Most Likely Trade Candidates for Every NBA Team

This NBA off-season has been full of blockbuster trades, involving stars like Paul George and Mike Conley. While August is a quiet month for NBA news, there’s a lot of trades potentially on the table for (almost) every NBA team. Obviously, teams have different goals when entering a trade, and often the goals line up to make a deal. Some of these deals make more sense around the trade deadline. Some of these deals don’t make sense at all, but the possibility is certainly there.

 

Atlanta Hawks: Evan Turner

The Hawks have stacked up a very impressive young core. While waiting to develop the first year and second year players, the Hawks have taken on a few large contracts in exchange for more assets. Evan Turner and Allen Crabbe have fallen into their lap. While Crabbe can provide them shooting value if the Hawks make a playoff push, Turner’s contract provides a sizable $18 million that comes off the books at the end of next season if the Hawks were willing to part with assets for an all star level, Turner can be added to make the money work. However, with the stage that the Hawks are in, and the veteran presence that Turner brings, it doesn’t seem likely that they will attempt to add a star just yet. If they do, Turner can be dealt for money reasons.

Boston Celtics: Jaylen Brown

Jaylen Brown has been the center of Boston trade rumors for a while. While the former #3 overall pick has shown flashes of offensive potential, and has clearly played good defense, (a +1.18 in FiveThirtyEight’s DRAYMOND stat), his shooting has been somewhat inconsistent, (34% to 39% to 34% after his three seasons). His overall offensive production was not terribly impressive, producing a poor -1.7 Player Impact Plus Minus (BBall-Index). In addition role this last season dropped from his sophomore, losing about 5 minutes per game. Perhaps Jaylen will benefit more with the departure of Kyrie Irving, and the acquisition of Kemba Walker, but if he doesn’t see a sizable jump in his offensive production, he may be swapped while he has value for potentially an impact big, which is a need for a Celtics team which is trying to contend for a title. Jaylen seems like one of the more likely candidates for trade.

Brooklyn Nets: Spencer Dinwiddie

The Nets getting rid of Spencer Dinwiddie is an extreme unlikelihood, and might only happen if they would receive a significant upgrade at the four. Without Dinwiddie, they have the position flexibility between Gary Temple, Caris Levert, and Joe Harris to alleviate any vacuum in the backcourt he leaves, while upgrading the front court. Dinwiddie is a top tier 6th man, but could also be an asset to add to surround Kyrie with additional options, especially when Durant returns next year. With Kyrie at the point, and Temple, LeVert, and maybe Harris taking guard minutes, Dinwiddie is a piece that they can sacrifice to upgrade at the four position, with options like Domantas Sabonis possibly available. Again, this is on the less likely end of the scale.

Charlotte Hornets: Cody Zeller

Perhaps the best player on the Hornets, Cody Zeller is still barely (if even) a league average center. He offers decent defensive value, (1.7 BPM, and 43.45 Defensive points added [NBA Math] ). He’s about league average offensively by all metrics. His contract is through the 2020-2021 season for an AAV of $15 million. If a team is willing to take that on for a defensive minded center, for a team who needs it, the Hornets would benefit from dealing him for a small amount of assets. The Hornets shouldn’t plan on making a playoff run in either of the next two years of his contract.

Chicago Bulls: Otto Porter Jr.

If the Bulls want to try for the playoffs, they could use a nice spacing wing like Porter Jr, who has been lights out on the catch & shoot. If they’re smart though, they’ll trade his expiring contract for good value (They have no serious shot at contending). Many teams could use a shooter like Otto. The 26 year old has shot over 40% in each of the past three seasons, with two over 43%, and over 43% last season on the catch and shoot. The biggest difference is the 15% drop in his pull-up shooting percentage between the last two seasons. If a team plans to use him as a space guy, he’d be an elite option. His defense is more of a question mark. He has a negative impact on FiveThirtyEight’s DRAYMOND, but has a positive impact in defensive Player Impact Plus Minus, this suggests a weaker on-ball defensive strength, but at least offering good team and off-ball defense.  Trading him to a team like the Denver Nuggets, who could put together a good package, or the Blazers who could offer draft stock would be a wise investment for Chicago.

