Trade Candidate

NBA Trade Candidate Watch: Central Division

Over the course of the 2019/20 NBA season, up until February’s trade deadline, we’re keeping an eye on potential trade candidates from around the NBA, monitoring their value and exploring the likelihood that they’ll be moved. Each of these looks at possible trade candidates focuses on a specific division, as we zero in on three players from that division.

With just nine days left until the 2020 trade deadline, we’ve surveyed each of the NBA’s divisions three times this season, identifying three potential trade candidates during each go-round. So far, every one of the five in-season trades completed in 2019/20 has included at least one player we’ve previously discussed as a trade candidate. Here’s the full list.

Although we may not have time to circle back through all six divisions a fourth time, we’re revisiting the Central today, taking a look at three more possible trade candidates. Let’s dive in…

Denzel Valentine, SG
Chicago Bulls

$3.4MM cap hit; RFA in 2020

While Valentine has been in and out of the Bulls’ rotation this season, any teams keeping an eye on him Monday night were rewarded with perhaps his best game of 2019/20. He racked up 16 points and made 4-of-6 three-point attempts with a +19 rating in 19 minutes.

The performance provided a glimpse of what kind of value Valentine can bring as a rotation player when things are going well. However, he seems increasingly unlikely to reach his potential in Chicago. Since a solid 2017/18 season, the 26-year-old has appeared in just 27 games due to ankle issues and Jim Boylen‘s rotation decisions. Restricted free agency is on tap for the fourth-year wing this summer, and I’d be surprised if he’s in the Bulls’ plans moving forward.

Given his modest cap hit, controllable rights and .377 career 3PT%, Valentine may appeal to teams looking for a low-cost shooter. The Bulls shouldn’t expect a substantial return, but if they can get a second-round pick out of a deal, it might be an offer worth taking.

Derrick Rose, PG
Detroit Pistons
$7.3MM cap hit; guaranteed $7.68MM salary in 2020/21; UFA in 2021

Like Dwight Howard in Los Angeles, Rose has experienced an impressive resurgence this season. The former MVP isn’t the superstar he once was, but he has been the Pistons’ most reliable scorer, with 18.8 PPG in just 26.6 MPG through 41 contests. He’s a walking bucket and could be a formidable play-making threat for a contender if Detroit decides to move him.

It certainly seems that there has been interest. The Lakers and Sixers were recently cited as potential suitors, with the Clippers also reportedly inquiring. The Pistons may actually have a better chance of acquiring a first-round pick for Rose than they would for Andre Drummond, given the two players’ respective contract situations and cap hits.

Still, with Rose currently battling a sore right knee, potential suitors will proceed with caution. Health has always been the concern for the former Bull, and a contending team willing to surrender a first-rounder for a roster upgrade may prefer to pursue a player with a less worrisome injury history.

John Henson, F/C
Cleveland Cavaliers
$9.7MM cap hit; UFA in 2020

Besides Tristan Thompson, whom we covered in an earlier look at the Central, the Cavaliers have three other veterans on pricey expiring contracts who could be on the move at this year’s deadline. However, none of those players have positive trade value.

Brandon Knight ($15.6MM), Matthew Dellavedova ($9.6MM), and Henson are borderline rotation players, and the Cavs will be hard-pressed to acquire a real asset for any of them unless they’re willing to take on some unwanted multiyear money.

Of the three, Henson looks like the most realistic trade candidate. Knight has barely played this season and is dealing with a knee injury, while Dellavedova’s numbers have been dreadful. Henson, in a part-time role, has at least showed he’s still capable of cleaning the glass and protecting the rim, with 10.0 rebounds and 3.0 blocks per 36 minutes. The Cavs also have a -1.4 net rating when he plays, compared to -9.8 when he sits.

Cleveland will still be hard-pressed to get much of value for Henson, but I’d expect the team to get more traction on him than some of its other expendable vets.

Revisit the rest of our 2019/20 Trade Candidate series right here.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NBA Trade Candidate Watch: Atlantic Division

Over the course of the 2019/20 NBA season, up until February’s trade deadline, we’re keeping an eye on potential trade candidates from around the NBA, monitoring their value and exploring the likelihood that they’ll be moved. Each of these looks at possible trade candidates focuses on a specific division, as we zero in on three players from that division.

The Atlantic is perhaps the most confounding NBA division when it comes to the trade deadline. The Raptors, Celtics, and Sixers are all potential contenders to come out of the East and may theoretically be looking to make upgrades, but their contract situations make it tricky to identify specific moves that would help.

The Nets are essentially in a holding pattern until they get their full roster healthy next season. The Knicks as sellers appeared to be the only safe bet on the board in the Atlantic, but they’ve resisted that label to some extent.

As we wait to see how the Atlantic teams approach the deadline, here are three (or four) more potential trade candidates from around the division…

Dennis Smith Jr., PG
New York Knicks

$4.5MM cap hit; $5.7MM guaranteed salary in 2020/21; RFA in 2021

A report last month indicated that teams, including the Timberwolves, had expressed some interest in Smith. There are plenty of factors complicating a potential deal though. For one, he was sidelined for a month with an oblique strain before returning last night, and will probably have to show he’s fully healthy before the deadline to increase the odds of a trade. That means the Knicks will have to give him more playing time than the four minutes he received on Wednesday.

