Trade Candidate

Trade Candidate Watch: Players On Rookie Scale Contracts

Leading up to the February 9 trade deadline, we’re keeping an eye on potential trade candidates from around the NBA. We’re continuing today with a handful of former first-round picks who are still on their rookie scale contracts.

This list does not include players in the last year of their rookie contract, as those players could become restricted free agents in the offseason. We covered some of those players here.

Bones Hyland, G, Nuggets

2022/23: $2.2MM
2023/24: $2.3MM
2024/25: $4.16MM team option

The No. 26 overall pick of the 2021 draft, Hyland is looking like perhaps the most likely player to be traded out of this group.

Hyland only makes a combined $4.5MM this season and next, with a $4.16MM club option for 2024/25. That’s really cheap for a talented shooter (37.8% on threes, 86.6% on free throws) who has a fairly substantial role (19.5 MPG, 10.3 FGA) on the West’s No. 1 seed.

On the other hand, he might be looking for more minutes, and has reportedly had “occasional clashes” with head coach Michael Malone. His decision-making and shot selection can be questionable, his net rating (-8.4) is kind of a disaster (Denver’s bench units haven’t been great), and some advanced stats say he’s one of the worst defenders in the league.

Denver is said to be looking for a two-way wing and/or draft compensation for Hyland.

Saddiq Bey, F, Pistons

2022/23: $2.96MM
2023/24: $4.56MM

The No. 19 pick of the 2020 draft, Bey was productive right away for Detroit, earning a spot on the All-Rookie First Team by averaging 12.2 PPG and 4.5 RPG while shooting 38% on threes.

He had a tough start to his sophomore year, averaging 11.9 PPG, 5.8 RPG and 2.3 APG on .345/.296/.735 shooting through 26 games (31.7 MPG). However, he was solid the rest of the way, averaging 18.1 PPG, 5.2 RPG and 3.1 APG on .417/.364/.849 shooting over his remaining 56 contests (33.6 MPG).

Bey, who turns 24 in April, can be wildly inconsistent from game-to-game offensively. For example, last March he scored a career-high 51 points (on 17-of-27 shooting) against Orlando, but in the five games preceding that victory, he posted a .321/.235/.737 shooting line.

One of Bey’s best attributes is that he has been quite durable, having played all 82 games in ‘21/22 and only missing six of a possible 206 games to this point in his career. The Knicks are reportedly among the teams that have shown interest in Bey, who is eligible for a rookie scale extension in the offseason.

Obi Toppin, F, Knicks

2022/23: $5.35MM
2023/24: $6.8MM

It’s hard to know what to make of Toppin, who was the No. 8 pick of the 2020 draft. On one hand, he averaged 20.3 PPG, 7.0 RPG and 3.0 APG on .571/.436/.818 shooting in 10 games as a starter last year. On the other, those numbers were somewhat inflated because most of them came in early April, when many teams aren’t exactly taking the games seriously.

Toppin is shooting – and making – more threes this season in an effort to expand his game, but it has come at the cost of his rim-running, which is a little strange (he shot 64.7% on twos over his first two seasons, but is only at 48.9% in ‘22/23). I’m not sure it’s wise for him to be attempting more threes than twos, and it hasn’t helped him get more playing time.

It’s a tough spot for both the player and team, as Julius Randle has been a better all-around player and head coach Tom Thibodeau hasn’t shown much interest in playing the two power forwards together. Toppin is a limited defensive player, but he tries.

Randle is under contract through at least ‘24/25, with a player option in ‘25/26. What’s the pathway for Toppin to become a starter in New York going forward? Does that matter to him?

The Pacers reportedly showed interest in Toppin earlier this season, though it’s unclear if they remain interested.

Payton Pritchard, G, Celtics

2022/23: $2.24MM
2023/24: $4.04MM

Pritchard, who just turned 25 over the weekend, was the No. 26 overall pick of the 2020 draft. The former Oregon standout is a career 39.8% three-point shooter who has seen his minutes reduced due to a backcourt logjam.

After averaging 19.2 minutes per game as a rookie in ‘20/21, he logged 14.1 MPG last season and is down to 12.5 MPG in ‘22/23. He has also been a healthy scratch several times this season.

The Celtics have the NBA’s best record, and having a cheap insurance policy like Pritchard capable of filling in when called upon is a reflection of the team’s depth. He has posted a positive net rating in each of his three seasons.

However, you could also make the case that his presence is more of a luxury than a necessity, with Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, Derrick White and Malcolm Brogdon all ahead of him in the backcourt pecking order. If the Celtics want to upgrade their depth at another position (center?), Pritchard could be used as part of a return package.

The Warriors are among the teams that have reportedly expressed interest in Pritchard. As was the case with Bey and Toppin, the 6’1″ guard will be extension-eligible in the summer.

Note: This list isn’t meant to be comprehensive, just a brief overview. A number of other former first-rounders on their rookie scale deals could be traded ahead of next week’s deadline, including Cam Thomas, Day’Ron Sharpe, James Wiseman, Moses Moody, Jaden Springer, James Bouknight, Kai Jones and Shaedon Sharpe, among others.

Some of the aforementioned young players haven’t been involved in rumors to this point, but are worth keeping an eye on due to their roles and/or team situations. For example, in Sharpe’s case, the Blazers are reportedly a buyer, but their ability to trade a first-round pick is limited due to protections from a previous deal, making the 19-year-old a logical trade chip.

Trade Candidate Watch: Veteran Guards

Leading up to the February 9 trade deadline, we’re keeping an eye on potential trade candidates from around the NBA. We’re continuing today with a handful of veteran guards.

