Playing Keep or Swap with Every NBA Team's Most Tradable Player
A month into the 2021-22 NBA season, we're getting a good idea of who the contenders and lottery-bound teams are, meaning there could be some tough roster decisions forthcoming.
For teams heading toward the cellar: Which veterans should they make available? For teams with championship aspirations: Which young players should they consider parting with to acquire win-now help?
Since every franchise has their 2021-22 untouchables (yes, Luka Doncic is technically the Dallas Mavericks' most tradable player), we'll only play trade or keep with players who would even have a slight chance of being moved this year for the right price.
Atlanta Hawks: G/F Cam Reddish
Untouchables: Trae Young
Outside Young, perhaps no player has as much upside on the Atlanta Hawks as the 22-year-old Cam Reddish. Despite this, the third-year wing still finds himself in a reserve role.
Even with De'Andre Hunter expected to miss the next two months because of wrist surgery, Reddish has remained the sixth man as a scorer off the bench. He and Hunter are both extension-eligible this offseason, and money could start to get tight with Young, John Collins, Clint Capela and Kevin Huerter already signing new deals.
Still, moving Reddish now seems foolish. He's shooting a career high from three (35.7 percent) and is still on his rookie deal through 2022-23. Reddish is also needed now more than ever, with Hunter sidelined, and he should get a bigger bite of the offensive apple.
The 6'8" guard/forward has always packed a lot of defensive potential as well and just hit the 100-game mark for his career despite being in his third season.
It's too early to give up on Reddish, who should only continue to break out with Hunter absent.
Trade or Keep: Keep
Boston Celtics: G/F Jaylen Brown
Untouchables: Jayson Tatum
Jaylen Brown is probably as close to as untouchable as a player can be while still popping up in trade rumors, something even team president Brad Stevens felt the need to address with his 25-year-old star.
The Athletic and Stadium's Shams Charania reported that the Celtics were "engaged in conversations" with the Philadelphia 76ers about a trade for Ben Simmons, one that would have to include Brown.
"I just walked up to Jaylen and said, 'Hey, your name's all over the place, as you know. Obviously, from our standpoint, you're a Celtic and a guy that we obviously think exceptionally high of, and, you know, nothin' doin','" Stevens said on 98.5 The Sports Hub's Toucher and Rich show (h/t Kurt Helin of NBC Sports Boston). "I just wanted to make sure he had that peace of mind."
A leg injury has caused Brown to miss eight of the Celtics' first 16 games this season, although he's once again been fantastic (25.6 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.3 steals per game) when on the floor.
While Boston may eventually want to split up Tatum and Brown if the pair isn't working, both are under contract until 2023-24 or later. There's no reason to give up Brown now, not even for Simmons.
Trade or Keep: Keep
Brooklyn Nets: SG Cam Thomas
Untouchables: Kevin Durant, James Harden
Kyrie Irving hypothetically carries more trade value than Cam Thomas, but only in the right situation. Teams will be wary of his intention (and availability) to play should he be moved from Brooklyn after choosing to sign with the Nets in free agency just two years ago.
Thomas has the highest upside of the Nets' youngsters as the 27th pick in the 2021 draft who's an incredible scorer. The 20-year-old averaged 27.0 points per game in summer league but hasn't gotten much run for Brooklyn this season, even with Irving away from the team, at just 5.5 minutes per contest.
In a perfect world, Thomas would be making an immediate impact like so many other rookies in this class for a Nets team with a championship-or-bust mentality. Since that hasn't been the case, Brooklyn needs to prioritize winning over everything else, even if it means giving up on Thomas' potential.
If the Nets can find a trade to their liking for a quality veteran, Thomas should be moved.
Trade or Keep: Trade
Charlotte Hornets: F/C P.J. Washington
Untouchables: LaMelo Ball, Miles Bridges
P.J. Washington lost his starting power forward job to Miles Bridges this season and doesn't look like he'll get it back anytime soon following the latter's breakout. The 23-year-old Washington's talents as a floor spacer and rim protector still make him extremely valuable, especially given his ability to play both power forward and center.
