How Every NBA Team Can Trade Its Worst Contract

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistSeptember 3, 2021

How Every NBA Team Can Trade Its Worst Contract

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    The NBA undergoes a spending frenzy every offseason when free agency opens.

    It's not at all surprising that some of these expenditures miss their mark.

    Every team winds up with a worst contract on its roster, although that's a relative (and subjective) distinction. Some have absolute cap-crushers, as injuries, inconsistencies or poor fits with coaches, teammates or both can all make contracts go rotten. Others have kept their books so pristine that a fine-toothed comb is required to find the least valuable pact.

    We have assembled every club's worst of the worst and plotted a trade path to take it off their hands.

Atlanta Hawks: John Collins

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    Remaining Contract: Five years, $125 million

    If the worst contract on your books is a non-max deal with a 23-year-old supplier of 19.3 points and 9.0 rebounds the past three seasons, you're probably handling your money right. That's the case for the Hawks, who have splurged in all the right places and constructed one of the NBA's deepest rosters.

    Still, it's worth noting John Collins' production did decrease last season and fell further in the playoffs, when he averaged just 13.9 points and 10.1 shots per game. His talents overlap a bit with Clint Capela's—both might be best deployed on offense as pick-and-roll screeners—and given Atlanta's wealth of frontcourt options, it's possible Collins doesn't make the cut for the closing lineups at some point during this deal.

    If the Hawks opted to trade Collins for better roster balance, the Boston Celtics seem like a reasonable option. They're in the market for a No. 3 scorer and could send back Marcus Smart and draft picks, prospects or both in return.

Boston Celtics: Al Horford

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    Remaining Contract: Two years, $53.5 million ($41.5 million guaranteed)

    Al Horford's return to Boston is full of feel-good vibes, but let's be honest: He wouldn't be a member if the Celtics if they didn't have a worse contract they needed to unload (Kemba Walker's two-year, $74 million, which the Oklahoma City Thunder promptly bought out).

    At this stage of the 35-year-old Horford's career, he's worth nowhere near the $27 million he'll collect this season. Even his $14.5 million partial guarantee for next season seems steep given the way his production cratered the past two years. He's solid, but he's paid like a star.

    If Boston wanted to unload Horford, the Charlotte Hornets might value his inside-out versatility (which Mason Plumlee) doesn't offer and the lessons he could teach young bigs P.J. Washington, Kai Jones, Vernon Carey Jr. and JT Thor. A package of Plumlee, Kelly Oubre Jr. and filler might be enough for both teams to see win-win potential in a deal.

Brooklyn Nets: DeAndre Jordan

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    Remaining Contract: Two years, $19.7 million

    DeAndre Jordan's contract, which initially spanned four years for $40 million, felt like the manifestation of the adage, "It's not what you know, it's who you know." He worked his way into a sort of package deal with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving when the trio signed in Brooklyn back in 2019.

    Even back then, the deal felt unnecessary. The Nets had a better big man on their roster in Jarrett Allen, and Jordan's rim-running archetype had become increasingly devalued in today's positionless, spaced-out NBA. It's only grown worse with time, as Jordan felt out of the rotation in March and didn't even log a minute of playoff action. He's now reportedly discussing a buyout with Brooklyn, per Shams Charania and Alex Schiffer of The Athletic.

    It's hard to imagine why anyone would want to trade for Jordan at this juncture, so the Nets would surely need to sweeten the pot. But maybe Jordan and a few future second-rounders would be enough to pry Derrick Favors away from the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Charlotte Hornets: Gordon Hayward

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    Remaining Contract: Three years, $91.5 million

    The tricky thing with Gordon Hayward is he's arguably worth the money when healthy. He certainly looked the part when he put up 19.6 points, 5.9 rebounds and 4.1 assists across 44 games for the Hornets last season.

    But therein lies the rub: 44 games. He made it through just 52 the season prior and logged all of five minutes during the 2017-18 campaign. With his 32nd birthday looming in March, it's probably more likely his injury issues worsen rather than go away.

    Charlotte might decide its ceiling isn't high enough to justify that kind of financial risk. If the Hornets make that call, they should furiously work the phones to try winning the Ben Simmons sweepstakes. The 25-year-old is a better fit with their core's timeline, and he could be electric in transition and pick-and-rolls with LaMelo Ball, provided Simmons accepts a position change to the frontcourt.