D’Angelo Russell, Timberwolves

2022/23: $31.4MM

2023/24: UFA

Like many players on Minnesota’s roster, Russell had a slow start to the season, averaging 14.4 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 6.7 APG and 1.3 SPG on a sub-optimal .425/.318/.759 shooting line (53.1 true shooting percentage) through the end of November (22 games, 31.3 MPG).

However, he has been on fire ever since, averaging 20.5 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 5.9 APG and 1.0 SPG on .496/.441/.931 shooting (65.7 TS%) over his past 27 games (34.4 MPG).

Overall, he is averaging 17.8 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 6.2 APG and 1.1 SPG. He’s posting career-best shooting splits from all over the court, including 54.2% on twos, 39.1% on threes (46.6% from the field), and 87.1% from the free throw line, for a career-high (by far) 60.5 TS%.

Part of the reason he’s had so much success scoring lately is because the Wolves been using him more off the ball – he’s shooting 39.3% on catch-and-shoot threes, per It will be difficult for the Wolves to replace the former All-Star’s production, as they rank just 18th in 3PT%, and he has been the team’s second-leading scorer with Karl-Anthony Towns injured.

That’s not to say he’s a perfect player by any means, as he has always been a below-average defender and rebounder who can frustrate with lack of effort. His decision-making can also be questionable at times, which is why he’s best utilized as more of a combo guard than a traditional point.

Russell, who turns 27 next month, is not making it an easy decision for the Wolves to move him in his contract year. They have been winning lately, and he’s had a big role in that. Do they want to pay him in free agency if they don’t extend him, especially after last year’s poor playoff performance?

Mike Conley, Jazz

2022/23: $22.7MM

2023/24: $24.4MM ($14.3MM guaranteed)

Conley, on the other hand, is more of a traditional pass-first floor general, with an elite 4.73-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio. At 35 years old, he is on the downside of his career, but the Jazz have been better (+2.0 net rating) when he’s on the court, going 21-19 when he plays and 5-7 without him.

While he isn’t scoring much this season (10.3 PPG), Conley is dishing out a career-high 7.6 APG, and his 36.6% mark from deep is above league average. He’s fallen off a little more on the other end – Conley used to be one of the better point-of-attack defenders in the league, but isn’t as quick as he once was.

The big thing with Conley isn’t whether he provides an immediate positive impact (he does), it’s more about paying a small, aging point guard $24.4MM next season. His large partial guarantee makes it impractical to waive him, because whichever team he’s on would still be on the hook for a substantial amount.

Patrick Beverley, Lakers

2022/23: $13MM

2023/24: UFA

As is the case with Russell, it’s been a tale of two halves for Beverley. Through 20 games (26.9 MPG), he was averaging just 4.5 PPG on a miserable .298/.234/.760 shooting slash line.

Over the past 21 games (26.7 MPG), that has completely flipped, as he’s averaging 8.2 PPG on an excellent .473/.434/.875 shooting line. He’s up to 34.7% from deep on the season, which isn’t great, but it’s respectable (his career mark is 37.6%).

Beverley’s fit with the Lakers has been a little more awkward than anticipated, but it’s probably not a coincidence that he’s been playing some of his best basketball while two other guards (Austin Reaves and Lonnie Walker) have been injured (Walker just returned on Saturday against Boston). That’s more a product of poor roster construction than anything against the players individually.

The 34-year-old is a natural trade candidate because he’s the only player on the roster who makes more than $7MM and less than $37MM, plus his deal expires at the end of the season. Beverley’s improved play of late makes him more than just a salary-matching piece – the Lakers will need a legitimate upgrade if they move him, even if it almost seems inevitable.

Seth Curry, Nets

2022/23: $8.5MM

2023/24: UFA

Fun fact: Curry is the NBA’s active leader with a career mark of 43.9% from three-point range, good for third-best all-time. In ’22/23, he’s shooting 43.8% from deep.

Curry, who turns 33 this summer, is an impending free agent with an affordable expiring contract. He got off to a slow start following offseason ankle surgery, but he is a very good offensive player due to his elite shooting (he’s also great on mid-range pull-ups).

The problem is he’s only 6’2” and is definitely more of a two guard than a lead ball-handler. He has always been a negative defensively.

Curry would provide value on a lot of teams – the main issue is the Nets have multiple small guards who can shoot and struggle defensively, making his skill set a little redundant. Adding frontcourt size and depth seems like it should be a priority.

Note: This list isn’t meant to be comprehensive, just a brief overview. There are a number of other guards that have been in the rumor mill, including Kyle Lowry (though he seems unlikely to be traded), Russell Westbrook (ditto), Bones Hyland, Derrick Rose, R.J. Hampton, Grayson Allen and Gary Harris, among others.

Trade Candidate Watch: Four Popular Wings

Leading up to the February 9 trade deadline, we’re keeping an eye on potential trade candidates from around the NBA. We’re continuing today with a handful of popular wing targets.

Gary Trent Jr., G, Raptors

Salary: $17.5MM in 2022/23, $18.8MM player option in ‘23/24

Trent is a legitimate 3-and-D player in a league constantly looking for players in that mold. I’ve read nothing but good things about his work ethic, and he was praised for his professionalism after being briefly demoted to a reserve role early in the season.

I’ve been a little surprised that his name keeps being floated as perhaps the most likely Raptor to be traded. He just turned 24 years old last week, is still improving, and is one of the only real threats from deep on a team that desperately needs floor spacing – Toronto is 28th in the league in three-point shooting (33.4%).

Perhaps money is the sticking point. Trent has a $18.8MM player option for ‘23/24 that he’s expected to decline in search of a long-term deal.