Even then, Knicks management may be reluctant to move Smith without a decent return, since doing so would represent a further admission that last year’s blockbuster with the Mavs isn’t working out. The team already failed to land a star with the 2019 cap room created in that deal, and the two future first-round picks owed to New York almost certainly won’t be as valuable as initially hoped, given Dallas’ improvement.

Considering how poorly Smith has played in limited minutes this season, it’s hard to see the Knicks netting more than a low second-round pick and salary filler in exchange for Smith. The club may decide it would rather take its chances on DSJ turning things around and recapturing some of the potential that made him a top-10 pick in 2017.

A trade before the deadline is a possibility, but I think it’d be more likely if the same executives who acquired Smith a year ago weren’t the same ones tasked to decide whether or not to move him.

Raul Neto / Trey Burke, PG
Philadelphia 76ers
$1.62MM cap hit; UFA in 2020

Neither Neto nor Burke has really been involved in any rumors yet, but they’re trade candidates in a roundabout way. The Sixers have been linked to point guards who could be on the trade block, and if the team actually acquires a point guard, either Neto or Burke would become expendable.

The 76ers have gone back and forth this year between Neto and Burke as the primary backup to Ben Simmons, so it’s not entirely clear who would be the odd man out if the team makes a move to fortify its backcourt.

Both players are on minimum-salary contracts that expire at season’s end, meaning there’s no financial incentive to move one over the other. Neto is the better defender and perhaps the steadier floor general, but he doesn’t possess Burke’s play-making or scoring ability. The on/off-court numbers favor Burke — the Sixers have a +7.2 net rating when he plays, compared to +1.2 for Neto.

If the 76ers end up standing pat or focus on improving another area, both Neto and Burke could certainly finish the season in Philadelphia. But if they go out and acquire another guard, I’d expect the Sixers to try to find a trade partner interested in acquiring Neto or Burke as a third point guard.

Rodions Kurucs, F
Brooklyn Nets
$1.7MM cap hit; $1.8MM guaranteed salary in 2020/21; $1.9MM team option for 2021/22

After a promising rookie season, Kurucs has taken a step backward in 2019/20. Despite a series of injury creating a path to a regular role for the Latvian forward, he doesn’t seem to have fully earned Kenny Atkinson‘s trust. His minutes per game have dipped from 20.5 to 13.3 and he’s received several DNP-CDs.

There are some promising numbers in this year’s small sample, including a .439 3PT%, and teams monitoring the Nets may view Kurucs as a buy-low candidate. However, off-court concerns may scare those teams away, since the 21-year-old was arrested during the offseason on a domestic violence charge.

We heard in December that there are teams doing their homework on Kurucs to see if he makes sense as a trade target. Presumably, that research centers on the domestic violence allegation — if it’s credible, clubs will be less enthusiastic about the idea of making a deal for the former second-round pick.

Kurucs is due back in court on February 11, meaning there will be no resolution in his legal case by the February 6 trade deadline. As a result, it’s hard to see him being moved.

Revisit the rest of our 2019/20 Trade Candidate series right here.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NBA Trade Candidate Watch: Southwest Division

Over the course of the 2019/20 NBA season, up until February’s trade deadline, we’re keeping an eye on potential trade candidates from around the NBA, monitoring their value and exploring the likelihood that they’ll be moved. Each of these looks at possible trade candidates focuses on a specific division, as we zero in on three players from that division.

If the Rockets and Mavericks make moves before the trade deadline, they’ll likely be looking to shore up their rosters in order to make a push to secure a top-four seed in the West. However, in today’s look at Southwest trade candidates, we’re focusing on the division’s other three teams, whose approaches to the deadline remain unclear. Let’s dive in…

DeMarre Carroll, F
San Antonio Spurs
$7MM cap hit; $6.7MM guaranteed salary in 2020/21; $7MM non-guaranteed salary in 2021/22

Nearly a month ago, Carroll acknowledged that he wasn’t playing as much this season as he expected to when he joined the Spurs last summer, and admitted that accepting his reduced role had been “difficult.” Since then, the veteran forward has appeared in four games, logging fewer than 15 total minutes.

There’s been no indication that Carroll has asked the Spurs to trade him, but given his lack of playing time and the team’s up-and-down play this season, it seems safe to assume he wouldn’t object to a change of scenery.

Carroll’s value has probably taken a hit due to his absence from San Antonio’s lineup and his small-sample struggles. The Spurs also aren’t historically very active on the trade market during the season — their last in-season trade was completed in 2014, and that Nando De Colo/Austin Daye swap wasn’t exactly a blockbuster.

With those factors working against a deal, Carroll will probably end up staying put through the deadline. But if San Antonio does make a move, a smaller-scale trade involving a player like Carroll seems more likely than a franchise-changing shake-up involving someone like DeMar DeRozan or LaMarcus Aldridge.