    A straight swap probably doesn't interest the Sixers, but after Simmons issued a trade demand, per Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Hayward and a first-round pick might be the best Philly can get.

Chicago Bulls: DeMar DeRozan

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    Remaining Contract: Three years, $81.9 million

    A quick glance at the stat sheet won't sound any alarms with this salary. DeMar DeRozan is on an eight-year run of averaging more than 20 points per game, and he just dropped a career-best 6.9 assists per outing last season.

    Look under the hood, though, and it's easy to see where this pay rate could get problematic. His inability to space the floor shrinks his margin for error on offense, and he needs to be razor-sharp there because he gives back an awful lot at the opposite end. He has just one positive defensive box plus/minus in 12 NBA seasons, and on a directly related note, he has just one year with a positive on/off net differential.

    His flaws aren't reflected in the finances, so unloading him could get tricky if Chicago ever went that route. But it's possible the Sacramento Kings might value DeRozan's shot-creation more than Buddy Hield's three-point shooting. A straight-up swap works financially, and each club could walk away thinking it had better positioned its offense for success.

Cleveland Cavaliers: Kevin Love

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    Remaining Contract: Two years, $60.2 million

    A lot of situations require a good amount of digging and some healthy debating to uncover the worst contract on the books. This is not one of them.

    Kevin Love has looked like a fish out of water ever since LeBron James took his talents to Hollywood in 2018, and the four-year, $120 million extension Love inked with the Cavs that same summer looked suspect the moment he signed it. It has only grown worse with time, as he has battled both injury issues and spotty production. A buyout seems like a reasonable conclusion, but Love isn't interested, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

    Trading Love is tough and would require not insignificant sweeteners from Cleveland. But maybe the Golden State Warriors would be an option. They've shown interest before, per Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle, and could be open to dealing Andrew Wiggins if young wings Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody prove they're ahead of schedule. And if James Wiseman looks as raw as last season, they might seek an upgrade at center.

    Love isn't bringing back Wiggins on his own, but a deal sending Love and Collin Sexton (and maybe draft considerations) for Wiggins and Jordan Poole could be an option worth exploring.

Dallas Mavericks: Kristaps Porzingis

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    Remaining Contract: Three years, $101.5 million (final season is a player option)

    Acquired to be Luka Doncic's co-star in Dallas, Kristaps Porzingis has struggled living up to that billing. Injuries have limited his availability—100 games played the past two seasons combined—and a loss of mobility has turned the former defensive asset into a liability.

    Executives and scouts now see Porzingis' pact as "an albatross," per ESPN's Tim MacMahon, who added the 7'3" center feels "frustrated" and "like an afterthought" for the Mavs. Even with Doncic ascending to MVP-caliber heights, Dallas can't open its championship ceiling without returning Porzingis to an elite level or getting him off the books to add someone who might.

    The Mavs need to uncover a desperate trade partner to deal Porzingis, and maybe the Washington Wizards—eager to construct a winner around Bradley Beal—could be that team. If the Wizards think Porzingis can help, they might be willing to move Davis Bertans, Thomas Bryant and rookie Isaiah Todd to get him.

Denver Nuggets: Jamal Murray

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    Remaining Contract: Four years, $131 million

    This is tough, because Denver doesn't have any dead money on its books. It's possible an extension with Aaron Gordon or even Michael Porter Jr. could eventually grow onerous, but there are no major gripes at the moment.

    Having said that, Jamal Murray's deal is rich for someone who's never made an All-Star team, and that's especially true now as he recovers from an ACL tear in his left knee suffered in April. Chances are he'll fully recover and potentially live up to this pay rate, but maybe Denver doesn't want to wait and see, since Nikola Jokic's MVP ascension gives the Nuggets championship hopes.

    If Denver is open to trading Murray, it should be working the phones to pry Damian Lillard away from the Portland Trail Blazers. He's basically a souped-up version of Murray and a lethal pick-and-roll partner with Jokic. If Lillard winds up wanting out of Portland, the Blazers might have a tough time finding a better offer than Murray, Zeke Nnaji, Nah'Shon Hyland and a 2027 first-round pick.

Detroit Pistons: Kelly Olynyk

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    Remaining Contract: Three years, $37.2 million ($25 million guaranteed)

    Kelly Olynyk's pact with the Pistons ranked among this offseason's biggest puzzlers. He might hold some appeal to win-now teams for his sharpshooting and passing, but Detroit doesn't have win-now potential.