Alec Burks, G/F, Pistons

Salary: $10MM in ‘22/23, $10.5MM team option in ‘23/24

Burks’ career trajectory is unusual, as he struggled with injuries and inefficiency for several years with Utah before bouncing around the league — he’s now on his seventh team in the past five years.

A former lottery pick becoming a journeyman doesn’t sound that intriguing on the surface, but Burks has played the best basketball of his career over the past three years with the Knicks and Pistons. He has always been able to get downhill and draw fouls, but he has evolved into an excellent three-point shooter, converting at least 40% of his looks each of the past three seasons (including a career-high 44.4% in ’22/23).

Part of the reason why the Pistons’ asking price is seemingly high for Burks (I haven’t actually seen a report indicating what they’re after) is because he has outplayed his current contract and has a team option for $10.5MM, making him an affordable asset. He would theoretically be the easiest player to acquire on this list from a salary-matching perspective.

Malik Beasley, G/F, Jazz

Salary: $15.56MM in ‘22/23, $16.52MM team option in ‘23/24

Beasley is only 26 years old, so there’s plenty of time for him to develop other parts of his game, but to this point in his career he has mostly been a high-volume shooting specialist. Nearly 70% of his field goal attempts have come from behind the arc in ‘22/23, and while he has been in a major slump in January (30.7%) to drop his season-long average to 35.9%, he is still a player who must be accounted for at all times (his career mark is 38.1%).

Utah runs a lot of three-guard lineups, which sort of makes Beasley the small forward by default, but he’s on the smaller side even at the two, and he doesn’t defend either position particularly well. He’s a very bouncy athlete, though he doesn’t get to showcase it much, and rarely drives or makes plays for others.

The Jazz are reportedly looking for a first-round pick for him — I only see that happening if the pick is protected (lottery?) and Utah takes on a multiyear contract in return. Having said that, the team option for next year makes him a little more appealing, as an acquiring team would have the flexibility to either keep him an additional year or trade him down the line.

Josh Hart, G/F, Trail Blazers

Salary: $13MM in ‘23/24, non-guaranteed $13MM player option in ‘23/24

Hart is one of the top rebounders in the game on the wing, pulling down 8.1 boards per contest. He’s also an unselfish passer (4.0 assists per game) and hard-charging fast break player who hustles all over the court.

He isn’t a great outside shooter (34.6% career, 33% this year), but he is a relentless worker whose energy and enthusiasm is infectious. He certainly gets the most out of his skill set.

Hart’s contract is a little odd. His player option for next season is non-guaranteed, so if he picks it up a team could release him without having to pay him. While he’s too good for that to happen, there’s also basically no incentive to exercise that option when he can opt out and seek a long-term, guaranteed contract.

Note: This list isn’t meant to be comprehensive, just a brief overview. There are a number of other wings that have been in the rumor mill, including Eric Gordon, Kelly Oubre, Terrence Ross, Josh Richardson, Doug McDermott, Saddiq Bey, Tim Hardaway Jr., and several others.

Trade Candidate Watch: Impending Free Agent Centers

Leading up to the February 9 trade deadline, we’re keeping an eye on potential trade candidates from around the NBA. We’re continuing that series today with a closer look at a group of centers who could be on the market.

Jakob Poeltl, Spurs

Salary: $9.4MM

Now in his seventh season, Poeltl has developed into a quality starting center during his tenure with the Spurs. Notably, he has become a more confident and reliable scorer, and a much-improved passer, while cutting back on his fouls and maintaining his typical above-average rebounding and interior defense.

The scoring and passing were really important additions to the Austrian’s game. The scoring allows him to punish switches, and the play-making means he can still have an impact away from the basket — critical for a non-shooter like Poeltl.

The Spurs are reportedly looking for at least one first-round pick – and preferably two – for the 27-year-old. If a team trades for him, it needs to be both reasonably sure it can re-sign him and willing to pay him — he’s expected to command around $20MM per year as a free agent, which is what Jarrett Allen received from the Cavs in 2021.

Myles Turner, Pacers

Salary: $18MM

Turner is having a career year at the perfect time, as he is certainly boosting his stock ahead of free agency. He’s averaging career highs in points (17.0), rebounds (7.8), and free throw attempts (4.3) per game, as well as field goal percentage (55.1%) and three-point percentage (39.6%).

A renowned shot blocker who has led the league in that category twice, Turner’s game has blossomed with the arrival of Tyrese Haliburton. If the Pacers are unable to find common ground with Turner’s representatives on an extension, they would be wise to recoup value for him rather than lose him for nothing.

One potential red flag for would-be suitors: The 26-year-old has had extended injury absences each of the past two seasons, though he has been relatively healthy in 2022/23, having missed nine of 49 games to this point.

Christian Wood, Mavericks

Salary: $14.32MM

Wood’s situation is somewhat similar to Turner’s, as both big men are having strong seasons and are reportedly discussing extensions with their respective teams. A very talented offensive player, Wood has shot at least 50% from the field and 37% from three each of the past four seasons.

The 27-year-old has bounced around, having played for seven teams in as many NBA seasons. Wood was quite skinny entering the league, isn’t a great decision-maker, and has defensive concerns. There were also some question marks about his attitude, though those seem to have gone away as he’s gotten more minutes in recent years.

While Wood theoretically can play both frontcourt spots, he has clearly been more effective as a center, especially on defense. He’s currently dealing with a fractured left thumb, but that shouldn’t impact his value much unless he needs surgery, and there’s been no indication that’s necessary to this point.