Jae Crowder, F
Memphis Grizzlies
$7.8MM cap hit; UFA in 2020

Crowder looked like a more logical trade candidate back on December 7, when the Grizzlies were 6-16 and seemed safely lottery-bound. For teams who perhaps couldn’t afford Andre Iguodala‘s $17MM salary but were seeking a playoff-tested three-and-D wing, Crowder and his expiring contract made all the sense in the world as a potential target.

Since then though, Memphis has won 13 of 19 games, jumping all the way up to No. 8 in the Western Conference, and Crowder has had a major hand in that resurgence, as no Grizzlies player has played more minutes so far this season.

Crowder’s play has earned him “renewed attention” from possible suitors, according to John Hollinger of The Athletic. However, Hollinger doesn’t think the Grizzlies will receive an offer so strong that they’ll feel compelled to move him — especially since re-signing the forward at season’s end isn’t entirely out of the question. At age 29, Crowder isn’t necessarily too old to play alongside the franchise’s young core for a few more years.

Derrick Favors, F/C
New Orleans Pelicans
$17.7MM cap hit; UFA in 2020

Like Crowder, Favors is a veteran on an expiring contract who would fit right in on a contender and has been monitored by teams this season. But a handful of factors – including a recent hot streak, a close race for the West’s No. 8 seed, and Zion Williamson‘s impending return – all point toward the Pelicans deciding not to become sellers this winter.

After all, the Pelicans’ 9-3 stretch – following a 7-23 start – has pulled them within 3.5 games of the Grizzlies for that eighth spot in the conference, and selling off veterans now would dampen fans’ rising enthusiasm for the team.

Assuming the Pelicans plan to push for a spot in the postseason, Favors is the team’s most reliable option at the five, as he showed with his 21-point, 11-rebound performance in Thursday’s win over Utah. That’s not to say a trade is out of the question, as Favors is probably more likely to be moved than Jrue Holiday or J.J. Redick. But I get the sense that David Griffin would like to see what this squad can do when it’s fully healthy and may wait until the offseason to make any serious changes.

Revisit the rest of our 2019/20 Trade Candidate series right here.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NBA Trade Candidate Watch: Northwest Division

Over the course of the 2019/20 NBA season, up until February’s trade deadline, we’re keeping an eye on potential trade candidates from around the NBA, monitoring their value and exploring the likelihood that they’ll be moved. Each of these looks at possible trade candidates focuses on a specific division, as we zero in on three players from that division.

After identifying three Northwest trade candidates in November and three more in December, including one who was dealt shortly thereafter, we’re returning to the division today to identify another three players who could be dealt by February 6. Let’s dive in…

Robert Covington, F
Minnesota Timberwolves
$11.3MM cap hit; $12.1MM guaranteed salary in 2020/21; $13.0MM guaranteed salary in 2021/22

Covington is one of the more intriguing potential trade chips on the market. Barring a huge second-half push led by Karl-Anthony Towns, the 15-24 Timberwolves are likely lottery-bound, so it makes sense for the team to be sellers at the deadline. However, Covington still has two more years on his contract beyond this season – at a very reasonable price – and is the sort of player a retooling team might want to hang onto.

As a strong perimeter defender and a reliable three-point shooter, Covington should draw interest from virtually every contender. There are some teams that wouldn’t necessarily be suitable trade partners for Minnesota due to a lack of salary-matching options or valuable assets, but it’s hard to find a club that wouldn’t be an on-court fit for the 29-year-old forward.

New Timberwolves president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas spent most of the last two decades with the Rockets, whose front office always prioritized chasing superstars. If Rosas has brought that philosophy to Minnesota, it will be interesting to see what sort of return he’d seek for Covington. Getting a star in return is unlikely, but perhaps the Wolves could acquire draft picks and/or prospects that could be used as the foundation of a package for an impact player down the road.

Juan Hernangomez, PF
Denver Nuggets
$3.3MM cap hit; RFA in 2020

Jerami Grant‘s arrival and Michael Porter Jr.‘s return to health have made the Nuggets a deeper and more dangerous team than they were last season. However, what’s been good for the franchise hasn’t been good for Hernangomez’s playing time — he’s averaging just 11.9 minutes per game and frequently gets DNP-CDs after logging 19.4 MPG in 70 contests a year ago.

Hernangomez, who has played at least 20 minutes in a game just once since December 8, could reclaim an increased role if the Nuggets are hit by injuries at some point, but it’s not as if he’s been all that effective even when he gets to play. His 3.0 PPG, .356 FG%, and .267 3PT% are all career lows.

With potential restricted free agency on tap for Hernangomez this summer, it might be in everyone’s best interests to grant the 24-year-old Spaniard a change of scenery. Unless the Nuggets still envision the fourth-year forward as a long-term rotation player, trying to extract a second-round pick for him now – or including him in a larger package for an upgrade – would make sense.