    Not to mention, there are limits on Olynyk's impact, since his lack of mobility makes him a target for opposing offenses. Putting him at the 5 cuts into the developmental time for Isaiah Stewart, and the same holds true for Saddiq Bey and Sekou Doumbouya at the 4.

    The Phoenix Suns might make sense as a suitor. They're seeking frontcourt upgrades with Dario Saric shelved by an ACL tear in his right knee and eyeballing Thaddeus Young, per Shams Charania of The Athletic. Olynyk brings more offensive punch and might be had for a package of Saric and 2020 lottery pick Jalen Smith.

Golden State Warriors: Klay Thompson

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    Remaining Contract: Three years, $121.8 million

    This is tricky, because if you could guarantee a clean bill of health for Klay Thompson, he wouldn't even enter this discussion. Remove him from the equation, and the worst-contract distinction probably falls on the two years and $65.2 million still owed to Andrew Wiggins.

    But that's the thing—You can't make that guarantee. Thompson, who turns 32 in March, last suited up in the 2019 NBA Finals. His 2019-20 season was erased by an ACL tear in his left knee suffered during that series, and his 2020-21 was lost to a torn right Achilles' tendon last November. While Thompson's sniping seems a safe bet to return, his defensive mobility is a question, and he wouldn't be worth the money without it.

    It's hard to fathom the Warriors trading Thompson and splitting up the Splash Brothers, but that's what this exercise demands. So, why not a risk-reward swap of Thompson for Ben Simmons? The Philadelphia 76ers could definitely use Thompson's lights-out shooting, and if the Warriors could find enough spacing, they could squeeze an absurd amount of playmaking and defensive versatility out of a Simmons-Draymond Green frontcourt combo.

Houston Rockets: John Wall

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    Remaining Contract: Two years, $91.7 million

    It's debatable John Wall was ever worth super-max money, as even at his best he shrank the offensive end with shooting limitations and had some trouble with turnovers. But after having four consecutive seasons derailed—and in one case erased—by injuries, it's obvious his contract ranks among the Association's very worst.

    He looks particularly out of place in Houston, where the James Harden-less Rockets just went full force into a youth movement by spending four first-round picks on teenagers. Wall, who soon turns 31, has no business being on the roster, as any floor time he receives will actively work against the franchise's long-term plan by blocking the developmental opportunities of Houston's many youngsters.

    The Rockets, who snagged a first-round pick just to take Wall off the Wizards' hands in December, probably now need to move multiple firsts to get rid of him. If they're willing to make that sacrifice, a package of Wall and at least two future firsts might incentivize the San Antonio Spurs to part with Dejounte Murray, a 24-year-old stopper who could actually grow with Houston's core.

Indiana Pacers: Malcolm Brogdon

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    Remaining Contract: Two years, $44.3 million

    There are some truly egregious deals on this list, but Malcolm Brogdon's isn't one of them. It just feels a tad rich for someone who's more like a star role player than an actual star, especially when considering he has missed double-digit games in each of the past four seasons.

    The Pacers could probably cut ties with him and still be OK in the backcourt. T.J. McConnell is serviceable, and Indy gets a lot of shot-creation and playmaking from other spots, like Caris LeVert and Domantas Sabonis.

    If Indy seeks the star power of Ben Simmons—the Pacers reportedly made an offer in July, per KRON4's Jason Dumas—the Pacers could offer Brogdon, Jeremy Lamb and a future first-round pick. The Pacers would walk away with a legitimate star, and the Sixers would improve their spacing around Joel Embiid, plus gain the draft pick to potentially help facilitate another swap.

Los Angeles Clippers: Luke Kennard

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    Remaining Contract: Four years, $56 million (final season is $14.8 million team option)

    For reasons known only to them, the Clippers extended Luke Kennard's contract before he ever played a game for them. It didn't take long for them to feel buyer's remorse.

    He signed the contract in December and lost his rotation spot before the end of February. He would rotate in and out of it the rest of the season, failing to get any run during four of L.A.'s first five playoff games. He's a good shooter and decent secondary distributor, but he needs to be better offensively to make up for his defensive shortcomings.