An elbow injury has limited him to seven games this season, and averages of 9.9 points, 4.4 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 21.1 minutes are all career lows. After registering a sparkling swing rating a year ago (plus-8.4 points per 100 possessions, 90th percentile in the NBA, per Cleaning the Glass), Washington is down to minus-9.8 (19th percentile) this season.
Although his overall impact and usage is down, there's no reason to shop Washington just for the sake of moving him. He still has this season and next on a rookie deal, and will be a restricted free agent in 2023.
The Charlotte Hornets should feel free to take calls, but for now simply keeping Washington and letting him play a key reserve role is the right move.
Trade or Keep: Keep
Chicago Bulls: SG Coby White
Untouchables: Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, Lonzo Ball
With the Chicago Bulls' new core playing beautifully together and second-year forward Patrick Williams expected to miss the rest of the regular season with a dislocated wrist, Coby White almost becomes the Bulls' best trade asset by default.
The 21-year-old guard recently returned following surgery on a torn labrum and should soon become Chicago's primary offensive threat off the bench.
While the team might have intended to make him its franchise point guard when it selected him seventh overall in 2019, the 6'4" White has looked better as a combo guard who can both score and set the table for others.
With Lonzo Ball serving as the team's starting point guard and Alex Caruso manning the floor general spot in the second unit, White could turn into a Jordan Clarkson-like microwave scorer with time. The Bulls should hold on to him and see how he fits as a sixth man with this improved roster.
Trade or Keep: Keep
Cleveland Cavaliers: PG Darius Garland
Untouchables: Evan Mobley
If Mobley is the only untouchable on Cleveland's roster, then Darius Garland is a close second, especially with Collin Sexton out for the season with a torn meniscus.
The third-year point guard is the Cavaliers' leading scorer and distributor with 17.8 points and 6.5 assists per game. Since Sexton went down, Garland has increased his scoring average to 21.3 points on 45.4 percent shooting over his last six contests.
If the Cavs want to make a play for Ben Simmons, Garland would likely be the player Philly would covet the most with his scoring, passing and outside shooting ability.
As tempting as that may be, Cleveland needs to hold on to Garland, who has Ricky Rubio as a mentor and won't become a restricted free agent until 2023. His upside is too good to give up, even for a talent like Simmons. He'll only have a bigger role with Sexton out and could establish himself as a top-10ish point guard in the NBA by season's end.
After Mobley, he's the most valuable young player on the roster.
Trade or Keep: Keep
Dallas Mavericks: PG Jalen Brunson
Untouchables: Luka Doncic
For a Dallas Mavericks team still searching for a second star next to Doncic, Jalen Brunson either looks like he could become that guy or be a key piece in trading for one.
The 25-year-old point guard is enjoying a career year with 15.5 points, 4.7 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game and a 48.7 percent shooting mark. Even more impressive, he ranks in the 96th percentile in on/off rating, with the Mavericks improving by a whopping 25.4 points per 100 possessions when he's on the floor, per Cleaning the Glass.
Since he signed a four-year deal as a second-round pick in 2018, Brunson will become an unrestricted free agent this offseason, meaning there's some flight risk for Dallas. He can sign an extension that tops out at $12.6 million per year, a number that seems low for someone playing as well as he is. Pro Fit X projects Brunson's "real time" contract this season to be worth $23.6 million.
Losing Brunson for nothing this offseason would be devastating, so the Mavs have to at least listen to offers, even if they don't shop him around.
Trade or Keep: Keep Brunson for now, but don't be afraid to package him in a deal for a star.
Denver Nuggets: F/C Bol Bol
Untouchables: Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, Michael Porter Jr., Aaron Gordon (ineligible to be traded before this season's Feb. 10 deadline after signing extension)
For the third straight season, Denver Nuggets head coach Michael Malone refuses to give Bol Bol meaningful minutes, despite his tantalizing combination of size and skill.
Bol has logged just 31 minutes over six games, racking up 15 points, 10 rebounds, two assists, a steal and two blocks while shooting 53.8 percent (7-of-13) overall.
The 7'2", 22-year-old big man has long possesed the skill set to handle the ball, shoot from the outside and be a rim protector, even if his frame can stand to add some muscle.