Justin Patton, C
Oklahoma City Thunder
$1.6MM cap hit; $1.76MM non-guaranteed salary in 2020/21; $1.9MM team option in 2021/22

Patton is the sort of under-the-radar trade candidate whose status is more important for financial reasons than it is for on-court ones. After all, the third-year big man has appeared in just four games this season, playing a total of 14 minutes. He’s not a difference-maker for the Thunder and wouldn’t be more than a project for any team acquiring him.

However, with the Thunder approximately $922K over the tax line – per Early Bird Rights – the idea of moving Patton might appeal to the team. Trading away the 22-year-old at the deadline and then replacing him with a player on a prorated minimum-salary within the next couple weeks would allow Oklahoma City to get out of the tax for the 2019/20 season.

Of course, the penalty for finishing $922K over the tax wouldn’t be significant. But the Thunder have been a taxpayer for the last two years and would be subject to repeater penalties this season – and going forward – if they finish in the tax again this spring. Plus, sneaking below that threshold would mean profiting from the payments made by other taxpayers.

Unless they’re committed to Patton’s development or make another trade that gets them below the tax line, I’d be surprised if the Thunder don’t make a move involving the center.

Revisit the rest of our 2019/20 Trade Candidate series right here.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NBA Trade Candidate Watch: Central Division

Over the course of the 2019/20 NBA season, up until February’s trade deadline, we’re keeping an eye on potential trade candidates from around the NBA, monitoring their value and exploring the likelihood that they’ll be moved. Each of these looks at possible trade candidates focuses on a specific division, as we zero in on three players from that division.

The Central Division may have one or two more sellers than initially anticipated this season. Detroit and Chicago had playoff aspirations in the fall, but are both solidly in the lottery at this point, with the 14-25 Pistons narrowly ahead of the 13-25 Bulls. Both teams are dealing with significant injuries to frontcourt players and may look to move a veteran or two before the trade deadline.

Here are three more trade candidates from the Central, including one from each of those two struggling clubs:

Andre Drummond, C
Detroit Pistons
$27.1MM cap hit; $28.8MM player option for 2020/21

Blake Griffin‘s knee injury, which may be season-ending, makes it all the more likely that the Pistons will throw in the towel on the 2019/20 season and seriously consider getting what they can for Drummond. Even if the return for the big man isn’t massive, it might be a better outcome than seeing him walk for nothing in the offseason or having to invest heavily in a pricey new long-term contract for him.

The Hawks were among the teams linked last week to Drummond and appear on the surface to be an ideal fit for him. They have a massive expiring contract (Chandler Parsons‘) that could be used for salary-matching purposes; they have an extra 2020 first-round pick to offer (the Nets’); and they’re motivated to get up-and-coming star Trae Young some more help.

The idea of a Young/Drummond pick-and-roll combination is legitimately intriguing, but the Hawks have some leverage here — they’ll have more than enough cap room in the summer of 2020 to make a play for Drummond as a free agent. Are his Bird rights important enough that they’d give up a first-round pick and/or another asset of value to land him now?

It would be in the Pistons’ best interests to engage a couple potential trade partners that don’t project to have 2020 cap room in order to put pressure on Atlanta and drive up the price on Drummond. The report linking teams like the Raptors, Celtics, and Mavericks to the big man may have been designed to do that. We’ll see in the coming weeks just how serious those clubs – or others – are about Drummond.

Thaddeus Young, PF
Chicago Bulls
$12.9MM cap hit; $13.5MM guaranteed salary in 2020/21; $14.2MM non-guaranteed salary in 2021/22

It was nearly a month ago that reports surfaced suggesting Young was dissatisfied with his role in Chicago and had privately spoken to the Bulls his desire for increased playing time. At the time, Young was averaging just 21.6 minutes per game, his lowest mark since he was a rookie in 2007/08.

Since then, Young’s minutes have increased — but only to 23.3 MPG, and that average is buoyed by his 29.8 MPG in the club’s last three games, which can be attributed partly to Wendell Carter‘s recent ankle injury.

To be fair, it’s hard to blame the Bulls for dialing back Young’s role. His effectiveness has dropped off this season, as his .401 FG% is easily a career low. Still, the veteran forward is only 31 years old, so I don’t know that his struggles are simply the result of him being past his prime. He and the Bulls just haven’t been a good fit so far, and a change of scenery may be in both sides’ best interests.

Young’s contract, which includes a guaranteed $13.5MM cap hit for next season, will probably limit his appeal, but he has reportedly drawn some interest, including from the Clippers. If Chicago can extract even a second-round pick without taking back bad money, it might make sense to pull the trigger.

Myles Turner, C
Indiana Pacers
$18MM cap hit; $18MM guaranteed salaries every season through 2022/23

NBA experts and teams around the league view Turner as a trade candidate. For now though, most importantly, the Pacers don’t. Indiana has insisted for the last couple years that it’s happy moving forward with its duo of Turner and Domantas Sabonis, and a report from earlier today indicated the team continues to rebuff inquiries on Turner.

