NBA Stars Who Need a Trade Now More Than Ever
Star NBA players typically request trades for a select number of reasons.
Whether because of unhappiness with their role on the team, the direction of the franchise or a simple desire to pair up with another star, we typically see a few major moves every offseason.
While this year will be different, some stars will still inevitably want to switch teams once again.
The following five players, all of whom are at different stages of their respective careers, should request a trade—if they haven't done so already.
Andre Drummond, C, Cleveland Cavaliers
Drummond played just eight games with the Cavs following a trade from the Detroit Pistons, but his stay in Cleveland may not last all that much longer
"I don't think [Drummond and the Cavs] will last long," one former NBA general manager previously told Bleacher Report. "I could see them trading him to a team this [offseason] if he agrees to pick up his option. They could also do a sign-and-trade if he agrees to a new long-term deal. I don't think he'll be in Cleveland for long."
Drummond has a $28.8 million player option for the 2020-21 season, money he almost certainly wouldn't see from any other team in free agency.
His age (27) puts him slightly above the core of Collin Sexton (21), Darius Garland (20) and Kevin Porter Jr. (20), which means Drummond will be in his 30s before this Cavs team is realistically competing for a championship again. For a two-time All-Star who just led the NBA in rebounding for the fourth time in five years, that seems like way too long to wait.
That doesn't mean Drummond should be pushing for a trade right this minute, of course.
He's still got a chance to put up big numbers on a team that could lose backup center Tristan Thompson to free agency, which would elevate his stock leading into the 2021 offseason.
According to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com, waiting for a deal may be what's best for the Cavaliers, as well: "Multiple league sources believe the Cavs' best chance for a trade would be at the deadline, sending him to a contender looking for an additional piece with no financial commitment beyond the 2020-21 season. That gives rival executives a chance to evaluate where they stand financially and competitively."
Drummond was a low-cost acquisition for the Cavaliers (John Henson, Brandon Knight, 2023 second-round pick), but he ultimately doesn't make sense for the future of the team.
De'Aaron Fox, PG, Sacramento Kings
The youngest member on the "needs a trade" list, De'Aaron Fox is still just 22 and heading into his fourth season with the Sacramento Kings.
He shouldn't waste a minute more of his path to stardom in California's capital.
Sacramento has done nothing in the last 15 years to show a young star it can build a competent organization around him, and making the playoffs for the first time since 2005-06 once again looks like an impossible task next season.
The team went from winning 47.6 percent of its games in 2018-19 to just 43.1 percent this past year. The Kings passed on Luka Doncic for Marvin Bagley III, who's unfortunately dealt with major injuries in both feet and a broken thumb this past season. Buddy Hield, Fox's backcourt mate, was benched this season and now won't even return head coach Luke Walton's phone calls.
Why would Fox want to stay?
The West is only getting better, with Sacramento finishing in 12th place above only the New Orleans Pelicans (getting their first full season of Zion Williamson), Minnesota Timberwolves (boasting the No. 1 overall pick, D'Angelo Russell and Karl-Anthony Towns) and Golden State Warriors (getting a healthy Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson back).
All three could theoretically pass Sacramento in the standings, which could make the Kings the worst team in the West.
Fox should be seeking a trade now before he signs a long-term extension coming off his rookie contract. Doing so would put him in a better environment in which he could grow and develop.
James Harden, SG, Houston Rockets
The Houston Rockets have shuffled the deck so many times that they're now left with an ace, a king and a handful of sevens. With no first-round picks or young talent left to upgrade the team, they have to seriously consider if the current core can win a championship.
With general manager Daryl Morey and head coach Mike D'Antoni both out, the time to trade James Harden should be now.
Although he's set to make $131.5 million over the next three years, Harden is still a good value with everything he provides—even now at age 31. Teams can base their offense around him (34.3 points, 6.6 rebounds, 7.5 assists, 62.6 percent true shooting), but finding the right complementary pieces has always been the challenge.
Harden has done all he can individually with three scoring titles and an MVP, but his career is in real danger of going down the path of Charles Barkley, Karl Malone and so many other all-time greats who were never able to win a championship.
With D'Antoni and Morey both gone, Harden should close the chapter on his Houston career and push for a move to a team that gives him a better chance at a title while he's still in his prime.
The split from the Rockets wouldn't have to be messy. Both sides did their best to push for a title year after year, and they should recognize that they've run out of real ways to improve the team.
Trading Harden now would still bring back a huge collection of talent and allow the eight-time All-Star to chase a championship elsewhere.
Kevin Love, PF, Cleveland Cavaliers
Kevin Love has been on the trade block for what seems like the past five years in Cleveland, and the need for separation from the Cavaliers should be at an all-time high. While he provides value as the team's oldest veteran and is still a very good player, he's not talented enough to carry the Cavs back to the playoffs anytime soon.
"He's not an All-Star anymore," one NBA scout previously told Bleacher Report. "He's a complementary player. He's probably the fourth-best guy on a contending team."
Now 32 and likely clinging to his last few productive years, Love needs to be on a franchise chasing titles, not one that was a Stephen Curry injury away from being the worst team in the NBA this past season.
Love fits the modern game with his floor-stretching, rebounding and passing ability. He averaged 17.6 points, 9.8 rebounds and 3.2 assists on shooting splits of 45.0/37.4/85.4, including a career-high 53.7 percent on all shots inside the arc.
What's perhaps more important is that Love suffered no major injuries throughout the year, perhaps his biggest concern outside of the three years and $91.5 million remaining on his contract.
The Cavs understandably don't want to give up the face of their franchise for nothing, of course. Simply flipping Love for an expiring contract to create cap space isn't as important to a team that hasn't signed a non-Akron-born superstar free agent, either.
The ideal Love trade would likely have him going to a contender that needs an upgrade at power forward and has a strong rim-protecting center already on the roster. The Cavs should be open to taking on another bad contract, so long as the team sending it can attach some draft picks or young players, as well.
Watching former teammates LeBron James and JR Smith celebrating another title together should only make Love want a move to a contender more, and the Cavaliers should look to do right by their veteran if they can get a piece or two back to help the rebuild.
Chris Paul, PG, Oklahoma City Thunder
From head coach Billy Donovan and the Thunder mutually parting ways to Chris Paul's video message that sounded like a goodbye to the city, it's clear OKC may be looking to go younger and trade the 10-time All-Star this offseason.
While the Thunder were shockingly good at 44-28 without Russell Westbrook or Paul George, taking a small step back now by trading Paul in favor of younger talent (and future cap space) is ultimately the right thing to do. Moving him to a team that has expiring contracts would mean opening up $44.2 million in the 2021 offseason and creating a path for a star to sign with the Thunder.
For Paul, this year was a redemption tour of sorts that improved his value enough for the Thunder to find a trade partner that's ready to win a title now.
As good as Oklahoma City is, Danilo Gallinari is about to be a free agent, Steven Adams is entering the last season of his deal and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (22) is still years away from hitting his prime.
Matching contracts would be an issue, but the Los Angeles Lakers seem like an obvious fit coming off a championship and with Paul's buddy, LeBron James, on the roster.
"Chris Paul would love to come back to L.A. I know it would be a dream come true for Chris," an Eastern Conference executive told Bleacher Report's Eric Pincus. "I know LeBron loves and trusts him and he would be a good fit."
All that's missing on Paul's Hall of Fame resume is a championship, which he's not going to win by staying in OKC.