Within his latest column at ESPN.com, Marc Stein offers up 10 “fearless predictions,” forecasting 20 triple-doubles this season for Russell Westbrook, a win total in the low-60s for the Warriors, and a single player (James Harden) leading the league in both points and assists per game. A few of Stein’s predictions for the 2016/17 league year also relate to player movement, so let’s dive in and round up the highlights…
- Many “league observers” believe that the Trail Blazers‘ aggressive spending this offseason was more about collecting assets than anything else, says Stein. Portland has an excess of wings and big men, and is considered the team most likely to make a trade this season, according to the ESPN scribe. It would certainly make sense for the Blazers to move one of their bigger long-term contracts — they already have nearly $130MM in guaranteed money on their cap for next year (2017/18).
- Stein suggests he expects Rudy Gay (Kings), Nerlens Noel (Sixers), and Ricky Rubio (Wolves) to be dealt at some point this season. All three players have been the subject of plenty of trade rumors so far in 2016.
- While he’s less confident about a DeMarcus Cousins trade, Stein says that February figures to be dominated by trade speculation about the Kings big man. As Stein notes, Sacramento is “determined” to contend for the playoffs this season, so if the team remains in the hunt in February, perhaps Cousins stays put. But if the Kings hang onto him, they’ll have to be confident they have a chance to re-sign him, since his trade value would take a hit in the final year of his contract, Stein writes.