Given what happened last year with losing Jalen Brunson for nothing in free agency, and the fact that Dallas is over the cap and can’t easily replace him, you would expect the front office to keep Wood around. Still, if an extension isn’t reached, he could very well be traded.

Serge Ibaka, Bucks

Salary: Veteran’s minimum

Ibaka was a good player for a long time, leading the NBA in blocks per game twice early in his career with Oklahoma City and then transforming into a solid outside shooter. He was a key rotation player for the Raptors when they won the title in 2019.

Unfortunately, Ibaka underwent back surgery in June 2021 while with the Clippers and hasn’t looked the same since. At 33 years old and in his 14th season, he certainly has a wealth of experience, but it’s unclear how much he can contribute at this point in his career.

The Bucks reportedly agreed to seek a trade for the veteran big man, who has only made 16 appearances in ‘22/23. The Nets, Heat and Hawks are among the teams said to have interest in Ibaka.

Mason Plumlee, Hornets

Salary: $9.08MM

An energetic big man, Plumlee is surprisingly having a career year for a 13-35 Hornets team that currently has the third-worst record in the NBA. Considering he turns 33 in a couple months, is an impending free agent, and the Hornets are going nowhere this season, it’s fair to wonder why Plumlee is playing a career-high 28.3 minutes per game, but he has provided solid production.

Through 48 games, all starts, the veteran center is averaging career highs in points (12.0), rebounds (9.8) and FG% (66.8). He’s also tied for a career-high in assists per game with 3.6.

All of those things are positives, but Plumlee is a subpar defensive player who isn’t a threat to shoot, though the right-handed center has busted out a one-handed lefty jump shot on occasion, and it is a sight to behold; he’s actually shooting above his career mark from the free throw line with it. He’s ideally more of a decent backup than a starter, but maybe the Hornets can get a second-round pick or two for him if they take on some money beyond this season.

Naz Reid, Timberwolves

Salary: $1.93MM

The Wolves have reportedly discussed an extension with Reid, with a maximum offer worth about $58MM over four years. I don’t expect him to get that much as a free agent, but considering an extension hasn’t been reached yet, obviously there’s a gap between what the Wolves have offered and what Reid is seeking.

The Clippers, Nuggets and Nets have all reportedly expressed interest in the 23-year-old, who has shown some interesting flashes when given minutes. However, his addition to this list is more cursory than anything, because it’s hard to envision the Wolves trading him unless they’re absolutely certain he will walk in free agency.

Karl-Anthony Towns is still injured, so Reid still has a big pretty spot in the rotation. The Wolves would want to get a player who can contribute right away in return if they moved him.

That’s complicated by the fact that the former undrafted free agent is earning less than $2MM this season – you can’t find many rotation-ready players at that price. If Reid does get traded, it seems more likely that he would be part of a multiplayer trade that sends out – and brings back – more salary than his alone.

Trade Candidate Watch: Potential Restricted Free Agents

Leading up to the February 9 trade deadline, we’re keeping an eye on potential trade candidates from around the NBA. We’re continuing today with a handful of players who can become restricted free agents in the offseason if they are extended qualifying offers. The full list of 2023 restricted free agents can be found right here.

Cam Reddish, F, Knicks

Like the rest of the players on this list, Reddish was a first-round pick in 2019, selected 10th overall out of Duke. He was a highly-touted prospect who has shown brief flashes of intriguing potential, but has struggled mightily with consistency, and his game hasn’t translated all that well to the pros.

The 23-year-old is earning $5.95MM in the final year of his rookie contract. The Knicks have reportedly “redoubled” their efforts to trade Reddish, and are said to be seeking second-round draft compensation for him.

Considering his modest averages in 2022/23 (8.4 PPG, 1.6 RPG and 1.0 APG on .449/.304/.879 shooting in 21.9 MPG through 20 games), the fact that he’s fallen out of New York’s rotation, hasn’t played a game in six weeks, and is essentially on an expiring contract, it’s hard to envision Reddish having positive value at this point.

I understand why the Knicks are hoping to get assets back after giving up a protected first-rounder to acquire Reddish from Atlanta last season, I just don’t view him as a rotational upgrade for the teams that are said to be interested in him, which includes the Lakers, Bucks and Mavericks.

Perhaps the Lakers will offer Kendrick Nunn and a second-rounder if they aren’t able to package Nunn for something more appealing, but that just seems like making a trade for the sake of doing something. Regardless, Reddish is likely to be on the move ahead of the deadline.

Coby White, G, Bulls

White was the seventh overall pick in 2019 out of North Carolina. Like Reddish and many other young players who enter the NBA after one college season, the combo guard has struggled with consistency in his first four seasons.

However, White’s circumstances differ from Reddish’s in other respects. He seemingly fell out of favor when the new front office regime took over in Chicago, as he was drafted by the previous lead basketball executive, Gar Forman.

White’s counting stats, minutes and production have declined since his sophomore season, which might give the impression that he hasn’t improved. But he has become a better ball-handler, a more willing passer and efficient scorer, and puts in a lot more effort on defense.

A report last week indicated White, who makes $7.4MM this season, could be shipped out of Chicago if the Bulls look for a roster upgrade.

Matisse Thybulle, G/F, Sixers

Thybulle is one of the more unique players in the NBA. He’s among the top defensive players in the league, earning All-Defensive nods each of the past two seasons, but it’s challenging to keep him on the court at times due to his very limited offensive skills.

Specialists like Thybulle used to be much more common. They have fallen out of favor in recent years because players are more well-rounded than ever before, and opposing teams have gotten better at exploiting weaknesses.