Turner remains an intriguing speculative trade candidate for a couple reasons. For one, it’s hard to imagine the Pacers as a legit title contender with those two centers playing alongside each other. The Raptors won a championship last spring with Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka, but those two vets rarely played together, and Ibaka had to accept a reduced role coming off the bench.

Secondly, Turner’s ability to make three-pointers on offense and block shots on defense makes him the sort of player that teams with frontcourt holes all over the league would love to acquire. He’s locked into a reasonable long-term contract and it’s fair to assume the Pacers could get a strong return if they make him available.

The Pacers’ ideal target in a Turner trade would probably be a versatile, two-way forward who could guard top scorers like Kevin Durant and LeBron James while complementing Sabonis, Victor Oladipo, and Malcolm Brogdon on offense. The problem? There just aren’t many players out there who fit that bill and would actually be available. As such, I’d expect the Pacers to stick to their guns on Turner and only eventually entertain the idea of a trade if they have another disappointing first-round exit this spring.

Revisit the rest of our 2019/20 Trade Candidate series right here.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NBA Trade Candidate Watch: Pacific Division

Over the course of the 2019/20 NBA season, up until February’s trade deadline, we’re keeping an eye on potential trade candidates from around the NBA, monitoring their value and exploring the likelihood that they’ll be moved. Each of these looks at possible trade candidates focuses on a specific division, as we zero in on three players from that division.

The Pacific Division has been the subject of a handful of trade rumors lately, including reports suggesting that the Kings and Lakers have touched base on a possible deal and that the Suns and Clippers might make good trade partners for a swap of big men.

As we wait to see whether any of these whispers actually turn into anything concrete, here are three potential trade candidates from around the Pacific:

Kyle Kuzma, PF
Los Angeles Lakers
$2MM cap hit; $3.6MM guaranteed salary in 2020/21; RFA in 2021

As recently as last Friday, word was that the Lakers still viewed Kuzma as a core long-term piece and were focused more on upgrading their roster around the edges. However, Sam Amick of The Athletic suggested over the weekend that the club was open to listening to inquiries on Kuzma, and Marc Stein of The New York Times reported on Monday that the Kings were among the teams with interest.

This may simply be a case of the Lakers doing due diligence. According to Amick, LeBron James remains supportive of Kuzma and general manager Rob Pelinka is believed to be the young forward’s biggest backer. The Lakers’ reported asking price, relayed by Sean Deveney of Heavy.com, is high and seems unlikely to be met. And moving Kuzma for an impact player would be tricky, given his small $2MM cap hit.

On the other hand, Kuzma’s fit in L.A.’s frontcourt is somewhat uncomfortable, since the club likes to use a traditional center. Playing Kuzma alongside, say, Dwight Howard, LeBron, and Anthony Davis isn’t ideal, so if the Lakers can move him in a deal for an impact wing player like Bogdan Bogdanovic or Robert Covington, it might make sense to do so.

I think Kuzma is probably still more likely than not to remain with the Lakers through the deadline, but a trade in the next month wouldn’t be at all shocking.

Dewayne Dedmon, C
Sacramento Kings
$13.3MM cap hit; $13.3MM guaranteed salary in 2020/21; $13.3MM partially guaranteed salary ($1MM) in 2021/22

The Kings’ offseason commitments to Dedmon ($27.7MM in guaranteed money) and Richaun Holmes ($9.8MM) reflected the club’s belief that Dedmon would be the starting center for the foreseeable future, with Holmes playing a backup role. That view made sense — following two strong seasons in Atlanta, Dedmon was a popular mid-level free agent target for teams around the NBA, and the Kings were willing to go even higher than the mid-level to lock him up.

However, it only took four games for new head coach Luke Walton to move Holmes into the starting lineup, demoting Dedmon to a bench role. As Holmes as emerged as one of Sacramento’s most valuable contributors, Dedmon has fallen out of the rotation altogether, having been listed as inactive for the team’s last three games.

Dedmon has publicly confirmed that he’d like to be traded, receiving a $50K fine for his honesty. But his value is low at this point as a result of his struggles in Sacramento. The Kings are reportedly open to moving the big man, but won’t make a deal just to get rid of him.

A shoulder injury suffered by Holmes on Monday night may open up a path for Dedmon to get back into the rotation, which could be the opportunity he needs to show potential suitors he still has value.

Tyler Johnson, G
Phoenix Suns
$19.2MM cap hit; UFA in 2020

Gina Mizell of The Athletic recently identified Johnson as the Suns’ most likely player to be dealt in the coming weeks. Unfortunately for Johnson, that’s not because contenders will be clamoring to add him to their rotations — it’s because of his $19.2MM contract, which will expire in the summer.

It remains to be seen which direction Phoenix will go at the trade deadline, but as long as the team remains in the playoff hunt, targeting an upgrade such as Danilo Gallinari is a possibility. If the Suns were to make a play for someone like Gallinari, who is earning more than $22MM this season, using Johnson’s $19MM+ expiring deal as a salary-matching chip would be the most logical move.