It's become clear that Denver won't give him a real chance to develop, so trading him for win-now help to a rebuilding team that can give him a chance to blossom would be best for everyone.
Trade or Keep: Trade
Detroit Pistons: F Jerami Grant
Untouchables: Cade Cunningham
With the 4-11 Detroit Pistons predictably bad, how long will Jerami Grant be happy on a rebuilding team that's already missed on one of its recent lottery picks (Killian Hayes)?
The 27-year-old would be in high demand for a number of contenders given his scoring ability, defensive versatility and reasonable contract (two years, $41 million).
According to Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer, the 76ers have "engaged in ongoing discussions with the Detroit Pistons to acquire Grant, another forward, a young player, and a draft pick in exchange for [Ben] Simmons, league sources said."
If the Pistons could pair Simmons and Cunningham, they'd have to consider trading Grant, even if it meant giving up more in the deal.
Still, there should be some communication. Grant chose Detroit in 2020 free agency over a better Denver squad and has been a consummate pro and mentor to a young team. If he's OK with being traded, that's one thing. If Grant insists on sticking it out and helping bring the Pistons back to relevancy, he should be commended for that and kept in Detroit.
Trade or Keep: Trade Grant if he gives his blessing on a deal.
Golden State Warriors: SG Jordan Poole
Untouchables: Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green
The Golden State Warriors, in addition holding a league-best 14-2 record, have also accumulated one of the richest young talent bases in the NBA.
From Jordan Poole to Jonathan Kuminga, Moses Moody and James Wiseman, Golden State can let this group ride or move some of the younger guys in pursuit of another star.
Both Kuminga and Wiseman may have higher upsides, but Poole would likely fetch the most in a trade right now and has shown the ability to play a big role on a winning team. The 22-year-old is averaging a career-high 17.5 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game, starting all 16 of his appearances while Thompson continues to work his way back following his Achilles injury.
It's fair to wonder how head coach Steve Kerr will balance minutes for all of his shooting guards when Thompson returns, however. Both Poole and Moody will need time and shots to develop, something Golden State may not be able to offer.
Until the Warriors see what Thompson looks like when he takes the court, Kerr needs Poole's scoring. With no superstars available on the trade market, there's no reason to deal Poole now.
Trade or Keep: Keep Poole until Thompson comes back and then only trade him in a deal for a star.
Houston Rockets: F/C Christian Wood
Untouchables: Jalen Green, Kevin Porter Jr.
Someone needs to rescue Christian Wood from the Houston Rockets. This isn't fair to him, or anyone else who wants to win games.
The decision to not play John Wall and start a wing in Porter at point guard has resulted in a league-worst 1-14 record and a 30th-ranked offense (98.0 rating). For a player who agreed to go to Houston to play with James Harden and Russell Westbrook, this can't be how Wood envisioned his career with the Rockets.
Green and Porter are extremely fun, Alperen Sengun is ready to step in for Wood when he's eventually traded, and there's plenty of other young talent on the roster. The Rockets need to embrace this and realize they won't be ready to win until after Wood becomes a free agent in 2023.
Dealing him now with almost two years left on his pact maximizes his trade value and would bring the Rockets the best package in return.
With few stars on the trade market, it's time to start taking bids for Wood—offers that may include multiple first-round picks or a potential young star in return.
Trade or Keep: Trade
Indiana Pacers: C Myles Turner
Untouchables: Domantas Sabonis, Malcolm Brogdon (ineligible to be traded before this season's Feb. 10 deadline after signing extension)
While the Myles Turner-Sabonis frontcourt fit hasn't always been great, lineups that feature the pair of big men have posted a net rating of plus-5.4 in 299 total minutes this season.
The Pacers are 5-5 following a 1-6 start and still haven't gotten T.J. Warren back from a foot injury. Caris LeVert (39.3 percent shooting overall, 22.7 percent from three) doesn't look comfortable after recovering from a stress fracture in his back, and now rookie Chris Duarte (13.7 points per game) is dealing with a shoulder injury.
We don't know what a healthy Pacers team looks like yet under Rick Carlisle. The early numbers for Turner and Sabonis are encouraging enough to give the pairing more time under the new coaching staff, however.