    That makes him a tough sell to either teams, but those short on shooting could see some value in the 25-year-old. Perhaps the New Orleans Pelicans would want him to space the floor around Zion Williamson and accept a package of Kennard and second-round picks for Tomas Satoransky.

Los Angeles Lakers: Russell Westbrook

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    Remaining Contract: Two years, $91.3 million (final season is a $47.1 million player option)

    Still puzzled by L.A.'s offseason trade for Russell Westbrook? You are not alone. LeBron James has historically done his best work alongside sharpshooters, and Westbrook has the second-worst career three-point percentage (30.5) among all players with 2,000-plus attempts. So, what were the Lakers thinking?

    "One of the core qualities as we build a roster is seeking guys that have an ultra sense, a heightened sense of being competitive warriors on the court," general manager Rob Pelinka told reporters. "Players that played with the ultimate sort of grit and grind and tenacity, and Russell stands in an elite class in that category, and that's drawn us to him."

    This could work. Westbrook will lighten the offensive loads shouldered by James and Anthony Davis and perhaps become better weaponized as a slasher and screener. Or this could blow up in the Lakers' face, one forced jumper by Westbrook after another.

    If it's the latter, L.A. will quickly scramble for a way out of his mammoth money. If the Mavericks don't sense they can salvage their relationship with Kristaps Porzingis, that might open a path to a blockbuster deal. Something like Westbrook, Talen Horton-Tucker and Marc Gasol for Porzingis, Dwight Powell and Trey Burke might work.

Memphis Grizzlies: Steven Adams

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    Remaining Contract: Two years, $35 million

    Either Steven Adams has lost a step, or he was such a poor fit on the New Orleans Pelicans he just looked like he did.

    Either way, the Grizzlies shouldn't be keen on covering the remainder of his contract. And they probably aren't, since it was more of a means to an end, as the three-team trade that brought him to Memphis was more about the draft considerations the Grizzlies collected.

    The Wizards might view Adams as more reliable than their internal options, though, and also a potential path out from the money owed to Davis Bertans. Sending Adams and Juancho Hernangomez to D.C. for Bertans, Thomas Bryant and a heavily protected future first could appeal to both clubs.

Miami Heat: Duncan Robinson

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    Remaining Contract: Five years, $89.9 million ($80 million guaranteed)

    The financial picture looks pretty good in Miami, though perhaps the deals with Kyle Lowry and Jimmy Butler won't age the best. For now, though, the biggest gamble is this massive investment in Duncan Robinson.

    He offers an elite skill as one of the NBA's premier perimeter marksmen. Only two players hit more threes than Robinson's 520 the past two seasons, and he converted those looks at a sizzling 42.7 percent clip. The question is whether he can grow the rest of his game, because if not, this looks pretty steep for a specialist.

    At least the modern NBA values that specialty, though, so the Heat wouldn't have trouble finding a taker. The Pacers need shooters after losing Doug McDermott in free agency, and they might bend Miami's ear with an offer of T.J. Warren and Goga Bitadze for Robinson.

Milwaukee Bucks: Jrue Holiday

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    Remaining Contract: Four years, $135 million (final season is a player option)

    This feels wrong, as Jrue Holiday just proved he can be the third-best player on a championship team. He's a brilliant defender and no-maintenance offensive player who can chip in with points, assists, threes or all of the above.

    But the veteran guard gets this distinction almost by default. Brook Lopez's deal has just two years, Pat Connaughton doesn't make enough to stand out and Khris Middleton is earning his keep. Holiday is too for now, but he's already 31 years old. That means if he exercises his player option, the Bucks will wind up paying him $37.4 million for his age-35 season.

    Milwaukee isn't trading Holiday, but for our purposes, it has no other choice. In terms of trade value—maybe less for team needs—the Bucks and Warriors could possibly come together on a deal involving Holiday, Bobby Portis and Rodney Hood for Andrew Wiggins, Jordan Poole, Jonathan Kuminga and a future first-round pick. It's hard (see: impossible) to imagine Milwaukee actually wanting this, but if it ever explored Holiday's trade value, that's about where it would land.

Minnesota Timberwolves: D'Angelo Russell

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    Remaining Contract: Two years, $61.4 million

    As a 25-year-old with one All-Star trip under his belt, D'Angelo Russell might have the time and the talent to live up to this contract. But he hasn't done so yet, and his score-first skill set might be more conducive to shiny individual stats than contributions to team success.