That said, if the Sixers do end up trading Thybulle, I highly doubt it will be to just dump his salary to dodge the luxury tax. His strengths are so striking that he should still have positive value, perhaps to a young team that believes it can develop his offense.

Rui Hachimura, F, Wizards

On the other end of the spectrum you have Hachimura, a talented scorer whose game is aesthetically pleasing because he can score in a variety of ways and plays with a physical edge offensively. However, he looks lost at times defensively.

When he’s on, Hachimura can look like a future star – there isn’t much you can do to stop him. The problem is, his jump shot runs hot and cold, he doesn’t get to the free throw line as much as you would expect, he isn’t much interested in passing, and he’s just an OK rebounder.

The Wizards have reportedly discussed Hachimura, who turns 25 next month, in potential deals, with some teams out West said to be interested. I get the sense that the Wizards are open to moving him more because they want to re-sign Kyle Kuzma in free agency rather than get rid of the former lottery pick. He could help a team in need of bench scoring.

P.J. Washington, F/C, Hornets

Washington is one of those jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none types who would appeal to many teams around the league. The Hornets are pretty tight-lipped and there haven’t been any concrete rumors that they’re shopping Washington, just a couple of reports that there was a difference of opinion on the value of his next contract.

The thing is, I think he would still have positive trade value even if he was making close to the $20MM per year he was reportedly seeking instead of $5.8MM, which is his current salary. That’s more than I would personally want to pay him if I were a GM, but players that roughly fit the 3-and-D archetype are always in demand.

Washington met the starter criteria earlier this month, so his qualifying offer was bumped up to $8.5MM. I would be mildly surprised if he’s moved.

Trade Candidate Watch: Popular Forward Targets

Leading up to the February 9 trade deadline, we’re keeping an eye on potential trade candidates from around the NBA. We’re starting today with a handful of popular targets who share positional overlap.

John Collins, F, Hawks

Collins is only 25 years old, but he’s been in trade rumors for at least three years now. He’s a good player, he just doesn’t fit very well on Atlanta’s roster anymore.

The reason his scoring has declined so precipitously – from 21.6 PPG in 2019/20 to 13.1 PPG in ’22/23 – is because the team no longer caters to his strengths. The Hawks rarely run plays for him, which makes it seem like he’s less effective. I don’t believe that’s the case.

Collins’ best attribute as a player is that he’s an excellent dive man on pick-and-rolls, where he’s adept at both setting and slipping screens and is a terrific lob finisher. The problem is that’s basically all centers Clint Capela and Onyeka Okongwu do on offense besides getting offensive rebounds, so their strengths are somewhat redundant on that end, and Collins doesn’t have the size or strength to play center full time on defense.

He has been a solid shooter in the past – 37.6% from deep on 2.5 attempts per night over his first five seasons – but is only converting 22.8% this season. That seems more like an anomaly than a worrisome trend.

It’s clear that it would be in both parties’ best interests if he was moved to a new team. There are two main complications.

Including his player option in ‘25/26, Collins will earn $102MM over the next four years – not unreasonable, but not exactly easy to move either. His best fit would be alongside a center who can protect the paint and shoot from outside, but that’s a small list. Keep an eye on the Pacers and Jazz, two teams that don’t have long-term cap concerns.

Bojan Bogdanovic, F, Pistons

Most players find their efficiency diminished with an increased offensive role — being targeted by opposing teams’ game plans makes scoring more difficult. Not so with Bogdanovic, who is averaging career highs in points (21.2), assists (2.8), and free throw attempts (5.2) per game, as well as true shooting percentage (.629), in his first year with Detroit.

Bogdanovic can score from all over the court and his contract is reasonable ($39MM over two years following this season), but he turns 34 in April, is a below-average rebounder (3.6 per game), and is best suited to defending bigger forwards. The Pistons are said to be looking for an unprotected first-round pick for the veteran, and he has a long list of teams interested in his services.

I highly doubt that asking price will be met unless it’s from a team outside the lottery or a pick years down the line. I understand why they’re maintaining that position right now – not many sellers have emerged yet and he’s one of the top players available. But I think that will change ahead of the deadline, and the Pistons will have to decide whether to take the best offer available or just hold onto him.

Jae Crowder, F, Suns

Crowder has been a solid role player for a long time, mostly due to his toughness, defense and ability to make quick reads on offense. He’s 32 now and definitely best suited to play power forward, as he struggles staying in front of quicker players, but there’s a reason his teams consistently make the playoffs.

His ability to space the floor is a bit overrated – he’s more of a willing shooter than a good one, converting 34.6% of his career looks behind the arc, including 33.9% in the playoffs. That said, he’s good enough that you can’t just leave him open, especially if he gets hot.

Crowder’s season-long holdout with the Suns is one of the strangest NBA situations I’ve seen in my years following the league. He’s on a $10.2MM expiring contract, so you’d think he would be incentivized to play to maximize his future earnings, yet he’s done the opposite.

There has to be more to the story here, but whatever the reason is, it hasn’t helped his value or the Suns’ ability to move him. Who knows what type of shape he’ll be in when he returns? Whichever team acquires him will be taking a risk if it gives up assets.

The Suns’ ownership situation also complicates matters — outgoing suspended owner Robert Sarver reportedly has to sign off on a potential deal, even though the team is being bought by Mat Ishbia. The Bucks and Hawks have been the two teams most consistently linked to Crowder.

Jarred Vanderbilt, F, Jazz

The No. 41 overall pick of the 2018 draft, Vanderbilt has worked his way up from the bottom – he barely played at all his first two seasons (28 total games and 115 minutes), but he’s turned himself into a valuable role player on competitive teams.