Trade or Keep: Keep Turner until we see what a healthy Pacers team looks like.
Los Angeles Clippers: C Ivica Zubac
Untouchables: Kawhi Leonard, Paul George
After sending off most of their coveted trade assets for George in 2019, the Los Angeles Clippers still don't have a lot to offer teams in potential deals.
Ivica Zubac, 24, has been solid as the team's starting center, averaging 9.8 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.0 blocks in 25.0 minutes per game while shooting 63.4 percent from the field. The 7'0", 240-pounder is a big body who usually plays within his means while focusing on rebounding, defending and taking smart, open shots.
While he's not a true rim protector (opponents are shooting 61.4 percent against him at the basket) or a threat to shoot from outside 10 feet, Zubac is still developing and is on a great contract ($7.5 million this year with a team option for $7.5 million next season).
With Serge Ibaka still working his way back to full strength following offseason back surgery, the Clippers need Zubac's size, at least for now. An upgrade at center sometime this season would be nice (Wood? Turner?), but in the meantime, Los Angeles still needs the 7-footer in its starting lineup.
Trade or Keep: Keep Zubac with Ibaka on the mend; explore an upgrade later in the year.
Los Angeles Lakers: G/F Talen Horton-Tucker
Untouchables: LeBron James, Anthony Davis
Talen Horton-Tucker is the brightest young star on the Los Angeles Lakers, but his future in L.A. depends on how well he meshes with the franchise cornerstones.
After averaging 23.3 points on 49.0 percent shooting in three games with James out from Nov. 14 to 17, Horton-Tucker went 0-of-6 from the field for just two points in his first contest playing alongside a healthy Big Three on Friday.
Given his previous woes as a floor spacer (28.5 percent from three in 71 career games entering this season), Horton-Tucker projects better as a sixth man instead of trying to be forced into a starting lineup that shouldn't need his scoring ability.
This is still a "get-to-know-everyone" period for the Lakers as Russell Westbrook integrates himself and James tries to get healthy following an abdomen setback, so there's no reason to make any panic trades.
If we get to February and the Lakers still look like they have issues, Horton-Tucker is the best trade chip and salary matcher ($10.3 million) this team has.
Trade or Keep: Keep Horton-Tucker and see how he fits with the Big Three; use as trade bait later if necessary.
Memphis Grizzlies: SG Desmond Bane
Untouchables: Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr.
Desmond Bane has gone from a pleasant surprise as a rookie to a key starter for the young Memphis Grizzlies, taking on a larger offensive role in his second year while still playing strong defense.
The 23-year-old is averaging 14.4 points, 3.9 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 0.7 steals in 15 games as a starter, giving Morant a backcourt mate who can space the floor and score from three levels.
Even though this team is still quite young, an 8-7 start should have Memphis thinking about the playoffs for a second straight year, with the emergence of Bane serving as a major reason.
The Grizzlies could package some of their young talent together (Bane, Brandon Clarke, De'Anthony Melton, etc.) to go star chasing, but there's no pressure to do so yet. Memphis is pulling off the nearly impossible feat of winning while rebuilding, so it's best to continue letting this thing simmer and see where it leads.
Trade or Keep: Keep
Miami Heat: SG Tyler Herro
Untouchables: Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, Kyle Lowry
This is the version of Tyler Herro that the Miami Heat likely thought they'd see last year: a stone-cold killer of a scorer who can shoot the lights out from anywhere on the floor.
The 21-year-old is putting up a career-best 21.7 points on 45.4 percent shooting (38.9 percent from three) while adding 5.5 rebounds and 3.9 assists per night. He's likely the favorite for Sixth Man of the Year, coming off the bench in 11 of his first 15 games.
With both Lowry and Duncan Robinson off to sluggish offensive starts, Herro's scoring has been a blessing for a Heat team that sits just a half game behind the Nets for the best record in the Eastern Conference.
There's no reason to trade Herro for a star, as that's what he's quickly becoming in his third season.
Trade or Keep: Keep
Milwaukee Bucks: SG Donte DiVincenzo
Untouchables: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, Jrue Holiday
The Milwaukee Bucks' best trade asset has yet to play in a game this season, as Donte DiVincenzo continues to work his way back from June ankle surgery.