Cleveland Cavaliers: Kevin Love

It seems like every year (or every week), that Kevin Love is in trade talks. An spacing 4 on the dark side of 30 could offer some value to a team needing a player of that archetype. It makes no sense for a rebuilding Cavaliers team to keep him around, especially considering his massive contract, not expected to expire until 2023. It does seem like a team who wants him would be willing to give up some assets for him. As it stands now, Love does no good playing for the Cavs. In his last full season, BBall-Index estimated he represented an estimated 6.4 added wins. This makes more sense for a contending team than a rebuilding one. The question is if he’s worth a risk for a team to give up younger assets, considering his injury history and contract status.

Dallas Mavericks: Courtney Lee

If the Mavericks wanted to upgrade anywhere to surround their two young stars in Doncic and Porzingis with help, Courtney Lee would help make any money work, as he has a $12 million dollar contract that goes off the books at the end of the year. He’s solely a money piece, and it’s not clear what other assets the Mavericks can deal. If the Mavericks make any deal, bet on Lee being thrown in.

Denver Nuggets: Mason Plumlee

For the Nuggets, a team who is basically running back with the same roster as last year, (upgrading the 4 spot with Jerami Grant over Lyles/Lydon), they may look to move some pieces for a player to elevate them from a second round exit to legitimate title contenders. They’ve been amassing high IQ, team guys who can shoot for the past few years. They just added Jerami Grant to their bench front court, (an elite defender with good catch and shoot ability, hitting 39% of his threes last season). With Jokic soaking up most of the minutes at the 5, Grant will come in behind Paul Millsap at the Power Forward position. However, Grant’s length and athleticism allows him to be able to play a stretch 5 at times. If the Nuggets look to use a mostly 3 man big rotation, while sneaking in some minutes for recently signed Jarred Vanderbilt and draft pick Bol Bol, it appears that Mason Plumlee is the odd man out. Plumlee is a fantastic rebounder and rim protector off the bench, but there seems to be no role for him, also considering his complete lack of shooting. With an expiring contract with decent money which would come off the books at the end of the season , he’d be a nice trade piece if the Nuggets look to upgrade elsewhere, as Plumlee is a very serviceble Center who could even start for teams in need of a rebounder and defender. With his service needs declining in Denver, look for a trade involving Plumlee to upgrade the rest of the roster, and to take care of money.

Detroit Pistons: Blake Griffin

The Detroit Pistons snagged an 8 seed last year even when running with one of the more physical and talented front courts between Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond. They also drafted Sekou Doumbouya, another Power Forward, in the most recent draft. Blake Griffin, an oft-injured player who plays as a top-tier player when healthy, just posted the best season of his career, yet the Pistons went nowhere. Detroit is at a crossroads now, where a very viable option for them is to trade their top assets as a franchise reset. With their current roster, there is really no hope for title contention, but they do have the pieces to trade for assets to launch a very enticing rebuild (oxymoron?). Blake has a large contract, but, due to his star status, shouldn’t be a tough piece to move. A trade involving Blake Griffin would be a move for the Pistons to look past a mediocre present, to a future with more opportunity. A contending team looking for a huge upgrade at the 4 could attempt to put together a nice package for Blake.

Golden State Warriors: D’Angelo Russell

The Warriors are licking their wounds from losing Kevin Durant in free agency, as well as the ACL tear of Klay Thompson. In a sign and trade, however, they acquired D’Angelo Russell, who just came off of a very successful career year. With Klay’s injury, it appears that Russell can slide into the starting shooting guard spot to form a high powered offensive focused backcourt with Steph Curry. However, once Klay returns, the speculation is that Thompson would switch positions to Small Foward. As someone who has thrived as a shooting guard, and also not asked to be a ball handler very often, Klay might be out of position. Another potential issue that could arise is that Steph, Draymond, and D’Angelo have all been primary creators. While that adds some level of playmaking versatility, someone will have to play off-ball more. The team really has two options currently. Russell will likely take over the scoring role that Durant had last year, and perhaps some shooting and spacing responsibilities inherited from Klay while he’s out. The second option is to deal him to a team to allow Klay to slide back to his natural position at Shooting Guard, and get something pretty decent in return. Positions of need for them are mainly Small Forward or Center. If they could find a suitor, Russell could be dealt to upgrade them elsewhere.