Vanderbilt’s playing style is the most unique out of the players on this list. He’s the closest to what some might call a “traditional” power forward — an energizer who is a very strong rebounder, but is still rounding out his game in other areas.

He has expanded his game with Utah, attempting more threes (1.0 per game at 32.6%), more than doubling his assists (from 1.3 to 2.8) and improving his free throw percentage (a career-high 69.8%). Interestingly, although his offensive game has improved, I think his defense has actually declined a little – he was always prone to some over-aggressive fouls, and the team’s defense is certainly worse, but he hasn’t looked as solid on that end to my eyes.

That said, Vanderbilt won’t turn 24 until April, is still improving, and he’s on a very team-friendly contract ($4.3MM this season, and his $4.6MM deal for next season is only guaranteed for $300K). The Jazz are said to be looking for a first-round pick for Vanderbilt. There haven’t been any rumors regarding protections on the potential pick, but I think there’s a good chance he gets moved in the next few weeks.

NBA Trade Candidate Watch: Top Veteran Targets

With the March 25 trade deadline fast approaching, Hoops Rumors is taking a closer look at players around the NBA who are candidates to be moved this month, breaking them down into several categories based on their age, contracts, on-court value, and other categories. Today, we’ll zero in on the top veteran trade targets on the market.

The January blockbuster trade that saw James Harden, Victor Oladipo, and Caris LeVert change teams is unlikely to be topped in the next six days. No player in Harden’s class are believed to be available, and it’s possible that the best player to be dealt by March 25 will be… well, Oladipo himself, who is back on the block just a couple months after being acquired by Houston.

Bradley Beal, Zach LaVine, and Karl-Anthony Towns have been the subject of some trade speculation, but that appears to be wishful thinking. The Bulls are in the playoff hunt, and Beal and Towns will likely only be moved if they push for it — so far, there’s no indication that they are.

Still, even if no All-NBA type players are on the move in the next few days, there are plenty of intriguing veteran players who could be had. The final installment of our Trade Candidate series today will focus on those players.

Let’s dive in…

Probably off-limits, but you never know:

Vucevic has said he’s happy where he is, but he has drawn significant interest from several teams. It would take a huge package to convince the Magic to move their lone All-Star, especially since he’s under contract for two more years after 2020/21.

Lowry’s $30.5MM expiring contract would make salary-matching tricky, and the Raptors won’t simply move him for the best offer — if the veteran point guard wants a change of scenery and Toronto can get something worthwhile in return, he could be on the move. But it seems more likely that he’ll stay put through the deadline and the Raptors will figure out his future in the offseason.

Young would help just about every contender and looked at one point like a prime trade candidate. But the Bulls are playing pretty well under head coach Billy Donovan and seem far more likely to push for the postseason than to essentially throw in the towel by selling off Young and their other veterans.

Turner was discussed in trade talks during the offseason, but he’s been tremendous for the Pacers this season, leading the NBA in blocked shots and anchoring Indiana’s defense. He’s not necessarily untouchable, but the price will be higher now than it was back in November.

As for DeRozan, there have been rumblings that he could be on the trade block if he and the Spurs don’t agree to an extension, but San Antonio typically doesn’t do anything too big during the season, so I’d be surprised if he’s dealt.

Intriguing targets who could realistically be available:

While Vucevic may be off the table, the Magic have a trio of other key contributors whose price tags should be more reasonable. Fournier is on an expiring contract, so there may be a little more urgency to address his situation than to do anything with Gordon or Ross. But of the three, Gordon is the most valuable and would command the biggest return. If Orlando can get a bidding war going, it could lead to a pretty tempting offer for the forward.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the Kings wait until the offseason to increase their efforts to move Hield and/or Barnes, since both players are on long-term deals. But the right offer could get it done by next Thursday.

Houston is in sell mode, making Oladipo available. Still, it’s worth remembering that the Rockets didn’t have to expand the Harden deal to acquire Oladipo — they went out of their way to do so because they like him. So if they’re being low-balled at the deadline in Oladipo negotiations, they may well hang onto him.

Powell and Nance are two of the most interesting names out there and could be difference-makers for a contender. There has been no real indication that the Raptors are shopping Powell, but he can opt out this offseason and is in line for a big raise on the heels of a career year. The Cavaliers, meanwhile, have reportedly passed on offers for Nance that feature multiple late first-round picks, signaling it’ll take a lot to get him. The price for Osman would be more modest.

Their contracts complicate matters:

If Love, Drummond, and Aldridge were to hit waivers tomorrow, their agents’ phones would be inundated with calls from interested teams, and it wouldn’t take long for them to land with a contender, like Blake Griffin did with Brooklyn after he was bought out by Detroit.

However, the cap hits for Love ($31.3MM), Drummond ($28.75MM), and Aldridge ($24MM) probably outweigh their value at this point in their careers, so it will be a challenge for the Cavaliers and Spurs to extract assets in a trade without taking on some bad money.

Drummond and Aldridge, both on expiring contracts, are away from their respective clubs as they await resolution, so it’s a safe bet that they’ll be either traded or bought out. I think the Spurs probably have a slightly better chance to get a trade done, but both are toss-ups. As for Love, he still has two guaranteed seasons on his deal after 2020/21, so a buyout isn’t a realistic option for him — he’s a safe bet to stay put.

Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NBA Trade Candidate Watch: Intriguing Non-Player Assets

With the March 25 trade deadline fast approaching, Hoops Rumors is taking a closer look at players around the NBA who are candidates to be moved this month, breaking them down into several categories based on their age, contracts, on-court value, and other categories. Today, we’ll zero in on the non-player assets that could be important at the deadline.