The team's starting shooting guard last year, the 24-year-old averaged 10.4 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.1 steals and shot 37.9 percent from three.
There's a real chance DiVincenzo may not get his starting job back when he returns, however. The Bucks traded for Grayson Allen this offseason and gave him a two-year, $20 million extension, and the 26-year-old has played well as the team's new shooting guard.
A scoring average of 15.0 points on 42.7 percent shooting from three could keep Allen in the starting unit, making DiVincenzo a name to watch around the trade deadline.
Trade or Keep: Trade DiVincenzo when he gets healthy.
Minnesota Timberwolves: C Karl-Anthony Towns
Untouchables: Anthony Edwards
Are the Minnesota Timberwolves continually in the lottery because of Karl-Anthony Towns, or has the team not done a good enough job of putting talent around him?
Either way, it's time to start fielding trade offers for the 26-year-old, two-time All-Star and consider building around Edwards instead. As good as Towns is offensively, he hasn't shown the ability to lead a team as a No. 1 option in seven years in Minnesota.
If made available, Towns would instantly become the best player on the market, with the Golden State Warriors, Dallas Mavericks and Portland Trail Blazers all serving as intriguing landing spots.
If the Wolves could deal Towns to the Warriors for their collection of young talent (James Wiseman, Jonathan Kuminga, Moses Moody, etc.), they should consider it. Even a deal with the Phoenix Suns based around Deandre Ayton would be worth exploring.
Edwards has a chance to be a generational talent and should be the new focal point of the Wolves, making Towns available for the right price.
Trade or Keep: Trade
New Orleans Pelicans: SG Nickeil Alexander-Walker
Untouchables: Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram, Jonas Valanciunas (ineligible to be traded before this season's Feb. 10 deadline after signing extension)
Nickeil Alexander-Walker has been asked to do more scoring with Williamson missing every game this season because of a foot injury and Brandon Ingram sidelined for seven contests with a hip setback, and the results have been mixed.
A career-high 15.1 points per game is nice, although it's come on some rotten efficiency (37.8 percent shooting overall, 29.4 percent from three). Alexander-Walker went 16-of-39 from the floor (48.1 percent) off passes from Williamson last year, so seeing his efficiency drop this season without the All-Star forward shouldn't be viewed as a surprise.
The New Orleans Pelicans' season is already slipping away at 3-14, with the goal now to simply get a healthy team together while developing the young talent.
Alexander-Walker should be viewed as one of the core pieces in New Orleans and kept out of trade talks altogether.
Trade or Keep: Keep
New York Knicks: G Immanuel Quickley
Untouchables: RJ Barrett, Julius Randle
Do the New York Knicks have any untouchable players? Is Immanuel Quickley a better trade asset than Mitchell Robinson or Obi Toppin? For now, we'll whisper yes to both.
The 22-year-old Quickley continues to put pressure on opposing defenses whenever he enters the game, either by getting into the paint or knocking down threes at a 38.2 percent clip. The Knicks outscored opponents by 8.2 points per 100 possessions last season with Quickley on the floor (89th percentile), a number that's up to 29.2 points per 100 possessions (98th percentile) through 15 games, per Cleaning the Glass.
The Knicks should always be on the lookout for a star and have a fair amount of young talent to offer should one become available.
Keeping Quickley for now is the right move, but he's not untouchable should a player like Towns or another All-Star hit the market.
Trade or Keep: Keep Quickley for now; use as star trade bait as needed.
Oklahoma City Thunder: PF Darius Bazley
Untouchables: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Josh Giddey, Luguentz Dort
Even though Darius Bazley ranks third on the Oklahoma City Thunder in scoring (10.6 points per game), he shouldn't be viewed as a core piece to their rebuild.
Now in his third season, the 21-year-old is yet to shoot over 39.6 percent from the floor and has regressed as a three-point shooter from his rookie year. He's converting a career-low 54.9 percent of his opportunities within three feet of the basket, a troubling mark for a 6'8" power forward.
A fresh start elsewhere may help, as Bazley probably isn't ready to play big minutes in a starting role, something he's had to do out of necessity for a young Thunder team.
