The NBA season is only about a month old, but teams are already starting to settle on their rotations for the year. In many cases, top players are getting less playing time than expected.
Whether this is due to a poor fit, other players stepping up or simply a logjam of talent at a position, a few proven players are struggling to see the floor. While there is plenty of time to improve their standing on their respective rosters, those players might be better off trying their luck in a new location.
Here is a look at a few notable competitors who fit this description and could end up being traded within the next couple of months.
Brandon Knight, Phoenix Suns
It's not always easy to trust what front office personnel say regarding trades at this stage of the year.
The Phoenix Suns are a good example, with general manager Ryan McDonough discussing a possible deal for Brandon Knight.
"We're certainly not looking to move Brandon, we haven’t been close to trading Brandon," he said earlier this month, per Kevin Zimmerman of Arizona Sports.
Just because the team isn't actively searching for a trade partner doesn't mean a move can't come down the line.
ESPN.com's Marc Stein recently reported that interested rivals believe Knight "will be made available."
Knight is having a disappointing start to the year after his best career season in 2015-16. He averaged 19.6 points per game as a starter a year ago but has only produced 12.5 PPG in 18 games this season. His shooting from the field is off, and he has been reduced to a bench role with Eric Bledsoe and Devin Booker starting in the backcourt.
He could have a lot of value for a contender, but he is now expendable for the Suns.
Nerlens Noel, Philadelphia 76ers
When you don't draft for need, it eventually leads to having too many options at a single position.
This is what happened with the Philadelphia 76ers, who have Joel Embiid, Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel all on the roster at center. All of them have shown ability in their young careers, but it won't be easy to play them all.
Even head coach Brett Brown noted the difficulty of getting all of his players enough minutes.
"It's going to be hard," Brown said, per Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer. "You can talk about playing two of those guys together to free things up."
Considering all three of these players are best suited as true centers instead of power forwards, the reality is someone will have to go. As Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders noted, Noel appears to be the odd man out:
It makes sense for Philadelphia to want to move the player who will be a free agent at the end of the year. He has also had the toughest time staying healthy and has missed the entire start of the 2016-17 season to date.
If he does return to the floor, however, he could have a lot of value as a defensive-minded center. Not only has he averaged 8.1 rebounds per game in his career, but he has also averaged over 1.5 blocks and 1.5 steals per game in each year he has played.
Okafor and Embiid have more upside, but Noel can still fetch a nice return in the trade market.
Greg Monroe, Milwaukee Bucks
Like the other players on this list, Greg Monroe has fallen out of favor with his coaching staff and is struggling to get much time on the court.
Although he has broken out a bit with 19 points and 17 rebounds combined in the last two games (in 36 minutes), this came after a stretch of just 17 total minutes in four games.
Stein noted the lack of playing time is "akin to screaming that the 26-year-old is available." He also noted the team has "explored the possibility of trading Monroe since last season's deadline in February."
ESPN's Zach Lowe noted on his podcast the poor relationship between the player and his coach, via Eric Nehm of ESPN Milwaukee:
John Henson and Miles Plumlee have been the primary options at center for Milwaukee, and they fit the team's versatile style better. Monroe still has value as an interior scorer, but the team could survive without him.
The latest increase of playing time might simply be a way to showcase him to other teams before making a deal.
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