In our first four round-ups of this year’s potential trade candidates, we’ve listed a total of 88 different players. Before we move onto the top tier of potential trade targets on Friday, we’re going in a bit of a new direction today, identifying the non-player assets that could be crucial when it comes to completing deadline deals.

These are draft picks, cap exceptions, and other assets that will help grease the wheels of potential deals when player-to-player swaps don’t produce equal value or don’t work based on NBA rules.

Let’s dive in…

Draft picks:

Many of the teams that hold extra first-round picks in upcoming drafts – including the Thunder, Rockets, Pelicans, and Knicks – probably aren’t in position to start packaging those picks to acquire impact players, so their effect on the deadline will be limited.

However, the teams whose first-rounders those clubs control will feel the impact of those past deals. The Bucks, Clippers, Lakers, and Mavericks are among the teams that are significantly restricted in their ability to offer up draft capital in deadline deals, since they’ve already surrendered multiple picks in other trades.

The Timberwolves’ 2021 first-round pick (top-three protected) controlled by the Warriors would be an asset to monitor closely if Golden State were a buyer. But that seems increasingly unlikely, given the Warriors’ modest 21-20 record and the fact that Klay Thompson won’t be back until next season. The team is probably better off hanging onto that pick for now.

The Nets are also worth watching — despite trading away their own second-round pick, they could have up to three other second-rounders, via Atlanta, Phoenix, and Indiana (the Pacers’ second-rounder is 45-60 protected, so if they miss the playoffs, they’ll have to send it to Brooklyn). The Nets are a veteran team that doesn’t need to draft a bunch of rookies this summer (they’ll have a first-round pick anyway), so all of those second-rounders could be up for grabs in trades.

Traded player exceptions:

The Celtics‘ massive traded player exception worth $28.5MM has received most of the attention in recent months, and for good reason — it’s technically big enough to fit all but 34 NBA players, though Boston would have to send out some money to avoid surpassing the hard cap in certain scenarios.

There are plenty of other trade exceptions available around the league though, include a Thunder TPE that’s nearly as big as Boston’s ($27.5MM).

The Rockets ($10.7MM), Nuggets ($9.5MM), Sixers ($8.2MM), Heat ($7.5MM), Jazz ($5MM) are among the other clubs with sizeable TPEs that could come in handy in the next week.

As a reminder, a trade exception allows a team to take back a player earning any amount up to the value of the TPE (plus $100K) without sending out any salary in return. A more in-depth explanation can be found in our glossary entry.

Disabled player exceptions:

Disabled player exceptions, which can be awarded to teams when a player suffers a season-ending injury, are somewhat similar to trade exceptions. They’re more versatile in some ways (they can also be used to sign a free agent or claim a player on waivers), but more restrictive in others (any player acquired, signed, or claimed must not be under contract beyond this season).

In 2020/21, five teams were awarded disabled player exceptions, but the Heat forfeited theirs by trading away their injured player (Meyers Leonard). That leaves the Warriors ($9.3MM), Magic ($6.1MM and $3.7MM), Nets ($5.7MM), and Wizards ($4.2MM) as the teams with at least one DPE available.

All four of those teams, unfortunately, are either already in luxury tax territory or are very close to it, so the odds of them taking on extra salary via their disabled player exceptions aren’t great.

Still, there are creative ways to use these exceptions without actually increasing team salary. For instance, let’s say the Wizards trade Ish Smith for a player earning $4MM on an expiring contract. The Wizards could fit the incoming salary into their DPE and create a new trade exception worth $6MM (Smith’s salary) that would be available to use for a year.

Disabled player exceptions will expire if they’re not used by April 19 — obviously, after the March 25 trade deadline, they can only be used on free agents or waivers claims.

Cap room:

Only one team has any cap room that could come in handy at the trade deadline — the Knicks still have more than $15MM in space available. That would allow New York to trade for a player like J.J. Redick ($13MM) without sending out any salary.

If the Knicks wanted to acquire a player whose salary exceeds the available cap room, such as Victor Oladipo ($21MM), they wouldn’t have to match his full salary as long as they send out enough to remain below the cap after the deal is complete. In the case of Oladipo, New York would have to include about $6MM in outgoing salary.

While it sounds like the Knicks would like to upgrade this year’s roster, the club could also accommodate a salary dump with its cap room, taking on another team’s unwanted contract and acquiring another asset for its trouble.


Teams are permitted to send or receive up to $5.6MM in trades during the 2020/21 season and most teams remain well below that limit, as our tracker shows. The Rockets are the lone team that’s tapped out and can’t send any more cash this season, while the Pistons – who acquired $4.6MM in an offseason deal – are the closest to their incoming limit.

Cash considerations can be either a deal sweetener or the entirety of a team’s return in a given trade, like today’s swap that sent Torrey Craig from Milwaukee to Phoenix for just cash.

2021 NBA Trade Candidate Series

With the March 25 trade deadline fast approaching, Hoops Rumors is taking a closer look at players around the NBA who are candidates to be moved this month, breaking them down into several categories based on their age, contracts, on-court value, and other categories.

Here are the groups we’ve covered so far, along with the ones still to come:

Restricted free agents to be

John Collins is the headliner in this group, but a number of other intriguing players, including Lonzo Ball, Lauri Markkanen, and Devonte’ Graham are among the RFAs-to-be who could be moved.

Mid-sized expiring contracts

Some of these players, such as Danny Green and Will Barton, are solid rotation players who would only be available in a deal for an upgrade. Others would be primarily salary ballast, like Meyers Leonard is in the Heat’s trade for Trevor Ariza.