Houston Rockets: No One

Houston made their move this off-season by acquiring Russell Westbrook. With the rest of their rotation pretty much set, the only move that is somewhat likely is the addition of a wing player, to allow James Harden (predicted to start at the Small Forward position), to move back to his natural position as a combo guard. In order for Houston’s offense to see it’s full potential, a spacing wing is needed. The problem is that Houston doesn’t have terribly tradeable assets, nor does it have draft picks. Houston lacks the trade pieces to make a move for any type of upgrade.

Indiana Pacers: Domantas Sabonis

The chances of Sabonis being dealt are low, with his value being so high, (BBall-Index valuing Domantas at 5 added wins, and positive offensively and defensively). Considering the Pacers let Thaddeus Young walk in free agency, it’s likely that Sabonis will start at the power forward position this upcoming season. Since the Pacers will be a middle-top end team in the East, there’s not really a lot of reason to trade Sabonis unless they can grab a more floor spacing 4, who provides as much defensively. I don’t see a lot of likelyhood that Indiana moves on from Sabonis, but if they want more spacing, it is true that he provides virtually no shooting, and that limits what Myles Turner can provide offensively.

Los Angeles Clippers: Mo Harkless

After trading Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Danilo Gallinari, and a million draft picks to acquire Paul George, and then signing Kawhi Leonard, the Clippers look to have a solid starting rotation, as well as depth. On paper, from top to bottom, this team is very well constructed with virtually no holes. It doesn’t make sense for them to make any major moves. A reason that they would make a move would be in the case of an injury. However, with having both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George on the roster, the coaching staff will figure out a productive load management plan to benefit these players and keep them in shape for what looks to be a deep playoff run. The move most linked to them is a potential trade for Andre Iguodala to provide veteran leadership and bench defense. Mo Harkless is the best piece to use in a salary matching role. The other pieces are largely undetermined, but Harkless would be dealt in any deal for Iggy.

Los Angeles Lakers: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

Most of the Lakers bottom-end signees can end up here, but Caldwell-Pope is the most tradeable. For this completely renovated Laker team, who looks to make a championship run, only Lebron, Anthony Davis, Danny Green, and Kyle Kuzma are untouchable. If they truly wanted to grab a higher end free agent, they’d be open to dealing Kuzma, as his defense is below average (-0.77 Real Plus-Minus), as is his shooting (30.3% from 3 last year), but it seems like Jeanie Buss is adamant on keeping him. Jared Dudley and Javale McGee provide the only other front court depth behind Anthony Davis and Dwight Howard (if he starts). The other signings are really just mediocre guard pickups. Avery Bradley has posted a below average Real Plus-Minus in 8 of his 9 seasons, and a -3.2 Player Impact Plus-Minus. Quinn Cook provides shooting if anything and it seems to be that the Lakers want to hold onto that. Caldwell-Pope is supposed to be a shooter but dipped from an above average shooting season in ’17-18 at 38.3%, to 34.7% in the last season. At around $8 million per year over this season and next, moving him would provide them some slight cap relief while freeing up the slight jog-jam in the backcourt of Quinn Cook, Danny Green, Alex Caruso, Avery Bradley, and potentially using Lebron at the point. It would not surprise me to see any of the non-untouchable players previously mentioned to be traded before the deadline in case of a slow start and mediocre performance around that time of the season.

Memphis Grizzlies: Andre Iguodala

The Grizzlies in the last year have dealt Marc Gasol to the Raptors, and Mike Conley to the Jazz. This represents a change of era for the Grizzlies as they ride into the future on the trio of Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr, and Brandon Clarke. That being said, they acquired Andre Iguodala from the Warriors. Iguodala is likely worth some small assets to a team in great need of a bench defender and an additional veteran presence. The Clippers have been mentioned as one possible suitor.