While Johnson is a trade candidate due to his contract situation, he may welcome a change of scenery. After starting the season as a regular contributor in Phoenix, Johnson has fallen out of the rotation, appearing in just six games since the start of December.

Revisit the rest of our 2019/20 Trade Candidate series right here.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NBA Trade Candidate Watch: Southeast Division

Over the course of the 2019/20 NBA season, up until February’s trade deadline, we’re keeping an eye on potential trade candidates from around the NBA, monitoring their value and exploring the likelihood that they’ll be moved. Each of these looks at possible trade candidates focuses on a specific division, as we zero in on three players from that division.

This is our third look this season at potential trade candidates in the Southeast, but it remains to be seen how the division’s five teams will approach the trade deadline.

The Heat are in position to buy, but can’t really take on any extra salary due to their hard cap. The Hawks and Wizards are lottery-bound, but might not have many valuable veteran trade chips to sell. The Magic and Hornets, meanwhile, are in a tight race for the No. 8 seed and could still go in either direction.

As we wait to see what the Southeast teams decide, here are three more possible trade candidates from out of the division:

Evan Fournier, G/F
Orlando Magic
$17.2MM cap hit; $17.2MM player option for 2020/21

Fournier has been a solid contributor in Orlando for years, but he has taken his game to the next level so far in 2019/20. His 19.5 PPG and .417 3PT% would be career highs, despite the fact that his MPG (30.9) are as low as they’ve been since 2014/15.

Fournier’s impressive production will create an interesting dilemma for the Magic. He’s the team’s most dynamic scorer, especially on the perimeter, and if he keeps playing this well, he’ll almost certainly opt out at season’s end for longer-term security. Will the Magic be willing to pay to keep him, like they did with Nikola Vucevic and Terrence Ross?

If the front office is at all uncertain about Fournier’s long-term future in Orlando – or is simply growing concerned about the team’s upside as currently constructed – it would make sense to see what sort of return he could bring back in a trade. While there’s no indication so far that the Magic are seriously considering that possibility yet, executives around the NBA reportedly believe there’s a chance Fournier will be moved this winter.

Justise Winslow, G/F
Miami Heat
$13MM cap hit; $13MM guaranteed salary in 2020/21; $13MM team option for 2021/22

The Heat like Winslow and won’t simply attach him to a trade offer this winter as a sweetener. But it’s hard to ignore the fact that he has only played in 10 games this season and Miami hasn’t missed a beat, posting an 18-5 record in the games he has missed.

If the Heat do want to try to add an impact player in a trade before this year’s deadline, Winslow is their most logical trade chip. Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro are too valuable to move, and the team-friendly contracts for Kendrick Nunn and Duncan Robinson make them keepers too. Miami wouldn’t hesitate to offer a first-round pick for the right player, but due to previous deals, none of the club’s next five first-rounders are trade-eligible.

Winslow, who is still just 23 years old, is a rare asset. His upside gives him the sort of positive trade value that other high-priced veterans like Dion Waiters and James Johnson don’t have, and his $13MM cap hit makes him the sort of useful salary-matching piece that many contending teams lack.

The Heat would probably prefer to keep Winslow if they can, but if they want to upgrade their roster this winter, he might represent the key to doing so.

Marvin Williams, F
Charlotte Hornets
$15MM cap hit; UFA in 2020

A three-and-D veteran like Williams would be an ideal fit for a number of playoff-bound clubs, and a report earlier this month indicated that multiple teams were indeed keeping an eye on the Hornets’ forward.

While Williams’ playing time is down this year, he’s shooting as well as ever, with a career-best 58.3% on two-pointers to go along with 39.8% on three-pointers. And his expiring contract makes him a logical target for teams that prefer to keep future cap sheets clear.

There are just two obstacles standing in the way of a potential deal. For one, Williams’ $15MM cap charge may complicate matters — a non-taxpaying team would need $10MM in outgoing salary to match it, while a taxpaying team would have to send out even more. The second roadblock? The fact that Charlotte remains very much in the playoff hunt.

Despite their unimpressive 13-22 record, the Hornets are just two games out of the No. 8 seed in the East, so it’s a bit early to throw in the towel. I think the front office would still be open to moving Williams for the right offer even if the eighth seed is within reach, but a deal seems more likely if Charlotte slides further down the standings.

Revisit the rest of our 2019/20 Trade Candidate series right here.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NBA Trade Candidate Watch: Atlantic Division

Over the course of the 2019/20 NBA season, up until February’s trade deadline, we’re keeping an eye on potential trade candidates from around the NBA, monitoring their value and exploring the likelihood that they’ll be moved. Each of these looks at possible trade candidates focuses on a specific division, as we zero in on three players from that division.

The Cavaliers and Jazz broke the NBA’s trade drought today, completing the league’s first trade since July 16. While I wouldn’t necessarily expect the floodgates to open on the trade market as a result of that deal, it certainly won’t be the last one completed this winter.