Young players on buyers

Players like Michael Porter Jr. and Tyler Herro are probably off-limits unless a star is available, but other promising young players, such as Kevin Huerter, Donte DiVincenzo, and Precious Achiuwa could be up for grabs in deals for solid rotation players.

Useful, affordable veterans on sellers

Unlike Andre Drummond or LaMarcus Aldridge, these players don’t have oversized cap figures that would be difficult to match. Delon Wright, George Hill, J.J. Redick, Wayne Ellington, P.J. Tucker, and Mason Plumlee are among the headliners.

The intriguing non-player assets

Trades often involve more than just players, so we took a closer look at the various assets that could help grease the wheels on potential deals, including draft picks, trade exceptions, cash, and more.

Top veteran trade targets

If Kyle Lowry, Nikola Vucevic, and Myles Turner can’t be had, teams looking to make a splash could target the likes of Aaron Gordon, Victor Oladipo, and Harrison Barnes.

NBA Trade Candidate Watch: Affordable Vets On Sellers

With the March 25 trade deadline fast approaching, Hoops Rumors is taking a closer look at players around the NBA who are candidates to be moved this month, breaking them down into several categories based on their age, contracts, on-court value, and other categories. Today, we’ll zero in on useful, affordable veterans who could be moved if their teams become sellers.

The presence of the play-in tournament has made it harder than ever this season for an NBA team to truly fall out of postseason contention. The current No. 10 seed in the Eastern Conference is four games below .500, so many of the Eastern lottery teams can talk themselves into entering the playoff mix with just a modest hot streak.

As a result, there appear to be fewer sellers than ever at the 2021 deadline. But with so many teams looking to make upgrades, it’s inevitable that some clubs will become willing to trade off veterans in the next week, taking advantage of what should be a sellers’ market.

We’re focusing today on some of those potential sellers, identifying the players on their rosters who can still provide useful production at a relatively fair price — we’re classifying this list of players as “affordable,” which generally means their salaries range between the minimum and the mid-level range. LaMarcus Aldridge could be a nice addition for a contending team, but at $24MM, his salary doesn’t qualify as affordable, so he’s not listed below.

Let’s dive in…


Wright is having perhaps the best season of his career in Detroit, averaging 10.5 PPG, 4.9 APG, and 4.5 RPG on .465/.383/.768 shooting. He’s also under contract at a reasonable rate ($8.5MM) in 2021/22, which should appeal to suitors. Pistons general manager Troy Weaver isn’t shy about pulling the trigger on trades, making Wright a good candidate to be dealt.

Hill is the other most intriguing trade candidate here. A thumb injury has sidelined Hill since January 24, which may hurt his market, but he’s a proven veteran with a ton of playoff experience and should be healthy in time for the home stretch. His $10MM salary for next season is only partially guaranteed, so he should draw interest from teams wanting to maximize flexibility and teams looking for a player who could stick around for one more year.

Carter-Williams, Neto, and Smith are lower-cost – and lower-level – options for a team looking to add some depth.

The Knicks likely won’t be sellers, but Rivers doesn’t appear to be in the team’s plans anymore, so he’s a good bet to be placed on the trade block. The second and third years of his contract are non-guaranteed, making it a team-friendly deal.

Three-point specialists:

Redick and Ellington deserve a category of their own, since their value stems primarily from their ability to knock down three-point shots.

Ellington will likely draw more interest and a stronger return due to his minimum salary and his excellent 42.2% mark from beyond the arc this season.

Redick’s $13MM salary is the highest of any player in this list and will make it trickier for the Pelicans to find a taker, as will the heel issue he’s currently dealing with. But there should still be interest — after a slow start, the 36-year-old has looked more like his old self, converting 46.4% of his three-point attempts in his last 15 games.

Forwards and wings:

Three years ago, Tucker and Ariza would’ve been prime targets for any teams with title aspirations due to their defensive versatility and their ability to hit outside shots. Now, they’re both 35 years old and look much less like key parts of a championship lineup.

Tucker’s performance has fallen off this season and he’s almost non-existent on offense. Ariza hasn’t played a single minute in over a full calendar year, having spent the season away from the Thunder after opting out of the summer restart. It’s possible one or both of these guys will be rejuvenated by joining a contender, and that could be a risk worth taking if the price isn’t high.

Teams in need of help on the wing may prefer to talk to the Rockets and Thunder about House and Williams, respectively, as they’re younger and more affordable. Williams, in particular, is having a nice year in Oklahoma City in a three-and-D role and has a very team-friendly contract ($2MM annually, with two non-guaranteed years beyond 2020/21).

Ennis is currently out with a calf injury, but was having a nice year for the Magic, posting a shooting line of .500/.447/.786. Bjelica has struggled this season, but his ability to stretch the floor from the power forward spot has value and he’s a good bounce-back candidate — he’s making 32.0% of his three-pointers this year after knocking down over 40% in each of the previous three years.

Big men:

Plumlee is in a category of his own here as a center who is under contract for two seasons beyond this one — any team interested in acquiring him is probably looking for a multiyear option rather than a short-term fix. He also figures to demand a more significant return than anyone else in this group, since the Pistons value him highly.

The other available centers here, all of whom are on expiring contracts, offer a variety of skill-sets. Whiteside is one of the league’s best rebounders and can score around the basket; Muscala is a solid outside shooter; McGee is an athletic, shot-blocking option; and Davis and Lopez offer the sort of stable defense and reliable screen-setting that doesn’t show up in the box score.

Of those five guys on expiring deals, Whiteside, McGee, and Muscala are probably the least likely to finish the season with their current teams.

Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.