Miami Heat: Dion Waiters

Miami has sat in a pit of mediocrity for a couple of years now. Dion Waiters is one of the reasons why, with Hassan Whiteside being another reason, and he was dealt to Portland.  Waiters has been a low efficiency and below average player for his whole NBA career, last year posting a RPM of -1.45, and a PIPM of -0.9. His $12 million AAV salary is a leech in their cap table. After just signing Jimmy Butler, drafting Tyler Herro, and continuing the development of Bam Adebayo, the Heat is raising their stock as a playoff team. With Waiters likely seeing significantly reduced minutes, getting backcourt minutes behind Dragic, Herro, and occasionally Winslow and Butler, Waiters has no role on this Miami team. The Heat would benefit greatly from dumping Waiters in a further attempt to cut salary while making a playoff push.

Milwaukee Bucks: Ersan Ilyasova

With the Bucks making a few free agent signings, as well as dealing the annoyingly large contract of Tony Snell, the Bucks seem good to go for the season. Ersan Ilyasova probably will not be traded, as his contract is only guaranteed through the end of this season. He provides decent value, posting positive RPM and PIPM values, as well as decent shooting, for a salary that’s not horrible. He should absorb most of the bench minutes at the 4 behind Giannis. The only reason to trade him would be to slightly upgrade the bench unit. Ersan posted the least amount of points responsible for (points scored+points off of assists) last season per 36. With the Bucks being near the upper tier of contention, a spacing four who is capable of scoring, and even playing alongside of Giannis at times would be an ideal fit for the Bucks. Regardless, the Bucks roster from top to bottom seems to be in a good place without dealing Ilyasova.

Minnesota Timberwolves: Robert Covington

The Timberwolves have a top center in the league, and next to him is Robert Covington. Behind them, there isn’t much special about this team. Covington doesn’t seem to fit in Minnesota all that well. With Okogie and Culver swallowing all of the minutes at the two spot, and Wiggins starting at the small forward position, potentially Jarrett Culver playing a few minutes there, RoCo is pushed to the Power Forward position. This is unnatural for him, and it seems odd for the team to keep an elite 3-D wing in an odd spot. With wing players like RoCo being valuable, a contender would be more than willing to send pieces to acquire Covington. He’s controllable for a few years on a friendly deal ($12 million AAV). He shot 39.4% on catch & shoot threes last year, slightly lower than fellow trade candidate Otto Porter, but with added defense (3.0 D-PIPM). Covington would be a very good asset to trade to help a Timberwolves team who should probably stock assets for the future.

 

New Orleans Pelicans: E’Twaun Moore

The Pelicans overhauled their entire organization with the trade of Anthony Davis, as well as drafting Zion Williamson and Jaxson Hayes. To add veteran presence and address needs, they signed quality veterans Derrick Favors and J.J. Redick. At 6’4″, E’Twaun Moore’s natural position is at the 2. Also playing shooting guard is Redick, Josh Hart, and Nickiel Alexander-Walker. This forces Moore to unnaturally play Small Forward. As the Pelicans look to develop their young core, and allow their young guards and wings to play minutes, Moore looks to take a very minimal role at the end of the bench. As a player on an expiring contract who shot 43% from three last year, the Pelicans can look to deal him, similar to how they dealt Nikola Mirotic last year. Moore has already been in trade talks, and on an expiring contract, he might still draw some interest. This move would free up minutes, and potentially earn a small return of assets. Teams in high need of bench guard shooting include the 76’ers, Jazz, and Raptors.

New York Knicks: Bobby Portis

The Knicks signed an odd collection of Power Forwards, including Marcus Morris, Julius Randle, Taj Gibson, and Bobby Portis. This shouldn’t make any sense at all. Of the four, only Randle will be starting. Portis is a decent stretch four that could provide some bench scoring. His defense leaves a lot to be desired however. It seems like the Knicks could have signed these players with the intention of trading them later. I don’t see the desirability of any of these players as trade candidates, but Portis would work as a desparation move to add shooting depth.

Oklahoma City Thunder: Danilo Gallinari/Chris Paul

As of right now, the Thunder are a few million into the Luxury tax. As it stands, after the Westbrook trade and the Paul George trade, the Thunder look to roll out CP3, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Andre Roberson, Danilo Gallinari, and Steven Adams. This looks like a fringe playoff team, but probably not in a stacked Western Conference. With their recent deals, OKC looks to undergo a complete rebuild. With Gallinari’s contract expiring, he would be a very solid piece to flip. He’s elite on the catch and shoot (44.4% last season), and is a good finisher at the rim. He’d be a good wing player who is servicable on defense as well, (-0.3 D-PIPM, estimated 6.9 Wins Added). For the Thunder, trading him should be no problem, as he would give them some decent assets in return, as well as taking them out of luxury tax.