As we wait for an Atlantic team to make its first in-season trade of the 2019/20 season, let’s identify three more trade candidates from around the division…

Marcus Morris, F
New York Knicks
$15MM cap hit; UFA in 2020

Virtually every veteran on the Knicks’ roster is a trade candidate this season, as we noted in our last look at the Atlantic. However, Morris projects to be the most valuable of a group that also features Julius Randle, Bobby Portis, Wayne Ellington, and others.

Morris is the only player of that bunch who has no guaranteed money on his contract beyond this season, and he’s also been the most productive one so far, with a team-best 18.4 PPG to go along with an impressive .466 3PT%. Multiple reports have suggested that the Knicks could realistically expect to land a first-round pick in return for Morris.

The veteran forward has said he doesn’t want to be traded, since he likes playing in New York and would prefer to try to help the Knicks reverse their first-half skid. But he has no ability to veto a trade or steer himself to a specific destination, so it will likely come down to whether the Knicks get an offer they like.

Zhaire Smith, SG
Philadelphia 76ers
$3.1MM cap hit; $3.2MM guaranteed salary in 2020/21; $4.9MM team option for 2021/22

John Hollinger of The Athletic identified Smith this week as a recent first-round pick he’s worried about, since the 20-year-old “has struggled to make an impact even in G League games due to his limited skill level.” That’s not good news for a Sixers team that could badly use a wing like Smith off the bench.

Given how young he is, Smith could appeal to a rebuilding club that likes his athleticism and thinks it could get more out of him. Of course, the 76ers would be selling low, which the front office may be reluctant to do again after seeing Markelle Fultz contribute in Orlando this season.

Still, the Sixers don’t have a ton of expendable pieces earning more than the minimum, so even if they’re not ready to give up on Smith, he might make sense as a salary-matching piece in a trade package to acquire a more reliable contributor. Attaching Smith to Jonah Bolden, for instance, would allow Philadelphia to bring back a player earning up to about $8.4MM.

Stanley Johnson, F
Toronto Raptors
$3.6MM cap hit; $3.8MM player option for 2020/21

Like Smith, Johnson looks like he could serve a potential trade chip for a contending team that lacks expendable mid-level players. Of the four outside free agents the Raptors brought in this past summer, Johnson is being paid the most and has played the least, due to both injuries and ineffectiveness.

There’s still time for the former lottery pick to emerge as a regular contributor in Nick Nurse‘s rotation — Rondae Hollis-Jefferson worked his way out of the doghouse earlier in the season and is now seeing big minutes off the bench for the club. It’s possible Johnson will follow suit.

Even if Johnson remains glued to the bench, it remains unclear what sort of approach the Raptors will take at the trade deadline But if the club is looking for a modestly-priced bench upgrade, Johnson would be the most logical outgoing piece and could be the on the move.

Revisit the rest of our 2019/20 Trade Candidate series right here.

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NBA Trade Candidate Watch: Northwest Division

Over the course of the 2019/20 NBA season, up until February’s trade deadline, we’re keeping an eye on potential trade candidates from around the NBA, monitoring their value and exploring the likelihood that they’ll be moved. Each of these looks at possible trade candidates focuses on a specific division, as we zero in on three players from that division.

The Northwest Division is primed for a potentially eventful 2020 trade deadline. The Thunder have veterans to shop. The Timberwolves want a point guard. The Nuggets have the pieces to put together a package for an impact player. And the Jazz and Trail Blazers may be looking to shake things up after up-and-down starts.

As we wait to see what these teams have in mind, let’s take a closer look at three more potential trade candidates from around the Northwest:

Malik Beasley, SG
Denver Nuggets
$2.7MM cap hit; RFA in 2020

Beasley enjoyed a breakout season in 2018/19, boosting his scoring average from 3.2 PPG to 11.3 PPG and posting an impressive .474/.402/.848 shooting line as a key member of the Nuggets’ rotation. After failing to come to terms on an extension with the club this fall, he has struggled out of the gate in 2019/20 and is no longer receiving consistent minutes on a deep Denver squad.

For teams in need of outside shooting help, Beasley – who is still making 41.1% of his outside attempts this season – may look like a tantalizing buy-low target. He’ll be a restricted free agent next summer, so any team that wants to keep him beyond this season should have no problem doing so, assuming he doesn’t receive an exorbitant offer sheet next July.

The Nuggets are in a position where it might make sense to consolidate their depth in a trade package if the right impact player is available. Such a deal, which could also open up some additional playing time for promising young forward Michael Porter Jr., may very well involve Beasley.

Danilo Gallinari, F
Oklahoma City Thunder
$22.6MM cap hit; UFA in 2020

Gallinari is one of the NBA’s most obvious trade candidates this winter, and the only reason he wasn’t included in our initial look at the Northwest last month is because the Thunder have an even more obvious trade candidate in Chris Paul.

Moving Gallinari appears more realistic than dealing CP3, since Gallinari’s cap hit isn’t quite as exorbitant and his contract is expiring. The challenge for Oklahoma City will be finding a trade partner in need of a scoring forward that has the contract(s) necessary to salary-match and a first-round pick – or a promising young prospect – to spare.