    In five of his six NBA seasons, his teams have fared better when he's not on the floor. He has yet to top the league-average marks in effective field-goal percentage and true shooting percentage, which feels especially damning for an offensive specialist who brings little of value to the defensive end.

    Saying that, his shooting and shot-creation could perhaps interest the 76ers. The Timberwolves are in pursuit of Ben Simmons, per The Athletic's Jon Krawczynski, and Russell might rank on the higher end of players Philadelphia could land after Simmons requested a trade. Attaching sweeteners like Jaden McDaniels and a lightly protected first-round pick to Russell just might be enough to snag Simmons.

New Orleans Pelicans: Devonte' Graham

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    Remaining Contract: Four years, $47.3 million ($37.5 million guaranteed)

    After unloading both Eric Bledsoe and Steven Adams this offseason, the Pelicans made nitpicking a must for this exercise. All of their major financial commitments at this point are either attached to young, ascending players or are expiring.

    Devonte' Graham's might be the only exception. There's a chance he hasn't played his best basketball yet, as he's only played two NBA seasons as a rotation regular. Even if this is his peak, he might offer enough as a shooter, decision-maker and pick-and-roll creator to justify the pay rate. However, his lack of size limits what he can do as both an inside-the-arc scorer and a defender.

    If the Pelicans find their defense can't work with Graham, they might be able to flip him and a future first-round pick to the Celtics for Marcus Smart. Both teams would need to get off to a sluggish, uninspiring start for this to happen, but there's a scenario in which New Orleans needs more defense, Boston needs more offense, and this swap scratches both itches.

New York Knicks: Evan Fournier

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    Remaining Contract: Four years, $73 million (final season is a team option)

    The Knicks spent a boatload of money this summer, but they safeguarded nearly all of their expenditures with team options on the end of those contracts. Fournier himself had his deal structured as such.

    The issue is the Knicks could decline his $19 million option for 2024-25 and still feel like they didn't get their money's worth. Evan Fournier consistently put up solid numbers on some bad Orlando Magic teams, but once he was traded to the Celtics, it became clear he wasn't more than a complementary offensive player who struggles on defense. If he winds up averaging around 15 points and three assists in New York, the production won't measure up to the price.

    The Knicks might eventually seek a more complete player and they might be able to get one from the Sacramento Kings. Sending Fournier and a future first-round pick to the Kings for Harrison Barnes would remove a liability in New York and add a shot-creator in Sacramento.

Oklahoma City Thunder: Derrick Favors

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    Remaining Contract: Two years, $19.9 million (final season is a player option)

    Sincere apologies to the Favors family, as the veteran big man wouldn't stand out on virtually any other cap sheet. It's just that his offseason trade to OKC sent him to a place where almost everyone is making minimum money, and the only major expense is an upcoming max extension to the perpetually ascending Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

    So, yeah, Derrick Favors mostly lands here by default. But his interior game isn't tremendously valued in the modern NBA, so he's probably getting a little more than he would on the open market.

    His stay in the Sooner State could be a short one, as he obviously doesn't fit the team's timeline. He could fit Golden State's win-now mentality, though, especially if the Warriors don't think James Wiseman is ready to help Stephen Curry and Co. chase a title.

    Wiseman, the 20-year-old who was picked second in the 2020 draft, is young enough for the Thunder to part with some of their many picks to get, meaning the Warriors could walk away with a reliable backup big man (or serviceable starter) and multiple first-round picks to help broker another deal.

Orlando Magic: Gary Harris

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    Remaining Contract: One year, $20.5 million

    It's tough for an expiring contract to crack this list, but there aren't any real alternatives in Orlando. If Jonathan Isaac and Markelle Fultz return to form after their respective ACL tears, they'll be worth what they make. Terrence Ross makes just above the mid-level exception, and his scoring punch is worth at least that much to some win-now trade partner out there.

    So, the spotlight instead falls on Gary Harris, who is stuck in a three-year shooting funk and has increasingly had trouble avoiding the injury bug. He once was a three-and-D asset, but without that outside shot (33.7 percent since the start of 2018-19), he's a defensive specialist making money meant for a two-way contributor.

    A trade becomes easier to find if Harris shows any signs of life with his three-ball. Short of that, the only option may be an offense-for-defense exchange. The Magic might be able to broker one with the Timberwolves, sending Harris to the Gopher State for sharpshooter Malik Beasley and Josh Okogie as salary-filler.