Chris Paul is the player who would be best for them to trade. His contract is massive and on the books for three more years with an AAV of just over $41 Million. With a contract that large, it’s uncertain that they’d receive many assets in exchange, but it would be a wise move to get him off of the books soon to give them breathing room to build around Shai Gilgeous-Alexander as the Point Guard of the future.

Orlando Magic: Nikola Vucevic

It’s doubtful that the Magic trade Vucevic after signing him to a lengthy contract this off season. However, tied to the Warriors most likely candidate, the Magic could trade for a point guard of the future. A Vucevic/Gordon front court is decent, but if they plan to develop Mo Bamba to take over at the Center spot, maybe trading for a young Point Guard (a huge upgrade over D.J. Augustin), would benefit them more long term, provided Bamba progresses well enough. They could even deal Vucevic to Boston for Jaylen Brown’s restricted free agency rights if they see a future potential with him, as D.J Augustin/Fultz at the point could be more serviceable than a Fournier/Ross shooting guard slot. Granted, value-wise, the metrics don’t seem to suggest that Brown has the value to compensate for Vucevic, who was just named an All-Star last season. The Celtics could throw in a draft pick or another young piece in any potential deal there. Trading Vucevic to plug other weaknesses in their backcourt might be a smart move for them.

Philadelphia 76er’s: No One

Their starting five players are all under contract for a few years and an O’Quinn/Scott front court pairing off the bench seals off the minutes there. Zhaire Smith, James Ennis, and Matisse Thybulle will lock down the bench minutes at the 2 and 3 positions. Running point will be Shake Milton likely. The bench point will require some upgrading, but it doesn’t seem the 76’ers have a ton of pieces to trade. They could offer Thybulle or Smith and a draft pick for a bench guard like Dinwiddie, but it may not be enough value for the Nets. It also doesn’t seem like the money will work for that kind of trade. As of now, it seems like the 6’ers will roll with their current roster, and see what adjustments have to be made by the deadline.

Phoenix Suns: Aron Baynes

This one was a complete shot in the dark. Ayton will get most of the minutes at the 5, and Saric and Kaminsky will take the 4 minutes. It doesn’t seem like the Suns will run a 3-man big rotation, as Saric or Kaminsky would have a hard time at the 5, but if they do, a contending team with desparate big man needs will pay decent assets for a solid bench rebounder and defender like Baynes. It doesn’t seem like a likely scenario however.

Portland Trailblazers: Kent Bazemore

Kent Bazemore is almost the definition of a replacement level player. He is decent shooter and lane picker, but he provides almost no other value. A trade including Bazemore would use him as a cap filler, who’s salary comes off the books at the end of the year. A potential trade would pair Bazemore with another asset, and a pick to aquire a wing to help McCollum, Lillard, and Nurkic when he returns. Potential fits include Danilo Gallinari and Otto Porter Jr, with Gallinari being the most likely. Bazemore serves as a decent replacement as a bench wing for them who adds (very) marginal shooting and defense. Trading him for Gallinari would allow Rodney Hood to return to the bench in the 6th man role, with a very well sized wing starting. Bazemore is the piece that makes the money work for this type of deal.

Sacramento Kings: Nemanja Bjelica

The Kings appear to be a fringe playoff team, but not close to contenders. The versatility of Harrison Barnes and Marvin Bagley III leaves Bjelica as a somewhat expendable piece. Bjelica has this year and next year left on his contract. With Bagley able to play the 4 and 5, and Dewayne Dedmon taking minutes at center as well, in addition to Barnes’s ability to play the 4 to allow Bogdonavic to play small forward. Bjelica might not need to be in Sacramento, especially if a team is willing to give some pieces for a very good stretch 4 off the bench. FiveThirtyEight’s DRAYMOND had him graded as a top tier defender last year, and every year since the ’13-’14 season. He also shot 40.3% from the arc last season. He would be a piece for a team that needs a 3 & D type guy to play the 4 off the bench. I don’t see this necessarily happening, but it’s a small possibility, and I don’t see much of the rest of this roster as a candidate for trade.