Gilgeous-Alexander, Giddey and Dort have all established themselves as the faces of this rebuild. If the Thunder can collect yet another pick for Bazley, they should.
Trade or Keep: Trade
Orlando Magic: C Mo Bamba
Untouchables: Cole Anthony, Jalen Suggs, Franz Wagner
Even though Mo Bamba is finally getting an opportunity to start in year four, he might not be with the Orlando Magic much longer.
He and Wendell Carter Jr. are both traditional centers, yet head coach Jamahl Mosley has started both of them in the frontcourt together this season. While Carter has already gotten his extension (four years, $50 million), Bamba will be a restricted free agent next summer.
Pairing the two hasn't produced the cleanest results, however. In 293 minutes, the Magic have a net rating of minus-3.9 when Carter and Bamba share the floor.
With Carter already paid and the backcourt packing plenty of talent, the Magic should look to move Bamba for wing help if it's available at the deadline.
Trade or Keep: Trade
Philadelphia 76ers: PG Ben Simmons
Untouchables: Joel Embiid
Yeah, this is an easy decision. It's not a question of if the Philadelphia 76ers will trade Ben Simmons, but when.
Although his value is likely to stay steady, assuming he remains off the floor, the level of desperation among playoff-hungry opponents should only increase.
Philly and team president Daryl Morey should keep a close eye on the standings, looking to prey on franchises that only become more desperate to add a star as the playoffs draw closer. There's also the (very) slim chance Damian Lillard, Bradley Beal or De'Aaron Fox will ask out, something the Sixers can't take advantage of if they trade Simmons now.
Trade or Keep: Trade
Phoenix Suns: C Deandre Ayton
Untouchables: Devin Booker, Chris Paul, Mikal Bridges
The Phoenix Suns are the hottest team in basketball with 11 consecutive wins.
While Booker, Paul and Bridges are all under contract for the next two years (or more), Ayton's upcoming free agency is the lone hiccup. Even though the 23-year-old will be a restricted free agent, Phoenix refused to give him a max deal heading into this season, something it may be forced to do if another team makes such an offer.
Ayton is a key piece to the Suns' success, but Phoenix still went a perfect 6-0 while he was out with a sprained ankle and with JaVale McGee starting at center instead.
If Phoenix is dead set against giving Ayton a max deal, then it can explore trade possibilities, but only if another star big man (Towns?) comes back. The Suns were two wins away from a title a few months ago and shouldn't be interested in draft picks and young talent should they end up moving Ayton.
Trade or Keep: Trade Ayton for another star center only; otherwise lean toward keeping and paying him this offseason.
Portland Trail Blazers: SG CJ McCollum
Untouchables: Damian Lillard
Individually, Lillard, CJ McCollum and Norman Powell are all terrific offensive players. But together, there's some severe defensive limitations in playing three guys 6'3" and under who are giving up 111.9 points per 100 possessions as a trio.
The Portland Trail Blazers rank just 26th in defense (110.1 rating) even after adding Robert Covington and Larry Nance Jr. the past two offseasons.
Because of this, it may be time to trade McCollum.
The 30-year-old is leading Portland in scoring at 20.5 points per game and has spent the past nine years with the Blazers. An 8-8 start should still be viewed as a disappointment, however, and moving McCollum in a deal for defensive help (Simmons?) may be the best option to finally break through.
Trade or Keep: Trade McCollum if you can get an elite defensive player; keep him if not.
Sacramento Kings: SG Tyrese Haliburton
Untouchables: De'Aaron Fox
Following a rookie season in which he was in and out of the opening lineup, Tyrese Haliburton has earned the starting shooting guard job with the Sacramento Kings. The 21-year-old is averaging 12.6 points, 3.9 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 1.6 steals and 1.0 blocks per game and is shooting 39.6 percent from three.
After years of draft mistakes, the Kings won big with Haliburton at No. 12 in 2020. While the 76ers may want to make him the centerpiece of a Simmons deal, Sacramento should only field offers on its other players.
Both Buddy Hield and Marvin Bagley III have popped up in trade speculation over the past year (or more) and should find new homes before the deadline. This is especially true for Bagley, who will become a restricted free agent this summer.