Philadelphia 76ers: Ben Simmons

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    Remaining Contract: Four years, $146.7 million

    In a vacuum, Ben Simmons' deal might be more cost-effective than the $112.9 million headed toward Tobias Harris over the next three seasons. But we don't live in a vacuum—that would suck. (Sorry.)

    The vacuum can't account for Simmons' woeful playoff showing, lowlighted by his passing up a wide-open dunk. It can't calibrate for the cutting criticisms sent his way afterward by Joel Embiid and Doc Rivers. It wouldn't know what to do with the fact that Simmons now wants out and has informed the team he has no intention of coming to training camp, per Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

    Given that context, Simmons' salary easily jumps over (falls under?) Harris' as the Sixers' worst.

    In an ideal world, Philly would swap out Simmons for a better-fitting co-star for Embiid like Damian Lillard or Bradley Beal, but Simmons' trade value isn't great enough to get that done. The Sixers could search out a strong asset collection to have at the ready should either of those stars hit the open market, but that feels too risky for a roster otherwise ready to contend.

    Philly should instead go the best-player-available route, which might steer it toward the Toronto Raptors. Assuming the Kyle Lowry-less Raptors are ready for life without Pascal Siakam, they could turn the 2019-20 All-Star, a first-round pick and a pick swap into Simmons.

Phoenix Suns: Dario Saric

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    Remaining Contract: Two years, $17.8 million

    It's possible the right business decision here would be to spotlight 36-year-old Chris Paul's new four-year, $120 million pact. That's an obscene amount of money for a player his age—but it also isn't what it seems. The Suns partially guaranteed the third season, and the final year is a team option, meaning Phoenix might be on the hook for only $75 million. That, or it will keep paying the Point God to help the team retain its elite status.

    That's arguably a better business proposition than having to cover the final two seasons of Dario Saric's deal. He'll miss most of the next one after suffering a torn ACL in his right knee in July, and in his last one, he set career lows in points (8.7) and assists (1.3) and had his worst box plus/minus since his rookie year (minus-2.2).

    The Suns have been eyeballing Thaddeus Young, per Shams Charania of The Athletic, and there should be a trade to make here. Phoenix could reload for another run at the Western Conference crown with Young, while the San Antonio Spurs could take on Saric (a possible trade chip down the line) and Jalen Smith, the 10th overall pick of the 2020 draft.

Portland Trail Blazers: Norman Powell

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    Remaining Contract: Five years, $90 million

    Some might argue for CJ McCollum in this spot, since he's not a superstar but paid like one (three years, $100 million). At least he's had superstar-like stretches, though, like his scorching start to last season when he averaged 27.6 points on 47.0/43.4/84.4 shooting across the first dozen contests.

    Norman Powell, meanwhile, has never been mistaken for a star and only averaged double-digit points for the first time in 2019-20. He is functionally a three-and-D wing, only his 6'3", 215-pound frame denies him the defensive versatility that label often implies. Portland clearly paid him to help appease Damian Lillard, which makes sense, but if Lillard forces his way out, this fully guaranteed contract becomes burdensome really quick.

    The Blazers might get similar production without the long-term costs by sending Powell to Indiana for T.J. Warren and Jeremy Lamb. The Pacers would clear some frontcourt congestion with the trade and add another weapon to an offense that could compensate for the lack of a great scoring threat by fielding a lot of good ones.

Sacramento Kings: Buddy Hield

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    Remaining Contract: Three years, $61.6 million

    There are moments when Buddy Hield looks like a player deserving of a $20 million salary. However, all of them come at the offensive end, and they don't happen every night.

    He's an electric outside shooter, but there aren't many other tools on his belt. He also might want out of Sacramento, and the Kings might be willing to let him go. Just this offseason, they almost sent him to the Lakers, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, and also discussed a Hield-for-Josh Hart sign-and-trade, per B/R's Jake Fischer.

    Hield is available, in other words, and the Kings should furiously work the phones trying to use him as a bridge to Ben Simmons. Sacramento reportedly won't part with De'Aaron Fox or Tyrese Haliburton to get Simmons, per The Athletic's Sam Amick, but maybe Philly would bite on an offer of Hield, Marvin Bagley III, Davion Mitchell and some draft considerations.

