an awful lot of help from teammates on the finishing end of his passes.

    Dragic's trade value, however, is probably the lowest it will ever be, and that's primarily through no real fault of his own.

    Due to the oversaturation of great point guards, there are very few teams who currently need a floor general. Although Dragic's salary of $7.5 million a year is certainly fair, it's not so much of a steal that teams will be lining up for his services. 

    Add in that Dragic is dealing with ankle injuries this preseason, and there's a good chance that his trade value right now is as low as it will be for quite some time.

    Dragic is an extremely talented player and a wildly underrated defender, and having the chance to show he can play off the ball this year next to Eric Bledsoe could change the lens through which he's evaluated. The New York Knicks had a lot of offensive success with two-point guard lineups last season, and there's a good chance that Dragic can raise his trade stock by proving he's a great fit in those types of lineups.

    Players at the forefront of emerging trends tend to see their trade value jump quite a bit, and that could be what happens in Phoenix this season. 

    What it would take

    A future first-round draft pick from a fringe lottery team. Phoenix is clearly rebuilding and doesn't have any harmful salaries to shed, so an exciting young prospect or a good draft pick would likely be a good enough haul.

    A good precedent is the Houston Rockets sending Kyle Lowry to the Toronto Raptors for a future first-round pick.

Tiago Splitter, C, San Antonio Spurs

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    Postseason performance is a double-edged sword. Perform great and your trade value can skyrocket. Perform poorly like Tiago Splitter did, however, and it can fall off a cliff.

    Splitter is a much better player than the guy who averaged 6.1 points and 3.1 rebounds in 20 minutes per game in the playoffs. Tough matchups are mostly to blame, but it's still easy to lose sight of Splitter's per-36-minute averages of 15.5 points and 9.5 rebounds on his career. 

    Add in that Splitter's game isn't exactly aesthetically pleasing, and the lasting image is of LeBron James ending his world at the rim with a huge block, and you can understand why Splitter probably isn't a hot commodity right now.

    Of course, there's the contract situation as well. Splitter inked a four-year, $36 million dollar deal that is actually below the going rate for big men that produce like he does. But the bad taste of the postseason is still in the mouths of many.

    By design, Splitter's value should increase over time. Because Splitter is on a descending deal that will start at $10 million this year and finish at $8.25 million, he'll only become a better value as time goes on.

    There are questions about whether Splitter could survive in another offensive system with non-stars, and that's exactly how the San Antonio Spurs keep guys like Danny Green for $4 million a year. Did the Spurs do it again with Splitter?

    It certainly seems possible.

    What it would take

    An established frontcourt option who could add more stretch. San Antonio is still in win-now mode, and if a veteran frontcourt player who could defend, rebound and space the floor became available, perhaps that would do the trick.