Sacramento has to at least give Fox and Haliburton a full, healthy season next to each other before it considers making changes to the backcourt.
Trade or Keep: Keep
San Antonio Spurs: PG Dejounte Murray
Perhaps the only team without a true untouchable (Joshua Primo? Keldon Johnson?), the San Antonio Spurs are technically rebuilding without ripping off the Band-Aid.
Dejounte Murray has been the best player on the floor on a nightly basis, nearly leading the Spurs in every major stat category with 18.1 points, 8.1 rebounds, 7.8 assists and 2.0 steals per game. While he's never established himself as a good outside shooter (.329 career from three), Murray is a strong defender who can anchor a defense from the arc.
Over the summer, The Athletic's Zach Harper wrote that both Murray and teammate Derrick White "could both be gettable" in trade talks. That was before San Antonio drafted the 18-year-old Primo to presumably be its point guard of the future.
At 4-11 to begin the year, the Spurs aren't good enough to seriously contend for a playoff spot and are probably not bad enough for a premier draft pick.
It's hard to imagine San Antonio going full rebuild with head coach Gregg Popovich still on the sidelines, although this season may force him into retirement the way it's going. A 26.7 win percentage is the worst the Spurs have registered since Popovich took over during the 1996-97 season.
Trade or Keep: If Popovich gives his blessing, take trade calls for Murray (and other veterans).
Toronto Raptors: PF Pascal Siakam
Untouchables: Scottie Barnes
Getting Pascal Siakam back in the lineup after a shoulder injury has yet to lead to wins for the Toronto Raptors, who are just 1-5 when the All-Star big man plays compared to 7-4 when he's been out.
They have to hope this is a fluke, or there could be some difficult conversations coming.
An 8-9 start has Toronto in play-in territory, but a foundation of Barnes, OG Anunoby, Gary Trent Jr., Fred VanVleet and Siakam have only just begun to play together this season. We still don't know what this team's ceiling is, even after a disappointing start with Siakam.
The key will be the progress of Barnes, who's been moved to the starting small forward spot with Anunoby set to miss time with a hip pointer. If the Raptors feel like he's best as a playmaking power forward, Siakam could theoretically be shopped to make room, although we're still a long way from determining that.
As much as the Golden State Warriors, Boston Celtics or Portland Trail Blazers could use Siakam, Toronto should keep him out of trade talks for now.
Trade or Keep: Keep
Utah Jazz: F Bojan Bogdanovic
Untouchables: Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert, Mike Conley
Although his outside shooting numbers have dipped to start the season (36.8 percent on 5.8 attempts from three per game, down from 39.0 and 6.4), Bojan Bogdanovic is still the Utah Jazz's second-leading scorer (17.0 points per game) behind Donovan Mitchell.
The Jazz need his floor-spacing next to Rudy Gobert, and he's part of a starting unit that's registered a net rating of plus-12.0.
If nothing's broken, there's no need to fix anything.
With an $18.7 million salary, Bogdanovic would likely be the money-matcher if Utah went star chasing this season, although a 10-5 start shouldn't have the Jazz scrambling.
Trade or Keep: Keep
Washington Wizards: PF Rui Hachimura
Untouchables: Bradley Beal, Spencer Dinwiddie, Daniel Gafford (ineligible to be traded before this season's Feb. 10 deadline after signing extension)
Rui Hachimura has yet to play this season because of personal reasons but is set to join the Washington Wizards' G League team next week, according to Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington.
Of course, this Wizards team is far different from the one he last suited up for in June, as a 10-5 start has been fueled by the additions of Spencer Dinwiddie, Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Montrezl Harrell.
Hachimura's role as the third scorer is no longer needed, with Kuzma (14.1 points, 9.1 rebounds, 2.3 assists per game) filling in admirably at power forward. It's unclear if Hachimura would get his old job back or be forced to come off the bench for the first time in his Wizards career.
Still, Washington should at least see how it can incorporate his 6'8" size and scoring into the rotation. With a season-plus remaining on his rookie deal, there's no need to trade the 23-year-old now.
Trade or Keep: Keep Hachimura this season to see how he fits a new-look Wizards team and reevaluate his place this summer.