San Antonio Spurs: Derrick White

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    Remaining Contract: Four years, $68 million

    The Spurs have some issues to iron out as they move on to their next chapter, but bad contracts aren't one of them. There was a bit of sticker shock when word surfaced about Zach Collins' three-year, $22.1 million deal, but that went away after discovering less than half of it is guaranteed.

    The only viable options, then, are the contracts owed to Derrick White and Dejounte Murray (three years, $49.7 million remaining). We're left splitting hairs between two reasonable contracts, but we'll go with White's, since he's older and has the longer, richer contract. He has also had more recent trouble with injuries, as he missed half of San Antonio's games last season.

    If the Spurs deal White, it would likely be part of a consolidation trade that sends out a few good players in hopes of adding a great one. Not to keep beating the Ben Simmons drum, but he's an obvious target for that type of exchange. A package featuring White, Murray and a pair of first-round picks would at least make Philadelphia think, if not pounce.

Toronto Raptors: Pascal Siakam

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    Remaining Contract: Three years, $106.3 million

    Pascal Siakam has popped several times over the course of his Toronto tenure. First, he snagged Most Improved Player honors for the 2018-19 campaign, which he punctuated by playing one of the top supporting roles in the Raptors' run to the title. Then, he snagged an All-Star spot and All-NBA second-team designation the next season.

    But this season was a step backward in multiple areas, and it was enough to potentially make the Raptors wonder if he's cut out to be their focal point. He's the No. 1 option without Kyle Lowry, and Siakam may not have a No. 1-option skill set. His 54.7 true shooting percentage ranked 10th-worst among rotation regulars with a 25-plus usage percentage.

    The Raptors, who just spent the No. 4 pick on a possible Siakam replacement in Scottie Barnes, might be open to splitting from their highest-paid player. If they don't want to race to the bottom, they could use Siakam to anchor a trade for Ben Simmons. If Toronto doesn't mind taking the long road, it could shop Siakam as a rebuild-accelerator to the Timberwolves for a package featuring Malik Beasley, Taurean Prince and a couple of future first-round picks.

Utah Jazz: Jordan Clarkson

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    Jim Poorten/Getty Images

    Remaining Contract: Three years, $40 million (final season is a player option)

    Good on the Jazz front office for making this such an excruciating call. Despite having six eight-figure salaries on the books, it's hard to take issue with any of them. Mike Conley's three-year, $68 million pact has a chance to age poorly, but it felt like a value based on what teams paid veteran point guards this summer. Not to mention, Utah smartly left the final season only partially guaranteed.

    Utah's finances are in such good shape that Jordan Clarkson shows up here the summer after he collected Sixth Man of the Year honors. Like most honorees, he plays with a neon-green light and can heat up in a hurry. Having said that, he's not incredibly efficient, he doesn't create many shots for others, and he has some drawbacks defensively.

    That's not enough to make the Jazz move him, but if it were, they could shop him to the playoff-hungry Bulls. His instant impact might be enough for Chicago to part with Coby White, Troy Brown Jr. and some draft considerations. White could do a decent job of replicating what Clarkson brings and give Utah a succession plan behind Conley, while Brown and any draft picks would help keep the cupboards stocked in Salt Lake City.

Washington Wizards: Davis Bertans

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    Will Newton/Getty Images

    Remaining Contract: Four years, $65 million ($54 million guaranteed)

    When the Wizards handed Davis Bertans a five-year, $80 million deal last offseason, they offered him zero margin for error. As a knockdown sniper with few other layers in his game, he needed to be elite from range for this to work. Even then, his limited role would make it challenging to live up to the contract.

    Last season, he was more good than great from outside, shooting below 40 percent from three for the first time in three seasons. That didn't torpedo his value, but it came close. By year's end, he was saddled with the worst player efficiency rating (11.4), fewest win shares per 48 minutes (.101) and worst box plus/minus (minus-1.0) of his career.

    Still, a 6'10" player who has splashed 514 threes at a 41.5 percent clip the past three seasons should interest someone. The Clippers and Wizards could help balance each other by swapping snipers, with Washington sending Bertans to L.A. for Luke Kennard and Justise Winslow.


    Stats courtesy of and Basketball Reference unless otherwise noted. Contract information via Spotrac.

    Zach Buckley covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter, @ZachBuckleyNBA.