San Antonio Spurs: Demar Derozan

The San Antonio Spurs are at a crossroads. Last season they ran the offense through mid-range specialists demar Derozan & Lamarcus Aldridge, reflected by San Antonio posting the lowest three-point attempts per game. As the Spurs continue to develop young talented players, (Poeltl, Murray, White, Walker IV), the era of aging veterans seems as if it should start waning. Aldridge has shown that he wishes to return to Portland, also signaling the looming flip of the Spurs dynasty. Demar’s contract goes through this year, with a player option for next. Demar’s perceived value as a high end mid-range specialist and slasher type player may not last forever. FiveThirtyEight’s CARMELO Projection model has Demar as an average starter. BBall-Index’s Player Impact Plus Minus had his value last season as exactly league average. Granted, analytics models hate mid-range shots, (linked to less efficiency as closer shots and less point value as 3s), but it may be soon enough that the rest of the league doesn’t like him either. With his value as high now as it ever will be, the wise decision for the Spurs is to move on from him, and retool. Trading him to a franchise in need of a volume scorer like Minnesota could prove to be prudent. Detroit is another option, as Coach Dwayne Casey would be a welcome reunion for Demar, putting together a big three featuring Blake Griffin, Andre Drummond, and Derozan. Rumors linked the Bulls and Knicks to a potential move for him. A move like this would provide some salary relief for San Antonio, with Demar’s player option not reserving a place on their cap table, in addition to bringing in assets before the league catches up with Demar’s inefficiency.

Toronto Raptors: Marc Gasol

Marc Gasol was a very important piece of the Raptors championship run, being an incredible defensive piece, and a decent floor spacer, and a decent post threat, as well as a secondary playmaker often times from the top of the key. A solid veteran in his last year would draw a lot of interest from a contending team in need of a big man, such as the Celtics. The Raptors coming off of a championship still have a decent roster and will probably end up in the middle of the playoff pack. The smart move for them however, would be to trade their veteran pieces on expiring contracts (Ibaka, Lowry, Gasol), to retool around MIP winner Pascal Siakim. With Lowry wishing to sign an extension and his loyal tenure to Toronto, he is the least likely trade candidate. Ibaka is a good defensive player, but brings marginal offensive value and it’s hard to see a contending team with a big need for him. Gasol would bring back the most value in a trade as a great all-around iron man player who would fit naturally in any system as a jack-of-all trades. Toronto should trade him to a team willing to give them good assets in exchange for a quality utility veteran. I would be surprised if the Celtics didn’t make an offer for him, seeing as how they’re projected to start Kanter at the five and Tatum at the 4, making a matchup with conference rivals, the Philadelphia 76’ers as matchup nightmares, running Horford and Embiid at the 4. Gasol has already proven he can lock down Embiid, so for the Celtics to make a good run, Gasol is almost a necessity for them

Utah Jazz: No one

It appears the Jazz have made all of the off season moves that they’re going to make. The only player that makes sense to trade is Dante Exum, but it’s unapparent what resources they have to upgrade at his position. They’ve already made a lot of big moves, so any further moves don’t seem viable.

Washington Wizards: Bradley Beal

John Wall is hurt. Otto Porter was dumped for Bobby Portis and Jabari Parker who both walked. Kelly Oubre was dumped. The sole bright spot on this team that seems to be falling apart is Bradley Beal. He put up a brilliant 25/5/5 season last year. For a team whose three best prospects are Rui Hachimura, Admiral Schofield, and Mo Wagner, a franchise reset button should be pressed as soon as possible. The only player able to bring new, real potential to the franchise is Bradley Beal. A borderline super star would thrive with a contender as a decent defender, but an elite scorer and shooter. The Wizards have not expressed interest in trading him, but Beal is likely to want out of a poor situation and may demand a trade soon. Trading him now with some leverage would greatly help their pursuit of young talent. Teams that could put together a legitimate package for him include the Denver Nuggets and New Orleans Pelicans. The Heat have pursued him as well, offering to swallow John Wall’s contract too, but it’s uncertain if they have sufficient resources to acquire Beal.

 

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