NBA Trade Rumors: Rounding Up Buzz on Kawhi Leonard, Markelle Fultz and More

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistJune 25, 2018

Philadelphia 76ers' Markelle Fultz in action during an NBA basketball game against the Denver Nuggets, Monday, March 26, 2018, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Matt Slocum/Associated Press

While NBA fans are set to turn their attention to free agency, the trade market is also likely to heat up in the coming weeks.

There is no shortage of big names ready to potentially change teams this summer, including perennial All-Stars LeBron James, Paul George, Chris Paul and DeMarcus Cousins. However, teams that want to add a big-name player should first look to see who is available in trades before dishing out big money in free agency.

These players are among those who could be dealt before the start of next season.


Markelle Fultz, PG, Philadelphia 76ers

Matt Slocum/Associated Press

Few players have seen their stock drop so much in one year as Markelle Fultz. The 2017 No. 1 overall pick only played 14 games last season due to shoulder problems and hasn't looked much like the prospect that had scouts excited following his freshman season at Washington.

Suddenly, he is no longer a major part of Philadelphia's future.

According to Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Fultz "was available to be traded" during Thursday's NBA draft. Michael Scotto of The Athletic reported the team also had "internal discussions" about packaging its two first-round picks with the guard to move into the top five of the draft.

While no deal was completed, it's clear he can be dealt for the right price. The question is whether anyone is willing to take a risk on a player with his question marks.

Fultz was known as an elite shooter entering the NBA, knocking down 41.3 percent of his three-pointers in college. This is no longer the case as he missed his only attempt in his first season, seemingly afraid to even attempt anything outside the paint.

The 20-year-old averaged 7.1 points and 3.8 assists per game this season in limited playing time and has plenty of upside.

"The development on his shot is looking great," head coach Brett Brown said last week, per Pompey. "The progress of his shot is looking great."

It would probably be a mistake to give up on him after just one year, but a trade for Fultz remains a possibility.


Eric Bledsoe, PG, Milwaukee Bucks

Morry Gash/Associated Press

Although he was just traded last season from the Phoenix Suns to the Milwaukee Bucks, Eric Bledsoe could be on the move again this summer.

According to Gery Woelfel of the Racine Journal-Times, the Bucks were trying to trade the guard during the draft but were unsuccessful. Matthew Dellavedova and D.J. Wilson were also reportedly available in deals.

Bledsoe is coming off a solid year with the Bucks, averaging 17.8 points and 5.1 assists in 71 games. He has also shown the ability to be an even better scorer when given free rein, averaging 21.1 points per game with the Suns in 2016-17.

However, he is going into the final year of his contract next season and is owed $15 million.

Chris Sheridan of Get More Sports also recently reported both Bledsoe and Jabari Parker could be traded because "Giannis Antetokounmpo does not enjoy playing alongside those two."

The addition of first-round pick Donte DiVincenzo could make Bledsoe expendable, while 2016-17 Rookie of the Year Malcolm Brogdon can also play point guard.

If Bledsoe isn't a good fit, the Bucks could continue to explore trade options throughout the summer.


Kawhi Leonard, SF, San Antonio Spurs

SAN ANTONIO, TX - JANUARY 13:  Kawhi Leonard #2 of the San Antonio Spurs handles the ball against the Denver Nuggets on January 13, 2018 at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading an
Mark Sobhani/Getty Images

Although fans around the league have been putting together hypothetical trade packages for Kawhi Leonard since the end of the season, the San Antonio Spurs aren't necessarily going to trade the small forward.

Michael C. Wright of ESPN.com reported Leonard wants to be traded to either the Los Angeles Clippers or Los Angeles Lakers, preferably the latter, but it's far from a done deal.

General manager R.C. Buford said on Thursday: 

"Kawhi and his family mean a lot to our organization and to the community. While none of us would wish we are where we are, we're going to do what we can to build the best relationship we can with him, and we'll explore all of our options. But the first one would be to do what we can to keep Kawhi as a part of our group."

Leonard is eligible for a $219 million supermax extension if he remains with San Antonio.

However, ESPN's Stephen A. Smith said on First Take last week that the Spurs are "wasting their time."

"Kawhi Leonard met with Gregg Popovich face-to-face, looked him dead in his face and said: 'I don't want to be here. I don't want to be in San Antonio any longer,'" Smith reported.

Smith also said Leonard "does not care" about the supermax extension, per ESPN Los Angeles.

Although the Spurs likely don't want to trade the two-time All-Star—and certainly not to a Western Conference team—they might not have a better option.