Portland, with Kent Bazemore‘s and Hassan Whiteside‘s expiring contracts, initially looked like an ideal fit, but the Trail Blazers have been talking as if they’re looking ahead to future seasons rather than just focusing on this one, so Gallinari might not be near the top of their wish list. If that’s the case, we’ll see if OKC can find another team in position to make a deal work.

Dante Exum, G
Utah Jazz
$9.6MM cap hit; $9.6MM guaranteed salary in 2020/21; UFA in 2021

The Jazz have showed remarkable patience with Exum since selecting him fifth overall in the 2014 draft, but the Australian guard doesn’t really seem any closer to being an impact player than he was five years ago. Utah hasn’t given up on him yet, but at this point a change of scenery might be the best thing for the 24-year-old, especially if another team still believes in his upside.

Because his contract has another guaranteed year beyond 2019/20, Exum probably doesn’t have positive trade value, but he’d make a good salary-matching piece if the Jazz try to make a roster upgrade — the only other mid-level type contract on the team’s books belongs to Joe Ingles, who can’t and won’t be traded this season.

I’d expect Exum to finish the season in Utah, but he’s worth keeping an eye on because of his cap hit.

Revisit the rest of our 2019/20 Trade Candidate series right here.

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NBA Trade Candidate Watch: Southwest Division

Over the course of the 2019/20 NBA season, up until February’s trade deadline, we’re keeping an eye on potential trade candidates from around the NBA, monitoring their value and exploring the likelihood that they’ll be moved. Each of these looks at possible trade candidates focuses on a specific division, as we zero in on three players from that division.

The Southwest could end up being one of the NBA’s most interesting divisions as the trade deadline approaches. The Mavericks and Rockets are headed for the postseason and may be motivated to make roster upgrades. On the other end of the spectrum, the Grizzlies were always willing to sell, and disappointing seasons may clear the way for the Spurs and Pelicans to join them as sellers.

After initially identifying three trade candidates from the Southwest last month, we’re examining three more today. Let’s dive in…

Jrue Holiday, G
New Orleans Pelicans
$26.2MM cap hit; $26.2MM cap hit in 2020/21; $27.1MM player option for 2021/22

Marc Stein of The New York Times injected some intrigue into this season’s trade market on Tuesday when he suggested that the Pelicans no longer view Jrue Holiday as untouchable. A two-time All-Defensive player and a former All-Star, Holiday is capable of playing on or off the ball and may be the most appealing trade chip on the market this winter.

Of course, just because the Pelicans are open to listening to inquires doesn’t mean they’ll simply take the best offer they get for Holiday at the deadline. It will likely require a substantial package to pry him out of New Orleans, particularly since he’s under contract for at least one more year beyond this season — the Pels could wait until the offseason or even the 2021 deadline to shop Holiday more aggressively.

If the Pelicans do seriously consider a deal this season, I’d expect the team to seek a package with a similar structure to the one they got for Davis, featuring a mix of young players and draft picks. The Nuggets, Heat, and Timberwolves are among the teams that should be motivated to pursue Holiday and might have the assets to get something done.

DeMar DeRozan, SG
San Antonio Spurs
$27.7MM cap hit; $27.7MM player option for 2020/21

Another former All-Star, DeRozan almost certainly won’t be as sought-after a trade target as Holiday, even if the Spurs convey a willingness to move him. He’s not a strong defender and his limitations from beyond the arc will turn some teams off.

For instance, Orlando is in need of scoring help and reportedly expressed interest in DeRozan, but given their roster construction, the Magic would likely prefer a player who can stretch the floor and help improve their spacing. DeRozan isn’t that player.

DeRozan’s contract also complicates matters. A team focused on 2021 flexibility may like the idea of acquiring the veteran guard and having him exercise his 2020/21 player option to keep him around for the next year-and-a-half. But there’s no guarantee DeRozan won’t opt out at season’s end, so a potential trade partner would have to be comfortable with either losing him in 2020 or ponying up for a new contract at that time.

Throw in the fact that the Spurs haven’t made a midseason trade in nearly six years and there are plenty of factors working against a DeRozan deal. But if San Antonio continues to slip out of playoff contention, it’s an idea the team will have to at least consider.

Jae Crowder, F
Memphis Grizzlies
$7.8MM cap hit; UFA in 2020

Andre Iguodala has been the most-discussed trade candidate in Memphis, but teams in need of help on the wing may end up pivoting to Crowder instead.

Unlike Iguodala, Crowder has actually played this season, averaging more than 31 minutes per game in 26 starts for the Grizzlies. It hasn’t been one of his best seasons – his shooting line has slipped to .376/.314/.746 – but Crowder is averaging career-best rates in rebounds and assists and remains capable of filling a three-and-D role.

Perhaps most importantly, his expiring contract has a cap charge nearly $10MM less than Iguodala’s $17MM+ figure. A non-taxpaying team would only have to send out about $4.4MM in salary to meet the salary-matching requirements for Crowder, which would be much more realistic for several contending teams that lack expendable mid-level contracts.

Revisit the rest of our 2019/20 Trade Candidate series right here.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.